Monday, December 8, 2014

Who or what is DAJJAL?

Most Muslims are aware of a hadith/hadees, a narration attributed to Messenger Muhammad, Rehmatul-lil-aalameen, which speaks of a one-eyed phenomenon emerging from the earth in the future. Blind in one eye, Dajjal would have mysterious powers which would enable it to hear and see all that is going on in the world, amass treasures of silver and gold and control nature, causing rain to fall and plants to grow, and have powers of life and death. People with weak faith would prostrate themselves before it but those with strong faith would see through this deception.

An excellent explanation of this hadith was given by Muhammad Asad in his book "The Road to Mecca". I am reproducing it here, in Asad's own words. You may find this explanation useful when faced with a zealous Muslim who insists on taking the story literally, completely missing its figurative meaning, "the parable of modern material civilization" [matter = earth].

Muhammad Asad speaking to an Arab sheikh: 

"Dajjal is one-eyed: that is, it looks upon only one side of life - material progress - and is unaware of its spiritual side. With the help of its technical marvels it enables man to see and hear far beyond his natural ability, and to cover endless distances at an inconceivable speed. Its scientific knowledge causes 'rain to fall and plants to grow' and uncovers unsuspected treasures from beneath the ground. Its medicine brings life to those who seem to have been doomed to death, while its wars and scientific horrors destroy life. And its material advancement is so powerful and so glittering that the weak in faith are coming to believe that it is a godhead in its own right. But those who have remained conscious of their Creator clearly recognise that to worship the Dajjal means to deny God."

The sheikh replied to Muhammad Asad, excitedly striking his knee:

"Thou art right, O Muhammad, thou art right! It has never occurred to me to look upon the Dajjal prophecy in this light. But thou art right! Instead of realising that man's advancement and the progress of science is a bounty from our Lord, more and more people in their folly are beginning to think that it is an end in itself and fit to be worshipped." 

Monday, November 24, 2014

قرآن مجید میں "عالم" کی تعریف

آجکل پاکستان میں خصوصاً اور دنیاۓ اسلام میں عموما، مسلمانوں کے نام نہاد مذہبی پیشوا خود ساختہ اعزازی ناموں سے پہچانے جاتے ہیں: مولانا، ملا، مولوی، امام، شیخ وغیرہ- بحیثیت مجموعی یہ حضرات - کہ خواتین ان میں نہیں ہوتیں - اپنے  تئیں "علما" کہلوانا پسند کرتے ہیں اور اپنے نظریات سے اختلاف رکھنے والوں پہ کفر کا فتویٰ صادر کرنے کے لئے ہمہ وقت کمر کسے بیٹھے ہوتے ہیں

اگرچہ ان حضرات نے اپنے لئے قرآن سے "عالم " کی اصطلاح اخذ کر لی ہے لیکن قرآن خود "علما " کی تعریف کن الفاظ میں کرتا ہے؟ سوره فاطر (35)، آیات  27/28 ، ترجمہ: ڈاکٹر شبیر احمد 

کیا تم نے غور نہیں کیا الله بلند فضا سے ایک ہی جیسا پانی برساتا ہے اور پھر اس سے کتنے مختلف رنگوں اور خواص کے پھل پیدا کرتا ہے؟ اور پہاڑ جو ایک ہی مادے سے بنتے ہیں ان میں مختلف  رنگوں کے قطعات ہوتے ہیں، کوئی سفید، کوئی سرخ اورکوئی کالا 

  اور پھر انسانوں، ہر طرح کے چھوٹے بڑے جانداروں اور چوپایوں کی بھی مختلف خصوصیات اور رنگ ہوتے ہیں- کائنات کی اس رنگا رنگی پر غور کر کے وہی لوگ الله کی عظمت کا اعتقاد رکھتے ہیں جو اس کے بندوں میں صاحب علم ہیں- وہ جانتے ہیں کہ الله کتنی بڑی قوتوں کا مالک 
ہے جوکائنات کے اس کارخانے کو تخریب سے محفوظ رکھتا ہے 
شبیر صاحب کا تبصرہ: ان دو آیات پہ غور کیجئے، کتنے بہت سے سائنسی علوم کی طرف اشارہ کر کے لفظ "علما " آیا ہے- ان آیات میں علم موسمیات، حیوانیات، حشرات الارض، مویشیوں اورعلم خوراک وغیرہ کا ذکر ہے- اگر علما  سے مراد مذہبی پیشوایّت لی جائے تو وہ تو محض کچھ رسمی عبادات آپ کو سکھا سکتے ہیں 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Malala phenomenon

At the age of just 17 Malala Yousafzai is probably the most famous Pakistani in the world today. This blog is an attempt to unravel the mystery that surrounds Malala.

Malala was born on 12/07/1997 to Ziauddin and Toorpekai Yousafzai in Swat, Pakistan. Ziauddin was inspired by Marxist ideology and was active in promoting education for boys and girls in Swat. His deep interest in politics meant that he constantly discussed politics with his children, especially Malala. By the time she was 12 she could discuss politics intelligently and, under persuasion by her father, had given up her earlier wish of becoming a doctor in favour of becoming a politician.                  

Malala before PakTaliban came to Swat

In 2007 Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan was formed in the tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan, known as FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). These so-called Pakistani Taliban were distinct from the Afghan Taliban, who were engaged in a fierce struggle to drive out foreign forces from Afghan soil. The Pakistani Taliban, espousing a weird form of Islam, had just one aim: to carry out terrorist activities in Pakistan and to destabilize the country. They were surrounded on three sides by Pakistan’s military, leaving the porous border with Afghanistan as the route from where armaments, tools of terrorism and finance flowed in freely. Numerous reports in Pakistan’s press named the backers as the American CIA and Indian RAW.

Pakistan’s incompetent federal government failed miserably to control the growing influence of Pakistani Taliban, who became the effective rulers of FATA within two years. Emboldened by their success, PakTaliban moved further into the neighbouring province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), especially Swat, and forcibly imposed such perversions as banning girls’ education in the areas under their control. By the time Malala was 11 it was the writ of PakTaliban that prevailed in Swat.

What was life like under PakTaliban? BBC Urdu had a brilliant idea. Get a Swati student to write a regular blog! A 16 years old girl volunteered but withdrew under pressure from her family who feared reprisals from PakTaliban. Ziauddin, however, offered up 11 years old Malala as the blogger. She was deemed too young but was eventually accepted as the fear of the ruthless Taliban had driven away more suitable pupils. On 3/01/2009 Malala’s first blog in Urdu appeared at the BBC Urdu website under the pseudonym Gul Makai (Sunflower). She wrote several blogs, the last one on 12/03/2009. With great courage she gave a candid account of her life in Mingora (the main town in Swat) under PakTaliban occupation and wrote passionately about girls’ education.

From that point Malala’s rise to fame was rapid as a US journalist made a New York Times documentary about her and she gave interviews in print and on television. In July 2009 Richard Holbrooke, US president Obama’s special representative for “AfPak”, had a meeting with the twelve-year-old! By December 2009 the identity of Gul Makai, the young BBC blogger, had been revealed in articles about Malala. PakTaliban issued numerous death threats to her but Ziauddin paid little heed, possibly because of the action of Pakistan Army in the summer of 2010 to drive PakTaliban out of KPK. In July 2012 Malala gave a speech at National Marxist Summer School in Pakistan.

Malala after PakTaliban shooting
The area commander of PakTaliban, Mullah Fazlullah, gave the order for her assassination. Fazlullah is currently the leader of PakTaliban and lives across the border in Afghanistan. He is said to have the support of Afghan, American and Indian secret services. On 9/10/2012, aged 15, Malala was shot at close range by a young Talib as she travelled home in her school bus. One bullet entered the left side of her forehead, travelled down her face and embedded itself in her shoulder. After initial operations in Pakistan she was sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for intensive rehabilitation.

On 15/10/2012 a famous visitor came to see Malala in her hospital bed. It was Gordon Brown, the former British Prime Minister who was once close to America’s Obama, and now acted as the UN Special Envoy for Global Education. He lost no time in launching a petition for children’s education under the catchy slogan “I am Malala”. He is thought to have put forward the name of the anti-Pakistan, anti-Islam journalist Christina Lamb to ghost-write Malala’s autobiography in English. Predictably, when the book was published in October 2013 it had the title “I am Malala”! This book is notable for the disagreeable way Lamb has exploited a child by slipping in comments in Malala’s name which would have been beyond her comprehension. As an example, Salman Rushdie’s infamous book “Satanic Verses” is mentioned in the context of freedom of expression even though Muslims worldwide were deeply hurt by the perversity of Rushdie in deliberately abusing and ridiculing what the Muslims hold sacred and dear.

With Gordon Brown
Ziauddin with Mrs Brown
 The PakTaliban have reiterated their death threats to both Malala and her father. In my opinion most Pakistanis tend to see Malala as an idealist who is now virtually a willing prisoner in the hands of western politicians. She will be used for their political ends as much as possible and will be discarded eventually as her Marxism or her Islam are seen as insurmountable obstacles. Her Nobel Prize for Peace, too, is seen in political terms for two reasons: firstly, Malala has done nothing for regional or world peace and, secondly, to make the prize palatable to India she had to share it with a virtually unknown Indian.

Malala is growing up into an assured young woman of great dignity and charm. So far she has coped with her fame with no trace of arrogance and self-importance. May Allah’s Grace and Mercy accompany her in her life.

This post can also be read at the Muslim Institute's website:

For an account of foreign powers' anti-Pakistan conspiracies using Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan as the destabilizing force, see the following blogs:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

English Translation of Hamid Mir's column in Jang, 27 March 2014

In the course of some exchanges on Twitter I ended up promising an Indian gentleman to translate parts of Hamid Mir's article on Muhammad Ali Jinnah, published in Jang today. The original article can be read here . I have already posted several blogs relating to Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, most recently here which is relevant in the context of comments Hamid Mir has made.

Jaswant Singh and Muhammad Ali Jinnah

In his article Hamid Mir shows that Jinnah was neither secular nor a maulvi. The main points he makes are:

      Jaswant Singh is one of the founder members of BJP. A few years ago he wrote a book entitled “Jinnah” in which he said that those really responsible for the division of India were Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, not Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Hindu leaders could have  worked amicably with the secular and liberal Jinnah but they antagonised him needlessly.
This book infuriated the leadership of Bharatia Janata Party because the BJP and Congress had always held Jinnah responsible for the break-up of India. Jaswant Singh was expelled from the BJP following publication of his book. He maintained that he had been expelled because he dared to present some plain historical facts.

    Some BJP members supported Jaswant. In their view he had laid bare the fake secularism of BJP’s political rival Congress. Moreover, by holding the Congress leadership responsible for the division of India the book had actually benefited BJP at the expense of  Congress.

      It was also thought that L K Advani considered Jaswant Singh a dangerous political rival because of his previous experience as Foreign and Defence Minister, which would make him a candidate for the office of Prime Minister. Advani thus manoeuvred to have him expelled from the Party.

     Jaswant Singh’s exile lasted 10 months before he was admitted back into the party. For the 2014 Election Jaswant Singh wanted his party’s ticket for his traditional constituency in Rajasthan but his request was refused. He said he was being punished for declaring Jinnah to be a secular politician. He announced that he would fight the election from his constituency as an independent.

       It is now obvious that Narainder Modi has taken control of BJP and he has pushed aside not just Jaswant but Advani as well. Modi is now the sole candidate for Prime Ministership from his party.

     Jaswant Singh is not the first Indian writer to consider Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah a secularist. Previously, a lecturer in Political Science at Delhi University, Dr Ajit Javed, authored a book “Secular and Nationalist Jinnah” in which he acknowledged the honesty, courage and fearlessness of the founder of Pakistan. He also stated that the demand for the establishment of Pakistan was merely a political ploy to put pressure on Congress. He claimed that Maudoodi [a religious leader active in politics] refused to lead the Janazah prayer for Jinnah and instead performed a prayer of thanks.

     Many claims made in Ajit Javed’s book defy historical facts. Apart from the Indian writers there are also some Pakistani writers and intellectuals who do their best to present Jinnah as secular. Their amazing antics include:
    (a) always quoting a brief excerpt from a single speech of Quaid-e-Azam (one delivered on 11 August 1947),
    (b) taking delight in quoting falsehoods or half-truths contained in American author Stanley Wolpert’s book “Jinnah of Pakistan”, and
    (c) always referring to Jinnah’s wife Ruttie as a Parsee even though she had converted to Islam before her marriage to Jinnah and she was buried in a Muslim cemetery after her death.

       Quite recently, an English language magazine, published in Karachi, showed a picture of Quaid-e-Azam, with a white beard superimposed. An article in the magazine lamented that some people were trying to present Jinnah as a maulvi!

It is true that there are people who look only for Shariat in the speeches of Pakistan’s founder while they ignore references to justice, equality, tolerance and democracy. On the other hand, those people who are hell-bent on proving the Quaid to be secular are guilty of intellectual and historical dishonesty. It is well known that the founder of Pakistan entered politics as a member of Congress but, over the years, his political evolution and maturity took him to the Muslim League. He was neither a maulvi nor a secularist. He was an ordinary Muslim, free of sectarian and religious prejudices. He married Ruttie for love, whose Muslim name was Maryam. Owing to his legal practice and political activities he could not spend as much time with her as the couple would have wished. There were ups and downs in Jinnah’s marriage. When Ruttie died Jinnah was inconsolable and he wept uncontrollably at her grave.

    In 1929 Jinnah defended Ghazi Ilm Deen in court and in 1931 he refused to speak against Bhagat Singh.

    It was Allama Iqbal who persuaded Jinnah to study Islamic laws. Iqbal’s letter to Jinnah, dated 28 May 1937, is extremely significant. In it the great poet-philosopher is telling his friend that putting genuine Islamic laws into practice in a Muslim state will mean each and every individual will have a right to an assured income. This letter also mentions Islamic Sharia. 

Later the same year, on 16 September 1937, Jinnah ensured that a Shariat Bill, concerned with Muslim Personal Law, was passed by India’s Legislative Assembly. When this Bill was introduced in the Assembly it was criticised on the grounds that the shariat followed by each Muslim sect was  different which made the Bill highly controversial. Jinnah overcame that objection by getting Muslim members of the Assembly to agree to a common concept of shariat acceptable to their respective sects.

     In one of his books Mufti Rafee Usmani has written extensively about Quaid-e-Azam’s meetings with his father and other Muslim scholars. He says there were some religious leaders who had issued fatwas of Kufr in relation to Jinnah while other religious leaders (Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, Mufti Muhammad Shafee etc) supported him. They also severed their links with Dar-ul-aloom Deoband.

    Mufti Muhammad Shafee issued a fatwa, declaring support for Congress to be Kufr. On 23 March 1940 it was not just Pakistan Resolution that was passed but also one supporting the Palestinian Muslims. Jinnah worked hard to end sectarian differences among Muslims and to organise a conference of Muslim scholars of all sects. Many religious leaders and scholars supported Jinnah in his efforts to unify Muslims and to establish a separate homeland for them.

    Quaid-e-Azam had met the founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan Al-Bana and they were in close touch. In his speech on 1st July 1948, at the inauguration ceremony of State Bank of Pakistan, the Quaid spoke about the importance of conducting banking on Islamic principles. It was not a theocracy that Quaid-e-Azam wished to establish but an Islamic welfare state in which non-Muslims had the same rights as those that Rasul-e-Kareem gave to the Jews of Madinah in the Madinah Pact.

    In brief, Quaid-e-Azam was just an honest and sincere Muslim who was neither a secularist nor a maulvi.

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