Enjoining Good and Forbidding Wrong

By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam

07 October 2016

In various parts of the world today, Muslims are engaged in acts of violence. If they are told to stop this, they claim: “We are only doing what the Prophet of Islam commanded us to.” In this regard, they cite a hadith that orders the believers to rectify a wrong:

He who amongst you sees something wrong should try to rectify it with the help of his hand; and if he has not strength enough to do so, then he should do it with his tongue, and if he has not strength enough to do so, then he should abhor it in his heart, and that is the least of faith. (Sahih Muslim)

This hadith is cited by some people in order to claim sanction for violence, although actually the hadith does not mention violence. This hadith speaks about reforming or rectifying a wrong. If one does not have the ability to rectify the wrong, then the hadith says, one should speak out against it. The hadith certainly does not say that on seeing something wrong one must begin to unleash violence against people or resort to suicide-bombing. One cannot derive sanction for violent activities from this hadith.

This hadith talks about Taghayyur-E Munkar, which means rectifying or remedying a wrong. The Arabic word Taghayyur means ‘replacement’. Hence, in the above hadith, the word Taghayyur means replacing a condition of evil or wrong with a condition that is not evil or wrong. In other words, this hadith ordains the reforming of a certain condition, not engaging in conflict and causing destruction.

The well-known Arabic dictionary Lisan al-Arab explains the word Taghayyur as follows: ‘Taghayyur means to change something. That is, to change it into something that it had not been earlier.’ (5/40) The eleventh-century Muslim scholar of Quranic exegesis and the Arabic language, Raghib al-Isfahani (d.1108) has written a dictionary of Quranic terms, Al-Mufradat fi Gharib al-Quran, in which he explains the word Taghayyur thus: “It is said ‘I changed (Taghayyur) my house’, which means that you changed the construction of your house and constructed it anew.”

Today, in various parts of the world violence is taking place in the name of jihad. This so-called ‘sacred violence’ is being led by self-styled Muslim leaders. And in this, almost all Muslims are involved in some way or the other, because those Muslims who are not directly engaged in this violence are silent about it. From the Islamic point of view, this silence of theirs is tantamount to indirect involvement. Hence, according to Islamic principles, the entire Muslim Ummah will be considered to be engaged in this violence—some people directly, others indirectly.

Facts tell us that this violence has produced no positive results at all. There is only one result that is following everywhere from this violence— and that is, destruction and nothing constructive at all. In this situation, then, one can, without any doubt whatsoever, say that these violent acts are definitely not Taghayyur-e-Munkaror rectification of any wrong. Rectifying a wrong means changing an undesirable situation and bringing in a desirable situation in its place. In contrast, any action that proves counterproductive is definitely destruction, and in no way an Islamically-desirable action.

A negative reaction to an unwanted situation leads to violence and conflict. It is notTaghayyur-e-Munkar or rectifying a wrong. Rectifying a wrong is a completely positive action. It is undertaken to bring about reform in a given situation, not to make the situation even worse.  Reforming a situation requires that one analyze it with an unbiased mind and then undertake efforts to reform it through constructive planning. Those who act contrary to this are, without any doubt, unleashing destruction and not carrying out reform.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-society/maulana-wahiduddin-khan-for-new-age-islam/enjoining-good-and-forbidding-wrong/d/108789

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Zakir Naik’s Open Letter: Democrat or an Islamo-Fascist Demagogue?

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

12 September, 2016

It is rather rich of Zakir Naik to write an open letter to the government about his perceived sense of persecution at the hands of Indian authorities. As I have written in previously, every person including Zakir Naik should be probed within the due process of law. To create conditions in which he is forced to live outside India without a clinching evidence is hardly excusable. That he is followed by thousands of Muslims who have not become terrorists is proof enough that there is a complex set of causative factors behind every act of terror. A complex phenomenon such as terrorism should not be simplified as the result of the teaching and sermons of some individual.

Zakir Naik’s letter however goes further. It accuses the government of the day of selectively targeting Muslims. Zakir Naik becomes the victim within this narrative by becoming one of the 170 million of India’s Muslims.

The problem starts right here. A majority of Muslims here are poor and uneducated and mostly do not have a voice. On comparison, Zakir Naik owns a million-dollar enterprise and has a powerful lobby fighting for his defence. How then can he compare himself with the average Indian Muslim?

Moreover, Zakir Naik speaks openly against the religious practice of the majority of Indian Muslims. He has accused them of being open to polytheism and not following the correct tenets of Islam. How then does he become one of them? Clearly his ideas about Islam is much at variance with that of the majority of Indian Muslims. And that’s precisely the reason why he cannot represent the majority of Indian Muslims. For almost all major schools of Islam in India, barring Salafi-Wahhabi-Ahl-e-Hadeesi, Zakir Naik represents something other than Islam; in fact, the majority even refuse to certify him as a religious scholar.

It sounds patently hypocritical when Zakir Naik talks about ‘murder of democracy’ and violation of ‘fundamental rights’. Of course, all this is peppered by the undertone of ‘justice’ which he argues has been denied in his case. Talking in terms of democracy and rights would almost make Zakir Naik a believer in these secular ideas. However, all his own speeches and conduct have belied this.

A person who sings praises for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, accepts their hospitality and prize is now talking about democracy and human rights. Why didn’t he remember them when the Saudis gave him millions to promote their ideology of Islamism? As a champion of democracy, why did he accept Saudi money when it is well documented that there are flagrant violations of all kinds of rights in that kingdom. What kind of democracy is he talking about when his mentor hangs and stones people for petty crimes in full public view?

There cannot be any doubt that Zakir Naik is talking about democracy and rights without even believing an iota in these concepts. After all, didn’t his Islamist predecessors argue that democracy was a system of men and what they wanted was to bring the system of God? Has Zakir Naik all of a sudden turned secular when confronted with man-made laws?

In the same letter, Zakir Naik argues that he is promoting peace and harmony in society through developing an understanding of Islam. Again, he probably knows that this is not the case. Through his erroneous understanding of the text, he has created newer religious schisms within the Muslim society so much so that there was a fatwa against him. If he cannot create harmony even within Muslim society, then heaven only knows how he is going to create peace and harmony within the Indian society. His sermons actually have the opposite effect: of promoting enmity between different religious groups in society.

If one is hell bent on arguing that Islam is the best religion in the world and that polytheism of the Hindus is a backward and deplorable religious worldview, then how does this promote peace and tolerance? If he continues to justify that Islam alone is the saviour of world, then how does this promote peace and mutual respect? Calling such sermons of a third rate pedant as dialogue militates against the very idea of a dialogical plural world. Zakir Naik is not interested in dialogue: he is a fascist demagogue who wants the entire world to convert to his point of view.

His hypocrisy on democracy begins to unravel the minute he takes recourse to the Quran. There are many passages within the text to cite in terms of pluralism and tolerance. But to quote the verse which tells Muslims to be patient and wait for their eventual victory over the polytheists is perhaps too much. This is not a man who is a believer in the virtues of secular laws like democracy. This is a man who wants to unfurl the Islamic flag everywhere, demean and trounce all other religious traditions. The recourse to democracy and the language of rights are only a means to an end: that of establishing the supremacy of Islam.

Arshad Alam is a NewAgeIslam.com columnist.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/radical-islamism-and-jihad/arshad-alam,-new-age-islam/zakir-naik’s-open-letter–democrat-or-an-islamo-fascist-demagogue?/d/108534

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He May Have Insulted Obama, but Duterte Held up a Long-Hidden Looking Glass to the US

By Adele Webb

09 September 2016

At a press conference at Davao International Airport on Monday, on his way to meet US President Barack Obama and other leaders attending the ASEAN summit, Mr Duterte muttered a few short words in tagalog at the end of a lengthy and irritated reply to a local journalist. With those words, he again made international headlines.

If that were all there was to it, we could rightly roll our eyes and move on. After all, Mr Duterte’s language is vulgar; his slander of people and groups is liable to incite violence; and his determination to kill drug pushers (to fight “crime with crime”) an abuse of power. He should not be defended for any of this.

But as someone who has spent a long time studying US-Philippine relations, I think there’s something more for us to see here.

And if we want to judge the Philippine President (and, by default, the nation for electing him) from high moral ground, I think we have a responsibility to pay attention to it.

PHOTO: School Begins: Uncle Sam lectures his class in Civilisation. The pupils are labelled Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Cuba. (Supplied: Puck Magazine 1899)

Restoring an Invisible History

Who is he to question me about human rights and extrajudicial killings?

So asked Mr Duterte on Monday. It’s actually a very good question, and one long overdue from a Philippine president. The extent to which the violence of US relations with the Philippines has been made invisible by a history written predominantly by Americans themselves cannot be overstated.

It began with a three-year war (1899-1902) that most Americans have never heard of. The war overthrew a newly independent Philippine republic and cost between 250,000 and a million Filipino lives — only to be called “a great misunderstanding” by American colonial writers.

After all, the US had chosen the Philippines to be its great Asian “showcase of democracy”. The invasion was a benevolent act.

Hence the complete erasure of acts of American violence from the Philippine national story.

You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to smell something rotten. Since the 1950s Philippine writers, academics, journalists and so on have been trying to reframe the historical narrative to point out this fact: to be invaded by a military power, told you don’t possess the character or capability for self-government, and then controlled by another nation for four decades, to the occupier’s lucrative commercial benefit, was not to be the recipient of a benevolent act.

Even at the time the war was taking place, one of America’s best-loved authors was writing just as much. Mark Twain was prolific in writing about the paradox of the “democratising mission” to the Philippines.

Penned in 1901, but still stunningly poignant, is this extract from his essay, To the Person Sitting in Darkness:

The Person Sitting in Darkness is almost sure to say: ‘There is something curious about this — curious and unaccountable. There must be two Americas: one that sets the captive free, and one that takes a once-captive’s new freedom away from him, and picks a quarrel with him with nothing to found it on; then kills him to get his land.’

In America, these remain Mr Twain’s least-known works.

Before his (now regretted) distasteful remark, Mr Duterte had much to say in response to the question about being confronted over human rights in an upcoming meeting with Mr Obama.

He was responding to murmurs from critics that, if he wouldn’t listen to anyone else about the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, just wait until he meets the US President.

No-one seems to have listened to or cared much about the other six minutes of Mr Duterte’s reply. So let me tell you something about it.

It was a reclaiming of the historical narrative of Philippine-US relations, a holding up to the US of the hidden “looking glass” Mark Twain had written about 100 years earlier.

An Assertion of Independence

Calling out the hidden insinuations, as Mr Duterte did, that the US continues to have authority over the politics of the Philippines, is bold and brazen, but reasonable. Consider his statement:

I am a president of a sovereign state. And we have long ceased to be a colony. I do not have any master but the Filipino people.

These words are less evidence of his demagoguery or an intention to personally disparage Mr Obama than a reference to history, and are more accurately read as such.

After World War II, colonies of any sort, even the so-called “democratic” US one in the Philippines, were on the nose. But this didn’t stop Washington officialdom from continuing to claim the right of access to the Philippines’ political and economic realms.

When the US finally granted the Philippines its (second) independence in 1946, it required the new republic to amend its constitution so a bill could be passed that, as well as legislating preferential trade conditions for the US, would grant American citizens equal rights with Filipinos to Philippine natural resources. It was the beginning of a new phase: neo-colonialism.

It was not just a matter of political interference and the power to make or break Philippine presidents with endorsement and strategic financial support. In a visceral sense, the nation was always being watched and judged by its democratic “teacher”.

Asked about being confronted with human rights concerns by Mr Obama, Mr Duterte said:

You must be kidding. Who is he to confront me? America has one too many to answer for the misdeeds in this country … As a matter of fact, we inherited this problem from the United States. Why? Because they invaded this country and made us their subjugated people … Can I explain the extrajudicial killing? Can they explain the 600,000 Moro massacred in this island [Mindanao]? Do you want to see the pictures? Maybe you ask him. And make it public.

I’m reminded of a comment by Alicia Garza, a founder of the Black Lives Matter movement ignited by police killings of black Americans. Speaking in Sydney last weekend at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, she related how, when civil rights protests get uncomfortably heated, she is often asked: “Why are they so angry?”

She paused. Then softly giggled, giving the audience time for the ludicrousness of the question to sink in.

Duterte Shocks with Trash Talk

Rodrigo Duterte hypnotised his fans and outraged critics throughout an explosive election campaign.

Why is the Philippine President so angry about the prospect of the US President confronting him about human rights abuses? History.

As Mr Duterte said himself on Monday, violent acts of the past don’t stay in the past. They get passed on from generation to generation, especially when the injustice goes unacknowledged and unaddressed.

It is difficult to stomach Mr Duterte’s style. It certainly is difficult to look past the serious issues raised by his administration’s “war on drugs”. We should condemn his misuse of power.

But if we condemn the president for his recent remarks because we claim to be concerned about the rights of Filipinos while showing no interest in acknowledging the past crimes and injustices against the Philippines, we fall into our own sort of hypocrisy.

Let’s be honest, if Mr Duterte didn’t curse and swear and offend our sensibilities, would we be paying so much attention to the Philippines?

For once, I heard a Philippine president holding the US to account for all its doublespeak and hypocrisy in US-Philippine relations. And I couldn’t help but appreciate that.

Adele Webb is a PhD researcher in the Department of Government and International Relations, Sydney Democracy Network, at the University of Sydney.

Source: abc.net.au/news/2016-09-09/he-may-have-insulted-obama2c-but-duterte-held-up-a-long-hidden/7830872?section=analysis

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Making Change in Northern Nigeria: Somebody to Look Up to

By Cathy Russell

09/09/2016

Amina Yusuf

The first time Amina Yusuf left the borders of her native Nigeria, it was on the trip of a lifetime. She joined five other girls who were selected to see Malala Yousafzai accept the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo at the end of 2014. In that moment, she realized that the world was paying attention to adolescent girls.

This meant a great deal to Amina, who has experienced difficult challenges growing up in northern Nigeria. She’s managed to overcome them with support from her family and non-profit organizations, and today, Amina gives back to other girls in her community through mentorship and advocacy.

When I travelled to Aubja, Nigeria last month, I met with Amina to hear about her work. We talked about why the United States cares about girls around the world and how we support adolescent girls in different countries. I asked her about the challenges—and opportunities—she sees for women and girls in northern Nigeria.

Here are edited excerpts from our conversation. We spoke in English and through a translator.

Ambassador Russell: How did you get into the work you’re doing?

Amina Yusuf: After my primary education, I had slim chances of proceeding to secondary school but with the help of Centre for Girls’ Education, I was enrolled in secondary school and also became a cascading mentor. My role is to assist in mentoring young girls in literacy and numeracy, life skills, and adolescent reproductive information.

Russell: And this is in your community.

Amina: Yes. In my community, not everyone supports girls’ education. People prefer boys to become educated.

Russell: Is that because of cost—of books, uniforms—that they don’t have enough money to do both, so they choose the boys? Or do they just not see the value in getting a girl educated?

Amina: Mostly, it’s because of the cost. And another reason is they don’t see the importance. After a certain age, a girl will move to her husband’s house. She’ll have to get married.

Russell: At what age do girls typically get married in your community?

Amina: 13.

Russell: And how old are the boys when they get married?

Amina: The man, sometimes, it’s at the age of 35.

Russell: And when the girls get married, do they start having children?

Amina: Sometimes immediately. Within nine months, she’ll have a baby. My mother encouraged me to attend school regularly. Of course, my father supports my education. He allowed me to be in school instead of marrying.

Russell: Why do you think your dad was in favour of education, given that there are pressures to get girls married?

Amina: After he married my mom, she dropped out of secondary school. He was educated, so he wanted my mother to continue. So even after they got married, he allowed her to continue.

Now she is the most educated person in our community. She is still doing a distance learning program. She’s somebody to look up to. And she’s one of the reasons why members of the community allow their girls to continue their education.

Russell: One of the things I hear a lot from girls is that, in addition to going to school, they have to do so much other work around the house. They have to care for other siblings. They have to get the water. They have to make the meal, clean up the meal. Is that typical here in Nigeria, where the girls do most of the work?

Amina: In northern Nigeria, even if a girl is in school, she must come home, do the cleaning and take care of things at home. Parents groom their daughters to become wives and mothers.

Russell: What needs to happen for change in Nigeria?

Amina: The change needs to start with the government. The government needs to put policies in place that ensure girls are in school, and that when girls are at home, there should be shared responsibilities. If a girl cooks dinner today, the boy should cook tomorrow. If there is equity, things will work out better.

Russell: In the United States, we’ve heard a lot about the Chibok girls who were taken in 2014. Is safety at school an issue that girls think about in the northern part of the country?

Amina: This issue of insecurity, we cannot say it is gone. It is still there and the girls are afraid. Most of the routes to school are not safe. And sometimes girls get raped on their way to school, and nobody is really sure whether school is safe or not.

Russell: Someone told me that attitudes here about women are not great, generally, that men are in control of the family and the political sphere. Is that your impression—that women don’t have a lot to say about what goes on?

Amina: Most people tend to look down on the female. They always think that the woman cannot reach where she intends to.

Russell: What do you want people to know about Nigeria, the future of Nigeria, and the importance of girls?

Amina: If girls are educated and allowed to reach their maximum potential—to become a president, governor, and women in strategic positions—things will change.

Source: huffingtonpost.in/entry/making-change-in-northern-nigeria-somebody-to-look_us_57d2bf0de4b0eb9a57b7a6e1?timestamp=1473430224647

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/cathy-russell/making-change-in-northern-nigeria–somebody-to-look-up-to/d/108541

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Media in Pakistan Is Under Siege

By Ambreen Agha

September 12, 2016

My family has been falsely implicated in drug racket. It is distressing to see that my family is suffering because of my profession. It is difficult to be a journalist in Pakistan and that too in tribal areas. You are punished for bringing out stories that do not sit well with the military establishment, which is ubiquitous here. We see Taliban commanders visiting military quarters in the tribal belt. What happens inside is not for us to know. We are caught between the military and the terrorists. Being a journalist has cost me my family, who disowned me after the slapping of false charges. And now I am without money, looking for alternative means of sustenance.

——An unnamed journalist from an unspecified location in tribal areas to SAIR.

Media in Pakistan, particular in the tribal regions, is under siege. Working under constant threat to life and livelihood, media personnel have faced a backlash from both state and anti-state elements. These include the warring political parties, military intelligence agencies and terrorist formations operating across the country.

As freedom becomes increasingly elusive for media personnel in the country, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) report, released on February 3, 2016, noted that Pakistan runs fourth on the list of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists, recording a total of 115 killings since 1990. According to partial data compiled by Institute for Conflict Management (ICM), a total of 57 journalists have been killed in targeted attacks since 1994 (data till September 11, 2016). Meanwhile, the World Press Freedom Index – 2016, published by Reporters without Borders (RWB), ranked Pakistan at 147 out of 180 countries. The RWB Report on Pakistan, “Targeted on all Sides”, states,

Journalists are targeted by extremist groups, Islamist organizations and Pakistan’s feared intelligence organizations, all of which are on RSF’s [Reporters Sans Frontières] list of predators of press freedom. Although at war with each other, they are all always ready to denounce acts of “sacrilege” by the media. Inevitably, self-censorship is widely practiced within news organizations.

In a recent incident on August 22, 2016, a group of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) workers attacked the office of ARY News Channel, killing one person and injuring several others, near Zainab Market in the Saddar Town of Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh. A day earlier, another group of infuriated MQM protestors had damaged the Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) van of the Samaa TV channel in the Liaquatabad Town of Karachi. The protestors involved in both these attacks had alleged lack of “due media coverage” of MQM workers, who had been protesting since August 18, 2016, against the random disappearances and arrest of party workers by the paramilitary Rangers ever since the beginning of the ongoing ‘Targeted Action’ against terrorists and criminals in the commercial capital. During a meeting of the Sindh Apex Committee headed by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on August 31, 2016, Rangers Director General Major General Bilal Akbar informed the participants that 848 ‘target killers’ involved in 7,224 cases have been arrested since September 4, 2013, in Karachi, of which 654 suspects were affiliated with MQM. The MQM suspects have allegedly confessed to being involved in 5,863 incidents of target killings.

In the past, religious-political parties have also brazenly attacked the media. Following the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, an Elite Force commando convicted of killing former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, angry protesters attacked media houses and facilities in Sindh and Punjab on March 1, 2016, leaving over half a dozen media people injured, and equipment burnt or destroyed. Qadri was executed on February 29, 2016, at the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi District of Punjab. The most violent attack occurred in the Hyderabad District of Sindh, where a demonstration was staged by several religious parties against Qadri’s execution. The collective call for protest outside the Hyderabad Press Club was given by different religious organizations and parties, including, Milli Yakjehti Council, Jama’at-e-Ulema Pakistan (JuP) and Pakistan Sunni Tehreek (PST). Apart from burning tyres and blocking roads, the enraged mobs burned a counter at the Hyderabad Press Club, injuring four journalists and a Press Club employee. They also beat up journalists en route to Karachi. Two journalists, who were travelling to cover the protest in Karachi’s Malir Town were pulled out of the car and beaten up. The cameraman was also dragged out of the van. The infuriated protestors damaged the camera and the vehicle.

The media has been targeted by the country’s proliferation of terrorist formations. On May 7, 2016, unidentified terrorists killed two people, including Shia religious scholar and rights activist Syed Khurram Zaki and his journalist friend Rao Khalid, in North Karachi Town. While Khalid was currently working as a journalist, Zaki was a former journalist. No outfit claimed responsibility for the attack.

On November 22, 2015, unidentified armed assailants shot dead TV journalist Hafeez ur Rehman (42), on the outskirts of the Kohat District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Though terrorist outfits, primarily the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), have claimed responsibility for these attacks, the media has been directed by the Pakistan Army not to report.

The unnamed journalist from tribal area, in a conversation with this writer, stated,

Since the launch of the NAP [National Action Plan (NAP), media’s coverage of the conflict in Pakistan and more specifically in the tribal area is dictated by the Army. There is a clear instruction to all journalists, independent or affiliated, working in the tribal belt to not report claims of responsibility by terrorist outfits. The military has drawn the line for the journalists working on the ground. There are claims made by the Pakistani Taliban [TTP] after every attack that we are categorically told to ignore. Reporting a terror claim is a crime now. In the tribal areas, reporters risk it all to deliver the news independently and objectively. Instead, it is the Army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), which has increased its activities in the last few years.

The 20-point NAP came as a counter-terrorism measure on December 24, 2014, after the gruesome December 16, 2015, Peshawar Army Public School massacre.

Corroborating this claim, the last attack on the media claimed by TTP was on January 17, 2014, when at least three Express News workers, identified as driver Khalid, technician Waqas and security guard Ashraf, were shot dead after TTP terrorists ambushed a stationary DSNG van near Matric Board Office in the North Nazimabad Town of Karachi. In a live telephone call from Afghanistan TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan declared,

We accept responsibility. I would like to present some of its reasons: At present, Pakistani media is playing the role of (enemies and spread) venomous propaganda against Tehreek-e-Taliban. They have assumed the (role of) opposition. We had intimated the media earlier and warn it once again that (they must) side with us in this venomous propaganda (sic).”

Five days later, on January 23, 2014, TTP issued a 29-page fatwa (edict) against the media, declaring it a “party to the conflict” in the country. Since TTP’s creation in 2007, this was the first ever fatwa issued by the terrorist organization against the media, drawing up a hit-list of journalists and publishers across the country. The fatwa accuses media of siding with “disbelievers” against Muslims in the “war on Islam”. It alleged that the media was inciting people against mujahidin (holy warriors) through propaganda, and was propagating promiscuity and secularism. One of the author’s of the fatwa, Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, ‘deputy chief’ of TTP, separated journalists into three categories – Murjif, Muqatil and Sa’ee Bil Fasad. Explaining the terms further in the fatwa, Haqqani stated,

Murjif is someone who engages in propaganda against Muslims during a war between Islam and disbelief. Muqatil is someone who incites disbelievers and their allies to act against Muslims, while the third category (Sa’ee Bil Fasad) includes those who allegedly corrupt Muslim society through steps like replacing Islamic ideology with secular beliefs.

While sending the fatwa to Dawn, the outfit’s spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan warned, “Media could mend its ways and become a neutral entity. Otherwise, the media should not feel secure. A few barriers and security escorts will not help. If we can get inside military installations, media offices should not be too much of a challenge.”

Indeed, at least 13 attacks with nine fatalities have been recorded since the declaration of the fatwa on January 23, 2014.

The military establishment has played a malicious role in this enduring wave of intolerance against the media. During the 139th Corps Commanders Conference held at the General Headquarters (GHQ) on June 9, 2011, the then Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, warned critics to stop trying to deliberately run down the Armed Forces and the Army as an institution, and to put an end to “any effort to create divisions between important institutions of the country.” The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and other Pakistani intelligence agencies have a long history of intimidation, abduction and secret killings of those who challenge or expose them.

One prominent incident in this category was the abduction, torture and brutal murder of Asia Times Online Pakistan Bureau Chief, Syed Saleem Shahzad, on June 1, 2011, in the Mandi Bahauddin District of Punjab Province. Shehzad was abducted on May 29, 2011, by the ISI just one day after he exposed links between al Qaeda, a group of naval personnel and the ISI, in the deadly attack on the Pakistan Naval Station (PNS) Mehran within the Faisal Naval Airbase in Karachi on May 22, 2011. 10 Security Force (SF) personnel were killed in the attack. Shahzad’s killing was a deliberate and planned targeted killing that sent shock waves through Pakistan’s journalist fraternity and civil society.

In another such attack, Hamid Mir, the anchor on Geo News, was shot at and injured by four unidentified armed pillion riders on April 19, 2014, in Sharah-e-Faisal Town of Karachi. Before the attack, Mir had told his colleagues and friends that if he was attacked, Pakistan’s ISI, “and its chief Lieutenant General Zaheer-ul-Islam will be responsible”. On the day of the attack, Geo News disclosed that Mir had also sent a recorded video to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) implicating the ISI in any possible attempt on his life. Mir had claimed that the Agency had been infuriated by his Capital Talk programmes that criticised ISI’s tactics against the separatists in Balochistan, where the military is accused of enforced disappearances and killings.

Persistent efforts by the Army and its agencies to silence the media over decades have diminished the spaces of freedom within Pakistan. There have been serious concerns voiced by activists regarding the “muzzling of free speech” in Pakistan. Expressing concern over the role of the ISPR department on June 15, 2016, Asma Jahangir, former chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), appeared before a two-judge Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Ejaz Afzal Khan and Qazi Faez Isa, which was hearing petitions filed by journalists Hamid Mir, Absar Alam and others, seeking a court order abolishing the secret fund being maintained by the Information Ministry. Jahangir asserted that ISPR should also be monitored by regulatory authorities and requested the Court to investigate the law under which the Army’s media cell was operating. “We have been talking a lot about the civilian government, but the media cell of the [army] should also be monitored,” Jahangir argued.

In the ongoing “war of ideologies”, as TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan called it after the January 17, 2014, attack on Express News, the media has borne the brunt from all the three quarters – political, military and terrorist. An environment of repression has been created, enforced by an unholy alliance of Islamist extremists, radicalized political parties and the omnipresent Army and its agencies, within a culture of enveloping immunity, expanding spaces for future ideological wars.

Ambreen Agha is a Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

Source: South Asia Intelligence review

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-the-media/ambreen-agha/media-in-pakistan-is-under-siege/d/108542

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What Media Is Not Telling Us about AIMPLB’s Stand

By Flavia Agnes

Sep 11, 2016

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has given to the Supreme Court its opinion on triple Talaq and polygamy. As expected, media reports have reacted to the absurd and indefensible statements made by the Board, but the positive aspects in the affidavit seem to have gotten buried beneath the flurry.

The affidavit starts on a positive note by stating that the Supreme Court in the 2002 Shamim Ara ruling has already dealt with the issue of instant, arbitrary triple Talaq, and has laid down the test of “reasonable cause” and “prior reconciliation”, and goes even further to state that the principle laid down in the Shamim Ara ruling is the law of the land and a binding precedent.

Even while stating that the Shamim Ara ruling does not accurately reflect the Shariah law, the affidavit accepts the judgment by stating that the Board does not wish to reopen the discussion on it in these proceedings but ends with a rider that it reserves its right to “interpret” the Shamim Ara ruling in future. This appears to be a feeble objection to the historic ruling, especially since the board accepts that the proper course open to Shayara Bano — petitioner in the current case — was to challenge the arbitrary triple Talaq and claim her rights in a local court by invoking the 2002 ruling.

Fourteen years have gone by since the ruling, and the volume of case law accumulated through the decisions of various high courts which have relied on the Shamim Ara ruling makes it difficult for the Board to feign ignorance about it as the principle of stare decisis will apply when the Board wakes up to challenging this ruling.

What does this imply for Muslim women who are sent such arbitrary Talaqnamas by post? While trial courts have been relying on this ruling when Muslim women approach them to claim their rights, the community has been hesitant to challenge the Fatwas that triple Talaq are valid, discouraging women from approaching the courts. The Board’s affidavit, in paragraph six, sends out a clear signal that a Muslim woman has every right to challenge the triple Talaq sent to her by her husband relying upon the Shamim Ara ruling.

The fact that the Board has accepted the principles laid down in the Shamim Ara ruling is the most positive aspect of the affidavit, and this should be hailed. After pleading that Shayara Bano had the right to challenge the triple Talaq in a local court in a duly affirmed affidavit by a person no less than its secretary, it will be difficult for the Board to retract from this position in future. Now Muslim women can defend their rights against instant Talaq pronounced on them, as the Board has given its approval.

The second positive aspect is the acceptance that a Muslim woman who has been subjected to domestic violence has the right to claim relief under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005. This helps break yet another prevailing myth that Muslim women are not entitled to relief under PWDVA. There is a clear direction to Muslim women who are victims of domestic violence to claim relief under the progressive statute, which helps women claim maintenance, protection, injunction, residence, compensation and child custody through summary proceedings in a magistrate’s court.

Further, remedies under this Act can be claimed not only during the marriage but at any time thereafter. The Board does not seem to restrain Muslim women from claiming relief under this statute even after their marriage has been dissolved. Acknowledging the rights of Muslim women for remedies under this civil statute is sufficed to clear any misconception which the media may harbour.

The third positive point: In the event that Shayara Bano wished to end her violent marriage by accepting the Talaqnama sent by her husband, she has the option of exercising her rights under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights upon Divorce) Act, 1986. The agency of the Muslim woman and her multiple choices under various legal provisions, which are seldom highlighted, are captured in a nutshell.

The affidavit chides Shayara Bano for rushing to the Supreme Court by way of a PIL without first benefiting from the remedies available to her against her husband in a local court. In fact, it is on these grounds that the affidavit claims that the PIL should be dismissed ad-limine (at the initial stage).

The affidavit further states that these alternate remedies are more apt as the appropriate judicial authorities can give effective and adequate remedy. These statements help to clear the misconception that a divorced Muslim woman has no rights under the existing laws.

The affidavit further states that provisions of maintenance after divorce have been codified in the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, and the constitutional validity of this Act was upheld in the Danial Latifi ruling of 2001.

The Board was a party to these proceedings and had opposed the wider interpretation provided by the Supreme Court. But today it seems to accept this judgment and urges Muslim women to reap its benefits.

Unfortunately, due to the negative projection of these important milestones, Muslim women were not able to sufficiently reap the benefits of these rulings. The affidavit seems to clear the misconception surrounding these important rights.

It would have been better for the Board to confine itself to these legal positions rather than contradict what is stated in the opening paragraphs, by invoking obscurantist authorities to uphold arbitrary, instant triple Talaq. Unfortunately, by making sensational and outlandish comments about the necessity of validating this practice, the Board has played into the hands of Hindu communal elements, especially before the UP elections, and provided fodder to mount its vitriolic campaign against the Muslim community.

After affirming that the principle laid down in the Shamim Ara ruling is the law of the land and is binding, these contradictory and atrocious comments were totally unwarranted.

Since the main objective of the media is to secure the rights of Muslim women, it would do well to publicise the fact that the Board has encouraged Muslim women to safeguard their rights by using the existing laws available to them.

Flavia Agnes is a women’s rights lawyer

Source: asianage.com/columnists/what-media-not-telling-us-about-aimplb-s-stand-699

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/flavia-agnes/what-media-is-not-telling-us-about-aimplb’s-stand/d/108538

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Triple Talaq and Polygamy: Divorced From Religion

By Zeenat Shaukat Ali

Sep 11, 2016

The Muslim Personal Law Board has justified triple talaq and polygamy. Muslim women’s groups fighting for a ban on the two customs say the Board’s reasons are medieval, patriarchal. It’s over to India’s top court now.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) recently told the Supreme Court that “rewriting Personal Laws in the name of social reform” would erode religious freedom guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

AIMPLB said that a man giving triple Talaq to his wife was a better option than him murdering her or burning her alive; that women were less proficient in decision-making and, therefore, this “right” lay with men; and that polygamy was Islamic, banning of which would lead to promiscuous sexual practices.

The justifications of AIMPLB —a non-government organisation that is supposed to educate Indian Muslims on the protection and application of Islamic laws — are medieval and reinforce the worst stereotypes that “Islamophobes” have constantly proliferated. By relegating women to second-class status, the Board betrayed misogyny and patriarchy of the worst kind that was done away with by Prophet Muhammad.

Some of Quran’s major concerns were to liberate humankind from the dangers of subservience, autocracy, ethnicity, racism and chauvinism. Islam allowed questioning, encouraged the ability to interrupt a prearranged archaic thought process ingrained in a male-dominated oligarchic system.

In early Islam, Muslim women were active in numerous fields, and participated in decision-making. They were equal participants in both spiritual and material aspects of life. Women’s right to participate in social, economic, educational, cultural and political activities was equal to their male counterparts. They could acquire, administer, dispose and inherit property. They had equal freedom to choose or refuse a spouse. Women can enjoy the same benefits as men, and follow any respectable profession as men: “To men is allotted what they earn and to women what they earn” (Quran, 4:32).

The Quran extols the leadership of Queen Bilques as “a woman ruling over them provided with every requisite” (H.Q. 27:23). Her leadership qualities are not measured by her gender but by her capacity to fulfill the requirements of office, her political acumen, the purity of her faith and her independent judgement.

Historical evidence shows that women contributed significantly in the fields of knowledge and learning. The wife of the Prophet Mohammad, Harzat Khadija, also a powerful business woman, was the first to embrace Islam. The progeny of the Prophet primarily emanates from his esteemed daughter Hazrat Fatimah who played an active role on discussions relating to succession.

Hazrat Aisha, well known for her knowledge of Hadith, was also a politically active, influential leader. Hazrat Hafsa held with her the entire manuscript of the compilation of the Quran finally published in the time of the Caliph Uthman. Umm Salamah was instrumental in advising the Prophet during the crises at Hudaibiya). Bibi Zainab was actively involved in social work.

The early history of Islam shows that women took part in national activities, acted as advisors, and joined in congregational prayers in mosques. They were in battlefields, helped carry the wounded and slain. Women served male guests during feasts, did business with men.

The Prophet consulted women and took their opinion seriously. According to Imam Hanbal, the Prophet appointed Umm Waraqah as the imam of her household. She also led prayers for both genders. Khawla bit Salibah corrected the authoritative ruling (fatwa) of Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab on the issue of dower (Mahr). Hanbali jurisprudence upholds the qualifications of women to serve as judges. They owned and sold property and engaged in commercial transactions (there are references to this effect from Hadith of Imam Bukhari).

Women became Muslims before men, again contradicting the patriarchal view that women were incapable of independent action. In the political arena the Quran refers to women who, independent of their male relatives, pledged the oath of allegiance (Bayah) to the Prophet: “O Prophet whenever believing women come to thee to pledge their allegiance to thee… then accept their allegiance” (Quran. 60:12).

Women were not confined within the four walls of their houses. Household duties were not their sole responsibility. “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife” (Tirmidhi; Ibn Majah).

The Board also said that divorce proceedings instead of triple Talaq could damage a woman’s chances of re-marriage if the husband indicts her of loose character in the court.

But neither the Quran nor Prophet Muhammad sanctioned triple Talaq. The Prophet said: “God has not created anything on the face of the earth that he loves more than emancipation; and God has created nothing upon the face of the earth more hateful to him than divorce” (Abu Daud, 13:3).

Triple Talaq clearly disregards the displeasure of the Prophet as the following tradition illustrates: “The Messenger of Allah was informed of a man (Rukhana) who divorced his wife three times together, his face became red and he stood up in displeasure and said: ‘Is the Book of Allah being sported with while I am still in your midst?”(Nasai; 27:6).

AIMPLB has argued that polygamy is a “social need” and a “blessing” as a lawful second wife is better than an unlawful mistress, saying that it gave divorced or widowed women more opportunity to remarry.

But polygamy in Islam is a restrictive and not a permissive ordinance; it is an exception not the rule. Prophet Muhammad did not introduce polygamy as is conveniently believed. The only verse in the Quran on polygamy (4:3) was revealed during the Battle of Uhud when, under the circumstances of war, women were left orphans, homeless and destitute. Prophet Muhammad restrained polygamy by insisting on Adl (justice). A large number of influential jurists, like the Mutalazaites, belonging to schools presently archaic, held polygamy unlawful.

Prophet Muhammad at the age of 25 married Hazrat Khadeeja who was 40, adhering strictly to the ideal of monogamy in a totally polygamous society, at a time when prevailing conditions were normal and there was no war. It was only when war situations arose and women needed shelter and protection that the Prophet married another.

A number of Muslim countries have limited polygamy by bringing about statutory provisions, anti-bigamy stipulations or exercise of judicial and social control.

AIMPLB has argued that the death rate of men is higher since it is mostly men who die in accidents, and that since women outnumbered men, not permitting polygamy would force women “into leading a spinster’s life”.

But in India the sex ratio is approximately 920 women to a 1,000 men. What then is the argument to retain polygamy?

It is not Islam but the assertion of pre-Islamic patriarchy that are obstacles in the path of women.

Zeenat Shaukat Ali is director general, World Institute of Islamic Studies for Dialogue, Peace and Gender Justice.

Source: asianage.com/columnists/triple-talaq-polygamy-divorced-religion-696

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/zeenat-shaukat-ali/triple-talaq-and-polygamy–divorced-from-religion/d/108539

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