Can an Islamic State be Secular?

Amaar Ahmad has written another thought-provoking and bold post for PTH. His argument and approach needs to be taken seriously if we have to overcome our current predicament and survive as a country. Raza Rumi

It can be argued that the minimum definition of a secular state is one that permits all its citizens to freely practice, profess and propagate their religion (or the lack thereof) and it does not enact laws which discriminates in worldly affairs between citizens on the basis of their faith. Can an Islamic state offer a constitution and an environment which meets this description of secularism?

If you seek an affirmative answer using the orthodox version of Islam as represented by our conservative politico-religious groups then you are going to be disappointed. But if you analyze the mission of Prophet Muhammad (sw) rationally then you are likely to be pleasantly surprised. The more you see into his life the greater the gulf you find between his actions (Sunnah) and that of our so-called Islamic leaders. The following ten arguments would show that the demagogues and self-righteous Mullahs have completely subverted the teachings of Islam:

1. Freedom to practise religion:
As ruler of Arabia, Prophet Muhammad granted a charter to Christians by declaring for them the freedom to freely practice their faith. The pact guaranteed that any Christian can profess his or her faith, that no Christian woman can forcibly be converted by her Muslim husband and that Muslims are supposed to respect and protect churches. This letter, sent to St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, was an unprecedented testament to the magnanimity and liberality of Prophet Muhammad in an era when the world did not know tolerance. It is therefore extremely embarrassing that modern Muslim countries limit the practice of other faiths within their dominions.

2. Freedom of worship:
There were hundreds of idols in the sacred Kaaba that had been built by Abraham and consecrated for the worship of one God. Before he returned as the conqueror (and therefore as a ruler), the Prophet spent fifty years of his life in Mecca but never took the law in his own hands to demolish them. Certain puritanical brands of Islam, however, make it incumbent on themselves to ‘cleanse’ shrines and mosques of any trace of Shirk (polytheism). The hideous attack on Data Darbar in Lahore which is a mausoleum of an Islamic mystic is therefore yet another transgression by these deviants.

A famous hadith relates that the Prophet permitted Christian priests of Najran – who believed in Trinity-  to offer their prayers in his mosque. Contrast this with how Mullahs of today literally wash their mosques with milk if ‘filthy infidels’ (i.e. Muslims of other sects) happen to offer worship therein.

3. Prohibition of compulsion in faith:
A well-known Quranic verse states that ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ (2:256). Not many know of its context. Before the arrival of the Prophet, some polytheists of Madina had dedicated their children to be raised in the monotheistic Jewish tradition. The parents, who later converted to Islam, objected to when the Jewish guardians kept these children with them. However, the Prophet in the light of this Quranic verse refused them permission to forcibly take back their children and to convert them to Islam. Imagine the hell our religious parties would raise if children of Muslims were raised in a different faith.

4. Definition of Muslim:
A census was once conducted on the instruction of the Prophet to count the number of Muslims in Madina. The criterion set forth for being considered a Muslim for the purposes of census was only a simple declaration of Islam by the respondent (Sahih Bukhari). No distinction was made between momineen (true believers) or munafiqeen (hypocrites) in the final tally. In our era, however, a Pakistani parliament came up with a different definition of a Muslim for ‘the purposes of law’.

5. Equality of citizens:
The famous constitution Misaaq-i-Madina overseen by the Prophet declared that ‘the Jews and Muslims are one nation’ (Ummat-un-wahida). This charter negated any distinction and discrimination between the citizens of Madina and established their rights and responsibilities. It included a clause stipulating that every group – Muslim or otherwise – would defend the city against foreign attack. It is not without irony that in the armed services of Pakistan currently there is an unstated rule that no Ahmadi can advance beyond a certain rank regardless of his contributions. Furthermore, our religious parties see nothing but an enemy in the form of a Jew who is fundamentally incapable of being a regular citizen of a state.

6. Blasphemy:
Contrary to popular belief, there is no death penalty for blasphemy in Islam. Abdallah bin Aby Salool, a chief of Madina and a known hypocrite, declared himself the ‘most honorable’ man and the Prophet the ‘most dishonorable’ person of the city (Quran 63:7). In response to this blasphemy, his own son, who was a pious Muslim, asked the Prophet for permission to kill his father. The Prophet completely refused. Abdallah later died a natural death unmolested by any of the Prophet’s companions and the Prophet himself led his funeral prayer.

Moreover, at both Mecca and Taif, while the Prophet bravely endured ruthless persecution and abuse, the opponents spared no moment in resorting to blasphemous language against him. None of his followers – the venerated Sahaba – ever attacked those who committed blasphemy during this period. Despite the hate and vitriol of his enemies, the Prophet instructed them steadfastness and resilience. Muslims of today who demand death penalty for Salman Rushdie or a ban on Facebook can take a lesson from this. They claim devotion to the Prophet but none of them bothers to spend their energy in raising their pens or voices in articulating the lofty virtue and nobility of character of their Prophet before a Non-Muslim audience.

7. Assistance from Non-Muslims:
The first Muslim migration from persecution in Mecca was to the Christian kingdom of Abbysinia whose ruler Najashi believed in tolerance and freedom of religion. He refused Qureshi demand for repatriation of these refugees. The Prophet openly showed his admiration and appreciation of Najashi for this act of benevolence. Contrast this with when our Mullahs declare anyone even remotely associated with the Christian West as an enemy of Islam.

8. Apostasy:
Simple apostasy or reneging from belief and which is not aggravated by war or rebellion is not punishable in Islam either. There is simply no basis from the conduct of the Prophet to having apostates killed. Ibn Abi Surh, once a Quranic scribe, became an apostate and engaged in open hostility to Muslims. The Prophet had given orders for his execution – not for apostasy per se – but  for crimes of inciting vitriolic opposition and disorderliness against Muslims. During the conquest of Mecca, however, the Prophet mercifully forgave him.

If capital punishment for apostasy was part of religion, it was unlikely that the Prophet would have forgiven Ibn Abi Surh and that too at such an opportune moment. However, the bread and butter of the Mullah today is to work lists of apostates and to have them declared wajib-ul-qatal (worthy of slaying).

9. Obedience to a Non-Muslim authority:

The Prophet’s thirteen years of persecution in Mecca under a hostile authority of Qureish tribe should be sufficient to dispel that a Muslim cannot be loyal citizen of the state even if dominated by Non-Muslims. There is not a single moment where the Prophet broke the rules or norms of the city. When the council of Qureish asked him and his followers to relocate to Shaib-i-Abi-Talib, in violation of their rights, he complied. Furthermore, it was customary for a person coming to Mecca to seek ‘aman’ or protection from a Qureishi chieftain. When the Prophet returned from his well-known trip to Taif he took protection from Adi bin Matab, a polytheist, in following this custom.

These examples clearly go to show that secular obedience to a Non-Muslim authority is part of the Islamic faith. Deviating from the Sunnah, rebellious-minded Muslims never accept that a Non-Muslim can possess legitimate authority over a state.

10. Protection of Non-Muslim property:
At the battle of Khyber against a Jewish tribe, a herdsman incidentally converted to Islam. He also had with him herds belonging to his Jewish masters. Upon inquiring from the Prophet about what he should do with them, the Prophet instructed him to turn the animals back to their owners. If the protection of the property of Non-Muslims was not necessary then returning it to an enemy at a critical moment of war would have made no sense. In violation of the Prophet’s Sunnah, the Mullahs frequently declare that the lives, wives and properties of infidels are mubah (permitted).

The aforementioned arguments are not an apologetic defense of Islam before a secularist jury. They are necessary to establish that the original Sharia of Prophet Muhammad (sw) satisfies the rigorous demands of secularism as defined earlier. This endeavor is also necessary for two other reasons. Firstly, the fools who operate in the name of Islam and have brought much disrepute to their faith by their intransigence, ignorance and hostility need to be challenged and discredited very religiously. Secondly, the ears of many Pakistani Muslims are responsive to religious sermons rather than to secular ideals. Hatred and bigotry in Islam’s name can therefore be strongly refuted using the Prophet’s Sunnah.

The Prophet’s examples are a powerful reminder that his Islamic state offered tolerance, equality and justice to Muslims and Non-Muslims alike. Hence the rationale for why M. A. Jinnah repeatedly referenced the spirit of Islam in his speeches for Pakistan. Just like rational and decent people of Pakistan demand the Pakistan of Jinnah so must true and honest Muslims demand the Islam of the Prophet Muhammad (sw).

The so-called Islamic laws of Pakistan are a total mess and stand at odds with the Prophet’s instructions. If not for secularism then for Islam’s sake, the powers that be in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan must restore the rights and privileges of citizens which they are long due.

209 Comments

Filed under culture, Islam, Pakistan, secular Pakistan, secularism

209 responses to “Can an Islamic State be Secular?

  1. navanavonmilita

    Amaad Ahmad’s argument is credible. Raza Rumi’s endorsement is noble. However, your blog is inadequate to bring secularism to Pakistan. You have no readership among your detractors. Nor among common men on the street. Most probably, if asked about the arguments enunciated in this article, they would play dumb. They have no opinion of their own. What they have is what they hear from the religious authorities. For any democracy to survive, a public opinion must be well informed. Are you guys bold enough to take this issue to the streets and receive the expected drubings from one and all? Academic discussions, such as we are having here has no weight. Unless, it is taken to the streets. Voltaire, the famous intellectual of France, not only wrote about liberty, equality and fraternity, spoke about it in Paris Salons, but printed his thoughts on pamphlets and pasted them all over Paris. If you can dare do something on those lines, I wish you a great success. You may not need my moral support, as it is insignificant. What you need is a political support, without which you go nowhere.

    http://nanavonmilita.wordpress.com/

    …and I am Sid Harth

  2. Bin Ismail

    The Islam of Muhammad or the Islam of the mullah – which one? Most certainly, the Islam of Muhammad.

    The Pakistan of Jinnah or the Pakistan of the mullah – which one? Most certainly, the Pakistan of Jinnah.

  3. Syed

    @Confused Ahmadi-Muslim (Qadiyyan)

    Nice try in deception. Now disappear!
    I dont think that you have much care for our Prophet (sw) or Ahmadiyyat as you are trying to take this discussion into an pit.

  4. Bin Ismail

    @ Confused

    Dear Confused,

    Forgive me for taking the liberty of addressing you by your first name. You do seem to be a bit confused. Perhaps you didn’t notice, but the topic of discussion was “Can an Islamic state be secular?”. Perhaps you were following one thread and inadvertently posted your words of wisdom on another.

    If you succeed in adhering to the original topic of discussion, it will contribute immeasurably to the insight of the participants. Wishing you permanent relief from confusion.

  5. Sahal

    Lol, Jamaat-e-Islami freak wrecks another discussion, I am an Ahmadi and I can honestly state that the bs you are quoting was never written.

    Lanaat hai jahanami, you could not even show sone respect when Prophet Mohammed’s (SAW) life was the topic of discussion.

    Please report to your madrasa soon, your deceptive ways are too immature.

  6. @Bin Ismail

    May I take my hat off to you? Your posts never fail to clarify, to edify, and yet, without losing decorum, to entertain. At least I can admire your contributions from a distance, knowing well that I can never emulate them. Thank you for spreading light and knowledge.

  7. Bint e Mahmood

    Very well written. Thank you.
    If we honestly followed the most noble character of our beloved Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) there would be no injustice, no immorality,no hatred, no discrimination and no killing in our society…BUT we don’t and therefore we have this situation where a person who calls himself a Muslim cannot tolerate another person’s version of Islam or even the fact that they may consider themselves to be Muslims.
    The Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had foretold of the Muslims’ decline in this manner.
    If we as a nation do not wake up to this fact and sort out our unjust laws, our society faces complete meltdown and disintegration…the signs of which are sadly emerging everywhere…

  8. Confused Ahmadi-Muslim (Qadiyyan)

    (Edited)

  9. Chote Miyan

    It’s all about control. Prophets were not immune to it. You can only be merciful if you are in the position to be.

  10. Syed

    The very idea that Islam can be pluralistic and accepting of other faiths is burning and biting the bigots.

  11. Amazing article.
    My question is:

    Why cannot governments of Saudi Arabia and Iran see these examples??

    Why cannot most of the muslims see these examples of tolerance??

    Why cannot religious scholars see these examples??

    Take Care

  12. Syed

    1. These governments and scholars cannot deny these events took place.

    2. They have vested interests in promoting a different agenda – their agenda.

    3. The spirit of all faiths is violated by their followers in the latter days.

    4. They cannot see the wisdom from Sunnah just as modern day Hindus cannot make practical sense about the teachings and original wisdom of Ram and Krishan.

  13. Syed

    Prophet Muhammad had to argue and struggle against precisely the same kind of twisted logic which the Indian Pundit is posing:

    Why did not our forefathers knew all this *new* stuff?

    Well, this stuff was there all along. The opponents of the Prophet just did not bother to pay attention. Just as relativity was there all along. It took an Einstein to pronounce it before the world.

  14. Majumdar

    …..the magnanimity and liberality of Prophet Muhammad in an era when the world did not know tolerance.…….

    The world did know tolerance before the Prophet (pbuh) too. It is just that you dont know much about it.

    Regards

  15. Chote Miyan

    Syed,
    “The opponents of the Prophet just did not bother to pay attention. ”

    Who knows? History is always written by the victors.

  16. Ibn-e-Maryam

    Excellent article. Totally agree with it. One thing that was mentioned in the ‘Meesaq-e-Madina’ was that ‘Muslims and Jews are one Nation (ummat-e-wahida)’. The understanding of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) on Islam are so different from that of our Mullahs.

    We want Islam of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)

  17. Syed

    Some of our Hindu friends have found these revelations about the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of God on him) very disturbing. The Mullahs in the Muslim world find these facts equally inconvenient.
    Hence why Mirza Ghulam Ahmad initiated the reformation movement of Ahmadiyyat to rid Islam of slander and falsehood.

  18. Amaar

    Some of the sarcastic remarks in response are ironic.
    Would the likes of Kaalket, chote mian etc. (who appear to be Hindu) want a draconian and murderous interpretation of Islam or the magnanimous and accepting faith of an amazingly peaceful and great man?

  19. Junaid

    @Indian Pundit

    Because, most humans are motivated by their egos , hatred and greed. It is this toxic mixture of ego, hatred and greed which guides most humans to violence and war against each other.

    Religion, country, tribe, pride, honor are just excuses which humans use to justify their brutality.

  20. @Syed

    Contrary to what you wrote , these revelations actually confirms my opinion.

    i find many of the social practices of modern day muslims to be un-reasonable and illogical.

    Thanks to articles like this above….its good to know that such practices have NO place in Islam as well.

    Note: unreasonable and illogical practices are present in ALL religions…but thats a different matter.

  21. navanavonmilita

    Well said.

    That is my epilogue to this civil discussion. If we can remove hateful words from our vocabulary, the first step to assimilate our separated selves, we can, possibly, achieve our common destination, PEACE!

    May Allah be praised, (PBUH).

    http://navanavonmilita.wordpress.com/

    …and I am Sid Harth

  22. An Islamic state is governed by the dominant Islamic narrative.The Islamic narrative itself is as flexible as you want it to be. Can it be democratic? Yes. Can it be secular? Yes.
    Then why do we see it so rarely? Because there is seldom any benefit for elites of a country to let it become democratic or secular. An Islamic society is by nature controlled by elites because it is they who control the dominant narrative of Islam.

  23. Chote Miyan

    Amaar,
    You obviously didn’t understand the import of my statements, and hence, a rush to put me in a corner by flashing stupid choices for me. It’s no one argument that any state, not just Pakistan, should be based on just laws. Those laws, however, should be based on universally accepted rights of humans, and not because so and so said that. It’s perfectly fine if the religious teachings agree with those universal laws. In case they don’t, they should put aside, divine revelations or not.

    And, yeah, I am a human before I am Hindu, or Muslim, or whatever you want to call me.

    For my doubts about the historical sources, well, that is legitimate. A balanced historical research of pre-Islam Arabia or India has told us that it was not exactly as bad as what the Islamic scholars would like us to believe.

  24. Chote Miyan

    **shouldn’t be

  25. Mustafa Shaban

    very well written piece. However there are 2 misunderstandings the author has addressed, both which are important:

    1. Secularism doesnt necessarily mean anti religion.

    2. An Islamic system and governance doesnt mean in any way superiority of muslims over non muslims. All have equal rights. Everybody has thier own freedom.

    I think people usually misunderstand the 2 things I mentioned.

  26. Mustafa Shaban

    @notself: What u said is not true because in a real Islamic system , there is a division of wealth among the population such that there is hardly any difference between classes. Islamic economic governance unlike Capitalism, regulate the flow of wealth in a society in a way where no one is superior to another, please dont confuse this with communism. I will elaborate on this later.

  27. DeWalker

    So far not even one of the muslim nations ever formed has been just. Haroon Rashid even murdered his friend. Cordoba fell to political backstabbing and internecine warfare, not just the Spanish counterattack. So clearly, muslims till date are yet to establish any just society.

  28. AG3L

    It seems to me that the religious among the participants here think that the solution to Pakistan’s problems lies in the correct application of Islamic principles;

    while the secular among the participants here think that the solution to Pakistan’s problems lies in the correct application of Jinnah’s principles;

    and meanwhile there is one dissident voice here, from India, shiv, who says, yeah, Mullahs are a problem but a minor one, and the real problem lies in the political economy of Pakistan; to greatly simplify, in the concerns and problems of those in Pakistan who have no access to the Internet. The only relevance of Partition is that back then that class of people could be engaged politically only by the use of a religious idiom; can they be engaged in any other way today? Shiv seems to believe that without engaging with and enabling this class of people with real improvements in their lives, Pakistan will sink.

    Who has the truth of the matter? Time will tell.

  29. @Mustafa “What u said is not true because in a real Islamic system , there is a division of wealth among the population such that there is hardly any difference between classes.”

    Islam is not elitist by definition but by practice. Or , in other words, its de facto elitist not de jure. In an Islamic society whoever can own the dominant narrative of Islam becomes very hard to beat. In any society its the elites who have all the resources to control the dominant narrative hence they twist it to their own advantage.
    The reason that they succeed is because everyone including the poor are committed to the dominant narrative of Islam.

  30. Amaar

    @Chote Miyan

    I agree that if ‘universally accepted rights’ also find strong support from religious leader’s actions and words than that is also good. However, these not just ‘someone’s’ deeds but rather of a man who is maligned by outsiders and insiders both and whose message influences a billion people.
    Most of modern day Mullahs have lost touch with his message and words – even literal ones.

    This is not a matter of historical sources as most of these events are known to Muslim and Non-Muslim scholars of Islam. Even the staunchest orientalists who find much problems with Islam cannot deny some of these incidents although they would come up with alternative explanations

  31. Amaar

    @Chote Miyan

    If Gandhi is portrayed as an uncooperative and intransigent person then I don’t think that many Indians will appreciate that because they don’t think that is true.

    Similarly, we Muslims have to remove the falsehoods and myths which have been created around the life and mission of Prophet Muhammad.

    Mind you, even Gandhi says
    ”It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous
    regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in
    his own mission” (statement in Young India, 1924).

    Surely, you do not think that Gandhi’s opinion was wrong?

  32. emrun

    Amazing. For mullha the word secular only meant for kafir regimes. They ready to kill you if you say Pak should be a secular state.

    What else is secular if not Islam?

    Maudoodi ka satyanaas
    emrun.wordpress.com

  33. Quantum_Singularity

    @Ammar

    “If Gandhi is portrayed as an uncooperative and intransigent person then I don’t think that many Indians will appreciate that because they don’t think that is true.”

    Actually most Indians probably would not care. Neither Gandhi nor Nehru are held in such a high regard as Jinnah is in Pakistan. The former was naive while the latter condemned India to his socialist vision for nearly 40 years (in my view).

    “Similarly, we Muslims have to remove the falsehoods and myths which have been created around the life and mission of Prophet Muhammad.”

    Labeling other co-religionist’s viewpoints as falsehoods and myths sounds like nothing more than propaganda. It is difficult to argue that the life principles of man who lived in 7th century tribal Arabia are realistically compatible with living in the 21st century.

    “Surely, you do not think that Gandhi’s opinion was wrong?”

    Gandhi’s opinion is not sacrosanct.

  34. Octavian

    I have always passionately believed that Islam gives its followers enough discretion to practice secularism. I believe Islam, as interpreted by men of true conscious can easily answer most of the problems confronting Pakistan today.

    The fact that secularism, and proper, non-diluted secularism, is harmonious with the teachings of Islam needs to be promoted, understood and widely preached. Only then can we bring back Jinnah’s Pakistan and the Islam of our Prophet (PBUH)

  35. Amaar

    @Quantum_Singularity

    Can you deny or refute any of the ten incidents in the argument above?

    Well, the Mullahs can’t. Hence it is not a propaganda to label their worldview as false.

  36. Amaar

    @Quantum_Singularity

    By the way, these incidents are not of a 21st century man but of a 7th century man.

    I don’t think that the statesman and politicians in the 21st century Islamic world would be bold enough to declare Jews and Muslims as one nation. Not many 21st century people would have the strength of character to protect the property of their enemies in the middle of war.

  37. @Quantum_Singularity wrote:

    “Actually most Indians probably would not care. Neither Gandhi nor Nehru are held in such a high regard as Jinnah is in Pakistan. The former was naive while the latter condemned India to his socialist vision for nearly 40 years (in my view).”

    False.
    Both Nehru and Gandhi are considered nothing short of legends in India. They are highly regarded and well respected.
    Of course , right wing Indians think differently just like right wing pakistanis abt Jinnah.

    Its incredible that FOREIGNERS have more faith in Gandhi than Indians.

    By the way , socialism if applied correctly can lead to a great and just society. For example : Cuba under the leadership of Castro is a glorious example among developing countries.

    Read more:

    “republicofdream.blogspot.com/2010/06/india-china-russia-and-cubacurious.html”

  38. Amaar

    @Indian Pundit

    FOREIGNER is only using Gandhi’s words to demonstrate the strength of his argument.

  39. @Amaar

    i was speaking in general terms.

    Many westerners/asians i interacted with have very high opinion of Gandhi. They simply admire him.
    Infact , in one situation i had foreigners defending Gandhi and right-wing Indians actually opposing him.

    Very curious actually.

  40. Amaar

    Indian Pundit,

    Yes sounds pretty curious. But I guess this is true.

  41. neel123

    @ Indian Pundit,

    You are wrong, Amaar is correct.

    Clearly you have no knowledge about the dirty politics the Gandhi-Nehru duo played, specially to oppose, undermine and discredit the great Netaji Subhas Ch. Bose’s heroic efforts towards Indian independence struggle.

    Gandhi is a product of Congress propaganda, doctored history of India, and a British-Nehru conspiracy, post independence ( although Churchill has scant regard for this cunning politician ).

    For your kind information there are millions in India like myself, who do not hold Gandhi- Nehru in high esteem !

  42. @neel123 says..

    “”Churchill has scant regard for this cunning politician””

    hahahaha……. r u referring to that churchill?? the bigot!!!!….Obviously a man like churchill can never have good things to say about Gandhi……

    “”For your kind information there are millions in India like myself, who do not hold Gandhi- Nehru in high esteem ! “”

    As Joan Robinson , the great economist , once said in India……whenever a statement is made about India……the reverse is also always true

    By the way , those who hate Nehru and Gandhi belongs to what i call Blah Blah class….

    BLAH= “Bjp Loving Arundhati Hating” or in other words a section of “middle class”……who blindly follow American diktats while shouting “Hindu , Hindu”…..while screwing poor people of India…..

  43. Correction:

    should be:

    “once said about India”

  44. Quantum_Singularity

    “Can you deny or refute any of the ten incidents in the argument above?

    Well, the Mullahs can’t. Hence it is not a propaganda to label their worldview as false.”

    I am, of course, not an expert in Islamic theology, however, the manner in which the arguments have been presented seem pretty one sided. I will argue from what I do know:

    “Freedom to practice religion“

    The article appears to cite Christians in Arabia as able to practice their religion, however, could they prostilyze? Were they excused from paying the Jiyza? Could they build any new Churches? None of this is answered, and I believe the answer is no on all accounts.

    “Freedom of worship: There were hundreds of idols in the sacred Kaaba that had been built by Abraham and consecrated for the worship of one God. Before he returned as the conqueror (and therefore as a ruler), the Prophet spent fifty years of his life in Mecca but never took the law in his own hands to demolish them.”

    But at the end of the day did he not demolish all of them? The article seems to strive to ignore the obvious. From a modern progressive point of view the very idea that you can defeat a people and then destroy their religious artifacts or forcibly convert them with the threat of death is regressive and primitive.

    “Equality of citizens”

    Does not the Quran state that a woman’s testimony is worth half a man’s, that a man can divorce a woman instantly without cause while a woman cannot, that a man can beat (lightly) his wife? Where is this equality? The article cites that Jews and Muslims are one nation. I seriously doubt that meant that non-Muslims could prostilyze their religion, build new churches/temples, or avoid the Jiyza.

    Blasphemy/Apostasy

    I believe all the five main schools of Islam disagree and argue that both these require the death penalty.

  45. Quantum_Singularity

    The previous comment was for Ammar

  46. Ummi

    “Secularism doesnt necessarily mean anti religion”

    @Mustafa Shabaan: Keeping in light the current implementation of states like Turkey,USA and India, I think secularism does not exist on earth. If I try to map your example for Turkey then things go opposite to what seculars preach that is, secularism means negating a religion or religions by banning them and taking away the rights of practicing it.

    It’s useless to mention so called secular champs like India and USA because both are highly controlled by religious fanatics hence not seculars by any means.

  47. Quantum_Singularity

    @ The author

    “It can be argued that the minimum definition of a secular state is one that permits all its citizens to freely practice, profess and propagate their religion (or the lack thereof) and it does not enact laws which discriminates in worldly affairs between citizens on the basis of their faith. Can an Islamic state offer a constitution and an environment which meets this description of secularism?”

    Actually a secular state has no state religion and is officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/secularism

  48. Quantum_Singularity

    “It’s useless to mention so called secular champs like India and USA because both are highly controlled by religious fanatics hence not seculars by any means.”

    Singh and Obama (or alternatively the Democratic and Congress parties) are religious fanatics? Who knew?

  49. Ummi

    “The article appears to cite Christians in Arabia as able to practice their religion, however, could they prostilyze? Were they excused from paying the Jiyza? Could they build any new Churches? None of this is answered, and I believe the answer is no on all accounts.”

    Rubbish. It seems you are proposing that minorities of any country does not pay any kind of tax in modern world and it is Islam who did all that.

    Speaking of Jizya, it was not all about having money. There are incidents reported that many Sahabas(ra) were taught how to write by non-Muslim captives due to Jizya after various battles. So saying that Jizya was all about paying ransom is nothing but lack of knowledge about Islam History.

    Umar(ra) when conquered Jerusalem was invited by father of the biggest Church of the city to offer prayers within Church. Umar strongly opposed the idea and Umar said something which later seems to inspire Jinnah saying 11th August speech.

    Islam is more secular than any so called secular law written in book. Just read it and it will help you to getrid of your ignorance about Islam

  50. Ummi

    “Singh and Obama (or alternatively the Democratic and Congress parties) are religious fanatics? Who knew

    Are you suggesting that these countries are “Seculars”? If yes then we should ignore that were ever a Bush family and Bal Thakre and there was no incident like Gujrat and Bombay riots and no Babri Mosque was burnt

    Thankyou for letting me know your in-depth knowledge about current affairs.

    You better get back to Harry Poter series.

  51. Ummi

    Obama or any other President can never pass a law which goes against the right wing Jewish and Christian Lobby of USA. The current Freedom Flotilla issue is the clear example of how US has completely been hijacked by right wing Israeli lobby.

    Singh on other hand were about to get kicked when he was out classed by Pakistani delegations in recent foreign trips when Sing failed to defend his country.

  52. Amaar

    @Quantum_Singularity

    1. Yes. The answer to your question lies within the words of the letter sent to the Monastery itself. After all, what is part of the job of priests is: to proselytize and build/expand churches. Christians in Arabia were converting to Islam en masse despite the fact that Muslims were in a minority. Remember that the vast majority of inhabitants in Middle East were not Muslims and they had both numerical superiority as well as better and well-equipped armies. So it can’t be argued that it was force which converted the wider public to Islam.

    2. Blasphemy/apostasy: The word of no scholar can outweigh that of the Prophet – We have seen an example of blasphemy. I don’t think any scholar or school of though has any justification to do otherwise. If they do, then they are violating the Sunnah – exactly what I have argued.

    3. Demolishing idols in Kaaba is already answered. All Arabs knew, even the Prophet’s opponents that it was built for One God’s worship by Abraham and not for idol-worship. On the conquest of Mecca, Hinda, an avowed opponent of Islam and a hardcore polytheist, converted to Islam and told the Prophet in voicing the opinion of all Meccan polytheists that none of our ‘idols’ helped us against your ‘One’ God and we reject these idols ourselves. So it was not a violation of their rights as they themselves joined Islam. Secondly, the point is that the Prophet never demolished them as long as he was a common citizen and had no legal hold over Kaaba – precisely the opposite of what rebellious Muslims do.

    I will try to come up with a subsequent argument on the equality of citizens in respect to women later.

  53. DeWalker

    Ummi, thanks for conclusively demonstrating what the likes of Raza Rumi and others have to face when they talk of denial and fanaticism. Sigh.

  54. Amaar

    As for Jizya it was only a substitute for Zakat which all Muslims are supposed to pay. Non-Muslims were spared Zakat which were a greater tax rate than Jizya. Remember that the state needs tax funds. For Muslims it was zakat, for Non-Muslims it was called jizya (and whose rate was less than zakat).

  55. Quantum_Singularity

    @Indian Pundit

    “False.
    Both Nehru and Gandhi are considered nothing short of legends in India. They are highly regarded and well respected. Of course , right wing Indians think differently just like right wing pakistanis abt Jinnah.
    Its incredible that FOREIGNERS have more faith in Gandhi than Indians.”

    Such fawning adoration was perhaps true up to about 20-30 years ago, but more and more people today views these guys with a much more cynical eye. Gandhi’s philosphies were naïve and impractical, he only succeeded because mainland Britain was completely obliterated by WWII. Nehru did do some beneficial things such as getting rid of the feudal lords and fashioning a unified nation state, but he cursed India for 40 years by enacting his failed socialist ideologies.

    “By the way , socialism if applied correctly can lead to a great and just society. For example : Cuba under the leadership of Castro is a glorious example among developing countries.
    Read more:
    republicofdream.blogspot.com/2010/06/india-china-russia-and-cubacurious.html“

    Wow, horrible analysis in that argument. A complete apples to oranges comparison. The flaw in your analysis is that you assume that one’s economic model is the only basis on which development is based. India has numerous other problems that Cuba does not have that affect its HDI rank (e.g. overpopulation, ethnic rivalries, caste rivalries, etc.). The real question would have been if Cuba would have been better off had it been a capitalist society than a socialist one. For India (which has tried both), the answer is clear.

  56. neel123

    @ Indian Pundit,

    India has had the Congress party rule India for the most part, post independence.

    Today after 63 years of independence more than half the population do not have a square mill a day, let alone the basic necessities of life ……. and morons like you blame BJP for ( in your own words) ” screwing poor people of India”……. ??!!

    Have some shame you Gandhi-Nehru worshiper …!

  57. Quantum_Singularity

    @ Ummi

    “Rubbish. It seems you are proposing that minorities of any country does not pay any kind of tax in modern world and it is Islam who did all that.”

    The issue is not that people pay or do not pay taxes. The issue is that you are forcing people to pay taxes on the basis of their beliefs which to a secularist is an abomination.

    “Speaking of Jizya, it was not all about having money. There are incidents reported that many Sahabas(ra) were taught how to write by non-Muslim captives due to Jizya after various battles. So saying that Jizya was all about paying ransom is nothing but lack of knowledge about Islam History.”

    Interesting so you are saying that the motivation of the Jizya was somewhat but not entirely about paying ransom. How does that make it okay? It is like saying that although I robbed a bank, since I am going to pocket 80% of it and give the rest to my kids it makes it ok.

    “Umar(ra) when conquered Jerusalem was invited by father of the biggest Church of the city to offer prayers within Church. Umar strongly opposed the idea and Umar said something which later seems to inspire Jinnah saying 11th August speech.”

    ??? What does this have to do with secularism, a Muslim refusing to pray in a Church?

    “Islam is more secular than any so called secular law written in book. Just read it and it will help you to getrid of your ignorance about Islam”

    The essence of secularism is the separation of religion and state both at an institutional and legal level. The fact that Islam advocates Sharia law contravenes this. Furthermore all the political leaders of Islam during the time of Mohammed were also religious figures (e.g. Caliphs).

  58. Quantum_Singularity

    @ Ummi

    “Are you suggesting that these countries are “Seculars”? If yes then we should ignore that were ever a Bush family and Bal Thakre and there was no incident like Gujrat and Bombay riots and no Babri Mosque was burnt
    Thankyou for letting me know your in-depth knowledge about current affairs.
    You better get back to Harry Poter series.”

    LOL, your original statement stated that these secular countries are controlled by religious fanatics. I did not realize that Bal Thackery was the King of India or its prime minister (at best he is a loudmouth). As for Bush, yes he is religious, but he never has enacted any religious law during his term in office. There is nothing wrong with a religious person leading a secular country. He just should not push his religion on others (in other words no blasphemy, apostasy, or other religious laws).

    “Obama or any other President can never pass a law which goes against the right wing Jewish and Christian Lobby of USA. The current Freedom Flotilla issue is the clear example of how US has completely been hijacked by right wing Israeli lobby.”

    The Jewish/Israeli lobby is not a religious lobby but a lobby supporting a specific ethnicity/state. Many Jews are themselves agnostic or atheists who view Judaism less about religion and more about cultural identity. The Christian lobby hates Obama.

    “Singh on other hand were about to get kicked when he was out classed by Pakistani delegations in recent foreign trips when Sing failed to defend his country.”

    I have zero clue as to what this has anything to do with religion.

  59. Jamal

    “Can an Islamic State be Secular?”

    Don’t say things like that…you make Mullahs like Ummi scared for their halwa maanda.

  60. Quantum_Singularity

    @Ammar

    “1. Yes. The answer to your question lies within the words of the letter sent to the Monastery itself. After all, what is part of the job of priests is: to proselytize and build/expand churches.”

    Actually the only job a priest has to do is to attend to needs of his congregation. A priest is not the same as a missionary.

    “2. Blasphemy/apostasy: The word of no scholar can outweigh that of the Prophet – We have seen an example of blasphemy. I don’t think any scholar or school of though has any justification to do otherwise. If they do, then they are violating the Sunnah – exactly what I have argued.”

    The point is you and few others (who are not scholars) are interpreting your religion in one way while the bulk of muslims and a large number of scholars say that you are wrong. Sorry but the word of so many experts and people carries more weight.

    “3. Demolishing idols in Kaaba is already answered…told the Prophet in voicing the opinion of all Meccan polytheists that none of our ‘idols’ helped us against your ‘One’ God and we reject these idols ourselves. So it was not a violation of their rights as they themselves joined Islam. Secondly, the point is that the Prophet never demolished them as long as he was a common citizen and had no legal hold over Kaaba – precisely the opposite of what rebellious Muslims do.

    Yes, I am sure they would have said anything at the point of a sword. Remember Mecca was about to be conquered. Conversion was means to be spared.

  61. There cannot be an Islamic state, because religions are for the human beings not for animals or non-living things.

    However, a country with over whelming Muslim majority can be termed as Islamic state, but for that she must be a secular state to ensure rights and privilages of non-muslims living in that state, as promised in the religion of Islam.

  62. Chote Miyan

    Amaar,
    “I agree that if ‘universally accepted rights’ also find strong support from religious leader’s actions and words than that is also good.”

    And, what if they do not agree with the universally accepted rights? Sigh..With caveats like that good luck with creating a secular state.

    “This is not a matter of historical sources as most of these events are known to Muslim and Non-Muslim scholars of Islam”

    hmm..I think it is definitely a matter of historical sources, especially when a lot of “secular” muslims claim that the life of the Prophet has been better documented than others. I am not denying the specific incidents. All I am saying is that I am a little skeptical about the embellishments. Some of them are frankly really hard to believe. For example: I heard this incident about 902 times as to how the Prophet was so patient with this stupid lady who used to throw muck on him as he passed by her house. I just wondered sometimes about why he had to persist with that route. Couldn’t he have taken an alternate route? Even if we accept that there was only one way, he could have changed his timings and thereby avoided this lady. Once again, I don’t mean to doubt this incident, but the exaggerated add on is a little hard to believe. Similarly, the debate about the status of women in Pre-Islamic Arabia. A lot of modern scholars say that the status of women was not as bad as it is made out to be in the typical Islamic narrative.

    And to be honest, this is not a new debate. Every 200-300 years or so, this debate is started afresh. It has got quite boring. A perfect way out of this unending and frankly unnecessary debate is to declare once and for all that there would be a complete separation of religion from State. That would save a lot of grief for infidels as well. For no fault of ours, we have to suffer the side effects of this angst raging in the Muslim society. I wonder if it is going to be possible, however.

  63. @Quantum_Singularity

    Wow, horrible analysis in that argument. A complete apples to oranges comparison. The flaw in your analysis is that you assume that one’s economic model is the only basis on which development is based. India has numerous other problems that Cuba does not have that affect its HDI rank (e.g. overpopulation, ethnic rivalries, caste rivalries, etc.). The real question would have been if Cuba would have been better off had it been a capitalist society than a socialist one. For India (which has tried both), the answer is clear.

    Firstly NONE OF THESE problems that you mentioned can be solved through free-market capitalism. Only a strong state supported system can solve these problems like overpopulation , ethnic/caste rivalries. But our over simplistic democratic process always created hindrances in the path of Indian state towards removing these problems. In the current structure its PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to remove these problems because of vote bank politics…

    India has an enviable record of 7 % to 8% growth rate. But how???

    According to the recent Lokayukta report for Karnataka, for every tonne of iron ore mined by a private company, the government gets a royalty of Rs 27 and the mining company makes Rs 5,000. In the bauxite and aluminium sector, the figures are even worse. We’re talking about daylight robbery to the tune of billions of dollars. Enough to buy elections, governments, judges, newspapers, TV channels, NGOs and aid agencies.- Arundhati Roy

    This is happening through out the country……
    These open loot of India’s national resources for private profit actually facilitate the growth rate……while Indian poor makes no improvement……..and infact goes even deeper into poverty ( 100 million more went below the poverty line in last 5 years even though we had 7 to 8% growth).

    Only Socialism will ensure proper utilization of India’s resources……

    And lastly prosperity of top 20 to 30% is not prosperity at all…..infact it will be counter productive.

  64. @neel123

    ” screwing poor people of India”….sorry for the wrong position of the above words.

    My views are simple:-

    BJP and Congress are the two sides of the same coin. Corporates dictate both the parties . Not the common man’s problems.

    and there is a great difference beween Blah blah Upper Middle Class and Real India.

    Take Care.

  65. Amaar

    @Quantum_Singularity

    2. Sorry. Firstly it is very debatable if the bulk believe in what you are saying.

    Second, all Muslim scholars agree that the actions of the Prophet and his companions carries more weight than any other opinion. Agreed? So the Abdullah bin Aby Salool incident disproves your idea.

    Btw, blasphemy/apostasy fatwas were created decades if not centuries after the time of the Prophet. Lots and lots of Muslim scholars of many schools also agree with this position on no punishment for blasphemy. I am afraid you have no idea what you are talking about. Merely because taliban types have more decibels in their voice does not show that they are right.

  66. Amaar

    @Quantum_Singularity,

    3. At Kaaba incident, the Prophet forgave his personal enemies but only demolished the idols.
    No orientalist can deny this!

    So you get offended that stones and wood was removed from Kaaba but dont appreciate the forgiveness of the Prophet against the worst kind of people.

  67. Amaar

    I agree that appending ‘Islamic’ into the formal name of a state may be viewed as a preferential treatment of this religion and hence a violation of pure secularism. In my humble view, a state is not a living being which has a religion as such and hence ‘Islamic State’ is not technically correct. No Muslim state, emirate or khalifat of yesteryears had ‘Islamic’ prefixed in its formal name either as nation-states are a recent concept (if I am not wrong).

    Yes, a state can be based on Islamic principles, but to argue that this is a contravention of equality between faiths can also possibly open a can of worms. For example, even in secularist ideology, there are different schools of thought. French ‘secularism’ is different from American ‘secularism’. Hence, you will always have a preferential treatment of an ideology/philosophy which is governing the legal and moral fabric parameters of a country at the expense of another worldview.

    My point is simply that semantics apart, a state must provide some minimal rights either from an Islamic perspective or a secularist perspective. Once these rights have been given then the finer nuances of how to provide a level playing field to all faiths can be discussed.

  68. karun1

    Dear Ammar,

    I agree with your analysis and indeed Prophet Muhammad may serve as an icon for all people around the world.

    but thats the goody goody part.

    The Real test is this.

    1) There have been many points/actions of Prophet Muhammad which may have been wrong or are worthy of criticism.

    Will scholars like you, or Islam in general will accept such criticism and respond in a civilised manner. If not then i am sorry Islam doesnot pass the test for modern liberal ethos. saying good things about people is good but the ability to accept dissent and criticism is greater.

  69. Ummi

    “I have zero clue”

    @Singularity, that is your problem. When you have no friggin idea about a thing and when your ignorant mind teaches you that “Israeli” Lobby is not religious then I better sit back and regret that why did I bother myself to argue with a 5 years old kid who only knows how to eat and pee.

    Little boy, I clearly said,USA is ruled by Israelites. Do you want me to refer a statement by a former Israeli PM who publicly said that We(Israelities) rule over USA?

    I clearly know the difference between Israelities and Jews who oppose the existance of Israael but my boy, In reality Those “oppressed” jews are living exile life in USA. All media pundits and policy makers are Israelities. Be it AOL,Google,MSNBC,CNN you name it. They are all working in favor of Israel. Obama’s closed advisor is a jew who supports Israel.

    For sake of argument lets agree that India is Secular. In same India we witnessed demolition of Babri Masjid, Gujrat Riots,Bombay Riots and what not. Same goes in USA when natives burnt several muslim mosques.

    If this is all your secularism then keep it in your pants.

    @Jamal: yea you are rater dreaming to bring secularism to have lots of Voodka and Whiskey?

  70. Ummi

    Why do you people hate the supremacy of a religion? Why do you guys want Pakistan to be an atheist state?

    So much haterd against the religion will lead you no where At the end of the day you will be on losing side like you are at the moment. Your Master USA is trying to save his pants in Afghanistan. See how your Mamoo McChrystal got mad and talked reality about the black guy sitting in Washington. I don’t see how will you implement secularism in Pakistan while you are being losers? By making lame comments on PTH?

    please explain!

  71. Honestly corrupt

    @Amaar……….So you get offended that stones and wood was removed from Kaaba but dont appreciate the forgiveness of the Prophet against the worst kind of people.
    Kaaba????? yor are talking about that building in which stones and woods were kept? I know for sure Prophet ….. you are refering to mohammed.

  72. Yasir Qadeer

    Why not? It’s just the name that differs because Islam gives complete freedom to believers of all religions to act according to their religion. So it shouldn’t be any biggie, I guess.

  73. OMLK

    I think first we need to agree on a definition of a secular state. I am not too sure if the defnition given by the author is strictly correct. I do agree with the Islamic position on certaim matters and the interpretation of the same given by the author, but if a state was to adopt all these noble concepts, BUT, do it in the name of Islam…would it be a secular state? Without answering this fundamental question, all else is moot.

  74. OMLK

    @Quantum Singularity

    There is no clergy in Islam. So the religion is primarily defined by its scripture which does not support death for apsotacy or blasphemy; and itself is supposed to be read by its followers who within it have been exhorted to use their reason and intellect (without blindly following the leaders or the majority).

  75. shiv

    I have read that when the Prophet Mohammad died he had left no precise instructions on the formation of a government. As long as he was alive – he was able to serve as the military head, the executive and the judiciary.

    In the centuries after he died governance in Islamic was split between two groups – the ulema who looked after jurisprudence and the military who took charge of the treasury. This seems to be the exact structure that was followed in most Islamic countries and Pakistan is no exception.

    When you put the military in charge of the treasury, you have a situation in which the state obeys the commands of the military. The ulema might disagree with the military but the best they can do is perhaps lead a rebellion (In the name of Allah!). That would be inconvenient for the military, so it is in the interests of the ulema and military in an Islamic state to cooperate and to hell with anyone else.

    The actual people in Islamic societies have no power. They are hypocritically advised to read and learn the Quran and have the wool pulled over their eyes while they imagine that God has empowered them. But in no Islamic country are the military and ulema in any way interested in God or anyone else empowering the people.

    The height of power in an Islamic state is reserved for the military or the ulema. This has nothing to do with Islam, but any Muslim who is neither ulema nor military who points this out will have his ass fried before you can say ouch. That is why you have Muslims talking crap like “There are no clergy in Islam” Of course there are no clergy. Why have them when you have hi falutin military sultans and self serving ulema?

    In Pakistan, the military has outsourced its own work (of kicking India’s ass) to the ulema while the Pakistan military has made itself available for hire to do the US’s work. Pakistan’s treasury gets filled by the US and a part of that goes as zakat to kick the kafirs of India while Pakistanis starve and/or get no education. How laughably ridiculous.

    All this has nothing to do with Islam or secularism. You can talk all you like about Islam and secularism – but only delusional Pakistanis imagine that their nation somehow represents Islam. First that delusion needs to be discarded. But that will leave Pakistan more rudderless than it is while its ass is on fire. Pakistan has little to do with Islam and most of you are an insult to the religion.

    Just change the subject.

  76. Farukh Sarwar

    Quaid-e-Azam was the biggest visionary in the history of our country and that’s the reason why he always mentioned the Islamic principles in his speeches. The secular principles of Islam are purposely altered by the Mullahs of extremist mindsets, just to pursue their own goals.

  77. Syed

    @Ummi
    A ‘secular state’ is not atheist. Read the definition of a secular state in the article itself. Btw, for many individuals religion is definitely supreme and the author’s position stems from that position.

  78. Chote Miyan

    Amaar,
    “So you get offended that stones and wood was removed from Kaaba but dont appreciate the forgiveness of the Prophet against the worst kind of people.”

    So, for you it’s just stones and wood? No wonder Islam has problems with Hinduism. If people like you, who, I assume, belong to the “low” church of Islam can be so dismissive of other faiths, I am scarcely surprised at what the Deobandi types believe in. To understand true secularism, you could start with a rigorous ramifications of that statement of yours. And, btw, why are those people called the “worst” people?

  79. Quantum_Singularity

    @Indian Pundit

    “Firstly NONE OF THESE problems that you mentioned can be solved through free-market capitalism. Only a strong state supported system can solve these problems like overpopulation , ethnic/caste rivalries. But our over simplistic democratic process always created hindrances in the path of Indian state towards removing these problems. In the current structure its PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to remove these problems because of vote bank politics…”

    And did over 40 years of socialism solve any of these problems? Heck no. In fact it only exacerbated ethnic rivalries, as various groups competed for development money and favor. This yet another stupid argument from the left. They identify something wrong, immediately link it with capitalism, and then somehow argue that one should adopt their own failed ideologies to solve the problem even when the “solution” is worse than the problem.

    “India has an enviable record of 7 % to 8% growth rate. But how???”

    With regard to India’s economy, Services (things like engineering services, professional services, IT, etc.) accounts for 55% of the income generated, 28% is from industry, and 17% is from agriculture. On the other hand 52% of the population is in agriculture, 34% is in Services, and 14% is in manufacturing. In other words most of the growth is from the services and manufacturing sectors, 52% of the population in agriculture who contributes a measly 17%, do nothing for India.

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html

    “According to the recent Lokayukta report for Karnataka, for every tonne of iron ore mined by a private company, the government gets a royalty of Rs 27 and the mining company makes Rs 5,000. In the bauxite and aluminium sector, the figures are even worse. We’re talking about daylight robbery to the tune of billions of dollars. Enough to buy elections, governments, judges, newspapers, TV channels, NGOs and aid agencies.- Arundhati Roy
    This is happening through out the country……
    These open loot of India’s national resources for private profit actually facilitate the growth rate”

    And did this not happen even under Nehru’s socialism? What you describe is not capitalism but corruption . Under capitalism a rational person/govt should negotiate the best possible royalty he can. But instead the govt gives away such consignments due to bribery, something that existed even under socialism.

    “……while Indian poor makes no improvement……..and infact goes even deeper into poverty ( 100 million more went below the poverty line in last 5 years even though we had 7 to 8% growth).”

    Please provide statistics from a credible source (e.g. World Bank, UN, etc.) that supports this bold assertion.

    “Only Socialism will ensure proper utilization of India’s resources……”

    LOL, like it did from 1950-1980? What a joke.

    “And lastly prosperity of top 20 to 30% is not prosperity at all…..infact it will be counter productive.”

    This kind of mentality is what retards India. That 30% is prosperous because it worked hard and developed the skills in order to be successful. We reward those contribute a lot (e.g. the wealthy industrialist, the yuppie professional, even the illiterate entrepreneur who starts a business etc.) while those who contribute little are left behind (e.g. the subsistence farmer, the day laborer who have no desire to improve their lot). Such a system incentivizes development in society. My family worked hard, developed the skills needed to get ahead in society while my dad’s cousins sat around on their asses all day BSing. They are still are down on the farm in rural India, they deserve to be dirt poor in my opinion. Fortunately what you see in the younger generation (even among the poor and illiterate) in India is a mentality shift from one that demands that their family (e.g. rich relatives in the West)/govt/everybody else support them to generating their own prosperity. In the interim it will mean high poverty until the younger generation grows up but it is the right attitude to make for real development in the future.

  80. Quantum_Singularity

    @Ammar

    “2. Sorry. Firstly it is very debatable if the bulk believe in what you are saying.”

    The five main schools of Islam view the death penalty as applicable for the blasphemy/apostasy. They certainly would not be the main schools were the they not followed by the majority of Muslims.

    “Second, all Muslim scholars agree that the actions of the Prophet and his companions carries more weight than any other opinion. Agreed? So the Abdullah bin Aby Salool incident disproves your idea.”

    Again I am not expert in Islamic theology. What is relevant is that a vast number Muslims scholars taken the body of religious texts have come to a conclusion. You and your brethren who primarily are not scholars looking at various texts come to a different conclusion. Who is to be believed? I would tend to defer to the former.

  81. Quantum_Singularity

    “At Kaaba incident, the Prophet forgave his personal enemies but only demolished the idols.
    No orientalist can deny this!…….but dont appreciate the forgiveness of the Prophet against the worst kind of people.”

    In war you are not supposed to kill people who surrender. This isn’t something special you do as a favor, it is something that is required. And no you can’t demand them to convert to your religion or destroy their religious idols in order to spare them. It is like a armed bank robber who goes to the teller and demands money and later says that the teller/society should appreciate him because he did not kill anyone.

    “So you get offended that stones and wood was removed from Kaaba ”

    So if someone bombed the Kaaba, or burned down various mosques, Muslims should not get offended? After all it is just brick and mortar.

  82. Quantum_Singularity

    @Ummi
    “When you have no friggin idea about a thing and when your ignorant mind teaches you that
    “Israeli” Lobby is not religious then I better sit back and regret that why did I bother myself to argue with a 5 years old kid who only knows how to eat and pee.”

    What a moron. If you had any knowledge of the Israeli lobby, you would realize its goals are not religious in nature. Their goal is not to push Jewish religious law either in the US or Israel. Their goal is to support the state of Israel. Thus how can they be religious fanatics (which was your original statement)??? Many Jews are themselves agnostic or atheists who define themselves ethnically.

    “Little boy, I clearly said,USA is ruled by Israelites. Do you want me to refer a statement by a former Israeli PM who publicly said that We(Israelities) rule over USA?”

    What does this have to do with anything?? I never stated anything about the relative strength of the Israeli lobby.

    “For sake of argument lets agree that India is Secular. In same India we witnessed demolition of Babri Masjid, Gujrat Riots,Bombay Riots and what not. Same goes in USA when natives burnt several muslim mosques. If this is all your secularism then keep it in your pants.”

    When put into the context of India’s 1.1 Billon population these incidents seem miniscule at best (which explains why although Indian Muslims are concerned about such incidents they don’t obsess over them unlike some people). Frankly I am surprised more such incidents do not happen. The difference is that without secularism the entire 1.1 Billion would be subject to extreme discrimination/persecution were they not the majority religion or religious sect. India would have not had a Sikh prime minister nor a Muslim president had it not been secular nor would it have significant numbers of civil servants be from a minority religion/religious sect.

  83. Quantum_Singularity

    “There is no clergy in Islam. So the religion is primarily defined by its scripture which does not support death for apsotacy or blasphemy; and itself is supposed to be read by its followers who within it have been exhorted to use their reason and intellect (without blindly following the leaders or the majority).”

    Aren’t Caliphs, Imams, etc. clergy?

  84. Tilsim

    @ Quantum Singularity

    What is the point of this? This debate will go nowhere – other than raising temperatures because you and your supporters have a particular axe to grind seeing nothing good in Islam. Muslims will say that you are judging by standards other than by the standards of the society, in particular during the Prophet’s time (pbuh). You will counter that you are just trying to remove the blinkers from uncritical believers and no axe to grind. Muslims will be convinced of your hatred towards them and you will be convinced of your superiority. We certainly won’t have moved onto a better place. Your critique is as balanced as one hears typically about Hinduism. At the end of the day, two people can see the same facts and draw different conclusions from it. Let’s leave it at that.

  85. Tilsim

    @ Quantum Singularity

    What is the point of this? This debate will go nowhere – other than raising temperatures because you and your supporters have a particular axe to grind seeing nothing good in Islam. Muslims will say that you are judging by standards other than by the standards of the society, in particular during the Prophet’s time (pbuh). You will counter that you are just trying to remove the blinkers from uncritical believers and no axe to grind. Muslims will be convinced of your hatred towards them and you will be convinced of your superiority. We certainly won’t have moved onto a better place. Your critique is as balanced as one hears typically about Hinduism. At the end of the day, two people can see the same facts and draw different conclusions from it. History is the biggest validator of the strength of any particular idea. Let’s leave it at that.

  86. Ummi

    Syed,

    why don’t you make difference between atheism and secularism for sake of readers? Both belief reject the supremacy of God and His rules. If that is not true then come up with some example which can prove your point.

    Between the people who coined the term secularism few centuries ago actually agree that secularism actually tends to atheism.Google about it and it would help to broaden your spectrum.

    @Quantum_Singularity, you are not lesser ignorant than Mullahs who hardly make attempt to use their mind and keep throwing up bull shit .

    Just for sake of your knowledge, the destruction of Babri Masjid was state sponsored so was Gujrat riots, ever heard of Nirender Modi?

    “When put into the context of India’s 1.1 Billon population these incidents seem miniscule”

    Wow! What a hypocritical moron! you call killing of 2000+ mulim minorities a small thing? If it’s like that then why dont you left wing idiots use same analogy for Qadyanis? In the population of 17 corore, killing of few Qadyanis is a small thing. why you guys are mourning for that?

    It shows your hatred against Islam. Keep burning!

    “Aren’t Caliphs, Imams, etc. clergy?”

    No it is not because by definition clergy is all about working up for the sacred place whether it is a mosque or a church. Caliphs are nothing but a Islamic term of a “governor” governs a state or states because Islam does not allow Kingdomship and provides a democratic way to elect a leader based on merit. Islam does not embrace dictatorship either. This is the reason Muhammad(saw) did not select Ali(ra) as 1st caliph because AbuBakr(ra) was far talented and experienced than Ali which Ali later admitted too.

  87. Moosa

    @ Ummi

    “why don’t you make difference between atheism and secularism for sake of readers? Both belief reject the supremacy of God and His rules.”

    Atheism and Secularism are very different concepts. Atheism positively rejects the existence of God, and on that basis it rejects His rules for society. Secularism leaves open the question whether God exists or not, and therefore does not permit the domination of either atheists or believers of any particular religion. Ideally, the Secularist state should provide rules and laws which are objectively beneficial for the majority of its citizens, and I would argue [myself believing that Islam provides a beneficial model] that I could make a case to a Secularist government to adopt “Islamic” rules on the basis of absolute justice. However, I’m not sure that you would like to adopt this route. Would you like to impose Islam on a nation on the basis that you know it is the truth? More interestingly, what interpretation of Islam would you like to impose on the nation? The Deobandi interpretation or the Barelvi interpretation or some other interpretation? It is precisely to avoid these problems, that a Secularist State seeks to adopt an objectively fair and just system of rules. If you believe that Islam promotes justice and fairness, then you should have no problem with this.

    “Between the people who coined the term secularism few centuries ago actually agree that secularism actually tends to atheism.Google about it and it would help to broaden your spectrum.”

    My response: Most people would agree that theocracy actually leads to religious terrorism, oppression, injustice, and foolish laws. I can give you examples if you wish.

    “@Quantum_Singularity, you are not lesser ignorant than Mullahs who hardly make attempt to use their mind and keep throwing up bull shit .”

    My response: I simply don’t understand the use of foul language by people who claim to uphold Islam and its rules. Even well-mannered atheists don’t employ bad language, can Muslims not demonstrate adab (behaviour) at least as good as atheists?

    “Wow! What a hypocritical moron! you call killing of 2000+ mulim minorities a small thing? If it’s like that then why dont you left wing idiots use same analogy for Qadyanis? In the population of 17 corore, killing of few Qadyanis is a small thing. why you guys are mourning for that?”

    My response: I agree that killing 2000 humans is a terrible crime, I also agree that the historical killings of hindus by muslims is a terrible crime. The Holy Qur’an says that even killing one person is a great crime, and hindus and muslims have murdered each other in large numbers. But I think the Qadiani example is a poor example. You see, Qadianis are not permitted to call themselves Muslims for 30 years, they are not permitted to say “salam”, they are not permitted to hold any important government office, they are not permitted to say “Muslim” on their passports. The Indian government is far more humane and gives far more rights to your people, than your people give to Qadianis. Furthermore, not a single Qadiani has ever used terrorist tactics against Pakistan, as your people have used against India. No Qadiani is killing your people, it is your people who are exclusively murdering Qadianis, it is a one-sided murder, which is different from the hindu-muslim murder which is murder on both sides. Furthermore, when the Qadianis caught a terrorist in the mosque, they handed him over to the Pakistani police completely unharmed. Furthermore, even now, the Qadianis are patiently putting their trust in Allah, and they are not rioting or creating trouble in Pakistan. Please don’t compare yourself to Qadianis, you really are not in that league.

    “It shows your hatred against Islam. Keep burning!”

    My response: It seems to me that you yourself are burning, no? You seem so angry.

    “No it is not because by definition clergy is all about working up for the sacred place whether it is a mosque or a church. Caliphs are nothing but a Islamic term of a “governor” governs a state or states because Islam does not allow Kingdomship and provides a democratic way to elect a leader based on merit. Islam does not embrace dictatorship either. This is the reason Muhammad(saw) did not select Ali(ra) as 1st caliph because AbuBakr(ra) was far talented and experienced than Ali which Ali later admitted too.”

    My response: With due respect, I have a very different understanding of clergy and caliph from yourself. Clergy have no substance in Islam, they are a post-islamic invention. There was no “clergy” at the time of Prophet Muhammad (saw) or during the time of his immediate successors. Initially, during early Islam, they may have developed to provide knowledge of Islam by scholastic endeavours, but today a great number of clergy are parasites who use religion to exploit muslims. The word “khalifa” (caliph), on the other hand, is mentioned many times in the Holy Qur’an. Its primary meaning is vicegerent or representative, and in its pristine form the primary caliphs are the prophets of God, for instance the Holy Qur’an mentions that Prophet Adam (as) was God’s caliph. However, as God can have a caliph-prophet who represents Him, so also a prophet can have a caliph or deputy who represents the prophet after the prophet dies. These are not mere governors, but they are spiritual teachers who uphold the prophet’s teaching. This is why Abu Bakr (ra) famously held the dead body of Prophet Muhammad (saw) and said to him, “By Allah, I will not allow you to die twice”, meaning that Prophet Muhammad (saw) had died physically, but Abu Bakr (ra) would not permit his teaching to die with him.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  88. @Quantum_Singularity

    ‘“……while Indian poor makes no improvement……..and infact goes even deeper into poverty ( 100 million more went below the poverty line in last 5 years even though we had 7 to 8% growth).”

    Please provide statistics from a credible source (e.g. World Bank, UN, etc.) that supports this bold assertion’.

    India’s “great” corporate media/news channels DID NOT properly highlight this side of India.

    Read:-

    “in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-47791820100418”

  89. douglas

    Prophets also have made contradictory statements or acted inconsistently. With their help you cannot solve modern problems. Prophets and the concept of prophethood create fanatics – may be unintendedly. We need to at last, and after suffering so much because of these prophet-based religions, get over this prophet etc. stuff. There are just too many fanatics out there as followers of some prophet. And since no prophet is free from contradictions (in words and deeds), it is all terribly dangerous. Muslim countries and societies are especially vulnerable to this malady. Every muslim sees this but has no courage to say so openly.

  90. Syed

    @douglas

    …Just as there are many fanatics inspired by socialists, democrats, kings and presidents. Correct your facts: More genocides were committed by Nazis, communists, imperialists and ethnic leaders than those by these deviants in the name of religion in totality.

    We are arguing that the religious deviants are violating the literal and moral teachings of their prophets. The great Prophets who championed humanity and goodness are not to be blamed.

  91. Tilsim

    I believe Amaar is talking about certain values and rights that are mentioned in Islam and one could also expect to see in a secular liberal society. Remember Muslims believe that the values that they espouse have also been known to non-Muslims so there is no copyright (although it may come across like that because of lack of knowledge).

    Today, extremist Islam in particular is creating a gulf in the minds of muslims and non-muslims alike. Also like any religion there is a variety of interpretation amongst Muslims and phases in history where Muslims become less tolerant (but the reverse also holds true). Also some Muslims would like to see more importance given to the spiritual domain as well as aspects that reform the person’s inner character rather than focus on politics. Some Muslims also want to debate whether some of the interpretation of hadiths is correct in the modern context. It’s a dynamic situation but the fundos would like a static version of the religion based on their belief in returning the religion to a concept of purity from it’s earliest days (Salafi/ Wahabi/ Deobandi philosophy).

  92. Bin Ismail

    @Majumdar (July 4, 2010 at 9:20 am)

    “…..The world did know tolerance before the Prophet (pbuh) too. It is just that you dont know much about it…..”

    I believe what the author is pointing out, is the fact that during the days of Muhammad, and in the general social environment, tolerance was something scarce. A study of history reveals that even during the few centuries preceding the Prophet, the human attribute of tolerance had actually dwindled. The author is certainly not claiming that tolerance never existed in human history, prior to Muhammad. All prophets of God, whether Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus or Muhammad, were messengers of peace, harmony and love. Therefore, the appearance of a prophet on the canvas of history will naturally coincide with a crest in tolerance. The departure of a prophet, on the other hand, coincides with a trough.

    @ Chote Miyan (July 4, 2010 at 9:20 am)

    “……History is always written by the victors…..”

    History is written by historians – be they the victors or the vanquished. The renowned Japanese historian Hayashi is an authority on Japanese history and a vociferous critic of the policies of the Japanese during WW2. Fischer, a leading German historian openly examines the post-defeat Germany. Of course victors are not barred from history-writing.

    @ Amaar (July 4, 2010 at 10:22 am)

    “…..Would the likes of Kaalket, chote mian etc. (who appear to be Hindu) want a draconian and murderous interpretation of Islam…..”

    Where prejudice precedes analysis, it would be expected of some, to be more inclined to accept repulsive interpretations of Islam, rather than endearing ones.

    @ Quantum_Singularity (July 5, 2010 at 12:03am)

    “…..Actually a secular state has no state religion and is officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion…..”

    I agree.

    @ Quantum_Singularity (July 5, 2010 at 1:34 am)

    “…..The essence of secularism is the separation of religion and state both at an institutional and legal level. The fact that Islam advocates Sharia law contravenes this. Furthermore all the political leaders of Islam during the time of Mohammed were also religious figures (e.g. Caliphs)…..”

    Islam advocates imbibing and adopting the Shariah, by choice. Islam opposes enforcing the Shariah against the will of the recipient. The Quran declares clearly: “There is no compulsion in matters of Religion” (2:256). As far as the four Caliphs of Muhammad are concerned, they were primarily spiritual, not political, successors of the Prophet. In that capacity, they were also primarily spiritual leaders of the Muslims. The aspect of temporal leadership of these four Caliphs was secondary.

    @ Quantum_Singularity (July 5, 2010 at 2:15 am)

    “…..Yes, I am sure they would have said anything at the point of a sword. Remember Mecca was about to be conquered. Conversion was means to be spared…..”

    Mecca had been taken. General Amnesty had been unconditionally granted to all its dwellers. It had been proclaimed by the Prophet that everybody was free to follow whichever faith he chose. The victor and conqueror of Mecca did not obtain even a single benefit from the town he had taken. After making sure that his disciples had made their arrangements for food, he went to the house of a cousin of his, Umme Hani and askes if she had something to eat. She informed him that all she could offer him was some stale bread and old vinegar. Muhammad cheerfully accepted the hospitality. He would dip a dried hard piece of the stale bread in the vinegar, put it in his mouth, thank God and praise the good meal. This was the conqueror of Mecca on the day of the conquest.

    With respect to your other points:

    a) Freedom to practice religion: “There is no coercion in matters of religion. ” (Quran 2:256 ) and “Whoever chooses to believe let him believe and whoever chooses to disbelieve let him disbelieve” (Quran 18:29).

    b) Freedom of worship: “Your religion is for you and my religion is for me ” (Quran 109:6).

    c) Equality of citizens: In the first commandment of the Quran, God addresses Humanity, not Muslims exclusively, “O Humanity, worship your Lord…” (Quran 2:21).

    d) Apostasy: “Those who believe and then disbelieve, then again believe and then again disbelieve, and then advance in disbelief, Allah will not grant them forgiveness nor will He guide them to the Path ” (Quran 4:137). As is evident, even for repeated apostasy there is no earthly penalty awarded in this life, to be executed through the agency of human hands.

    Regards.

  93. Quantum_Singularity

    @ Tilsim

    “What is the point of this? This debate will go nowhere – other than raising temperatures”

    Is that not true in any debate where two sides are vocally supportive of opposing sides? This blog in the context of your country/your parent’s country has very liberal viewpoints. These are hotly contested by the opposing faction, does that not mean the debate will go nowhere and does nothing other than raise temperatures?

    “because you and your supporters have a particular axe to grind seeing nothing good in Islam.”

    I have never stated that. You can argue from a historical perspective that what Mohammed did in 7th century tribal Arabia may have been an improvement at that time, but in the modern world to secular progressives like myself and other people in the West, it seems regressive and primitive.

    “Muslims will say that you are judging by standards other than by the standards of the society, in particular during the Prophet’s time (pbuh).”

    The real argument is whether those standards are sane to have in the 21st century.

    “Muslims will be convinced of your hatred towards them and you will be convinced of your superiority.”

    Hatred towards a religion is not forged by taking a critical analysis of a religious prophet’s behavior or criticising specific elements of a religion. I was under the assumption that Muslims were to argue to their religion rationally?

    “We certainly won’t have moved onto a better place. Your critique is as balanced as one hears typically about Hinduism.”

    I am unsure as to what this has to do with Hinduism? I am not Hindu from a religious sense (albeit I am one in a cultural sense), I am a Deist with an affinity for secular humanism.

    “At the end of the day, two people can see the same facts and draw different conclusions from it. Let’s leave it at that.”

    If that is so what is the point of having a debate on any polarising subject?

  94. Quantum_Singularity

    @ Indian Pundit

    “India’s “great” corporate media/news channels DID NOT properly highlight this side of India.
    Read:-
    “in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-47791820100418″”

    ROFL, as AG3L correctly noted, I guess lefties can only play the numbers game to support their failed socialist ideologies. Statistical obfuscation for the win.

    @AG3L

    “Let me also be clear that, in my opinion, the older calorie intake based estimate of poverty was not a good one – it greatly underestimated poverty, to the benefit of government officials and “India Shining” types.”

    The better way is to simply use the World Bank estimates. However they too have increased the daily income to be above the poverty line by 25%.

  95. Tilsim

    “The real argument is whether those standards are sane to have in the 21st century.”

    Based on the arguments that you have been making, it’s hard to see that you are in a good or informed position to convince Muslims when Muslims themselves have several different interpretations of those standards. Islam is often seen (by Muslims and non-Muslims) as a monolithic and static philosophy but in my view it’s far from that. Picking up bits of narrative about a religion is fine for some banter but no good for informed analysis or trying to put forward a well thought through argument that convinces.

  96. Chote Miyan

    Bin Ismail,
    “History is written by historians – be they the victors or the vanquished. The renowned Japanese historian Hayashi …”

    I am sure you know what I mean. I doubt those historians would be plying their trade had the Axis won. As I said before, doubting something is not denying respectability. The fundamental thing is that when you argue pros or cons of a law or ethic on the basis of religious texts, you automatically land on the turf where the Mullahs, or the Pundits, or the Popes are the most comfortable. You can argue and fight till the day of judgment, but it would be a losing battle. It’s your wish. I would be a fence sitter but regrettably this affects us all. It’s not fair to ask someone to understand your concept without asking any questions.
    As always, I would stand up for your rights to abuse Hinduism, or Gandhi, or whoever you choose to do so, in case you need to vent your spleen.

    Tilsim,
    This is not a question of superiority of one faith over another. In fact, a few months ago, I had argued about how Islam conferred a dignity to a common person that is not matched by any other religion. At that point, I was defending some aspects of Maulana Azad. Needless to say, I was roundly pilloried by all and sundry, accused, among other things, of being a closet Islamic fundamentalist! It was in reference to Akbar’s introduction of the practice of “sijdah” in his courts. Some of us do know about Islam and its multifaceted aspects. Unfortunately, like Deobandis, whom you hate, you expect us to accept whatever you furnish without qualifications. There is no need to get worked up about some honest questions.

  97. Chote Miyan

    Bin Ismail,
    “..A study of history reveals that even during the few centuries preceding the Prophet, the human attribute of tolerance had actually dwindled. ”

    Actually, there is a reason to believe that the opposite was true. The fact that there were so many idols in Kaba, presumably dedicated to various gods, shows that different faiths were tolerated, or maybe, celebrated as well. I think that there is a close parallel with growth of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Pagan Roman Empire was remarkably accommodating of different beliefs. As long as you sacrificed a goat or sheep or dog or whatever in honor of the Emperor, they didn’t much care for what and how you prayed.

  98. Chote Miyan

    Bin Ismail,
    “..A study of history reveals that even during the few centuries preceding the Prophet, the human attribute of tolerance had actually dwindled. ”

    Actually, there is a reason to believe that the opposite was true. The reputed presence of so many idols in Kaba, presumably dedicated to various gods, shows that different faiths were tolerated, or maybe, celebrated as well. I think that there is a close parallel with growth of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Pagan Roman Empire was remarkably accommodating of different beliefs. As long as you sacrificed a goat or sheep or dog or whatever in honor of the Emperor, they didn’t much care for what and how you prayed.

  99. Chote Miyan

    sorry for the re-post. My computer crashed and I thought the previous post hadn’t gone through.

  100. Syed

    @Chote Miyan
    “The reputed presence of so many idols in Kaba, presumably dedicated to various gods, shows that different faiths were tolerated, or maybe, celebrated as well. I think that there is a close parallel with growth of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Pagan Roman Empire was remarkably accommodating of different beliefs.”

    Oh Please! The same housekeepers of Kaaba and ‘tolerant’ Meccans were butchering Muslims at the time of the Prophet for believing in One God.
    At the same Kaaba, these Muslims could not worship one God in peace. They were made to flee to Madina and there too these followers of peaceful ‘different faiths’ were hellbent on wiping out these monotheists. Btw, these Meccans knew full well that their forefather Abraham had built Kaaba for the worship of One God and not for idol-worship. Imagine if a Jewish synagogue is inundated with images of Jesus by Christian zealots. The Prophet as the representative of Abraham and the new keeper of Kaaba merely restored it to its original form.

    I think you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, my friend.

  101. Syed

    Quantum_Singularity,

    I think your understanding of Islam has been controlled by Maudodi, Salafi/Wahabi and Deobandi sects and their progeny like Taliban. None of them are anywhere close to the origin of this religion (a 1200 year gap exists). These fatwas which you are using to view Islam in a dim light have been produced by men in the last 200 years of so.

    I think only those sources and views are valid which have authenticity within the first 50 years of the Prophet’s life. To disappoint you, these fatwas simply did not exist within that period.

  102. Tilsim

    @ Chote Mian
    “This is not a question of superiority of one faith over another. ”

    I never said it was. I personally believe that all the faiths are trying to achieve the same thing in different ways but the practice and focus of it’s followers may differ and as such the societies they create can be quite different.

    I am simply saying that analysis without a good understanding combined with what comes across as antipathy is not the basis of a good debate – specially when it comes to religion which is beyond the purely rational.

    Specifically, it can also be regarded as retrogressive to impose democracy (a good thing) by bombing Iraq to bits or to imposing modern systems and values in Afghanistan. It’s not as simple as saying Prophet (pbuh)’s actions were retrogressive in a 21st century context when the modern context gives plenty of examples of retrogressive acts perpetuated by secular societies. Also the Prophet’s actions have to be viewed in the context of the time, what he was trying to accomplish and the actors and society around him. When many western scholars have examined the picture in detail, they have written very positive commentaries on the conduct of the Prophet (pbuh). He espoused many many humanist and liberal principles which this article was trying to highlight in my view.

  103. Tilsim

    Annie Besant
    (1847-1933) British theosophist and nationalist leader in India & President of the Indian National Congress in 1917.

    It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher.

    Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
    (1869-1948) Indian thinker, statesman, and nationalist leader.

    I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These, and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every trouble.
    *Young India* (periodical), 1928, Volume X

  104. APK

    Frankly, I feel a Christian or Hindu or any non-Muslim would find it as abhorrent to live in an Islamic state — even in name — as a Muslim would in living in a constitutionally mandated ‘Christian’ or ‘Hindu’ state.
    Better to leave religion to the personal domain, and let the state focus on its business of education, macro-economic policy making, defense and national security.
    Despite its flaws, the Indian model is the best: You have personal/family laws that religious communities can follow, and acts such as Special Marriage Act etc. to allow for people who do not wish to live under the yoke of religion.
    I anticipate your counterargument : What about Modi, Thackeray etc. etc?
    These aberrations are bound to happen in country with poor, uneducated and gullible people.
    However, it would be much worse if minorities in India had no legal status at all or second-class citizenship as is the case in Pakistan.
    Also, this problem cannot be solved by looking through the communal lens. You must get rid of this insistence on “correct” Islam. Who decides what is the correct Islam? The ones with the loudest voices and guns in their hands will always win this argument.

  105. Tilsim

    “Frankly, I feel a Christian or Hindu or any non-Muslim would find it as abhorrent to live in an Islamic state — even in name — as a Muslim would in living in a constitutionally mandated ‘Christian’ or ‘Hindu’ state.
    Better to leave religion to the personal domain, and let the state focus on its business of education, macro-economic policy making, defense and national security.”

    I think that’s right. However, the subtlety is that it’s not just about Muslims versus Christians, Hindu minorities. It’s also about one understanding of Islam vying for dominance and supremacy versus another. The same problem applies to Hinduism with it’s heterogenous religious beliefs and practices hence the Indian model is an interesting one to study for Pakistan. However the practical reality is that we are far far away from any such analysis as the political centre has shifted so far towards the right and there is so much confusion. First priority is to get people to see the wood from the trees.

  106. BJ Kumar

    EDITED.

  107. Tilsim

    @BJ Kumar

    “To me, a “secular Islamic” setup sounds like an oxy-moron. But maybe words have different meanings in Pakistan.”

    I think the following comment by AA Khalid may be of interest. I think it makes some useful observations.

    A.A Khalid
    June 30, 2010 at 2:03 am
    Muhammad Khalid Masud one of this nation’s pre-eminent progressive religious thinkers once wrote:

    ‘’ The term “secularism”, in its semantic journey, has grown in association with ideas of modernity, humanism, rationalism and democracy. It has acquired diverse meanings in this process. It is significant that the trajectory of this semantic journey differs from country to country and culture to culture.’’

    And sadly as Edward Said the American-Arab intellectual noted aswell:

    ”One of the major failures of most Arab and Western intellectuals today is that they have accepted without debate or rigorous scrutiny terms like secularism and democracy,as if everyone knew what these words mean”.

    Hence secularity is a heterogenous phenomenon.

    I think in the most basic sense in political theory secularism is an arragement or a pardigm of Church-State relations. The problem of using this type of pardigmatic analysis with Islam, is that there is no Church in Islam i.e. in the same context as Roman Catholicism.

    Historically in Islam religious authority has been decentralised and maintained some autonomy and independence from temporal authority particularly in the pre-modern period.

    Hence what Jinnah argued for is not entirely new. It is what some conservative political theologians are arguing for which is new and unprecedented in the form of the Sharia State, where there is no institutional divide between religious and temporal authority.

    I do not want to use the word ”secular” in the context of moral theory and ethics, hence this futile debate about Jinnah’s personal conduct is petty and should not really influence our political notions of secularism which is distinct from ethical theory.

    I personally would advise to use the objective and subjective usages of secularism as advocated in the writings of Bellah, Berger, Cassanova, Berger and Soroush. Objective secularism is to see a pardigm of religion-state relations whereas subjective secularism is more personal and views the effects of religion on the public sphere, metaphysical debates and psychological framework of a nation.

    Many see Jinnah as a secular in the French tradition. Personally, I think politically speaking of course Jinnah was a secularist. But in the American, Madisonian tradition. If one compares Jinnah’s Presidential Address:

    http://www.pakistani.org/pakistan/legislation/constituent_address_11aug1947.html

    And to Madison’s masterpiece of religious liberty, Memorial and Remonstrance:

    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/madison_mr.html

    There are some noteable similarities.

    I think like some of the American founding fathers Jinnah recognized religion must not have a monpoloy on the coercive authority the State can yield.

    But I think Jinnah recognized religion cannot be excluded from the public sphere i.e. in the French lacite tradition. The State and the public sphere are different, this is a crucial distinction.

    Jinnah recognized the cultural, civilizational and overarching values of Islam which would operate in public discourse.

    Jinnah saw Islam as a means of Guidance in the public sphere, not as a mean of Governance used in a top-down coercive manner most Islamists have in mind (maybe a Shariah state, which is an unprecedented political construct in Muslim history which I see as a response to modernity by Islamists).

    Islam as Guidance not Islam as Governance, is this expression we can drawn from the objective secularism Jinnah espoused.

  108. Quantum_Singularity

    @Tilsim

    “Based on the arguments that you have been making, it’s hard to see that you are in a good or informed position to convince Muslims when Muslims themselves have several different interpretations of those standards. Islam is often seen (by Muslims and non-Muslims) as a monolithic and static philosophy but in my view it’s far from that. Picking up bits of narrative about a religion is fine for some banter but no good for informed analysis or trying to put forward a well thought through argument that convinces.”

    Not really. Islam obviously is not monolithic. However, on various subjects such as apostasy, blasphemy, etc. there is significant consensus amongst the four major schools of Sunnism and Shiaism. There are more liberal interpretations, however, they are regarded as heretical amongst the major schools and are relatively small. The author’s attempt to take a more liberal interpretation is ultimately a Sisyphean task. The values of a man from 7th century tribal Arabia do not fit with the values of the 21st century, and trying to take some convoluted position to make it so, ultimately only weakens your argument. Better to appeal to reason even if a large number of persons take everything on blind faith.

  109. Quantum_Singularity

    Syed,

    “I think your understanding of Islam has been controlled by Maudodi, Salafi/Wahabi and Deobandi sects and their progeny like Taliban.”

    My points reflect the consensus view (on subjects such as apostasy, blasphemy, women’s rights etc.), taken by movements you mentioned as well as the Shafi’i, Maliki, Hanafi and Hanbali schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence and by the Shi’a.

    “None of them are anywhere close to the origin of this religion (a 1200 year gap exists). These fatwas which you are using to view Islam in a dim light have been produced by men in the last 200 years of so. I think only those sources and views are valid which have authenticity within the first 50 years of the Prophet’s life. To disappoint you, these fatwas simply did not exist within that period.”

    Although the movements are either native to South Asia or more modern Arabia, the schools are not. At the battle of interpretations, obviously the world will ascribe to the interpretation of the majority as being the Islamic view.

  110. Tilsim

    “The values of a man from 7th century tribal Arabia do not fit with the values of the 21st century”

    You mean to say your values. Not sure what values of 21st century means. It’s clear that you had different values to Nehru. It’s clear that you have different values to many others that live today.

    I do accept that there is a predominant narrative in Islam that seems to have coalesced around the thirteen century. However many Muslims are now challenging whether this narrative/orthodoxy is sound.

  111. @Chote Miyan

    Actually, there is a reason to believe that the opposite was true. The reputed presence of so many idols in Kaba, presumably dedicated to various gods, shows that different faiths were tolerated, or maybe, celebrated as well.

    No, there is no reason to believe that. What is apparently not remembered in this analysis that has been presented is that Semitic gods were not forgiving or kindly gods, or goddesses. There was no toleration whatsoever. References are available in both Roman and Greek sources.

    The presence of so many idols does not mean different faiths were tolerated, or celebrated as well. Far from it. It was one united theological system, with many gods or goddesses, a sort of semitic version of the Indo-European theogony. Again, evidence of the unified but multi-theistic Semitic system is available in plenty in a large number of Semitic source records.

    However, there were significant differences between the two, in terms of theology. Human sacrifice was one, although there are hints about it in all the Indo-European faith systems, in terms of creation and fertility myths. By proto-historic times, taking the remaining records as evidence, this had become mythical and symbolical, if ever it existed in fact. There is nothing to show it did. Records are again available.

    On the contrary, in Semitic systems, there is enough evidence, presented in ghastly detail, to put the matter beyond doubt.

    Suffice it to say that it was not an aggregation of divinities from different faith-systems, it was an aggregation of the divinities of a single system; the question of tolerance simply didn’t occur to the priests of divinities that were worshipped, at times, in the shape of brazen furnaces, into which the devout cast their children as offerings.

    I think that there is a close parallel with growth of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Pagan Roman Empire was remarkably accommodating of different beliefs. As long as you sacrificed a goat or sheep or dog or whatever in honor of the Emperor, they didn’t much care for what and how you prayed.

    Please allow me to express concern about the sources of your information. This is so contrary to the reality. A glance through the writings of the Christian fathers will suffice. If you require to be satisfied beyond doubt, I can refer you to single-volume histories that will meet your requirements.

    The Roman Empire was tolerant of pagan systems. It detested and sought to destroy monotheistic systems with all its power. Its relationship with the Jews is one example; the oppression of the Christians, starting as early as Nero, is another. Until Constantine’s vision of the Cross, his victory and his conversion, Christians were oppressed, sometimes more, sometimes less. It was at its peak, I think, under Julian the Apostate, although I could be wrong.

    Perhaps you are thinking about the intermingling of Manichaean religion with the ancient Roman Olympian system.

    Please be disabused.

    The Manichaeans (Mani Khai – Mani lives) was an offshoot of Zoroastrianism, well, sort of, and became very popular as a cult or a sect, like several others that became popular. None of these insisted that other forms of divinity, other faith systems were not compatible with it. So they co-existed. Please be clear that Christians did not permit any other system to co-exist, therefore they had to be erased. Therefore the Romans fought it, for its threat to law and order.

    You really must get your facts lined up before you start presenting them.

  112. androidguy

    @Vajra,

    Don’t be too harsh on Chote Miyan. One of the reasons to peruse PTH, atleast for me, is to read about the different view points of so many and get a feel of all the subtexts and perceptions underlying an issue, including very enlightening & illuminating analysis (such as the one you just posted) from the likes of you, Hayyer and others. Its a few minutes of the day very well spent.

  113. Ummi

    “Atheism and Secularism are very different concepts. Atheism positively rejects the existence of God, and on that basis it rejects His rules for society. Secularism leaves open the question whether God exists or not, and therefore does not permit the domination of either atheists or believers of any particular religion. ”

    Moosa, you are conflicting your own statement. You said Atheism rejects the concept of God hence His supremacy while Secularism on other hand does not give importance to laws of God hence propose alternative laws. Atheists reject God because they considered God’s law vulnerable and fragile after famous incident which led the separation of church and state movement.

    The laws made by Atheists are no differ that laws made by seculars(if they ever exist on earth). The laws made by secularists lead to atheism anyway.

    Jacob Holyoake who coined the term Secularism says:


    a form of opinion which concerns itself only with questions, the issues of which can be tested by the experience of this life” (English Secularism, 60)

    He further says:


    Secularism is that which seeks the development of the physical, moral, and intellectual nature of man to the highest possible point, as the immediate duty of life — which inculcates the practical sufficiency of natural morality apart from Atheism, Theism or the Bible — which selects as its methods of procedure the promotion of human improvement by material means, and proposes these positive agreements as the common bond of union, to all who would regulate life by reason and ennoble it by service” (Principles of Secularism, 17).

    you are right that seculars ‘openly’ never reject the concept of God but as I said earlier that secularism is a sugar-coated term for Atheism. Just like atheism does not believe in hereafter and believes in “Char dino ki dunya hay kuch khala pilay moj ura”, secularism believes in same. Read the above two para and see all emphasis is based on advancement based by material means. Pick any religion, be it Islam,Biblical beliefs, Hinduism or Budhism, all reject the idea of improving life by material means rather they promote the concept of pleasing God to improve life. Some of the religions believe in hereafter as well hence ask to work up for life after hereafter as well. The words by founding father are enough to figure out what was in their mind. Definitely secularism was a cunning attempt to promote atheism in a way that people don’t curse them as part of anti-religion cult.

    Kindly go thru history yourself rather giving your own intrepetition. On other hand secularism does not exist in reality and all states which officially claim to be secular are highly dominated by right wing people of their country. See even the so called secular country Turkey is being more religious and right wing these days and threatening Israel these days.

    So kindly don’t fool out of yourself by saying that “we are not athiest” rather than ,”we are seculars”.

  114. Quantum_Singularity

    Tilsim,

    “You mean to say your values. Not sure what values of 21st century means. It’s clear that you had different values to Nehru. It’s clear that you have different values to many others that live today.”

    The “values” I am referring to are not specific viewpoints on economy or political theory. They are much more broadly accepted. Things like not punishing people for apostasy or blasphemy. Not having old men marry nine year olds. Not treating women with such inequality, etc.

    “I do accept that there is a predominant narrative in Islam that seems to have coalesced around the thirteen century. However many Muslims are now challenging whether this narrative/orthodoxy is sound.”

    Therein lies the problem. Muslims believe that the Koran is immutable, that Mohammed (and his actions) was perfect. Hence the narrative is stuck in antiquity. It is difficult to argue that a husband cannot beat his wife, without resorting to a convoluted analysis, because it is explicitly stated in the Koran.

  115. Ummi

    Syed,

    “produced by men in the last 200 years of so.”

    Are you also covering Barelviat in it which was coined few centuries ago in the name of Islam which is a mixture of Hinduism and Shiaism?

    Off topic but it is funny how do you guys curse Mullah all the time to interpret Islam according to their little brains and here we are seeing Mullahs like BinIsmael,Syed,Singularity and few other kids who are trying their best to prove themselves more moronic than Mullahs.

  116. P. Vengaayam

    Ummi, valiant attempt at trying to “prove” that secularism is the same as atheism. You seem to have missed the basic point that atheism is an individual belief borne out of thoughts and experience. Secularism is an ideal to be practised, or not practised, but a group of individuals. It is not an individual belief.

    ” Just like atheism does not believe in hereafter and believes in “Char dino ki dunya hay kuch khala pilay moj ura”, secularism believes in same.”

    Atheism’s “belief” is that we are all responsible for our own actions, so only the worst kind of people will commit murder and then pretend that God made them do it. If this is what faith is all about, I fail to see anything redeeming about it.

    ” Read the above two para and see all emphasis is based on advancement based by material means. Pick any religion, be it Islam,Biblical beliefs, Hinduism or Budhism, all reject the idea of improving life by material means rather they promote the concept of pleasing God to improve life. ”

    And usually in most faiths, “pleasing God” is made equivalent to acquire knowledge, not go and slice somebody’s head off.

    “Some of the religions believe in hereafter as well hence ask to work up for life after hereafter as well. The words by founding father are enough to figure out what was in their mind. ”

    Right, kill people in this life so you can get rewards in the afterlife. Has a familiar ring to it.

    “Definitely secularism was a cunning attempt to promote atheism in a way that people don’t curse them as part of anti-religion cult.”

    secularism is an attempt to leave religion out of the sphere of governance, as mixing the two creates more problems than it solves. This idea of treating Islam on par with other religions is the root cause of the hatred of the secularism for the religious fundamentalists.

  117. D_a_n

    @Ummi…

    ‘after famous incident which led the separation of church and state movement.’

    so there was a single, Big Bang-esque ‘incident’ which led to this? Do tell us what that was.

  118. PMA

    “All prophets of God, whether Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus or Muhammad, were messengers of peace, harmony and love.”

    O Son of Ismail, you left out few. Was that intentional?

  119. Tilsim

    @ Quantum

    “Therein lies the problem.”

    Perhaps the problem that you are citing is actually the rationalist’s problem with religion itself. Without an ethical stance, a literalist interpretation of religion can be the hand maiden for tyranny. Islam is not unique in this respect. This connundrum that faced Jews and Christians and Muslims have faced is what is the appropriate balance between reason and revelation.

    The current orthodoxy diminished the role for reason substantially in the middle ages. Here is an extract from medieval rationalist philosophy in Islam (Mu’tazili).

    The Mu’tazili position on the roles of reason and revelation is well captured by what Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari (d. 324 A.H./935 A.D.), the eponym of the Ash’ari school of theology, attributed to the Mu’tazili scholar Ibrahim an-Nazzam (d. 231 A.H./845 A.D.) (1969):

    “That is, there are three classes of acts. The first is what the intellect is competent on its own to discover its morality. For instance, the intellect, according to Mu’tazilis, can know, independently of revelation, that justice and telling the truth (sidq) are morally good. God is under an ethical obligation to order humanity to abide by these. The second class of deeds is what the intellect can discover their inherent evil and ugliness (qubh), such as injustice, mendacity, or, according to al-Nazzam as reported in the above quote, being in a state of ignorance of the Creator. God cannot but prohibit these. The third class comprises the acts that the human intellect is incapable of assigning moral values to them. These are only known through revelation and they become known to be morally good if God orders them, or morally wrong if God forbids them. In short, the human intellect is capable of knowing what is right and what is wrong in a very general sense. Revelation comes from God to detail what the intellect summarizes, and to elaborate on the broad essentials. Revelation and reason complement each other and cannot dispense with one another.”

    Needless to say that these type of arguments were dismissed by literalists in the middle ages such that the role of reason was severely limited. Meanwhile, Europe studied the arguments of Ibn Rushd and through his translations, those of Aristotle and moved on. With the advent of education, the hold of the orthodoxy is under threat. What emerges in it’s place is not clear as yet but its clear that different efforts from within Islam are now underway. Hence the increasing clamour and jockying for position.

    I would also like to say that prevalent Western societal norms that you would like everyone to adopt are evolving very rapidly themselves. It’s also evident that many Muslims abide by several of these norms (e.g only one wife, no wife beating, no child marriage etc) and have done so prior to Westernisation.

  120. PMA

    D_a_n (July 6, 2010 at 11:07 pm):

    Church never leaves the State. It is State that pushes Church back into its hole.

  121. Tilsim

    @P. Vengaayam

    “And usually in most faiths, “pleasing God” is made equivalent to acquire knowledge, not go and slice somebody’s head off.”

    So you think Islam does not teach about acquiring knowledge and just teaches people to go and slice people’s heads off?

  122. D_a_n

    @ PMA….

    I wouldnt want to the church to go into any hole….

    just move down the street a bit.

    But was more interested to know of that one incident. I hope Ummi indulges me.

  123. Chote Miyan

    Vajra,
    “A glance through the writings of the Christian fathers will suffice. ..”

    Does that meet the requirement of an objective historical reconstruction, the writings of the Christian fathers on early Romans??? My view was gleaned from a recent research that was shown on the PBS. I would get you the relevant links as soon as I find it. If you get a chance, do watch it. The point of contention between Jews and Romans, similar to one between Christians and Romans, was these religious groups’ insistence on worshiping someone other than Ceasar. There is enough historical evidence to show that Romans’ clash with Jews was political rather than religion. You are way off on that one, buddy. The scholars also say that much of the Christian martyr stuff was quite exaggerated. For example, punishing someone by putting them up on a stake was a common occurrence. There is an episode of a young woman, celebrated as a Saint(I forget her name), who actually wanted to be martyred on a stake. They also narrate the young Octavius or Augustus as a consul of Jerusalem confused about how to deal with a recalcitrant Christian.

    My view about the Kaba was a conjecture. I can’t say for sure, though I am not sure how you can deny it completely.

    My point is to look at history of religions as we look at other histories. Let me be clear again: I am not DENYING the superb moral character of all these holy figures. My beef is with their later day followers who needlessly embellish the truth. Does anyone really believe that Buddha performed all the miracles he is supposed to have done. And this for a man who spent the better part of his life denying such nonsense. Do we blame Buddha for that? No.

    @Tilsim I guess that answers your question. By the way, I am not sure quoting Gandhi is the right thing. It’s not fair to him, on one hand to buttress your argument with his quotes and then have someone in another post to flail him for the same thing in another context. This running-with-the -hare-and-hunting-with-the-hound thing gets old, mate. I would have written a post in response to ylh, but chose not to do so in the event of Lahore attack. For the record, I don’t refer to Gandhi’s life if I have questions about sex. I admire him for a different reason.

    Another question for Vajra: What do you think about the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev during the reign of Jahangir? The Sikhs believe that as an attempt to suppress their faith by a cruel and fanatic Mughal despot. Imagine, Jahangir of all people, being a fanatic. If Sikhism hadn’t survived, his martyrdom would have been a small blip in our history.

  124. Chote Miyan

    Vajra,
    “I can refer you to single-volume histories that will meet your requirements…”

    If you are referring to Gibbon, yeah, I have that, in leather bound volumes.

  125. Chote Miyan

    Vajra,
    “It was one united theological system, with many gods or goddesses, a sort of semitic version of the Indo-European theogony….”

    Hmm..If I take your analogy, let’s imagine what would happen to someone who walked in a Birla Temple and exhorted people to pray to one god and throw away all the other idols. Your guess is as good as mine. I reckon people would be quite pissed off.

  126. Chote Miyan

    Tilsim,
    “Also the Prophet’s actions have to be viewed in the context of the time, what he was trying to accomplish and the actors and society around him.”

    I wholly agree with you. To be fair to the Prophet, he never claimed any divinity unlike the dime a dozen charlatans/televangelists. By that argument, however, would you still consider all of Quran as a timeless book. I mean, that’s what a big(almost all) percentage of Muslims claim. And, trust me, I have enough Muslim friends to know that one for sure.

  127. D_a_n

    @Chote Miyan…

    ‘between Christians and Romans, was these religious groups’ insistence on worshiping someone other than Ceasar.’

    so the Romans worshiped Ceaser?

  128. Chote Miyan

    Dan,
    As idiotic it may sound, they did, or were required to. Actually, I can’t say that they were the only idiots. Our own renowned neighbors, Nepalis, considered their king as an avatar of Vishnu. That charade went on for centuries till Gyanendra turned out to be a grade A rascal. After that even the hard core devotees found it uncomfortable to reconcile this imbecile with the exalted avatars of Vishnu.

  129. Girish

    Chote Miyan:

    For Muslims, the Quran is the word of God, with the Prophet being a mere messenger. Hence, the absence of claims about his divinity does not contradict the divinity of the Quran itself, or its timelessness in the minds of the believer.

    Vajra:

    There is actually historical evidence, including from Islamic sources, that pre-Islamic Arabia had a pretty extraordinary level of tolerance in religious matters.

    1. The Kaaba was a place of peace amongst the various tribes, many of whom were often at war with each other. They decided to keep fighting out of the Kaaba and the Mecca, and this was a contributory factor to the prosperity of Mecca.

    2. The Kaaba was said to have contained idols of Jesus and Mary, besides those of the “pagan” Gods. This also suggests a degree of tolerance amongst people with different faiths.

    3. In Arabian towns and settlements, “pagans” and followers of monotheistic religions such as Christians and Jews coexisted for a long period of time, trading with each other and living in close proximity to each other. This would not have been possible without some degree of tolerance.

    The references to the “pagan” Gods and religious practices come almost entirely from Islamic sources, many of them not even contemporaneous. These obviously had a vested interest in showing the pre-Islamic religious practices in poor light. Without corroborative evidence, it is hard to accept their claims about the practice of religion in pre-Islamic Arabia as anything more than claims.

    This discussion has veered far from the original post quite significantly and in my view, the discussion is focused on irrelevant issues. Further, I think the question asked by the author is itself flawed. An Islamic state cannot be secular by the very definition of secularism – that there is no state religion and that the state is completely divorced from religion.

    Perhaps he meant to ask if an Islamic state can be liberal. That is a valid question and is worth examining using available empirical evidence, rather than from the point of view of whether the religion itself is compatible with secular practices. One could argue either way about Christianity’s compatibility with liberal practices. Those arguments are really irrelevant – what is relevant is what the data tells us about liberalism in officially Christian states. The answer there is that a Christian state can be liberal and even practice secularism in every way except the presence of an official state religion – there are numerous examples of this, including England. A similar analysis for Islamic states and liberalism is more useful than a theoretical discussion that the author has attempted.

  130. D_a_n

    @ chote miyan..

    ‘Dan,
    As idiotic it may sound, they did, or were required to.’

    My question was related to any perception of idiocy but was put forward with a very, very raised eyebrow. Don’t seem to recall every having read that.

    I would request Vajra to confirm.

  131. D_a_n

    correction:

    My question was related = My question was not related

  132. Chote Miyan

    This is priceless:
    “http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/07/world/middleeast/07haircut.html?ref=global-home”

    especially, the “the director of the Veil and Chastity Day festival”..🙂

  133. OMLK

    @QS

    “obviously the world will ascribe to the interpretation of the majority as being the Islamic view.”

    The problem is that the majority view is not necessarily the Islamic view. The Islamic view is quite simply the Quranic View. So in terms of apostacy and blasphemy, if a hundred indivudals say one thing, and one individual the other, then the criterion for the observor is not “majority is right” but which view is more in conformity with the Quran. That is if the observor is genuinely interested in finding out the truth. If the objective is to prove that a certain interpretation of Quran is the correct Islamic view, then obviously the observor will not use his/her own intellect to view the competing views in light of the Quran, but will blindly follow the majority.

    For the Muslims, the Quran is not to be interpreted by simply following the majority (in fact blind following is discouraged) but each indiviudal is enouraged to use his/her own powers of reason.

  134. Moosa

    @ Ummi

    I think you’re confusing issues. If you’re arguing that secularism can lead to atheism, then that is a possible argument. But I don’t accept that secularism is atheism. Secularism is a political concept which permits belief in religion, there are many individuals who believe in God and who live in secular states. Atheism is a philosophical concept which does not permit belief in God.

    Furthermore, you cannot use the Enlightenment Period in Europe during the 17th/18th centuries as evidence of a global movement from secularism to atheism. I have studied this period in depth when I was studying European history in college. What happened at that time is that there was deeply-rooted corruption in the Catholic Church, and also much superstition in their beliefs, and also the Catholic Church committed many crimes at that time, therefore scientific-minded philosophers who believed in justice decided that the State and Church should be separated, and this was a wholly healthy decision to my mind. It led to a situation where scientific advancement and justice (at least in internal affairs) characterise European nations, whereas scientific backwardness and injustice characterise many theocratic states. If you think that God prefers Pakistan to Spain or France, then I think you need to ask yourself: does God really prefer a country where bribery, murder, theft, etc are commonplace but which says ‘officially’ they believe in God?

    Furthermore, there are specific examples which go against your theory that secularism produces atheism. For instance, the USA is secular but is fully of religious extremists, effectively no person can be elected as president of the USA unless he is supported by the american christians. A different example is Bhutan which is not secular, it has a state religion: Buddhism. But Buddhists don’t believe in God, ie they’re atheists, so in this case a theocracy leads to atheism. Further examples are that I have talked to many Iranians, and my impression is that in Iran the imposition of Islam by the Iranian government has actually led many Iranians to hate Islam and has conversely promoted rejection of Islam and atheism amongst many people in Iran, they are only following Islam superficially by wearing hijab etc, but inside their hearts they hate Islam or at least think it’s irrelevant.

    Moosa

  135. Tilsim

    I am very excited. There is life on another planet. Here is an English language blog spittoon.org from Egypt which is having a parallel discussion on Islam and secularism. Their experiences should also be informative to the discussion for Pakistan. I have posted the link of an excellent write up of the situation as it pertains in Egypt:

    http://www.spittoon.org/archives/5906

  136. Tilsim

    Apologies. Spittoon.org is not Egyptian. It seems to be a British blog. Unfortunately in my view the other posts on the whole were not reflective of the same level of scholarship as the link that I posted above which is definitely worth a read.

    Bit disappointing re: spittoon.org. Pak Tea House sets a high standard!

  137. Chote Miyan

    Girish,
    You are right on the money. This discussion has veered off the main track quite a bit, but I think it’s quite useful to support the argument that religion should be kept our of government, no matter how enlightened it is. If 20 or so people cannot agree on major issues here, one can imagine how this would play out in a more general setting.
    And, thanks too, for clarifying the issue about tolerance in pre-Islamic Arabia in rigorous detail.

    Moosa,
    Excellent write up. I just have a minor point, if I may. Buddhism is considered to be an agnostic faith, not necessarily atheist. However, there are schools of thought in Hinduism as well as Buddhism and Jainism that subscribe to strict atheism. Buddha reputedly considered questions about presence or absence of God to be irrelevant. He didn’t specifically go all out to deny God. A very famous incident relates his reply to a person asking about his views about presence/absence of God. His reply was that if a person is pierced by an arrow, is it wise to ask him where the arrow came from, etc., or just proceed to help take the arrow out.

  138. Chote Miyan


    AG3L
    July 7, 2010 at 5:32 am

    NOT ALLOWED TO POST HERE. HAVE SOME DIGNITY.

    Can the moderators here post his comment under a different name. It had quite a few informative bit that I forgot to save for future reference.

    Thanks.

  139. Bin Ismail

    @ PMA (July 6, 2010 at 11:28 pm)

    “…..“All prophets of God, whether Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus or Muhammad, were messengers of peace, harmony and love.”

    O Son of Ismail, you left out few. Was that intentional?…..”

    Well, considering that out of a total of 124,000 prophets, as revealed to us by Muhammad the Holy Prophet, I’ve mentioned 9 – yes, I suppose I have left out a few. Of course, this oversight could not possibly have been intentional.

  140. Kaalket

    Were the Sikh Gurus Prophets ,men of “God”? They did bring the whole new message of hope from “GOD” to Billion folks who were suffering under the cruel rulers with daily decapitation,rape,loot etc.

  141. Moosa

    @ Chote Miyan

    It’s contentious whether belief in God is compatible with Buddhism. Certain Buddhist authorities deny God’s existence, others permit it as a possibility. Ahmadis, by the way, believe that the Buddha was originally a prophet of God who was sent to guide the hindus away from the superstition and plurality of deities they had introduced into religion, but unfortunately his later followers went too far and they ended up denying God altogether. This is similar to the concept that Jesus was sent to the jews to guide them away from their hard-hearted rigid application of the jewish law and to teach them the core spiritual values of love and forgiveness, but Jesus’s later followers went too far and they ended up promoting love to the exclusion of law, and they also ended up turning Jesus into the son of God. But in any case, the official state religion of Bhutan is Buddhism, and this state religion promotes belief in a system in which God has no meaningful place, therefore I’d argue it encourages atheism.

  142. Kaalket

    Who qualify for the Prophethood , what are signs , qualifications and the accomplishment along with teachings to uplift the human consciousness, set the moral compass and standard for humane, cultural behavior per the so called wishes of True God?

  143. yasserlatifhamdani

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    Some of you are responding to one fellow posting as BJKumar. BJKumar is a disgusting third rate crook from chowk who loves to troll. He is incapable of making any logical sense, incapable of talking on the basis of facts and history. It is therefore requested that you don’t waste your time with sewer rat who is best dispatched back to the sewage that is chowk.com along with the rest of the Sadna Gupta clique.

  144. @android [July 6, 2010 at 9:57 pm]

    One of the reasons to peruse PTH, atleast for me, is to read about the different view points of so many and get a feel of all the subtexts and perceptions underlying an issue

    Your point is well taken. My exasperation was with what I felt to be inaccuracy and poor knowledge of the subject, not with the hapless expounder. That might have been expressed more gracefully, I accept.

    Perhaps the display of spleen reflects poorly initially on the target of the attack, finally on the attacker. Do not hesitate to point out future instances of irrelevant fits of bad temper; it is good for the morals of those indicted.

    Thank you.

    @
    Chote Miyan [July 7, 2010 at 2:36 am]

    The following remarks are directed at your silly, fatuous misunderstanding, not at your silly, fatuous self: this declaration, made with a wary weather eye on android guy is necessary since I have been seen to be losing my temper rather loosely, instead of doing so in a directed and useful way.

    Does that meet the requirement of an objective historical reconstruction, the writings of the Christian fathers on early Romans??? My view was gleaned from a recent research that was shown on the PBS. I would get you the relevant links as soon as I find it. If you get a chance, do watch it. The point of contention between Jews and Romans, similar to one between Christians and Romans, was these religious groups’ insistence on worshiping someone other than Ceasar. There is enough historical evidence to show that Romans’ clash with Jews was political rather than religion. You are way off on that one, buddy.

    Whether I am way off on that one or not is a question of opinion: the opinions of others, presumably , counts for more, and those, it is hoped, will be formed by evidence presented based on reasonable authority. The early Christian fathers form one source, Roman (and Hellenistic) historians others, and an historian painstakingly balances them, compares the relative weight and likely adherence to truth, judging from known examples and presents the evidence. I believe that you are not on certain grounds in your assertion that the Roman Empire was tolerant of Christianity, and subsequent part-withdrawals and hedgings have only compounded the issue.

    1. The writings of the early Christian fathers is certainly a more evident authority than a PBS broadcast, unless you are claiming a quasi-academic status for PBS.

    (a) Coming to the point, your contention was that I think that there is a close parallel with growth of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Pagan Roman Empire was remarkably accommodating of different beliefs. Where, even how, does this jibe with your subsequent statement, The point of contention between Jews and Romans, similar to one between Christians and Romans, was these religious groups’ insistence on worshiping someone other than Ceasar.

    (b) Please make up your mind, before writing, certainly not after being refuted: either the relations between the Romans and their ethos, and the Christians, were an example to be quoted in the argument in which you had intervened, or not. You can’t have it both ways, citing it as an example in your earlier post, stating the Romans accommodated Christianity, and resiling in the second. What happened between July 6, 2010 at 7:53 am and July 7, 2010 at 2:36 am? Did PBS do a re-run of the show?

    2. It is certainly true that the difference between the Roman cosmogony and Christian theology lay in politics as much as in religion. So what’s knew? I thought that the theme of this discussion was precisely that. If it were not, what is everyone doing arguing their heads off?

    (a) The statements that I object to don’t go away due to this profound observation. The point was not whether the Romans crucified the Christians, fed them to the lions, disenfranchised them and generally treated them like a bad scene from a Hollywood epic due to purely religious reasons or due to religious reasons impinging on the theory of the Roman state; they were oppressed. Period. To spell things out in painful detail, there was no accommodation on purely religious grounds which was overtaken by political circumstances. There was no accommodation.

    3. The point of contention between Jews and Romans, similar to one between Christians and Romans, was these religious groups’ insistence on worshiping someone other than Ceasar. Goodness gracious me. Who ever denied it? The point of contention was your statement that there was no point of contention, that there was accommodation. Of course it was worship of Caesar, when and only when Caesar (or Ceasar, if we are to adopt your presumably Shavian orthography) was deified. This has no bearing on the base argument, except for forming an immediate point of conflict between Empire and Christianity.

    (a) Please don’t address me as ‘buddy’. It is inaccurate and misleading.

    4. The scholars also say that much of the Christian martyr stuff was quite exaggerated.

    Und So? We are talking here about the martyrdom, not the exaggeration. Please focus.

    5. They also narrate the young Octavius or Augustus as a consul of Jerusalem confused about how to deal with a recalcitrant Christian.

    There was no such animal called a Consul of Jerusalem. Did you mean Proconsul?

    PBS has much to answer for, it seems.😀

    That smiley is for Android Guy mainly.

    6. My view about the Kaba was a conjecture. I can’t say for sure, though I am not sure how you can deny it completely.

    Wunderbar! Since your views have been substantiated by Girish later, let me then confine myself to saluting the integrity that says that it said something without evidence, on conjecture, on the grounds that when it comes to pure conjecture, on the existence of galaxies out in space made purely of green cheese, who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong, so let’s go ahead and conjecture away. In this situation, my English fails me, as may have been noticed by the more discerning.

    7. Another question for Vajra: What do you think about the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev during the reign of Jahangir? The Sikhs believe that as an attempt to suppress their faith by a cruel and fanatic Mughal despot. Imagine, Jahangir of all people, being a fanatic.

    My general advice to the fanboy of history with an opinion larger than his reading list is to go back to the books.

    Jahangir was a bigot; not half as bad as Shah Jahan, not a quarter as bad as Aurangzeb, but a bigot.

    I was about to write “You thundering, ill-read idiot”, but then thought of my BP, thought of the wounding of delicate susceptibilities who come across this strong language without warning, and deleted it. Some day…

    8. “I can refer you to single-volume histories that will meet your requirements…”

    If you are referring to Gibbon, yeah, I have that, in leather bound volumes.

    No, I was not referring to Gibbon; if you ask nicely, you will be told.

    While all of us are proud that you own Gibbon, we will be even more proud when you read the man; he makes the point that I have been striving after in vastly more elegant language than mine. If you had read him, you would not have written thus.

    9. “It was one united theological system, with many gods or goddesses, a sort of semitic version of the Indo-European theogony….”

    Hmm..If I take your analogy, let’s imagine what would happen to someone who walked in a Birla Temple and exhorted people to pray to one god and throw away all the other idols. Your guess is as good as mine. I reckon people would be quite pissed off.

    Yes, they would. Hazrat Mohammed did not gain acceptance overnight; it was a hard and bitter struggle, mainly against his own tribe, which maintained the Kaaba, and its pantheon, and did very well indeed, out of the profits of the pilgrim traffice.

    And your point was…..?

    @D_a_n

    My question was (not) related to any perception of idiocy but was put forward with a very, very raised eyebrow. Don’t seem to recall every having read that.

    I would request Vajra to confirm.

    It was, indeed. The first Caesar (originally the ‘cognomen’ of Caius Julius) to be deified was Caius Julius himself, the one who conquered Gaul. He was deified by his successor, who, among other appointments, held the office of Pontiff, head-priest in the Roman system; something like (you are going to hate this, but after dealing with the stuff above, I am in a vile mood) Zia ul-Haq being COAS and Chief Martial Law Administrator, (which he was), and Sheikh-ul-Islam, all together. (Is your brain now ready to jump out of its box and run screeching around the floor? I thought so!). After this precedent, all Caesars deified their predecessors, until it became a matter of routine, not as a special case.

    Chote Miyan has correctly pointed out, after he descended to Earth, that the basic conflict which he initially denied with the Jews was because the Jews (and, following their lead, the Christians) refused to worship the Emperor-as-God; meaning, let me clarify, the dead ancestors of the Emperor then reigning, not that reigning emperor.

    @Girish

    I have no huge disagreement with your analysis, but there are contextual differences. With your permission, I will take them up separately, later, on the grounds of ill-health not permitting me to go further just at this moment. Please bear with me.

  145. I did not wish to imply, in my response to D_a_n, that any Muslim authority whatsoever, in any capacity whatsoever, would have a say in proclaiming a departed human being as divine. The point was to draw attention to the combination of offices held by one person, nothing more.

  146. Chote Miyan

    Vajra,
    Lots of words. I shall reply at leisure. Let me, first of all, apologize to you for the hurt caused by inadvertently clubbing you in the “old” guys club sometime ago. In my defense, I already stated that my statement was churlish. In your long winded spiel, you couldn’t come up with anything worse. Unfortunately, my hand was forced. Sorry to put you up as a scapegoat. No hard feelings and be assured I won’t hold back because of any “respect” for your venerable age. Let’s move on and let bygones be bygone. Let’s be chummy again, Vajra. Please. C’mon! That’s not the way of Bhadralok.

  147. Chote Miyan

    Vajra,
    Now back to the work:
    “they were oppressed. Period. To spell things out in painful detail, there was no accommodation on purely religious grounds which was overtaken by political circumstances.”

    I am not sure what your point is. Their religious belief was considered seditious in nature and so were ruthlessly suppressed. Romans in general, had no problems with polytheism as long as the Caesar was considered supreme. That may not be “secular” as per our belief system, but then if you take that yardstick, none of the Muslim empires were secular or accommodating. Romans accepted Jews very grudgingly. You obviously missed a post by A3Gl or whatever his name is, who actually posted relevant references.

  148. Chote Miyan

    “The scholars also say that much of the Christian martyr stuff was quite exaggerated.

    Und So? We are talking here about the martyrdom, not the exaggeration. Please focus.”

    That was given as an instance of early Christian fathers’ tendency to indulge in hyperbole.

    “5. They also narrate the young Octavius or Augustus as a consul of Jerusalem confused about how to deal with a recalcitrant Christian.

    There was no such animal called a Consul of Jerusalem. Did you mean Proconsul?”

    I had already said that I was not sure about the names as well as the title. I don’t think I have ever claimed myself as a know-it-all gadfly. You are in the habit of missing wood for the trees. Focus on the main point.

    “PBS has much to answer for, it seems.”

    You obviously don’t know PBS. I wouldn’t have quoted from that episode if it was not backed by serious research. People from Duke, Harvard divinity school, and some others from Brown were instrumental in making that episode. They can be wrong, but I have a reason to believe their word more than yours.

    “we will be even more proud when you read the man; he makes the point that I have been striving after in vastly more elegant language than mine. If you had read him, you would not have written thus.”

    There have been significant research done since Gibbon’s time. Some of us do live in the 20th century. I guess you prize elegance more than substance.

  149. Quantum_Singularity

    @ Tilsim

    “Perhaps the problem that you are citing is actually the rationalist’s problem with religion itself. Without an ethical stance, a literalist interpretation of religion can be the hand maiden for tyranny. Islam is not unique in this respect. This connundrum that faced Jews and Christians and Muslims have faced is what is the appropriate balance between reason and revelation.”

    It is significantly easier for Christians and Jews since to appeal to reason. Christian and Jewish religious text are not the literal word of god but rather writings penned by mortals with a divine origin furthermore there is express sanction for secularism in Christianity. However, the Koran is considered the absolute word of god while the acts of Mohammed are viewed to be perfect. This makes appeals to reason difficult if not impossible.

  150. Chote Miyan

    Vajra,
    “the Kaaba, and its pantheon, and did very well indeed, out of the profits of the pilgrim traffice.

    And your point was…..?”

    that the Meccans couldn’t necessarily be termed as “worse” just because they chased out the early Muslims. Such behavior is understandable initially.

  151. Chote Miyan

    Vajra,
    Of all your points, this one was an absolute shocker! I am quite surprised, dismayed, in fact. More than me, you need to revisit a good library instead of hanging on to grandma tales or wikipedia.

    “Jahangir was a bigot; not half as bad as Shah Jahan, not a quarter as bad as Aurangzeb, but a bigot.”

    I am not going to start with the references; they are too many to list. Can you give me a few references, books preferably, to justify your claim. I mean what made you conclude that he was a bigot. Dear me! I need a beer.

  152. Chote Miyan

    Vajra,
    “My view about the Kaba was a conjecture. I can’t say for sure, though I am not sure how you can deny it completely.

    Wunderbar! Since your views have been substantiated by Girish later, let me then confine myself to saluting the integrity that says that it said something without evidence, on conjecture”

    Thank you for the evident sincerity of your praise. But, once again, you love the sound of your language and needlessly got carried away.

    As for your point about my conjecture, well, some of us can see the obvious. The problem with some of the “intellectuals” is that more often than not, they needlessly complicate the issue. Occam razor shouldn’t be forgotten.

  153. Chote Miyan

    ***21st century I mean. The error is regretted.

  154. Chote Miyan

    Moosa,
    “Ahmadis, by the way, believe that the Buddha was originally a prophet of God who was sent to guide the hindus away from the superstition and plurality of deities they had introduced into religion,”

    Let’s hope I am not indulging in blasphemy by saying that this belief of Ahmadis is merely a belief and not a revelation. First of all, Buddha himself would have strenuously objected to the word prophet. He always said he was a teacher, an enlightened one. We can haggle about the word enlighten but that word has a different connotation in Buddhism that what you would know as a Muslim.
    Secondly, idol worship in Hinduism is a post-Buddhist phenomenon that became in vogue after statues of Buddha proliferated. Nowhere in Buddha’s teaching it is implied that he was striking at the roots of plurality of beliefs in Hinduism. Buddha offered a different way out. In fact, in the classical Judeo-Christian-Islamic construct Buddhism cannot be considered as a “religion” per se. If you get your hands on HG Wells’ History of Civilization, do read it. The chapter on Buddhism is small but I think he has made a succinct and a beautiful analysis.

    “and to teach them the core spiritual values of love and forgiveness, but Jesus’s later followers went too far and they ended up promoting love to the exclusion of law,”

    I don’t know how that would be a problem, unless they advocated lovemaking too.

    “But in any case, the official state religion of Bhutan is Buddhism, and this state religion promotes belief in a system in which God has no meaningful place, therefore I’d argue it encourages atheism.”

    If I start a club where nationality or lack of nationality or lack of belief in nationality by the members is not considered important, would it mean that I encourage sedition?
    Your point is weak.
    Btw, Bhutan is always voted high on the overall happiness index. Does that mean that…(I’ll leave you to fill up the blanks..”🙂

  155. Chote Miyan

    Vajra,
    Get well soon.🙂

  156. Chote Miyan

    Moosa,
    I forgot to add that a bulk of Muslims’ or Christians’ beef with Hinduism is the so called polytheism or animism that they think forms the core beliefs of Hinduism(I have heard pretty nasty stuff in some of the Churches. Some of them have been downright silly.) Hinduism is all that and much more. I can be an atheist or an agnostic and still be a Hindu.

    I am always saddened by so many people getting their views about the two religions from that troll, Zakir Naik.

  157. Chote Miyan

    Ylh,
    BJ Kumar is quite a suggestive name. Did he ….?
    And, who is Sadna Gupta? Some old flame or what? I keep hearing about her. Just curious..😉

  158. Chote Miyan

    Moosa,
    I meant “Outline of History” by HG Wells. I got the title wrong. You can also read Basham’s The wonder that was India.

  159. D_a_n

    @ Vajra..

    ‘the Jews (and, following their lead, the Christians) refused to worship the Emperor-as-God; meaning, let me clarify, the dead ancestors of the Emperor then reigning, not that reigning emperor.’

    appreciate the required schooling Sir🙂
    However, I believe I was referring to the worship of the reigning Ceaser…

    ‘(you are going to hate this, but after dealing with the stuff above, I am in a vile mood) Zia ul-Haq being COAS and Chief Martial Law Administrator, (which he was), and Sheikh-ul-Islam, all together.’

    Now why would I have an aversion to that? The analogy is fairly apt and deserved.

    The man is our eternal shame.

  160. Tilsim

    @QS

    “This makes appeals to reason difficult if not impossible.”

    Unbridled reason outside the context of the sacred and the morality it promotes indeed does seem impossible in Islam. However,

    Islam allows interpretation (except perhaps in the Salafi viewpoint). For interpretation one needs reason.

    The Quran itself exhorts mankind to observe, think and seek knowledge time and time again.

    The Quran and the life of Mohammed are self explanatory to some Muslims but for many others they raise interesting juxtaposing questions on various aspects of life and our affairs. To address these questions, one needs to exercise reason.

    The Quran and the Prophet’s life do not deal with all questions. The exercise of reason to generate an opinion is valid. There is a hadith to this effect.

    Islamic civilisation, through the works of Islamic philosophers such as Avicenna (Ibn Sina), Averroes (Ibn Rushd) and others took forward the works of the Greek philosophers and looked at the nature, limits and methods of reason and its relationship to revelation. There is a rich tradition of enquiry therefore from and within Islam.

    Lastly as far as moral conduct is concerned. There is a Prophet’s saying that actions are judged by intentions. In other words, one’s act becomes moral act only when the act is in itself virtuous and the intention to do it is also good. This acts as a powerful brake on what might be outwardly a good act but which has a bad intention behind it or a bad act with a good intention behind it.

    The Quran mentions the central role of the conscience. “And I swear by (and bring to witness) the Self-accusing Soul (Nafs-e-Lawwâma – the innate self reproaching spirit, at the doing of an evil deed as an evidence). (75:2)”

    The Prophet is reported to have said, “When wanting to decide whether something is good or bad, ask your heart and innersoles, and take it that the deed, the commission of which gives you a feeling of satisfaction to the heart and innersoles, is a virtuous deed and the deed which rankles in the heart and produces perturbation and hesitancy in the mind is a sinful deed, even though the people may tell you that it is a lawful deed.”

    This is the sort of stuff Muslims have as tools to fashion a progressive attitude which is also just and fair on a societal basis. However, to my mind, it is a valid criticism that they have repeatedly failed to achieve this at the societal level.

  161. Girish

    Vajra:

    Get well soon. I look forward to your response.

  162. Tilsim

    @Vajra
    Wish you the speediest of recoveries.

  163. Ibrar

    The initial proposed argument is wrong.

  164. Moosa

    @ Chote Miyan

    1. I don’t think you or anybody (least of all HG Wells) can accurately say what the Buddha believed in or said during his lifetime. As I said, Ahmadis believe that later followers of the Buddha altered his teachings (this isn’t specific to Buddhism, this process happens in all religions, but particularly in Buddhism there is a question over the reliability or authenticity of Buddhist scriptures, there is a significant time interval between the Buddha’s death and his teachings being recorded as texts, and Muslims already believe that in a much shorter interval the followers of Jesus changed his teachings to the extent that Jesus became the literal son of God). Therefore, for me, your statement that “Buddha himself would have strenuously objected to the word prophet. He always said he was a teacher, an enlightened one” is not particularly convincing. Neither of us have any firm evidence of what exactly he said and didn’t say. HG Wells was an intelligent man of the 19th/20th century, widely-read, famous as an author of fiction, and had an amateur’s love of religion and history. He can hardly be taken as an authority on Buddhism, and my point is that even authentic academic scholars of Buddhism are working with scanty and unreliable evidence. The Ahmadi belief that he was a prophet is not based therefore on scriptural evidence alone, but is based on a particular interpretation of the Holy Qur’an (I can explain to you if you’re interested, but I’m not sure if you take the Holy Qur’an as a religious authority), and also (I believe) on revelationary experiences of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) to that effect.

    2. “If I start a club where nationality or lack of nationality or lack of belief in nationality by the members is not considered important, would it mean that I encourage sedition?
    Your point is weak.”

    I repeat: an official state religion that gives no importance to God, effectively encourages atheism, because God by definition is the centre of religion if He exists. For a religion to say “maybe there is a God, we leave that upto you” is a false premise, in my opinion. A religion by its very nature is a spiritual guidance for the soul, otherwise if it’s simply a physical guidance then it can be termed a legal code or a social code or a physical fitness program but it’s not a religion. Now a spiritual guidance that leaves open the question of the existence of God, is an inadequate guidance both if God exists (how can a soul progress in perfection without being drawn towards Perfection ie towards God, in that case?) or if God does not exist (how can a religion allow people to blindly follow a non-existent imaginary illusion, when it claims to bring humans to ultimate reality?). In any case, as I said, God by His very nature (if He exists) is at the centre of religion. For a religion to put Him outside of its centre, in fact to give Him no importance at all, is effectively to deny His existence, because a God Who is not at the centre of religion, is no God at all.

  165. Moosa

    PS I would add that in my opinion, there is a difference between the idea of “theists within secularism” and the idea of “theists within buddhism”. Secularism doesn’t claim to have anything to do with spirituality or religion, it’s entirely unrelated to religious concepts or to the existence of God. Therefore, it’s perfectly possible for theists to progress and prosper within a secular state. However, modern buddhism claims to be a religious/spiritual guidance which doesn’t acknowledge the existence of God. But my proposal is that it’s impossible for a religion to be sincere in ambiguity towards God, because the nature of God is that if He exists He must be at the centre of spirituality. Perhaps an intelligent philosophical argument can be made against my proposal, but I feel in my guts that what I say is true.

  166. @Moosa

    Perhaps an intelligent philosophical argument can be made against my proposal, but I feel in my guts that what I say is true.

    If you promise not to come after me and explain to me the errors of my ways, I want to add something. It is for precisely the reason you cited above, that you feel in your (my) guts that what you are saying is true, that we should not debate this issue.

    An issue between a believer, due to faith, and a non-believer, due to lack of faith, can never be resolved by rational argument. There is no point in even trying. The best thing is to say,”To you, your religion (or lack of it, and the consequences of landing up looking like a grossly overcooked bit of meat at last weekend’s barbecue), and to me, mine.”

    And leave it at that.

  167. Chote Miyan

    Moosa,
    I’ll have to agree with Vajra on this one. Another thing, revelations do not exactly form a historical source. My point was not whether Buddha said this or said that. Let’s for the sake of argument say that there is no solid proof that someone like Buddha even existed. The message, however, still exists. As for Wells, I was for his understanding of Buddhism not his strict adherence to chronology of events. As an intellectual, he is vastly underrated. I would still encourage you to read his book. Who knows, 2000 years from now, people may think that Zakir Naik discovered the Law of Relativity. The law, though, would still be the same.

    Another point(I am repeating this one), a very important one, is that religion as defined by the Judeo-Christian-Islamic construct is not how Buddhists or even Hindus would describe their beliefs. You arguments are quite impressive, except that the underlying axiom of your arguments is the presence of God. Some people may not agree with you on that one or with your description of such an entity(perfection as you call it.)

    I would still like to read the interpretation of Quran that you are talking about. I am a little curious.

  168. Can I recommend Karen Armstrong’s book BUDDHA. And also a link regarding the Ahmadiyya belief about the historical person of the Buddha: http://www.alislam.org/library/books/revelation/part_2_section_2.html

  169. Bin Ismail

    @ J.Krishnan (July 10, 2010 at 3:17 pm)

    This is precisely what the author has touched on. The point he made, a point I too endorse, was that any state that is truly “Islamic”, meaning “Islamic in nature”, would naturally be “secular” because it cannot be Islamic until it:

    1. establishes equality among all its citizens
    2. keeps all its citizens immune to coercion in matters of faith.

    “Secularism”, a term often incorrectly translated as “la deeniyat” means simply a separation of State and Religion. An “Islamic State” on the other hand is one that succeeds in establishing “musawaat” or equality among all its citizens, provides “adl” or justice to all its citizens and extends “ihsaan” or benevolence to all its citizens, regardless of religion, caste or creed – not one that adopts the prefix of “Islamic” before its name, by an act of Parliament or otherwise.

    Regards.

  170. Girish

    Bin Ismail,

    But why try to fit a square peg in a round hole?

    Let’s take for a moment as granted that Islam preaches equality for all humans (it can be shown from the same book that in other places, it institutionalizes discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs as well as gender, but let us leave that aside for a moment). Suppose a state adopts the principles of Islam to establish a very liberal constitution. Will it remain that way for ever? History tells us that the establishment of a state on the basis of religious principles leads to a slippery slope. Why? Because the game is now played on the turf of the conservatives, not the liberals. It is a losing battle for the liberals from then on. This is one unambiguous lesson from history.

    Second, why yoke a minority that does not believe in Islam to an Islamic constitution, however liberal that might be? By its very definition, a Constitution should be for all citizens, and all of them should feel equal ownership over it. Howsoever liberal Islam may be, the very inclusion of the religion in the definition of the state makes non-Muslims second-class citizens. This is what makes the passage of the Objectives Resolution shocking when one in four citizens were not Muslims at all. Or even the references by Jinnah to Islam at all.

    Third, with all due respect to the author and others who think otherwise, I dispute the contention that the Quran itself unambiguously professes liberal principles (and it is not unique in this respect – every religious text I know of has this ambiguity, and this can be understood from the times and the contexts these texts were respectively set in). The spirit of the Quran is indeed liberal, particularly for its times. But it is contradictory and our own standards of what is liberal has evolved from that time. And this is exactly what allows the worst extremists to justify their actions based on the Quran, and allows the author of this post to write what he has written. Both will claim that the Quran is the most liberal of texts, but their definition of liberalism differs dramatically.

    The best (and in my view the only feasible) way to establish a secular state is to not say anything at all in its constitution about being inspired by any religion. Any other way will only lead to gradual erosion of liberal values that may have been enshrined in the beginning.

  171. Bin Ismail

    @ Girish (July 10, 2010 at 8:10 pm)

    1. “…..But why try to fit a square peg in a round hole?…..”

    Those of us who contend that a truly Islamic state, is inherently secular, would obviously not endorse the analogy of a square peg in a round hole. The very basis of their opinion is that the shapes of the peg and the hole conform mutually.

    2. “…..Let’s take for a moment as granted that Islam preaches equality for all humans…..”

    I would say that Islam does indeed preach equality for all humans, whether anybody takes it for a moment or not. What may appear as contradictions within the Quran, are in reality, in my view, contradictory interpretations of its words.

    3. “…..By its very definition, a Constitution should be for all citizens, and all of them should feel equal ownership over it…..”

    I agree wholeheartedly.

    4. “…..The spirit of the Quran is indeed liberal, particularly for its times. But it is contradictory and our own standards of what is liberal has evolved from that time…..”

    I believe the Quran is accommodative, liberal, scientific and modern – and even secular when it sheds light on the principles of statecraft – for all times. I believe our own standards of modernity would always lag behind those of the Quran.

    5. “…..The best (and in my view the only feasible) way to establish a secular state is to not say anything at all in its constitution about being inspired by any religion…..”

    Nothing at all has to be said in the constitution, with respect to any religion. Being truly “Islamic”, let me reiterate, is an all-inclusive quality, not an exclusive one. Imbibing and reflecting the true Islamic spirit of “musawaat” [equality], “adl” [justice] and “ihsaan” [benevolence], is what counts – not adopting the undeserved prefix of “Islamic”.

    Regards.

  172. Moosa

    Girish, can i explain an idea? It’s not my personal idea, it’s been proposed initially perhaps 20 years ago by an Islamic scholar.

    The Holy Qur’an has certain fundamental principles, and then there are other rules which are based on those principles but cannot contravene them, ie they have to be interpreted in a way which complies with the basic principles. The fundamental principle par excellent is the idea of ‘ADL, which can be translated as absolute justice. This principle can be understood by the following Qur’anic verses:

    Verily, Allah commands you to make over the trusts to those entitled to them, and that, when you judge between humankind, you judge with justice. And surely excellent is that with which Allah admonishes you! Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. [Qur’an 4.59]

    O ye who believe! be strict in observing justice, and be witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or against parents and kindred. [Qur’an 4.136]

    They are habitual listeners to falsehood, devourers of things forbidden. If, then, they come to thee for judgment, judge between them or turn aside from them. And if thou turn aside from them, they cannot harm thee at all. And if thou judge, judge between them with justice. Surely, Allah loves those who are just. [Qur’an 5.43]

    The first verse speaks of Islam guaranteeing absolute justice for humankind, there is no mention of justice for muslims or any other specific community here. The second verse stipulates that justice should even be applied against a muslim’s closest family member, ie justice supersedes family relations and every other social relationship. The third verse is obviously not referring to muslims, but to enemies of Prophet Muhammad, and Islam clearly commands justice even when dealing with them.

    Now the proposal of the Islamic scholar is that Islam itself teaches absolute justice (regardless of a person’s religious affiliation) and therefore Islam coincides with secularism in this aspect. In this sense, secularism is the governmental form commended by Islam.

    There are of course some issues this raises. For instance, it may be objected that Prophet Muhammad was surely not a secular ruler. In fact, historically Prophet Muhammad applied the laws of the jews to the jews, not the laws of the Islam. However, in my opinion (though the orthodox clergy would disagree with me), it’s not sensible to suggest that Prophet Muhammad’s government was the ideal Islamic government, in the sense that he was never able to form a stable government in the modern sense of the word. He had no standing regular army, he had no penitentiary system, he never had a period of stability to consolidate a governmental system, his entire life was spent defending Madina against constant attacks from external enemies and from sedition within Madina, and Arabia at that time was a tribal society with religious identities which don’t lend themselves well to modern ideas of secularism. In this situation, the best he could do (and his methodology was extremely advanced in the context of his time and place in history) was to judge the muslims by the Islamic law, the jews by the Jewish law, etc.

    Another issue is the issue of jizya tax, which the Holy Qur’an suggests that an Islamic state should raise from non-muslim members. However, this is erroneously attributed to be a burden on non-muslims. In fact, jizya is taken from non-muslims in exchange for them not having to fight in any army defending the Islamic state; in return, they are defended from external aggressors by the Islamic state. However, muslims have to pay the zakat to the Islamic state, so they have to pay a taxation and on top of that they are obliged to fight in the army. In this way, in fact non-muslims are favoured by the jizya. In any case, the jizya is mentioned in one Qur’anic verse only and it is a very peripheral injunction, it must be interpreted to comply with the fundamental Qur’anic principle of ‘ADL (absolute justice) which is repeatedly emphasised by the Holy Qur’an.

  173. Chote Miyan

    Rehan,
    I went through the link you mentioned. It has so many holes, even for an amateur like me, that I don’t know where to begin its criticism. I think we should leave history to professional historians and not to prophets. It gets all muddled up otherwise.

  174. Chote Miyan

    Moosa,
    As much as you seem to be enamored of jaziya, I hope you don’t get offended if we “infidels” don’t share your enthusiasm for this really nonsensical tax, no matter how great it appears to you. I am still to be convinced that it was a laudable tax. For instance: what if I want to be a part of the “muslim” army? Does it exempt me from Jaziya? It’s just so wrong on so many fronts.

  175. @Girish

    Your response to my note on the unfortunate Chote Miyan’s post occupied most of my attention as I lay staring at the ceiling of my room. I believe the reason why it reads very frustrating to me is because it puts down a perfectly accurate account which has little to do with my original objections and reservations. I am adding my responses with that evaluation in view.

    There is actually historical evidence, including from Islamic sources, that pre-Islamic Arabia had a pretty extraordinary level of tolerance in religious matters.

    1. The Kaaba was a place of peace amongst the various tribes, many of whom were often at war with each other. They decided to keep fighting out of the Kaaba and the Mecca, and this was a contributory factor to the prosperity of Mecca.

    Yes, this was a sanctuary, rather like the sanctuary of Delphi, where all the warring cities could come and assemble and seek the prediction of the Pythoness in perfect safety. This kind of sanctuary was extended in the west, not in the east, to places of worship; while there were violations, and murders in the cathedral were not entirely unknown, it became an act universally condemned (in that universe!) and had political implications as well.

    Such a creation of sanctuaries is not evidence of low levels of violence in society; on the contrary.

    2. The Kaaba was said to have contained idols of Jesus and Mary, besides those of the “pagan” Gods. This also suggests a degree of tolerance amongst people with different faiths.

    With regard to the idols of Jesus and Mary.

    Apocryphal, to the best of my readings; as far as I remember, this was a claim by Christian propagandists. I amIt would be nice if some authorities were cited.

    It may have arisen from the avowed acknowledgement of the prophetic status of Jesus in Islam, and been extrapolated further.

    With regard to the degree of tolerance among people with different faiths, this little-known mention of the idols of Jesus and Mary is too thin a cord on which to hang such a major conclusion. Some more data would be nice. Stronger evidence than that one mention of dubious origin would be nice.

    3. In Arabian towns and settlements, “pagans” and followers of monotheistic religions such as Christians and Jews coexisted for a long period of time, trading with each other and living in close proximity to each other. This would not have been possible without some degree of tolerance.

    Please do recall my original point. My original point was that the assembling of different idols within the sanctuary was not an index of religious tolerance; rather, the Kaaba was a pantheon, with all the gods and goddesses of that system of faith being assembled together in one place. The conflict was between polytheism, and the Islamic monotheism. Please recall that it was one of the gods worshipped in that larger pantheon who revealed himself as supreme and not divisible.

    Conflict thereafter was inevitable.

    The whole concept of an all-embracing sanctuary which allowed all deities in a single polytheist system to be worshipped side by side was shattered irretrievably by Mohammed’s declaration, ”There is no God but God…..” This struck at the heart of the peace-keeping function of the Qoraish; without a multiplicity of gods and a multiplicity of worshippers, between whom were they to keep peace?

    This discussion was not about the existence of multiple systems of faith in the larger world outside Makkah, but about the multiplicity of systems of faith within the sanctuary. There was no multiplicity of systems of faith, there was instead the display of the multiplicity of divinities in a polytheistic system, a single system with many gods and goddesses.

    The references to the “pagan” Gods and religious practices come almost entirely from Islamic sources, many of them not even contemporaneous. These obviously had a vested interest in showing the pre-Islamic religious practices in poor light. Without corroborative evidence, it is hard to accept their claims about the practice of religion in pre-Islamic Arabia as anything more than claims.

    I am not sure that this has a bearing on the original topic, the nature of the display of polytheistic gods and goddesses from a single polytheistic system within the sanctuary, and am therefore not answering this.

  176. Girish

    Vajra,

    Thank you. Could you please provide the sources for the following claims from your post. Each of the points below are direct quotes from your previous post. Would appreciate the references you have referred to for those, i.e. the Greek, Roman, and generic “records” and “evidence” you have mentioned.

    1. What is apparently not remembered in this analysis that has been presented is that Semitic gods were not forgiving or kindly gods, or goddesses. There was no toleration whatsoever. References are available in both Roman and Greek sources.

    2. The presence of so many idols does not mean different faiths were tolerated, or celebrated as well. Far from it. It was one united theological system, with many gods or goddesses, a sort of semitic version of the Indo-European theogony. Again, evidence of the unified but multi-theistic Semitic system is available in plenty in a large number of Semitic source records.

    3. However, there were significant differences between the two, in terms of theology. Human sacrifice was one, although there are hints about it in all the Indo-European faith systems, in terms of creation and fertility myths. By proto-historic times, taking the remaining records as evidence, this had become mythical and symbolical, if ever it existed in fact. There is nothing to show it did. Records are again available.

    4. On the contrary, in Semitic systems, there is enough evidence, presented in ghastly detail, to put the matter beyond doubt.

    5. Suffice it to say that it was not an aggregation of divinities from different faith-systems, it was an aggregation of the divinities of a single system; the question of tolerance simply didn’t occur to the priests of divinities that were worshipped, at times, in the shape of brazen furnaces, into which the devout cast their children as offerings.

  177. @Girish

    Yes, certainly, one question at a time. No problem at all.

  178. bciv

    @moosa

    Another issue is the issue of jizya tax, which the Holy Qur’an suggests that an Islamic state should raise from non-muslim members

    in the qur’an, jizya is war reparations. there can be none if there is no war. justifiable reparations can neither be infinite nor perpetual. indeed, if there is any honest desire for peace to follow a concluded war, reparations, if any, would be pragmatically finite and got out of the way as quickly as possible.

    it has been convincingly claimed and argued, that on top of and separate from the above, jizya was mentioned within a clearly specific and contemporaneous context.

  179. mubarak

    @ Ummi
    July 6, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    “… we are seeing Mullahs like BinIsmael, Syed, and few other kids who are trying their best to prove themselves more moronic than Mullahs…”

    Congratulations!! while you say Bin Ismael, Syed, and Singularity are trying to prove themselves, you have actually succeeded in proving yourself more moronic than mullahs. Thats a feat few in history have ever achieved.
    It seems that anyone holding a different view point than Maudoodi and you regarding Islam or even someone who speaks against Islam in the first place is a mullah in your world. In the real world the word mullah applies to people like you.

  180. Bin Ismail

    With respect to some of the issues under discussion, may I humbly state that:

    1. In its truest form, the Islamic State came into existence with the Charter of Madina and died with the death of Ali, the 4th Khalifa of Muhammad.

    2. Conceptually speaking, the “Islamic” state is not to be understood as a parallel to something like a “Communist”or “Democratic” state or a “Monarchy”. The adjective of “Islamic” preceding the term “state”, does not define a particular form of government. It signifies only a state that operates on the principles of “musawaat” [equality], “adl” [justice] and “ihsaan” [benevolence]. These qualities could be inherent in a democracy as well as a monarchy – but not in a theocracy. In a theocracy, the balance will be tilted in favour of the citizens subscribing to that State Religion, thus violating the principle of “musawaat”.

    3. The “jizya” is actually something beyond war reparations. To be precise, the “jizya” is a tax payable by the citizens of a territory that becomes a protectorate of the Islamic State, as a result of occupation following a rightful “jihad bis saif” [jihad of combat]. The responsibility of the safety of life, property and honour of every citizen of this protectorate would rest entirely on the Islamic State.

  181. Moosa

    Chote Miyan,

    It is a sad condition when a human being ignores all the beauty that is presented from the Holy Qur’an, deliberately turns his attention from verses on universal human justice which can rarely be found in religious manuscripts, and decides to focus on criticising jizya. Is your statement that I’m “enamoured” of jizya a sarcastic jibe, or is it reasoned rational constructive discussion?

    I suspect that you’re not genuinely interested in reasoned dialogue but are one of those many people who closes his right eye to anything good in Islam, while at the same time searching fervently with his left eye for criticisms against Islam. But for the benefit of genuine truth-seekers who may be reading this blog, I will answer you that if a non-muslim wishes to fight for a nation where the muslims are leaders, then they are under no obligation to do this, but there is nothing to bar them from military service. In that case, they would pay the jizya tax and be free to perform military service, whereas the muslim would pay the zakat tax and be obliged to perform military service. Zakat is a religious-based tax, its motivations are spiritual [in the sense that a person’s spirituality is uplifted by giving money in charity to those in poverty], it is theologically recognised as one of the 5 fundamental pillars of Islam, therefore it cannot be sensibly applied to non-muslims. But are you proposing that an Islamic country should raise zero tax from its non-muslim citizens, while at the same time providing them with all amenities and protection from foreign invasion?

    In any case, whatever interpretation is made of jizya, must comply with the Qur’anic dictates of absolute justice. It may be that my interpretation is faulty, but I’d appreciate if people would have the honestly and humility to at least acknowledge the beauty of a religion which commands absolute justice to all humankind rather than to specific communities, absolute justice against even one’s own family, and absolute justice even towards one’s enemies. A person who cannot see the beauty of this, is truly blind in this world and will surely be blind in the next world.

  182. Moosa

    I would add, following on from Bin Ismail’s post which I just read, that I think the Holy Qur’an defines jizya in the context of a battle taking place between the muslims and non-muslims after the non-muslims attacked muslims and/or carried out acts of treason against the muslims. In that context, for any person to ask “what if I [a non-muslim] want to be a part of the “muslim” army?” is not a sensible question. Please ask the USA what would be their response if the taliban wanted to join the US marines? In that specific sensitive political situation, no sensible political leader would allow vanquished enemies to infiltrate his own military. In fact, in the time of Prophet Muhammad, it was more normal practise to massacre many of the enemies after victory in war, and the jizya tax represented a seismic step forward in human rights and civilisation. But of course, the right eye is closed to anything beautiful in Islam, and the left eye seeks only criticisms of Islam.

  183. Girish

    Moosa,

    A couple of question that I don’t know the answers to and am unable to find references online for. This would help understand the argument that jizya was a substitute for zakat. Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. What are the earnings from Zakat to be spent on as per Islam? Is it spent on public works that are for everybody’s benefit, welfare that benefits everybody? If it is given to the poor, is it given to Muslim poor only or to non-Muslims as well in proportion to their population? Can it be used for building or maintaining religious buildings or institutions? If so, is it given on a proportional basis for buildings and/or institutions of other faiths as well?

    2. Was Zakat the main form of taxation? Or were there other levies/taxes that citizens had to pay?

    3. What was the money obtained from jizya spent on?

  184. Girish

    bciv/Moosa/Bin Ismail

    Could you guys please explain/contextualize the following verse from the Holy Quran. I must confess that I have not read enough about the verse to say anything about it.

    009.029
    YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
    PICKTHAL: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
    SHAKIR: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

  185. Chote Miyan

    Moosa,
    We are not unaware of the beauty of Islam. I know more about Islam than you know about Hinduism or Buddhism. The link about Ahmediya understanding of Buddhism can only be described as pamphleteering. There are some aspects of the faith, however, which we(I) find distasteful, just as you find some aspects of other faiths not to your liking. I cautioned against holding Quran as a historical document along with a moral and spiritual guide. The problem with doing that is any criticism, even on historical grounds, is automatically taken as disrespect. I have gone through your detailed definitions as well as speculation about Jaziya and I am still to be convinced, as a nominal Hindu, as to how it can be called as a fair tax. If it was meant as a tax in lieu of my exemption from military service, surely it should be waived off in case I am willing to perform the military service. It cannot be equated with Zakat. Why should I pay for your faith? You are guaranteed to go to heaven for Zakat. What do I get for Jizya?

    “Please ask the USA what would be their response if the taliban wanted to join the US marines? In that specific sensitive political situation, no sensible political leader would allow vanquished enemies to infiltrate his own military.”

    Oh yeah! Right! So, as a non-Muslim, I start off as being an “enemy”. Some fairness, I say!

    “In fact, in the time of Prophet Muhammad, it was more normal practise to massacre many of the enemies after victory in war, ”

    Considering the amount of massacres the Muslim armies indulged in, I guess they gave this aspect of Islam a big wide pass.

  186. Chote Miyan

    Girish,
    All I had said was that the different gods in pagan Arabia, for whatever reasons, were tolerated. At the very least, the multiple gods are definitely not a sign of intolerance.

  187. bciv

    I cautioned against holding Quran as a historical document along with a moral and spiritual guide. The problem with doing that is any criticism, even on historical grounds, is automatically taken as disrespect.

    there is no issue, unless you link the two. but why on earth would you link the two? one who believes it to be a ‘moral and spiritual guide’ probably finds nothing objectionable within it. those who do, would obviously not be able to think of it as divine and beyond question.

    only if you link the two points of view – absurd and illogical as it would be to do so – would the question of any ‘disrespect’ – intended or unintended – arise. in any case, there is an easily recognised difference between disagreeing and disrespecting for the sake of disrespecting. i doubt moosa wishes you to agree with all that is within the qur’an any more than you wish him to disagree with it all.

  188. Bin Ismail

    @ Girish (July 11, 2010 at 7:58 pm)

    “Fight those from among the People of the Book, who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor hold as unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have declared to be unlawful, nor follow the true religion, only until they pay the Jizya and submit to Authority.” (Quran 9:29)

    This verse is not with reference to initiating combat, but in fact with reference to cessation of combat. This verse is in relation to the taming of militant insurgencies only, not all ahl-e kitab. The simple message here, is that as soon as the warring insurgents are prepared to accept the authority of the state by accepting ceasefire and contributing to the coffers of the state, all military action against them must come to a halt.

  189. bciv

    @Girish

    here too, the explanations that are better able to meet quite basic academic/objective standards, argue that the context is strictly limited to those in close and protracted proximity of the prophet. the argument claims emphatically that the context is entirely incapable of going beyond the life and vicinity of the prophet. it is based on the idea of ‘itmaam al hujja’ by none other but the prophet himself (ie the ‘completion of the message’ and all subsequent requirements – which go beyond ordinary standards for just war and/or just peace – by the prophet; the basis of the whole concept is that it has to be a/the prophet).

    looking at it from another perspective, the emphasis on ‘prophethood’ of course introduces a purely theological basis to the argument to the extent and how it defines ‘prophethood’. but the argument can be evaluated acknowledging this difficulty who do not believe in things like prophethood in general, or muhammad’s claim in particular. to see what you think of the argument and (especially) the concept itself, you will have to look it up and read it yourself.

    (p.s. you might want to read this post in addition to bin ismail’s above.)

  190. Chote Miyan

    Bciv,
    I didn’t link the two. Moosa was trying to explain Buddhism on some interpretations of Quran.

  191. Girish

    Who decides what verse is contextual and what is not? Is there broad agreement within Muslims on that? And what is the basis of the claim that this relates only to insurgencies? It is not in the text of the book at least. Some light on this would be helpful.

  192. Moosa

    Chote Miyan, I’m not sure if I’m not explaining myself well, or what is your difficulty that you’re not understanding me very well. I find it incredible that you can write, “Oh yeah! Right! So, as a non-Muslim, I start off as being an “enemy”. Some fairness, I say!” after I’ve explained that the jizya is defined in the Holy Qur’an as a tax imposed on people who have fought a war of aggression against the muslims and then been defeated. The Qur’anic verse has been quoted in full by Bin Ismail, and makes it very clear that the jizya is imposed on enemies, not on friendly non-muslims. So what is your problem? Yes, you start off as an enemy if you pay jizya, because the definition of jizya is a tax imposed on enemies! Jizya, according to the text of the Holy Qur’an, is not imposed on friendly non-muslims.

    Also, on what basis have you made this declaration that you know more about Islam than I know about Hinduism or Buddhism? Do you know anything about me or my academic background or my knowledge, or are you simply making grand egotistical declarations while being entirely ignorant about me? Do you know if I’ve published a book which can be googled and purchased online which includes quotations from both Hindu and Buddhist scriptures after extensive research of the same? Or do you in fact know nothing? I have no interest in competing with you in your ego-trip regarding how much knowledge you have compared to me, what I’m interested in is if you can present any logic or rational thought processes to me, and so far I haven’t seen much evidence of this.

    Lastly, your statement, “Moosa was trying to explain Buddhism on some interpretations of Quran.” can be misleading. The Holy Qur’an is the most excellent and exemplary religious scripture in history, it is the human-Divine interface par excellent. If you can present criticisms of Qur’anic teachings, not only can I rebut those criticisms, but also I can present ten times those criticisms of the Hindu scripture regarding status of non-hindus, regarding caste system, regarding status of women, regarding religious warfare, regarding racist supremacy etc etc. and you won’t be able to rebut those criticisms effectively. There are numerous prophecies and scientific concepts in the Holy Qur’an which for me are miraculous in the sense that they are beyond the capacity of a man to invent. Furthemore, the Holy Qur’an is historically a far more reliable document than any other religious scripture, it has not been interpolated by human interference as all other religious scriptures have. For all these reasons, I believe in the Holy Qur’an as the pure word of God. There are 2 verses of the Holy Qur’an which can be interpreted indirectly to suggest that the Buddha was a prophet of God. In the absence of any reliable historical or scriptural record to the contrary, and bearing in mind that the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures are woefully unreliable and contradictory as historical documents in comparison to the Holy Qur’an, I think it’s quite reasonable to examine the Holy Qur’an’s position on the Buddha. Of course, this is my opinion as a Muslim. I don’t expect Hindus or any non-muslim to give any importance to the Qur’anic interpretation, and I wasn’t trying to convince you of anything on the basis of the Holy Qur’an. I simply stated that Ahmadi Muslims believe that the Buddha was a prophet of God, because of their understanding of the Holy Qur’an on this issue.

    Do you require further clarification, or have you had enough yet?

  193. Girish

    Moosa,

    Could you or anybody else please clarify where in the Quranic verse quoted it talks about “a war of aggression fought by the other side” being a necessary condition for the imposition of jizya. You loosely refer to the verse that Bin Ismail quoted, but there is nothing in it to support the point you have made. I had quoted three of the most widely accepted translations of the same verse, along with attributions of whose translations they were (Bin Ismail did not tell us whose translation he was using).

    Here is Yusufali’s translation again, for reference. This is the entire verse. I have not quoted it in part.

    “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

  194. Moosa

    Girish,

    The problem is that once again people are looking at one Qur’anic verse in isolation, and focusing on it with the intention to criticise Islam, and ignoring a multitude of other verses which categorically irrefutably undeniably forbid a Muslim nation to make aggressive war against a nation or people. In other words, any war carried out by a Muslim nation by definition has to be a “a war of aggression fought by the other side” because the Holy Qur’an only permits war to Muslims if they’re attacked first. Therefore jizya in the Qur’anic sense can only be taken from an aggressor.

    Here are a sample of verses:

    Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged — and Allah indeed has power to help them. [Qur’an 22.40]

    And fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Surely, Allah loves not the transgressors. [Qur’an 2.191]

    Will you not fight a people who have broken their oaths, and who plotted to turn out the Messenger, and they were the first to commence hostilities against you? Do you fear them? Nay, Allah is most worthy that you should fear Him, if you are believers. [Qur’an 9.13]

    Except those who are connected with a people between whom and you there is a pact, or those who come to you, while their hearts shrink from fighting you or fighting their own people. And if Allah had so pleased, He would have given them power over you, then they would have surely fought you. So, if they keep aloof from you and fight you not, and make you an offer of peace, then remember that Allah has allowed you no way of aggression against them. [Qur’an 4.91]

    If your argument is now that historically Muslim nations have made aggressive wars, well my response is that historically Christians have made far more aggressive wars in spite of Jesus saying in the Bible completely absolving himself from aggression and war. In that case, you’re blaming the politics of Muslim leaders, and at that point I lose interest in the discussion because I have no interest in defending Muslim politicians, my interest is to defend Islam and the Holy Qur’an.

    Peace.

  195. Chote Miyan

    Moosa,
    “In the absence of any reliable historical or scriptural record to the contrary, and bearing in mind that the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures are woefully unreliable and contradictory as historical documents in comparison to the Holy Qur’an,”

    I must say, I had a hard time holding my laughter. Anyways, while you are at it, please do me a favor and explain Hinduism too(on the basis of revelations in Quran), since as far as I know, few authentic historical documents exist about its origins.

    I must say, after reading your arguments, I have a new found sympathy for Ylh. I can only imagine the task ahead of him and his ilk in Pakistan. If people like you can find such arguments “logical”, I can only say: “May Allah help us all”.

    “If you can present criticisms of Qur’anic teachings, not only can I rebut those criticisms, but also I can present ten times those criticisms of the Hindu scripture regarding status of non-hindus, regarding …”

    I assure you I will furnish 10 criticisms of Hinduism for every one you present, which is why I am full of veneration for our leaders who wisely steered clear of such ideas. However, I don’t understand why you brought it up.

    “Also, on what basis have you made this declaration that you know more about Islam than I know about Hinduism or Buddhism? ”

    That’s on the basis of garbage you were peddling about Hinduism and Buddhism. It was wrong on so many points that I don’t know where to begin. I already pointed out some of them. Hinduism existed long before Islam so it’s a little foolish to try to explain everything about Hinduism or Buddhism on the basis of Islamic jargon. For the record, Krishna is not considered a prophet but an incarnation of Vishnu. That is technically different from what you understand as prophet. And all that nonsense about Brahminism that you have been spewing forth is way off target. Brahminism, as you understand, is a product of much later age than Buddha. So the question of Buddha negating Hinduism or whatever doesn’t arise. In fact, Buddhism had a more bitter fight for turf with Jainism rather than Hinduism. That is why I suggest you read “The Wonder that was India.” It is a very good reference.

    “The Holy Qur’an is the most excellent and exemplary religious scripture in history, it is the human-Divine interface par excellent.”

    I reserve my comments. I suggest you update your human-(infidel)human interface a bit more.

    “fter I’ve explained that the jizya is defined in the Holy Qur’an as a tax imposed on people who have fought a war of aggression against the muslims and then been defeated. ”

    Hmm..ok..But, if you go through you own posts, I am sure you can see you have changed your explanations quite a bit.

    “There are numerous prophecies and scientific concepts in the Holy Qur’an which for me are miraculous in the sense that they are beyond the capacity of a man to invent.”

    Trust me, you haven’t heard of miracles in the Hindu mythology. The stories about udan khatola(flying bed) that we have and which is regularly put up by solemn pundits as a proof that we had airplanes back then would take down even the best that you can come up with. No one can beat us in terms of miracles. That’s for sure. Why, even our mountains talk!

  196. Moosa

    This will be my final post to you, Chote Miyan, because (a) i’m about to begin a week of hospital night shifts so I should now be sleeping, (b) you’re obviously trying to score points, and your main tool seems to be mockery and derision rather than intellectual discussion. I’ll only respond this once for the benefit of those people who seek truth here.

    You obviously have learned about Islam from some very primitive muslims, going by your statements. Here’s a short summary for our readers:

    Muslims believe that Islam existed conceptually since the first man worshiped God. For instance, the Holy Qur’an refers to Abraham as a “muslim”, even though he lived thousands of years before the advent of what today is known formally as Islam. Islam’s meaning is (roughly translated): “the process of finding inner peace and tranquility through submitting to one’s Beloved ie to God”. Therefore, for Muslims, c0nceptually Hinduism didn’t exist before Islam, Islam began with Adam who was the first man to worship God. It is well-known that Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet of God, who taught his followers to worship One God, but then over centuries his followers corrupted his teaching, and they began to worship Jesus as the son of God. What is less well-known, is the idea that this happened with all religions, from the beginning of human history. The Holy Qur’an says that God sent prophets to all nations of the world who taught Islam in the sense that they taught men to find peace through submitting to One God, obviously this would include prophets to the nations of India and China. Certain Muslim scholars therefore believe that Krishna, Buddha, Lao Tsu were originally prophets who taught the worship of One God, and then their later followers corrupted their teachings (just as all Muslims believe that Christians corrupted the teachings of Jesus). Therefore your statement that Krishna was not a prophet, he was an incarnation of Vishnu, is as meaningless to a Muslim, as a Christian’s statement that Jesus was not a prophet, he was an incarnation of the Holy Spirit of God. What we have is a difference of opinion based on belief and no hard evidence. I find your belief as derisory as you find my belief, the difference is that I don’t engage in mockery because I think mockery is the habit of those people who possess no intellectual argument.

    You also misunderstood my reference to the miracles of the Holy Qur’an. Ahmadi muslims interpret many so-called miracles as metaphors, therefore we don’t give much attention or accord much significance to talking mountains, etc, that was not the type of miracle to which I was alluding. I was alluding to the miracle of an illiterate bedouin bringing the greatest work of Arabic literature every written, also the fact that the Holy Qur’an says that the universe was created from a closed-up mass, and then one day God will roll up the universe again into something small, which describes very recent modern ideas of physics. For me, these are miracles, talking mountains are simply nonsense.

    You also misunderstood my explanation of what I believe happened with the Buddha, and contemptuously referred to me “spewing” about “Brahminism”, when I didn’t even once mention the word “Brahminism”. Before the Buddha, there was the idea in hinduism of a plurality of gods, and moreover there was a cult-tendency to venerate certain personalities outside of God. I’ve already explained that certain Muslims believe that Krishna was a prophet of God, but then the hindus turned him over centuries into an incarnation of Vishnu. By the Islamic concept of religious history (ie that God sends prophets who guide humans away from their errors, then the prophet dies, then his later followers over centuries start to lapse into error again), what probably happened was that God sent the Buddha to correct the hindus away from their tendency to make Krishna (a human prophet) into an incarnation of Vishnu and away from their tendency to convert God’s prophets into gods, and so the Buddha negated this tendency to this extent, that his later followers took things too far and ended up negating divinity altogether.

    Lastly, I frankly acknowledge that my first post about jizya was mistaken. After reading Bin Ismail’s explanation, I read the relevant verse of the Holy Qur’an again, and I corrected myself. I have no problems frankly admitting my mistakes, because my ego doesn’t rule over my love of truth. Every post regarding jizya after my first post, has been consistent. But the strange thing is that people such as Chote Miyan, when they are faced with an explanation of jizya which they cannot logically criticise, then run to point out that my position has changed on this issue. Yes, my position has changed, now do you have anything intelligent to say on my new position, or are you simply too arrogant to admit you cannot present a valid criticism?

    I hope this has made some sense to the readers, these ideas are not known even amongst most mainstream Muslims. I can’t explain it better than this, so I won’t try again.

    Peace.

  197. J.Krishnan

    It is difficult, nay impossible, to argue with believers.

    Can anyone suggest another way of life? Then we will (may) have peace and some possibility of an honest intelligent dialogue.

    Is secularism something for those who are neither believers nor non-believers?

    The whole discussion confuses me utterly. The dead (even prophets, messengers, saints etc.) are absolutely of no help. Let’s leave them in peace.

    Quoting from books (esp. from such as are called holy and hence claim a special uncriticizable status) is not a sign of honesty, sincerity and intelligence. It is rather an attempt to appear to be honest and intelligent without being so really.

    That “people of the book” are to be given higher status, safety, commanding positions, privileges, honours etc. in society is hence dangerous.

    Don’t push the people back into some bygone century (or long-gone decade). There is no hope in old books, especially if they are inflicted upon us as holy and uncriticizable.

  198. Moosa

    Krishnan, I’ll tell you a funny (true) story before I go to sleep. About 25 years ago, there was a teenager who started reading the Qur’an. He didn’t read it because his parents told him to read it, he just picked it up and started reading it. He came across a few verses which didn’t make sense to him, or seemed downright objectionable on grounds rationality. Fortunately, his father wasn’t the type of muslim who answered challenges and questions by beating his children. His father was a lawyer (the teenager would later graduate in law himself and enjoy legal debates at university). So the teenager started debating with his father, one by one, the objections he had, the criticisms he had of the Qur’an. After a long process of criticism after criticism, and explanation, and discussion, and argument, each of his criticisms was vanquished by his father. So finally, when no criticism was left, this Qur’an became a “Holy” Qur’an for that teenager. That teenager was me.

    When I refer to the “Holy” Qur’an, then that is a personal statement of my experience of the guidance and the effects of this book on my life. I don’t expect anybody else to think of it as “Holy”, every person has his own definition of what is sacred in his life, and even atheists often have things which are sacred in their lives in the widest sense of the word. In my entire life, I never stopped any person from making a criticism of the “Holy” Qur’an, in fact I myself developed my love for this book through a process of criticism. Chote Miyan, yourself, and even muslims are quite welcome to criticise the Holy Qur’an, that is acceptable and no rational person would object to that. However, what is less acceptable, is if a person criticises the Holy Qur’an, he receives a reasonable and sensible response, and then that person either mocks or ridicules or runs to another topic without acknowledging that his criticism has been answered satisfiably. Then in that case, there is an absence of truthfulness and integrity in the process of criticism. Even atheists hold truthfulness and integrity to be sacred. Criticism should be for the purpose of establishing truth, it shouldn’t be for scoring points or for egotism, or for mocking people and trying to emphasise one’s superiority. That’s my opinion, but of course you’re free to do as you think is right.

    Peace.

  199. J.Krishnan

    to moosa

    So how are you going to manage those who get ever so angry when their holy book is questioned? Whether I ridicule or not (if that’s what you think I do) – I am harmless. So no point scoring against me.

    Attaching the label holy to a book is an invitation for some trouble that you may not have imagined before, especially if this holy book contains contradictions and ambiguities and grammatic and semantic problems.

    If you have made yourself incapable of acknowledging the existence of contradictions and ambiguities etc. in a book (by raising it to the holy status) then be sure of the trouble that is going to follow. And you will have no other choice but to practise self-deceit in order to keep up your faith in this book, especially if the threat of violence looms large against those, who doubt or question this book.

    This is also called tying oneself in knots or painting oneself into the corner.

    You write: “…are quite welcome to criticise the Holy Qur’an…”.
    I am now sure you don’t live in Pakistan, India or Bangladesh. Why are you risking the lives of others by misleading them to do things which you yourselves will never dare do?

    Criticism can mean asking some very fundamental questions. They will be deemed a blasphemy and the violence will follow.

    You are living in a make-believe world of you own.

  200. Girish

    Moosa,

    I am not criticizing the Quran. I also believe that the overall message of the Quran is liberal and that contextualization might help clarify issues like the one about Jizya. However, my concern is that this contextualization depends on the person reading it. The interpretation you have given is not universal, and perhaps not even the majority view. If that is the case, the very establishment of a liberal state, with the explicit statement that it is based on and is consistent with Islam raises the possibility that in future, somebody else with a different interpretation will come and take the state towards an illiberal direction. That is the experience of Pakistan as well.

    BTW, this argument is not about Islam alone, but any religion.

    Hence, the main focus of my comments in this thread has been to say that let religion not enter the polity at all, even as a means to justify the nature of the polity. Build a consensus around the need for a liberal polity and let the question of the extent to which it is consistent with Islam be an academic question. That is how most long-lasting liberal, secular systems have come into being.

  201. Bin Ismail

    @ J.Krishnan (July 12, 2010 at 6:10 pm)

    1. “…..Attaching the label holy to a book is an invitation for some trouble…..”

    The attachment of the term “Holy” prior to the name of a certain scripture, does in no way suggest that the ‘attacher’ is an ‘attacker’ on other scriptures. “Holy” is not an expression exclusive to the Quran. The Holy Bible, The Holy Torah, the Holy Gita and the Holy Zend Avesta, are all terms that make as much sense. God has spoken to all His prophets, some of whom received Revealed Books of Guidance. Even if one considers most of them having undergone interpolations, thus not in their original form, they still deserve respect for the simple fact that they were originally revealed by God to a chosen servant of His. This would be in line with simple courtesy and should invite courtesy, not trouble.

    2. “…..if this holy book contains contradictions and ambiguities and grammatic and semantic problems…..”

    Just as beauty is said to lie in the eye of the beholder, so does at times, contradiction lie in the perception of a reader. Ambiguity too, may be on account of failing to perceive correctly, or may even be a result of aberrations.

    3. “…..Criticism can mean asking some very fundamental questions…..”

    It can indeed.

    @ Girish (July 12, 2010 at 6:53 pm)

    1. “…..The interpretation you have given is not universal, and perhaps not even the majority view…..”

    Everyone is free to interpret differently from the majority, as well to argue in favour of his interpretation. Jurists interpret the law, and all interpretations do not always necessarily tally.

    2. “…..the very establishment of a liberal state, with the explicit statement that it is based on and is consistent with Islam raises the possibility that in future, somebody else with a different interpretation will come and take the state towards an illiberal direction…..”

    Agreed. Religion should be kept distinct of Statecraft.

    3. “…..let religion not enter the polity at all…..”

    Interestingly, these words of yours are pleasantly reminiscent of Jinnah’s famous words “Religion should not be allowed to come into Politics … Religion is merely a matter between man and God”. (Address to the Central Legislative Assembly, 7 February 1935).

    Yes. I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    Let us also appreciate the fact that neither has the author of the above article, nor has Moosa, who happens to be the actual addressee of your comments, contended that an Islamic State has to be a theocratic state to be run by priests. Both these participants as well as my humble self, are of the opinion that any state cannot qualify being truly Islamic, unless its statecraft and governance are not truly secular.

    It was a pleasure interacting with you all.

    Regards.

  202. bciv

    @Girish

    you are quoting from a book. you are free to interpret and understand the quote either through the context within which it appears in the book, or give it your own context. you will interpret the book’s own context according to your own understanding. you are also free to criticise the fact that any book, or other forms of communication longer than two or three words, contains phrases and passages that must not be taken out of their context in the book itself.

    apologies for saying what should go without saying.

  203. Girish

    I have no interpretations of my own. I only had questions. And I question the wisdom of trying to justify a secular polity on the basis of any religion.

  204. Girish

    I am signing off from this thread as well. I have more than made my point.

    Good interacting with all of you.

  205. Bin Ismail

    Ref: My last comment (July 12, 2010 at8:22pm). Sorry for the typo errors. Please read as:

    “..they still deserve respect for the simple fact that they were originally revealed by God to chosen [servants] of His..”

    “..Everyone is free to interpret differently from the majority, as well [as] to argue in favour of his interpretation..”

    “..Agreed. Religion should be kept distinct [from] Statecraft..”

    Sorry.

  206. Moosa

    Krishnan, when I said you’re very welcome to criticise the Qur’an, I was referring to your discussions with myself and on this forum. I understood you to say that my usage of the term “Holy” Qur’an signified that I was not open to any criticism of this book. I therefore clarified that although I personally think this book to be holy, I’m happy to listen to any criticisms and so you’re welcome to criticise the Qur’an in front of me or on this forum, etc. I certainly wasn’t suggesting that you’re welcome to criticise the Qur’an in front of a mullah with a long beard and a kalashnikov who mutters, “death to the infidels” under his breath while glaring at you with a murderous expression.

    Girish, I agree with much of what you wrote in your last comment. I personally believe that in modern times, religion should be separated from politics as far as possible, although of course if the majority of a population is muslim then Islam will have some effect on the political decisions of that majority. I certainly wasn’t saying that secularism should be based on Islam, I was only saying that Ahmadi muslims interpret the Qur’an to support secular government in the sense of a government that promotes absolute justice to all communities including non-muslim communities. In that sense, for Ahmadi muslims, an Islamic state can be a secular state, which is the question that originated this thread.

  207. J.Krishnan

    to moosa

    Too many people are wasting their time reading and discussing these so-called holy books. In some areas this fixation on “holy” books has become a social disease. Young boys and girls are being told all kinds of (unverified and unverifiable)phantastic tales about them and their results and being forced into mental slavery. This is especially true of the situation in Pakistan.

    Let us take a utilitarian view of books. They should be read and then discarded. Let new books and authors get a chance. A book should have a life of 40 years. After that other (newer) books and authors with other (newer) themes should be recommended. I too am a reader of books – but I find, old books deserve a worthy burial into the archives. Then there is the recycling concept too. New paper from old paper.

    And how long will we have this dreaded breed called mullahs (and similar) about whom you warn me? I suppose so long this concept of holy book exists.

  208. Bin Ismail

    @ J.Krishnan (July 13, 2010 at 3:58 pm)

    “…..Let new books and authors get a chance…..”

    There is only one Author of the Revealed Books of God – God Himself. Revealing a Book of Guidance has been entirely His prerogative. He lives from eternity till eternity. So, of course there are not going to be new authors. To introduce Himself by which name, when, where and through whom, too is solely His prerogative. With reference to Revealed Books from on-high, He and He alone makes the choices. Of course you are free not to think of them as holy. That would be your choice.

  209. Moosa

    Krishnan,

    Mullah is not a product of holy books, Mullah is a manifestation of the worst side of human psychology. Stalinist Russia had no religion or holy books, but it still had its own version of Mullah: an uneducated narrow-minded selfish egotistical person who wishes to use an ideology to control and exploit other people. To ban Mullah, you would have to ban ideology, and to ban ideology you would have to ban ideas, and to ban ideas you would have to ban human psychology. This is not a constructive or useful way to think about the problem.

    Regarding your proposal to throw away books after 40 years, this is of course not a very good idea. Let’s put aside books revealed by God, for the moment. Let’s consider only books written by humans. There are books written by humans who are inspired by intellectual creativity, books of genius which are written perhaps once a century, and which are timeless classics which do not lose their importance after a mere 40 years! The works of Plato, Shakespeare, Nietzche, Cervantes, etc give a message which is relevant today and will always be relevant because they deal with eternal human problems. If you read The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, you will wonder to yourself that did this man live more than 100 years ago, then how does his genius continue to shine today? Now you may laugh at young boys and girls being told phantastic tales, but entire libraries have been written about the meanings of the Qur’an, and these include very writings of great philosophical minds such as Al-Ghazali and Imam Razi, as well as some admittedly foolish writers. I myself have written an entire book of 130 pages which is based on the meanings of one single verse of the Qur’an, and I can vouch for the philosophical depths of the Qur’anic message. But if you wish to examine only childish or primitive interpretations of the Qur’an, and use that to reject the Qur’an, while at the same time ignoring all the great philosophical works which have flowed from the Qur’an, then personally I don’t think that’s a fair approach.