Daily Archives: December 6, 2012
Such gruesome news want me to puke. Are we a democracy or a collection of feudal fiefdoms isn’t there any rule of law? And we aspire to be a superpower? Since the woman that was executed and her lover, both were Muslims, it stands to reason that the Panchayat of the town was also Muslim because no Hindu Panchayat would dare to convict or execute a Muslim. Then the question arises, are Muslims a law unot themselves? is this Sharia in action?
Police begin investigation to punish the culprits
- By Lata Rani, Correspondent
- Published: 17:02 December 4, 2012
The incident occurred at Asiyani village in Purnia district, more than 300 kilometre east of Patna, the capital of Bihar state, at the weekend but was reported by the local media only on Tuesday.
Media reports said the local Tiyarpara village panchayat took a serious notice of the “offence” after it was informed that the 32-year-old Bibi Shahzadi, a mother of three, was having extra-marital affair with a local youth. The victim’s husband works in a factory in Ludhiana (Punjab).
Soon after the matter became public, the village panchayat tried the victim at its court, and after finding her guilty of “illicit relationship”, sentenced her to death. Subsequently, she was beaten to death at the village court in the presence of local villagers as no one dared to protest. “She was executed in public but no one dared to oppose”, a local villager who witnessed the horrible scene told the local media.
Locals said the victim was an educated woman with a Maulvi degree (equivalent to intermediate degree) who had been helping the impoverished women by running a self-help group for them. Her group was imparting the poor women training in sewing and weaving to make them self-reliant.
Taking the matter seriously, the local police have ordered an investigation into the case to bring the culprits to book.
“We are investigating the case and culprits will not be spared at any cost,” the additional district superintendent of police, Purnia, Deepak Barnwal, who has been given charge of investigation, said on Tuesday.
The development comes close on the heels of another such diktat issued by another village council in the neighbouring Kishanganj district, who have declared to impose a heavy penalty on women found talking over mobile phones on the streets. In this case too, the local administration has begun investigation and declared to punish the “culprits” trying to enforce such orders on the villagers.
Though this article still paints Muslims in victimhood mode, overall, it breaks the pattern and puts blame squarely on Muslims.
The Muslim Rage and Hypocrisy
Can you believe it? A Chinese–made shoe is holding hostage a population of over 1.4 million in Srinagar. It began in Central Kashmir’s Magam area. On 28 November, someone saw a white sports shoe with the name of the last Caliph (Hazrat Ali) printed on it. A close examination of the shoe, however, threw up a hint of mischief: on the right-side of the toe, the name ‘Ali’ was hand-written with a black marker and didn’t look like a company mark. Soon, men, children and women gathered on the streets. Protests ensued. The shoe was held high in the procession while the demonstrators called for an end to “hurting” Muslim “sensibilities.”
Even before the crowd from this protest had returned home, a new mob gathered around 30 kilometers away at Srinagar’s Zadibal-Nowhatta neighbourhood where Shia and Sunni communities live together but their union is often marred by frictions from time to time. For years, youngsters of this area have been stone-pelting the armed forces for atrocities and the clampdown on Azadi-demanding protests, but today they were stone pelting each other’s houses, breaking windowpanes and disfiguring fence walls. Some people say pro-India PDP’s Shia leader had spoken against the first three Caliphs of Islam during his Moharram speech (a few days before the shoe-incident) that angered the majority Sunni population. Others say the Shia youth wanted to enforce a strike in the Sunni area of Nowhatta which was resisted by the shopkeepers triggering stone pelting between the other communities. The result: the police and the paramilitary CRPF are enforcing a curfew for several days now; seizing some youth in nocturnal raids, and even the parents of those running away to escape the Khakis. Ghulam Qadir Sheikh, the father of a youth who was detained in one such raid, says he was dealt with like a hardcore criminal in the police station. Adding to the absurd chaos, Kashmir’s Divisional Commissioner Asghar Samoon, as quoted in the local media, explained that he had recommended in the past too that parents of minors (allegedly involved in stone pelting) must be punished. Meanwhile representatives of around 30 religious bodies (both Sunni and Shi’ites) are now trying to calm the angry communities.
A friend jokingly says if this is what a single Chinese shoe can do, imagine the magnitude of global unrest if the whole of China were unleashed on the world.
Ruptures between Shi’ites and Sunnis aren’t new. They had developed immediately after the Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632 AD. There was no agreement on his immediate successor. Sunnis recognise the first four Caliphs (Abu Bakr, Umar Farooq, Usman Ghani and lastly, Ali Murtaza) as his rightful successors; the Shi’ites believes the prophet nominated his son-in-law, Ali. Since then, sentiments over the matter continued to boil right through to the modern times, sometime pushing countries to the verge of civil war. But in the case of Kashmir, Shi’ites and Sunnis rarely have such turbulent history. There is a greater realisation among many regarding who will actually benefit from such a sectarian fight which I’ve already mentioned in my previous blog post.
Such protests, however, also throw up questions (so far avoided and unanswered too). Was this shoe-protest a justifiable rage? How will a violent protest in Srinagar force the shoe-manufacturer (in case it’s established that a mischief was played at the manufacturing level) in China to stop such production. Or how will it force some individual or a group not to play this malafide act again? They must be already giggling somewhere after having successfully triggered clashes in Srinagar over a shoe.
This incident also reminds me of the June 2010 anti-West and anti-India protest in Kashmir. Young men in hundreds in the same neighbourhood carried a blue underwear on a wooden stick, after spotting on it, a sketch of a building which looked like the Al-Aqsa Mosque of Palestine. Without any thorough examination, the underwear enraged them. Soon they blamed the West for “hurting Muslim sensibilities” and clashed with the police and the CRPF. The under wear protest soon faded after it was established that it never carried images of any Islamic worship place. The blue underwear flouted as a placard had in fact sketches of buildings that resembled London’s Big Ben and Saint Paul’s Cathedral and several other places.
This year, during the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ protests, I was in Kashmir. The entire valley was angry. I was on my way to Poonch (researching for a story about a strange disabling disease that has become a scourge in the border district) when my car was stopped by some protesting youth in Shopian district. It took me, my cameraman friend, Abhijit Dutta and the driver, Tanveer Ahmad almost half-an-hour to convince them that the media should be allowed to cover such protests and there were similar other protests in other areas too which our team was supposed to cover. Abhijit took some pictures of sloganeering youth before Tanveer accelerated the car. In such situations, lying to the police, the CRPF or protesters is often best to save one’s skin.
On the just-reopened Mughal Road, we were soon negotiating curves in the mighty Pir Panjal Mountains that separate Kashmir valley from Poonch and Rajouri districts. I asked Tanveer how one should react to the anti-Islam film, the condemnation call by pro-India mainstream parties and strike call by pro-Azadi groups.
“If I won’t earn Rs 100 or 200 today, how will it hurt the United States, the film maker or Obama. Or, how will it decrease my love towards Prophet Muhammad and Islam both,” he replied. “Not people, the response should come from the 52 Islamic states. Let the core states like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or Turkey and others expel US’ Ambassadors as a mark of protest or let the Gulf countries stop exporting oil. The West will come down to its knees. But it needs gurda (guts) which they don’t have.”
Tanveer was right. First Muslims must abandon protesting on vague things like the shoe or underwear. On films like Nakoula Basseley’s anti-Islam film or other issues, there is a greater need to channelise this rage in a manner that registers the full magnitude of hurt felt by Muslims by such actions. Also the present forms of random, uncoordinated and thoughtless protests, like the one we saw in Kashmir, further negates the Muslim cause, divides the community and in fact weakens the merit of a genuine protest.
For some time, like diplomats, Dutta, Tanveer and I pondered in the moving car over what could be the genuine response of Islamic block if Muslim sensibilities are hurt instead of burning down public property and stone pelting moving cars. What we thought could be these:
1. Diplomatic– Expel and call back Ambassador from the country which the Islamic countries feel has hurt the sentiments of Muslims
2. Economic – Stop oil imports for a month until that country takes strong action
3. Military – Organise a military alliance like NATO and issue a joint press statement by the commander in chiefs of this alliance condemning the event
4. Criminal – Put the specific person responsible on an international Islamic watch list so that if and when he travels through or into any Islamic country he can be nabbed/deported
and finally the most important,
5. Intellectual Response – A creative, intellectual response as well that contextualises the above response in terms of a meta-narrative (without coming off as conspiracy theorists).
Tanveer, who at the end repeated his previous one-liner, however, undermined all the joint efforts. “It needs gurda (guts) which they (the Islamic nations) don’t have.”
Apart from gurda (guts), sometimes there has been an element of hypocrisy and ignorance among Muslims as well. Imagine a scenario where an American F-16 blasts a Muslim holy site in Pakistan or an Israeli bulldozer razes an age-old shrine in occupied Palestine. What would be the Muslim response? I am sure it will be similar to the previous responses. Protesters across the Muslim world will occupy streets, some will try to march towards US or Israeli embassies and police will fire at them to quell the protests. There will be killings and loss of property. Strikes and clampdowns. And that’s it. But has anyone ever thought about why Muslims are often enraged when the “West” is seen as mocking them, but equally indifferent when Muslim Countries blast shrines, raze historic sites and bring down holy places that are connected with Muslims’ identity.
By no means should this piece be seen as advocating stupid violence like the one we saw in Kashmir, but have Muslims ever launched a genuine indignation against the razing of house where prophet Muhammad was born on which a library stands now. Where was the Muslim rage when the house of Khadija (Muhammad’s first wife) where Muhammad received some of the first revelations of the Quran) was replaced with a public toilet block and Dar-al-Arqam, the first Islamic school, where Muhammad taught was levelled for construction? Did it not deserve a response when Jannat-ul-Baqi, a large cemetery where tombs of several of the prophet’s wives, daughters, sons and as many as six grandsons and Shiite saints were once located were bulldozed and levelled? In both Mecca and Medina (the birth place of Islam), Saudi Arabia has, according to many reports, already bulldozed over 90% of the Islamic monuments (during the past 20 years) dating back to around 1400 years. In their place, five star hotels, parking lots and shopping malls are coming up. Saudi authorities often use the excuse that the expansion is necessary to accommodate the increasing number of Muslim pilgrims. But why can’t the hotels and malls be constructed outside the historic interior of Mecca thus preserving both Islamic identity and the monuments? At a place where Paris Hilton can open a luxury bag shop, (in Mecca Mall) why can’t the old shrines and monuments co-exist?
Now apprehensions are also growing over the expansion of Masjid an-Nabawi that will see the demolition of three of the world’s oldest mosques that hold the tombs of Prophet Mohammad, and his closest companions, Abu Bakr and Umar. At a cost of US $6 billion, the construction will raze holy sites as old as the seventh century.
So instead of stupid protests over a vague China-made shoe or someone’s underwear, the rage should be directed at something real. Many Muslims usually label people of other faith as ‘infidel blasphemers’ when a verse of the Quran appears on a skating board or a page from the Quran is brunt, but when the sacred and holy sites are razed in the Islamic states, the word ‘blasphemy’ disappears and the silence becomes remarkable.
Author: Mohammad Umar BabaBaba Umar’s career started with The Indian Express in Srinagar where he reported on the South Asia earthquake of 2005. In the following years, he wrote features for Kashmir’s first online news magazine Kashmir Newz and in 2008 he joined Rising Kashmir as a senior reporter where he covered 2008-09-10 civil unrest. Baba specializes in producing stories mostly on Kashmir conflict and water disputes in India. Baba joined Tehelka in 2010 and the next year saw him winning ICRC (Geneva)-Press Institute of India (PII) award for his news report on victims of armed conflict in Kashmir.
Unconquerable Ayodhya, the kingdom of Kosal
By: Bharat Itihaas
The description of Ayodhya in Ramayan is beautifully tendered into verse by Mr. Griffiths, who was the Principal of the Banaras College in the late 19th century. He writes, “Her ample streets were nobly planned and streams of water flowed to keep the fragrant blossoms fresh, that strewed her royal road. There many a princely palace stood in line on level ground. Her temple and triumphal arc and rampart banner crowned. There golden turrets rose on high above the waving green of mango groves and blooming trees and flowery knots between. On battlement and gilded spire, the pennon streamed in state, and warders with the ready bow kept watch at every gate.”
The kingdom of Kosal was ruled by King Dashrath who is believed to be 56th descendents from Manu. His 3 wives Kaushalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi lived intheir respective palaces. Shri Ram was born at the Kaushalya’s temple, which is now termed as the Ram-janmbhoomi.
In the Brahmaand Puraan, Ayodhya is described as holiest of the 6 holy cities. Maharshi Vyaas refers to the story of Ram in the Vanopakhyaan of Mahabharat. Thus the city of Ayodhya and Shri Ram have been held in veneration by the residents of this land for centuries. Almost 200 years after Alexandar, during Mauryan rule, when Buddhism was flourishing, came the Greek King Minander. He embraced Buddhism and pretended to be a monk. He invaded Ayodhya and destroyed the temple on the Janmsthaan site. Soon he was defeated and killed in the battle by Raja Dhyumatsen of the Shrung Vansh, and Ayodhya was liberated.
The janmsthaan temple was reconstructed by King Vikramaditya. History knows of 6 different Vikramadityas. Historians have different opinions of which of them constructed the temple. Some say it was Vikramaditya of Ujjain who defeated the Shakas in 56 BC and after whom the Vikram Samvat is named. Others attribute the re-construction to Skandgupt who also called himself Vikramaditya and built the temple in late 5th Century AD. However, it is generally accepted as P Carnegie mentions in his Historical Sketch of Faizabad that Vikramaditya’s main clue in tracing the ancient city where the river Saryu and the shrine still known as Nageshwar Nath, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is also generally accepted that Vikramaditya constructed about 360 temples in and around Ayodhya. The tradition of veneration to Shri Ram has continued in the Hindu society in one form or another. The earliest known inscription to testify this fact is the Nasik cave inscription during the Satvahan dynasty. The celebrated Sanskrit dramatician Bhaas identifies Shri Ram with his Archanavataar.
Evolution of the tradition of worship of Shri Ram as an incarnation of Vishnu is evident in the early Rama-shrine inscriptions. The 4th century inscriptions at Ramtek (Madhya Pradesh), the 423 AD inscription at Kandhar (Afghanistan), the Chalukya inscriptions in 533 AD at Badami, the Mamallapuram inscriptions in the 8th century AD, Amba Maata temple near Jodhpur in 11th century AD, Ram temple at Mukundpur (Rewa, MP) in 1145 AD, Hansi inscriptions in 1168 AD, Rajiv Lochan Temple at Rajim in Raipur (Chhatisgarh) are some of them.
In 12th century, at least 5 temples existed in Ayodhya. They were, Guptahari at Gopratar-ghaat, Chadrahari at Swarga dwaar Ghaat, Vishnu hari at Chkrateerth Ghaat, Dharmahari at Swarga-dwaar Ghaat, and Vishnu temple, on what is known as the Janmbhoomi site.
Mehmood Gaznabi looted and destroyed the temple of Somnath and went back. His nephew Salar Masood advanced in the direction of Ayodhya. On 14th June 1033, Masood reached Behraich, 40 km from Ayodhya. The people united under the leadership of Raja Sohail Dev. Sohail Dev’s army attacked Masood, defeated his army and killed Masoon himself. Abdul Rahman Chishti writes in the biography of Masood, titled, “Meerat-e-Masoodi”.
“.. maut ka saamana hai, firaaq soori nazdeek hai, hinduon ne jamaav kiya hai, inka lashkar beintahaa hai, sudoor nepal se pahaadon ke neeche ghaghara tak fauz mukhalik ka padaav hai. Masood ki maut ke baad ajmer se Muzaffar Khan turant aaya par wah bhi maar diya gaya .. Arab Iraan ke har ghar ka chirag bujha hai ..”
(It is trial with death, but the destination is near. Hindus have deployed armies in huge number from faraway Nepal’s mountains to the basin of Ghaghra river, there armies stand. After the death of Masood, Muzaffar Khan came from Ajmer but he too was killed. Every house of Arab and Iran has lost a son in this battle.)
Muslim thinker: Government should withdraw Haj subsidy
Last updated on: October 30, 2012 23:41 IST
‘Politicians make hundreds of promises, many of them false, to trap Muslims,’ Abusaleh Shariff, member, Rajinder Sachar Committee, tells Rediff.com‘s Faisal Kidwai.
“Many Muslims are illiterate and don’t understand the political system, they get trapped,” says Abusaleh Shariff, member, Rajinder Sachar Committee.
Shariff, who is also president, Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy, New Delhi [ Images ] and chief scholar of the US-India Policy Institute, Washington DC, tells Rediff.com‘s Faisal Kidwai why he believes Muslims are shortchanged in India [ Images ].
When it comes to social and economic development, are Muslims in India behind other communities?
The Muslims are behind almost all other communities in India. In some areas, such as education and employment, Muslims are even worse than Dalits.
What are some of the major reasons for the Muslims’ underdevelopment?
There are many reasons. First, many of them live in rural areas where services such as schools and job opportunities are not that easily accessible.
Second, even those Muslims who live in cities live in slums and in the periphery of the city. They are confined to their own neighbourhoods and areas where public services are not provided as much as required.
So, if enough public services are provided to Muslim-concentration areas, their economic situation will improve. But this does not mean that services should not be provided to areas that are non-Muslim majority areas. We need broad-based parallel policies to address this lack of services.
If there are more schools, hospitals, etc, in their areas, then they will be more involved and will be in a better position to compete.
There are three charges that are levelled against Muslims: They are pampered by politicians (b) they get a huge Haj subsidy and (c) they have more children than others. What’s your view on these accusations?
Politicians want to use Muslims as vote banks. It’s a trick they play to use them.
Politicians make hundreds of promises, many of them false, to trap the Muslims and, since many Muslims are illiterate and don’t understand the political system, they get trapped.
I am a secular person and believe that the government should not have any role in any religion.
The Haj subsidy is a trap used by politicians to curry Muslim votes. As per Islam, only those people who can afford it should perform Haj.
The Haj subsidy is a form of interference by the government in religion; it should withdraw the subsidy.
The issue of population growth is as old as Independence. At the time of Independence, the fertility rate was high among all communities, including Muslims, Hindus and even Christians; the rate among Muslims was only marginally higher.
During the past 60 years, the fertility rate has dropped across all communities; it has also fallen for Muslims.
In fact, recent data shows that the drop in rate has been higher among Muslims than in any other community.
The birth rate has nothing to do with religion; it has to do with culture. Muslims are also part of the grand Indian culture and they are also changing with the culture.
Are you seeing more Muslims getting educated and coming into the mainstream?
Muslims have similar aspirations as any other community. They want their children to get educated, to move up in the economic chain and become part of the political system. They have same ambitions and aspirations as anybody in India.
It’s wrong to say that they are not interested in development. I have no reason to believe that Muslims are less patriotic than any other community.
Go to the rural areas in Uttar Pradesh [ Images ]. You will see that the Muslims there want education for their children, but the government has failed to construct schools and colleges.
Instead of constructing schools and colleges, the government is providing for madrassas and modernisation of madrassas. This is wrong because madrassas are religious institutions and the government should not play any role in them.
Religious schools like madrassas create segregation and that is bad for Muslims and the country.
The Web site of the ministry of human resources talks only about madrassa modernisation in the name of Muslims; the government should do better than that.
Don’t you think the Muslims too are to be blamed for their present situation?
The Constitution has provided certain guarantees. It’s the government’s job to provide primary education and healthcare.
Take immunisation, for instance. The government has to provide immunisation not only to Muslims, but to all people. It has to bring the immunisation programme to everybody.
The government has to create awareness and sensitise and inform people instead of blaming Muslims or saying that Muslims are not interested. It has to make them participatory, a stakeholder in the programme. This is true for every community.
The Dalits were backward, but the government created educational and employment programmes for them. Now, the Dalits are in a much better socio-economic position than they were a couple of decades ago.
Providing basic services is the duty of the government. If the government is discharging its duties properly, then we do not need special programmes or reservations for Dalits or anybody.
The failure to provide services shows that the government is discriminatory against Muslims and, by government, I mean the system.
Photograph courtesy: Abusaleh Shariff