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Tag Archives: Islam

Want to protest against attacks on minorities; then meet them


[With about 80 people dead in the attack on Church and resent earthquake (in which it is feared deaths to reach 1000) both indicate how ineffective our govt. has been in protecting and serving it’s citizens. A deafening silence for the earthquake victims on social level shows how much we have just accepted that our govt. cannot do anything for us.]

[note: a friend pointed out that what I wrote feels like I am saying only minorities are being targeted. No they are not the only ones, there have been consistent attacks on masajids, bazars and security forces. Ones who are attacking minorities are attacking all Pakistanis (Daata Darbar attack is not so distant event). However it does not mean our society does not need more open communication among religious groups living in it.  We all might not be spilling hate about them, but we do get criminally silent whenever someone is killed in the name of blasphemy. Putting a friend’s face to group might reduce our biases. ]

Let me start by saying I don’t believe in protesting against terrorists. No I don’t believe that holding banners and marching while shouting slogans on the Mall road (Lahore) is going to deter terrorists from attacking another mall or church or school or masjid; brutally and cowardly killing innocent people. So all those questions about shame of being Muslim and protesting against terrorist just indicate how naive are we.

I am not talking about not protesting against government, we can protest against lack of security, unequipped and poorly armed police and poorly functioning security net that should have predicted such event.  We can protest against all this but against terrorists such protests loose their meaning. Why? because they are cancer. One does not protest against cancer that plagues ones body. One takes action against it, medical procedures aside, one changes his/her life style, throws away tobacco, adds more greens in diet, starts running a bit. One takes stock of everything he/she has been doing till now and changes it.

If we are  really serious in fighting this menace, if we really want to remove cancer from our bodies we should change what we have been doing till now. We have been living in monolithic society in a non monolithic population. We have been ignoring all that is different to us, like they don’t exist. Lets change that, lets allow us to get familiar with who live among us.

Lets go to Church on weekend with our families,  invite members of Hindu community to our masajids, learn basics of Sikh religion, let scholars of different religions come and give lectures in our universities. Let them explain what they believe in and let us tell them what we stand for. Lets have a picnic where our kids can play together.  Lets make it difficult for this cancer to spread to our next generation.

Let our kids know people with other faith are not some strangers but part of our society; it’s OK to be different, it alright to believe in something other than what you believe in. But most importantly let us teach them what other beliefs are. Lets burst the bubble we have been living and accept there is more than just what we have been told. And we do that by listening to people of different faith, let them tell what their religion is not what our imagination has cooked up. 

All the goals of removing hate from our books are great, but they will not be solved by some govt. they will be solved when majority of us will have one friend who is not from our religion. When our friends will not shy in telling they are Ahmedi or Shia or Christian or Sunni or atheist or agnostic, that will makes us question all the hate we have unconsciously living with.

If we want to protest, lets protest by action and do something that will last long. Lets take a first step and meet each other, lets make one friend this week who is not in agreement with our belief system.

 

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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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Will you stop insulting? Will you change?


Will you stop insulting? this question is not for the non-Muslims, but the people living in Muslim societies who call themselves Muslims.

Yes, I am asking Muslims, will you stop insulting? Today Muslims feel they are hurt. Will this realization bring positive change?

When you are done burning (ironically your own buildings), killing your own people, destroying your own economy, have a peek at what Thomas Friedman says in Look In Your Mirror . He, I believe has not being as truthful and as harsh as he should be. We do much worse things that what he is pointing out.

People in Muslim societies constantly insult others, we have latrine-jokes about founder of Ahmedi religious group (that we have declared non-Muslim), we have “names” for the Jews and their leaders (there are youtube videos calling them pig), we call Hindus “paleed” (not-clean), we make fun of how they respect cow.  Our books represent Hindus as plotters and money grabbers, we call Christians “churha” (derogatory  word), our masajid every day call us to be victorious against Kuffars (infidels) without even giving a hint of respect to all the non-Muslims living among us.

After all the hurt you (yes you calling yourself Muslim) will you stop insulting others?

 

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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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Burn Quran Day and My City Gainesville


As many of you know I live in Gainesville. Among whom who don’t know many will hear this city’s name in few days, unfortunately, for a wrong reason. Recently a church named Dove Church, reportedly having less than a hundred members, announced that they want to burn the Quran (Koran).  I know what you will be thinking, or at least among many of you, there will be disbelief and anger. I want you to control your anger and listen.

Three and a half years in Gainesville and today for the first time I am little afraid. I live in fear of how my country men will react. Will they morph into the lynching crowd of Sialkot? Will they burn fast food restaurants as they did when protesting against caricatures killing two of their own country men or will they set cars and buses on fire? Will they become the monsters the Dove Church envisages Muslims to be?

Muslims of Gainesville need you to remain calm, remember that this does not represent America, this does not represent Florida and this does not represent Gainesville. It is one of the most diverse and welcoming city you can find.  Three and a half years in this city and I have not met one person who has discriminated against me for being Pakistani or being Muslim. My face does not hide from where I am and my name is quite indicative of what my beliefs are.

I want you to remember that this action is being done by a fringe group. Remember that this is not a global conspiracy against Islam; these are just few hate mongers trying to get attention.

Just let me give you a little history: previously this pastor tried to pull of a stunt by asking school-going children of his congregation to wear shirts with “Islam is of the Devil” written over them. Before this no one knew of them. Even before the Muslim community became aware, that school’s administration asked those students to either change their shirts or cover them. This event pushed the Gainesville community to re-introduce school uniforms. Rest of the community in Gainesville, both Muslim and non-Muslim, reacted against it peacefully.

There is one more reason – I have not seen before Muslims of Gainesville as united, as energetic and as active. And Gainesville community supports us; they are against this hateful act. From the day this pastor has announced this program, we are getting support from all-around. Muslim Community of Gainesville has decided that they will not protest. We will respond by servicing the community. On that day we will be having multiple events to help the people of Gainesville who need us. There will be a food drive for the homeless, blood drive and book collection drive.  On other days we are having doing community outreach, having Koran 101 day and opening our Masajids to anyone who wants to come and ask any question.

Why are not we protesting? Because it does not deliver anything, it’s useless and it can result in confrontation. Confrontation is one thing we don’t want. And we don’t want Muslims living away from America to become violent. Your violence, smoke coming out of burning tires and effigies will only harm image of Muslims. We, Muslims of Gainesville, are setting example of how to react intelligently and peacefully; please help us.

I know you are hurt, but will anger go away by doing what we do? Don’t burn things; don’t come out shouting in the streets, drying your throats. There are many things you can do; Pakistan is going from worst crisis now, why not have Largest Donation Day? Or Biggest Blood Collection Drive? Many schools have been destroyed; why not get money for one School?

If you want to show your anger, do it by sending letters. Write letters to the American Embassy, to White House and if you want to Dove Church, telling them to read Book not Burn it.  Educate people about Islam.

Many people will ask why they are allowed to do it. They will say it because they are being allowed this means American Govt. is involved. Remember this is the country, where you can burn the flag of this country, where you can say you favor Hitler and not get arrested.

Most of you know these things and understand the Freedom of Expression comes with the extra responsibility of bearing ignorance, but most of our fellow citizens don’t understand it. Please educate them. Don’t let this become opportunity for radicals and extremists.

 

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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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