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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Saudi and Pakistani bigotry - anti-prophet practices


I have learned to live with bigotry but will not stop fighting it.  No nation, no community and no group of people are free from such evil forces from within.

Let me be clear, the majority of people are not bigots, only a tiny percent in any given majority and power hungry rulers are downright shameless bigots.

Are Americans free from it? Indians free from it? Are Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Bahá’ís or Sikhs free from it? None whatsoever! 

The Saudi are definitely not, here is a video made by Pakistanis making fun of the bigotry of Saudis, without realizing that they are equally bigoted.

The video is in Urdu/Hindi language where a Saudi employer interviews a Pakistani for a job in a restaurant. He asks questions to make sure that the guy is not Shia…. and when he affirms it that he is not, but adds that he is an Ahmadiyya Muslim, the employer loses his mind! What a bigot!

Now the irony is that Pakistani passport and visa asks stupid dumb questions – to show their bigotry towards Ahmadiyya Muslims. It is downright disgusting.

What is sad is that Saudis claim to follow the Prophet, who taught that all men are created equal, and even in his last sermon he made that clear that no one is superior to the other and that obedience to God means respecting all his creation.  Islam and the prophet's teachings go against prejudices and discrimination of any kind.  Indeed, to knock out racial bias (or superiority) from the hearts and minds of people, he made Hazrat Bilal (An African) the chief Muezzin (prayer caller), the light skinned Arabs swallowed that and started respecting others without bias (The racist among Republicans are still sunk low to respect Obama)  Now, are they rejecting the prophet? Are they telling Prophet was wrong? 

Humor can communicate difficult issues - shame on Saudi's and Shame on Pakistanis for letting their governments practice prejudices against fellow Muslims, let alone fellow humans. And shame on me for not screaming enough about India and the US for the blatant discriminatory practices, the only solace is, it is not the law of the land in either India or America, but shamefully practiced by a few in the majority. 

Religions don’t mean a thing to the people, even though they wear that cloak. I wish, people follow their own religion and be good humans. Are Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews… following their religion?  Is the civil society following their rules? If they do, the world would be a better place.

All you and I can do is to speak out against whenever and wherever we see prejudice and discrimination.

Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator onPluralismIslamIndiaIsrael-PalestinePolitics and other issues of the day. He is a human rights activist, and his book standing up for others will be out soon | He is producing a full feature film ” Sacred” to be released on 9/11 and a documentary “Americans together” for a July 4 release.  He is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. All about him is listed in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com – Mike is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

AMU - Aligarh Muslim University Conference Summary report

Link: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/05/amu-aligarh-muslim-university.html


Summary: The Aligarh Muslim University held a conference on April 6 and 7, 2015, and called it "First high profile conference. Intellectual crisis of the Muslim Ummah; Rethinking traditions solutions" on April 6 and 7th this year.

Conference pictures http://futureislam.com/conference/2015/
I believe,  AMU was looking for critical thinkers, those who can challenge the prevailing practices and take the Ummah forward to live the God given life on this earth to the fullest while the Akhira is a natural consequence of the good we do here.   Sir Syed Ahmed took bold steps to establish the institution despite the opposition and hurdles, his vision was bold at that time, and it is perhaps the first "Muslim" university in the world where Muslims were taught subjects other than memorizing Quran and Hadiths.

We have got to thank Sir Syed for that vision and thank the VC General Shah, Pro-VC Brig Ali and professor Shaz for having the courage to resuscitate that vision and bring critical thinking to AMU. We have got to thank the staff and volunteers who boldly supported them. I pray that AMU will be considered one of the high profile Muslim Universities and I hope you as a Muslims, we wish it goes further. I am not an Alumni of AMU, but my spirit has been with AMU since I learned about Sir Syed in my school days. Now, I feel that I belong to the Alumni of AMU without taking away anyone's assets.

I have started writing about different aspects of the AMU conference where I was involved. Insha Allah, I will complete that in the next few weeks.
  1. Plenary Session - The Muslim puzzle of misplaced focus on Aakhira while ignoring the Hazira - I spoke about the need to refocus on Hazira instead of dying for Akhira. We cannot cheat on the God given Amana of life. We have to live this life to the full and not sacrifice an ounce of it for Aakhira, which is a consequence of Hazira. This is a major flaw in our thinking and we need to invest our time in learning about it and change the future of Muslim Ummah. Thanks to Pro VC Ahmed Ali Sahib, who acknowledged on the thought and expanded further. I will be writing the full outline of my speech.
  2. Chaired the panel on "Islamic perspective for the future" - notes will be added soon.

  3. Panel speaker on "Who speaks for Islam today" - Can Muslims lead the world?

  4. Chaired the panel on "Gender Issues"  - http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/05/dignity-of-women-in-islam-conference-at.html

  5. Valedictory Session -  I spoke about "the power of engagement" with the civic society to change things for common good, and I have three of the attendees ready to take on Subramanian Swami, Taslima Nasreen and their likes - to get them engaged in discussion and let them silence themselves as I have done with many here in the United States. I will add the notes soon.

  6. General Notes - http://www.worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/04/congratulations-to-aligarh-muslim.html

  7. Summary remarks - http://www.worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/04/back-to-dallas-from-conference-at.html

  8. Official Conference pictures: http://futureislam.com/conference/2015/ 

  9. Personal pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/sets/72157651704661377/

Thank you
Mike Ghouse,
World Muslim Congress
Dallas | Washington
(214) 325-1916 text/talk
Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism, Islam, India, Israel-Palestine, Politics and other issues of the day. He is a human rights activist, and his book standing up for others will be out soon | He is producing a full feature film ” Sacred” to be released on 9/11 and a documentary “Americans together” for a July 4 release.  He is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. All about him is listed in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com – Mike is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Hajj, a different perspective

Let’s think through this without getting emotional.

Hajj is not made mandatory for every Muslim but for those who can afford. The idea is to imbue humility in those who may feel arrogant about their wealth, personal accomplishments or fame. Arrogance kills peace and is the root cause of all societal ills, whereas humility builds bridges and brings peace to families, communities and nations. No wonder, God loves the person with humility the most, and the least of the people he likes are arrogant ones. 

Hajj is supposed to purify one, bring humility and make one pure innocent being without prejudices, and without ill-will or jalousies and anger - a true Amin – someone to be trusted, who tells nothing but the truth, cheats no one, treats every one (every one) with dignity, and everyone feels safe around him or her.

Sadly Hajj has become an item to brag about; there are chest thumping men and women who make sure you know how many times they have performed Hajj.  Hajj is for you and not for display. Who cares how many times you performed Hajj…  Hajj is not a certificate of purity to hide under and keep doing the same things.

Mecca is being stripped off the opportunity to be humble, and offering similar opulence that one lives with, how do you become humble? If the niyya is shopping and bragging, that is fine, and nothing wrong with it. But piety does not come with Hajj anymore.

If Hajj does not transform you, why perform it? Rather why invest in it? Taking care of fellow beings is much more important than Hajj – check it out, there are more verses advising humanity to take care of neighbors than Hajj… doesn’t Quran mean it?

I am not fortunate enough to see transformed individuals yet. I am sure there are genuine Hajis, who can be identified by their character. What I have seen is from Imams to the ordinary folks hunker for social ratings.

It would be disrespectful to perform Hajj and not become the Amins of the society. If you do intend to perform Hajj, make sure you don’t make a show of it.

It is time we start thinking about these issues. After all no one including anyone of the imams will come to your rescue on the Day of Judgment, we are on our own and we better learn to be independent here as we do hereafter.

Mike Ghouse


Dignity of women in Islam | Conference at Aligarh Muslim University.

Link: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/05/dignity-of-women-in-islam-conference-at.html

Aligarh Muslim University conference – April 6 and 7
th 2015 – “Intellectual crisis of the Muslim Ummah: Rethinking traditional solutions. http://futureislam.com/ 

It was such a joy to be a part of the panel on Dignity of women in Islam, Dr. Sadat Ullah Khan moderated and Dr. B.A. Khan coordinated the proceedings. 

Dr. Azra Abidi, Mohsin Mandal, Mariya Khan, Shaista Tabassum, Dr. Sarika Sharma and Tarannum Khan boldly presented their papers.   I was pleased that they offered me to chair this panel and loved dealing with a few misogynistic attitudes out there (in every society). I pride myself in being a big supporter, believer and practitioner of equality of women.  One of the greatest lessons of my life came from General Musharraf, who taught me (though we do not have anything in common) how to listen intently while I am at it. I was under tremendous pressure to hear each one out, and acknowledge their contribution to the discussion, and thank God I listened to them, and shared it with the group as a chair of the panel. 

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is perhaps one of the first women’s libbers, he liberated women from the oppressive clutches of men and set them free as God had created and intended for all humans to be free.  Perhaps again for the first time in human history women had the liberty to own their own property, own their business and chose to marry whom they want and the freedom to divorce for a better life.  If all men follow their religions, world would be a better place.  Each one of us is individually responsible for our actions and as such no one should be less than the other.  

Mariya Khan is an outstanding confident, assertive speaker for women’s rights, I will post a few clips in the next few days and hope to invite her to speak one of these days. She is Malaysian, but spoke perfect American.  Dr. Azra Abidi boldly presented her paper on wrongful practices among Muslims – including temporary marriages, divorces etc. Mohsin presented a list of things that need fixing. Dr. Sarika Sharma talked about the work being done by NGO’s to preserve the status of women and quoted extensively from Mahatma Gandhi.  Shaista Tabassum blasted on the “Haibatnak Jehez” – dowry system that is common to all Indians regardless of their religion.  Imtiaz and Jamil presented good statistics, and quoted Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer and Sachar report. Tarannum talked about women empowerment, and cited that Muslim women are 51.9% literate compared to the average of 53.1% nationwide literary among women. The good news is Aligarh Muslim University has 42% women enrollment. 

I have asked the members presenters to share their paper, and once I receive them all, I will be posting it at www.WorldMuslimCongress.com and possibly ask Dr. Sultan Shaheen to publish in www.Newageislam.com

Though the conference was between 9 and 6 pm, as always, I chose to stick around and had several informal mini-conferences and I wanted to the participants to go home asking every question they had about the topic.

Summary (notes will be added to each item):
  1. Plenary Session - Spoke on Commitment and Muslim puzzle of misplaced focus on Aakhira while ignoring the Hazira.
  2. Chaired the panel on "Islamic perspective for the future" - notes will be added soon.
  3. Panel speaker on "Who speaks for Islam today" - Can Muslims lead the world?
  4. Chaired the panel on "Gender Issues" - notes - http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/05/dignity-of-women-in-islam-conference-at.html
  5. Valedictory Session - spoke on the power of engagement.
  6. General Notes - http://www.worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/04/congratulations-to-aligarh-muslim.html
  7. Summary remarks - http://www.worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/04/back-to-dallas-from-conference-at.html

Mike Ghouse is a Muslim thinker, writer and a speaker. Just Google Muslim Speaker or Pluralism Speaker to get most of my writings.www.TheGhouseDiary.com  - www.MikeGhouse.net

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Back to Dallas from a conference at Aligarh Muslim University, India

I am back in town now.

1. I spoke in the plenary as well as the closing session at Aligarh Muslim University's conference on, "Intellectual Crises of the Muslim Ummah: Rethinking Traditional Solutions" between April 6-7, 2015. It was good to chair two panels and make presentations. Count on AMU to be in the forefront of necessary reforms in creating cohesive societies.

My talk on "Engagement with Civil society" and focusing on "the present rather than hereafter (Akhira)" went very well. More at: 

AMU They had several bill boards in town and on the campus... it was a humbling experience to see them include me among the top scholars. 
2. Met with General Zameer Uddin Shah, Vice-Chancellor of AMU and was pleased to see his commitment and vision. He is determined to resuscitate Sir Syed Ahmed Khan's Vision. I am sure, he and the Pro-VC Dr. Ali will make AMU, one of the top ten universities in India, and the Islamic world.

3. AMU is offering bridge courses to students out of Madrasas and getting them to see the larger world of Aalameen and presenting the inclusive Islam rather than a narrow version of it. 

4. Gave a talk at Asim Siddqui Memorial college in Badaun with the greetings from Bahai to Zoroastrian and every one - spoke about the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum in dharmic and abrahamic traditions. If you visit UP, I would suggest you to visit this college, what an inspiration to see an India in making.  

5. Met with Girish Karnad (no introduction is needed) and talked to him about appearing on a Cameo role in the film "sacred"  we are making, he is interested in it for its message and the reform it brings. No commitment yet. 

6. We hope to make a documentary on Tippu Sultan, the secular ruler of an Indian State. I met with several researchers, prominent among them is Dr. Range Gowda (not related to Deve Gowda). He has written two books on Tipu Sultan  and has solid documentation on his credentials.

 Girish Karnad is also interested in it, and he has written plays about it and wrote the book "The Dreams of Tipu Sultan" The book takes you back to that era as the fall of Mysore took place.

 It is such a joy to hear so many positive things from fellow Indians and Kannadigas, not only they are writing but actively seeking a prominent place for Tippu. Several years ago, Bangalore was ready to install statutes of Tippu Sultan, the Muslim community opposed it, what a shame - to deny our own history and contribution through symbols.

Dr. Shakeel Samdani of AMU is also working on keeping Tipu Sultan's contribution alive and has gotten a designation to house Tipu Library at AMU. He needs all the support he can.  

7. Held several mini discussion groups at AMU, I have come out very optimistic about India and Indian Muslim's efforts to make a better India. 

8. Spoke with the Human rights group and talked about my upcoming book about human rights.
9. Indians in India are far more pluralistic than some of the Indians in America.

10. I hope to work with a few scholars from AMU in taking on the role of civic engagement and dialogue with the likes of Subrmanian Swamy, Taslima Nasreen and others who throw things at every one. It is time for all of us to focus on India's development rather than endless bickering. 

11. Spoke at the NRI Film producers and actors guild in New York, a new organization with aa growing membership. Thanks to Professor Saluja.

12. Spoke at a Desi interfaith group in NY at Kwality Restaurant, amazing food and great discussion, again thanks to Professor. Saluja.
Thank you

Summary (notes will be added to each item):
  1. Plenary Session - Spoke on Commitment and Muslim puzzle of misplaced focus on Aakhira while ignoring the Hazira.
  2. Chaired the panel on "Islamic perspective for the future" - notes will be added soon.
  3. Panel speaker on "Who speaks for Islam today" - Can Muslims lead the world?
  4. Chaired the panel on "Gender Issues" - notes - http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/05/dignity-of-women-in-islam-conference-at.html
  5. Valedictory Session - spoke on the power of engagement.
  6. General Notes - http://www.worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/04/congratulations-to-aligarh-muslim.html
  7. Summary remarks - http://www.worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/04/back-to-dallas-from-conference-at.html
  8. Speech at Indian film producers and actors guild
  9. Speech at the interfaith dinner
Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on PluralismIslam,IndiaIsrael-PalestinePolitics and other issues of the day. He is a human rights activist, and his book standing up for others will be out soon | He is producing a full feature film "Sacred" to be released on 9/11 and a documentary "Americans together" for a July 4 release.  He is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. All about him is listed in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com - Mike is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Congratulations to Aligarh Muslim University for the job well done

www.WorldMuslimCongress.com | Congratulations to Aligarh Muslim University  


Congratulations to the Management, staff and volunteers of AMU - Aligarh Muslim University. It is perhaps the first Muslim institution in the world to rope the Muslims into the critical thinking.

AMU is a 150 year old University founded by the visionary Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to uplift the lot of Muslims, he was opposed, and fatwas were issued that learning English and Science was un-Islamic. Even today, and even in the United States we do find individuals who have not freed themselves from that mindset. http://www.amu.ac.in/

Pulling Muslims together to think critically was the vision of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Allama Iqbal and other great reformers in Islam.

I am pleased to report that a revival of that tradition is on the horizon. The AMU just concluded a two day's international conference, "Intellectual Crises of the Muslim Ummah: Rethinking Traditional Solutions" between April 6-7, 2015. 

The following individuals are deeply committed to revive the tradition of Sir Syed.

Vice Chancellor Lt. General Zameer Uddin Shah - an incredible man determined to forge ahead. I met with him and spent an hour and was moved by his commitment to the change.. 

Pro Vice Chancellor Brigadier Syed Ahmad Ali, who is pushing this mission forward. 

Professor Dr. Rashid Shaz, a pioneering Islamic thinker heads this project and may become a catalyst in leading this movement.

On my part, I'm humbled to make that commitment to support this initiative and stand with them. 

It was an incredible line up of speakers who shared precisely the need for us to rethink all that we do. Inshallah, a link to full report from AMU will be shared. This is the first time I'm unable to put together a report myself.  And hope to put together a report in the near future.

It was an honor to speak at the plenary as well as the valedictory sessions, chair two discussion panels on women's rights and if Muslims can be united, and presented a paper on if Muslims can lead the world for common good. It was a big boost when the Pro-VC and other speakers referenced my work and expanded on my thoughts.

Inshallah AMU will once again become a beacon of learning and add the feather of critical thinking onto our hats.

Abstract of my presentation at:http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/03/mike-ghouse-of-world-muslim-congress-to.html

Thank you.

Mike Ghouse, President
Foundation for Pluralism | Pluralism Center
Research Studies in Pluralism in Public Space,  Religion, Politics, Culture and Society.
2665 Villa Creek Dr, Suite 206, Dallas, TX 75234 | Washington DC
(214) 325-1916 text/talk | Mike@FoundationforPluralism.com

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Aurangzeb, Sikhs and Hindus

Aurangzeb, Sikhs and Hindus | http://MikeGhouseforIndia.blogspot.com

Personally, I have repeatedly condemned Aurangzeb’s forcible conversions of Hindus.  Even though he was famous for his justice, but he fell short on it, when he forced conversions on his subjects.

The author writes about the conflict between Sikhs and Aurangzeb as political, indeed it is so similar to the deeply embedded hatred of Jews– as Christ Killers, which is dumb, Jesus did not preach Christianity when he was persecuted, he taught reformed version of the old testament which was not liked by the establishment and thus punished him as a rebellious heretic Jew, and not as a Christian. 

Dr. Harbans Lal also has talked about  the conflict between Aurangzeb and Guru Gobind Singh as political and not religious, he is planning to write an article about it.

There is a lot of gossip material out there on every one; hence I am seeking the source of this information. I don’t have anything but the name of the author on it.

I know one thing for sure, with a few exception, a majority of the Kings were greedy men focused on taking over the next door kingdom, looting their wealth, collecting lagan etc etc.  Kings from all religions were the same. If there was a Muslim ass, you will find a Hindu, Christian and Buddhist ass.  Men were bad and not their religions.

The acts were their own.

Mike Ghouse


The truth about Sultan Aurangzeb
Abid Mohammed

The Emperor Aurangzeb, who rose to the throne in the 17th Century as the sixth Mughal ruler over “India”, is often painted as a vicious, religiously intolerant, minority-suppressing fanatic, whose only job was to demolish temples in favour of mosques, antagonise his father and brothers, and single-handedly bring down the once magnificent Mughal Empire. And yet, the reality of the situation is that this could not be further from the truth.  Aurangzeb would often say about himself, “This weak old man, this shrunken helpless creature, is afflicted with a hundred maladies besides anxiety, but he has made patience his habit”. Once, when one of Aurangzeb’s servants stumbled against him and knocked him down accidentally, the servant collapsed in fright for fear of retribution. The Mughal emperor spoke to him kindly, however, saying “Why do you fear a created being, one like myself? […] Rise and do not be afraid.”

Even the Italian historian Manucci who was present during Aurangzeb’s rule, despite loathing him and preferring his far less religious brother Dara Shikoh (many question whether he was a Muslim at all due to the fact that he tried to create a hybrid religion between Hinduism and Islam), said that Aurangzeb

“…assumes always great humility of attitude”. Even when one of his officers disobeys him, he betrays no anger. All he says is, (and that in the softest voice) that he is only a miserable sinner, that there is no reason for astonishment if his orders are disregarded, since every day those of God Himself are neglected and repudiated. He does not forget, however, to repeat his orders and adopt every exact means of getting them executed.”

In one of his letters, Aurangzeb said, We must put up with every class of people, what is to be done with them? They are also people and Do you know who a brave man is? A brave man is he who puts up with his enemies.

Writing to his father, Shah Jahan of the famous Taj Mahal (incidentally the name “Taj Mahal” is a corruption of the “Mumtaz Mahal” – the name of Shah Jahan’s beloved wife, and for whom the tomb was built for) Aurangzeb insightfully said, "I wish you to recollect that the greatest conquerors are not always the greatest Kings. The nations of the earth have often been subjugated by mere uncivilised barbarians, and the most extensive conquests have, in a few short years, crumbled to pieces. He is the truly great King who makes it the chief business of his life to govern his subjects with equity."

To his son, Prince Azam, Aurangzeb wrote,

I have heard that in your heart Jagir districts oppression is practiced openly […] Fear the sighs of the oppressed.

Modern historians love to paint Aurangzeb as a villain. And yet, even they admit their double standards towards him. Abraham Early writes,

Later historians saw Aurangzeb in an altogether different light. As the passage of time faded the memory of his innumerable small acts of everyday kindness, but magnified his few notable misdeeds, such as his religious intolerance, his ruthlessness as a conqueror, his use of tactics to get the better of others, and more than anything else, his harsh treatment of his father, brothers and sons. But his predecessors too were guilty of similar acts – Jahangir and Shah Jahan had rebelled against their fathers; Jahangir had imprisoned and blinded and even thought of executing one of his sons; Shah Jahan was guilty of liquidating his brothers and nephews, and had also swerved from Akbar’s liberal religious policy; as aggressors, none of them, not even Akbar was much different from Aurangzeb.

Of course the religious intolerance being pointed to here is in comparison to Akbar’s “religious tolerance” – the latter’s included the banning of facial hair for Muslims, declaring it unlawful to believe in Angels, banning the slaughter of cows for Muslims, persecution of scholars and so on. Aurangzeb merely enabled Muslims to practice their religion freely. Any persecution of minorities that did take place was not general, but specific, nor was it religious in nature, but rather political in aim. There are many claims of Aurangzeb “oppressing the Sikhs and their Gurus” when history shows us that there were some Sikh communities who rebelled against Aurangzeb and so, as a ruler, he dealt with them as a ruler deals with his people, not as a Muslim seeking to oppress non-Muslims. Even the Wikipedia page on Aurangzeb states the well-known fact that just as he demolished some (maximum 80 in a country 20 times the size of the UK) temples, which served as political centres for rebellion, he also financed the building of many temples and Gurdwaras which posed no threat to the Mughal rule.

And as for the harsh treatment of his father, brothers and sons – Shah Jahan wanted Aurangzeb’s elder brother, Dara Shikoh to be the next emperor even though Dara Shikoh was a terrible leader and someone who very much wanted to reinstate Akbar’s persecutory laws towards Muslims. Aurangzeb’s other brothers were less exciting – they simply wanted to be emperors. Aurangzeb was the only one who realised that power was a responsibility not an opportunity to exercise one’s desires, and so he was forced to battle his brothers and imprison his father who only wanted power for the sake of power, in a palace, with each and every one of his needs being seen to.

Aurangzeb, unlike many of his predecessors, viewed being a ruler as a sacred duty rather than something to enjoy. He therefore spent every waking moment striving to discharge his responsibilities, lest he be held culpable on the Day of Judgement for not having done so. Once, one of his well-intentioned advisers suggested that Aurangzeb should lighten his workload, but the Emperor would hear none of it.

He (the adviser) seems not to consider that, being born the son of a King, and placed on a throne, I was sent into the world by Providence to live and labour, not for myself, but for others; that it is my duty not to think of my own happiness except so far as it is inseparably connected with the happiness of my people. It is the repose and prosperity of my subjects that it behoves me to consult; nor are these to be sacrificed to anything besides the demands of justice, the maintenance of royal authority, and the security of the State.
This desire to serve God, something which was equally as manifest in his great, great, great grandfather Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire, was apparent to all those around Him. The British Ambassador Norris reports that he used to see Aurangzeb, even during battle,
surrounded by greate numbers of Horse & vast numbers of people crowding to see Him […] he himselfe tho’ carryd openly saw nobody, having his eyes always affixed upon a Booke he carryd in his hands & reading all ye way he went without ever divertinge to any other object.

This book was the Qur’ān. Aurangzeb had memorised it completely. And he would constantly recite it. Abdul Aziz, the chief of the Uzbegs who had rebelled against Aurangzeb, famously noted that even during their famous battle, Aurangzeb would calmly spread his prayer mat on the field, kneeling down to say the evening prayers in the midst of the furore that was taking place around him. “To fight with such a man,” he said, “is to court one’s own destruction.” In fact, the Qur’ān was his sole means of finance. Though he presided over the richest empire in the world at the time (Shah Jahan’s famous peacock throne made from pure gold is in today’s terms worth more than $804 million), he refused to take any money from the treasury. Instead, he would earn his living by producing handwritten copies of the Qur’ān, using the beautiful calligraphy he had mastered as a child.
“His vest did not cost above 8 Rupees, and his outer garments, less. Whatever Aurangzeb needed for his own use he always paid for, never accepting presents from others,” continued Norris.

Even the shroud he was buried in was bought using this same source of revenue. Towards the end of his life, having taken the Mughal Empire to the peak of its existence (henceforth it would plummet into its abolition in 1857) the Alamgir (“Conqueror of the World” – a title he adopted in ascending to the throne) would often recite:

In a twinkle, in a minute, in a breath,
The condition of the world changes.
In a final letter to his sons, he said,

I brought nothing with me into this world and am carrying with me the fruits of my sins. I know not what punishment will fall on me […] Whatever the wind may be, I am launching my boat on the water.

And to his Vizier, Asad Khan, he wrote,
Praise be to God, that in whatever place and abode I have been, I have been passing through it, withdrawn my heart from all things connected with it, and made death easy for myself.

Aurangzeb, may God be pleased with him, passed away during the dawn prayers. Even as he lost consciousness, says Mustaid Khan,

the force of habit prevailed, and the fingers of the dying King continued mechanically to tell the beads of the Tasbih they held.

And what was his funeral like? In accordance with his will: “Three hundred and five rupees, from the wages of copying the Qur’ān, are in my purse for personal expenses. Distribute them to the poor and needy on the day of my death […] do not spend it on my shroud and other necessitates.” He stated elsewhere that this was “in case I had made a mistake in copying the Qur’ān, as I will be answerable to that” “Bury this wanderer […] with his head bare, because every ruined sinner who is conducted bare headed before the Grand Emperor (God), is sure to be an object of mercy [...]”

May God have mercy on you, Sultan Aurangzeb! He used you as a means of preserving His faith and His justice in the subcontinent, and as a result, I was able to be born into His faith. You are an example for all leaders to come, an inspiration for all those who believe in Him and a reminder for us all of the responsibilities we must discharge as believers in Him. May God forgive you and gift you with the companionship of your beloved Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) in the hereafter.

Originally, the grave of Sultan Aurangzeb only consisted of a wooden slab with an inscription in Farsi which said, “No marble sheets should shield me from the sky as I lie there one with the earth.” But it was later embellished and renovated with marble by the Nizam of Hyderabad.
[1] Nadwi, A. Saviours of the Islamic Spirit. India: Academy of Islamic Research.
[2] Early, A. The Mughal Throne: The Saga of India’s Great Emperors. London: Phoenix, 2004
[3] Eaton, R. Temple Desecration and Indo-Muslim States. Oxford: Journal of Islamic studies, 11:3 (2000) pp. 283 – 319.

[4] Siddiqui, H. Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb: Bad Ruler or Bad History? (http://www.albalagh.net/general/0093.shtml)

[5] Sarkar, J. A life of Aurangzib and Historical notes: An English translation of Ahkam-i- Alamgiri ascribed to Hamid-ud-din Khan Bahadur. Calcutta: Sarkar and Sons, 1925. (https://archive.org/stream/AnecdotesOfAurangzeb/AnecdotesOfAurangzib_djvu.txt)

[6] Currim, M., Mitchell, G. Dargahs – Abodes of the Saints. Mumbai: Marg Publications, 2004.

Al-Azhar Fatwas on Shia Muslims

The following piece is good but not sure if it is authentic. I have conducted many dialogues between Shia and Sunni and have spoken about it, here is a new approach to the same at - http://www.worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/03/is-united-islam-possible-international.html

I welcome this conversation.

Mike Ghouse
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Al-Azhar’s fatwa on Shias.

Statements about Shias by the Chancellor of al-Azhar University, Dr. Ahmad al-Tayyib. In an interview to Egyptian Al Neel Channel, Dr. Ahmad al-Tayyib, the Chancellor of Al-Azhar University (Egypt)

Q. In your opinion, isn’t there any problem in Shia Beliefs?.
A. Never, 50 years ago Shaikh Mahmood Shaltoot, the then Chancellor of Al Azhar, had issued a fatwa that Shia School is the fifth Islamic School and as like as the other schools.

Q. Our children are embracing Shia Islam, what should we do?
A. Let them convert and to embrace Shia School. If someone leaves Maliki or Hanafi Sect, do we criticize him? These children are just leaving fourth school and join the fifth.

Q. The Shias are becoming relatives with us and they are getting married with our children!
A. What is wrong with this, marriage between religions is allowed.

Q. It is said that the Shias have a different Quran!
A. These are the myths and superstitions of the elderly women. Shia Quran has no any difference with ours, and even the script of their Quran is like our alphabet.

Q. 23 clerics of a country (Saudi Arabia) issued a fatwa that the Shia are infidels, heretics (Kafirs)!!
A. Al-Azhar is the only authority to issue fatwa for Muslims; therefore the above said fatwa is invalid and unreliable.

Q. So what does the difference – being raised between the Shia and the Sunni – mean?
A. These differences are the part of the policies of foreign powers who seek conflict between The Shia and the Sunni.

Q. I have a very serious question that “the Shia do not accept Abu Bakr and Umar, how you can say they are Muslims?“

A. Yes, they do not accept them. But is the belief in Abu Bakr and Umar a part of the principles of Islam? The story of Abu Bakr and Umar is historic and history has nothing to do with fundamentals of the beliefs.

Q. (The reporter surprised by the response, asks) Shia has a fundamental problem and that is “they say that their Imam the time (امام العصر) is still alive after 1,000 years!“

A. He may be alive, why is it not possible? But there is no reason that we – as Sunni – should believe just like them.

Q. (Referring to Imam Mohammad Taqi al-Jawad AS, (the 9th Imam of Shias) the reporter asked) The Shias believe that one of their Imams was just eight-year old when he became Imam; is it possible that an eight-year-old child be the Imam?

A. If an infant in a cradle can be a prophet (Issa AS), then why an eight-year-old child can not be the Imam? It is not strange. Although we may not accept this belief as we are Sunni. However, this belief does not harm their Islam, and they are Muslims.

Translated by F.H.Mahdavimy


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Surah Taubah - chapter 9 verses 20-28 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

www.WorldMuslimcongress.com | www.QuraanToday.com 

The clarity of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad's tafseer is incredible. Those of you who may not know the Maulana – he was born and raised in Madinah and moved back to India - his ancestral land. He was a nationalist leader for all of Indians, the Hindu Majority and all minorities, and was the first education minister of independent India and laid the foundation for the educational institutions like IIT’s that rival MIT’s.  I believe Muhammad Yunus, a member and a Muslim scholar listed in the emails is a member of IIT.

Maulana was a pluralist, and an inclusivist, as is Islam  – the phrases like Rabbul Aalameen, Rahmatul Aalameen should lead us to become Mukhlooqul Aalameen. We need to consciously pull us out of the path of political Islam of self-interest and restore it to Islam for common good.
It is in the same line of thinking, I believe the purpose of Islam is to build cohesive societies where no human has to live in fear of the other but God (deviation from truth). Islam is about restoring harmonious, peaceful and a well-functioning cohesive world, God had created.

Some of the statements that jumped at me are:

“It states that they rank the highest who have sacrificed everything in the path of truth and endure steadfastly the trials and tribulations that befell them on the way of truth. That is the criterion of goodness.” – and I will add to this from Sura Hujurat “the best ones among you are those who learn about each other – for knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance of another point of view.

In Hindu scriptures there is a powerful phrase “Satyamev Jayate - Truth alone triumphs” and Mahatma Gandhi popularized it, and now it is the national symbol of India... The Maulana has clearly distinguished the purpose of war was not victory or the conquest but bringing forth sustainable peace for “all”.

He pulled out the essence of the Sura – that is the truth alone triumphs and gives examples, “It therefore behooved the followers of the faith that they should have nothing to do with even their parents and brothers if they belonged to the enemy camp.” And elsewhere in Quran It lays down that you have to tell the truth even it goes against you or your interests. Indeed, there is no 5th in Islam; truth is given the highest value.

I am presenting the following papers at Aligarh Muslim University:

1. http://www.worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2015/03/mike-ghouse-of-world-muslim-congress-to.html
Mike Ghouse, committed to cohesive societies.
Mike Ghouse, committed to cohesive societies.

# # # 

Shared by Rafiq Lodhia


Maulana Abul Kalam Azad – The Tarjuman al-Qur’an – Year: 1968

The criterion of superiority of one over another in the sight of God is indicated in
verse 20. It states that they rank the highest who have sacrificed everything in
the path of truth and endure steadfastly the trials and tribulations that befell them
on the way of truth. That is the criterion of goodness. It is a lesson for the present
day Muslims who have developed an outlook on life and follow a way of living so
alien to the teachings of Islam. Even like the pagan Arabs of the Prophet’s time,
they prefer the traditional way as against the way of life laid down for them by
Islam. Whenever a rich man living a thoroughly un-Islamic life provides booths
(sabil) of cool drinks during the days of Muharram and arranges the celebration
of the Prophet’s Day (mawlud) on a lavish scale or pays for lightning a mosque
or a dargah on a particular day, the entire Muslim community exultingly applauds
him, and no one cares to know whether what he did was for the sake of God.
One should remember that such deeds do not constitute righteousness in the sight
of God. Goodness lies only in the purity of belief in God and sincerity in action and
steadfast endurance of trials in the way of God. That is the criterion of goodness
sponsored by the Qur’an.

It has been pointed out above that this chapter was revealed in the ninth year of
Hijra and that the earlier verses of it were publicly announced during the period
of Hajj that year. This was the time when Mecca had already been conquered
and strength of the enemies put down for ever on the field of Hunain. For the
expedition to Tabuk as many as thirty thousand Muslims, had assembled, so much
so that there remained no party in the Arabian peninsula to challenge the supremacy
of the followers of the Prophet. Still there lurked in the situation a few weaknesses.

Point A: A large number of Meccans who had opposed the Prophet but had been
pardoned by him at the time of his victorious entry into Mecca had joined the Muslim
fold. Being new converts to Islam, they could not fit into its way of life quickly. So
when war was declared on those who were still opposed to the Prophet in the
country and were giving no rest to its followers, a number of new Meccan converts
began to feel concerned about their relations who were in the enemy camps. In fact,
they could not rise above their sense of kinship with them or their tribal prejudices,
and so formed but a weak wing of the Muslim camp.

Point B: There were also in the Muslim camp quite a number of hypocrites and
timid people. They raised the cry that now that much had been gained for the
Muslims, there was no longer any need for them to engage themselves in further

Point C: The victories which the Muslims had won on the battlefield had developed
in them a general sense of indifference to any possible danger lying ahead of them.
The majority of them thought that now that the Arab land had nearly yielded to the
call of Truth and that there was left no strength among those who had not yet
chosen to yield to the call, there was no imperative need to be on the alert. They
hardly could realize at the moment the height of power and influence that destiny
had marked them to reach. This development in the situation was clearly a source
of danger to the security of the Muslims not only at this hour but in the days to
follow as well.

The necessity therefore was felt to revive in the Muslims the spirit of sincere
attachment to their faith and bring home to them once again the high purpose for
which they were to live and work as earnestly as ever before. They were to be told
that the period of trials was not yet over and that on the other hand it was just to
begin. Of the task lying ahead of them, what was of primary importance at the
moment was the liquidating of whatever opposition that there still was to the
mission of the Prophet and to establish perfect peace and order in the land.

It is why verse 16 calls upon the Muslims to reflect over the situation and realize,
that that was not the hour when they should relax their efforts to reach their goal.
It states that the faith which they professed had yet to be tested in full. So in the
succeeding verses after drawing attention to the character that should distinguish
the Muslims, a significant observation is made in verse 23 that the sense of sincere
attachment to one’s faith and the sense of loyalty to those who were opposed to
the faith could not subsist together or felt simultaneously in one’s mind. It therefore
behooved the followers of the faith that they should have nothing to do with even
their parents and brothers if they belonged to the enemy camp.

Verse 24 is emphatic in asserting that in a conflict between faith and denial of faith,
he alone will be regarded as a man of faith or faithful whom nothing in the world,
and even one’s love for those near and dear to him, should weaken his attachment
or devotion to his faith. It is on this basis that the edifice of a civilized society can
be raised. It refers to all the essential ties which one has necessarily to respect in
life. But the principle of devotion to an ideology such as that which function for the
security and welfare of a society as a whole, demands from everyone professing
faith in his ideology that he should rise far above every other form of attachment
and let nothing detract him from serving whole-heartedly the cause of truth which
that ideology upholds.

The Qur’an also draws particular attention to the attachment one feels to one’s
worldly comfort in life and so might like one’s country not to involve itself in any
war. For instance, one might be gaining wealth by pursuing the avocation of
commerce. In a state of war, opportunities for commerce may be lessened. That
is a fear which is bound to stare in the face of every one living on commerce.
Further, in a state of war one stands the risk of losing one’s possessions. The
thought of the risk will naturally disturb one immensely. Before such as these who
are moved by considerations of this nature, the Qur’an places an abiding truth of
life and asks them seriously to reflect over it. The truth is this. When a people are
called upon by the force of circumstances to defend the cause of truth and uphold
it for the good of men, it should behoove everyone who sincerely believes in the
truth to be prepared to sacrifice everything dear to him, so that truth might prevail
and bring happiness to one and all.  The Qur’an gives the tiding to such devotees
of truth that whatever they might lose in the struggle would be repaid to them
manifold when truth shall triumph and bring peace and prosperity to one and all.
“Indeed with God lies the great reward,” says the Qur’an.

History has recorded for all times the glorious manner in which the companion of
the Prophet stood the test of devotion to their faith in God. It may be asserted
without exaggeration that there are few parallels in the annals of man to the
devoted support that they offered to the Prophet in his struggle in the cause of
truth. They sacrificed all that they had for the love of God, with the result that
they reaped in return what the pursuit of goodness always offers for the benefit
of man.

But what is our position today? Are we prepared to scrutinize our lives in the light
of this verse of the Qur’an.

Verse 26 refers to the battle of Hunain in eight year of the Hijra, when soon after
the conquest of Mecca, the tribes of Hawazin and Thaqif in co-operation with the
tribes of Bani Nadir and Bani Hilal attacked the Muslims. The Prophet issued forth
from Mecca into the valley of Hunain. In this engagement, the Muslims were thrice
in number. Naturally, therefore, they felt confident of success. But when the hour
of trial arrived, their superiority in numbers could not avail. It was only a handful
of staunch adherents of the Prophet, who, inspired by the example of their leader,
saved the situation and won the victory for the Muslims.

The Muslim force had to proceed through a narrow pass. The enemy force lay in
ambush awaiting the Muslims to enter this pass. They knew that among the Muslims
nearly as many as two thousand were new converts from Mecca. A good many of
these were allies of the enemy. The moment the Muslims moved into the narrow
defile, the enemy force showered arrows over them from their bows. It was a
sudden attack. A large section of the Muslim army took to their heels in a state of
alarm. The situation seemed clearly to go against the Muslims. It was at this juncture
that the Prophet ask, ‘Abbas, his uncle, to cry out to his old comrades of Samra who
had sworn allegiance to him at the time of the treaty of Hudaibiya to steady themselves.
The cry inspired a new courage in the hearts of the staunch among them who forthwith
returned to the Prophet and gave so stiff a fight to the enemy that they had to suffer
a defeat at the hands of the Muslims.

This incident was a great eye-opener for the followers of the Faith. It brought home
to them that mere numbers do not bring victory. The strength of numbers does
contribute to success in warfare. But success does not always depend upon numbers.
It is the strength of will and the determination not to yield which ultimately count and
help even a small band of determined fighters to rout a force many times strong in
numbers. The Qur’an addressing the Muslims points out that there were occasions in
the past when though they were few in numbers they had achieved victory over the
enemy. But that now at this hour in Hunain when they prided themselves over the
largeness of their numbers, mere numbers did not avail. That was a matter for them
to reflect over.

In verse 28 the Quran reverts to the order issued in an earlier verse of this chapter
prohibiting the polytheists to enter the Ka’ba any further. That House of Prayer had
been raised by the Prophet Abraham and his son Ismail for the worship of God, the
One, and was meant to serve as a center of spiritual activity for those who believed
in the unity of God.

In this verse the reference to the uncleanliness of the polytheists is not to their
physical condition but to the uncleanliness of their hearts. Islam does not regard the
person or the body of anyone as unclean. Every man as man stands on the same
footing as every other human being. It is why it has prohibited untouchability and
does not single out any section of humanity as untouchable. In fact, it is clear from
the recorded history of the Prophet that the Prophet maintained social relationships
with not only the People of the Book, the Jews, but with the polytheists of his time.
He used to dine with them and accept their invitations and also offer invitations to
them. History has recorded that he at times had allowed them to stay in his own
mosque at Madina.

The verse under reference has a limited application. It applies to the seat of Ka’ba
along and not to any other Muslim place of worship. In fact, after the issuing of
this order, the Prophet had allowed the Christians of Yemen, and the polytheists
from Ta’if to stay in his mosque.

Surah: 20 – They who have believed in God and abandoned their homes for the
sake of God and striven with their possessions and their persons in the way of
God, shall rank high in the estimation of God. These are they who shall attain
success (in life).

Surah: 21 – Tidings of mercy doth their Lord send them and of His good pleasure
and also of gardens in which lasting joy shall be theirs.

Surah: 22 – Therein shall they abide for ever. Surely (for such people) there is a
great reward from their Lord.

Surah: 23 – O Muslims! Do not take your fathers or brothers for friends if they
prefer unbelief to belief; and whoso of you shall take them for friends they shall
be regarded as those who have been unjust to themselves.

Surah: 24 – Say (to the Muslims, O Prophet!): If your fathers and your sons and
your brothers and your wives, and your kith and kin and the wealth that you have
acquired and the merchandise which ye fear may not have a proper sale, and the
dwellings of which you are very don, be dearer to you than God and His Apostle and
striving in the way of God, then, wait until God disclose what He wills to do. And it is
not in the manner of God to guide the impious.

Surah: 25 – (O Muslims!) This is a fact that God had helped you on many a previous
occasion (when you were few in number) and on the day of Hunain, when despite
the strength over which you had exulted availed you not, and the earth with all its
vastness had straitened on your and you to turn back in fight.

Surah: 26 – It was then, God infused into the Prophet and those faithful (to him)
the spirit of steadiness and self-assurance and succoured them with unseen hosts
and defeated the unbelievers, and that is what the unbelievers deserved.

Surah: 27 – Yet after this, God will turn in mercy towards whomsoever He pleaseth;
for indeed God is Forgiving, Merciful.

Surah: 28 – O ye Muslims! Surely those who ascribe partners to God are an unclean
lot. Let them not after this year approach the Holy Place of Prayer, and if (due to
lack of opportunity to profit by trading with them at the time of Hajj) you apprehend
poverty, (then, do not lose heart for), God, if He please, will soon give you riches
out of His abundance. Verily, God knows (your needs) and He will in His Wisdom
compensate you for your loss.