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Category Archives: Islam

Religion, gays and marriage


On the wall of a friend of mine, there was discussion going around. Gay marriage being in the court, every one has it’s opinion. A friend’s friend’s opinion was laws have been previously derived from the religion (for that being the Christian religion). I divide my answer in two portions, one is just religion and country’s laws.

As for respect of religion in making laws. Today many unfortunately are little quick in dismissing anything that comes from the religion. Almost all the religions are great source of information and knowledge (at least some parts of all of them). Both religious and anti-religious people ignore the fact that all the religions have changed with the time. They might be divine but their current shapes are due to human reasoning.

Scholars and philosophers have debated what is the meaning of the message of revelations. Why certain interpretation is more correct than other, why one should be more beneficial to society and what view will be more helpful to a person . In the process they have defined and refined it. Their debates and explanations are education for us. Religions being the books of constitution for so many centuries will always be referenced.Ignoring them is will be ignoring efforts and works of great minds.

Question is should “All” the laws be continued to be derived from religion or not. I am not American so my point of view might not matter what American society needs, but I am sharing my point of view because this issue is going to become big issue in the countries which have not legally accepted this.

Problem with the religion is there are huge number of versions of every single religion (Catholic, Protestants  Suni, Shia, Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews, Hindus who believe in one Veda and not others). One might say they are all (all versions of Ibrahimic religions) are together on this issue of gays, they don’t accept it (there is still debate whether they ask society to punish them). Accepting one law just because some religion tell you, will create logical fallacy  Like any mathematician or law professor will tell you once you accept the one law just because it is coming from XYZ-religion, we set precedence that could be used to add more laws belonging to religion XYZ. It breaks the rules, is muddles the axioms.

Either religion should be used to make all the laws or it should not be, if we want  a system that accepts part of religion to be made into law but not the other part, we end up with complex set of rules. Such rules will always be pushed to be changed and that’s what is going around right now. Let me give you example we don’t have now the punishment for infidelity or adultery and I don’t believe anyone wants that to become one, but what’s the logic behind it if we are accepting marriage should be defined by religion then what about infidelity? Or what about the people belonging to other religions? should they be burned on stakes?

I am fine with any nation saying they want XYZ to be national religion, thinking we can have non-religious state where XYZ is major religion is just wrong. But sir, if it is not (which quite clearly today’s America is not) then instead enforcing religion through laws and courts you have to go back to people and make them believe in what you believe in. Same goes with the civil rights, you cannot get civil rights by laws, you get them by having size able population believing in what you believe.
In terms of , My point has always being “marriage” as a word has been something that has been derived from the religion. I don’t want government to do anything with “marriage”, in the least that word should be removed from the law books. Government should issue some nicer version of “civil union” and declare we don’t do marriages. If you want to marry, go to Churche, Masjid, Synagogue, Gurdwara or any other religious entity you want to and which ever version of it you want to. if they want benefits they can register with government and government will not discriminate against people regardless of gender, cast, belief, orientation, etc. ….
 

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Goodbye to “Zalmo Qazi A raha hea”


If you have lived 90’s in Pakistan you will always remember Zalmo Qazi Aa raha hea and associate it with a fiery white bearded guy Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Jamat-e-Islami. It was time when Jamat was riding on the street power. It’s call could be fetch tens of thousands of protesters and cities could be jammed within few days of their call.

With all the geo political situation and Islamicized political atmosphere of Pakistan (in addition to false sense of pride that we defeated Russia) one of the reason Jammat was strong was because of Qazi Hussain Ahmed. Now he is no more there. It’s sad because he was one of the main power brokers of the time when Pakistan came out of the dictatorship and was reason of the upheaval Pakistan went through in 90’s.  We will not be able to record history in his terms, now we will know the version of his history through others.

He was always quite interesting character for me because unlike his many party members and workers his views remained somewhere near the middle. He did not appear to share sentiment of some religious right about converting Pakistan into one-other Arab state and appeared more near to Pakistanis. He like many Pakistanis held two near contrasting views (or views that appear to be contrasting to anyone outside Pakistan). He was for the women rights but defined equality with men in different terms than most of us will (something in the line of they are equal but no same). Recently his views on the Malala showed how much near he is to views of most of Pakistanis, he protested against the attack on 14 year old  girl but at the same time said she was being used by someone. After talking to many Pakistanis that’s what you will find many Pakistani’s believe; they are with Malala but believe she was being used.

This ability of his articulate views of many Pakistanis made him important leader but he was not able to change the views of Pakistan’s public towards better. He was not able to steer Jamiat (student wing of Jamat-e-Islami) away hooligan, bullying and criminal mindset. He was not able to make Jamat-e-Islami independent of the establishment. Later when public sentiment went against establishment this establishment’s B-team stamp made people move away from the Jamat-e-Islami.  Things did not help much when JI became ally of the PML-N and anti-PPP sentiment made people vote for any party that was PPP, thus voting for PML-N since they represented more chance of winning than JI.

With all the bad and good things one can associate with him, he was still on of the main political characters that formed the present state of Pakistan. His era saw JI playing some hard balls, a force that was taken by government quite seriously, a party who was recognized of being quite disciplined and that had street power, even when they could not win many parliament seats.  He was much better than many cartoon characters we are seeing nowadays on the political scene, so Qazi sahab Allah Hafiz. …….

we will always remember Zalmo Qazi A-raha hea

 

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Gay rights, American Muslims and religious laws


American Muslims! do you want American Laws to be based on religion? if not then why all the arguments against gay marriage are coming from religion?

If you have been to Muslim gathering, especially for Jummah namaz, you would have met many concerned muslims and heard ceremons from the pulpits. I did…..

Recent declaration by Obama to end descrimination against Gays marrige rights have stirred quite a bit of uneasynes among religious leadership (if there is something like that in Muslim community of America)

In masajids you might be Imam mentioning gay rights and getting angry on that. You will hear things like they are going to indocternate the children, if we alow gays getting married then next they will going to allow sex with animals, and even you might hear the argument it is slippery slop if we tolerate gays getting married next it might be having sex with kids (yup, for a second i could not believe when I heard such arguments), one Imam pointed out that your child might come home and say dad today my teacher Ms. Jeniffer’s husband came to visit her and her name was Andrea, what you are going to say to them.

I will not go in details about “question of consent” which an animal can’t give. Or Muslim children grow in America where most of the kids are having sex (straight or not) or atleast know that kids around them have boy friends or girl friends. So how traumatic their teacher having gay husband would be?

I will not even go and discuss that in this society people of any inclination are having sex with who ever they want and are open about it, so is big fuss is just giving them legal rights (which as a human they must have) not the physical act itself?

Keep all these aside, and acknowledging that all Ibrahimic religions (Jeudaism, Christianity and Islam) view being gay a sinful act. Question is which one of these wants to have American laws defined according to the religion? Do jews and muslims want America to have Christian laws? If not then why the reasoning they are presenting is coming from the religion?

Why I only hear God has forbiden this act, Allah destroyed a nation for that, ……. where are other detailed reasonings. Because if we start having religious argument here, where it will stop. Why not next have discussion about who could actually be called Christian or Jew or Muslim? Why not go ahead and ban any criticism of any religion? But then who will define religion? Why should Christians accept Islam to be religion? if they do then why not some Spagheti God? Should punishments be also derived from Bible, old and new Testaments?

American Muslims should know better, religious arguments about laws will lead to religions laws and those laws might not be ones that let minorities flourish.

 

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Governor Salman Taseer assassinated by intolerance


Governor of Punjab Pakistan Salman Taseer has been murdered by his own guard citing that Governor called Blasphemy laws black laws. How much intolerance we can live with? Where is freedom of expression? Can we not criticize a law made by humans?

Killer Mumtaz Qadri is not sole responsible, we all are. Our media anchors, our columnist, our religious scholars and our intellectuals, we all are.

One of the the worst part is there was rumor (according to the TV. Channels) that Salman Taseer was about to removed from Governor’s post. The guy who should have been thrown out of the govt. has now become Pakistan’s hero.

I never liked this guy not because he was vocal against the Blasphemy laws, I respect him for that, but his overall behavior was more of the bully than a respected governor.  Now it’s really hard time for me to say anything against him; he is dead and has been killed for one thing I hold dear, Freedom of Expression.

Let’s not let this person’s spilled blood go waste, let’s start pushing for more open attitude, making people realize that no one will be safe if we let this intolerance attitude prevail.

 

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After Fort Hood Shooting; a Muslim view


Everyone right now must have heard the news that a Muslim Army officer went on shooting rampage at Fort Hood. I first thought it could be any person having Arabic name, but then it became apparent that he is Muslim. And Guardian is reporting that He shouted Allahu Akbar before shooting.

This is sad and worrying day, 13 lives have been lost and about 28 people are injured. This is worrying not only because such shooting are becoming repetitive event in which some normal looking guy walks in with gun and start shooting. It happened at mall, it happened at school and it happened at university campus; now at military base.

It is worrying also because an involvement of a Muslim will open door for more prejudice, bias and hate towards Muslims.  As a Muslim I am concerned that instead of viewing this event as an action by mentally ill person much like previous shootouts, people will try to put in the picture of Islamic Terrorism. This will give people tool and opportunity to speak against the Muslims.

There is going fear in online community that this might trigger religious or atleast geographical profiling. One of the interesting discussion of which I was pointed out is going on over article by Hirscfield on Washington Post  http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/brad_hirschfield/2009/11/fort_hood_massacre_no_indictme.html

Ironically, those who will use this event to disparage all Muslims or Islam in general, even to the point of violence, will prove themselves no different from those they oppose. In fact, they will prove how much they share with Mr. Hasan. Such generalized hatred is precisely the animating approach of anyone who opens fire on a collection of individuals who pose them no immediate threat.

But in b/w he asks that question should be asked from Community he came from. Interesting reply came from one of the poster

kjohnson3’s Reply:

When you refer to “the community from which the murderer came,” why do you look only at the religious community from which he came? He also came from the military community and the medical community.

I personally have not viewed till now any discrimination, I can feel that heat is increasing, someone on Fox News just asked that whether Muslims in Military should go through Special Screenings.

I will like to ask; was some Special Screening arraigned for the people belonging to ethnicity or religion or community of previous shooters? But then we all know about the Fox News, if you don’t know much about Fox News,  you can assume they are Big Version of Zaid Hamid.

In response to these hate messages there are lots of messages talking about not to use Guilt By Association, and are for supporting American Muslims. I have personally found Americans to be friendly and never came face to face with anti-Muslim person. One of the reason might be because I live in University Town, but I believe this is general feature.

As for with such event, I ask people to not to let their fears, biases and pain make them hate other people. And as for every such case one of the critical question that should be raised is how he was able to take gun inside a secure area? Why was there such security lapse?

Other critical question is Why was this person not flagged as a risk person?

If his views, as being told by some news agencies, were extremists he should have been separated, where was negligence? An extremists person should not have a place in any Army, this is true for any extremists, be it religious or social.

If it becomes visible that his motivation was not only PTSD but also religious, then it will be quite worrying part. It is critical that we should recognize that there are thousands of extremists who think their motivation comes from the religion.  Hundreds have died in Pakistan from the hands of extremists who think their actions are justified from Religion, about 2 decade back there were groups going for extremists activities because of their political (which were non-religious) views. Just few months ago Tamil tigers were killing their own people and still in regions of India Maoist have been accused of mass killing.  In America there are White Supremest and religious conservative who think they will one day have to go on war with others. In Europe there has been rise of BNP.

These all form of extremisms are to be condemned but understood that they don’t define communities, religions or ethnicity. I wish everyone good luck, it is difficult period on this world.

I am just a visitor in America, soon I will be back to my homeland Pakistan; the one thing I love about America is Equal Rights for everyone. But such rights can not just be dictated by Law they have to be implemented by society. I hope American society keeps on implementing that.

 

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Why Quaid-e-Azam Only?


Recently during one debate a religiously minded member of the group (not this one) referenced Quaid-e-Azam’s State bank speech for the basis of Islam for Pakistan. But that member is not alone in this. I have seen many secular minded people quoting Quaid-e-Azam’s speeches and his life to state that Pakistan should be secular. These arguments are mostly ranging from his chosen speeches, his dress, his choice of language, his food, his pictures with dogs, etc…. The religious ones will totally ignore all other aspects and stick to some of their chosen speeches, our text-books quote his sherwani, when he read Namaz, etc…
And I always end up questioning Why are these people only referencing this one person?
Why is not any one else, who was part of ML, important?
Why dont people quote how the population felt, what were their demands?  If Quaid-e-Azam wanted secular Pakistan, did people wanted Secular Pakistan, did they voted for secular Pakistan. Or people were not thinking in terms of religion but in terms of economics and administration? Did Quaid-e-Azam told them 3 years before independence that it will be secular country?
What was Muslim League promising, a religious state, a secular one, or just a state for Muslims and not of Muslims?
Most importantly Why is not anyone talking about what people want now? Why should I stop demanding something because Quaid-e-Azam did or did not wanted it?

America is similar, they mostly end up having their discussions what their Founding fathers said and why America was created. Abortion Law, same sex marriages, immigration, poor souls get dragged every time. But atleast they quote about 7 people. Even some of them go to extent of including many others of the era as the key people in framing the constitution. Their reasons are discussed, the time, atmosphere and the results are discussed. You hear “What Founding Fathers meant”  when they stated this or that. Most importantly not every idea of every Founding-Father is welcomed today. It is their joint wisdom that is relished.
On the other hand, we have everyone else on back-stage, the lime light is only on one person Quaid-e-Azam. Not that he does not deserve that light, if we have to pick only one person as leaders of modern Muslim world I will pick him; rather I will say everyone will pick him. But we are not nominating someone for the presidency here, many people can share the stage.
I know only one can be hero but there can be many strong supporting roles, instead we have made all the rest as the extras. Their faces are blurred up, their voices are just the background noise representing busy street.
Some how, Our beloved Jinnah has been evolved into alone Samurai, a James bond, a Warrior who can himself defeat the enemy, he only needs the foot-soldiers no commanders.
Being Pakistani, I see the plans and wrong intentions everywhere, just part of nature I think. I suspect we have given him center stage only because postthumously he cannot sue us for mis-representation and so we can manipulate the situation. By having his colleagues up there with him, will make more difficult of misrepresenting the history. By having mood of hundreds of thousands of people represented will make us understand better what people wanted not what few leaders wanted and that might not be what we want to hear.  Why is there deficiency of quotes from the articles and editorials of that time?
I am not against quoting Quaid-e-Azam, I do all the time, I am requesting to quote other people also.
Having Founding Fathers as guidance is good, it works a inertia that keeps society from wiggling around here and there, as the situation changes. It keeps you solid on the ground, but it should not be restricting force. We should take their word as what their meant given the situation and atmosphere of that time, they are direction for future, not as dictation of future.
Why we should not have religious state, if people want it? And why we should not have Secular state if people want it? Are we not Democracy?
Most importantly if we want a mixture of Religious and Secular State, like the society we have, why dont we get it?

 

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Naming the Terrorists


{Wrote this blog about two months ago, revised some of it today}

One of the most difficult matter with which Muslims have to deal with is,  naming the terrorists.The enemy that is killing them.

This problem is unique for Muslims. No other nation or group has to deal with this problem with so much complication.

For, rightly or falsely, American public ‘might” assume these are terrorists are Extremists Muslims or extremists Arabs (anyone watching 24 can figure this out), Europe can assume these are groups who are threatened by their civilization and way of life, their intellectuals can describe that these are results of their leaders policies, India can say that these are terrorists sent by Pakistani’s, Russians can put blame on Chechans, Sirilankan’s can say they are Tamil.

What should Muslims do? Whom should Pakistani’s point out if the schools are blown in Swat?

Where should they put blame if the Civilian-Guards are rounded up and their ears are chopped of?

Whom they protest if people living in Swat are killed and thrown in the choks.

How you label and describe the enemy that is among you?

The basic failure of the American and Pakistani agencies is label these groups simply Taliban. They failed to explain how these entities threaten the core of the country and society.

Western societes can more easily accept and define names like Taliban, Al-Qaeda, etc… as terrorists or extremists  because these words are alien to them. They are not part of their vocabulary. To them they clearly label some foreign entity. Some bearded person wearing Imama on head and Shalwar Kameez (oh! he looks like khoomenies in Iran), sitting in some crazy looking place planning to destroy everything. He speaks in the description of history that is alien the them. He uses words that are gibrish to them. His interpretations of events, current affairs, etc… is not what they used to. Their mind can relate such persona more easily to evil, because they are strangers to them. {you will find many Americans who belive that Pakistan and Afghanistan are part of Mideleast}

For muslims this is quite difficult.

A bearded person wearing Shalwar Kameez, having chadar on his shoulder is not some foreign thing to Pakistani’s.  Even in Lahore a bearded Pathan wearing Shalwar Kameez, having gun on his shoulder and guarding some street is not so foreign thing. The person arrested by police during attack on the Police Training Camp at Lahore looked similar to many of the Pathans at local tandoor ( basically Tandoor is word for oven but used at synonym for the shops having Oven and selling fresh bread/ROTI ).

Pack of bearded people shouting Anti-American slogans does not make them terrorists. In a country where protests mostly result in destruction of public property, picture of Maulvis burning a bus does not mean that religious theocracy is overtaking.

In sum, they cannot completely relate their outlook, words, interpretation of history to the evil. Previously evil to Paksitani’s was related to India, Communists of Russia, etc… They were people defined by their nationality, by their religion; Indian’s were Hindus (even when they had largest Muslim population), Russian’s were God Less communists trying to invade Muslim Pakistan, …. This time People are from within our region, they are Muslim, they look like us!

Someone has to do lot of work to define what makes people and organization that unacceptable; even when their outlook is similar to yours.

To do that you need people who speak in the same language as them. That’s where both American and Muslim intellectuals have failed.  They have used people appearing foreign to the Muslim public, in defining what the Terrorist is.  Unfortunately many of these people trashing terrorists appears to be equivalently trashing Islamists-political movements. They fail to grasp that people who are not supporter of Taliban might not be supporter of  Secular forces also. People who will not lift finger for Taliban might be too much protective to the Madrassas.

This creates a conscious and unconscious effort in the society to protect or atleast not protest agianst the acts which even they will not support. This current event of the lashing of girl in SWAT is clear example. No one wants this to happen but no one is coming up to protest against  it. Any debate on this run into the same dead end, where both Taliban claiming their actions to be Islamic and their aggressive so-called moderanists also giving this benifit.

One must also recognize that the threats that have been posed to Pakistan for more than 50 years were not by these people. They came from other side, quite different side I may say.  For example the recent attack in Lahore, where it was easy for Indian media to describe it as act of Taliban, because they have only one thought about Islamic militants, taliban etc, that these are chaotic forces, terrorists which can do anything. But it will be difficult to convince Pakistani for that; and not surprisingly to every other logical mind. Why will muslim-militants attack Srilanka? and why Cricketers? They dont have to do anything with any of the political agenda these people have.  It is more easy to assume that India’s RAW or some other agency might be involved than to assume that someone from North will kill the people playing the game loved by it’s countrymen.

This failure on part of the society to recognize the enemy within is creating the rift. It is creating a tension, where one part is too much in anger to hear other side.  We have to Name the Terrorist , define it with clear understanding that they have nothing to do with religion.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2009 in America, Islam, People, Uncategorized

 

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