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The road Muslims did not take

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It's from Tehelka. I like it. So hit me... :)

The road Muslims did not take

The defeat of the Taliban is another clear signal that Muslim societies will have to adopt science and secularism, and not fundamentalism, to compete with other societies, says Zafar Agha

Sometime in 1996 there arose a force from Muslim seminaries of Pakistan, that suddenly captured Kabul where bloodletting was on since the Soviets had lost Afghanistan. This band of fanatic Mullahs was named Taliban, meaning students, as all of them were products of Islamic seminaries spread across Pakistan. Their leader, as the world knows, was Mullah Omar, and their mentor was Osama bin Laden, the angry Saudi fugitive seeking justice for Muslims from the inimical West whom he loved to hate. What was strange about this band of new Afghan rulers was their determination to fight the West and defeat it through the terrorist means, as they did with the symbol of the Western economic and political might on September 11 when two hijacked planes hit World Trade Towers in New York and another came crashing down on Pentagon in Washington. It was, indeed, the most daring act of defying the West in almost the entire last century. America had never been attacked on its own territory since the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbour. But Osama bin Laden, along with Taliban, managed to challenge the Western world and, for some time, shook its foundations.Now, nearly five years after controlling Afghanistan and almost six weeks after America unleashed its fury against Afghanistan, Taliban have begun to retreat. They have abandoned Kabul, lost Mazar-e-Sharif and running away from Herat and many more cities. Their arch rival, Northern Alliance, have finally broken the Taliban grip's over Afghanistan. Naturally, the Taliban will first retreat to the mountains, and would try to survive through guerilla warfare. They may succeed for sometime, but cut off from rest of the world, their arms supplies will surely exhaust, forcing them either to surrender or to commit suicide. The Taliban chapter will soon be just a footnote of history. This fanatic band of Muslim rulers may be remembered for defying America, and even putting fear of god into American hearts with their terrorist strikes. But isolated from the world and surrounded from all sides by enemies, the Taliban would not be able to hold on long even in treacherous Afghan mountains.So with the decline of Taliban another chapter of the Western and Islamic clashes comes to an end, expectedly in a fiasco for the conservative Muslims who had began to see Osama bin Laden as their new role model. Well, there has been a hue and cry all across the civilised world that Osama's call of Jihad against the west was no clash of civilisations as predicted by American scholar Samuel Huntington. But you cannot deny the shades of a clash of civilisation between the modern-liberal Western world on the one side, and the medieval Muslim feudal world on the other side, locking horns on the plains and mountains of Afghanistan.How else can one interpret the Taliban loathing for the modern Western world? The Taliban were fired with a funny 'Islamic' zeal that evolved from medieval courses taught to them in the seminaries. Their ambition was to destroy the modern Western world with its centres in New York and Washington. Osama bin laden was their commander-in-chief as he could initiate them into a Jihad that they perceived would eventually end the Western civilisation, and bring back the glory of the medieval times Muslim empire. The Taliban world view---as interpreted by Salmon Rushdie--based on "a loathing of modern society in general, riddled as it is with music, godlessness and sex; and a more particularised loathing (and fear) of the prospect that their own medieval surroundings could be taken over by the liberal western style of life" was in total opposition to the Western world view. This was primarily the clash of two world-views based on two diametrically opposite civilisational values, and a vast majority of Muslims had sympathy for Osama bin Laden-obviously for complex reasons. Eventually, a medieval Taliban world-view had to lose out to a dynamic modern and western world-view. But why do Muslims get carried away, and support the medieval and fanatic breed of Islam every time? After all, thousands of Muslims marched on streets in support of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. They were willing to die for the Taliban cause, that sprang from an anti-West sentiment. That medieval delusion of the revival of the grand Islamic civilisation now lies shattered in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and other parts of Afghanistan. The irony of the Muslim history in the 20th century, as well as in the new millennium, has been that the Muslims have largely decided to cling to their glorious past, unwilling to accept a new secular world that is not necessarily anti-God as they assumed. Osama bin Laden could have not defeated the Western-American civilisation on basis of the sheer rhetoric of Jihad. Unfortunately for the Muslims, Islamic societies have tried to live through the rhetoric at least in the last one century. A clash of civilisation does not necessarily mean going back into the past alone. If Muslim societies are obsessed with their defeat by the Western Christian civilisation that pushed Muslims onto the margins of global politics, they must realize that the only way to compete with the west is to accept modern science and technology with secular education and politics to conduct their day-to-day affairs. Unless the Muslim mind is ready to break the siege against modern sciences and secular politics, there may be many more Taliban type of Muslim rebellions against the West. But all of them will end in a fiasco like the much-hyped Indian mutiny of 1857 ended in a terrible defeat against the British Empire. The 1857 rebellion was another outburst of a defeated and emasculated Indian civilisation against the modern British civilisation based on modern sciences and secular education and politics. Unlike the Indian Muslims, Indian Hindus soon understood the strength and dynamism of the modern English civilisation and adopted it and eventually progressed, while the Indian Muslims clung to their past and rotted.It is about time for the Muslim civilisation to try and rationally understand the reasons of the Taliban rebellion and its failure. If the Muslim world wants justice on issues like Palestine and inhuman Muslim massacres in places like Iraq, Lebanon and Chechnya, terrorist protests like the one took place on September 11 can negatively engage the world attention towards Muslim causes only for sometime. And, once Taliban type of protest bubble bursts, the world once again gets back to, what Muslims call, chaining Muslim societies. If Muslims want justice in this competitive world where survival of the fittest seems to be the only logic in an era of the end of history, they will have to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any other civilisation. And, for that Muslims need to develop inner strength in their own civilisation. The inner civilisational strength comes not by clinging to the past, but by discovering the new and modern world. This modern world lies not in the Taliban brand of logic or Osama type of protest, but it is hidden in modern sciences and secular education and politics, all of which are gifts of God. Unless, the Muslim civilisation does not understand and does not come to terms with the new world, it can make its presence felt through some rebellions, but it cannot win the civilisational war that it is attempting to from 19th century onwards.

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Okay, fameen......which side of your face you don't like? or you like a body blow?

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these so called muslims who barely practice any religion or code of etheics shouldn't be preaching tothe rest of the muslims.

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Aligarh university was founded on the same principals and if you talk to deobandi school of thought they have been against the aligarh university from the beginning. Deobandi scholars have dominated the muslism scholarly populac in Pakistan and India. According to them Aligarh university westernized Indian muslim youth wich we actually see in older generation of Pakistan who until the time of zia were drinkers and had pretty western idology of a nation.

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Na-fhem fameen

Some words of inspiration from your ideologue Salman Rushdie are in order, read his latest, "Blame Islam" article.....maybe you can quote something to enlighten us from your pocket size version of satanic versus.

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Syed you are misunderstanding the contribution of Aligarh University. This university became the cradle of Muslim empowerment in colonial India that led to the creation of Pakistan. This university also enabled Muslims to compete with other people in the colonial society, and pull themselves out of the poverty and weakness the mullahs had plunged them into by passing stupid edicts, such as declaring it a sin to speak English.

I disagree that deobandis have dominated Muslim scholarly thought in Pakistan; and for the sake of argument even if they have that does not mean they are right. From what I know of them, they have come into prominence only in the last 15 years or so, and seriously lack a balanced approach.

Furthermore muslims drinking alcohol has little to do with being western. Alcohol consumption has been a part of many Muslims' lives even before there was any European influence in the Subcontinent, just consider most of the Moghul emperors.

Having said that, I nevertheless believe the article posted by Faheem is a load of rubbish.

NavBaby.

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Well, a mate of mine always used to say that if anybody wanted to get a "nobel peace prize" all they had to do was to produce literature attacking Islam...

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Good Post Fameen, just one more point, Islam always dictates to look to the future :), how so true that part of this post also says to look to the future.

Mosques can teach Islam, show an individuals the Path of God, but at the end of day when needed, there minarets don't act as ICBM. Once muslims a leader of Science and tecnology, alas thats how they defeated bigger foes in past with help of God.

PS: Never read satanic versus,

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Muslims blame every country for their problems but themself. 350 universities in muslim world v 1000 in Japan alone. Shame shame shame. What happened to that once great civilization that thrived on knowledge was the mecca of science, matamatics, arts and commerce! This civilization was so great that the west dispite its biased attitude towards this civilization have no choice but to recognize its achivements.

Without Islamic civilization the world would be nothing and specially the western civilization would still be living in caves. Unfortunately today its quite the oppoiste.

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Very true. Muslims blame others very easily, but don't seem to have any idea or concept of self-criticsim.

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This next one is awfully close to home. This time it's TFT, but we all know that it is a CIA publication... right? :)

Khaled Ahmed's

A n a l y s i s

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The American way of life can be quite isolating because of the concept of equal-but-separate rights, allowing individuals and whole communities to live in their separate identity bubbles. In Washington, most lower ranking officers in the Pakistan embassy don't come back home upon transfer. Hence there is a large number of office staff who have 'stayed back', living in a collective bubble. They are aggressive textbook Pakistanis, steeped in the new fundamentalist Islam and anti-Indian rhetoric. The two issues that fire them most against the United States and India are Palestine and Kashmir. Blame for the issue of the Palestinian liberation from Israel is laid squarely at the door of the United States which is run by strong Jewish lobbies. Kashmir of course directs his ire at India but this too finally comes to roost with the United States because most Pakistanis have now come to see Washington becoming friendly to India.

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One may at times feel that the general attitude of the expatriate Pakistani tends to be more extreme than Pakistan's domestic opinion. He may look at the American press as a massive Jewish conspiracy. He may believe that Ramzi Yusuf was blameless for the 1992 attack on the World Trade Center and that that attack was actually carried out by the Jews. (The author was nearly beaten up at an airport when an elderly New York gentleman grew angry at him for saying that Ramzi Yusuf had actually been responsible.) A British Pakistani recently wrote to the author and accused him of being a coward and a slave of the white man for not writing against the Western civilisation as an enemy of Islam.

Some of the web-sites run by the author's friends in the UK are shocking in their conspiratorial content. The abuse hurled by these websites at the Western enemy is hair-raising. The host-hating expatriate Pakistani despises Pakistan for not being anti-West enough, while you may perceive the real crisis in Pakistan in the fact that a collective suicide is being committed on the basis of impotent anger. The ARY TV channel, which broadcasts from London, recently showed white 'scholars' claiming that the World Trade Center attack was actually carried out by the Jews or by the right-wing extremist Americans themselves.

The common Muslim cause: There are three million Pakistanis living outside Pakistan whose thinking about Pakistan tends to be different from the desi Pakistani. This is nothing like the thinking of other expatriate communities. It contains elements of alienation which are unlike the alienation felt by others. It is definitely somewhat like the thinking of other Muslim expatriates because of the common Muslim cause . As a community living abroad, the Pakistanis are far less integrated into the host society than other expat communities. This is because of double alienation . The anger against the home country redoubled by anger against the hosts.

Difficulties of adjustment of Pakistanis abroad were intensified towards the end of the 20th century after the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Muslim world. The middle classes came under pressure from an aggressive clergy when it posited that life should be moulded in light of the principles of Islam. Among these principles, the most important was the refusal to live under an order that violated the spirit of Islam. The concept was that of amr and nahi , the one that ex-prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif tried to incorporate in his 15th Amendment in order to rule without being hampered by the judiciary. In the United Kingdom, a British Pakistani, Kalim Siddiqi, had set up a Muslim parliament of his own in the 1970s in defiance of the Godless (secular) system the British had imposed on the population.

Alienated abroad: The normal alienation of the expatriate begins at the home that he decides to leave. Pakistanis leave home because they cannot cope with its corruption and the savagery of its political system. Many flee political persecution while a majority leave for economic reasons. While leaving Pakistan, they express no real alienation from the country they are leaving even though lack of opportunity and corruption could become the basis of it. Of course, if an embassy interviews them for the grant of residency on the basis of asylum, the Pakistani will claim political persecution, lack of freedom of expression and religious repression. The truth of the matter is that most agree with religious stringency and have no conscience about the persecution of Pakistan's minuscule religious minorities. It has been observed that after settling abroad, most of them will pursue sectarian politics and rely on religious leaders to indoctrinate them further in the ideology they are supposed to have left behind in Pakistan.

In an earlier article about British Pakistanis, I had recorded: 'Expatriate Muslims integrate less well with host societies than other expatriate communities. This started happening towards the end of the 20th century as Muslims all over the world sought their identity increasingly in religion. As a result, communities that had lived in peace in diaspora started feeling ill at ease and often found themselves in conflict with the host societies. Most expatriate Muslims don't only feel alienated from the their new home, they also have reason to feel alienated from their old home. The problem of adaptation and acceptance abroad is compounded by an intense realisation that back home too the ruling elites are either anti-Islamic or subservient to Western dominance. The preoccupation with politics back home prevents integration in the new home.

'Talking in Lahore on 2 April 2001 about the Pakistani expatriate community living in the United Kingdom, Professor Muhammad Anwar of the University of Warwick, revealed significant research findings. The Pakistanis living in the UK are 700,000, the third largest minority community. (There are a million Indians in the UK.) The majority of these British Pakistanis are Kashmiris, including those displaced by Mangla Dam in Azad Kashmir. They are concentrated in four regions: 30 percent in and around London, 22 percent (100,000) in Birmingham, 20 percent (65,000) in Bradford, 20,000 in Manchester and 15,000 in Glasgow. The figure of 700,000 has grown from 5000 in 1951. Today, because of high birth-rate, fully 47 percent of them are under the age of 16, as compared to 17 percent for whites. They have the highest unemployment rate, five times more than the British average; and crime rate is higher among them than in any other community. Fully 2 percent of the prisoners rotting in British jails are Pakistanis, the highest for any one community.'

Alienated in the United States: In the United States, the Pakistanis are not as thickly concentrated in localities as in the much smaller United Kingdom. But there could be concentrations of them in Housten and Chicago, and there could be a sprinkling of them in New York and Washington. The American way of life can be quite isolating because of the concept of equal-but-separate rights, allowing individuals and whole communities to live in their separate identity bubbles. In Washington, most lower ranking officers in the Pakistan embassy don't come back home upon transfer. Hence there is a large number of office staff who have 'stayed back', living in a collective bubble. They are aggressive textbook Pakistanis, steeped in the new fundamentalist Islam and anti-Indian rhetoric. The two issues that fire them most against the United States and India are Palestine and Kashmir. Blame for the issue of the Palestinian liberation from Israel is laid squarely at the door of the United States which is run by strong Jewish lobbies. Kashmir of course directs his ire at India but this too finally comes to roost with the United States because most Pakistanis have now come to see Washington becoming friendly to India.

More than in the United Kingdom, the Americans encourage the cult of self-criticism. It is fashionable to sit in the evening and criticise American policies around the world. There are Pakistani amateur academics who actually make money lecturing Pakistanis about the perfidy of the United States and its unjust hostility towards the Muslims of the world. The two sources for this kind of polarity arise from the academe of the United States itself: the almost millennial scholarship of Huntington in his book on the clash of civilisations; and the almost inexhaustible mine of anti-Americanism in the high-quality writings of Noam Chomsky and Edward Said. This literature affects Pakistanis more than it does Indians. It has virtually no effect on the expatriate communities of Russia and Eastern Europe. These communities are usually alienated from their homelands and look at the United States as a kind host which has given them shelter and economic opportunity. The American Arabs take longer to absorb this influence because of their lack of familiarity with the language, but some of this literature may be available to them in translation. In a way, the Arab alienation in the United States goes much deeper than a Pakistani's because of this linguistic gulf. The Arab simply cannot not communicate his anger like the Pakistani.

Islam as culture: The Pakistani state has no cultural image. It has no entertainment industry to speak of because of the rise of state fundamentalism. The Pakistani expatriate too seeks culture from religion. In 1991, the Pakistani mosque in Washington was closed down because of the rise of Shia-Sunni differences. Some of the neutral-looking clerics of Lahore actually deliver sectarian sermons for a thousand dollars in private meetings hosted by well-to-do Pakistanis. In 1997, a popular show arranged by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in Belgium was disrupted by Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani who insisted on addressing the Belgian audience before the singing could begin. Most Belgians quietly walked out of the audience. In France, similarly dominated by Barelvis, Lahore's Allama Tahirul Qadiri sways the Pakistani mind and compels the community to shell out large amounts of money to him. On one occasion, he addressed a massive rally in Lahore on telephone from Cannes!

Where the Deobandis have neglected to go there the Barelvis are in the ascendant. But both Deobandis and Barelvis are scrappy and eager to give battle to the Christian civilisation. The UK has been ruined by the puritanism of the Deobandis. It has been found that even in predominantly Barelvi areas of Birmingham most of the mosques are being controlled by rabid Deobandis. The result is that the Muslim Congress of England tends to blindly follow the Deobandi-Wahabi lead when it comes to taking a collective decision. Shah Ahmad Noorani, the big leader of the Barelvis in Pakistan, shifted his venue to continental Europe after picking up a fight with the wahabi clerics of London. The UK is the stronghold of the hardline clergy which goes from Pakistan under a visa policy that the British embassies have yet to sort out. The British government is also to blame for nurturing semi-terrorist organisations like the Hizb al-Tahreer and al-Muhajirun which it exported to Pakistan last year. Bot organisations have called for the overthrow of the Pakistani government and are spreading their tentacles rapidly because of the funds that are sent in from London.

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Abbas,

I can cite incidents in Islamic history when most of the so called Caliphs after the Khulfa-e-Rashideen have taken to drinking as well.

In fact in a very well known documented historical event, the ruler of a province in a spate of drunkeness, led the morning prayers to six rakaats. Then he turned back and asked if he could go on for a few more rakaats!!!

Drinking by Muslim rulers is many centuries old and started much before the Mughal rulers.

\

RAZA

Originally posted by Abbas

Furthermore muslims drinking alcohol has little to do with being western. Alcohol consumption has been a part of many Muslims' lives even before there was any European influence in the Subcontinent, just consider most of the Moghul emperors.

NavBaby.

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