Political protest and religious identity


by Sunny
25th April, 2006 at 8:04 pm    

Hanif Kureishi in the Saturday Guardian on why political theatre is needed:

Racism was a daily occurrence for most Asians in Britain. But the characters in the play refer often to the possibility of an “invasion”, something they were afraid of and disturbed by, as it had already happened.In April 1979, the police allowed the fascist National Front to hold a meeting in Asian Southall. Two weeks earlier the residents met the Labour home secretary, Merlyn Rees, to ask him to ban the Front’s meeting. On the day before the march, 5,000 people went to Ealing Town Hall in support of banning the National Front’s meeting, handing in a petition signed by 10,000 residents. Local factories also agreed to strike in protest. Rees refused to give way. It was a question of free speech, even for fascists.

He also mentions the Satanic Verses controversy:

During the 10 years between the Southall riots and the demonstration against The Satanic Verses, the community had become politicised by radical Islam, something that had been developing throughout the Muslim world since decolonisation.

Once this ideology had been adopted – and political conversations could only take place within its terms – it entailed numerous constraints, locking the community in, as well as divorcing it from possible sources of creativity: dissidence, criticism, sexuality. [via Amitava Kumar]

This is, in essence, something not many Asians really understand. All the communities – Muslim, Sikh and Hindu over have become politicised the past decade as religion has become their main form of identity rather than race. But with that comes internal censorship. You do anything out of line, you’re not just insulting your community, you are seen as insulting the entire religion.


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  1. Thinking Aloud: The Pulpmovies Weblog » The identity trap

    [...] (via Pickled Politics) Posted by Paul in Censorship and Freedom of Speech, Civil Liberties and Human Rights, Movies, Art and Culture, Religion and Superstition (28/4/2006 at 7:32 pm) [...]




  1. Amir — on 25th April, 2006 at 8:42 pm  

    Spot on. That’s very, very true.

  2. Ismaeel — on 25th April, 2006 at 9:58 pm  

    Sunny, do you consider race to be a more important characteristic by which to identify oneself? Historically speaking it has been Europeans influenced by various notions of racial distinctions in the Bible who have identified peoples primarily by race and non-Europeans have reacted by imbibing these concepts and consequently making their race their dominant identity. This has had disastrous consequences, a notable example being African Americans who are now more racially political than probably anyone else that arguably it is what helps maintain their marginalisation.
    Conversley in African and Asian cultures although undoubtadly racial and caste distinctions have been important, the power of one’s beliefs, ideas and deeds were more important. There were Abyssinian Sultans in south India in the medieval period and Hindu kings could start life as untouchables to later be conferred a higher caste by virtue of their leadership and conquest.
    Certainly tribalistic forms of religious politicisation which says my co-religionists right or wrong is indeed a problem in all religious communities. However to extrapolate that and say that making your religious identity primary to your political outlook is wrong, i think is highly problematic.
    Surely it is better to base one’s political affiliations based on one’s beliefs and values. To identify oneself on the basis of one’s race allows you to embroil yourself in the type of racial tribalism which is even more dangerous that religious tribalism.
    I do agree with you about the internal censorship up until a point. Many things that Muslims attempt to do are often criticised within their community based on the cultural paradigm in which they have inherited their Islam rather than being based on religious teachings themselves.
    However if someone who identifies himself primarily as a Muslim and then does something which is without doubt sinful according to the religion then it is the duty of his/her fellow Muslims to attempt to rectify him/her.

  3. Sunny — on 26th April, 2006 at 12:49 am  

    Hello Ismaeel, I see the MAC founder has become a big blogging fan. Welcome. Now, let’s see your interesting missive.

    Sunny, do you consider race to be a more important characteristic by which to identify oneself?

    Nope. I’m merely saying this is how community politics have moved on – from race to religion. There are inherent dangers in both, but the one advantage of race politics is that no one can deny your race. Whereas in religious politics there is always someone who reckons they are more pious than someone they dislike and challenge them by saying they don’t know enough knowledge. The MAC for example.

    But at least if I say something as a brown person – you cannot deny my brown-ness :)

    However, I believe we should engage in the identity of human rights rather than trying to get over our insecurities by adopting the religion or race as the primary form of identity (rathr than simply a way of life). Because then, you end up trying to create artificial boundaries.

    being African Americans who are now more racially political than probably anyone else
    Which is why I’d rather move past that.

    Surely it is better to base one’s political affiliations based on one’s beliefs and values
    How so? The latter only leads to more censorship because there is no strict right or wrong, only interpretation of what you think is right or wrong.

    To identify oneself on the basis of one’s race allows you to embroil yourself in the type of racial tribalism which is even more dangerous that religious tribalism.
    Well – there is plenty of religious tribalism all around us… so I think that disproves your point.

    Many things that Muslims attempt to do are often criticised within their community based on the cultural paradigm in which they have inherited their Islam rather than being based on religious teachings themselves.

    Not necessarily. Some of those differences may be over interpretations of the religious texts, rather than inheriting cultural traditions. As you engage in rather a lot of criticism of other Muslims yourself, it’s interesting you agree with me.

    However if someone who identifies himself primarily as a Muslim and then does something which is without doubt sinful according to the religion then it is the duty of his/her fellow Muslims to attempt to rectify him/her.

    You mean like blowing up innocent people in central London? given that the MAC is trying to win the title as the true representative of the Muslim community – what are you trying to do to rectify those brothers who may consider going down that path?

  4. Bikhair — on 26th April, 2006 at 9:36 am  

    Sunny,

    Racial politics is primative. Living in America, I know how much it completely paralyzes the black community. (Stop saying African American because 99.99% of them dont come from, have never been, will never go, and cannot indentity with Africa- culturally, ethnically, religiously, historically, linguistically,etc.)

    It is interesting to note that blacks are the only people allowed to make decisions based on the color of thier skin. Its sick really.

    You cant be Republican because you are black; you cant be Christian because you are black; and because of the conflict in Darfur, you cant be Muslim because you are black.

    Its darn crappy!

  5. Roger — on 26th April, 2006 at 10:39 am  

    It’s also one of the causes for the apparent rise in support for the BNP. After all, if we are going to have cultural religious, racial and community based politics then the BNP can justifiably claim it represents the white community.

  6. Chris Stiles — on 26th April, 2006 at 11:21 am  


    Racial politics is primative.

    Any form of identity politics is potentially primitive, it doesn’t matter if it’s based on race or religion (look at the pizza HuTs) or something else entirely.

    We all have multiple forms of identity and the form we identify with most closely tends to depend on which form we feel to be threatened. Drive a form of identity to the exclusion of every other and you always end up with some kind of pathology.

  7. Ismaeel — on 26th April, 2006 at 11:39 am  

    Sunny, as you know full well i am not the founder of the MAC, i certainly do not have the standing for such an ambitious endeavour. Rather MAC was started by the main Sunni jammaats in the Pakistani community and then gathered support in other areas and other communities.

    You said
    “Whereas in religious politics there is always someone who reckons they are more pious than someone they dislike and challenge them by saying they don’t know enough knowledge. The MAC for example.”

    You keep making these types of assertations about MAC, like your earlier accusation that we blame everything on Zionists, however as i far as i can recall none of our spokespeople have done either. If i disagree however with someone like Irshad Manji who tries to use a complex scholarly tool like ijtihad that really is restricted to masters in all field of Islamic scholarhip to justify her own less than scholarly understandings of primary texts then I don’t see how you can object to that.

    I also think i made it clear what i think of religious tribalism, that it is wrong.

    Islam is open to many valid interpretations and this has been accepted by Muslims for centuries. Fresh interpretations based on changing circumstances and new realities are necessary but they need to be grounded in principles emanating from the primary texts not ideologies that are foreign to Islam whether they be the false ideologies of the ends justify the means employed by Al-Qaeda or the moral relativism of the modern liberal consensus.

    “You mean like blowing up innocent people in central London? given that the MAC is trying to win the title as the true representative of the Muslim community – what are you trying to do to rectify those brothers who may consider going down that path? ”

    When have we ever justified that?? if you look at out blog then you will see that we have clearly condemned all types of terrorist atrocities and in particulat 9/11 and 7/7. MAC at present is a one-issue umbrella organisation as we’ve made clear from the start, however if we ever moved to the point where we decided to become a political organisation it would certainly be among our priorities. However the Proclamation of Global Civility does encourage ALL people to go beyond demonising one another and instead attempt to understand one another better and engage in dialogue to resolve our differences and misunderstandings.

    Sadly Sunny and I have said this to you before you appear to be intent on stereotyping us as the archetypal loony Muslim organisation, I don’t know why this is, perhaps because HT are one of our supporters and you seem to have a pathological hatred for them. However I’d like to make clear here as I have on other forums that our supporters have come together on the basis of one issue which is defending the honor of our Prophet (SAWS). We also have Q-News and most of the traditionally apolitical Imams and Mosques as our supporters who disagree with much of what HT says, but they have united with them on this one issue on the basis that it is just on this issue.

    Again i’d like to reiterate that basing one’s politics on one’s beliefs and values makes far more logical sense as these are things one chooses rather than race which is after all something we can’t choose. If someone however chooses to identify him/herself as say for instance as a Sunni Muslim he/she should know what they means. Calling for the killing of civilians or the bombing of tourist resorts is not acceptable in that mileu and he should accept to be criticised as such. Or am I atempting now to be more pious and knowledgable than those misguided brothers, Sunny?

  8. Ismaeel — on 26th April, 2006 at 11:51 am  

    Sunny, as you know full well i am not the founder of the MAC, i certainly do not have the standing for such an ambitious endeavour. Rather MAC was started by the main Sunni jammaats in the Pakistani community and then gathered support in other areas and other communities.

    You said
    “Whereas in religious politics there is always someone who reckons they are more pious than someone they dislike and challenge them by saying they don’t know enough knowledge. The MAC for example.”

    You keep making these types of assertations about MAC, like your earlier accusation that we blame everything on Zionists, however as i far as i can recall none of our spokespeople have done either. If i disagree however with someone like Irshad Manji who tries to use a complex scholarly tool like ijtihad that really is restricted to masters in all field of Islamic scholarhip to justify her own less than scholarly understandings of primary texts then I don’t see how you can object to that.

    I also think i made it clear what i think of religious tribalism, that it is wrong.

    Islam is open to many valid interpretations and this has been accepted by Muslims for centuries. Fresh interpretations based on changing circumstances and new realities are necessary but they need to be grounded in principles emanating from the primary texts not ideologies that are foreign to Islam whether they be the false ideologies of the ends justify the means employed by Al-Qaeda or the moral relativism of the modern liberal consensus.

    “You mean like blowing up innocent people in central London? given that the MAC is trying to win the title as the true representative of the Muslim community – what are you trying to do to rectify those brothers who may consider going down that path? ”

    When have we ever justified that?? if you look at out blog then you will see that we have clearly condemned all types of terrorist atrocities and in particulat 9/11 and 7/7. MAC at present is a one-issue umbrella organisation as we’ve made clear from the start, however if we ever moved to the point where we decided to become a political organisation it would certainly be among our priorities. However the Proclamation of Global Civility does encourage ALL people to go beyond demonising one another and instead attempt to understand one another better and engage in dialogue to resolve our differences and misunderstandings.

    Sadly Sunny and I have said this to you before you appear to be intent on stereotyping us as the archetypal loony Muslim organisation, I don’t know why this is, perhaps because HT are one of our supporters and you seem to have a pathological hatred for them. However I’d like to make clear here as I have on other forums that our supporters have come together on the basis of one issue which is defending the honor of our Prophet (SAWS). We also have Q-News and most of the traditionally apolitical Imams and Mosques as our supporters who disagree with much of what HT says, but they have united with them on this one issue on the basis that it is just on this issue.

    Again i’d like to reiterate that basing one’s politics on one’s beliefs and values makes far more logical sense as these are things one chooses rather than race which is after all something we can’t choose. If someone however chooses to identify him/herself as say for instance as a Sunni Muslim he/she should know what they means. Calling for the killing of civilians or the bombing of tourist resorts is not acceptable in that mileu and he should accept to be criticised as such. Or am I atempting now to be more pious and knowledgable than those misguided brothers, Sunny?

  9. Xerxes — on 26th April, 2006 at 12:16 pm  

    Again i’d like to reiterate that basing one’s politics on one’s beliefs and values makes far more logical sense as these are things one chooses rather than race which is after all something we can’t choose.

    But if a Muslim writer or academic decides to leave Islam and subsequently write against the precepts of Islam or even if someone chooses to call themselves Muslim but live a life in opposition and write in contradistinction to what you deem is not right it is your obligation to “attempt to rectify him/her”?

    This is a pathology – it is CREEPY and it is a call for thought control and the entrenchment of Islamic values under the rubric of multiculturalism in the form of identity politics – it is a deeply conservative attempt to control freedom of conscience and thought amongst Muslims and must be fought and battled every step of the way – this is an attempt to impose shaira – lite values through multi-culti identity politics – and the idea of people like Ishmaeel and his friends seeking to ‘rectify’ Muslims gone astray is a nightmarish and extremely creepy vision with shades of 1984 and a nascent fascist impulse – more than anything it marks them out as CREEPS

  10. Ismaeel — on 26th April, 2006 at 12:58 pm  

    If someone leaves Islam like Salman Rushdie he is no longer Muslim end of story. The Shariah encompasses everything it means to be Muslim, it includes beliefs, spirituality and law including personal worship. It is not a case of what I or anyone else deems is right or wrong but what it is clearly stated in scripture.
    The word Muslim means one who has submitted themselves to the will of Allah (SWT), to call yourself Muslim and then reject what it means to be a Muslim makes little sense.
    If people don’t want to follow Islam that is the choice, then they should stop identifying themselves as Muslims.
    It is very sad that you like so many others keep on trying to associate the Shariah with fascism, as Shariah is a way of life that opened the way to religious pluralism, the rule of law, intellectual and scientific investigation in Europe where it had been stifled by the church.
    If someone does something unislamic (like blowing up tube trains) then it is my right and in fact duty to do so, that’s not fascistic.
    The idea that allows anyone to interpret sacred texts without the relevant tools to do so (like mastery of classical fusha arabic for a start) is what is causing the many distortions and extreme actions done in the name of Islam. I imagine however those who are intent on maligning the name of Islam are quite happy for that to continue

  11. Xerxes — on 26th April, 2006 at 1:02 pm  

    You are a proto-fascist

    And i was not only talking about Salman Rushdie – I was talking about anyone who wants to say what they want about Islam, even within the fold of Islam – and how creeps like you try to circumscribe free thought and free speech by your specious sophistry and appeal to identity politics – it is people like you who are giving a bad name to multiculturalism as you use it as a trojan horse to smuggle in your sharia agenda and try to hound and ‘rectify’ Muslims who you deem to be saying or doing the wrong thing – RECTIFY – what a nightmarish and creepy word.

  12. Ismaeel — on 26th April, 2006 at 1:04 pm  

    And my attempts to rectify him/her would be to give them advice and show them the relevant passages from scripture to back up my position, as is what happens in any debate or discussion. However it appears that “conservative” Muslims (whatever that is meant to mean) are not allowed to have a voice, instead we must be demonised by being called “Islamofacists”, “Creeps” or whatever else. This is a useful tool because it excuses our opponants from actually having to go to the effort of critiquing and questioning our positions based on rational argument.

  13. Xerxes — on 26th April, 2006 at 1:04 pm  

    as Shariah is a way of life that opened the way to religious pluralism, the rule of law, intellectual and scientific investigation in Europe where it had been stifled by the church.

    What a joke – we have religious pluralism now and so we don’t need Sharia which doesnt give a damn for religious pluralism and we dont need people like you stinking up British Multiculturalism as you abuse it to smuggle in your right wing conservative agenda of Islamism under the rubric of identity politics and you deny freedom of conscience with your creepy fantasies of RECTIFYING Muslims who you deem are doing something wrong.

  14. Ismaeel — on 26th April, 2006 at 1:07 pm  

    I am not a proto facist nor a believer in the ideology behind multiculturalism. I don’t appeal to identity politics, i believe the concept of supporting Muslims right or wrong is dangerous and not only unislamic but anti-Islamic as I have stated several times. I do believe in Muslims identifying themselves with Islam, just as no doubt socialists believing in identifying themselves with Socialism, Liberals with Liberalism etc.

  15. Xerxes — on 26th April, 2006 at 1:08 pm  

    My arguments are rational. Stop squealing and whining about rationality when you bring into the equation religious law and irrational identity politics. You are trying to smuggle in the rectifying of uman individuals as an inalienable right of multicultural politics in Britain. Everything about you stinks of disingenuity and lies – you dont even have the guts to confess to your Inquisition style of politics.

    The man who wants to have identity politics and reserves for himself the right to ‘rectify’ individuals complains about other people not being rational – you really could not make this mealy mouthed creepery up, could you?

  16. Ismaeel — on 26th April, 2006 at 1:09 pm  

    Well anyway, it’s quite clear you can’t string together a rational argument or refute one, so i’ll leave it here, though Sunny if you’re reading i believe Islam is a valid prism through which to discuss human identity just as liberalism, socialism are.

  17. Xerxes — on 26th April, 2006 at 1:12 pm  

    I am not a proto facist nor a believer in the ideology behind multiculturalism

    YOU ARE a proto-fascist – although I am glad that you admit to not believing in multiculturalism or the equality of all people and that you confess to being an inquisitorial Islamic SUPREMACIST who uses weasel words to bring his agenda to the table – with your impulse and lust to ‘rectify’ individuals.

    It is time to stand up against these pernicious and snake oil salesman ideology. This fork tongued religious supremacism and intolerant bigotry that seeks to destroy all that multiculturalism stands for needs to be opposed tooth and nail. To save Muslims from these repulsive creeps with their fantasies of ‘rectifying’ individuals as much as anything.

  18. Justforfun — on 26th April, 2006 at 1:37 pm  

    Xerxes – well said but I have to laugh – we all know that the punishment for apostacy is far more serious than “rectification” :-)

    Besides “rectification” in Islam is also not allowed if you know what I mean.

    Ismaeel – sorry for my crudity but no matter what my colour , I just can’t seem to get out of my head that I’m an Englishman and well .. Anglosaxon crudity and love of euphamisms just seems to be so natural . I am so glad that people have for the last 30 years been fighting for the idea that to be English is just a “state of mind” and not a race issue. No hyphens allowed.

    When you wrote “Conversley in African and Asian cultures although undoubtadly racial and caste distinctions have been important, the power of one’s beliefs, ideas and deeds were more important” – was this wishful thinking or just a lack of any knowledge of the rest of the world? I think trying to rake over history looking for comparisons is just a waste of time as since the begining of time all continents have been soaked in the blood of one type of race or culture as it is replaced by a strong race or culture, FULL STOP. When we appear from our mother’s womb we are free of any obligation to live like our ancestors, – whoever we believe them to be (and more often than not we will have a completely false idea of who are ancestors are – I just love genetic history programmes when they show how mixed up we really are)

    Ismaeel – “However to extrapolate that and say that making your religious identity primary to your political outlook is wrong, i think is highly problematic.” Spot on – Good people are good despite their religion and not because of religion – So when in the next line you write “Surely it is better to base one’s political affiliations based on one’s beliefs and values.” I can take it you have intensionally written “beliefs” and not ” religious beliefs” because that would just contradict your previous sentance. Can I assume that this was delibarate and that in reality you believe that secular beliefs and values should drive your politics? I do hope so but why do I think I may be delusional? I have no problem with your sentance as it stands myself but can this be compatible with Islam which I have been led to belive does not differentiate between the secular and religious in the political sphere? Or was I misinformed when I was younger?

    Sunny – you have been a naughty boy Tsk tsk . saying
    “but the one advantage of race politics is that no one can deny your race. Whereas in religious politics there is always someone who reckons they are more pious than someone they dislike and challenge them by saying they don’t know enough knowledge….. But at least if I say something as a brown person – you cannot deny my brown-ness ” You know that someone can always be browner !! you needed to get out more and get a bit more of a tan :-) or stay in and get whiter so I am not sure if the advantage of race is as you say :-)

    Personally as i have said – I think good people are good despite religion and seldom because of it. Most people are irreligious and merely conform to avoid “rectification” – be that being shamed in the letter pages of the Guardian etc or a bit more serious “rectification” at the hands of the Saudi “muttawa”. And where there has been injustice in this world that has not been put right, people who crave power rather than solutions have played the religious card only for for the opposing side to also play the religious card, and once played these forces never can reconcile as those imbibed by religion think they are are not answerable to their fellow man but only to God. Be that a suicide bomber at one extreme or the two Bs at the other end of the spectrum. Can anyone name a religious conflict in the 20century that was satisfactorily solved? I have been scraping my brain and can only think where stife has been solved , the religion card has not been played.

    Anyway must go –
    Justforfun

  19. Sid Singh — on 26th April, 2006 at 2:40 pm  

    If people don’t want to follow Islam that is the choice, then they should stop identifying themselves as Muslims.

    Isameel

    Apostates can be more honest to themselves than many “knowledgable scholars”, as you well know. Who will police against those who are outwardly pious, tick all the boxes of scholarship, know the finer points of Maliki and Hanbali fiqh and yet plan the and commit murder of innocents? How do you ask him to stop identifying themselves as Muslims?

    Sunny’s point is valid and absolutely true. Piety is a weapon that buys people respactability in SOuth Asian communities, but definitely more in the Muslim communities. People tend to relegate common sense to the backseat in deference to scholarly pious people when we know these people can be have all the ethics of a common criminal.

  20. Sunny — on 26th April, 2006 at 2:59 pm  

    Guys, can we please refrain from chucking wild labels at each other (what does a proto-fascist even mean?). It doesn’t help.

    Ismaeel you say:
    You keep making these types of assertations about MAC, like your earlier accusation that we blame everything on Zionists, however as i far as i can recall none of our spokespeople have done either. I

    Well, I saw the post you wrote about the City Circle on your blog, that was an example of “I know more about Islam than you do” bravado. That is what I’m referring to.

    If i disagree however with someone like Irshad Manji who tries to use a complex scholarly tool like ijtihad that really is restricted to masters in all field of Islamic scholarhip

    Who says that Muslims have to restrict themselves to listening to only scholars? that is advisable, but not necessary. Is it?

    but they need to be grounded in principles emanating from the primary texts not ideologies that are foreign to Islam whether they be the false ideologies

    That is your caveat isn’t it. What happens if someone interprets the original texts differently to you?

    When have we ever justified that?? if you look at out blog then you will see that we have clearly condemned all types of terrorist atrocities and in particulat 9/11

    I didn’t say you did not condemn it. You said its part of your remit to “rectify” other Muslims when they go wrong. However that seems to apply only to certain Muslims who maybe looking to build a bridge with non-Muslims in a civil society. If you are a one-issue party only, then why are you commenting on City Circle and not instead telling us what should be done about tackling extremism and doing something about that? Your agenda seems to be like any other wannabe-Muslim organisation – scream and shout about others and have a go at Muslims you think are doing shirk, but no commentary on extremism.

    perhaps because HT are one of our supporters and you seem to have a pathological hatred for them.

    Well, HuT have a pathological disdain for anyone who doesn’t follow their strict agendas and I’m merely returning the favour. However I have a pathological hatred of any religious fanatics who try and impose their way of life on others – whether they be Christian, Hindu, Sikh or Muslim.

    basing one’s politics on one’s beliefs and values makes far more logical sense as these are things one chooses rather than race

    Which is fine, except when you try and influence others who you think are on the wrong path, or deny that they are Muslims.

    Calling for the killing of civilians or the bombing of tourist resorts is not acceptable in that mileu and he should accept to be criticised as such.

    Well, where is the editorial criticism of the recent suicide bombers in Egypt? What about Bali? Madrid?
    Since you seem intent to meddle in the affairs of other Muslims, even if they are based in the USA or whatever, then I’d like to see something that shows you’re not just criticising one side.

  21. Jai — on 26th April, 2006 at 4:35 pm  

    =>”Who says that Muslims have to restrict themselves to listening to only scholars? that is advisable, but not necessary. Is it?”

    Exactly. Genuine spiritual awareness is not attained via mental gymnastics or an academic knowledge of religious matters.

    If there is some basic Islamic tenet (or interpretation of the faith) which states that a direct connection to God is not possible, or that God does not “speak” to ordinary humans unless one is an appointed “Prophet”, therein lies the crux of the problem.

  22. Don — on 26th April, 2006 at 5:53 pm  

    Ismaeel,

    I think there may be one or two inconsistencies in your position. Starting with your first sentence. You set up a false dichotomy by responding to Sunny’s suggestion that making religion the primary criteria for personal identity is counter-productive with ‘do you consider race to be a more important characteristic by which to identify oneself?’.

    At what point did anyone suggest that? Sunny was certainly not urging racial communalism, and Rushdie very specifically stated;

    ‘The unifying ideology of that time and place was socialism, with feminist groups such as the Southall Black Sisters, as well as some anarchist and separatist groups, also contributing to the debate. The play itself was written out of the 1970s and at each stage the question would have to be asked: how does this scene, or these lines, further the cause, not only of the play, but of the social movement we are pursuing? What are we saying, about Asians, women, the working class; how do we push the argument along?’

    The 70′s were perhaps naive times, but I distinctly remember that one could identify as one’s ‘group’ or ‘community’ those who shared one’s loathing of oppression, bigotry and exploitation.

    You ask ‘Surely it is better to base one’s political affiliations based on one’s beliefs and values.’ Absolutely, and even better if those beliefs and values are arrived at by rational thought and engagement with the world, rather than through accident of birth, and shared with others regardless of differences of race or creed, rather than excluding ‘the other’ except for temporary alliances of convenience.

    I’m afraid your comments on history are not convincing, the fact that in medieval times warriors of notable prowess could infiltrate the power elite is scarcely relevant, Abyssinian Sultans in south India notwithstanding.

    You complain that your critics do not ‘go to the effort of critiquing and questioning our positions based on rational argument. ‘ while at the same time insisting that to engage in any such debate one must be steeped in scholarship of Islam and have a mastery of classical fusha arabic. That rather limits the debate to those already committed to a theocratic viewpoint.

    Let us say that a moslem skilled in law, medicine, engineering or science wishes to participate in the development of Islam in this country, would they not find every contribution negated by their inability to debate on the terms you have defined? Or by the fact that they are female?

    You assert that ‘If people don’t want to follow Islam that is the choice’ and that ‘If someone leaves Islam like Salman Rushdie he is no longer Muslim end of story. ‘ That is excellent news. I had been under the impression that apostasy was liable to sanctions. I’m sure you can point me to the relevant article on your website where you unequivocally condemn calls for the death of apostates?

    You have of course condemned terrorist bombings; I’m afraid you don’t get points for that. It is a basic requirement for anyone who wishes to be seen as a serious participant in political life in a democracy.

    Xerxes may have been rather brusque, but he is right to point out that to claim that ‘ Shariah is a way of life that opened the way to religious pluralism, the rule of law, intellectual and scientific investigation in Europe where it had been stifled by the church.’ is absurd, a transparent attempt at sleight of hand with historical reality. Do you have the scholarship in history to make that argument?

    That is enough for now, I appreciate your visiting this blog and hope we can continue the debate. May I echo Sunny’s call for basic courtesy within vigorous disagreement?

    Xerexes, you make some valid points, but if we just hiss and spit at one another we get nowhere. Of course, you might feel that is going to be the case anyway, but worth a shot.

  23. Bikhair — on 26th April, 2006 at 8:13 pm  

    Sunny,

    If you have cancer, who says you must restrict yourself from consulting a doctor? Ah I dont know maybe thier experience and expertise. Yeah, you may find some vodoo preist to hook you up but you will have to live with the results. Who wants to be wrong about their faith? Islam elevates the role of the scholar because of thier knowledge.

  24. David — on 26th April, 2006 at 8:29 pm  

    Islam elevates the role of the scholar because of thier knowledge

    And who decides who does and does not qualify as a “scholar”?

    Exactly.

    It’s a self-perpetuating, closed system which stifles real debate by automatically dismissing from the debating table anyone not deemed by existing scholars to be a scholar.

    Why do you think western scholars of the Koran, such as Christoph Luxenberg, are forced to publish pseudonymously?

  25. Jai — on 26th April, 2006 at 8:36 pm  

    =>”Islam elevates the role of the scholar because of thier knowledge.”

    Theoretical ‘knowledge’ and genuine spiritual awareness are two difference (although not necessarily mutually-exclusive) things.

    The former does not automatically mean posession of the latter; conversely, the latter does not necessarily require the former.

    To a great extent, spirituality is an art, not a science.

  26. Jai — on 26th April, 2006 at 8:37 pm  

    *two difference

    Typo, should say “differenT”

  27. Sunny — on 26th April, 2006 at 8:58 pm  

    Bikhair – the cancer analogy is lame and unapplicable. Something better would be wearing a set of clothes. You may think your choice of colour for a top may go well with your trousers/skirt but someone else thinks they have a better sense of fashion and thus want to “educate” you just because they’ve studied textiles.

    I’m not against learning from scholars. But even amongst scholars there is plenty of difference in opinion. What this shows is that its possible to read the texts and still derive different interpretations. Unless people like Ismaeel and yourself, both converts and both quite zealous, realise that – you’re never gong to be at peace with yourself or other Muslims.

  28. Ismaeel — on 26th April, 2006 at 9:44 pm  

    Wow, alot being going on since i was away.

    Firstly it was the Prophet (PBUH) in a well-known hadith which says that the scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets (PBUT), there is also another well-known hadith which narrates that differences of opinion are a mercy to the ummah. Sunny, i have already said I accept differences of opinion in Islam. As to experts in their various fields such as doctors, scientists, writers etc contributing to the development of Islam I am all for that regardless of their gender, religious scholarship and leadership is also open to women- many of the eminent hadith scholars and mystics were women. However that contribution needs to be in partnership with those people who are qualified to examine and interpret the texts. They may come up with different opinions thats fine but as long as it is done on the right basis. If any Muslim is keen to work on advancing the cause of Islam, sacrifice the time learn the Islamic sciences, get an appreciation of the complexity of the issues you are dealing with, there are over 700,000 hadith, the majority of which have not been translated into english. You have to collate all the verses of the Qur’aan and the hadiths which relate to a given subject: say for example the conditions of marriage, understand the highly complex grammer of the arabic and apply certain principles of language before you can even start thinking about interpreting. Comparing religion to fashion shows a very poor appreciation for the scholarly endeavours that have gone into preserving, understanding and transmitting Islam. It is like consulting a doctor but with even greater weight because a scholar is essentially having to speak on behalf of Allah(SWT). Yes some individual scholars are utter crooks, thats why a condition of seeking a guide is to examine their conduct and personal piety, not just get taken in by a long beard and people calling him Hazratji.
    Going back to the first hadith i quoted- the word inheritance is used which means that divine knowledge is handing down person to person, heart to heart and there are many other proofs for this in our scriptures, Even the Awliya (Muslim Saints) have chains of spiritual transmission linking them to the Prophet and the greatest and most famous of them such as Imam Ghazalli, Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani, Shaykh Moiuddin Chisthi etc all insisted that their spiritual knowledge must be balanced and regulated by the remits of the shariah.
    As for having debates about Islam, we can have them without being scholars (I am certainly not one, nor pretend to be one) but we must remember that in any debate one should have the evidence of experts. I always say to people, your understanding of these verse is wrong because it has been mistranslated and any Christian Arab or even English Arabist can tell you that.
    As for what I have written on my own private blog, it does not represent MAC’s position. As for the City Circle, you will see that they themselves don’t even claim to be a Muslim group, which i think is good. Also why is it that everyone is allowed to critique us, but we are not allowed to critique anyone else. Why am i not allowed to criticise another Muslim group? I have made my points about the City Circle and they are free to answer them, ignore them etc as they please. I didn’t claim to have more knowledge than them, but i was pointing out that their strategy is a suicidal one.
    “but no matter what my colour , I just can’t seem to get out of my head that I’m an Englishman and well .. Anglosaxon crudity and love of euphamisms just seems to be so natural . I am so glad that people have for the last 30 years been fighting for the idea that to be English is just a “state of mind” and not a race issue. No hyphens allowed.”
    I also see myself as an englishman, however in terms of my politics I do believe that Islam has all the answers and they are more than capable of standing up to rational scrutiny and testing.
    “Who will police against those who are outwardly pious, tick all the boxes of scholarship, know the finer points of Maliki and Hanbali fiqh and yet plan the and commit murder of innocents? How do you ask him to stop identifying themselves as Muslims? ”
    If you can name me even one, it’ll be a help, i don’t know of a single individual who ever wrote a fatwa actually based on the classical methodologies of any madhabb to justify the murdering of civilians in any circumstances. Apart from anything else it goes clear and definitive texts.

  29. David — on 26th April, 2006 at 9:55 pm  

    I do believe that Islam has all the answers and they are more than capable of standing up to rational scrutiny and testing.

    Ismaeel, by what process of reasoning did you arrive at the conclusion that the Koran was the perfect Word of God?

    Answer on your blog if you think the reply will be too long, or inappropriate for this thread. But I’d like to apply a bit of rational scrutiny to your reasoning.

  30. Ismaeel — on 26th April, 2006 at 10:18 pm  

    No, no i think i can be quite succienct here.
    Firstly the Qur’aan is free from internal and external contradictions on all levels.
    Secondly it is inimitable in the arabic language.
    Thirdly it talks about issues which no ordinary unlettered Arab of the seventh century could have known about- like for instance it talks about the development of the embryo in the womb, the barrier between salt and sea water, many things to do with astronomy ,geology etc.
    Fourthly it gives the only consistant and rational understanding of the concept of Allah (SWT) himself and the proofs for his existance.
    Fifthly it is the only book not to have been changed by so much as a letter in 1400 years, no other book can claim that status, also it is the only book that has been easily memorised by millions for centuries.
    All these points point to a power above that of humanity. Apply Occam’s Razor, the simplest answer is the most likely.

  31. Justforfun — on 26th April, 2006 at 10:26 pm  

    Ismaeel – thank you for your clarification

    ….however in terms of my politics I do believe that Islam has all the answers and they are more than capable of standing up to rational scrutiny and testing.

    For one moment I thought you were thinking the opposite when you said , However to extrapolate that and say that making your religious identity primary to your political outlook is wrong, i think is highly problematic.
    but I see now that I had misunderstood you and that the ‘extrapolating’ was the ‘ wrong’ and not the ‘making your religious identity.. ‘ bit – but you have my sympathy. I can’t imagine how hard it is to be an Englishman and know that your follow compatriots are just so plain wrong to not see how Islam has all the answers. Of course it must be a slight hinderance that there are over 700,000 hadiths and the majority are not in English – you’ve got your job cut out translating them – good luck – can you let me know if anyone is translating them – don’t worry things have moved on – I’m sure the translators won’t be burnt at the stake – like William Tyndale when he dared translate the Bible from Latin into English. You know how the English are so mono-lingual that they won’t want to have to read it in the original Arabic.

    Justforfun

  32. Don — on 26th April, 2006 at 11:14 pm  

    Ismaeel,

    You seem to be justifying an ancient scriptural approach to current issues by reference to the scriptures in question. As a popular on-line cartoon (to which I will not link, in case of offence) remarked, that’s like saying the Yellow Brick Road proves the existence of the Wizard of Oz.

    You give a brief summary;

    (for instance it talks about the development of the embryo in the womb, the barrier between salt and sea water, many things to do with astronomy ,geology etc.)

    of the claims for the literal truth of your text, which are familiar and available in detail on line. As are the refutations. And the counter claims …

    I think you may be drifting into Creationist territory, which is a fascinating area, but perhaps not one that will advance your case. None of your points actually work unless you accept the initial premise, which not everybody does.

    When you are not preaching to the converted, you need better arguments.

  33. Jai — on 27th April, 2006 at 10:56 am  

    =>”Fifthly it is the only book not to have been changed by so much as a letter in 1400 years, no other book can claim that status,”

    This is factually incorrect. The Guru Granth Sahib has not been changed by “a single letter”since the final version by Guru Gobind Singh 300 years ago — indeed, there are safeguards built into the structure of the scriptures to prevent this from occurring (and to enable instant identification of any such efforts) as the entire scriptural text is set to music and certain rhythmic patterns.

    =>” also it is the only book that has been easily memorised by millions for centuries.”

    This is also not true. For example, the Hindu scriptures such as the Vedas etc were memorised and transmitted from one generation to the next for millennia before they were finally written down.

    In any case, mere memorisation of a book does not been anything — it does not imply any level of spiritual awareness, it’s just an example of the extraordinary capacity of the human mind to perform such feats.

    =>”Firstly it was the Prophet (PBUH) in a well-known hadith which says that the scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets (PBUT),”

    Unless it is directly from Mohammad himself, ie. a part of the Quran which he is supposed to have dictated in its entirety, I am sure you will forgive us if we are sceptical about the veracity of second-hand information, ie. the Hadiths. Secondly, although Mohammad’s opinion on the status of scholars (if true) is obviously precious to you — and I can fully appreciate that — please bear in mind that this will not necessarily hold the same level of authority & credibility for many of the rest of us, especially if both our own personal life-experience and, indeed, the teachings of our own “prophets” specifically contradict this idea.

    =>”Firstly the Qur’aan is free from internal and external contradictions on all levels.”

    Apologies, but this is also not true. In any case, there are other religious texts for which this statement IS correct.

    The ultimate test of divine origin is the impact that the practice of the fundamentals of a religion (and its associated texts, if relevant) has on adherents who follow the basics of the faith to the letter. If it genuinely makes them more decent, humble, kind, clear-thinking, courageous and noble people then that is the evidence of a divine “hand” behind the religion, in my opinion anyway.

    If not, then perhaps it raises certain awkward questions. Of course, one can always say that “the system is perfect, it’s the followers who are at fault”, but surely this should not be occurring on a) such a wide scale, and b) in the cases of those who practice the faith to the letter.

    Misinterpretation of one’s faith’s tenets occurs across multiple religions, including my own, but one has to assess the effect of a religion’s core teachings on people — is it positive or negative ?

  34. Jai — on 27th April, 2006 at 10:58 am  

    *In any case, mere memorisation of a book does not been anything

    …..that should say: “does not MEAN anything”

  35. Sid — on 27th April, 2006 at 11:07 am  

    Jai

    There is a spiritual reason why the Koran is read and memorised. Because Muslims regard it as the Word of God – the reason why it is read, memorised and used as decorative and architectural motifs. The words of the Quran are analogous to the iconography of Christianity and the statuetary of Buddhism.

  36. Jai — on 27th April, 2006 at 11:18 am  

    Hi Sid,

    Yes I know, but my point is that memorising a particular religious text won’t automatically confer any greater spirituality on the person (the contents of the Guru Granth Sahib are also regarded by Sikhs as an actual manifestation of God).

    It’s the actual real-life implementation of the “words” (and the impact of such actions on the adherent) which is the most important thing, and, to use a cliche, the “proof of the pudding”.

    Anyway, my previous posts on this thread were just in response to some of Ismaeel’s comments, as I felt they needed countering and clarification. At the end of the day, people are free to believe what they want to believe, and I don’t like unnecessarily contradicting matters which are very precious indeed to some people (doing so can be both insensitive and discourteous).

    If the other party keeps trying to impose those beliefs on anyone against their will, or if it’s been made it clear they’re “Not interested” yet the proselytising party refuses to stop, then it’s a different matter of course. The latter is especially relevant in the case of those who have Shariah aspirations.

  37. Rohin — on 27th April, 2006 at 11:49 am  

    ”Fifthly it is the only book not to have been changed by so much as a letter in 1400 years, no other book can claim that status”

    Thing is, I – and many others – don’t think this is something to brag about at all. In fact I feel setting something in stone is what condemns a religion to sidestep evolution. Which is why senior bishops and so forth have urged to cast some passages of the Bible to history. There are Muslims who say the same of the Koran but they won’t have any popularity for many years.

    And there are literally thousands of books which haven’t been changed for centuries.

    Jai has done a good job of taking the rest of your biased rhetoric apart Ismaeel.

  38. David — on 27th April, 2006 at 2:45 pm  

    Hi Ismaeel, sorry for the delay. Jai has already replied well to most of your points, but you deserve the courtesy of a reply from your original questioner.

    Firstly the Qur’aan is free from internal and external contradictions on all levels.

    That is a debatable point, but even if it were true it would not follow that the book is the Word of God. Chambers Dictionary is also free of internal and external contradictions, so is Macbeth and The Famous Five.

    Secondly it is inimitable in the arabic language.

    Another moot point – and one allegedly disproved many times by people answering the “Sura challenge” at Sura Like It. But even if it were true, it does not follow that the book is the Word of God. Shakespeare is also pretty much inimitable, and he is not God.

    Thirdly it talks about issues which no ordinary unlettered Arab of the seventh century could have known about- like for instance it talks about the development of the embryo in the womb, the barrier between salt and sea water, many things to do with astronomy ,geology etc.

    Now, if this were true, one might validly deduce some kind of supernatural origin. However, I have seen Christian fundamentalists make similar claims for the Bible which, upon examination, turn out to be broad interpretations of obscure texts which bear little relation in scientific truth. This appears to be what Holy-Book believers do with their Holy Books.

    Fourthly it gives the only consistant and rational understanding of the concept of Allah (SWT) himself and the proofs for his existance.

    Since all your information about Allah comes from the Koran, your reasoning here is perfectly circular.

    Fifthly it is the only book not to have been changed by so much as a letter in 1400 years, no other book can claim that status, also it is the only book that has been easily memorised by millions for centuries.

    Even if this were true (and it isn’t), then neither of these things lead logically to the conclusion of divine authorship.

    So, out of five points of argument, only one – the anachronistic knowledge contained in the Koran – is logically valid. Please feel free to expand on this, so we may examine the claims more closely.

    Apply Occam’s Razor, the simplest answer is the most likely.

    The simplest answer is that you are just another Holy Book believer doing what Holy Book believers do with their Holy Books. It is a very common human trait.

    However, if you can demonstrate that the Koran contains facts that would have been unknown to humans at the time of writing, you may be on to something.

  39. Jai — on 27th April, 2006 at 3:24 pm  

    David

    =>”Now, if this were true, one might validly deduce some kind of supernatural origin…..contains facts that would have been unknown to humans at the time of writing, you may be on to something.”

    I’m going to phrase my words very carefully indeed here as we are dealing with an extremely sensitive and controversial issue. All I am going to say is that “supernatural” does not automatically mean “divine”. The universe is a huge place and our knowledge of what is really “out there” is fairly limited, even more so if we are talking about hypothetical supernatural entities.

    This is a general comment and not one necessarily aimed at the Quran specifically, but hopefully you understand what I’m trying to say here.

    The proof, again, is the impact that the scriptural text has on the behaviour and overall “goodwill” of people who decide to put what they read into practice, along with the general psychological & emotional effect of reading/listening to the particular religious text.

    If the effect genuinely is positive, uplifting and enlightening on a fundamental, humane level, then possibly the source may well be divine. If the effect is more negative, then either the origin was man-made or (if one believes in such things) non-human and/or supernatural, but not from God.

    Of course it could be some combination of the above too, to various degrees. As a wise (and fairly worldly) friend of mine once said, “The best way for people to convince others of a lie is to sandwich it between two truths”.

  40. Roger — on 27th April, 2006 at 3:30 pm  

    Why should we respect the opinions of a muslim scholar any more than we accept those of a mormon moonie or scientologist scholar? GIGO applies to any kind of pregramming.
    Jai: why shouldn’t “negative” effects come from God or a god? There’s no reason to think that God or the gods shares our opinion of good or bad.

  41. Ismaeel — on 27th April, 2006 at 3:39 pm  

    In response:
    “This is factually incorrect. The Guru Granth Sahib has not been changed by “a single letter”since the final version by Guru Gobind Singh 300 years ago — indeed, there are safeguards built into the structure of the scriptures to prevent this from occurring (and to enable instant identification of any such efforts) as the entire scriptural text is set to music and certain rhythmic patterns.”
    Your statements imply that the Guru Granth Sahib was changed by each of the ten Gurus and as it includes many qasidas attributed to the Sufi Muslim Saint Baba Faiduddin Ganj Shakir who is not one of your Gurus but an inheritor of the Prophet (SAWS) I find it interesting that you quote this as an example.

    “This is also not true. For example, the Hindu scriptures such as the Vedas etc were memorised and transmitted from one generation to the next for millennia before they were finally written down.”

    The last line is particularly significant here: BEFORE THEY WERE WRITTEN DOWN, in other words there was no way to verify based on a written text that what was memorised did not suffer from interloptions or lapses of memory. This is also the same problem which affects the Torah and the Gospels. This problem is not one the Qur’aan suffers from.

    “In any case, mere memorisation of a book does not been anything — it does not imply any level of spiritual awareness, it’s just an example of the extraordinary capacity of the human mind to perform such feats.”

    It is a miraculous nature of the book that it can be memorised so easily and quickly by millions.


    Unless it is directly from Mohammad himself, ie. a part of the Quran which he is supposed to have dictated in its entirety, I am sure you will forgive us if we are sceptical about the veracity of second-hand information, ie. the Hadiths. Secondly, although Mohammad’s opinion on the status of scholars (if true) is obviously precious to you — and I can fully appreciate that — please bear in mind that this will not necessarily hold the same level of authority & credibility for many of the rest of us, especially if both our own personal life-experience and, indeed, the teachings of our own “prophets” specifically contradict this idea.”

    The question directed to me was about the interpretation of Islam by Muslims, that is the context i am talking in.

    “The ultimate test of divine origin is the impact that the practice of the fundamentals of a religion (and its associated texts, if relevant) has on adherents who follow the basics of the faith to the letter. If it genuinely makes them more decent, humble, kind, clear-thinking, courageous and noble people then that is the evidence of a divine “hand” behind the religion, in my opinion anyway.

    If not, then perhaps it raises certain awkward questions. Of course, one can always say that “the system is perfect, it’s the followers who are at fault”, but surely this should not be occurring on a) such a wide scale, and b) in the cases of those who practice the faith to the letter.”

    Your statement seems to imply widespread fanaticism and abberation amongst the Muslim community, when the Muslim population numbers 1.5 billion and the number of people responsible for deviant acts in the name of Islam number a few hundred or even a few thousand, well you work out the maths.

    Also if we then use that test on other religious communities then I think you’ll find that Muslims fare far better than any other community by comparison.

    “Anyway, my previous posts on this thread were just in response to some of Ismaeel’s comments, as I felt they needed countering and clarification. At the end of the day, people are free to believe what they want to believe, and I don’t like unnecessarily contradicting matters which are very precious indeed to some people (doing so can be both insensitive and discourteous).

    If the other party keeps trying to impose those beliefs on anyone against their will, or if it’s been made it clear they’re “Not interested” yet the proselytising party refuses to stop, then it’s a different matter of course. The latter is especially relevant in the case of those who have Shariah aspirations. ”

    Ho hum, who is trying to impose their beliefs, I’ve been asked questions, i’ve been answeing them.

    “Thing is, I – and many others – don’t think this is something to brag about at all. In fact I feel setting something in stone is what condemns a religion to sidestep evolution. Which is why senior bishops and so forth have urged to cast some passages of the Bible to history. There are Muslims who say the same of the Koran but they won’t have any popularity for many years.

    And there are literally thousands of books which haven’t been changed for centuries.”

    Yes i am sure there are other books that haven’t been changed for centuries but then they don’t fufil the other criteria laid out in the Qur’aan. The principles enumerated in the Qur’aan are divine eternal principles that can be applied at all times, in all cultures and places because they are the word of Allah (SWT). The weak spined attitude of Bishops or so-called Muslims is neither here nor there.

    “That is a debatable point, but even if it were true it would not follow that the book is the Word of God. Chambers Dictionary is also free of internal and external contradictions, so is Macbeth and The Famous Five. ”

    Firstly i doubt those assertations to be true and secondly they don’t also fufil the other criteria which make the Qur’aan unique.

    “Shakespeare is also pretty much inimitable, and he is not God.”

    Shakespher is eminantly imitable, i remember we used to have to practice iambic pentameter in school.

    As for the anachronistic facts proven in the Qur’aan inshaAllah I will write something over on my blog http://signs-on-the-horizon.blogspot.com
    and anyone who is interested can continue the conversation over there.

    May be a couple of days though, am quite busy at present.

  42. Jai — on 27th April, 2006 at 3:41 pm  

    Roger,

    Good point, but if God inherently embodies total benevolence then any ethically malicious, destructive actions cannot be from such a source.

    And yes of course there will be some things regarding God’s actions which are potentially beyond our comprehension (the effects and “morality” of natural disasters is one pertinent example), but I think there are some basics which God shares with us (although we have to beware of anthropomorphising such an entity too much).

    This is potentially a fairly intricate and convoluted argument and we may therefore risk getting bogged down in the semantics, so I should probably say at this point that my own affiliation is with Sikhism. If you know about that particular faith’s teachings on this subject then you’ll understand where I’m coming from, especially as one of the core tenets of the faith is that God has no ego, fear or hatred towards anyone, but (metaphorically) “holds us close to Him like a parent hugs their child”.

  43. Rohin — on 27th April, 2006 at 4:01 pm  

    I’m stepping out of any god debate for now.

    Hey Jai, are you the Jai Singh on Foreign Policy’s blog?

  44. Jai — on 27th April, 2006 at 4:11 pm  

    Ismaeel,

    =>”Your statements imply that the Guru Granth Sahib was changed by each of the ten Gurus and as it includes many qasidas attributed to the Sufi Muslim Saint Baba Faiduddin Ganj Shakir who is not one of your Gurus but an inheritor of the Prophet (SAWS) I find it interesting that you quote this as an example.”

    The Guru Granth Sahib was not “changed” — Sikhism is not a “revealed” religion like the Abrahamic faiths supposedly are. The 10 Gurus gradually added their own divinely-inspired verses to the existing text until the final version was collated by Guru Gobind Singh.

    You see, the point is that one does not require a holy book in order to facilitate spiritual enlightenment. We all have a soul which is connected to God — indeed, the entire universe is divine in its essence — so it is a matter of controlling one’s ego, anger, inappropriate/excessive lust, greed, and inappropriate/excessive attachment (both material and emotional) which are the key to realising this, along with practicing charity, compassion, integrity, and recognising the fundamental equality and worth of all humans regardless of their religious affiliation, gender, racial origin, or status in life.

    These teachings, along with verses describing God and the nature of the universe, were enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib so that they could be conveyed to anyone who was not in the actual physical presence of the Gurus, and of course to act as an “eternal Guru” after Guru Gobind Singh’s death. He basically said that anyone who wanted to understand his message should just listen to the hymns of the Guru Granth Sahib, as the emotional impact of the music is necessary along with the words themselves in order to gain a real understanding of its contents. But one does not necessarily need the guidance of a “holy book” in order to facilitate spirituality — a direct connection with God is not only feasible, it is something every human being on Earth already has, whether they are aware of it or not. Every human on the planet has the potential to become a saint, indeed a “prophet”, regardless of their official religious affiliation (or none, as the case may be).

    Regvarding Sheikh Farid, as you know many Sufis reject many of the principles of orthodox Islam including Shariah Law and the religious concepts the system is based on. The writings of Sufi saints (and other saintly individuals) were included as they were in line with the Gurus’ own teachings. Indeed the foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid by a Sufi saint called Mian Mir, who was an ally and a supporter of the Gurus.

    Sikhism does not differentiate on the basis of formal religious affiliation, which is regaded as a false, man-made distinction. The same divine light of God is in all.

    =>”Also if we then use that test on other religious communities then I think you’ll find that Muslims fare far better than any other community by comparison.”

    You are either woefully unaware of the last 1000 years of Indian history (especially the last 500 years of North Indian history), or this is deliberate misinformation on your part. It would be interesting to see which criteria you are using to base your opinion on.

  45. Jai — on 27th April, 2006 at 4:14 pm  

    Rohin,

    No it’s not me — I don’t use the “Singh” anymore, apart from the BBC Asian Network message board and Sikhnet.

    These days I restrict my blogging to SM and PP.

  46. Ismaeel — on 27th April, 2006 at 4:34 pm  

    Jai

    Islam is not an Indian religion, it is spread throughout the world.

    The acts of the Mughuls who were a military elite who acted predominantly on political pretexts usually employing the assistance of Rajputs and Maratha allies and rarely being even believing Muslims themselves.

    It strikes me as strange that you want to attack Islam when Guru Nanak took most of his inspiration from Islam and the Qur’aan, even travelling to Makkah to visit the Ka’bah.

    Most Sufis of any eminence including Baba Faridudeen were strict adherents to shariah as are clear from many of his own words and the practice of his life.

    If people all have this direct link to God which requires no intermediation then why the need for Prophets(AS), Saints and Gurus to teach people about God, why can’t people reform themselves, overcome their egos themselves? Everyone needs a teacher for any discipline in life, you need your parents to teach you how to speak, how then can you not need a teacher with regards to the most important aspect of one’s life- the relationship with one’s Creator.

    Those people who called themselves Sufis and then rejected the shariah have never been accepted as Sufis or Muslims by the majority of Sufis and Muslims.

    None of what is in the Guru Granth Sahib is said to be what the Gurus claim Allah (SWT) told them. It is a mish mash of teachings of other religions.

    If you don’t need the Granth Sahib why do you venerate it, if you don’t need the Gurus why do you follow their teachings?

  47. bananabrain — on 27th April, 2006 at 5:00 pm  

    i’m probably going to regret getting involved in this discussion, but here goes anyway:

    This is also the same problem which affects the Torah and the Gospels. This problem is not one the Qur’aan suffers from.
    you clearly don’t know anything about Torah. i must say i am sick and tired of the following claims:

    1) the Qur’an is the only perfect sacred text, blah blah blah.

    yes, of course. that’s what all of us like to believe about our own sacred texts, including myself. frankly there’s no way to prove anyone’s right and anyone’s wrong, so get over it! the most you’re ever going to manage is to prove that you are entitled to believe whatever you like. we all have to pick someone to trust, whether it’s a person, a text, a tradition or a methodology. everyone. even muslims. you’re not unique.

    2) the Torah has been ‘falsified’ or ‘distorted’

    nobody has yet managed to show me an example of this. it seems to me a pretty insecure believer that feels s/he has to denigrate other people’s beliefs to feel like they’re the Best Religion Ever. it just makes you look arrogant, ignorant and petulant. that’s why reasonable people don’t like the MAC.

    3) the Qur’an completely agrees with science and vice-versa, yada yada yada.

    this too is a failure of your faith and a demonstration of its insecurity. why do you require science to validate your beliefs? i don’t require science to validate mine. science tells us ‘what’ and ‘how’ and ‘when’, not ‘why’. that doesn’t mean ‘why’ isn’t important. and, yes, i know, All Is One and One Is All, but there is still a difference between haram and hallal.

    in other words, stop trying to show off and grow up. and, while you’re at it, leave the city circle alone. they’re doing a hell of a lot more to demonstrate the positive impact of islam than anything the MAC have ever banged on about incessantly. you’re even bigger fools than i thought if you think there is no wisdom to be found outside your own religion. muhammad was a living example for his followers – he didn’t bang on and on and on at people until they got bored of being lectured.

    and if you want to learn anything about jews and judaism, i recommend you talk to one of us once in a while, rather than treating us as the cause of all your ills.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  48. raz — on 27th April, 2006 at 5:32 pm  

    This whole discussion has become completely stupid. It’s much better to concentrate on building better interfaith relations in the here and now, instead of constant circular arguments over theological/historical issues which no-one will ever agree on.

  49. Sid — on 27th April, 2006 at 5:38 pm  

    Yes, agreed raz. The comparitive religion in this discussion has been an exercise in comparitive ignorance.

  50. Ismaeel — on 27th April, 2006 at 5:46 pm  

    Bananabrain, you expect to be respected when you call yourself bananabrain? What can I say?

    I have responded to questions asked to me, I believe Islam is the true and final religion, there is clear statements testifying to this in the Qur’aan. I didn’t come to this forum to attack other people’s beliefs or question them, but people decided to do that to me and mine. I have responded to questions based on my own research and the teachings of Islam.

    The Torah has been interlopted and changed, the original Torah was lost when the Jews went into exile in Babylon and what we have now is what they the priests pieced together from memory. An example of this is the revelation of the torah to Prophet Moses (AS) whilst what we read is a third person account of the life of Prophet Moses (AS) including his death, how this can be a revelation from the Almighty i don’t know.

    I have spoken to many Jews, including a reporter for the Jewish Chonicle, a few Orthodox Rabbis, the members of the QM Jewish society and other people i studied with to mention a few, I however only keep in touch with one fellow who corageously joined the QM Friends of Palestine society.

  51. Ismaeel — on 27th April, 2006 at 5:48 pm  

    Oh and I don’t require science to validate my beliefs, I just pointed out it’s a proof of the divine aspect of the Qur’aan.
    Of course you don’t need science to validate your belief, because so many things in the Torah contradict modern scientific thinking.

  52. Michael — on 27th April, 2006 at 6:57 pm  

    Hello Sunny

    Once the main focus of Asian politics in the UK were the various Workers Associations such as the Indian Workers Association, Pakistani Workers Association – how significant are they now?

  53. Jai — on 27th April, 2006 at 7:21 pm  

    Ismaeel,

    =>”The acts of the Mughuls who were a military elite who acted predominantly on political pretexts…..rarely being even believing Muslims themselves.”

    Except for the example of Emperor Akbar, this is a completely false statement. You can take this back to Mohammad Ghazni and the Delhi Sultans, or you can take this forward to Emperor Aurangzeb and his peers. Aurangzeb had the full backing of the Islamic clergy within the Mughal Empire and they even declared him to be “Zinda Pir”, ie. “Living saint”.

    =>”It strikes me as strange that you want to attack Islam”

    I have not been attacking Islam but the false assertions you have been making in its name.

    =>” when Guru Nanak took most of his inspiration from Islam and the Qur’aan,”

    That’s complete rubbish. Not only did Guru Nanak and his successors reject Shariah and the concepts it was founded on (along with the “5 Pillars of Islam”), he also contradicted large sections of the Quran and the fundamentals of Islam. He never said a single word in praise of Mohammad and there is not a single sentence from the Quran within what later became the Guru Granth Sahib. Furthermore, Guru Nanak unequivocally stated that labels such as Muslim (and Hindu) are false, and Sikh scriptures are full of verses that reject that authority of the Quran (along with texts from certain other organised religions).

    =>” even travelling to Makkah to visit the Ka’bah.”

    It’s still not getting through to you. The Sikh Gurus did not distinguish between “earthly” religions or their places of worship — in the case of the latter because they regarded the presence of God to be absolutely everywhere, equally, regardless of whether one was in a temple or a mosque (or any other religion’s holy sites). Also, Guru Nanak travelled all over Asia for decades, in every direction — it does not imply that he was a Hindu or a Buddhist any more than his visit to Mecca means he was a Muslim. You are forgetting that people could not tell what religion he was — because he himself did not recognise such distinctions and did not claim affiliation to any organised faith.

    If you understand that concept then you will understand what Sikhism is all about. Just a single human race under a single God, with religious distinctions being irrelevant. What matters is a person’s conduct, his benevolence, and his spiritual awareness — not his religious affiliation (if any).

    With regards to your views on Sufis, I think that people here such as Sid and Raz would be more than able to contradict you if they were so inclined. However, for anyone who is interested, here is an excellent link about the life and teachings of Baba Farid: http://allaboutsikhs.com/bhagats/babafarid.htm

    =>”If you don’t need the Granth Sahib why do you venerate it,”

    It is a source of guidance for those who require it. It is a “key” to spiritual enlightenment, not the “treasure” itself. There is a difference between being spoon-fed alleged “religous knowledge” and gaining an awareness of these things oneself as a result of the direct connection to God we all have, although knowledge of the basics obviously helps. The contents of the Guru Granth Sahib are regarded as the absolute truth by Sikhs but Sikhism is not an “exclusivist” religion, and therefore does not claim a monopoly on theological truths. If the teachings of other faiths are the same as those within Sikhism, then those tenets are also regarded as having come from God.

    The source is the same, the destination is the same; what is different is the vehicle one uses to get there. This certinly doesn’t mean that “all paths automatically lead to God”– they don’t — but if one follows the basics I summarised in the 2nd paragraph of my post #44, that is what will enable one to gain true mental, emotional, and (most importantly) spiritual clarity, regardless of whatever outer religious label one may identify with.

    =>” if you don’t need the Gurus why do you follow their teachings?”

    Some people need to be pointed in the right direction and to look to role models who have set an example. Others do not. It all depends on one’s inherent level of spiritual awareness.

    =>”why can’t people reform themselves, overcome their egos themselves?”

    That’s the whole damn point. In some cases, people’s egos prevent them from doing so. In others, it does not. Furthermore, do not assume that God is a passive player in all this and does not directly intervene to help people according to his discretion and compassion, regardless of whether or they have actually asked for His help.

    =>”, I believe Islam is the true and final religion, there is clear statements testifying to this in the Qur’aan.”

    That’s fine and you are prefectly entitled to your beliefs, but you should not expect other people to accept this blindly or indeed to not question your assertions if they do not agree with them.

    =>” I didn’t come to this forum to attack other people’s beliefs or question them, but people decided to do that to me and mine.”

    Again, this is a pertinent point. You are interpreting people politely contradicting you as an “attack”.

    There is such a thing as an informative 2-way dialogue, assuming that both parties in the converstion are sincere and well-meaning in their motivcations and are not lying or misinformed. You cannot possibly expect other people to unquestioningly accept any statements you make about your religion, especially if they do not agree with what you are saying. A contradiction or a counter-statement is not an “attack”, it is a manfestation of intellectual reasoning, emotional insight, and critical analysis.

    Nobody here is trying to convert you to another faith or deliberately undermine what are obviously important religious beliefs to you (indeed, Sikhism is not a proselytising religion and , in any case, one does not formally “convert” to it anyway as it does not recognise religious distinctions, as I’ve explained already). However, for your part you should not interpret someone questioning you as a personal attack or an attempt to “impose” their beliefs on you, and similarly, you should not interpret someone questioning some aspect of Islam as an attack on the religion as a whole. It is certainly inappropriate and counterproductive — not to mention immature — to “retaliate” by attempting to undermine the basics of Sikhism, instead of actually focusing on explaining why you think we may be wrong about our own views and backing it up with verifiable sources.

    =>”None of what is in the Guru Granth Sahib is said to be what the Gurus claim Allah (SWT) told them. It is a mish mash of teachings of other religions.”

    In the interests of civility I am going to restrain several ways I could respond to that statement. However, you are obviously grossly misinformed about Sikh history, the lives of the Gurus, and indeed the teachings of the religion itself (along with the actual contents of the Guru Granth Sahib). If you genuinely wish to educate yourself, good places to start would be http://www.sikhnet.com and http://www.sikhs.org .

  54. David — on 27th April, 2006 at 8:12 pm  

    Sorry to be so late – and probably irrelevant – again but I’ve been thinking about this comment from Ismaeel for hours:

    Shakespher is eminantly imitable, i remember we used to have to practice iambic pentameter in school.

    and I still can’t decide whether it is evidence of a surprisingly subtle sense of humour, or a sincere statement of opinion.

  55. Ravi4 — on 27th April, 2006 at 8:29 pm  

    I agree with Raz that “this whole discussion has become completely stupid” and “it’s much better to concentrate on building better interfaith relations in the here and now, instead of constant circular arguments over theological/historical issues”. But…

    Ismaeel – There is very little you have said which I agree with. But, like I think most of the people that have contributed to this thread, I firmly believe you have the right to your beliefs however ill-argued they may be, and so long as you do not try to coerce others into adhering to your beliefs.

    Jai has answered your silly claim about the Mughuls. I would add in support:

    - the Mughals made plenty of use of (Muslim) Afghan warriors and (Muslim) Persian scribes in conducting their policies.

    - Akbar, who explored the other religions of India and developed a syncretic form of Islam, and was thus condemned by the clerical establishment, was perhaps India’s greatest ruler since Ashok.

    - Aurangzeb on the other hand, who was ferociously orthodox, and came close to uniting all of India, spent his whole life at war, immiserated most of his population, and caused millions of deaths.

    Most of your arguments seem to depend on your self proclaimed expertise as an Islamic scholar. But why should we believe your interpretation of Islamic thought?

    Why shouldn’t we instead believe the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, representing the leaders of 56 Islamic nations, and its Ten-year programme of action to meet the challenges facing the Muslim Ummah in the 21st century (www.oic-oci.org/ex-summit/english/10-years-plan.htm)
    in which “the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques invited the scholars and intellectuals of the Ummah to meet in Makkah Al-Mukarramah in order to consider the state of the Ummah, develop visions and concepts and propose optimal solutions to the challenges facing the Ummah in all fields”.

    The Programme’s conclusions/ recommendations included:

    “inter-civilizational dialogue, based on mutual respect and understanding, and equality amongst people are prerequisites for international peace and security, tolerance, peaceful co-existence, and participation in developing the mechanism for that dialogue.”

    “the need to strengthen dialogue among Islamic Schools, affirm the true faith of their followers and the inadmissibility of accusing them of heresy”

    “Condemn the audacity of those who are not qualified in issuing religious rulings (fatwa), thereby flouting the tenets and pillars of the religion and the well-established schools of jurisprudence.”

    “condemnation of terrorism in all its forms, and reject any justification or rationalization for it, consider it as a global phenomenon that is not connected with any religion, race, color, or country, and distinguish it from the legitimate resistance to foreign occupation, which does not sanction the killing of innocent civilians.”

    “Seriously endeavor to enlarge the scope of political participation, ensure equality, civil liberties and social justice and to promote transparency and accountability, and eliminate corruption in the OIC Member States.”

    “Strengthen laws aimed at enhancing the advancement of women in Muslim societies in economic, cultural, social, and political fields, in accordance with Islamic values of justice and equality; and aimed also at protecting women from all forms of violence and discrimination and adhering to the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, in line with the Islamic values of justice and equality.”

    Why should we non-believers trust your interpretations and not that of “the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” and “the scholars and intellectuals of the Ummah”?

  56. Ravi4 — on 27th April, 2006 at 9:48 pm  

    (Just to clarify, I’m not voicing uncritical acceptance of the OIC document or the authority of the Saudi Royal family or anything.)

  57. Ismaeel — on 27th April, 2006 at 10:25 pm  

    No Sikhism is not a organised and established religion with clear rules, practiices, customs, festivals etc no no. Jai that is the worst type of doublespeak i have ever heard.

    I have never claimed to be an Islamic scholar, in fact early on in this discussion i disavowed even been close to being an Islamic scholar in terms of erudition.

    The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, that’s a laugh, the family that has done more to distort Islam and destroy our religious heritage and fuel the fanaticism we see today, who usurped custodianship of the mosques from the Ottomons with the connivance of non-Muslims: the British. The OIC, heads of Islamic countries many of which you can find yourself imprisoned, tortured and killed for actively practicing your religion in the public sphere and where men and women cannot even observe basic rules of Islamic dress or keep beards (the men that is), where the Sufi Tariqats are banned and congregational dhikr is an offence that can land you in jail. Do me a favour.

    Sufism has been at the heart of orthodox Islam since it’s inception, Baba Farid, like al-Ghazzali, Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani, his own spiritual master Hazrat Moiuddin Chisthi, Ibn Arabi, Mujjadid Alf-e-Thani were all upholders of the Shariah and were top religious scholars as well as mystics. The fake Sufi movements around the world do not even make up even a small percentage of the people who follow tariqat- you can point me to all the websites you like- i can point you to many more which show the so called “hetrodoxy” to actually to be orthodoxy.

    Guru Nanak took most of his beliefs about the tawhid of Allah (SWT) and mystical understandings from leading Sufis, deal with it. I didn’t say he was a Muslim, i said he was heavily influenced by Islam. Some Sufi poems also seem to imply rejection of Islam and Shariat, yet those same authors persistantly adhered to the shariat in a far more rigorous and devoted way than any of their contemporaries. Hallaj for instance while waiting in his prison cell awaiting execution prayed thousands of rakats of salah, not in an attempt to prove his othodoxy to his executors and critics but out of his love for Allah (SWT).

    Islam means the submission of one’s will to the will of Allah (SWT) effacing one’s ego by submitting oneself entirely to Allah(SWT)’s will which is by conforming oneself to the ideal model of humanity Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) . Allah (SWT) knows better how he wishes to guide people.

    According to your own admissions the Sikh Gurus did not recieve revelation but assimilated and formed their own set of beliefs from other religions. They essentially guessed. They left the way of the Prophets (PBUT) and invented something based on their own understandings of mysticism culled from Muslim and Hindu Saintly figures, and with the former utterly misunderstood what they were on about.

  58. Sunny — on 28th April, 2006 at 12:11 am  

    Hmmmm, this discussion has gone completely down the drain. And this is primarily because we have people splitting hairs over issues that get us nowhere.

    Suffice to say Ismaeel, your knowledge of Sikhism, Hinduism and Judaism is pretty lame. But to sit here and break your points down one by one is a complete waste of time. You’ve got your own perspective. I have mine.

    You remind me of my brother when he suddenly found his religion again. This is common with converts too. They become so fired up about this new-found ideology that all sense of perspective leaves them. I guess it also infects the whole Hizb ut Tahrir crew too.

    There are only two points I want to pick up on.

    1) As for having debates about Islam, we can have them without being scholars…… I always say to people, your understanding of these verse is wrong because it has been mistranslated

    You must understand – people can say the same about you. The danger with not realising that two people can have completely different translations of the same text is that you’ll spend the rest of your time cussing other Muslims in your attempt to “rectify” them and not actually practice the love and understanding your religion asks you to.

    2) You didn’t answer any of my comments regarding what you have done to “rectify” the brothers who blow themselves up, or form Al-Muhajiroun / Al-Ghuarabaa etc. At least The City Circle don’t call themselves just a Muslim group. The ones who blow themselves up or demonstrate in London with threatening plaques do.

    In fact, like most brothers, I doubt you will do anything about the latter. Like most, you don’t have the balls to stand up to the extremists because its much easier and safer to attack the liberals constantly. Which is why no one will take you seriously.

  59. Don — on 28th April, 2006 at 12:15 am  

    Ismaeel,

    I don’t want to get involved in this theological minutiae, but could I point out that it is customary to provide sources and links when making assertions?

    I realise it is tiresome, but it helps those of us who are merely hoping to learn. Oh, and one’s own and affiliated sites don’ t really count.

  60. Sid — on 28th April, 2006 at 10:04 am  

    Here is a secular poem that I thought describes very well the cultural-religious sentiments on this thread:

    The book of my enemy has been remaindered

  61. Jai — on 28th April, 2006 at 10:21 am  

    I agree with Sunny in that this is basically like hitting one’s head against a brick wall. However, there are a couple of points I have to counter:

    =>”The acts of the Mughuls who were a military elite who acted predominantly on political pretexts usually employing the assistance of Rajputs and Maratha allies”

    Ismaeel, firstly the Rajputs (although not all of them) allied themselves with the Mughals because they were essentially exposed to the option of “Join us or die”. Even Akbar deployed this tactic during the early expansion and consolidation of his rule. The Rajputs had little choice as this was the only way to ensure their own survival (and that of their subjects) and prevent the destruction of their kingdoms. Or perhaps you have not heard of Chittorgarh ?

    This alliance collapsed due to Aurangzeb’s fanaticism and open contempt for Hindus, which triggered revolution on all sides including on the part of the Rajputs. As for the Marathas, they were certainly not “allies” of the Mughals until decades after Aurangzeb’s death and, indeed, were originally engaged in a protracted war of attrition against the Mughals which played a huge part in precipitating the Empire’s collapse (perhaps you have not heard of Shivaji either ?). It was much later that they became allied to the Mughals, during the reign of Emperor Shah Alam II, by which time the Empire had almost completely disintegrated in any formal sense; at this point the Marathas already controlled large parts of the Indian subcontinent and the Mughal Emperor was unofficially their vassal, rather than the other way round (do some research on ‘Mahadji Scindia’).

    =>”No Sikhism is not a organised and established religion with clear rules, practiices, customs, festivals etc no no.”

    Not only are you totally unaware of the last 300-500 years of Indian history, your ignorance about Sikhism is beyond belief. A quick perusal of those websites I mentioned will enable you to see how misinformed you are, if you require an easy source of information on the subject.

    =>”According to your own admissions the Sikh Gurus did not recieve revelation but assimilated and formed their own set of beliefs from other religions. They essentially guessed.”

    It’s interesting how you’re reading your own interpretation into what I said and extrapolating it to fit your own agenda. The Sikh Gurus did not need to receive “revelation” because they were ALREADY fully aware of the nature and reality of God, right from their birth. They did not “guess” because they had a tangible awareness of the divine essence of God’s presence throughout the universe. If you understand that concept – because it is one which is potentially feasible for all people, regardless of their religious background – then the message will finally begin to truly get through to you.

    Considering that you have been factually incorrect in multiple statements throughout this thread, I do not know if you are merely very misinformed (which can occasionally happen to the best of us) and/or have been an unwitting recipient of distorted propaganda from a third-party, or if you are actually a pathological liar. For the sake of your own integrity and the credibility of the organisation you claim to represent, I sincerely hope it is just the former and not the latter.

    Accidental ignorance is not a crime, but deliberate deceitfulness most certainly is.

  62. Justforfun — on 28th April, 2006 at 10:57 am  

    Hmmmm, this discussion has gone completely down the drain. And this is primarily because we have people splitting hairs over issues that get us nowhere.

    Sorry for my part – getting back to the topic which is Hanif Kureishi’s article – I thought it was common knowledge that the late 70′s , 80′s was when protaganists in conflicts around the world started to play the religion card to gain power within their respective constituancies and side line previous ‘nationalistic’ leaders. Hanif Kureishi – in his usual navel gazing and promoting his latest work whatever it is :-) seems to have just observed the obvious – but gives no insight into causes or cures. I suppose that is what we could discuss.

    So here is my first lame attempt and please correct and pat into shape my pretty amorphous thoughts.

    In no particular order – What do people think is the socila factor(s) driving this change or whas it the product of the “law of unintended consequances” played out after actions by individual leaders that unlocked this force?

    Indira Gandhi like a spider at the centre of a web started to play the ‘religion card’ in the mid 70s to destabilise her political opponents at the State level in Kashmir and the Punjab, using Binderwale and I forget the man in Kasmir to destabilise secular opponents. Asking those far more knowledgable on Sikh politics – was not this the start of the problems in the Punjab? which has now settled after the majority of Sikhs stood up to those who would try to radicalise them.

    General Zia islamified Pakistan to get rid of his secular opponents and cling onto power – and once this occured he Islamified the Kashmir dispute from what had been a primarily national dispute between India and Pakistan. People may say that the Kashmir dispute has always been about religion and on one level it has, but before the 80′s it had not been played out at a local village and town level as a insurgency where Kashmiri on Kashmiri killing occured. Kashmiris pre 1986 did not go around “rectifiing” Kashmiris they disapproved of – which is now a the case.

    But have I gone back far enough? Was the installation of the IRI the real example that showed how a revolution could be massaged and the imposition of theocracy shown to be the way to obtain power and control over people? I hesitate to venture into the “you know where conflict” …… but once the Yasser Arafat abondoned his secular nationalistic struggle and also played the religion card – (to bolster support in his own constituancy that was draining away to the various Iran back forces in palestine who exploited Arafats mistakes/corruption whatever) thasn’t the dispute now just spiral down to a level where I am afraid it is a war between two Gods using people as proxies?

    However just to ask – it appears on the surface that the conflict in Sri Lanka is not played out primarily in religious terms and is still a ‘nationalistic’ struggle – but I am certainly open to enlightenment on this.

    The ‘Religion card’ has not always been played where the two opposing sides are of different religions. Perhaps because the secular leaders on both sides were ‘compettant’ in the eyes of thier followers and they looked to life for their respective peoples after the solution had been found. I think of East Timor , which although a conflict where one side was Christian and the other Muslim, was never dragged down to be a straight forward religious conflict but kept at a nationalistic level. And now the East Timorese have their success, the reconstruction is that bit easier.

    What should I conclude?

    Justforfun

  63. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 12:39 pm  

    Jai and Sunny,

    I came onto this thread to discuss politics and identity, you were the ones who started bleating on about other issues and attacking my religious views and convictions. You started this argument.

    Jai you clearly subscribe to the BJP sponsored version of Indian history and I won’t bother refuting your nonsense any further.

    Your Gurus were born with knowledge direct from God, yeah well that is an Islamic belief we have about our Prophets (AS) and some of our Awliya, so the reality and let’s get down to it shall we, is either God is a deciever telling each of these people something different and thus deliberatly stirring up conflict which is a truely noxious idea or someone is lying.

    Any fool can see that Sikhism is an organised religion with customs, festivals, dress codes, code of morality, taboos and everything else that goes with being an organised religion, it also has a strong martial character aimed particularly against Muslims as one drunk turbanned and beared Sikh told me while he was explaining how he and his friends practiced sword fighting in preperation for that final annahilitical conflict.

    Sunny I studied Hinduism for several years before i started studying Hinduism, and seeing as I haven’t discussed Hinduism on this page or anywhere else in public you are again disseminating false information, just like you claims that we blame everything on Zionists and go around attacking Muslim groups etc.

    I don’t know what your personal and family issues are, but stop taking them out on the whole practicing Muslim population and the Ulema, study your religion, attempt to understand it, instead of busily reinforcing stereotypes and defending those liberal Muslims who are nothing of the sort, rather people who are ashamed of their religion because it is at odds with the western values they have adopted.

  64. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 12:45 pm  

    Oh and Sunny dealing with those misguided people who believe terrorism is legitimate in Islam will not be accomplished by me or anyone else in MAC getting on a soap box and denouncing them. That will actually fuel them and their delusions.
    We do actively work to prevent this kind of perversion, but in a quieter and more effective way. We’re interested in results, not the acclaim of the British public.

  65. Justforfun — on 28th April, 2006 at 2:06 pm  

    Ismaeel – :-) I realise for operational reasons you don’t want to publize your secret “Rectifications” but I hope in due course you will let us know of your successes and even perhaps your failures.

    it’s just you know how people just can’t stand being in the dark – just like the damn CIAs secret Renditions, we just have to know whats going on. We monkeys all sit at our keyboards tapping away random keystokes hoping that amongst all this confusion that we might actually learn something new or gain a new perspective on something. I have picked up alot about the details of Sikhs and few other nuggets of history and occasionaly pick up something I had not thought of – someone mentioned how bullying is different for Children. Adults have the choice of walking away , but children don’t. It was a mental link that made me think again.

    And your talk of the BJP reminded me – yet another lot that has tried to play the ‘Religion’ card to gain and keep power – however they did not manage to fool the mass of the voting Indian public and have been kicked out. So getting back to the discussion at hand – why has there been no Islamification of Muslim Indians in Briton. I know they are far fewer than Muslims from Pakistan but the few I know (and they are very few) have just not got that worked up. Why?

    Justforfun

  66. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 2:33 pm  

    Just for fun.

    Why has there been no Islamification of Indian Muslims?
    As far as i’m concerned that’s an oxymoron, a Muslim is by definition someone who adheres to Islam.

    I don’t know what you mean by not getting so worked up. Please elaborate.

    The Indian Muslims i know tend to be just as diverse in their views and level of practicing as the Pakistani, Bengali, Somali, Arab, Perisan and convert brothers and sisters that i know.

  67. Jai — on 28th April, 2006 at 2:37 pm  

    Ismaeel,

    =>”Jai you clearly subscribe to the BJP sponsored version of Indian history and I won’t bother refuting your nonsense any further.”

    That’s quite a hilarious statement considering the views some right-wing saffronist groups have about Sikhs, and in any case the BJP has nothing whatsoever to do with the detailed historical records of the aforementioned events which have existed for centuries.

    =>”or someone is lying.”

    Exactly, you’ve finally got to the core issue.

    =>”Any fool can see that Sikhism is an organised religion with customs, festivals, dress codes, code of morality, taboos and everything else that goes with being an organised religion,”

    This completely contradicts your own statement in post #57. I quote: “No Sikhism is not a organised and established religion with clear rules, practiices, customs, festivals etc no no. Jai that is the worst type of doublespeak i have ever heard.”

    You are therefore submitting diametrically-opposed and contradictory statements on the same thread. You either believe the first quote, or the second. Assuming that you’re not suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder, both cannot be simultaneously correct in your view. So which one is it ?

    =>” it also has a strong martial character aimed particularly against Muslims”

    Regardless of whatever a drunk Sikh may have allegedly told you (and alcohol is not permitted for baptised/Amritdhari Sikhs, by the way), the reality is that the “martial character” is geared purely for self-defence or for the protection of innocent parties who cannot defend themselves – and even then, only as an absolute last resort when all other peaceful means have failed. It is not “aimed” at any particular religious group at all – in fact, substantial numbers of Muslims joined Guru Gobind Singh in his struggle against the Mughals. This includes famous Sufi saints such as Baba Bulleh Shah, and there were also incidents of Pathan Generals on the Mughal side switching allegiences in the middle of the battle and joining the Sikhs due to the total immorality of the Mughal heirarchy’s actions in the name of Islam. Some of Guru Gobind Singh’s most senior Generals were Khans.

  68. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 2:52 pm  

    =>”Any fool can see that Sikhism is an organised religion with customs, festivals, dress codes, code of morality, taboos and everything else that goes with being an organised religion,”

    This completely contradicts your own statement in post #57. I quote: “No Sikhism is not a organised and established religion with clear rules, practiices, customs, festivals etc no no. Jai that is the worst type of doublespeak i have ever heard.”

    You are therefore submitting diametrically-opposed and contradictory statements on the same thread. You either believe the first quote, or the second. Assuming that you’re not suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder, both cannot be simultaneously correct in your view. So which one is it ?

    I was being sarcastic the first time because Jai was saying Sikhism doesn’t believe in formal religion.

  69. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 2:56 pm  

    Regardless of whatever a drunk Sikh may have allegedly told you (and alcohol is not permitted for baptised/Amritdhari Sikhs, by the way), the reality is that the “martial character” is geared purely for self-defence or for the protection of innocent parties who cannot defend themselves – and even then, only as an absolute last resort when all other peaceful means have failed. It is not “aimed” at any particular religious group at all – in fact, substantial numbers of Muslims joined Guru Gobind Singh in his struggle against the Mughals. This includes famous Sufi saints such as Baba Bulleh Shah, and there were also incidents of Pathan Generals on the Mughal side switching allegiences in the middle of the battle and joining the Sikhs due to the total immorality of the Mughal heirarchy’s actions in the name of Islam. Some of Guru Gobind Singh’s most senior Generals were Khans.

    *Which helps substantiate the falsity of the communal lines that people are trying to portray about how Indian politics in the middle ages played out, which was exactly my point earlier.

    The Mughuls were to a man despots, unconcerned about the shariah, only Aurganzeb insisted on the Shariah and by that point the whole Mughul infrastructure was so corrupted that it caused huge internal problems for him. He like his predecessors depended on Rajput and Maratha allies to maintain his empire. When the Marathas started to rebell in this period power started to wane away from the Mughals.

  70. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 2:58 pm  

    I am willing to retract my statements about Sikhism’s martial side being directed against Muslims and will do further research on it.

  71. Sunny — on 28th April, 2006 at 2:58 pm  

    Muslims as one drunk turbanned and beared Sikh told me while he was explaining how he and his friends practiced sword fighting in preperation for that final annahilitical conflict.

    That shows the extent of your research. Well hey, I get Muslims on TV telling me all the time that they are preparing a violent jihad against western civilisation. By your logic, that should make me insistent that no Muslim can ever be peaceful.

    will not be accomplished by me or anyone else in MAC getting on a soap box and denouncing them. That will actually fuel them and their delusions.

    What rubbish. Why does the same logic then not apply to groups like City Circle who are lesser known? Face it, you don’t have the balls or the inclination to do so. If you do “quieter” work – why not tell us about it?

  72. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 3:01 pm  

    =>”or someone is lying.”

    Exactly, you’ve finally got to the core issue.

    Indeed I have and it seems to me that a religion that was founded by a man who didn’t preach a religion and whose body was allegedly fought over by Hindu and Muslim followers as to who should give him his last rites suggests it has very shakey foundations indeed.

  73. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 3:16 pm  

    will not be accomplished by me or anyone else in MAC getting on a soap box and denouncing them. That will actually fuel them and their delusions.

    What rubbish. Why does the same logic then not apply to groups like City Circle who are lesser known? Face it, you don’t have the balls or the inclination to do so. If you do “quieter” work – why not tell us about it?

    *Again Sunny you’re getting all shrill, just saying what i have said is rubbish is not a point.
    I criticised City Circle on the basis that they want to sacrifice any conept of Muslim identity and articulating Islamic viewpoints on matters in the public domain not on their efforts to deradicalise youth.

    City Circle will not succeed in it’s efforts for one reason only, they don’t understand the psychology of those who commit these acts. These people are generally people who believe in Islam, are frustrated at the oppression and perescution against Muslims in various countries and want to do something to help. Their local mosque does not seem able to articulate anything except Mawlids and Khatms or 40 days tabligh (depending on it’s doctrinal background) as cures for the world’s ills. They are thus attracted to those groups which seem to give an Islamic justification based on literalised and decontextualised interpretations of primary texts to do just about anything to fight back even against innocent people. In other words there is a gap: an Islamic voice that is credible and scholarly based that can channel the emotions and frustrations of these youth into more positive forms of engagement with the issues at hand. There are at present no such bodies (MAC as it stands included) but we’re working based on a long term plan to build it. It requires young english speaking Imams who are fully conversant with our scholarly traditions and with western culture, ideas, politics and society. That can’t be achieved overnight. However my experience has been that these is a method that works.
    If I or anyone from MAC got up and condemned these people in the public domain, we’ll immediatly be labelled puppets and sell-outs by those people we are trying to reach and change. It will in fact create a barrier to an effective solution.
    It is part of Islamic adab to advise and counsel in private. Like when i invited you to meet MAC leaders and discuss your issues with us and us with you. However you ignored our invitation, which shows how much you are interested in sincere dialogue.

  74. raz — on 28th April, 2006 at 3:21 pm  

    This is the worst thread in the history of PP.

  75. Sunny — on 28th April, 2006 at 3:29 pm  

    I criticised City Circle on the basis that they want to sacrifice any conept of Muslim identity and articulating Islamic viewpoints on matters in the public domain not on their efforts to deradicalise youth.

    The City Circle group have their own intepretations of their identity. I find it instructive that you are happy to attack them, but are scared of being labelled a sell-out just to confront people who are happy to murder innocents. Implicitly you’re just legitimising their actions by keeping quiet publicly. Just saying you’re doing stuff behind the scenes is something the MCB has been saying for years, without any real consequence other than increased radicalisation.

    Like when i invited you to meet MAC leaders and discuss your issues with us and us with you. However you ignored our invitation, which shows how much you are interested in sincere dialogue.

    If I wasn’t interested in dialogue I would not be posting here in reply to you. But I prefer to talk to and work with Muslims who are willing to put their head above the parapet and say what they believe in rather than hide quietly and pick on easy targets.

    When you show you’re serious enough about your religion to openly oppose those who bring it to disrepute, then I’m happy to meet and talk. Until then you’ll be wasting both our times.

  76. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 3:32 pm  

    Jai
    based on the resources you yourself directed me to i found the following passage about Guru Nanak:

    From http://www.sikhs.org

    Early one morning accompanied by Mardana, Guru Nanak went to the river Bain for his bath. After plunging into the river, Guru Nanak did not surface and it was reported that he must have drowned. The villagers searched everywhere, but their was no trace of him. Guru Nanak was in holy communion with God. The Lord God revealed himself to Guru Nanak and enlightened him. In praise of the Lord, Guru Nanak uttered;

    “There is but One God, His name is Truth, He is the Creator, He fears none, he is without hate, He never dies, He is beyond the cycle of births and death, He is self illuminated, He is realized by the kindness of the True Guru. He was True in the beginning, He was True when the ages commenced and has ever been True, He is also True now.” (Japji)

    These words are enshrined at the beginning of the Sikh Holy Scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak did not believe in a Trinity of Gods, or the belief that God can be born into human form.

    After three days Guru Nanak appeared at the same spot from where he had disappeared. He was no longer the same person he had been

    *Seems to me and from reading the rest of the short biography there that neither was Guru Nanak a God inspired person from birth, not is he innocent of claiming to have had some revelation from God, both of which you claimed earlier in this thread.
    It also seems clear he spent alot of time in his youth conversing with Sadhus and Sufis seeking after religious truth, why would one born with guidance imprinted on his heart need to seek knowledge from anyone else. The Prophet (PBUH) never sought education or religious guidance from anyone- that is why one of his titles- the Unlettered is an indication of his miraculous nature.

  77. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 3:36 pm  

    Sunny until we see some sort of benefit in publically attacking these people we won’t do it.
    We have disavowed 9/11, 7/7 etc in public now and in the past and the idologies that spawn them.
    Your weak excuses about not meeting us are just self-contradictory, you want us to change but you won’t meet us to discuss with us how that change can happen.
    You’re only responding to me now because i came on your turf and took you on in public, you refused to even answer me before.

  78. Sunny — on 28th April, 2006 at 3:43 pm  

    We have disavowed 9/11, 7/7 etc in public now and in the past and the idologies that spawn them.

    But you refuse to give any indication of what exactly you may be doing in secret. Why is it so secret that you refuse to say anything on a blog?

    Your weak excuses about not meeting us are just self-contradictory, you want us to change but you won’t meet us to discuss with us how that change can happen.

    There’s no need for excuses. It’s just about allocating time efficiently. As I said above, you give me an indication of how you’re working for change (if necessary, by email) and then I’m happy to talk.

    About the only issue your newly formed alliance has written about is the Danish cartoons and the Freedom For Expression March. Nothing on the causes of extremism, nothing on what to do to challenge it (even without naming names). In fact nothing to indicate any sort of introspection. So I have no reason to believe your rhetoric at all. So why should I waste time meeting someone full of hot air?

  79. Sid — on 28th April, 2006 at 3:46 pm  

    Ismaeel

    If I or anyone from MAC got up and condemned these people in the public domain, we’ll immediatly be labelled puppets and sell-outs by those people we are trying to reach and change. It will in fact create a barrier to an effective solution.

    Except that you already have condemned them in the public domain and are only too happy to continue to sneer at them with an odious holier than thou attitude that you cannot seem to conceal from your posts.

    It is tragic that you feel you have to pander to the opinions exclusivist Muslims with their divisive politics instead of to people who are working to rehabilitate the Muslim communities into the wider picture.

    You’ve chosen to side and include with a small group of hotheads, which is the path of least resistance, at the cost of the much more difficult task of building bridges with the wider Muslim community and the non-Muslim community beyond.

    In short, you’re a small time Mullah who has chosen to be a inordinately large fish in a microscopic pond.

  80. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 3:50 pm  

    About the only issue your newly formed alliance has written about is the Danish cartoons and the Freedom For Expression March. Nothing on the causes of extremism, nothing on what to do to challenge it (even without naming names). In fact nothing to indicate any sort of introspection. So I have no reason to believe your rhetoric at all. So why should I waste time meeting someone full of hot air?

    Yes because we have limited ourselves to a single issue. We have never claimed to be anything more than that. Nevertheless you haven’t held back from attacking us and accusing of all kind of baseless things, which we would like to discuss with you. But you’re clearly too full of yourself to lower yourself to talk to the likes of us. Your loss.

  81. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 3:55 pm  

    Ismaeel

    If I or anyone from MAC got up and condemned these people in the public domain, we’ll immediatly be labelled puppets and sell-outs by those people we are trying to reach and change. It will in fact create a barrier to an effective solution.

    Except that you already have condemned them in the public domain and are only too happy to continue to sneer at them with an odious holier than thou attitude that you cannot seem to conceal from your posts.

    * I haven’t sneered at anyone except perhaps Sunny, I have tried to be balanced and fair to everyone. However that hasn’t stopped people like yourself sneering at me.

    It is tragic that you feel you have to pander to the opinions exclusivist Muslims with their divisive politics instead of to people who are working to rehabilitate the Muslim communities into the wider picture.

    *I don’t pander to anyone, you’re clearly not listening to anything i said except with the ears (or should that be the eyes) of prejudice.

    You’ve chosen to side and include with a small group of hotheads, which is the path of least resistance, at the cost of the much more difficult task of building bridges with the wider Muslim community and the non-Muslim community beyond.

    *Again you’re talking utter nonsense not based on what i’ve said.

    In short, you’re a small time Mullah who has chosen to be a inordinately large fish in a microscopic pond.

    *I’m not a Mullah, that’s the third time i’ve had to point this out on this thread which proves how little time you are putting into reading what i have to say and how much time you are spending looking for things to attack me on.

  82. Sunny — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:05 pm  

    Yes because we have limited ourselves to a single issue. We have never claimed to be anything more than that.

    Well, when you move past that one issue and give some indication that you are planning to form a movement that builds bridges across communities and also tackles extremism – then we can talk.

    Already you have contradicted yourself by saying you do the work in secret, but then you add you are only a one-issue group. The Danish cartoons issue, in the grand scheme of things when people are being blown up left right and centre, is irrelevant to me now.

  83. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:06 pm  

    Jai

    From http://www.sikhism.org

    About your second Guru:

    The son of a prosperous Hindu trader, Bhai Pheru, Guru Angad was an ardent devotee of the Hindu goddess Durga. Lehna, as he was known before becoming Guru

    Interesting doesn’t sound like someone who knew the reality of God from birth, if he was a devotee of a false goddess and then converted to become a Guru

  84. Justforfun — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:07 pm  

    Raz – This is the worst thread in the history of PP.

    my eyes hurt because no one seems to be using quotations or at least italics so I haven’t a clue whats going on –
    Any more pictures you can post to soothe my eyes?

    Justforfun

  85. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:08 pm  

    Jai

    Your third Guru according to http://www.sikhism.org

    Guru Amar Das was born in the village of Basarke on May 5, 1479. He was the eldest son of Tej Bhan a farmer and trader. Guru Amar Das grew up and married Mansa Devi and had two sons Mohri and Mohan and two daughters Dani and Bhani. He was a very religious Vaishanavite Hindu who spent most of his life performing all of the ritual pilgrimages and fasts of a devout Hindu.

    * Another convert from Hinduism who prior to becoming a Guru worshipped Vishnu.

  86. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:16 pm  

    Sunny said:”Already you have contradicted yourself by saying you do the work in secret, but then you add you are only a one-issue group. The Danish cartoons issue, in the grand scheme of things when people are being blown up left right and centre, is irrelevant to me now.”

    You forget that we are a conglomerate of organisations who are all doing their own grass roots work, i belong to several other organisations that are doing work.

    Anyway Sunny like i said, you just focus your efforts on attacking any Muslims who don’t conform to your cuddly liberal views and be happy, because of course you’re under no obligation to show that compassion to your Muslim brothers and sisters because of course you don’t identify yourself with any established religion.

  87. Sid — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:17 pm  

    Ismaeel

    There is another reason why we don’t want to look in the mirror and see our reality. It is the bubble of narcissism that the leaders, and especially the religious ones, have created around the people. They are told to believe that the Muslim world was chosen by God to have the best religion approved by heaven. This belief of illusionary superiority impedes self-criticism and makes looking in the mirror an impossible thing to do. I have no problem with people believing in the superiority of their religion. I mean, what religion doesn’t think of itself as the best and its people as God’s favorite? However, a crisis arises when this belief cripples the ability to admit problems and work on their solutions.
    -Qassim Lotfi

    Before you go criticising interpretations of other religions perhaps you should take a long hard look at interpreting ours.

  88. Jai — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:18 pm  

    Ismaeel,

    It’s interesting that very little of what has already been said appears to be getting through to you. You hear what you want to hear, interpret it to fit your preconceived beliefs, and ignore the rest, regardless of whether we’re referring to religious matters or historical events. You’ve even stooped so low as to attempt to abuse the incident of Hindu and Muslim followers arguing over the last rites to be followed for Guru Nanak, ignoring the fact that this actually occurred because the Guru taught his followers to see beyond artificial religious labels and perceive the unity of all mankind and the divine “spark” of God in all.

    This is the most fundamental concept within Sikhism with regards to the human race, and if you take this on board, you will understand the rest. It really is as simple as that.

    =>”Which helps substantiate the falsity of the communal lines that people are trying to portray about how Indian politics in the middle ages played out, which was exactly my point earlier.”

    Actually it does not substantiate your point at all. The Sikhs (and their Hindu and Muslim allies) were not fighting against the Mughals because they were Muslim. However, the persecution and tyranny being conducted against Sikhs and Hindus by some of the Mughals (along with their precedessors and Iranian & Afghan allies) WERE specifically due to communal reasons.

    =>”I came onto this thread to discuss politics and identity, you were the ones who started bleating on about other issues and attacking my religious views and convictions. You started this argument.”

    We certainly did not. You made blanket statements about the supposed supremacy of Islam (and the authenticity of its scriptures) and the Ummah from the time of its origin, and expected people here to just accept this silently and blindly. People subsequently refuted many of your statements because they believed them to be false. Following this, you decided to hijack this thread and “retaliate” by attempting to shift the focus to the religious affiliation of some of the other participants, which happens to be Sikhism in my case, in a cynical and opportunitistic tactic utilised as an excuse to undermine other people’s religions.

    It does beg the question of whether your repeated provocations — despite the fact that I politely requested you to refrain from doing so and to stick to the topic, and indeed made it clear that it is wiser for people in general to refrain from such comments unless absolutely necessary out of sensitivity towards the other party – were part of a preconceived strategy to try to provoke people here on PP into attacking Islam and Muslims en masse, which you could subsequently conveniently use as justification for “defending” Islam by making deliberately offensive and prejudicial remarks about other religions and their founders.

    If you think I have been enjoying contradicting you, I am afraid you are very much mistaken. Not because I do not have the courage of my convictions – far from it – but because my overriding concern is empathy towards you as my fellow human being. And yes, this does have its roots in Sikhism in my case, but it is a basic human virtue which all people share (or have the potential to do so). It is the reason why, unlike you, I have been very careful indeed in how I phrased any questioning of your assertions about some aspects of Islam, and it has continued to guide my conduct towards throughout this thread. You think that this is a competition to show who has the “superior” religion, the “true” faith, the more pious community, the more “genuine” believers. I do not.

    Your own behaviour, however, has been quite a terrible indictment of your character. I fear that your prejudices and preconceptions are distorting your judgement and the clarify of your thinking, as indicated by the self-serving circular logic you have been resorting to.

    You see this as some kind of confrontational, adversarial situation, as indicated by your conduct and reactions right from the beginning of your participation on this blog. I do not.

    Therein lies the fundamental difference, my friend.

  89. Sunny — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:25 pm  

    attacking any Muslims who don’t conform to your cuddly liberal views and be happy,

    I’m happy attacking any Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Christians or Atheists who want to harm others. This is the only yardstick you can measure me by.

  90. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:27 pm  

    Sid and Jai
    Islam is the superior and perfect religion, that doesn’t make Muslims perfect or their practice of Islam perfect. I have made that clear several times, but you are not listening.

    Jai you did start this argument by attempting to posit the superiority of your beliefs, you’ve couched in nice language but it’s what it boils down to. You still haven’t answered my points about the first three Gurus.

    Sid our religion has been interpreted by those capable of interpreting it, i’m studying those interpretations, how about you? Please go and read the works of Imam Abu Hanifah, Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani, Imam Ghazzali et al and you will be suprised that despite being works hundreds of years old they are still supremley relevant today.

  91. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:28 pm  

    So when did MAC want to harm others by protesting against the Danish cartoons which is when you started attacking us Sunny?

  92. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:31 pm  

    “Your own behaviour, however, has been quite a terrible indictment of your character. I fear that your prejudices and preconceptions are distorting your judgement and the clarify of your thinking, as indicated by the self-serving circular logic you have been resorting to.

    You see this as some kind of confrontational, adversarial situation, as indicated by your conduct and reactions right from the beginning of your participation on this blog. I do not.”

    Actually Jai i came on this blog very politely making some points and it continued in that manner for some time. A gentleman asked me why i believed what i do and i answered him, you took this as an attack on your faith and decided you wanted to prove it’s superiority by attacking mine. I’ve responded to the various ridiculous things that you have said since then, which you haven’t been able to satisfactorily answer. Don’t pick a fight if you can’t handle one.

  93. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:35 pm  

    Jai
    consider this from one of your first posts on this thread:
    “=>”Firstly the Qur’aan is free from internal and external contradictions on all levels.”

    Apologies, but this is also not true. In any case, there are other religious texts for which this statement IS correct.

    The ultimate test of divine origin is the impact that the practice of the fundamentals of a religion (and its associated texts, if relevant) has on adherents who follow the basics of the faith to the letter. If it genuinely makes them more decent, humble, kind, clear-thinking, courageous and noble people then that is the evidence of a divine “hand” behind the religion, in my opinion anyway.

    If not, then perhaps it raises certain awkward questions. Of course, one can always say that “the system is perfect, it’s the followers who are at fault”, but surely this should not be occurring on a) such a wide scale, and b) in the cases of those who practice the faith to the letter.

    Misinterpretation of one’s faith’s tenets occurs across multiple religions, including my own, but one has to assess the effect of a religion’s core teachings on people — is it positive or negative ? ”

    And ask youself who is trying to prove who has a more pious community and who is or is not trying to pick a fight by making such statements.

  94. Sid — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:37 pm  

    Please go and read the works of Imam Abu Hanifah, Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani, Imam Ghazzali et al and you will be suprised that despite being works hundreds of years old they are still supremley relevant today.

    “A donkey laden with books is not literate”
    -Ghazzali

    And secondly, they are relevent today because they have had hundreds of years to percolate into our contempory understanding. You forget that at their time they were dangerous and revolutionary. The problem is that these ideas have not developed by Muslims to be applicable to their times.

  95. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 4:53 pm  

    Sid,
    Imam Abu Hanifah and Shaykh Abdul Qadir were not considered dangerous and revolutionary during their time. Imam Abu Hanifah was imprisoned for refusing to work for the Caliph, that is somewhat different.

    No-one is going to be able to develop their ideas for the present age if they don’t go and study them and understand them. But then i’m just a donkey laden with books what would i know.

  96. Sunny — on 28th April, 2006 at 5:01 pm  

    So when did MAC want to harm others by protesting against the Danish cartoons which is when you started attacking us Sunny?

    You were merely ridiculed briefly, not attacked. Though your friends from Hizb ut Tahrir are a different matter.

  97. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 5:01 pm  

    Jai

    from http://www.sikhsnet.org

    The Khalsa baptism ceremony involves drinking of Amrit (sugar water stirred with a dagger) in the presence of 5 Khalsa Sikhs as well as the Guru Granth Sahib. The initiate is instructed in the following; (a) You shall never remove any hair from any part of thy body, (b) You shall not use tobacco, alcohol or any other intoxicants, (c) You shall not eat the meat of an animal slaughtered the Muslim way, (d) You shall not commit adultery.

    * Now B and D i understand and agree with. However A and C are very strange. How does C sit with you assertation there is nothing anti-Muslim about Sikhism. Also i’ve heard (and may well be wrong, please enlighten me) that this not cutting the hair lasts until all the Muslims have been killed- please reassure me about this.

  98. Sid — on 28th April, 2006 at 5:02 pm  

    Ismaeel

    You’re wrong. Most of these taught and spoke to adepts and spiritual elites behind closed doors and away from the ignorance of the masses. Some of the reformations that came into practice as a result of the works of people like Ghazzali, Junaid, al Jilani et al have entered into the conciousness of Muslims. Muslims practice them now without really knowing what the source of many of these concepts are. Now we accept these ideas as commonplace. Of course their works are reference books but nothing seems to have written to develop them since they passed on. We have taken our eyes off the ball.

  99. Justforfun — on 28th April, 2006 at 5:27 pm  

    (a) You shall never remove any hair from any part of thy body, (b) You shall not use tobacco, alcohol or any other intoxicants, (c) You shall not eat the meat of an animal slaughtered the Muslim way, (d) You shall not commit adultery.

    purely from a paranoid point of view these could all be construed as anti- someone elses beliefs. The muslim way of slaughtering animals was obviously not to taste, so expressed it as such – does not mean directly anti muslim does it?

    A) * hmmm * what religion demand shaving – help !!can’t think of one at the moment but there must be one – As sunny ghas just complained – I remeber – Buddists?
    b) Homa ( an intoxicant plant )was central to religious ceromonies for pre-Zoroastrian Iranians and I’m sure Parsis now would certainly be very upset if you banned them from drinking whiskey – its well known a Parsi peg is bigger than Patiala peg :-) even though a Patiala peg is of course banned :-)
    c) ….
    d) Adultery – well there must be someones religion where this is acceptable :-) – They’re just keeping quiet about it and getting on with the fun.

    Justforfun

  100. sonia — on 28th April, 2006 at 5:59 pm  

    gENerally applies to diasporic communities. people feel if you do anythign out of line, it will reflect the ‘community’.

  101. sonia — on 28th April, 2006 at 6:03 pm  

    “However if someone who identifies himself primarily as a Muslim and then does something which is without doubt sinful according to the religion then it is the duty of his/her fellow Muslims to attempt to rectify him/her.”

    oh yeah? says who?

    anyway Ishmael – all the way up above – unfortunately for this basing your identity on beliefs and values thing comes back to ‘cliqueyness’ whether based on race or religion. after all, its a belief about race, or a belief about religion. so people do base their identity on their belief-system – its just that i guess we don’t really think about belief systems properly. people conflate belief with religion, and while religion may be an example of a belief, there are plenty of beliefs which do not necessarily include religion. or to put it in a different manner – human beings have belief-sytems, in terms of the psychology of the individual and this is of course influenced by our social context and group.

  102. Rohin — on 28th April, 2006 at 6:07 pm  

    About the not eating meat slaughtered in a Muslim way – wasn’t there something about getting the Mughals out of India? Am I barking up the wrong tree?

    (Normally am)

  103. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 6:10 pm  

    Sonia,
    you asked who said that it is the duty of Muslims to rectify one another: well it was the Prophet (PBUH) who said “This religion is sincere advice” amongst other things.

    I’ve never said people cannot base their politics based on beliefs that are not religious, people do and that is their choice: socialists, liberals, communists, conservatives etc and they all form cliquey groups too.

  104. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 6:11 pm  

    Rohin, i don’t know that’s why i asked, sadly our resident Sikhism expert Jai has gone quiet all of a sudden

  105. Rohin — on 28th April, 2006 at 6:14 pm  

    Ismaeel, give him a chance – people can’t live in front of their screens!

  106. raz — on 28th April, 2006 at 6:39 pm  

    “people can’t live in front of their screens!”

    Unless they are called Sunny :)

  107. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 6:40 pm  

    Fair enough

  108. Sunny — on 28th April, 2006 at 6:42 pm  

    I am inside the screen. :)

  109. Justforfun — on 28th April, 2006 at 6:45 pm  

    raz – where are the pictures – I can’t believe you’ve posted your complete collection :-)

    Justforfun

    Hey I’ll even post a photography site on the roads of India in return ;-)

  110. raz — on 28th April, 2006 at 6:52 pm  

    Roads? It’s girls or nothing on PP!

  111. Justforfun — on 28th April, 2006 at 7:08 pm  

    Raz – fair enough – your the one with the collection – I only have Roads :-(

  112. Jay Singh — on 29th April, 2006 at 11:23 am  

    Ishmaeel

    Sikhs cannot eat Halal meat because it must be killed chatka – with a single painless cut. Sikhs believe Halal is cruel to the animal. The thing about not cutting hair is bollocks – though having read your posts not surprising that you believe shite like that.

  113. Jay Singh — on 29th April, 2006 at 11:29 am  

    Your Gurus were born with knowledge direct from God, yeah well that is an Islamic belief we have about our Prophets (AS) and some of our Awliya, so the reality and let’s get down to it shall we, is either God is a deciever telling each of these people something different and thus deliberatly stirring up conflict which is a truely noxious idea or someone is lying

    Who is lying Ishmaeel? Sikhs are lying because they believe in the divinity of their message? What a bigot you are.

    It should be the duty of every single person in British life who stands for dignity and tolerance in our society to mock, satirise, intellectually battle your squealing communalism and attempts to wedge your religious politics into public life. If this blog has any purpose and it will be a good thing indeed. The thought of peple like you trying to take your religion into public life with your campaigns and protests and communalist bigotry has to be battled. The other thing about sharia drooling folk like yourself is that you give energy and legitimacy to communalists like the Sikh Federation and Hindu Forum who copy the Islam as Politics agenda and seek to tyrannise and crcumscribe public debate and life in the same way.

    Hanif Kureishi has it one hundred percent correct in his analysis.

  114. Jay Singh — on 29th April, 2006 at 11:36 am  

    Jai

    What is the point in debating religion with a pipsqueak who is on a mission to conceptualise all religion as a subordinate to his own and bring his evengelism and sharia into the public debate? Ignore him like Bikhair is ignored – there are bigger fish to fry and like raz says better ways of interacting with people of other religions – politics as religion – that is the way of the blockheads.

    Hanif Kureishi is RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT

    Sunny please invite Hanif Kureishi to write an article for PP just like Hari Kunzru did!

    (His article applies to Sikhs and Hindus too. He could have mentioned that. Especially in the context of Southall. We all have these religious headbangers amongst us)

  115. Ismaeel — on 29th April, 2006 at 11:39 am  

    Jay
    I quoted from your own Sikh websites about the not cutting hair. Go ask them about it.
    Sorry if you can’t handle the fact that Islam has a very clear doctrine which says that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the final Prophet and Messenger to mankind from Allah (SWT) and that there will no new religion from Allah (SWT) after Islam. You Sikhs talk about tolerance but you won’t tolerate this belief. I tolerate the Sikh community and their beliefs, doesn’t mean I have to say I find them acceptable or correct.
    The idea of multiculturalism which says all cultures and religions are all of equal importance means nothing to me, tolerance and pluralism however is a different matter. I believe Islam is the truth, if i didn’t I wouldn’t be a Muslim. Similarly if you didn’t believe Sikhism was the truth u wouldn’t be a Sikh, if you are certain about your beliefs you wouldn’t care what I or any other Muslim says about our beliefs being superior, it shows the insecurities of all here who get wound up just because I quote a basic Islamic belief.

  116. Ismaeel — on 29th April, 2006 at 11:40 am  

    Yes Jay you just ignore me and all the other Islamic religious groups and sit down with Hanif Qureshi, Salman Rushdie, Irshad Manji all of whom have no Muslim base or support. That will make so much sense.

  117. Jay Singh — on 29th April, 2006 at 11:41 am  

    Ishmaeel

    Fuck off you twat.

  118. Jai — on 29th April, 2006 at 11:50 am  

    Rohin,

    =>” people can’t live in front of their screens!”

    Thank you – some of us do have lives and obligations in the “real world” ;)

    =>” About the not eating meat slaughtered in a Muslim way – wasn’t there something about getting the Mughals out of India? Am I barking up the wrong tree?”

    Yes, I’m afraid you are “barking up the wrong tree.” There was certainly a desire to remove Mughal rule – not because they were Muslim but because of the tyrannical, unjust and communal manner in which they were regarded as reigning, at least with regards to some of the later Emperors and the associated imperial hierarchy. Aurangzeb was regarded by the Gurus as the epitome of this kind of fanatical, religiously-driven autocracy. However, the aged Emperor did change his stance significantly during the twilight of his life due to the efforts of Guru Gobind Singh and began preparations to meet the Guru in order to initiate an amicable relationship with him, although the Emperor died before this could happen. Guru Gobind Singh subsequently gave military assistance to one of Aurangzeb’s sons during the entailing struggle for succession in response to the Prince’s request for help, and enabled the new Emperor Bahadur Shah to achieve victory as he was regarded by the Guru as the better human being and potentially the more righteous ruler.

    Regarding not eating halaal meat, I’ve answered that in my following post to Ismaeel.

  119. Ismaeel — on 29th April, 2006 at 11:51 am  

    Yes Jay very reasoned engagement, you have proven to me how progressive and rational you and your fellow progressive asians I, why i should see the foolishness of my ways and give up my orthodox beliefs in Islam and join you.
    My name is Ismaeel, i’m not Jewish.

  120. Jai — on 29th April, 2006 at 11:51 am  

    Ismaeel,

    =>”However A and C are very strange. How does C sit with you assertation there is nothing anti-Muslim about Sikhism.”

    Here’s some breaking news for you. Not everything in the real world actually revolves around Islam or Muslims.

    Not removing hair is a recommendation (although mandatory for baptised Sikhs) as it is to do with living in harmony with one’s natural form. Cutting the hair is regarded as mutilating the body and an unnatural act. (The same logic applies to, for example, piercing the body for jewellery.) This tenet is not aimed specifically at Islam but at human beings in general, although of course a number of religions involve removal of hair for religiously-derived reasons.

    Regading C, however, it is because the traditional Islamic way of killing animals is regarded as cruel and causing the animal unnecessary suffering. In fact, it is for this reason that many Sikhs are vegetarian, even here in the West where it is highly unlikely any meat they eat (outside of Asian or Muslim-owned restaurants) has been from an animal killed via the Islamic method – it is because one does not know whether the animal was actually slaughtered humanely.

    It is not the fact that the “halaal” issue is a part of Islam which is the problem, but the method of slaughtering that it involves. The same injunction actually applies to any method of slaughtering which is deemed to cause the animal to suffer excessively, whether the method is religiously-derived or not.

    =>” Also i’ve heard (and may well be wrong, please enlighten me) that this not cutting the hair lasts until all the Muslims have been killed- please reassure me about this.”

    It’s a complete lie and I’m sure we’d all be interested to hear exactly who has been telling you such propaganda. As I’ve said before, Sikhism is not “anti’’ anyone – the entire human race is regarded as our brothers and sisters. One of our most well-known blessings, sung at the end of certain religious events/ceremonies, ends with a prayer for the wellbeing of the entire human race – not just for Sikhs and certainly not to ask God for the supremacy of Sikhs over the rest of humanity.

    It’s the practices which are rejected – those which Sikhism does not agree with – not other religions in their entirely and certainly not their adherents.

    Regarding your other allegations of me “picking a fight”, well we’re going to have to agree to disagree there. I think the sequence of events is clear to see for anyone reading this thread, and it’s unfortunate that a) you are self-centred enough to think that any general statement about spirituality is somehow a direct attack on Islam if you disagree with it, and b) you are ego-driven enough to assume that any attempt by another party to clarify some misconception or contradict some factual inaccuracy is somehow part of an effort to either “impose” views on you or prove some other faith’s “superiority”. The only person on this entire thread who has been making statements about his faith’s supposed “superiority” is you, as indicated in your own words in post #90: “Islam is the superior and perfect religion.”

    Not everyone is necessarily driven by the same motivations as you are, Ismaeel. It’s worth remembering that, because you read too much into other people’s reactions and assume that they are motivated by the same reasons that you would be if the roles were reversed.

    Regarding your query about the first 3 Sikh Gurus, it is pointless for me to try to explain matters to you unless you have truly understood the rest of the content of those links w.r.t their actions and indeed the basics of the faith which I have been attempting to explain to you, especially as it is patently clear that you are not here to genuinely learn anything but to bully others into submission with little concern for propriety or sensitivity, and to attempt to “debunk” the fundamentals of the other party’s faith if anyone has the “audacity” to disagree with you.

    Don’t attempt to initiate any debate in these matters if you cannot do so in a mature, considerate and civilised manner. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but many people here on PP (including myself if I were so inclined, which I’m not) could – and would — have torn apart your assertions about Islam, Mohammad and the veracity of the Quran, but everyone has politely refrained from doing so. However, it has been made clear by everyone concerned that your view of the last 1000 years of Indian history is grossly distorted, and it does raise the question of exactly where you have been getting your information from.

    Bear in mind that I said absolutely nothing about Mohammad apart from mentioning that the Sikh Gurus were completely silent about him, and I did not launch an attack on Islam where I attempt to undermine tenet after tenet. I certainly did not begin to copy & paste quotes from various websites which would have refuted most of your assertions. I could have done so, but refused to even consider this option because my own ethical code and concern & sensitivity towards you as my fellow human being (and again, in this case this is also something promoted by Sikhism) prevented me from undertaking what would be a grossly callous and vindictive course of action. In fact I made it clear several times previously on this thread that it is better to take great care in these matters, as one is dealing with beliefs which are highly cherished by others and one should therefore exercise some discretion and courtesy – and to choose one’s words carefully if one does indeed decide to voice any contradictions.

    One should never go down into the gutter to achieve one’s agenda or to “make a point”. The means are as important as the ends, regardless of how justified one may believe oneself to be, and regardless of the “provocation” one may percieve (erroneously in this case).

    If you have any integrity and humility, and your own motivations really are sincere and well-meaning (and not driven by arrogance, prejudice or a misguided desire for eye-for-an-eye retaliation), then hopefully you will step back and consider all of this.

    If you are willing to do that, then I am sure everyone here on PP, myself included, would be more than happy to continue to address any misconceptions you may have and to facilitate a mutually-enlightening dialogue.

  121. Jay Singh — on 29th April, 2006 at 11:56 am  

    Ismaeel

    I knew that would wrap you up in more of your whiny squealing self pity and greasy sophistry! ;-)

    Lots of people are really polite to you – god knows why but Jai has written dissertations and engaged with you. I just think you’re a twat. And i think you should be told.

    Gem from Ismaeel :

    The idea of multiculturalism which says all cultures and religions are all of equal importance means nothing to me

    And that’s why I think you are what you are!

  122. Jay Singh — on 29th April, 2006 at 11:58 am  

    Jai

    You’re wasting your time for goodness sake. Religious debate is a waste of time – you’re never going to make people change their minds, especially huffing and puffing religious politicians.

    Hanif Kureishi though – he the man!

  123. Ismaeel — on 29th April, 2006 at 12:04 pm  

    Jai
    if anyone looks back on this thread they will see quite clearly who started this argument and they will find it was you. I have proved this already.
    Yes you and your gang at PP could have definitly torn apart the veracity of Islam, of course you could. You can’t even answer my questions about your Gurus, I am interested to understand your theology, but you don’t want to tell me. You entered this discussion in an aggressive way saying how the Qur’aan had contradictions, but other Holy books (presumably the Guru Granth Sahib partially written by a Muslim Sufi Saint) doesn’t, that Islam was a false religion because it’s people didn’t adhere to it’s tenants etc.
    You can go on about your ethics etc etc but the reality is that Sikh dogma actually leaves you in a complete quandry, you have very set beliefs about what God is and what God is not, yet at the same time you cannot challenge anyone else’s conception of God even when those conceptions are utterly contradictory to yours.
    I have news for you: God is not a stone Idol, God is not a human being, God is not multiple.
    Oh hold on you knew that already because you’re a Sikh and where did you get that belief from, was it from the Hindus? Errrm no because they believe God has come in the form of men, lions, monkeys all sorts and is many many different people and idols, the Christians perhaps? No because they believe in Trinity.
    I think you will find it was Islam which is the only religion that had that belief before Sikhism and the Gurus copied it wholesale from the conversations that had with Muslim Awliya.
    Halal slaughtering is cruel?? That really shows the ridiculousness of your statements. Halal slaughtering means cutting the juglar vein from behind while the animal isn’t expecting it. When the juglar vein is cut the animal immediatly loses consciousness and doesn’t feel pain. If you do not slaughter animals in this manner then their blood coagulates in the flesh and is eaten along with the rest of the flesh, this means that the natural toxins in the blood which are poisonous to humans will enter your body.

  124. Ismaeel — on 29th April, 2006 at 12:07 pm  

    Jay,
    guess what i really don’t care what you think of me. If you want to live with your head buried in the sand and believe that all the contradictory beliefs in the world should be regarded as equally true and valuable and hold this up as some sort of success for rationality and progressiveness then your opinions of me don’t really count for very much.

  125. Ismaeel — on 29th April, 2006 at 12:18 pm  

    Oh and the golden chain of Gurus, even that phrase Golden Chain comes from the Sufi tariqats.

    But of course you don’t want to get into a REAL debate. Instead you want to alternatly insult and patronise me, why, because I dare to follow my religion which might dare to say that your beliefs are wrong.

  126. Jay Singh — on 29th April, 2006 at 12:25 pm  

    Ismaeel

    Yadda yadda yadda – you castrated armchair crusader. Who cares? Getting infuriated on the internet, huffing and puffing and shouting your religion and throwing hissy fits over theology and constructing paranoias and conspiracies and big sulks out of it all, scared shitless by the modern world, wanking your bigotry in big chunks of spunk on your computer screen and preening your religion as if anyone gives shit. All posts from now on will be piss takes of you. Carry on please.

  127. Ismaeel — on 29th April, 2006 at 12:26 pm  

    Oh and Jai remember it was you who directed me to those websites for clarification of statments you made. When i’ve shown them to have content contradictory to what you said, you refused to explain yourself.

    As for my poor knowledge of Indian history, sorry it’s just not one tainted by the communalism of yourself and your mates.

    Finally I gave you the opportunity to clear some nonsense rumours about Sikhism, you’ve done so. what are you getting so upset about?

    For the last time i’m going to say this, i came onto this site to talk about political identities, other people turned this into a discussion about religion.

    As for any offence I may have caused then i apolgise wholeheartedly, however i am not going to apoligise for stating orthodoxIslamic beliefs and defending Islam from criticisms of anyone here.

    However seeing as it is my beliefs which you find offensive I find myself in the position of the JP editors who apoligised for the offence they had caused but not the publication of the cartoons themselves.

  128. Ismaeel — on 29th April, 2006 at 12:27 pm  

    Jay
    still being wholly rational and progressive I see, overwhelming me with the light of your enlightened world.

  129. Jay Singh — on 29th April, 2006 at 12:32 pm  

    I’m just making fun of Mr Pooter – humour has a long enlightenment tradition.

    Ishmaeel/Ismaeel – so your name is stolen from the Jews? Don’t sweat that, sometimes I wish I had Jewish roots – I would be really proud of them.

  130. Jai — on 29th April, 2006 at 12:38 pm  

    Jay Singh,

    I think our friend here is showing his true colours and is certainly doing an excellent job of hanging himself with his own rope. He can’t even understand that the reason many people, myself included, do not wish to get into a protracted argument about theological issues (apart from summarising the basics and pointing him towards suitable sources of information, which I have attempted to do) is not because they can’t, but because they won’t – because a) he doesn’t want to listen, b) he’s on a mission to play Devil’s Advocate, c) people are wary of undermining his most cherished religious beliefs OUT OF EMPATHY TOWARDS HIM, and d) it doesn’t sound like he’s at a psychological & emotional point in his life where it would be constructive to do so anyway.

    If he’s made his mind up that orthodox Islam is superior and “correct” compared to everything else, and that (for example) the Sikh Gurus were not divinely inspired (despite the fact that multiple Sufi saints believed they were, along with many Muslims from that era along with, for example, Emperor Babur, Emperor Akbar, and even Emperor Aurangzeb at the very end of his life), then it’s pointless to continue to engage with him. Every statement will be perceived as an “attack on Islam”, or an attempt to “convert” him (even though Sikhism is not a proselytising religion) or “draw him away from Islam”, and – instead of genuinely being motivated by a desire for mutual understanding — he will just try to look for any opening which would enable him to try to attack the religion and continue toproclaim Islam’s supposed superiority.

    His mission appears to be to reinforce – and promote – the supremacy and veracity of Islam, by any means necessary, and regardless of the veracity of this claim.

    I’m done. People reap what they sow; the consequences of Ismaeel’s ego are already clear, as indicated by his current belligerence, his behaviour towards others, and his total incomprehension of other people’s motivations, intentions, and attitude towards him.

    It’s pointless for me (or any of us) to try to continue any conversation with him until he gains control of his ego and his paranoia subsides, at which point he would hopefully have enough sensitivity, clarity of thought and emotional self-discipline to be able to healthily process the relevant information and discuss matters in a civilised manner. Raz, Geezer and Sid are excellent examples of Muslims who have the right idea about how to engage others in such matters.

    However, at least he had the good grace to apologise for any inadvertent offence he may have caused, so I am sure we appreciate that and acknowledge that he at least has some sense of integrity and humanity which would have triggered such a statement on his part.

    To quote a certain well-known saying “The One Light of God is in all. Those who do not see this do not see God at all”.

  131. Jay Singh — on 29th April, 2006 at 12:48 pm  

    Jai

    He’s no different to a million others out there – including lots of Sikhs who take their neuroses out into their political identity.

    Well, we have big issues facing everyone – apart from living life and all the rest of the crap that oppresses and blights Asians lives with out of date cultural baloney, and they want to turn everything into a discussion of their hysteria and religion. They just cant keep it to themselves they have to stomp their feet and sticking their tongues out and sulking.

    Hanif Kuereishi nailed it wonderfully – although he seems quite pessimistic, it is true that the way religion bullies and sulks its way into public life is something that has to be checked.

    In the meantime, the bedroom crusader’s washing has now dried, and he must now put it on the washing line, before he can change the world and make it globally civil.

    Now I have a Bank Holiday to enjoy, have a good one everyone, even you Ishmaeeeeel!

  132. mirax — on 29th April, 2006 at 4:18 pm  

    Oh the wonderful irony of a person whose organisation puts out a demand for global civility for all religious discourse(though it is just another thought-control exercise, if you really read the stupid shit) and proceeds to come here and insult Sikhism and Hinduism(though no one seems too bothered by the latter) in the worst fashion imaginable. Priceless and enormously entertaining!

    There is also a snide attack on atheists when he accuses Sunny of lacking compassion for the muslim bros and sistas cause he lacks a religion- way to go, Ishmael! Winning hearts and minds, an’ all that!

    With self-appointed spokesmen like you (anyone noticed how often he used the royal ‘we’?), the British muslim community needs no enemies.

    Heard of the main muslim body in Sweden which recently asked the government for separate laws for muslims and made the community the focus of derision and scorn?
    Besides, of course playing right into the hands of racists?

    You are that kind of fucked up ‘leadership’.

  133. Ismaeel — on 30th April, 2006 at 12:31 am  

    Jai
    I’m woefully tired of your amateur psycho-analysis of me, someone you have never met and someone’s whose statements you have deliberatly manipulated and distorted to serve your own needs.

    I haven’t insulted anyone’s beliefs, i’ve questioned and criticised them and seeing as I can’t get any sensible answers out of anyone, i have to assume there are none to be got from the protagonists here.

    The concept that anyone and everyone can have a direct relationship with God without the need of the intermediary of a Prophet (PBUT), holy book or guide is extremely dangerous to the ego. It inflates the ego and makes it think that whatever it does is great because it has this direct relationship with God. The purpose of religion and especially religious laws is to discipline the ego and control it, so it accepts it’s true status as a slave of the Almighty. That’s why even the Sikh religion recognises that the one who is Baptised must forsake certain vices.

    Islam is the final and perfect religion, The Prophet (PBUH) is the final and perfect Prophet (PBUH) that is my belief- however you and many of the people on this forum cannot tolerate that. Which means you don’t understand what tolerance is and neither do you practice it. As a Muslim i tolerate all religions and religious followers, i disagree with them but I accept they are going to say things i don’t like. All i ask is that they don’t be insulting and abusive.

    Anyway I have realised I will never be given a fair hearing here, because you have already prejudged me and stereotyped me because I am a Muslim who believes that my faith should enter all areas of my life- which are the clear teachings of my religion.

    Tolerance- sadly you lot don’t know the meaning of the word.

  134. Jai — on 30th April, 2006 at 3:33 pm  

    Ismaeel,

    I see that you have been unable to resist the compulsion to “have the last word”, despite the fact that I made it clear I have no further desire to discuss anything with you. I will not respond to any further posts and hope that you will be able to restrain yourself from “retaliating” yet again.

    Beyond what I have already said, I am not going to “spoon-feed” you any answers. I have already pointed you in the right direction for information, especially with regards to the Sikhnet website – and in fact, Sikhnet has an excellent on-line discussion forum which is open to all and requires only a quick 30-second free registration process in order to participate, so there are huge numbers of people there who will happily hammer out any issues with you and do their utmost to answer any queries you may have. You can also do a ‘search’ there for previous, archived discussion topics. That should be your primary source of insight – Pickled Politics is not the place for such matters and, moreover, Sikhnet has some extremely well-informed, devout and eloquent individuals who would be in superb position to selflessly assist you, as long as your questions, motivations, and “tone” are sincere and polite. You cannot hope to gain any answers in the spirit of “global civility” if that “civility” is intended to be restricted only to Islam and you are not prepared to offer other people’s religions (and their founders) the same level of courtesy in terms of your questions and responses on the matter, regardless of how negatively you perceive the other party to be behaving (which may well only be a matter of over-sensitivity and conjecture on your part).

    In the second paragraph of post # 44, I have listed the basic tools which you would have to practice in order to at least begin to gain a true understanding of the matters we have been discussing. Unless and until you do that, your confusion will remain. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot do this within the normal routine of your life as per whatever Islamic customs and rituals you engage in; the benefits of doing this are universal and not tied to any single religion, whether “organised” or not. As I mentioned before, nobody is trying to “convert you away from Islam”.

    Apart from that, as I said before, we reap what we sow. Whatever you choose to do, or not do, is your choice, your life, and your own personal responsibility. The impact of these actions and decisions, both positive and negative, and both internally (psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually) and externally (ie. the “outside world”), is something will you have to face and deal with alone. Perhaps you will gain some greater clarity within this lifetime, perhaps not. It is still entirely in your hands, and only in your hands — we are born alone and we die alone.

    In reality, there is no such thing as “believer” and “infidel”, only different degrees of spiritual awareness, with an entire spectrum in-between the two extremes. But God does indeed intervene and interact with all of us directly, although our egos have to be sufficiently under control for us to be aware of this, and it is unwise to rely solely on what is essentially second-hand knowledge in religious matters. This applies equally to all of us, regardless of our religious background (yes Sikhs too). One should never believe anything blindly – direct experience, ultimately, is what matters the most. But again, whether you choose to take any of this on board is entirely up to you – you are completely free to take it or leave it. Your life, therefore your responsibility. We make our own choices, sometimes our own mistakes, and it is our job to live with the consequences of our actions, whether positive or negative, along with hopefully learning from our experiences and gaining a greater all-round worldly and spiritual understanding during this journey of our lives which we are all fellow travellers on.

    All the rest of us can do is wish you a long, happy, and successful life, filled with peace of mind, emotional warmth, and the company of good-hearted people who genuinely bless your life with their presence. As my fellow human and therefore my brother, that is the most any of us can wish for anyone.

    The rest is between you and God.

  135. Ismaeel — on 30th April, 2006 at 9:18 pm  

    Now who is trying to be holier than thou? The plain simple truth is you can’t even answer some basic questions on your religion. The lesson is simple: don’t attack someone else’s beliefs if you can’t defend your own or even substantiate your attacks. You can waffle on about spirituality and psychology as much as you like but at the end of the day it’s just an easy and convenient way to avoid difficult questions about your own beliefs
    And i know that you won’t be able to resist answering this, because it is really your own ego you need to work on.

  136. Don — on 30th April, 2006 at 9:39 pm  

    Jarndyce versus Jarndyce.

    Leave him hanging, Jai. You guys are arguing from different universes.

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