The Curse of The Muslim Personal Law Board

THE ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED ON SWARAJYAMAG.COM ON 2nd OCT, 2014. HERE IS THE LINK.

For the sake of preserving a perverse version of multiculturalism, the majority community of India has pandered to the whims and narrow interests of the self-appointed spokesmen of Muslims.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is the most influential non-government agency working to protect the Muslim Personal Law today in India. After the Khilafat movement, this was a significant step taken by leaders of the Muslim society to bring their communities on a common platform for safeguarding Islamic values.

In Dec 1972, Muslim politicians and Islamic scholars of different schools of thought gathered in Mumbai and exhibited astounding unity. They resolved all their differences for a much greater cause – which was to safeguard the “rights” of Muslims as per Islamic law or Sharia. Due to the varying interpretations of Sharia law, the Board later suffered splits when Shias and Muslim Feminists seceded to form their own separate Boards – All India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) and the All India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB).

Ever since its formation, the AIMPLB has rarely initiated programs which could have helped in the progress of Muslim community. Yet, significant sections of the Sunni Muslims look up to the board for guidance on Islamic matters. Because of the support the board receives, they are empowered to act as advocates in perpetuity of Muslim orthodoxy and pander to their regressive brand of politics.

Here are some reasons why I think the AIMPLB has been a major hindrance to the progress of the Muslim community and how it’s responsible for ensuring the majority Muslims are not constructively involved in the mainstream:

  1. Guardians of regressive personal laws

The Indian judiciary has always maintained that the personal law prevails in family matters unless it conflicts with the Constitution, or a later Act. As a result, lakhs of Muslim women have been denied fair marriage, divorce, adoption and property rights. AIMPLB has actively worked to protect regressive anti-women laws citing religious reasons. Although rare in India, many Muslim men do practice polygamy. Whether it’s the notoriousTriple Talaq or the highly unjust process of the ‘Khula’, most women are at the mercy of their husbands when it comes to divorce and marriage matters. Their inheritance and property rights aren’t equitable in any way.Child adoption still remains a contentious issue. The Shabnam Hashmi case is a good example. The AIMPLB is also opposed to Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), which overrides over provisions of the Muslim Personal Law.

  1. Attempts to legitimize Sharia courts/Dar- ul- Qaza

The Supreme Court has declared time and again that Sharia courts run by Muslim clerics have no legal sanction and their decisions are not binding on community members. Yet there have been innumerable attempts made by the AIMPLB to legitimize Dar-ul-Qaza or “parallel Islamic courts”, ignoring the fact that these courts are unconstitutional.

  1. Hostility towards the Ahmadiyya community

The AIMPLB doesn’t consider Ahmadiyyas Muslims at all. In fact some of the board members like Imam Bukhari,  have vociferously protested against the religious freedom of the Ahmadiyya community.

  1. Opposition to Right to Education Act (RTE)

The AIMPLB believes that the amendments in RTE act will act as slow poison and ensure the madarsas lose their identity. Looking at the dreadful condition of the madarsas today, I don’t think it’s such a bad idea.

  1. Creeping Islamic Fundamentalism

The AIMPLB is constantly scrutinizing the Anglo-Mohammedan law – which forms the Muslim personal law today (it was largely formulated on the basis of The Hidayah – book written by Mirghayani, a Hanafi scholar ).  As the Islamic intelligentsia shifts its focus towards a more literal/extremist Salafist/Wahabbi ideology of Islam, instances like banning women from Dargahs and protests against people like Salman Rushdie are going to become far more common.

The conflict between personal laws and fundamental rights is both a legal and sociological issue. For the sake preserving a perverse version of multiculturalism, the majority community of India has pandered to the whims and desires of the self-appointed spokesmen of minorities.

The religious Muslim leadership has constantly refused to accept that in a secular, modern polity the functional unit must be the individual, and not the community. They have steadfastly refused to engage with the secular Indians on the much needed Uniform Civil Code. With prominent bodies like the AIMPLB advocating a status quo on the marriage of religion andobscurantist collectivism, the only path the community will head towards is that of isolation and stagnation.  The Board will even attempt to garner support of the regressive elements across other communities to oppose a UCC.

For too long now, the appeals made by the secularists on reform, and opposition to regressive laws has wrongfully been associated with a cunning majoritarian agenda. The proponents of “majoritarianism” can be accused of tolerating the intolerant in this case.

It’s the right time for the cause of a common civil code to go beyond empty generalities. The BJP led NDA government should present to the nation at least some specific guidelines and details on how they will begin implementing the UCC. It’s a battle of progress versus Regress. The supporters of AIMPLB should introspect which side of the divide they want their community to be.

Kashmir Separatists – Pied Pipers of Doom

The Article was published on swarajyamag.com on 21st Sept, 2014. Here is the link.

Kashmiris have to choose between sectarian doom or democracy. It’s a waste of time talking with those separatists who want to join Pakistan. They’re beyond redemption. 

The recent devastation caused by the floods in Kashmir has left us all distraught. Hundreds of people have died and thousands are still thought to be stranded in some areas. As always, the gallant and selfless Indian army physically rescued more than 300,000 people from the ravaging waters, regardless of their race, religion etc. As Ajai Shukla points out in his article, the army does these things all year round. Unsurprisingly yet again, the Kashmiri separatists have joined forces to discredit the Indian army claiming the rescue operations were “tardy and ill-organised” and that the army “neglected the Kashmiri Muslims”. Time and again these Hurriyat charlatans have attempted to flare up communal passions among the Muslims and reignite their enthusiasm for achieving independence from a “Hindu Majority India”.

I strongly believe that this perverse and irrational fantasy about an “independent Kashmir” must be mocked harder in our political and media mainstream. For starters, giving credibility to separatists by inviting them on prime time TV shows must stop. Even when government appointed “interlocutors” engage with the separatists, it needs to be completely out of the public glare.

It’s remarkable how the mainstream in this country is so “amnesic” about the origins and goals of the separatists. Here are some reminders to jolt you back to reality –

  • 1. Operation Tupac: This was the mother of militant separatism. It’s still active. No matter how many sarees Nawaz Sharif gifts our Prime Minister’s mother, this operation will go on and the ISI agents will not step down till they achieve their goals.

    2. JKLF members were consulted when the blueprint of destabilizing Kashmir in the 1980s was drawn by the ISI and Gen Zia. Pak intelligence floated organizations like Hizb-ul-Maujahideen, Hizb-ul-Islam, Allah Tigers, Al-Umar Mujahideen, Muslim Mujahideen, Harkat Ul Ansar and Jamaat Hurriyat Conference. It’s remarkable how we even engage with people like Yasin Malik or Geelani. Just replace yourself with the US, Israel or Russia and imagine what they would have done instead.

    3. ISI’s active role in aiding Khalistani terrorists and naxals in the North East & South through porous borders from Bangladesh and Nepal. ISI’s hopes of “Balkanizing India” are shared by the likes of the Kashmiri Separatists. Obviously it wouldn’t come as a surprise when you find Yasin Malik supporting groups like LTTE (although he actually doesn’t care about the rights of Tamils)

    4. JKLF was the first separatist group which took up arms against India in 1988. Sharing Gen. Zia Ul Haq’s ideology, Amanullah Khan (JKLF leader) wanted Kashmir to be a part of the Organisation of Islamic Conference. It’s hilarious when the separatist leaders harp on Secularism. Their only intention is to exploit our people’s tolerance and unleash their dogmatic ideologies when the tide is in their favour.

    5. Kashmiri Pandits Exodus: Enough has been written and discussed about it but still, the Pandits have not received any justice yet. Elements of JKLF and their brother Islamist groups were responsible for one of the largest exodus in modern history. More than 300,000 Pandits forcibly removed from their homes. More recently in 2013, the Kishtwar riots were attempts of ISI supported groups to radicalize the region yet again… to achieve their ultimate goal of ethnic cleansing. No matter how much these radical separatists deny, it’s crystal clear that they harbour a divisive communal agenda.

    I can go on and point out innumerable reasons why it’s pointless negotiating with these brutes. From their fanatical support for Afzal guru to cosy meetings with India’s most wanted criminal – Hafeez Sayeed, their seditious activities have reached astronomical levels.

A landlocked region surrounded by three nuclear powers cannot survive peacefully with each nation having its own strategic interests– geopolitically or for natural resources. The question of achieving “independence” is simply out of the question. For a detailed argument, please refer this paper. To reach a solution, we must think about the interests of our future generations in mind.

Recent news reports suggest the people of PoK are not happy with the Pakistan government. The anger must be quite justified since Pakistan, a nation teetering on the edge of becoming categorised as a failed state, cannot secure its large cities from insurgent attacks, forget caring about people in distant PoK or Northern Areas. In that light, the latest Bhutto legatee, Bilawal’s rhetoric about “taking back every inch of Kashmir” sounds outright delusional.

“Independent Kashmir” supporters must get realistic. A merger with Pakistan will spell doom for everyone. If they wholeheartedly lend their support to a merger with India, they too will find that all doors of progress will open for them and surely one day India could even have a democratically elected Kashmiri Prime Minister. This is the best time to make that choice because we have a strong political leader like Narendra Modi leading the country.  And remember, help can only offered to those who ask for it.

Love Jihad -The Malicious Agenda of Religious Supremacists

Before I begin, let me acknowledge the fact that the UP BJP has recently dropped the Love Jihad issue from it’s political resolution.

The head of UP Bajrang Dal – Balraj Singh did not mince his words. He clearly said – Muslims of UP want to take over the state just like the Muslims in Kashmir. They’re going to do it by duping/trapping (forcibly and emotionally) Hindu Women into marriage, convert them to Islam and use them to change the demographic balance.

The same issue was raised by the Sangh Parivar last year in Karnataka. There were many reports of moral policing and vigilantism by groups like VHP and Sri Ram Sene. The Sangh outfits also assumed that all the “reported missing” women were victims of Love Jihad.

The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC), BJP and The Hindu Aikyavedi have been making similar claims of an organized group of Muslim youths luring young women from other communities to convert to Islam feigning love.

All of the above accusations are very disturbing in many ways. Question is how do we separate the truth from the hype?  Interestingly very few convictions have been made in such cases mainly because the courts have found no or little evidence. The key questions to be asked here are – How many of those religious conversions were voluntary? How many of those were forced/coerced? Are their any laws protecting us against forced conversions? In the case of eloping teenagers (where the girls were deceived), how much of the fault lies with the parents/adults? Sadly, I believe the issue has not been discussed in the right way.

Some media houses conducted investigations in Uttar Pradesh on the issue of Love Jihad, thanks to the rigorous campaign of the BJP and Sangh Parivar across the state. What they found was that a significant number of Hindus had no clue about the menace. Some even denied that such practices take place in their state and blamed the media for the hype. While further investigating on the issue, In Meerut it was found – Women believed that they could be threatened by any man in general, not particularly those from the Muslim community. Violence against women in general was the major concern raised.

The Indian Constitution in Article 25 grants to citizens of India of all religious persuasions freedom to profess, practise and propagate their faith in a way that does not disrupt public order and does not affect public health and morality adversely. At the same time, the Constitution provides a criminal code to prosecute those who are running the business of forced conversions. Not to forget, there are anti Conversion laws in some states. The law of the land is on the citizen’s side. We are an extremely religious nation. Every religious community has groups which look after the safety/well being of their brethren. It’s fair to say our society is complex. The atmosphere is such that any religious act by any community cannot go unnoticed for a long time. Living under such immense scrutiny, I find it hard to believe that members of X community can coerce members of Y community into performing acts which will be detrimental to the interests of Y community, and get away with it unnoticed for a long period of time. There will be exceptions, but sadly what the religious supremacists want us to believe is that the exceptions are the norm. I’m not for a moment suggesting that the cases reported in Britain where Sikh Girls have been coerced into performing Sexual acts by groups of Muslim men or any other cases we find any where in the world have absolutely no religious motivation. There *could* a vile Islamist aspect to it (the reason why I stress on could is because there’s no explicit mention of Love Jihad in Islam).  What I’m strongly against is generalization. The term “Love Jihad” offers collective blame to the entire Muslim community (which is what the propagators of this term are trying to do.)

There is no denying that Islam forces the Muslim men to marry Muslim women only and vice versa. It doesn’t regard the marriage to be authentic if either one is a Hindu. In order to escape from this medieval ruling, we have the Special Marriage Act, 1954 in India. My friend Harsh Gupta and Arvind Narain wrote excellent articles on strengthening the SMA and discouraging the religious marriages which force people to convert. Personally I would go a step further and begin laying the foundation for a Uniform Civil Code (which is one of the reasons why I voted for the NDA). A Secular UCC brings about a sense of oneness among the people of the nation. One people, One Code and Justice for all.

People are free to stop their children from dating members of a particular community. If you feel there are “Jihadi” predators out there, then advise your teens to ask for valid ID (Passport, PAN etc) before dating. Ask them to inform the adults about the person they’re going out with. Spread the message of not dating the “forbidden” community members in your religious/social gatherings. If you find any of the “predators” are even asking your girls out or making friendship, inform the concerned authorities immediately. {The above para is for those who are “extra concerned” or paranoid about the whole issue}

I hope common sense prevails soon and the issue is looked at in totality. The Bipolar discourse of Absolute Denial or Gross Exaggeration has gone on for too long.

Common Patterns of Thinking : A Subjective-Rational Analysis

Modern Neuroscience has had great success in the analysis of the anatomical and physical bases of learning and memory. We make rational judgements based on the information stored in our brains. The Hippocampus is involved in the object location of our memory. It decides whether the memory with be encoded permanently or temporarily in our brain.It also determines in what way the memories are consolidated within our brain. The Neuroscience of language further explains when a memory is formed and stored, are there particular genes and proteins that are involved in memory, and how can a memory last for a lifetime? etc…

So what’s the ability in Homo Sapiens that makes them superior to all the other species on this planet? It is Thinking (commonly defined as “using thought or rational judgement” ) From my observations, I have come across certain patterns which are attributed to Human Thinking. Although this is a very limited categorization & many individuals may come under 1 or many types of patterns (which I explain below) I feel it’s important to begin with identifying those qualities which are strongly prevalent within us.

Type-1

These are people who are highly prejudiced, stereotypical and intolerant. In a nutshell, it’s those who believe the things they want to believe. They engage only with the things which appeal to them, (their subconscious warning them of their limited deduction skills).  When one analyses their brains, we find their Prefrontal Cortex and Amygdala are most active when presented with different situations. Amygdala as you know, plays the primary role in emotional reactions, especially those in relation to fear. So instincts, although primaeval, play a crucial role in their decision making.

Type-2

These are people who can be easily influenced, but in most cases they aren’t aware of it. They remain dedicated to their “current cause”. They’re logically consistent but often prone to changing stances when introduced to even partial inconsistencies of their cause. From the Neuroscience of Social Influence, we notice the Amygdala, The orbitofrontal cortices, and The Brainstem are most active when these individuals are influenced emotionally. When it comes to factual influence, the  posterior parietal cortex and the superior prefrontal cortices are activated.

Type-3

These people rely on definite/conventional information. Facts and Figures.They are the original Gatekeepers of the establishment or status quo. The Data munchers. Because they deal with explicit memories, most sections of the Medial Temporal Lobe and Medial diencephalon exhibit maximum activity (later in their life, it may get disturbed & the sudden realization may appear as an epiphany 😛 ).

Type-4

These are people who are slightly different from Type-3. Not only do they rely on facts, They go by their “gut feeling”… in other words, they’re driven by a strong sense of intuition. They are known to explore the vicinity of outlandishness, but are contained within the realm of rationality. Because of their exhaustive/comprehensive tendencies to exert pressure on the brain, the entire Prefrontal cortex behaves like an industrial power house.

Type-5

From all the types I’ve discussed above, these people are the most tractable & intractable. They’re  “Free spirited” in the true sense & unorthodox in many cases. They don’t recognize the social constructs/conventions set by society at large. The causes they’re mostly dedicated to lie within the peripheries of the establishment. But inorder to ensure their voice is heard, they unwillingly adopt the traditional means outlined within the status-quo. Normally, the area of the brain associated with a sense of self is the medial prefrontal cortex. What I found fascinating from a study conducted on Cultural Neuroscience, was the pattern of  medial prefrontal cortex activity was similar to those both “collectivists” and “individualists” for the same set of instances.

Categorizing the above types based on Cognitive Neuroscience is one thing. The question that confronts us is WHY? The indubitable conundrum of consciousness. Why do we think, the way we think? Conventional studies (which have mostly applied a classical approach) have not been able to answer this question so far. Which way do we turn to then? The best option today is the Quantum Theory.

The Neural Correlates of Consciousness in combination with the concept of Neural Substrates (researched mostly within the fields of Neurophysiology and Neuroanatomy) constitute a wide set of neuronal events/mechanisms sufficient for conscious percepts and cognition/behaviour. Unfortunately, it has not been comprehensive in explaining the unpredictability/vastness of the human experience. But when we change our approach, on the basis of Quantum Cognition a lot of the “mysteries” surrounding the “human” element begin to unravel. The inimitable clarity of the Quantum Mind, its distinctive properties of Quantum Entanglement and Quantum Superposition, and their limitations by Quantum Decoherence is the closest theory we have to explain the riddle of consciousness.

When one acquaints himself with the facts of the universe or the multi-verse, the experience of it should you make you more humble. We have been genetically programmed & our brain has been hard wired in such a way that the overwhelming sensory reality is inescapable. We are intrinsically hedonistic/instinctual beings. Now that we are closest ever to understanding our “inner-verse” it won’t be too long when we evolve again. The Cosmos has forever been playing its role. It’s time we recognize our path to fit in the scheme of things. (or maybe even what Arthur C Clarke imagined… The Mind joining the Overmind).

Why a Muslim guy like me would vote for Narendra Modi

I write this as an individual who happens to be Muslim, not as a representative of the Muslim community. My attempt here is to explain the “voice in my head” – the rationale behind voting for Modi. It could be interpreted as an act of selfishness (probably, it may well be one) but IMO it is keeping in mind that my act isn’t adversely affecting the lives of my fellow Indians. This is basically a gist of what I feel about the man and the hopes I have from him. These uncertain times have forced every Indian to make a choice – Maintain Status Quo or attempt to make our world better. I feel Modi is the only option we have to choose the latter.

Let us first begin with the contentious issues:

MODI HAS ACTIVELY/IMPLICITLY PLAYED A PART IN ORCHESTRATING THE 2002 ANTI MUSLIM RIOTS 

The allegation has time and again been dismissed by the courts and a SIT monitored by the Supreme Court. Enough has been debated on it & it’s important now the opposition relinquishes this matter and strive to rehabilitate the victims instead.

MODI HAS NOT APOLOGIZED FOR THE 2002 RIOTS 

Why does one apologize? what is the motive behind it? An apology is only effective when you never repeat the mistakes of your past. There has not been a single riot (at-least nothing major) in Gujarat since 2002. If we put this in contrast with the Samajwadi Party who claims to help Muslims, there have been over 100 rioting incidents in a year in UP! Modi has let his actions speak for themselves and the Muslims of Gujarat are his witnesses. Critics cite his Gaurav Yatra speeches (he delivered after the 2002 riots) as a sign of hate mongering. Having gone through his speeches extensively, I realized that it was mostly aimed at leveraging the charged political atmosphere at the time. Every politician including Gandhiji has utilized the element of rhetoric to put his message across. If Modi had really given hate speeches, he would have been penalized under the law. I don’t recall the opposition at the time dragging Modi to courts…I don’t blame them because there wasn’t any case.

US HAS NOT ISSUED ANY VISA TO MODI

It’s actually a hilarious argument this. US has bombed nearly 30 countries since WW-II & their war crimes are no mystery. It’s obvious to me that Human Rights is not the issue, it’s the apprehension of having not able to bully/control a decisive/nationalist leader that sends a chill down their spines. Mr. Modi has no swiss bank accounts or hawala transactions unlike Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. How will the monopolists threaten/bribe him now?

MODI DOES NOT WEAR A SKULL CAP, HENCE DISRESPECTING THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY

It would be untruthful of me as a conscientious human being to not admit that the average Hindu is more liberal than an average Muslim. How are the lying/conniving skull cap wearing politicians better than Modi? What have they done for the Muslims? Do they look at the Muslims as Indians or aliens? Modi is the only politician I’ve seen in a long time who treats Indian Muslims as Indians. That is automatically implied in his statement “Secularism means India first”. Whatever his personal reason for not wearing a skull cap maybe (fair to say he’s not the classic liberal), he has certainly not denied the constitutional rights to any community & hence proven his secular credentials.

GUJARAT DEVELOPMENT IS A HOAX

Some of the world’s leading economists like Arvind Panagariya, Jagdish Bhagwati, Bibek Debroy etc…don’t think so. Infact the planning commission of India & NSSO concur with them. Most importantly, the people of Gujarat would not have elected him 3 times if the development model was a hoax. This is by far the weakest argument Modi’s critics have raised time and again.

MODI IS AFRAID OF TAKING TOUGH QUESTIONS FROM THE MEDIA

Even Mr. Modi must have regretted about his failure of handling the media. He’s certainly not the best person in the world to sugar coat, smooth talk & suck up to Media inquiries. This I believe is a rare quality nowadays. What good is a glib liberal talker? It’s far better to have an honest man attempting to make his point. So what if he ran away from the Karan Thapar show? Ram Jethmalani did it twice (and he is still the best/highest paid lawyer in the country). Who knows what Mr. Modi’s mental state must have been like at the time? After being compared to Hitler, called a “Maut ka Saudagar”, Fascist, Pogromist etc…for more than 7 years!!! The anguish would have driven a person like me to insanity perhaps.

MODI”S RISE IS BECAUSE OF APCO & RSS PROPAGANDA

Modi did make use of APCO & a dedicated IT team who were driven by BJP’s ideology. That’s a fact. But someone please tell me how is that unethical? If you have done something good for your community or society at large, is it evil to publicize your achievements? Some advertisements may go overboard…sure & they must be mocked/criticized.  The abusive internet trolls are not the ones making decisions for Modi & they’re certainly not the ones who made Modi the BJP PM Candidate. I believe Modi’s critics have acted as his greatest PR agents. They have managed to put him in the headlines all along.  It’s important we don’t trivialize the major issues by providing equal debating space to non sequiturs like trolling etc… The issue becomes a propaganda when we choose to ignore the facts of the matter & highlight the superficiality/inanities surrounding the matter. So what are the facts about Modi’s rise? Simple : His Governance track record of 3 terms.

 

The Alarmists all over have been able to propound this theory of “Modi creating a fascist state”…especially with the elections going on & with the desperate attempt to change the mind of the voter. Absurd comparisons to Nazi Germany must be treated with contempt.   It is an undisputed fact that no one can shred the secular fabric of our nation. Our history bares witness to the fact of how tolerant our society is/was. The major driving force behind all the communal divide that exists today is the Congress Party. From opposing UCC to innumerable riots/massacres at the hands of Congress leaders, the facade of “sainthood” should have been exposed way long back. Congress has carried forth the British policy of divide & rule…why do you think Rahul Gandhi says “Congress Ek Soch hai” ? This “Soch” has divided the people of this country, robbed us of our rich Historical legacy & most importantly halted the progress & growth of our people.

In recent times, a mere “hogwash” of a party has emerged. Aam Admi Party has no clear economic, defense, foreign etc… policies. I would not vote for them because they’re not organised & genuinely focused on rabble-rousing rather than governing our vast nation. To further elaborate my point, I would refer you to Sadanand Dhume’s article on AAP & Kejriwal.

 

My Expectations from the Man:

1) Decentralization of power & Small Govt (which he has mentioned very often)

2) Boosting the use of clean energy sources and reducing the dependence on Saudi Oil. (Gujarat is one of the leading states in Solar Energy production)

3) Revive the Manufacturing Sector & popularize/mainstream vocational/skilled jobs for Medium/Large Scale Industries.

4) Introduce umpteen reforms for Tax, Police, Judiciary, Real Estate Investments, FDI etc…deregulating fuel prices, curbing Fiscal & CADs, Privatizing & Disinvestments etc..

5) CBI Autonomy

6) Uniform Civil Code (or at-least weakening the influence of Sharia Law & WAKF Board)

7) Cybersecurity & Domestic defense production

8) A Pro Asia Centric Foreign Policy & increased participation in groups like BRICS, G20 etc…

9) Sanctioning covert ops/drone strikes in Jihadi training camps (especially PoK) & increased cooperation with Afghanistan to eradicate the Taliban

10) Section 377 is a stain on our democracy. I know it’s too much to ask of Mr. Modi, but please do consider.

These were some of the points I could remember for the moment. I truly hope Modi will begin to propagate the message of “Integral Humanism”…a definitive path for a right wing party this country needs for the moment.

CONCLUSION

I am not a Modi bhakt. I have been trolled by Modi followers for many years now. I will call out the imperfections in the man, when I come across them. But for the moment, Modi is the ONLY realistic option we have for this country. I’m not saying that you vote blindly for every BJP Candidate out there. Please check his background & track record. If you find any criminal cases, then vote for the most honest candidate in your area. In case you find a scenario where all the candidates are clean, I would suggest you vote for the man who will help Modi become the Prime Minister of this great nation.

Jai Hind.

 

PS: I wrote this article in a couple of hours. Please forgive me if you find any Grammatical errors, typing errors or spelling mistakes. Time & Proof reader are luxuries I don’t have 🙂

Self Reflection : Groping in the Dark. ~ by Ali Mirza

Temporal vicissitudes adorn,
life’s indelible impressions besiege,
At times all you do is scorn,
while the innerverse can only seethe.

Plunging horrors! A myriad of abysses delving within,
insuperable thunder birthing beams for absurd progressions,
The quest for substance! A mere tautological whim?
unbridled quandaries with seamless obsessions.

Hollow labels exemplify a self deceptive monstrosity,
an evidently delusional and chimerical existence,
But live on, oh Humankind! with a Sisyphean tenacity,
sectioning thy fellow beings while harboring indifference.

My Response to Tavleen Singh’s article on Muslim Radicalization and Muzaffarnagar riots

Here is Tavleen Singh’s article.

The growing Muslim radicalization is a fact. whether it’s because of external factors pertaining to US/Israel interventions in ME or Saudi funded Salafist theology or any other reason. what must be observed to determine whether A or B is a national security threat is: how *many* of them are ACTUALLY willing to adopt violent Jihad or actively engage in terrorist activities. Growing beards,wearing Burqas or the refusal to mingle with the crowd don’t count as proof. It could merely be to have a sense of one’s own identity. Religious symbolism is often used to assert oneself .It is the individual’s right.. The duty of the state to protect it’s minorities from the tyranny of the majority BUT that’s not done by appeasing A side to enrage side B. Maximum effort must be put in to ensure fairness and impartiality via legitimate institutions.  That is the hallmark of a true Secular democracy.

As far as Tavleen Singh’s article is concerned, she has rightly pointed out the lack of Liberal MSM coverage on the growing Islamist intolerance and the pseudo-secular actions of UP Govt. Although I agree with the essence of the article, insinuating that every bearded Muslim man is a potential Jihadi is a bigoted conclusion. One must avoid a stereotype perpetuated analysis. Unfortunately, what perturbs me the most is the absence of a basic level of nuance required in making a point (especially in mainstream discourse). Journos mustn’t leave scope for interpretation on sensitive issues especially while making relatively anecdotal assertions (in this case, her private source). Tavleen should have provided more evidence to support her claim about bearded men and Burqa clad women. Nevertheless, it is important for everyone not to let this issue off the hook and pile on as much as evidence as possible.

A basic introduction to Islamic Finance and some of the issues surrounding it.

I never followed Islamic Banking much. The concept of an “interest free” system seemed untenable. But when the Indian Government/RBI cleared it in Kerala, I decided to learn more about what we’re dealing with. Here is some of my research on Islamic banking. It’s obvious that I have missed out on several other topics and anyone who wants to add to the article, please do so in the comments section.


Islamic finance started as a small cottage industry in some Arab countries in the late 1970s. It distinguishes itself from conventional finance in its ostensible compliance with principles of Islamic law, or Sharia. Its growth has been accelerating ever since, in terms of the number of countries in which it operates, as well as the areas of finance in which it has ventured. Islamic Bank assets are expected to hit $1.8 Trillion by the end of 2013.

Islamic finance is principally implemented to comply with the main tenets of Sharia law. The main sources of Sharia are the Holy Quran, Hadith, Sunna, Ijma, Qiyas and Ijtihad.

From a vantage point (ideally), we understand that Islamic financial firms are types of financial intermediaries that employ Sharia principles. Sharia commands adjustment of all aspects of Muslims’ lives and enforces a moral system. The conventional financial system focuses on the capitalistic features of economic and financial processes but, Islamic finance aims to make an equitable distribution in resources and social fairness in society.

Some of its general principles are as follows:

1. -The prohibition of Riba (Usury or Interest is translated to mean Riba which literally means an excess or addition above the principle lent) and the removal of debt-based financing from the economy. Riba leads to money being made from money: an unacceptable practice in Islamic finance.

2. -The prohibition of Gharar (translated as risk, hazard or uncertainty), i.e. the full disclosure of information and removal of any irregularities in a contract. (in simple terms, to avoid cases where the purchaser does not know what he has bought and/or the seller does not know what he has sold). Example from a Hadith – the purchase of an unborn animal in its mother’s womb is forbidden

3. -The exclusion of financing and dealing in activities and commodities which involve Maysir and other sinful activities – Example: Gambling, production of alcohol etc.

4. -The provider of financial funds and the entrepreneur share business risk in return for shares of profits and losses. Example: The Mudarabah and Musarakah.

5. -A financial transaction should not lead to the exploitation of any party to the transaction.

Other Islamic financial instruments are Zakah (payments to the poor) and Takaful (Islamic insurance). Islam makes it mandatory for the rich to support the poor and needy, hence Zakah is obligatory for all Muslims with wealth. Takaful is like a mutual self-help scheme between those who wish to support each other in difficult times. It can be established with a pool of funds by a group of people whose aim is not to obtain profit from the pool, but they may invest its funds in permissible activities in Islam to increase the fund’s wealth. In turn, the Takaful provides members with financial help in the instance of specific events.

An Islamic bank is a deposit-taking banking institution whose scope of activities includes all currently known banking activities, excluding borrowing and lending on the basis of interest. On the liabilities side, it mobilizes funds on the basis of Mudarabah contract. It can also accept demand deposits which are treated as interest-free loans from the clients to the bank, and which are guaranteed. On the assets side, it advances funds on a profit-and-loss sharing or a debt-creating basis, in accordance with the principles of the Sharia. It plays the role of an investment manager for the owners of time deposits called investment deposits. In addition, equity holding as well as commodity and asset trading constitute an integral part of Islamic banking operations. An Islamic bank shares its net earnings with its depositors in a way that depends on the size and date-to-maturity of each deposit. Depositors are informed beforehand of the formula used for sharing the net earning with the bank. There are different kinds of Islamic banking such as Islamic social banks, development banks, commercial banks and holding banks. Most modern Islamic banks are examples of commercial banks that offer deposit accounts and financing instruments derived from Islamic principles.

Some of the principal instruments of Islamic finance methods as practiced by Islamic banks and other financial institutions are:

1. Mudarabah, the provision of capital in a partial-equity partnership – Profits are then shared between the two parties (rabb-al-mal and mudarib) according to some pre-agreed ratio in the contract. If there are losses the investor bears all financial losses and the entrepreneur the operating losses; principally the opportunity cost of their own efforts. The majority of Islamic jurists and scholars hold the view that Mudarabah contracts are only really suitable for commercial activities.

2. Musharakah, full equity partnerships – It is most suited for financing private or public companies and project financing. Musharakah is described as a joint venture between an Islamic bank and a customer or business firm for certain operations. There are 2 kinds of contracts: First one where a permanent contract which ensures its parties (the investor, bank and entrepreneur)have an equitable share in the annual profit/loss on pre-agreed terms. Second one is a diminishing contract preferred by bankers as it allows the bank to reduce its share of equity each year and receive periodic profits based on the reducing equity balance. In this form, the equity share of the customer in the capital of enterprise increases over time until he or she becomes the sole owner of the enterprise.

3. Murabaha, an instrument used for financing the purchase of goods – it is a two-party buying and selling contract between bank and customer involving no financial inter-mediation or financing. Under the Murabaha contract, the customer provides the bank with the specifications and prices of the goods to be purchased or imported. The bank studies the application and collects information about the specifications and prices of the goods, focusing especially on the price and conditions for payment. When the bank and its client agree on the terms of the deal, the bank purchases the goods or commodities and resells them to the customer. The profit that accrues to the bank is mutually agreed upon as a profit margin (mark-up) on the cost of purchase.

4. Bai muajjall, deferred payments on products – this allows business or individuals to receive products now and pay for their value in the future.

5. Bai Salam, advance sale contracts – is a sale contract in which the price is paid in advance at the time of contracting against delivery of the purchased goods/services at a specified future date. It’s permissible only when it satisfies conditions like (i) the commodities sold should not be available at the time of contracting; (ii) the quality and quantity of goods must be known; (iii) the date and place of delivery for these commodities should be defined; and (iv) the purchase cost price should be paid completely at the time of the contract.

6. Istisna, or manufacturing contracts – this allows one party to obtain industrial goods with either an upfront cash payment and deferred delivery or deferred payment and delivery. here individuals or firms request their bank to facilitate a contract of production for a good, and the bank concludes an Istisna contract with a third party (the manufacturer) to produce and deliver the specific item under particular requirements

7. Ijarah, lease financing – is the reward or recompense that proceeds from a rental contract between two parties, where the lessor (the owner of the asset) leases capital asset to the lessee (the user of the asset).

8. Quard Hassan – a system of benevolent loans without interest to assist the needy in an attempt to alleviate hardship. The amount paid by the lender is considered an interest-free loan from the time of payment until the date of the settlement. The borrower’s payment of any amount over and above the principal to the lender is permissible so long as it is at the borrower’s discretion.

What concerns most of us it the Islamic deposit accounts. There are three main types-

1. Islamic current accounts are a service offered to depositors to process bank transfers and pay cheques through existing transfer and settlement systems. These accounts are payable on demand and no interest or profits are paid to depositors. Current accounts can also be held in a foreign currency to facilitate international trade.

2. As with comparable products offered by conventional banks, Islamic savings accounts offer flexible deposits, withdrawal on demand and a guarantee of capital. However, unlike conventional bank savings accounts, interest is forbidden on account balances. Depositors can, however, obtain benefits in the form of ‘prizes’ that depend, in part, on the value of the deposit and the bank’s profitability. These services are also often offered fee-free to depositors.

3. Islamic investment deposit accounts are designed for customers who wish to invest their funds using profit/loss sharing principles. Investment accounts are usually administrated under the principles of Mudarabah and Musharakah that establish the bank as the entrepreneur or a participant and the depositor as an investor or a participant.

Outside retail services, Islamic banks offer many similar services to conventional banks in the form of performance bonds, letters of guarantee, letters of credit, travellers’ cheques, money transfers, foreign exchange transactions and safe deposits. In these situations, the Islamic bank can collect a service or administration fee corresponding to the expense incurred on the service rendered under Sharia.

If we took the example of purchasing a property again, it could be done in three possible ways – Musharaka, Murabaha and Ijara. The payments might be the same for all these processes as well as for the standard conventional practice of payment of interest used commonly for mortgages. The difference is that the rate of return is based on the asset transaction and not based on interest on money loaned. The difference is in the approach and not necessarily on the financial impact. There is an inherent difference in the way the transaction is carried out, and all based upon the previously mentioned prohibition of Riba. The intention is to avoid injustice and unfair enrichment at the expense of another party.

There are some concerns with Islamic banking with regards to the transparency in Zakat transactions. For example- Al Qaeda operates under a veil of legitimacy including businesses created by Bin Laden in Sudan, as well as honey traders in Yemen that the U.S. recently identified as part of Al Qaeda’s financial network. It also earns money through criminal enterprises ranging from the heroin trade to smuggling, fraud, and theft. Some of the money trails were connected to Islamic banks. It’s important that these banks fortify their financial activities and maintain transparency. Other problems may further arise due to some of the draconian aspects of Sharia law.

Like Conventional banking, Islamic banking too has several loopholes. According to experts, there have been significant changes in it’s financial system and a constant evolution in the working mechanisms. I leave it to the policy makers to decide if this can coexist along side the current Global Financial System. Perhaps, a better alternative would be to incorporate the desired aspects of Islamic banking into our finance system without the religious context.

For more detailed information on Islamic Finance :

 1) http://ifp.law.harvard.edu/login/publications2

2) IMF working paper on Islamic Finance by Olga Krasicka and Sylwia Nowak

3) Terrorist Financing- UC-Berkeley paper (2005)

Muslim Mobs, Educated terrorists and Voices of Reason.

*****Some random thoughts on the problems Muslim society faces today******

There is an increasing trend of Muslim mobs creating havoc,especially after Friday prayers and other mass gatherings for political/religious reasons or just plain thuggery. some of the reasons for this are- 

1) The Maulvis/Mullahs are alot more informed/funded today, hence to fulfill their agenda they dissolve their political affiliations in a literalist-medieval interpretation of Islam. Contextualization and metaphorization are unappealing (often incomprehensible) to the bigoted and jobless hooligans. 

2) The victimhood narrative perpetuated by sections of mainstream media (especially the vernacular dailies) is at full flow. At a subconscious level, even the moderate Muslims fall prey to this propaganda. 

3) Educated debates on Islam which deconstruct the doctrine of Jihad,Khilafah, Shariah etc in mainstream are unheard of. Sometimes local cultural influences are often misconstrued as universal diktats. People like Zakir Naik distort scientific facts for his ill informed brood of followers and unfortunately I don’t see any erudite scientist standing up against it. Only when we bring the contentious issues into limelight, the layman can see things clearly. It’s like separating wheat from husk.
4) The most important reason in my opinion is the Moderates are not speaking out against the unscientific/unipolar clergy and wily politicians (who happen to form Muslim laws) and question their unlawful hegemony over Islamic thought. Concepts like Ijtehad and Fitra are never debated in orthodox Muslim circles. This innate fear of change/improvement has kept the Muslim masses behind. The Islamists with their limited view of the world challenge these changes and equate them to Bid’ah (most dimwits think reformation=Bid’ah. they’re different concepts).

 
Another worrying trend with respect to terrorism (and the most worrisome) is the involvement of educated Muslims. Jihadis can either have a Muslim or a non Muslim background. Most of these educated Jihadis with Muslim background undergo a radical transformation when there’s a clash of the civilizations. The “intrusive” western civilization, Isolation/humiliation, identity crisis etc are major factors that gradually drive them into the abyss of extremism. The Jihadis with non Muslim backgrounds is a curious phenomena. IMO it’s a case of mental illness, feeble mindedness or just plain genetics/natural selection.
 
The emphasis for Muslims now has to shift from collectivism to individuality. As Aristotle once said “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” It’s time we use our educated minds more often and stand up for the greater good of mankind.