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21.4.16

Deoband variations

Image result for deoband india

HERE’S a tale of two madressahs: one Deoband north of Delhi, the other in Akora Khattak, Pakistan.
Image result for akora khattak madrasa

Today in Deoband, at the madressah where it all began in 1866, the 4,000 students focus on religion. The institution was created to preserve a purist, back-to-basics interpretation of Islam and it has remained true to that purpose. Whenever the Indian government offers the madressah funds the clerics decline the money: they don’t want changes to the curriculum that would come with government funding.

In 2008, some 20,000 Deobandi clerics from around India agreed on a declaration condemning terrorism. And for good measure they threw in a pledge of loyalty to the Indian state. The seminary has even instructed all Muslim households to hoist the Indian flag over their homes each Independence Day. A recent fatwa said that while it would be wrong to worship the Indian motherland, it was permissible to love it.

Akora Khattak’s Deobandi Islam is different from the Indian variety.
That’s not to say that the Deoband seminary is a moderate institution. The madressah has specific departments dedicated to the rejection of Christianity, Judaism, even Shia Islam and Barelvism. Not to mention a whole postgraduate course dedicated to loathing Ahmadis.

To protect their faith, Deoband’s clerics have retreated into a citadel of literalist and exclusionary doctrine. Some of the students would like a little more mainstream teaching to improve their job prospects. But the institution prefers that its protégés study religion, graduate and then go on to propagate the Deobandi worldview by establishing new madressahs in India and around the world.

When students have been tempted to stray into militancy, the Indian state has been quick to lay down the law. For example, when the Kashmir insurgency was at its height, some of Deoband’s Kashmiri students flirted with using violence to advance their cause. The Indian state did not hesitate to give them long prison sentences. By all accounts the justice meted out to them was pretty rough and ready — but it served its purpose: today Kashmiri students in Deoband steer clear of politics.

I recently met a Kashmiri student in Deoband and asked him if he wanted Kashmiri independence.

“Yes,” he said.

“Would you fight for it?”

“No,” he replied. “I will go back to Kashmir only to teach the Quran.”

When I suggested that Kashmiri students in Pakistani Deobandi madressahs might be a little more assertive than that, he shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know anything about that,” he said.

Such quietist attitudes can also be found amongst some of Pakistan’s Deobandis. But there is also a militant strain of Pakistani Deobandism. Take, as perhaps the prime example, the Darul Uloom Haqqania in Akora Khattak.

In 1947, Sami ul Haq’s father, a cleric from Deoband who got stuck in Pakistan during Partition, started out with just eight pupils. Today, there are some 3,000 students. Sami ul Haq recently published a book in which he lays out his views on global affairs. These include the claims that the Afghan Taliban provided good government, that Osama bin Laden was an “ideal man” and that Al Qaeda never existed. He has said that if his students wish to take a break from their studies to fight alongside the Afghan Taliban, then it is not for him to stand in their way. He awarded Mullah Omar an honorary degree. And let’s not forget that key conspirators in the plot to assassinate Benazir Bhutto met in advance in Akora Khattak.

When it comes to militancy, then, Sami ul Haq’s Deobandism is very different to the Indian version. The question is why Pakistani Deobandism as represented by Akora Khattak has so quickly diverged from the attitudes prevalent in the mother institution in Deoband itself.

The answer lies in the contrasting attitudes and policies of the Indian and Pakistani states. Where­­as the Indian state has controlled militancy in Deo­bandi institutions, the Pakistani state has done the opposite. As a senator for many years, Sami ul Haq can even be considered a member of the Pakistani establishment. He has always taken care to work with, rather than against, Pakistan’s deep state.

There are some signs that Delhi is becoming increasingly aware that the Pakistani strain of militant Deobandi Islam poses a threat to peace and security in South Asia as a whole. After years of forbidding foreigners to study at Deoband, the Indian authorities recently relaxed the rule and granted visas to some Afghan Deobandi students. Given a choice between having Afghans educated in Pakistan or India, Delhi has decided that the quietist madressah at Deoband is preferable to letting them be influenced by the politicised and sometimes militant Deobandi madressahs in Pakistan.

Deobandi militancy might look like a force that cannot be controlled. But India’s experience suggests that the degree of militancy espoused by some Deobandis is a function of state policy.

BY: OWEN BENNETT-JONES , a British journalist and author of Pakistan: Eye of the Storm.
http://www.dawn.com/news/1253337/deoband-variations


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Open letter to Muslims and Scholars:

Presently the society is in a state of ideological confusion and degradation. Materialism, terrorism, ignorance and intolerance has threatened the humanity, peace and religion. These circumstances demand special response from the learned men of religion. Objective is to draw your attention towards pressing issues which need urgent resolution. With little  attention and effort we can make an endeavour to take the society out of this quagmire. Keep reading >>> http://goo.gl/xNolSV

مسلم وعلماء کے نام کھلا خط 
آج کے حالات میں مسلم معاشرہ نظریاتی  ابتری اور انحطاط کا شکار ہے. مادہ پرستی، دہشت گردی، عدم برداشت، اور جہالت انسانیت، امن اور مذھب کے لیے خطرہ بن چکے ہیں. ان حالات میں صاحب علم و ذی فہم حضرات سے ممکنہ حل کی توقع کی جا سکتی ہے. ہمارا مقصد ہے کہ آپ کی توجہ ضروری حل پذیر مسائل کی طرف مبذول کرنا ہے تاکہ جلد حل تلاش کیا جا سکے. آپ کی توجہ اور مدد سے ہم کوشش کر سکتے ہیں کہ معاشرہ کو اس  گہری دلدل سے نکال سکیں. مکمل خط اس لنک پر پڑھیں : http://goo.gl/y2VWNE
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16.4.16

I never regretted embracing Islam

Prof. Khadijah Watson, formerly Sue Watson, was, as she admits, “a radical Christian fundamentalist,” accepted Islam when she found consistencies in the message.

 "You cannot guide whoever you please: it is God who guides whom He will. Heـ best knows those who would accept guidance". (Quran;28:56)

She said in the following narrative:

WHAT happened to you?” This was usually the first reaction I encountered when my former classmates, friends and co-pastors saw me after having embraced Islam. I suppose I couldn’t blame them, I was a highly unlikely the person to change religions. Formerly, I was a professor, pastor, church planter and missionary. If anyone was a radical fundamentalist it was I.
I had just graduated with my Master’s Degree of Divinity from an elite seminary five months before. It was after that time I met a lady who had worked in Saudi Arabia and had embraced Islam. Of course, I asked her about the treatment of women in Islam. I was shocked at her answer. It wasn’t what I expected; so I proceeded to ask other questions relating to God and Muhammad (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him). She informed me that she would take me to the Islamic Center where they would be better able to answer my questions.
Having taught Evangelism, I was quite shocked at their approach, it was direct and straightforward. No intimidation, no harassment, no psychological manipulation, no subliminal influence! I couldn’t believe it. They gave me some books and told me if I had some questions they were available to answer them in the office. That night I read all of the books they gave. It was the first time I had ever read a book about Islam written by a Muslim, we had studied and read books about Islam only written by Christians. The next day I spent 3 hours at the office asking questions. This went on every day for a week, by which time I had read 12 books and knew why Muslims are the hardest people in the world to convert to Christianity. Because there is nothing to offer them! In Islam, there is a relationship with God, forgiveness of sins, salvation and promise of eternal life.
It is interesting to note that there were bishops during the first 300 years of the Church that were teaching as the Muslim believes, that Jesus (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) was a prophet and teacher! It was only after the conversion of Emperor Constantine that he was the one to call and introduce the doctrine of the Trinity.
He introduced a paganistic concept that goes back to Babylonian times. Space, however, does not permit me to go into detail about the subject, but God willing, we will another time. Only, I must point out that the word Trinity is not found in the Bible in any of its many translation nor is it found in the original Greek or Hebrew languages!
My other important question centered on Muhammad (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him). I found out that Muslims do not pray to him like the Christians pray to Jesus. He is not an intermediary and in fact it is forbidden to pray to him. We ask blessing upon him at the end of our prayer but likewise we ask blessings on Abraham. He is a prophet and a messenger, the final and last prophet. In fact, even 14 centuries later, there has been no prophet after him. His message is for all mankind, as opposed to the message of Jesus or Moses (peace be upon them both), which was sent to the Jews. “Hear, O Israel” But the message is the same message of God. “The Lord Your God is One God and you shall have no other gods before Me.” (Mark 12:29)
Because prayer was a very important part of my Christian life I was both interested and curious to know what the Muslims were praying. As Christians we were as ignorant on this aspect of Muslim belief as on the other aspects. We thought and were taught, that the Muslims were bowing down to the Kaaba, in Makkah. Again, I was shocked to learn that the manner of prayer is prescribed by God, Himself. The words of the prayer are one of praise and exaltation. The approach to prayer (ablution or washing) in cleanliness is under the direction of God.
He is a Holy God and it is not for us to approach Him in an arbitrary manner, but only reasonable that He should tell us how we should approach Him. At the end of that week after having spent 8 years of formal theological studies, I knew cognitively that Islam was true. But I did not embrace Islam at that time because I did not believe it in my heart. I continued to pray, to read the Bible, to attend lectures at the Islamic Center. I was in earnest asking and seeking God’s direction. It is not easy to change your religion. I did not want to lose my salvation if there was salvation to lose.
I continued to be shocked and amazed at what I was learning because it was not what I was taught that Islam believed. In my Master’s level, the professor I had was respected as an authority on Islam yet his teaching and that of Christianity in general is full of misunderstanding. He and many Christians like him are sincere but they are sincerely wrong.
Two months later, after having once again prayed seeking God’s direction, I felt something drop into my being! I sat up, and it was the first time I was to use the name of God, and I said, “God, I believe you are the One and Only True God.” There was peace that descended upon me and from that day four years ago until now I have never regretted embracing Islam. This decision did not come without trial.
I was fired from my job as I was teaching in two Bible Colleges at that time, ostracized by my former classmates, professors and co-pastors, disowned by my husband’s family, misunderstood by my adult children and suspected by my own government. Without the faith that enables man to stand up to Satanic forces I would not have been able to withstand all of this. I am ever so grateful to God that I am a Muslim and may I live and die a Muslim.
“Truly, my prayer, my service of sacrifice, my life and my death are all for God the Cherisher of the Worlds. No partner has He, this I am commanded. And I am the first of those who bow to God in Islam.” (Qur’an, 6:162-163)

arabnews.com
Courtesy: (islamreligion.com)
http://www.arabnews.com/islam-perspective/news/910261