Thursday, December 18, 2014
Tribal barbarism in the name of Islam - Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
On December 16, 2014 a barbaric incident occurred in Peshawar. Seven terrorists of Tehrik-e-Taliban launched an attack on the Army Public School. The militants were clad in the uniform of the Frontier Corps and entered the school from the rear. They stormed the premises and held it in a nine-hour siege. During this time they moved from classroom to classroom, killing about 141 people, 132 of them students, and injuring hundreds.
This is undoubtedly an inhuman act. Killing innocent children is a crime so heinous that there is no word in the human dictionary to express its barbarity. What was the reason behind this attack? The TTP spokesperson said: “We took this extreme step as revenge. We will target every institution linked to the army unless they stop operations and extra-judicial killings of our detainees.” However, this is no justification for such attacks. It is like justifying a wrong by commiting another wrong.
Revenge may be permissible, but strictly on one condition, that is, one should take revenge only from the person who has caused harm. Killing somebody else with the plea of taking revenge is the worst human crime. Both reason and religion completely disown this act.
One of the survivors of the attack narrated a very strange aspect of the incident. He said, “The militants first asked us to read the kalima and then started firing indiscriminately.” By doing this, the perpetrators became witness against their own act. There is a very relevant verse in the Quran in this regard. It says: “If anyone kills a believer deliberately, his reward shall be eternal Hell.” (4:93)
According to this verse, anyone who intentionally kills a believer will certainly go to Hell. The above report tells us that the militants killed those children knowing that they were believers. Thus, they confirmed that they were perpetrating an act which is without doubt punishable. The incident proves that these people have nothing to do with Islam.
This bloody incident has given a chance to Muslims, especially of this area, to reconsider the whole matter. Only one more event of this kind has been reported in the past. It was also carried out by Islamist terrorists in the town of Beslan, North Ossetia in 2004. Muslims must think why such events take place in the Muslim world, while these have never occurred in the non-Muslim world.
It is a fact that both Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan were formed in the name of Islam. But, the result was counterproductive as both became centres of un-Islamic activities. The reason is that both Pakistan and the Taliban were products of negative reactions, and not products of Islam in the true sense of the word. The saying, ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’, holds true for both. Reaction can never lead to a positive result. Anything that comes into existence as a result of hate culture can only lead to further hate and violence. This is what is happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Condemnation of this incident is not enough. It requires reassessment. The event sends out only one message to Pakistan and Afghanistan: both the Pakistan ideology and the Taliban ideology have proved to be wrong. They must accept this fact and correct their way of thinking. People of this area should bring about reform in their culture and foster the culture of love. They should adopt the way of peace and abandon the path of violence.
The right message for both Pakistan and the Taliban is: Forget the past and rebuild the future.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi hold up their Nobel medals during the award ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday.
Kailash Satyarthi of India and Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan on Wednesday received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 for their pioneering work on promoting child rights in the subcontinent, as they made an impassioned plea to globalise compassion.
“Satyarthi and Yousafzai are precisely the people whom Alfred Nobel in his will calls ‘champions of peace’,” chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjorn Jagland said in his speech before awarding them the prestigious prize in Oslo.
“A young girl and a somewhat older man, one from Pakistan and one from India, one Muslim, the other Hindu; both symbols of what the world needs: more unity. Fraternity between the nations!,” he added.
Mr. Satyarthi, who gave up his job as an electrical engineer to run an NGO for rescuing children from forced labour and trafficking, said: “I refuse to accept that the world is so poor, when just one week of global military expenditure is enough to bring all of our children into classrooms.”
“I refuse to accept that the shackles of slavery can ever be... stronger than the quest for freedom,” said 60-year-old Mr. Satyarthi, who asked the audience to feel the child inside them and globalise compassion.
The audience included King Harald V of Norway and Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
“Let us inculcate and transform the individuals’ compassion into a global movement. Let us globalise compassion. Not passive compassion, but transformative compassion that leads to justice, equality, and freedom,” Mr. Satyarthi said after receiving the award in Oslo at the ornate Oslo City Hall.
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, he said, “If we are to teach real peace in this world... we shall have to begin with the children.” ‘I humbly add, let us unite the world through the compassion for our children.’
“I represent here the sound of silence. The cry of innocence. And, the face of invisibility. I have come here to share the voices and dreams of our children, our children, because they are all our children,” he said, adding that the crime against children has no place in a civilised society.
Mr. Satyarthi’s NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement) prides itself on liberating over 80,000 children from bonded labour in factories and workshops across India.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) there are about 168 million child labourers globally. There are roughly 60 million child labourers in India alone.
Mr. Satyarthi and 17-year-old Malala, who survived a near-fatal Taliban attack two years ago with determination advocating education for girls, were named by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for the prestigious award on October 10.
They received the Nobel medal which is 18 carat green gold plated with 24 carat gold and weighs around 175g.
They will share $1.1 million prize money.
(Courtesy: The Hindu)
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Shariah-compliant financial products will only advance a retrograde political agendaBy Sadanand Dhume
Should the secular Indian state advance the religious norms enshrined in Islamic shariah law? This is the question raised by an ill-advised move by SBI Funds Management to start an Islamic mutual fund called the SBI Shariah Equity Fund. The fund, whose scheduled launch this week has reportedly been deferred, will be benchmarked to the S&P BSE 500 Shariah Index. Managers will pick stocks guided by a shariah board, whose responsibilities include procuring appropriate fatwas, or religious edicts, for permissible investments.
To understand why this is a terrible idea, go back to the roots of modern Islamic finance. First proposed in pre-Partition India by Jamaat-e-Islami founder Abul Ala Maududi (1903-79), shariah-compliant financial practices are part of a larger Islamist project to order every aspect of the state and society by the medieval norms enshrined in shariah law. According to Duke University’s Professor Timur Kuran, Maududi’s goal was not to foster prosperity in his community, but to underscore the idea that “to be a Muslim is to live differently”.
Islamic finance ostensibly hinges on three principles: a ban on interest, a wealth tax (zakat) and honesty in business. More broadly, it applies religious norms to business decisions. Shariah-compliant funds, for instance, will not invest in companies whose practices are frowned upon by Islam, such as pig farms or banks that charge interest.
Historically, Maududi’s idea languished for decades before being given a boost by Saudi oil wealth in the 1970s. Since then Islamic finance has grown steadily. Standard and Poor’s estimates that shariah-compliant assets are worth about $1.4 trillion worldwide, the vast majority in Muslim-majority countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Malaysia.
Maududi envisioned Islamic finance as accomplishing three goals: minimising Muslim interaction with non-Muslims, deepening the transnational identity of the community of believers, or ummah, and injecting Islam into every aspect of daily life. Over the years, Islamist groups worldwide, including the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab world and the Jamaat-e-Islami in the Indian subcontinent, have worked tirelessly to advance these objectives. It’s no coincidence that Islamic finance has grown along with a broader swing in the Muslim world away from secularism and toward literalist interpretations of Islam.
MAINSTREAM THE GHETTOES
What does all this mean for India? Simply put, policymakers need to gauge products such as the new SBI fund not merely in narrow financial terms, but in terms of their larger implications.
They can start by asking some basic questions. Should state-owned institutions in an avowedly secular republic advance Islamist political goals? Is India better served by integrating its 150-million strong Muslim population into the financial mainstream, or by ghettoising it in the economic equivalents of Ahmedabad’s Juhapura or Thane’s Bhiwandi? Does the new fund inch India closer toward accepting Islamic banking, which it has so far avoided?
The answers ought to be self-evident. That the questions were apparently not asked highlights a certain naiveté at the heart of India’s financial establishment. Last year, during the waning days of D Subbarao’s tenure as RBI governor, the central bank set a poor precedent by granting a licence to a non-banking finance company in Kerala based on shariah principles. The new SBI fund would further strengthen the dubious principle of mixing religion and finance. It would also make India only the second non-Islamic country (after Britain) with a stateowned bank that offers a shariahcompliant fund.
For the BJP-led government, the shariah-based fund ought to be a litmus test. In the 1990s, the BJP rose to prominence in part by critiquing the Congress’ tendency to equate secularism with pandering to the most orthodox elements in Islamic society. At its heart, stripped of financial complexities, this is what the proposed new fund represents.
Indeed, when given a choice, ordinary Muslims worldwide show no special affinity for shariah-based financial products. Most are happy to use regular banks that pay interest. Moreover, pious Indian Muslims already have the option to channel their investments through shariahcompliant private funds such as the Tata Ethical Fund. There’s no reason for state-owned institutions to follow.
GIVE IT A QUIET BURIAL
More broadly, instead of promoting Maududi’s divisive vision, India ought to do exactly the opposite. Rather than minimise Muslim exposure to regular financial instruments, India should encourage more Muslims to enter the financial mainstream.
And instead of spawning financial products that appeal to religious identity, state-owned banks should simply treat Muslims like they treat all other Indians. Indeed, if properly implemented, the prime minister’s ambitious financial inclusion plan, the Jan Dhan Yojana, could offer a template of sorts by increasing the number of Muslims with bank accounts.
For now, though, the ball is in SBI Fund Management’s court. If it’s wise, it will give the SBI Shariah Equity Fund a quiet burial and move on to more sensible projects. The last thing India needs is clueless bankers who strengthen a dangerous ideology without understanding the consequences.
The writer is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC
(For a counterview, read BBC’s ‘How Sharia-compliant is Islamic banking?’ at goo.gl/h9O7Lw)
(Courtesy: The Economic Times)
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Mahesh Savani said the women, whose families were all too poor to finance their weddings, saw him as their foster father.
The 44-year-old said he had given each one gifts of gold and other items worth Rs. 4.5 lakh to start their married lives, as well as paying for the wedding.
"Material gifts are not important, but I have given my name to them and will fulfil all my responsibilities as a father of the bride for the rest of my life," he told news agency AFP before the ceremony was held at a school in Surat on Sunday.
Mr Savani, who has now organised the weddings of 251 women, said he began his charitable campaign in 2008 when one of his own staff members died.
"I was very shocked when one of my employees died just 12 days before he could marry off his two daughters. It was very difficult for the family to arrange for marriage," he said.
"So I decided that I would become their foster father and marry them off. This is how it began," Savani said.
It is not known how much the giant ceremony wedding cost.
At Diwali, a diamond merchant in Gujarat, Savjibhai Dholakiya, made international headlines for his generosity- he gifted cars, homes and jewelery to over 1,000 of his employees as a bonus for their hard work and loyalty.