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On Sufi Terror, Personal Terrorism, Jihadi Mindsets and Minarets

18 December 2009 623 views 18 Comments

Start this weekend with excerpts from Kashmir: Propagation of Islam and the Terror of the Sufis” by M A Khan (emphasis mine):

How did Islam come to Kashmir?

“It came through the peaceful missionary preaching of the Sufis,” comes the answer.

Sufis have been universally credited with the peaceful propagation of Islam around the world. An Islamic legend tells us that there was a king in Kashmir, at an unknown point in time, who had no religion. One day, he wished to adopt a religion. Both Muslims and Hindus came to convince him. Their contradictory views left him rather confused, and resolved that, “‘he would embrace the religion of the first man he would meet in the street after coming out of his house the next morning” [Baharistan-i-Shahi (an anonymously 17th-century Persian book on the history of Kashmir, translated by Prof. K. N. Pundit), Chapter 2]. And it was a dervish [Sufi master], whom he encountered first the next morning, and there he became a Muslim, and Kashmir became Islamic.

…This impression, that was peacefully propagated in Kashmir and around the world by the Sufis, is universally entertained by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars and historians alike.

This paradigm is being successfully and exclusively propagated despite the fact that available historical records give an opposite picture.

It is hard to know when Islamic rule was established in Kashmir. Muhammad bin Qasim was in the preparation for an invasion of Kashmir in 715. Thereafter, Kashmir suffered a number of Islamic invasions; Sultan Mahmud, the master barbarian (although idolized by Muslims), had also led a failed expedition there. Caliph al-Mansur (r. 755–74) had sent an expedition under Hasham bin Amru for waging holy war against Hindu territories. Amongst many places, between Kandahar and Kashmir, he conquered, he “subdued Kashmir and took many prisoners and slave” [Elliot & Dawson, History of India as Told by Its Historians (it contains experts from Islamic chronicles), Vol. I, p. 122–23,203]. In 1033, Sultan Mahmud’s not-so-illustrious son, Sultan Masud I, made up for his illustrious father’s failure by launching “an attack on the fort of Sursuti in Kashmir. The entire garrison was put to the sword, except the women and children, who were carried away as slaves.

While it is hard to establish which of these invasions established Islamic rule in Kashmir, the Sufis, Islam’s alleged prophets of peace, however had a prominent role in its Islamization, but it was a barbaric one.

About conversion of the masses to Islam in Kashmir, we get an idea of it around 1371 or 1381 CE, when Sayyid Ali Hamdani, a famous Sufi saint, arrived in Kashmir. The first thing he did was to build his khanqah [lodge or ashram] on the site of “a small temple which was demolished…” [Baharistan, p. 36]. Before his coming to Kashmir, the reigning Sultan Qutbud-Din paid little attention to enforcing Islamic laws. In the tolerant local culture, Muslims at all levels of the society—including the Sultan, the Qadis [Qazi]—had all tolerantly and comfortably submerged themselves in the Hindu culture and customs of Kashmir [ibid, p. 37].

But Sufi saint Sayyid Hamdani was horrified by the un-Islamic practices of Kashmiri Muslims, and forbade this laxity and tried to revive orthodoxy. The reigning Sultan Qutbud-Din tried to adopt Islamic orthodoxy in his personal life, but “failed to propagate Islam in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of Amir Sayyid Ali Hamdani” [ibid]. As a result, the Sufi saint left Kashmir because of his reluctance to live in a land dominated by the idolatrous culture, customs and creed.

Later on, his son Amir Sayyid Muhammad, another great Sufi saint, came to Kashmir during the reign of the famous idol-breaker, Sultan Sikander. Sikander was not such a barbarian until the arrival of holy Sufi saint Sayyid Muhammad, who prodded the Sultan into enforcing the Islamic code in his domain. Unlike Sultan Qutbud-Din, Sikander agreed to the Sufi saint’s instruction. Sikander and Sayyid Muhammad, thus, formed an alliance to wipe out all signs of idolatry and its professors from Kashmir.

According to Muhammad Farishtah (d. 1614) [History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India, Vol. IV, 1997 imprint, p. 268], a historian of Delhi Sultan, Sikandar issued an order:

…proscribing the residence of any other than Mahomedans in Kashmeer; and he required that no man should wear the mark on his forehead… Lastly, he insisted on all golden and silver images being broken and melted down, and the metal coined into money. Many of the bramins [Brahmins], rather than abandon their religion or their country, poisoned themselves; some emigrated from their native homes, while a few escaped the evil of banishment by becoming Mahomedans. After the emigration of the bramins, Sikundur [Sikandar] ordered all the temples in Kashmeer to be thrown down… Having broken all the images in Kashmeer, he acquired the title of the Iconoclast, Destroyer of Idols.

According to another 17th-century Persian chronicle, HM Chadurah’s Tarikh-i-Kashmir, Sikandar “was constantly busy in annihilating the infidels and destroyed most of the temples…” [trans. Razia Bano, Delhi, 1991, p. 55].

This, to learned Farishtah, this was Sultan Sikandar’s greatest achievement. And to whom goes the credit?

Find it out from the proud author of Baharistan-i-Shahi, who writes: “…the credit of wiping out the vestiges of infidelity and heresy from the mirror of the conscience of the dwellers of these lands,” goes to Sufi saint Sayyid Muhammad [p. 37].

Succeeding the Iconoclast, his son Ameer Khan (aka Ally Shah) continued the butchery of the remaining Hindus of Kashmir, as adds Farishtah, he “persecuted the few Brahmins who still remained firm in their religion; and by putting all to death, who refused to embrace Mahomedism. He drove those who still lingered in Kashmeer entirely out of that kingdom” [ibid, p. 269].

…terror befell upon the non-Muslims of Kashmir again in the reigns of Malik Raina and Kaji Chak, who converted the Hindus to Islam by the sword, again instigated by another Sufi saint, Amir Shamsud-Din Muhammad Iraqi, the greatest Sufi saint to arrive in Kashmir.

Iraqi arrived in Kashmir after Malik Musa Raina became the administrator of Kashmir (1501). He formed alliance with Malik Raina, and with his patronage and authority, says Baharistan-i-Shahi [p. 93–94]:

Amir Shamsud-Din Muhammad undertook wholesale destruction of all those idol-houses as well as total ruination of the very foundation of infidelity and disbelief. On the site of every idol-house he destroyed, he ordered the construction of a mosque for offering prayers after the Islamic manner.

And “on the instance of Shamsud-Din Iraqi, Musa Raina had issued orders that everyday 1,500 to 2,000 infidels be brought to the doorstep of Mir Shamsud-Din by his followers. They would remove their sacred thread (zunnar), administer Kelima [Muslim profession of faith] to them, circumcise them and make them eat beef”; and, thus, “twenty-four thousand Hindu families were converted to Iraqi’s faith by force and compulsion (qahran wa jabran)” [ibid, p. 105–06].

(subsequently)… many of those, forcibly converted to Islam by Malik Raina, later reverted to ‘polytheism’ [Hinduism]. Muslims spread a rumor that these apostates “had placed a copy of the holy Quran under their haunches to make a seat to sit upon.” Upon hearing this, the enraged Sufi saint protested to Kaji Chak, saying [ibid, p. 117]:

This community of idolaters has, after embracing and submitting to the Islamic faith, now gone back to defiance and apostasy. If you find yourself unable to inflict punishment upon them in accordance with the provisions of Sharia [which is death for apostasy] and take disciplinary action against them, it will become necessary and incumbent upon me to proceed on a self-imposed exile.

Note that Iraqi’s complaint does not mention the alleged disrespect of the Quran, but simply emphasize the Hindus’ abandonment of Islam after accepting it—i.e. their apostasy, punishment for which is death in Islam. In order to pacify the enraged Sufi saint, Malik Kaji Chak “decided upon carrying out wholesale massacre of the infidels,” says Baharistan-i-Shahi, which was scheduled to be carried out on the holy festival day of Ahsura [Muharram, 1518 CE; Iraqi was Shiite], and,

…about seven to eight hundred infidels were put to death. Those killed were the leading personalities of the community of infidels at that time. [p. 117]

Thereupon, “the entire community of infidels and polytheists in Kashmir was coerced into conversion to Islam at the point of the sword. This is one of the major achievements of Malik Kaji Chak,” adds the proud author of Baharistan-i-Shahi [p. 117].

This horrifying action, of course, was ordered by the great Sufi saint.

…Kashmir is flaunted by Muslims as the best example of peaceful penetration of Islam in India – thanks to peaceful Sufis, of course. And this is the story of the most peaceful Sufis that came to India from the Muslim world.

***

Next, excerpts from an Op-Ed by Khadim Hussain titled, “Construction of a jihadi mindset” (Hat Tip: Mohib Ahmad; emphasis mine) :

The fact that a sizeable number of those recruited by religious militant organisations for conducting terror attacks in Pakistan are between 14 to 19 years and are products of both the religious and public education systems in the country should be reason enough to revamp these educational systems.

…The ideological paradigm of the jihadist network in Pakistan is, however, clear enough: it justifies the formation, regimentation and militarisation of non-state groups that are bent upon eradicating the socio-cultural, political, economic and state capital of Fata, the NWFP, Punjab and other parts of Pakistan. The jihadist network in Pakistan feeds on the jihadi mindset that is nurtured by the elementary, secondary and higher public education system and madressahs in Pakistan.

The jihadi mindset, like other extremist belief systems, feeds on a rigid, inflexible, isolationist and myopic worldview.

…Over the past several decades, the majority of young men and women in Pakistan have been heavily influenced by the curricula, teaching methods, and learning environment to adopt a one-dimensional approach to reality. This denies them creative space within the pedagogical system. It also increases the probability of their becoming jihadi recruits.

A cursory look at the curricula of social sciences, history, Islamic studies and other subjects followed by elementary and secondary schools shows an emphasis on what is perceived as the Muslim ummah through the manipulation of historical reality, glorification of Muslim monarchs, hatred of other beliefs and the perpetuation of jihadist ideology.

Instead of presenting young minds with a broad-based civilisational perspective, the curricula in public elementary and secondary schools instills an isolationist identity focusing on the demonisation of the leadership of other nations, the construction of a peculiar historical context and the denunciation of religious, linguistic, cultural, social and political diversity.

…This kind of content alienates the young minds from humane values that are the result of a long civilisational evolution. It denies young minds the skill to evaluate a process critically. Hence, the judgmental approach of our educated middle class…and the heavy dependence on conspiracy theories, should not surprise us.

…The learning environment of the majority of elementary and secondary public schools across Pakistan depicts a culture in which a predilection for adopting shortcuts to ‘achievements’ is effectively nurtured. (This attitude is especially exhibited in the shape of plagiarism that we find among the university students of Pakistan.)

…Segregation and discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, religion and socio-economic class define the attitude and conduct of the faculty and management of schools across the length and breadth of Pakistan. Activities that nurture innovation among students have yet to find a place in the learning culture. Art, music and dance never find room in our public education system.

…Even the walls of the schools and classrooms are decorated with verses and poetry that glorify war, superiority over other nations and religions etc.

***

P.S. Re. Jihadi mindset and the curricula in Pakistan, readers may also like to read my comments dt 18th Oct ’08 and 27th Mar ’09 on this post: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2008/07/09/india-pakistan-tehelka-summit/

***

Next, excerpts from Minaret message to Muslims in Europe by Iman Kurdi (Hat Tip: Sanjay; emphasis mine):

The Swiss people have voted: They do not want minarets in their landscape. The first reaction from the European establishment was condemnation and indignation, and then slowly, other voices are coming to the fore. The reality is that the Swiss have simply told the truth: If you call a referendum and ask people whether they want places of worship of other religions in their neighborhood, the majority is likely to say no.

Except that it is not places of worship per se that the Swiss have banned, and on this they are right. A minaret is not strictly necessary in a Muslim place of worship; a mosque without a minaret is still a mosque. ..If the Swiss had banned the construction of mosques or of Muslim prayer rooms, then that would be an infringement of the rights of Muslims to practice their faith, but that is not the case.

The Swiss have taken a hard knock. To read some of the papers you could easily believe that Switzerland is a land of racists who are fervently anti-Muslim. This is not entirely fair to the Swiss.

For a start, I would wager that if you undertook the same referendum in say France or the Netherlands, you would get the same result. That’s the problem with referendums: They’re democratic.

…And let’s not be hypocrites. If you held a referendum in a Muslim country asking whether the construction of new church steeples should be permitted, you are also likely to get an overwhelming no. So let us not brand this a Swiss phenomenon and let us also remember that it is not the majority of the Swiss population that supported the ban but the majority of those who voted, which if you do the maths comes to 30 percent of the population.

…What is more interesting is why the question was asked in the first place. There are up to 400,000 Muslims in Switzerland representing roughly five percent of the Swiss population.

The early arrivals were mainly from Turkey whilst the recent surge in Muslim migrants has come from the breakup of the former Yugoslavia who now make up the bulk of Swiss Muslims. In other words, Swiss Muslims blend fairly well with the rest of the population. And yet the campaign against the construction of minarets depicted that beloved symbol of the anti-Muslims, that seriously scary figure: The woman in a burqa.

The French are considering a law to ban the wearing of the burqa in France and yet only a tiny minority of French Muslim women wear it. The Swiss have voted an amendment to change their constitution to ban the building of minarets and yet there are only a total of four minarets in the country.

This leads to at least two conclusions. First, it is the visibility of Islam that is at issue. A woman wearing a burqa stands out. She is immediately recognizable as Muslim. Similarly a minaret puts a Muslim stamp on the landscape. It states that in this land Muslims exist side by side with the Christian majority, that they are now part of the country’s cultural identity.

Partly this is a legacy of secularism. There is distaste not so much for Islam as for the idea of religion being visible and public.

Essentially the message sent by Swiss voters and now repeated across Europe is one that could be summed up by a French proverb: “To live well, live hidden”. In other words, you can practice your religion, but only privately and discreetly. Moreover, there is the idea that Muslims who choose to live in a European country should adopt the ways of the land. The onus is on them to adopt the local culture and the fear is that the opposite will happen.

Second, the fear is not of the moderate Muslims who have been living peacefully in Switzerland — or France, or Britain, or Germany — but of the influence of the extremists and the potential for, let us call them Westernized Muslims, to turn into the burqa-wearing missile-wielding terrorists of the Swiss posters.

There is undoubtedly a growing paranoia against Muslims and Islam as a religion. There are aspects of Islam or of the way it is practiced in certain countries that are unpalatable to Western thinking. If you listen carefully, the message you hear is not that Muslims are not welcome, but that a perceived movement toward a more radical form of Islam is ringing alarm bells.

***

P.S. Re. the French proverb, Nicolas Sarkozy said something very similar (in response to the Minaret ban):

Christians, Jews, Muslims, all believers regardless of their faith, must refrain from ostentation and provocation and … practise their religion in humble discretion.

***

And finally, excerpts from Terrorism That’s Personal by Nicholas D. Kristof (See note re. the URL below; emphasis mine):

Terrorism in this part of the world usually means bombs exploding or hotels burning, as the latest horrific scenes from Mumbai attest. Yet alongside the brutal public terrorism that fills the television screens, there is an equally cruel form of terrorism that gets almost no attention and thrives as a result: flinging acid on a woman’s face to leave her hideously deformed.

Here in Pakistan, I’ve been investigating such acid attacks, which are commonly used to terrorize and subjugate women and girls in a swath of Asia from Afghanistan through Cambodia (men are almost never attacked with acid). Because women usually don’t matter in this part of the world, their attackers are rarely prosecuted and acid sales are usually not controlled. It’s a kind of terrorism that becomes accepted as part of the background noise in the region. …

Bangladesh has imposed controls on acid sales to curb such attacks, but otherwise it is fairly easy in Asia to walk into a shop and buy sulfuric or hydrochloric acid suitable for destroying a human face. Acid attacks and wife burnings are common in parts of Asia because the victims are the most voiceless in these societies: They are poor and female. The first step is simply for the world to take note, to give voice to these women.

…Since 1994, Ms Bukhari (a Pakistani activist who founded the “Progressive Women’s Association” to help such women) has documented 7,800 cases of women who were deliberately burned, scalded or subjected to acid attacks, just in the Islamabad area. In only 2 percent of those cases was anyone convicted.

…The most haunting part of my visit with Ms. Azar, aside from seeing her face, was a remark by her 12-year-old son, Ahsan Shah, who lovingly leads her around everywhere. He told me that in one house where they stayed for a time after the attack, a man upstairs used to beat his wife every day and taunt her, saying: “You see the woman downstairs who was burned by her husband? I’ll burn you just the same way.”

***

Commenting on Kristof’s article (above), Jim Verhulst asks:

The geopolitical question is already hard enough: Should the United States commit more troops to Afghanistan and for what specific purpose? As American policymakers mull the options, here is a frame of reference that puts the tough choices in even starker relief: Are acid attacks a sign of just how little the United States can do to solve intractable problems there — therefore, we should pull out? Or having declared war on terrorism, must the United States stay out of moral duty, to try to protect women such as these — and the schoolgirls whom the Taliban in Afghanistan sprayed with acid simply for going to class — who have suffered a very personal terrorist attack?

…and points readers to two essays that come to differing conclusions.

***

Important Note re. the two website links:

PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THE PHOTOGRAPHS ACCOMPANYING THE TWO ARTICLES LINKED BELOW (re. acid attacks) ARE GRAPHIC, GRUESOME AND HORRIFYING.

THEY ARE – IN MY OPINION – COMPLETELY UNSUITABLE FOR ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 AND ARE LIKELY TO BE SERIOUSLY DISTURBING FOR MOST PEOPLE.

IN ALL LIKELIHOOD, THEY ARE ALSO UNSUITABLE FOR VIEWING AT A WORKPLACE.

URL for Nicholas D. Kristof’s article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/opinion/30kristof.html?_r=2

URL for Jim Verhulst’s article: http://blogs.tampabay.com/photo/2009/11/terrorism-thats-personal.html

***

Have a safe weekend.

Past weekend readings are here.

18 Comments »

  • 1. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Brief excerpt from Intolerance is a two-way street by Sudheendra Kulkarni:

    …The global outcry against the Swiss referendum prompts me to ask myself a troubling question which is hardly debated in the Indian media: “The ban is wrong and condemnable, but why is there no protest against, and not even a discussion on, the near-total denial of religious freedom for non-Muslims in most Muslim countries?” Saudi Arabia prohibits the construction of any non-Muslim place of worship on its soil. A non-Muslim cannot even enter Mecca and Medina. Most Gulf countries disallow building of churches and synagogues. Hindu temples, of course, are a no-no. A friend who worked in Saudi Arabia once told me that he was not allowed to carry even pictures of Hindu deities to be used for worship at home. “The immigration staff at the airport found the pictures in my bag and simply threw them aside.” Non-Muslim employees cannot celebrate their festivals in public. This, in spite of the fact that millions of non-Muslim immigrants have been working in these countries for many years, contributing immensely to their economic prosperity and social wellbeing.

    In the debate on the Swiss ban, here is a European blogger’s comment on the Net: “Muslims are allowed to do dawa, build/repair mosques, and openly practice their faith in the West. Yet, in the Islamic world, these activities for Christians are severely restricted if not outright prohibited. Muslims can convert us, but the other way around is viewed as a provocation. Only one demographic group in Europe has created literally hundreds of no-go areas. You don’t hear about Hindus, Buddhists, or any other faith group creating these kinds of areas. I want to see the gap bridged between the two civilisations, but it takes two to dance.”

    …Clearly, Muslims around the world need to do some self-reflection on inter-religious relations in our globalised world. If secularism, pluralism and tolerance are necessary in Muslim-minority countries, they are equally necessary in Muslim-majority countries. Double standards won’t do.

  • 2. rahim said:

    people like sudheendra kulkarni are not well versed in world matters despite being called intellectuals . that is why their ideas failed to win BJP the elections and he got kicked out of the party .shri kulkarni fails to understand ground realities of the gulf region . the middle eastern rulers never give citizenship to non arabs ,be it muslims ,hindus or christians . even an indian muslim or a pakistani muslim is denied gulf citizenship . the middle east is the only place in the entire world where the local population is just 5 to 10 percent of the total residency population . it means 90 to 95 percent of gulf jobs go to citizens of other countries ,be it muslim,hindu ,christian ,jews or buddhists . in middle eastern countries ,where non muslims have citizenship rights , they are allowed to build their place of worship . even muslims cannot build a mosque on their own will in gulf if they are not citizens .muscat has a swaminarayan temple ,dubai has a jain temple , iraq has churches and synagogues ,bahrain has church . compare that to europe where the swiss referendum was a denial to its muslim citizens . in france ,germany , switzerland ,belgium ,etc . there are a large population of muslims who are its born citizens .the gulf region ,especially saudi arabia ,kuwait and qatar are US allies and a lot of its policies are controlled by them for various geopolitical and economic reasons . there are various muslim sects within india who do not pray namaz the gulf way ,yet they cannot have the mosque of their choice in these muslim countries ? here ,even muslims are going through the same fate as the non muslims ?like mecca and medina there are a few big famous temples in india ,where non hindus are denied entry ? there are some centres in europe where non christians cannot enter .besides the middle east arab population is just 3 percent of the entire worldwide muslim population .shri kulkarni fails to see the good side of the saudi arabia and kuwait , where a large number of rural indian semi skilled population is employed and have the freedom to send their earnings back to india . remittances send back to india by indian is highest from saudi arabia compared to europe .

  • 3. Rohit said:

    Sudheendra Kulkarni is a half baked nut. If one listens to Sudheendra Kulkarni, the one listening will write his own downfall, like BJP and Advani. Gulf has it’s own pitfalls. The reason it allows other people to build whatever limited structures they have built is to save it’s face in world. The reason Gulf allows other people to send money is because slavery is abolished now a days. If there is slight imbalance of power, there would be stories of Timur the Lame’s famous 100,000 persons genocide in Delhi with alarming frequency and all will originate from Gulf. I personally believe Moslems and Christians are biggest idolators in world. They love a Mosque/ Church/ Book so much that sometimes it becomes difficult to determine where their respective unique ultimate authority resides: inside the book or the structure or outside.

  • 4. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Rahim and Rohit: Pl stay on topic.

    Both of you missed the main point of the article (captured in the conclusion) i.e.

    …Clearly, Muslims around the world need to do some self-reflection on inter-religious relations in our globalised world.

    Neither of you have commented on that. I am responding to your other remarks below but this post is about the gap between expectations from the Western world (in terms of treatment of minorities) and the reality in Arab and Islamic world when it comes to non-Muslim minorities.

    ***

    @ Rahim: Your response is meandering and factually incorrect.

    You say that:
    ..the middle eastern rulers never give citizenship to non arabs ,be it muslims ,hindus or christians . even an indian muslim or a pakistani muslim is denied gulf citizenship

    Not true. Pl see below:

    Palestinians are the sole foreign group that cannot benefit from a 2004 law passed by Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers, which entitles expatriates of all nationalities who have resided in the kingdom for ten years to apply for citizenship with priority being given to holders of degrees in various scientific fields.[40] The Articles 12.4 and 14.1 of the Executive Regulation of Saudi Citizenship System can be interpreted as requiring applicants to be Muslim.[41]

    and

    the middle east is the only place in the entire world where the local population is just 5 to 10 percent of the total residency population

    Where did you get those numbers from? In Saudi Arabia (as an example), only 25% of the population is foreign labour.


    compare that to europe where the swiss referendum was a denial to its muslim citizens

    Wrong again. The Swiss referendum was specifically against Minarets not Mosques nor Muslims nor “denial” to practise religion.

    And while you are thinking about the Swiss, remember that a large proporiton of Swiss Muslims are refugees or immigrants who have been given citizenship. Compare this with Saudi Arabia’s treatment of stateless Palestinians.


    there are various muslim sects within india who do not pray namaz the gulf way ,yet they cannot have the mosque of their choice in these muslim countries?

    That’s exactly the point – should we not be debating that (and condemning it) instead of preaching to the Swiss?

    besides the middle east arab population is just 3 percent of the entire worldwide muslim population

    Maybe…but perhaps the most radical. what do you think?


    shri kulkarni fails to see the good side of the saudi arabia and kuwait , where a large number of rural indian semi skilled population is employed and have the freedom to send their earnings back to india

    You really think that Saudis are doing us a favour here?

    ***
    @Rohit:
    Sudheendra Kulkarni is a half baked nut.

    Avoid personal attacks…They add NOTHING to the debate…and Sh Kulkarni is far better known (and respected) than either of us.

    I personally believe Moslems and Christians are biggest idolators in world.

    You missed the point about the post…It is not about idolatory or ultimate authority at all.

  • 5. Anon said:

    And what if the lie that Islam was spread by sufis is repeated by a person who happens to be the Home Minister, P Chidambaram ?

  • 6. dharmaveer said:

    Please read the sufi mask by Shri Sita Ram Goel. He documents in great detail the sufi deceptions. The role played by Chisti (whose dargah attracts more Hindus than muslims) in the defeat of Prithviraj is not known to the average Hindu. The sufis often played the role of spies – figuring out where the Hindus were weak, and how they could be deceived.

  • 7. Sameer said:

    Shantanu- Rahim is right when he says that it is impossible to obtain citizenship of a country in the gulf. I have lived in the region for a few years and have seen quite a few expats who have lived in the country for decades (Indians, pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Bangadeshis included). None of them have any hope of obtaining citizenship. The ‘Citizenship Law’, if it exists, is only in paper. the ground reality is radically different. Moreover, 100% of the citizens there are muslims, so comparing these countries with those that have citizens belonging to all faiths doesn’t sound balanced to me. All said and done, the accusation about religious rights under ‘Muslim states’ refer primarily to the laws in Saudi.

    Even in the gulf, other countries such as the UAE and bahrain have quite a few churches and a vibrant christian comunity, even though almost all of them are expats. This is not to mention places like Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, etc, that have a long christian tradition and where religious freedom is fully guranteed. I have generally noted that those who make sweeping statements against ‘Muslim states’, have a rather limited knowledge of geography and Current affairs

  • 8. B Shantanu (author) said:

    @ Sameer: I think this is the first time you are commenting on the blog so I am letting your comment stay as a courtesy.

    In future, please stay on topic (see my comment #4 above).

    Please use the “Search” box below (bottom of the page) to find the appropriate thread…I am reasonably certain that you will find a post of relevance re. most topics that you may wish to discuss.

    Thanks.

    A brief note on my comments policy is here.

  • 9. Sameer said:

    Shantanu – thanks for letting my comment stay! This was indeed my first post and I was unaware that it would somehow reduce eligibilty.

    My larger point is precisely in response to your observations (and those of other commentators you have quoted). You talk of lack of religious tolerance in Muslim majority states, when in reality there are plenty of Muslim majority states that have secular laws, which you probably not aware of or inclined to know. How exactly do you define an Islamic state? Does it include Turkey, Egypt or Syria (which incidentally have secular laws) or is Saudi the only state that is referred to? I can think of dozens of states that can certainly be called a Muslim majority state, and only a few could indeed be qualified as islamic. This would include most of north and east africa, large parts of Central Asia and the erstwhile soviet union, south east asia and so on

    If you say that, for instance, that Turkey or Egypt restricts freedom of religion, then I’m afraid the statement the statement is completely off the mark. The problem here is that sweeping statements about ‘Muslims’ are made by commentators referring to the laws in place in saudi.

    Secondly, I find the comment ‘Muslims around the world need to do some self-reflection on inter-religious relations in our globalised world” quite pejorative. None of these so-called ‘Islamic states’ have had anything remotely resembling what india saw in Gujarat 2002, Mumbai 1992, Delhi, Bhagalpur and Nellie in the 80s and so on. This of course does not mean that Pakistan and Afghanistan are not in a mess or that Saudi guarantees religious freedom – it doesn’t. But it certainly does mean that we need to look inwards before we make grand statements ponting all and sundry and take the high moral ground. Why can’t we try and clean our mess first?

    Thanks
    Sameer

  • 10. Sameer said:

    @shantanu – missed out one last point. The statement ‘Most Gulf countries disallow building of churches and synagogues.’ is completely untrue. You may want to go to Bahrain, Oman, the UAE and Qatar and check this out. Again, another sweeping generalisation

    Thanks
    Sameer

  • 11. B Shantanu (author) said:

    @ Sameer: Thanks for the comments…Will not be able to respond anytime soon…but will do in a few days time.

    Just a quick point re. “How exactly do you define an Islamic state?” – membership of OIC, perhaps?

    In the meantime, any thoughts on the four articles linked on the main post? or indeed on other posts on this blog (now over 1000!)?

  • 12. pinky said:

    sameer have u seen raju hirani’s ’3 idiots’ ? if u think shantanu is some great intellectual then u must observe the characters of professor virus and his bright student chatur in the movie .u will get a perfect idea about shantanu’s personality.

  • 13. B Shantanu (author) said:

    @ Sameer: First things first. Re.“This was indeed my first post and I was unaware that it would somehow reduce eligibilty.

    You misunderstood me…I was simply making a point about keeping the comemnts relevant to the post/thread.

    Re. “plenty of Muslim majority states that have secular laws”, perhaps there are…but law is one thing and practice is another…(as you have yourself pointed out in your comment re Saudi Arabia).

    I would honestly like to be enlightened about “secular” Islamic societies…That does not mean they do not exist..rather that they are in a minority and worse – becoming increasingly radicalised.

    One example is Turkey and the AKP (also you may find this somewhat dated link interesting. And this post from my blog may be somewhat tangential but interesting: Of Turkey, Secular States and Religion.

    As for Egypt, Wikipedia informs me that “The Constitution provides for freedom of belief and the practice of religion; however, the Government places restrictions on this right…Islam is the official state religion, and Shari’a is the primary source of legislation; religious practices that conflict with the official interpretation of Shari’a are prohibited”

    I would love to hear of the “dozens of states that can certainly be called a Muslim majority state…(of whihc) only a few could indeed be qualified as islamic”

    In the north of Africa, we have Libya..In the east you have Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and nearby is Yemen….Are these countries “secular”?

    In south east asia, you have Malaysia (you must be aware of the destruction of Hindu temples there) and Maldives – just to pick up two exmaples…and of course Indonesia – which is increasingly becoming radicalised.

    As for “None of these so-called ‘Islamic states’ have had anything remotely resembling what india saw in Gujarat 2002, Mumbai 1992, Delhi, Bhagalpur and Nellie in the 80s and so on” might it be because they do not have any significant minorities? Note that I am *not* covering up for the riots in India merely suggesting a point to you…

    We do need to look inwards – India is hardly bereft of problems…but that does not mean we have to stay mute on everything outside.

    ***

    @ Pinky: Thats funny!…and you seem to love the word “intellectual”! By the way, did the comment at #2 embarrass you so much that you are posting under a different name now? or are you two different people with similar writing styles? Just wondering.
    Anyways, stay on topic if you don’t want your comments to be deleted.

    ***

    @ All: Pl. note that this post is not about Sudheendra Kulkarni’s article.

  • 14. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Excerpts from Let Shahmira Oad’s body rest in peace by Anees Jillani*

    …We all feel the pinch when something happens to a Muslim and an Islamic symbol, like the mosque but we have no qualms about the religious feelings of others. Almost every Muslim in the world was saddened by the destruction of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992. But we don’t even think for a second about the conversion of innumerable Hindu and Sikh temples in the whole of Pakistan to schools, police stations, offices and sometimes even for keeping cattle. We cannot imagine such a thing happening to a mosque but have no objection to treating the religious places of others with utter contempt.

    We all resent the recent ban on minarets in Switzerland; many of the Swiss and Europeans themselves are saddened by this development. But have we ever thought about the complete ban on construction of churches and temples in the whole of Saudi Arabia and in most of the Gulf countries? Non-Muslims are not even permitted to enter the cities of Mecca and Medina and we consider it our human right to even get elected to the parliaments of the so-called Christian countries, and acquire as much property as we can.

    When will we in Pakistan learn to remember the basic truth that whatever we give to others, good or bad, it comes back, many times? Shouldn’t then we give more and more of what we want for ourselves to others so that the same will come back to us in greater quantities?

    * Anees Jillani is a prominent Pakistan Supreme Court lawyer.
    Thanks to Suresh for alerting me to this.

  • 15. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Placing these two links here (re. Sufis) for the record (thanks to Sid and Ashwani for these):

    http://greatbong.net/2010/08/24/the-ground-zero-mosque/#comment-852373

    http://folks.co.in/2009/12/demystifying-the-sufis/

  • 16. Moderator said:

    *** COMMENT by MALAVIKA ***

    Al Ghazali is considered the prominent ‘Sufi’. Lets’s see what he has to say about Kaffirs,Dhimmis and the hated ‘other’. Here is an excerpt from W.M. Watt.

    The eminent Islamic scholar W.M. Watt stresses Al-Ghazali’s Muslim orthodoxy. He says that Al-Ghazali was “acclaimed in both the East and West as the greatest Muslim after Muhammad, and he is by no means unworthy of that dignity…He brought orthodoxy and mysticism into closer contact…the theologians became more ready to accept the mystics as respectable, while the mystics were more careful to remain within the bounds of orthodoxy.”[1]

    Here is Al-Ghazali, evidently with no intention of departing either from Sufism or Muslim orthodoxy, writing about jihad war and the treatment of the vanquished non-Muslim dhimmi peoples:

    O]ne must go on jihad (i.e., warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year…one may use a catapult against them [non-Muslims] when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them…If a person of the Ahl al-Kitab [People of The Book - primarily Jews and Christians] is enslaved, his marriage is [automatically] revoked…One may cut down their trees…One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide…they may steal as much food as they need…

    [T]he dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or His Apostle…Jews, Christians, and Majians must pay the jizya [poll tax on non-Muslims]…on offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protruberant bone beneath his ear [i.e., the mandible]… They are not permitted to ostentatiously display their wine or church bells…their houses may not be higher than the Muslim’s, no matter how low that is. The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he may ride a donkey only if the saddle[-work] is of wood. He may not walk on the good part of the road. They [the dhimmis] have to wear [an identifying] patch [on their clothing], even women, and even in the [public] baths…[dhimmis] must hold their tongue…. [2] (From the Wagjiz, written in 1101 A.D. Emphasis added.)

    1. Watt, W.M. [Translator]. The Faith and Practice of Al-Ghazali, Oxford, England, 1953, p. 13.
    2. Al-Ghazali (d. 1111). Kitab al-Wagiz fi fiqh madhab al-imam al-Safi’i, Beirut, 1979, pp. 186, 190-91; 199-200; 202-203. [English translation by Dr. Michael Schub.]

  • 17. B Shantanu (author) said:

    More on Sufism… The other side of Sufism
    By R.K. Ohri, IPS (Retd). Some excerpts below:
    For centuries the Sufi creed and Sufi music have been tom tomed as great symbols of spiritualism and promoters of peace and harmony between the Hindus and the Muslims. The cleverly marketed concept of Sufi spiritualism has been unquestioningly accepted as the hallmark of Hindu-Muslim unity. It is time we studied the history of Sufis, tried to track the narrative of their coming to India and analysed their explicit missionary role in promoting conversions to Islam. More importantly, it needs to be assessed how did the Sufis conduct themselves during reckless killings and plunders by the Muslim invaders ? Did they object to the senseless mass killings and try to prevent unremitting plunder of Hindu temples and innocent masses? Did the Sufis ever object to the capture of helpless men and women as slaves and the use of the latter as objects of carnal pleasure ? These are some of the questions to which answers have to be found by every genuine student of Indian history.

    Most Sufis came to India either accompanying the invading armies of Islamic marauders, or followed in the wake of the sweeping conquests made by the soldiers of Islam. At least the following four famous Sufis accompanied the Muslim armies which repetitively invaded India to attack the Hindu rulers, seize their kingdoms and riches and took recourse to extensive slaughtering of the commoners. Almost all Sufi masters were silent spectators to the murderous mayhem and reckless plunder of temples ands cities by the marauding hordes across the sub-continent. Taking advantage of the fact that the Hindu masses are deeply steeped in spiritual tradition and mysticism, the Sufis used their mystic paradigm for applying sort of a healing balm on the defeated, bedegralled and traumatized commoners with a view to converting them to the religion of the victors. The following well-known Sufi masters came to India along with the invading Muslim armies which repetitively invaded India in wave after wave:

    Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer had accompanied the army of Shihabuddin Ghori and finally settled down at Ajmer in the year 1233 A.D.

    Khawaja Qutubuddin came to Delhi in the year 1236 in the train of Shihabuddin Ghori and stayed on to further the cause of Islam.

    Sheikh Faridudin came to Pattan (now in Pakistan) in the year 1265.

    Sheikh Nizamuddin Auliya of Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin came to Delhi in the year 1335 accompanying a contingent of the Muslim invaders.

    Additionally, the famous Sufi Shihabuddin Suhrawardy of Baghdad was brought to India for carrying out the missionary work of conversions by Bahauddin Zakariya of Multan several decades after the Hindu ruler had been defeated and the kingdom laid waste after repetitive plunder and manslaughter. Like all Sufi masters, his main task was to apply the balm of spiritual unity on the traumatized Hindu population and then gradually persuade them to convert to Islam.
    Not a single Sufi, the so-called mystic saints, ever objected to the ongoing senseless manslaughter and wreckless plunder, nor to the destruction of temples, nor for that matter to the ghoulish enslavement of the so-called infidel men and women for sale in the bazaars of Ghazni and Baghdad.

    Another important objective of the spiritual and mystic preachings of the Sufi masters was to blunt the edge of Hindu resistance and prevent them from taking up arms to defend their hearth and home, their motherland and their faith, through the fa?ade of peace and religious harmony.

    The well known Sufi Saint of Punjab, Ahmad Sirhindi (Mujadid) of the Naqashbandi order (1564-1634) held that the execution of the Sikh leader Guru Arjun Dev by Jehangir was a great Islamic victory. He believed and openly proclaimed that Islam and Hinduism were antithesis of each other and therefore could not co-exist. Even the Chishti Sufi, Miyan Mir, who had been a friend of Guru Arjun Dev, later on turned his back on the Sikh Guru when the latter was arrested by Jahangir and sent for execution.


    In the above mentioned treatise on Sufi philosphy, Fuwaid al-Fuad (translated by Bruce B. Lawrence, Paulist Press, New York, 1992), a very interesting instance of enslaving the kaffir Hindus for monetary gain has been cited which shows how another Sufi, Shayakh Ali Sijzi, provided financial assistance to one of his dervishes to participate in the lucrative slave trade. He had advised the dervish that he should take “these slaves to Ghazni, where the potential for profit is still greater”. And it was confirmed by Nizamuddin Auliya that “the Dervish obeyed”. Obviously therefore, neither spiritual ethics and nor justice to all, including the infidels, were the strong points of Sufi saints.

    If the narrative of the preachings and acts of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer are taken as indication of his religious philosophy and deeds, he emerges as a sufi master who nursed a deep hatred against the infidel Hindus and showed utter contempt for their religious beliefs. As elaborated by S.S.A. Rizvi in “A History of Sufism in India”, Vol. 1 (Munshiram Manoharlal, 1978, p. 117), there is a reference in the book, Jawahar-i- Faridi, to the fact that when Moinuddin Chishti reached near the Annasagar Lake at Ajmer, where a number of holy shrines of Hindus were located, he slaughtered a cow and cooked a beef kebab at the sacred place surrounded by many temples. It is further claimed in Jawahar-i-Faridi that the Khwaja had dried the 2 holy lakes of Annasagar and Pansela by the magical heat of Islamic spiritual power. He is even stated to have made the idol of the Hindu temple near Annasagar recite the Kalma. The Khwaja had a burning desire to destroy the rule of the brave Rajput king, Prithviraj Chauhan, so much so that he ascribed the victory of Muhammad Ghori in the battle of Tarain entirely to his own spiritual prowess and declared that “We have seized Pithaura alive and handed him over to the army of Islam”. [Source: Siyarl Auliya, cited by Rizvi on page 116 of "A History of Sufism in India"].


    Unfortunately due to relentless colonization of the Hindu mind during 1000 years long oppressive Muslim rule, the Hindu masses till date have failed to realise that the so-called Sufi philosophy of religious harmony is a one-way street. This trend of Hindus praying at tombs and dargahs has been nurtured by the strong undercurrent of belief in spiritualism among Hindu masses, even educated classes. That is the crux of the matter. Deeply steeped in their traditional belief in spirituality and mysticism, the Hindus have developed the custom of visiting dargahs and continue to pray at the tombs of Sufis, no Muslim, nor any Sufi, has ever agreed to worship in a Hindu temple, nor make obeisance before the images of Hindu Gods and Godesses..

  • 18. B Shantanu (author) said:

    Placing this link here:
    Paknationalist Sufis:
    One regularly hears about the “moderate” sufis who will save islam or Pakistan (and who therefore deserve a quick injection of money…see how much Tahir ul Qadri is making via this route). But Sufi-ism is not a well defined ideology, anyone can be a sufi and almost everyone IS a sufi of some sort in Pakistan. Some innocents see positive implications of such confusion in the wider Islamicate world, thinking that this will weaken the Wahabi-Salafi vision of one folk, one leader, one law that seems so scary these days, though I dont see empirical proof of such assertions.
    Anyway, that was not the topic I had in mind. I just wanted to post this link to “spiritual Pakistan”..a fairly typical and representative “Sufi Paknationalist” website. They are promoting “Ghazwa e Hind” (the weak hadith that supposedly promises a huge war in India, and victory and eternal reward for those Muslims who fight to conquer India) and they are much more ardent about it than the “evidence-based” Deobandis, who do have some standards and hesitate to make-up stuff on demand like the Sufis..

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