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Showing posts from December, 2011

Social ethics in Islam

EVERY human being is connected with Allah spiritually. However, in this material world, we also get ourselves connected with other entities, such as parents, family, community, society, country, etc. As time goes by, new connections are added at every new stage in life. The ethics of connectivity with others has deep spiritual roots in religion. Its understanding makes our lives happy and more comfortable. We live, move and have our being among these relationships and sometimes our existence depends partially or fully on them. Our day-to-day condition — happy or otherwise — is also subjected to the interaction with these relationships. Every entity with which we are connected, entails certain rights and responsibilities. We are to fulfil these to maintain a kind of cordiality in relationships. The teaching of Islam encompasses the whole life; it guides us first to fortify our spiritual bond with Allah. This is fundamental and the core of Islam’s overall message. Every individu

India’s Muslim Dilemma: भारतीय मुसलमानों की दुविधा

Why the time has come for affirmative action to end the deprivation and dispossession of India’s Muslims. It’s one of those seasons again when India’s politicians rediscover the existence of Muslims. With elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, and possibly early general elections looming on the horizon, the Congress has dipped into its ancient bag of tricks and come up with the reservation card for Muslims. Law Minister Salman Khurshid suggests the government is considering a six percent quota for “backward Muslims” under the 27 percent quota allocated for economically backward communities. Given the mess the Congress finds itself in right now and with Rahul Gandhi, the party’s prime minister-in-waiting, having invested himself heavily in UP, it badly needs a miracle to rescue itself. And who could deliver it better than the tried and tested folks, often derided as its vote bank and repeatedly taken for a royal ride! Just throw some crumbs at them, make some su

The real 'invented' people? Palestinians or Israelis

Newt Gingrich's controversial statement begs the question: Who invented a nationality? The Palestinians or the Israelis? The state of Israel and the Israeli people were invented from scratch by the Zionist movement [ It is hard to believe that anyone who defends Israel's legitimacy as a state would buy into former Speaker Newt Gingrich's argument that Palestine is an "invented nation". The singular triumph of the Zionist movement is that it invented a state and a people - Israel and the Israelis - from scratch. The first Hebrew-speaking child in 1900 years, Ittamar Ben-Avi, was not born until 1882. His father, the brilliant linguist Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, created a modern language for him to speak by improvising from the language of the Bible. The founder of the Israeli state was Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), an assimilated Viennese writer who was convinced by the Dreyfus trial in France - and the horrendous right-wing anti-Semitism that resulted from it - t

Lessons of History: Do it at your own peril

It is conventional wisdom that one can learn from history and avoid committing the same mistakes which were committed by our predecessors in the past. It is not wholly true. Of course one can gain an understanding of human nature by reading past history and can find the solution to problems of the present in its light. However, some people, particularly politicians of all ilks, try to find solutions to current problems by exclusively situating them in the present context believing that there is no need to learn from history. This approach sometimes leads to disastrous consequences. One cannot fully ignore the past. One such example where past precedent was ignored is the Treaty of Versailles which was concluded after the First World War. In the conference was a young British historian Charles Webster (1886-1961), the author of the The Congress of Vienna. Prior to this treaty at Versailles, a number of treaties were concluded after the defeat of Napoleon who had changed the whole map

Iraq: What is, will be, and might have been

Was it worth it? The answer is still unclear for both Iraqis and Americans. In the swirling commentary attending the departure of the last US combat troops from Iraq, and as assessments are made of the legacy of the fateful US invasion of eight years ago, that is the question which keeps repeating itself. For the Iraqis, moving into a new era of, at best, fragile democracy and tenuous security, having suffered perhaps many tens of thousands of deaths, the car bombs and the blast walls, the vicious sectarian cleansings, the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, the shredding of their economy and society…the question must be asked:  Was it worth it? For the Americans, groping toward a new and uncertain relationship with a liberated but at best tenuously stable Iraq, having expended so much blood and treasure, suffered a loss of prestige and global support, seen the shattering of the chimera of Iraq as a pro-American icon and model for the region, and


The article in non-Asian entities would particularly need to be read in the context of almost perennial hostile relations prevailing between India and Pakistan since independence from colonial rule in 1947. Britain gave up this rich colony to avert the replay of events that occurred to some other European powers while leaving their African colonies in blood of the natives and considerably bruised themselves. Britain left in haste, leaving many thorny territorial division issues between India and Pakistan unresolved, ‘ Kashmir ’ the major one. The state had predominantly Muslim population but a Hindu chieftain ruled it. There have been military conflicts of varying intensity between India and Pakistan in 1948, 1965 and 1971, the last being more devastating for Pakistan when India also helped public revolt against Pakistan by launching full-fledged military offensives and its eastern wing, erstwhile ‘East Pakistan’ was clipped that emerged as Bangladesh. Thus, the hostility simmer