UN Human Rights Council, Geneva,
Agenda Item 9, General Debate, 26 September, 2016,
On behalf of: Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum
Oral Statement by Sultan Shahin, Founding Editor, New Age Islam
While the world’s attention is focused on violent extremism practised by a section of Muslims, gross violations of human rights are taking place in various Muslim societies in the name of religion.
In a South East Asian country, the Arabic name of God is monopolised by Muslims. Non-Muslims using the traditional term Allah for God are punished.
In a South Asian Muslim country thousands of Hindu and Christian girls, many under the age of 18, are abducted, forcibly converted to Islam, and then “married” to their abductors.
In a Middle Eastern country, courts allow marriages of as small as 9-year-old girls and force them to consummate their “marriage” and live with their husbands.
In my own country, India, Muslim husbands can utter the word talaq, meaning divorce, thrice in a row, and legally throw their wives out of their homes in less than a minute.
While these are gross violations of human rights, they also amount to denigrating the religion of Islam.
Many criminal acts including terrorism are being practised as if they have been ordained by Islamic scriptures. (Photo credit: Reuters)
All these and many other similar social evils and criminal acts including terrorism are practiced as if they have been ordained by Islamic scriptures.
This calls for deep introspection in the Muslim community. We Muslims should not allow our religion to be hijacked in this fashion.
Mr. President, I would like to make a request, through you, to the representatives of Muslim countries in the Council.
Dear Sirs, Madams, Please start a serious dialogue with theologians in your countries and ask them to open the gates of Ijtihad, the creative re-thinking. This was not only permitted, but ordained by God, in Islam’s primary scripture, the holy Quran, as no other Prophet was to come after Mohmmad (saw).
We Muslims must revisit our theology in the light of the needs of the 21st century. We are not living in the 7th century and can neither fight those early battles nor organise our societies in that medieval fashion.
Note: The above speech in UNHRC has also been published by India Today’s online newspaper Daily O and is available on:
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