Daily Archives: May 25, 2010

Rethinking Islam

This is an old article written in the relatively immediate aftermath of 9/11. As someone observed on a Pakistani TV talkshow a year or so ago, jurists and theorists like Abu Hanifa, al-Shafi’i etc. would be shocked to know that people in the 21st century were still taking their interpretations as law – indeed, ‘Divine’ law. They would have been surprised enough to see that their views had not been updated, renewed and replaced within a century or two. The speaker claimed, given such freezing of thought, the shocking ideology that we saw glimpses of in Sufi Muhammad’s public address last year ought not to surprise us. In fact, Sufi Muhmmad types are ‘neo-Kharajites’ – they can be likened to the original kharijites in some essential traits at least – who may or may not have been the product of a thousand and more years of stagnation of thought and critical enquiry in most parts of the mainstream.

The situation in relation to ijtehad is different within shia Islam… at least within Usuli Twelver Shia Islam. The heirarchy of marja and its unambiguous place in the ‘vilayat e faqih’ (to borrow from Khomeini’s spin) is hardly an improvement but is at least contemporary, albeit in (almost) purely chronological terms only. But I digress. Here’s the article. (Bciv)

By Ziauddin Sardar

Serious rethinking within Islam is long overdue. Muslims have been comfortably relying, or rather falling back, on age-old interpretations for much too long. This is why we feel so painful in the contemporary world, so uncomfortable with modernity. Scholars and thinkers have been suggesting for well over a century that we need to make a serious attempt at ijtihad, at reasoned struggle and rethinking, to reform Islam. At the beginning of the last century, Jamaluddin Afghani and Mohammad Abduh led the call for a new ijtihad; and along the way many notable intellectuals, academics and sages have added to this plea – not least Mohammad Iqbal, Malik bin Nabbi and Abdul Qadir Audah. Yet, ijtihad is one thing Muslim societies have singularly failed to undertake. Why? Continue reading



Filed under Al Qaeda, culture, History, Islam, Islamism, Law, Religion, secularism, state, Taliban

ASIA: Wide-ranging restrictions on freedoms of expression must be addressed

This statement by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), shows that we are not the only one keen to curb freedom of expression (Raza Rumi)

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to highlight a number of restrictions to the freedom of expression ongoing in several countries in the Asian region. There are a number of situations in the region that are cause for concern with regard to this important right, affecting a range of countries with different levels of development, democracy and records concerning human rights.

At one extreme, in Myanmar, the absence of opportunities for free speech is nullifying the prospect for any notion of free and fair elections. The media have been prohibited from analysing the new laws and rules for the planned elections, or from saying anything about parties already registering for the ballot. The ALRC has submitted a separate written submission concerning the issue of the elections in Myanmar to this session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, Pakistan

Real Culprits Of Islamist Terror

From Daily Times (24th May, 2010)

VIEW: The real culprits –Yasser Latif Hamdani

As the second most populous Muslim nation state after Indonesia, our dilemma is no different from the confessional states of Europe that over time became the staunchest defenders of civil liberties and secularism

Rakesh Mani was kind enough to mention my article ‘Faisal Shahzad’s radicalisation’, (Daily Times, May 10, 2010) in his article ‘The University of God’ (Daily Times, May 20, 2010). While I agree with most of his observations about Islamic organisations on American university campuses, I must raise a note of dissent in so far as his treatment of Pakistan and Pakistanis is concerned. Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan

The Death of Jinnah, The New York Times Obituary

In this post, we take a trip down the memory lane. Below we are reproducing the obituary of Quaid Muhammad Ali Jinnah that was published in the New York Times on September 13, 1948.

In a first glance, there is nothing in this obituary that we don’t know of today. The narrative may seem slightly odd for many among us who have gotten used to a fast paced narrative in the internet blog age. Yet, this narrative sheds light on Jinnah as the West saw him in the years immediately post partition of the Sub Continent. For starters, it seems that Jinnah’s death was quite an unexpected event for many observers at that time.

The obituary speculates on a succession struggle for Jinnah, the brain and the heart of the “Moslem” League. Unfortunately, the void that Jinnah left behind was never filled by any of his successors, or their successors, or the ones afterwards. That succession struggle did not play out on the political lines that the author had outlined. The struggle for Jinnah’s mantle assumed ideological proportions in the newly established state of Pakistan; a struggle that still plays out in the hearts and minds of Pakistanis. How Jinnah’s mantle will be inherited will define the course of Pakistan itself.

Continue reading


Filed under Identity, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Pakistan, Partition, south asia, USA