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Wake-up Call to Muslims

Muslims have to work out the solutions to their problems, themsleves:- (1) Read online or dowlnoad E Book, pdf ...

08 August 2016

Agitation and uncertain politics

If political confrontation persists for some time, the political situation will become uncertain. The simmering discontent will then persist. However, some sudden triggering development either because of the confrontation between the PML-N and the opposition or because of adventurism on the part of the prime minister in his interaction with the establishment can create an entirely new political scenario. 》》》

05 August 2016

Holy Lands by Nicolas Pelham review – positive thinking about the Middle East

An impeccably qualified author, frustrated with media negativity, sees a solution in pluralism and a revival of overlapping faith communities
Representatives of Iraq’s Shia ayatollahs shepherd Christian bishops round the Imam Ali shrine in the holy city of Najaf. At the nearby University of Kufa the dean of the Islamic Law faculty runs a Talmud class as part of his inter-faith programme. Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former Israeli deputy foreign minister, crafts an alternative peace agreement for Palestine with Nasr al-Din al-Shaer, Hamas’s former deputy prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority. Meanwhile, in Istanbul local Muslim and Christian leaders broach the idea of reconsecrating Hagia Sophia, once the seat of the Byzantine patriarch and later the Ottoman caliph’s favourite mosque, as a shared sanctuary where each of the two religions could pray on Fridays and Sundays.

Some might call these phenomena aberrations, but for Nicolas Pelham they are evidence that the narrative of relentless negativity and narrow-minded sectarianism in the Middle East conveyed by most media is simplistic and wrong. It is rare to come across a book on the region that charts a positive path for the future; rarer still to find one that advocates religious leadership and pragmatic communalism as the means for reaching peace.

Pelham’s credentials are impeccable. Now working for the Economist and previously for the Financial Times, he is one of the few western correspondents covering the region who speaks fluent Arabic and combines academic understanding of Middle Eastern culture and history with a reporter’s eye for vivid detail. His book focuses largely on Iraq and Israel/Palestine, though there are fascinating interviews with Abu Qatada, the veteran jihadi preacher, who turns out to be surprisingly bawdy in the privacy of his Jordanian home, and with Ara Sarafian, an exiled Armenian historian who sees Ottomanism, underpinned by democracy, as the best way to ensure Turkey’s peaceful development.

Pelham is more ambitious. He believes a revival of Ottoman values offers the best hope for the whole Middle East. Many previous writers have praised the religious pluralism of the Ottoman empire and its rulers’ tolerance of different cultures. Historians have used this record to counter those in the contemporary debate who accuse Islam of prejudice and suppression of other religions. Pelham takes a similar stand when he writes that Europe used to be a region from which, rather than to which, minorities fled, and that the Ottoman empire was where many found refuge.

But his broader point is that the past is not merely to be examined: its best aspects can be revived in today’s circumstances. He argues that the relative harmony of the Turkish empire arose from the rulers’ decision to administer it on sectarian lines, devolving authority to the leaders of the numerous faith communities, or “millets”. “Patriarchs, chief rabbis and Muslim clerics headed semi-autonomous theocracies that applied religious laws. But while the millets governed their respective co-religionists, they had no power over land … There were no ghettoes or confessional enclaves. Territorially, the powers of their respective leaders overlapped,” he writes. The system was milletocracy.

It came to an end with the collapse of the Ottoman empire in the first world war. Milleticide was committed by the Young Turks whose nationalism led them to repress or expel minorities and by western leaders who attempted to refashion the region by making it a patchwork of homogenous states. Pelham takes an especially dim view of Fridtjof Nansen, the Norwegian Nobel peace prize-winner, who sanctioned the ethnic cleansing of the defunct Ottoman empire’s Turkish and Greek communities under the guise of population exchange. “Unmixing the populations of the near east will tend to secure true pacification of the near east,” he argued. Pelham does not spare the decision-makers in London and Paris, who had a similar strategy. The British government partitioned Jerusalem into separate religious quarters, and then did the same for the whole of Palestine. As early as 1870, France had abolished Algeria’s millet system and granted French citizenship to Algeria’s Jews but not to its Muslims.

“The unmixing of sects triggered a century of wars designed to turn holy communities into holy lands,” Pelham argues. “The faith community acquired the trappings and attributes of a nation state. Defence of the land took precedence over universal values … Thus transformed, the region’s millets proved as ruthless as contemporary jihadis.” The generals of the Young Turks eradicated the Armenian millet in eastern Turkey as well as the Greek millet in the west. Jewish nationalists extirpated 85% of Palestine’s Muslim millet. In the latest chapter of milleticide, the Islamic State group has homogenised the area it controls by destroying the mosaic of Yazidis, Assyrian Christians and Shia Muslims who had lived for more than a millennium in Mesopotamia.

Pelham has harsh things to say about the House of Saud, whose rulers have let developers build a Muslim Las Vegas in Mecca and who deny non-Muslims access, though the Prophet had lived in the city with his Christian and Jewish wives. He has better things to say about the few places in northern Israel where Jews and Arabs have created bohemian neighbourhoods of mutual tolerance.

These are the green shoots of the revival of the millet system that Pelham believes is the best way to end today’s sectarian monopolies. Instead of peace negotiations that focus on border demarcation and partition, as in the two-state solution for Israel/Palestine, he advocates the decoupling of state from territory. It’s a one-state solution in which Arabs and Jews are equal citizens but with the additional element that as well as individual liberties there should be an acknowledgement of autonomous confessional systems as in those of the Taif agreement which ended Lebanon’s civil war. He points out that in Jordan and Israel religious courts prevent individuals from marrying outside their sect but he says precedent suggests that once existential fears subside, religious leaders can display pragmatism. The cult of victimhood and suspicion of Shiism that currently pervades Sunni communities is at its most extreme form with Isis but also prevalent among other Iraqi Sunnis and throughout the Sunni-majority Gulf states. It could be eased if religious leaders were freed from their fears of exclusion and enabled to go back to the traditions of tolerance and openness that once characterised the region.

Pelham is enough of a realist to know that hard-line governments, decades of vested interests and the pressures from prejudiced media will make it difficult for public consciousness to change. But he makes a powerful case that a regional alliance of overlapping millets, not connected with territorial boundaries, offers a better vision for restoring stability to the Middle East than the current agendas for conflict management.

Holy Lands by Nicolas Pelham review – positive thinking about the Middle East
by Jonathan Steele,

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02 August 2016

Fethullah Gulen on 'GPS': Failed Turkey coup looked 'like a Hollywood movie'

Fethullah Gulen, the reclusive cleric accused by Turkey of hatching a military coup attempt, concedes that his supporters could have been involved in the putsch but again denied any direct connection.
"There might have been some sympathetic people [to Gulen] among them," he told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pointed the finger of blame for the failed uprising squarely at Gulen.
A bitter rival of the embattled President, Gulen is the leader of a popular movement called Hizmet. But the government refers to his group as the "Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization."
The 77-year-old imam, who left Turkey for the United States in 1999, has been living in self-imposed exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.
On GPS: Who organized the coup to overthrow Ergodan? 01:00
In the CNN interview, he called for an international organization to investigate government claims connecting him to the coup attempt.
"If there is anything I told anyone about this verbally, if there is any phone conversation, if one-tenth of this accusation is correct ... I would bend my neck and would say, 'They are telling the truth. Let them take me away. Let them hang me,'" he said.
The July 15 uprising claimed the lives of 270 people, including 24 accused in the plot. It also triggered a wave of arrests, detentions and dismissals of those suspected of any involvement.
Erdogan, in an earlier interview with CNN, vowed revenge for what he called "a clear crime of treason."
But Gulen has repeatedly denied government claims he has directed sympathizers to destabilize the Erdogan regime.
"Some people staged a scenario, then someone who is seemingly a fan, has led some people into this," he said.
"It looks more like a Hollywood movie than a military coup. It seems something like a staged scenario. It is understood from what is seen that they prepared the ground to realize what they have already planned."
In a statement earlier this month, Gulen suggested the coup attempt could have been staged. Asked on "Fareed Zakaria GPS" if he thought Erdogan might have planned the coup, Gulen said he would "consider such a claim a slander."
"I would submit myself to God before I make such an accusation, knowing I am accountable to God."
Supporters describe Gulen as a moderate Muslim cleric who champions interfaith dialogue. Promotional videos show him meeting with Pope John Paul II in the Vatican in the 1990s. He also met frequently with rabbis and Christian priests in Turkey.
Gulen has a loyal following -- known as Gulenists -- in Turkey. They subscribe to the Hizmet movement.
Nongovernmental organizations founded by the movement, including hundreds of secular co-ed schools, free tutoring centers, hospitals and relief agencies, have been credited with addressing many of Turkey's social problems.
The preacher and his movement also spawned a global network of schools and universities in more than 100 countries.
In the United States, the academic empire includes the largest charter school network in Texas, Harmony Public Schools.
Within Turkey, volunteers in the Gulen movement also own TV stations, the largest-circulation newspaper, gold mines and at least one Turkish bank.
"I have always been against coups, and I cursed them," he said. "I would curse people who resort to coups against democracy, liberty, republic."
Still, Turkey has formally requested Gulen's extradition.
But under an agreement with Turkey, Washington can only extradite a person if he or she has committed an "extraditable act." Treason -- such as that implied by Erdogan's demand for Gulen's extradition -- is not listed as such an act in the countries' treaty.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has said the coup attempt was the biggest piece of evidence but that Turkey would provide thousands of pieces of evidence of Gulen's involvement to the United States.
Gulen said returning to Turkey would only complicate matters.
"They will do whatever it takes, but if they could provide evidence for one-tenth of what they have been claiming and take me back by force, there is not much I can say about this," he said of the government. "What matters is whether or not they can do this by means of law, and I don't think this will happen with the will of God."
Erdogan and Gulen are former allies whose relationship fell into a bitter feud.
Asked if he had a message for Erdogan, Gulen said: "I only pray that he would not go to the presence of God with all these sins he committed."
CNN asked Erdogan's office for response to comments by Gulen in the interview but has not yet received a reply.
Fethullah Gulen on 'GPS': Failed Turkey coup looked 'like a Hollywood movie'
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27 July 2016

Islam - with few Muslims

Over 1.6 Billions human beings believe in Islamic faith, a lot of them offer rituals of prayers, observe fasting, listen to sermons and perform Umrah or Hajj, but very few of them, in essence, follow teachings of Holy Prophet (PBUH) in their daily lives interacting with others, showing compassion, tolerance and respect for others. Emphasis is on delivering lectures and sermons, but there is no effort to implement what Quran or Sunnah obligates for Haquq ul Ebad.

Rulers of Muslim majority states lead lives of luxury, often at state expense, totally oblivious of suffering, poverty and curse of illiteracy which afflicts vast majority who live below poverty line. Laws and loopholes are intentionally tailor made to facilitate affluent in tax evasion and organized flight of capital from their countries driving them to a state of perpetual economic crisis, with no funds for education, health and security of life or private property. Yet billions are available to buy luxurious jets, limousines and build palaces spread over acres for tax evading ruling elite. State welfare is denied to most deprived sections of society, while it displays magnanimity in providing tax amnesties to rich and giving multiple plots and agriculture land at subsidised rates to paid members of civil or uniformed bureaucracy, cronies and political loyalists.

Most of Islamic states have vast natural and mineral resources, with no dearth of population, but invest least on human resource development. There is negligible investment in education, research or health, with net result that all Islamic states are at bottom of list of nations rated according to socio economic development indicators.

Although Holy Quran explicitly mandates inheritance rights of females, giving them right to marry of their choice, these basic rights are denied to them.

Countries like Pakistan over the years have witnessed rise in illiteracy because State has outsourced this vital constitutional obligation to private sector, some funded by foreign NGOs and governments, which has lead to rise in militancy, intolerance and a convoluted interpretation of Islam, which has nothing in common with what Holy Prophet (PBUH) preached. Islam, a religion of peace, love, compassion and tolerance for other faiths has been exploited by ruling elite to perpetuate their injustices and indulge in massive “Conflicts of Interest”, which are forbidden.


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