Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tablighi Jamaat and Jihadi terrorism: a Pakistani's view

Tablighi Jamaat is an Islamic missionary movement that focuses on urging Muslims to return to primary Sunni Islam; it was started in 1927 by Muhammad Ilyas Kandhlawi in India.

The organisation -- which maintains its international headquarters in Nizamuddin West in Delhi -- is currently estimated to have between 12 million and 150 million adherents (the majority living in South Asia), and a presence in somewhere between 150 and 213 countries.

It has been called "one of the most influential religious movements in 20th century Islam".

In recent years, security and intelligence experts across the world have discovered a number of links between Tablighi Jamaat and the Jihadis, including in cases of terror attacks in San Bernardino (California, December 2, 2015), and Orlando (Florida, June 12, 2016)

I have pasted below an interesting article on Tablighi Jamaat, which I have translated from Urdu to English.

Presumably written by a Pakistani, the article explains how initiation into Tablighi Jamaat can make one bump into a Jihadi or two and may even lead one into becoming an active Jihadi.

This article was posted in Feb. 2016 on

This site appears to carry some of the material originally posted on Facebook page Bhensa, which has been blocked by Pakistani authorities for acting as a forum for people who have allegedly been blaspheming against Islam.

From Tablighi Jamaat to Taliban
(Posted on February 3, 2016 by Bhensa)

It’s crucial to look at Tablighi Jamaat’s thinking in relation to that of Jihadis in order to be able to have an idea about its links with the latter.

Both (Tablighi Jamaat and the Jihadis) think that the majority of us Muslims have lost our way. Both think that the age in which the Prophet of Islam lived 1400 years of ago was the best of times and we all should endeavour to bring back that age.

Both believe strongly that Muslims are superior than all other nations of the world.

Both think that it’s the right of the Muslims to rule over the entire world – Islam will one day dominate the globe and we will have to struggle to achieve that end.

Both view this word as perishable and the promised world as eternal.

That being the case, they say, we should not to be too concerned with this world, but prepare for the end of the world.

This view not only takes a common man away from science, technology and progress, but also helps to prepare the minds of would be suicide bombers.

Both (Tablighi Jamaat and the Jihadis) believe that the entire non-Muslim world is engaged in conspiring against the Muslims and is scared of the power of Islam.

Both often talk about the Prophet’s prediction that a righteous people will rise one day, carrying the message of Allah.

Both are absolutely certain that Islam is the only right religion in the world and that people can attain salvation only by accepting Islam.

Both say it often that it’s incumbent upon them to carry the message of Allah to the world – and that they would be strictly held to account on the Day of Judgement if they failed to discharge this duty.

Both talk a lot about the blessings to be had in the Jannat.

Many times things are told in such an exaggerated manner that an unbiased person is left astonished – stories about the (promised) houris, palaces and other amenities to be provided in the Jannat, and the severe suffering that awaits the non-Muslims and the sinful Muslims.

Both have similar views about Islamic punishment.

Both insist on keeping a beard and have similar views on keeping women in purdah.

Both consider modern education, science and technology as secondary, often calling them not important and incompatible with Islam and so Haram (forbidden).

(Let’s see) How Tablighi Jamaat makes common people, especially the youth, Jihadi or supporters of Jihadis.

Suppose you are a susceptible young person exposed to the media that tells you that Muslims are being persecuted everywhere in the world.

You have also grown up on a diet of Islamic legends – Islam is the final religion of the world, the torment of the Day of Judgement would be severe, the life in the Jannat would be very cushy, and so on.

You are also pained by the injustices that happen around you. You want to end falsehood and deception in the world and bring peace and justice.

You are also born in a Muslim household that conditioned you to start going to a mosque to pray.

There you often see people associated with Tablighi Jamaat, who look decent, well behaved individuals with pleasant faces.

You see in them a reflection of all those stories you have been fed about Islamic piety and purity.

When they tell you post-Namaz about the need to learn about Quran and Hadith, you allow yourself to stay on in the mosque for the Sawab (rewards) that will accrue to you.

They tell you that Allah’s religion did not come in our own lifetimes and (so) everything that’s wrong around us is attributable to the distance that lies between us and the religion.

Having already felt the angst of all that you feel is wrong and been impressed by their ostensible piety, you tend to agree with them.

They then tell you that all evil could be eradicated if Islam were to be put into action – but first we will have to assimilate religion into our own selves.

We will have to learn the religion and work hard to bring Islam into the lives of all human beings – and then this hard work will lead to…

That is one well-worn phrase that every Tablighi utters when he gives you the Da’wah (invitation).

So you begin to mix with them. 

They then persuade you to start conducting Bayaan (speech) first and then Gasht (visiting local neighbourhoods), followed by Shab e Juma (spending Thursday night at a Tablighi centre for sermon) and Seh Roza (three-day preaching mission).

It’s said that Deen (religion) requires an atmosphere and in seeking such an atmosphere you begin to hobnob with such people.

After certain amount of mixing with them, the second phase of your education begins.

You are told how Muslims across the world are being victimized. Kashmir and Palestine are cited as examples.

Having already heard of such issues through the media, you find yourself readily agreeing with them.

Then you are told that there are two reasons behind the decline of Muslims: their being away from the path of Islam and the conspiracies hatched by others.

You are told that the Kuffar (those who don’t believe in Islam) across the world have got together to plot against Islam.

Islam will have to be made to dominate the world so that iniquity can be wiped out from the world – something that’s also incumbent upon us as Muslims.

So here you are, away from most of your family and friends, absorbing all this learning and undergoing a subtle transformation.

If anyone cautions you, you suspect that you are being sought to be turned away from the path of Allah. So you turn a deaf ear to such a caution.

Then comes a day when you start to take part in Seh Roza (three-day preaching mission). Here you are taught about Prophet’s life, Taqwa (cultivating fear of Allah and abstinence from sin), Jannat (heaven) and Dozakh (hell), etc.

You are on your way to assuming an attitude of aversion towards this perishable world. 

Tablighi missionaries consistently cite a Hadith in each of their Bayan (speech): that of the Prophet deeming this world as insignificant as the hair on the body of a mosquito.

Meanwhile, you also meet some Tablighi missionaries who are either active members of a Jihadi outfit or are friends with some active Jihadi.

Your mind has already been conditioned; you view Islam as the only solution, the world as having gone astray, the reformation of the world as your religious duty, and the pleasures of Jannat you will earn in return for all that effort.

At the same time, you begin to look intent on bringing non-Muslims, whom you consider the root cause of all evil, to the right path, and on destroying them if they resist.

In this situation, a Jihadi Tablighi brother tells you about some outfit working for the glory of Islam, mentioning the fight against the enemies of Islam, such as India, America, and Israel.

He tells you stories – with varying degrees of truth or falsehood – about how the Mujahideen have been hitting the enemies.

He then draws a parallel between those fights and Ghazwa-e-Badr (the battle fought in 624 CE in western Arabia between Muhammad and his followers and his opponents among the Quraish in Mecca; it has been passed down in Islamic history as a decisive victory attributable to divine intervention) in order to establish that Allah has been helping the Mujahideen because they are on the path of truth.

By now you have become an habitué in Tablighi Jamaat; you very often attend the Shab e Juma (spending Thursday night at a Tablighi centre for sermon) and also take part in Seh Roza (three-day preaching mission).

You have become quiet socialized and have gotten into the swing of things.

You listen to them on a daily basis; you have grown your beard and begun to consider it a wrongdoing to have one’s beard shaved off.

You start to exhort women to strictly remain in purdah and think that anyone not offering Namaz is a sinner.

You begin to view Islamic law – i.e. enforcing of Islamic punishments – as the solution for all kinds of evil and spend your days and nights thinking how Islam can influence the whole wide world.

The Jihadi brothers have all along been with you, explaining to you that Islam is in danger, enemies have been plotting against us, Allah’s Deen has been in jeopardy.

Your Namaz and Roza will earn rewards for you, but the responsibility you have to make Islam dominate the whole world can only be discharged through jihad.

So here you are – initiated on to the Jihadi road. If you have the daring, you will go for training and jihad. Otherwise, you will pray for the Jihadis, render them financial assistance when needed, provide them sanctuary, and help them in other ways.

You will exult over Islam’s victory when Jihadi attacks, such as the one on the World Trade Centre (in New York on 11 September 2001), are reported on TV, and may even shout Allahu Akbar on such an occasion.

All of this happens in real life just as simply as described here.

(That’s primarily because) very few people in our society look askance at Tablighi Jamaat and so you easily get attracted to them.

And then the extremist views don’t sound strange to your ears because the Maslak (sect of Islam or school of law) of the Tablighi Jamaat is either the same as that of Taliban and Al Qaeda or very similar.

Further, Jihadis have no problem in associating themselves with the Tablighi Jamaat because it allows freedom in joining and leaving.

The top leadership of the Tablighi Jamaat always get Dua (invocation or prayer) performed for the success of the Jihadis in its speeches.

Members of the ‘agencies’ who have been nurturing Jihadis enjoy close relations with Tablighi Jamaat, such as General Javed Nasir (former director-general of ISI who is said to have played an instrumental role in uniting the scattered mass of warring Mujahideen groups after the Soviet retreat) and Colonel Imam (another Pakistan Army and ISI officer who is widely believed to have played a key role in the formation of the Taliban; he was reported to have died in 2011, ironically while being in the custody of Taliban).

So Tablighi Jamaat gets a ‘clean chit’ from every agency.

Despite Tablighi Jamaat’s strong protestations that it has no links with terrorists and assertion that it has no responsibility for a terrorist, if any, being associated at some point with it, there are indications to the contrary.

There has never been a clear condemnation of terrorists by the Jamaat. Moreover, all terrorists have, at some point and in some manner or the other, been associated with the Jamaat.

So it won’t be an incorrect inference to draw that it’s Jamaat’s assent and support that has allowed this situation.

Tablighi congregations have also been the principal means of the terrorists’ meetings, movements and activity.

Various kinds of terrorists are sighted in the annual congregations of the Jamaat.

(End of matter)

Pakistan's Bhensa problem: criticising Islam and its prophet

Pakistan has been vexed with bitter fights over criticism of Islam, the alleged insults to the religion and its prophet, not to mention a violence prone 'Takfiri' culture that has 'Muslims' accusing each other of being 'Kafir'.

One of the latest controversies has been the outrage expressed over Facebook pages called Bhensa (buffalo), Mochi (cobbler), and Roshni (light), which seemed to have acted as forums for blunt and audacious criticism and discussion of Islam, mullahs/Islamists, and the government and military establishment of Pakistan.

Police cases have been registered against people thought to have been behind these "blasphemous" forums.

An Islamabad High Court judge, Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, cried bitterly while observing that he expected the interior minister to “take some steps in his own supervision to eliminate the evil, even at the cost of blocking the entirety of social media”.

These Facebook pages have since been blocked or taken over by authorities.

However, a site with URL continues to be functional, carrying what appears to be some of the content originally published on Facebook page Bhensa.

I have taken two Urdu pieces from this site, translated them into English, and posted them below.

Neither of the two pieces carries the name of the writer, but both bear the date of posting.

The two pieces are without headlines. So I have given my own headlines in brackets.

I have also given the Web-link to each of the two Urdu pieces on the as well as the dates of their publication.

The first piece is an account of how the writer began to see the world without the "blinkers of faith" after the Peshawar terror attack that killed 132 school children.

The second is a very short piece, more typical of a casual social media post, in which the writer suggests that Muslims tell legends about their prophet so as to build a false image of him.

Here are the two pieces.

(How my view of Islam changed)

(Posted on December 1, 2015 by Bhensa)

Until about a year ago I used to detest the Mulhid people (those who have left Islam). I wouldn't even think of going anywhere near their (social media) page.

Once I got my hands on ‘Tasavvur e Khuda’ (‘The concept of God’), the book written by Arshad Mehmood (first published in 1997), but couldn’t summon up the courage to read it lest it should lead me astray.

So how did I come round to a different point of view?

The Peshawar attack (on a school on 16 Dec. 2014, in which Tehrik-e-Taliban militants killed 141 people, including 132 children) had a severe effect on my mind. I have small children of my own.

When Taliban cited Hadith (reports of words and deeds of Prophet of Islam) to defend its act, I found myself studying Islam in order to be able to verify that Hadith.

The more I delved into my study, the more I realized that the whole of Islamic history was replete with such acts.

As I grew in understanding without the blinkers of faith, I realized that Islam is a religion that could be used by anyone for any purpose.

Zia (Zia ul Haq, the military dictator who ruled Pakistan from 1978 until his death in 1988) had said he wanted to put Islam into action.

There are still people in Pakistan who admire and remember Zia.

The same can be said about Taliban who also want to put Islam and Shariat into effect.

I am hundred per cent confident that this process is not going to end; Pakistan has every chance of once again becoming a strictly Islamic country.

Islam continues to hold a lot of appeal for people.

I then began to regret the blinkers of faith that made me overlook what Islam was all about.

Earlier, an anti-Islam website would make my blood boil.

No longer.

I remember some years ago becoming very angry at the sight of a Belgian website making fun of the young age of Aisha (when she was made to marry the Prophet of Islam) by publishing a cartoon of hers with Muhammad.

I wanted to break the hands of that cartoonist.

Now I learnt that Aisha was indeed nine years old (when she had already been married to Muhammad).

I got a rude shock when I learnt about Muhammad’s multiple wives; the Islamic Studies books meant for children only mention Khadija and Aisha.         

And then I learnt that he had 11 wives.

When the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ (an anti-Islam short film uploaded to YouTube in 2012) was made, I couldn’t bring myself to watch that film.

I would wonder as to how anyone could cast such an insult upon the glory of the Prophet.

I couldn’t fathom why access to YouTube had been barred, wondering who on earth would want to watch that movie.

I had also heard about ‘Rangila Rasul’ (a book published in Lahore in the 1920s about the marriages and sex lives of Muhammad that resulted in the murder of the publisher), but did not have the nerve to read it.

Now I learnt that all those cartoons, films and books were based on Hadith.

On a visit to the United Kingdom, I got the opportunity to read Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verses’ (first published in 1988 and inspired in part by the life of Muhammad).

Muslims have this strange habit of expressing deep anguish whenever anyone points out the controversial and insulting material that fills the pages of their own Hadith and other books.

Being a Muslim means that your mind functions very differently from what can be called the Western logical thinking. You can have two entirely different and mutually inconsistent thoughts in your mind at the same time – and yet it’s quite normal for you to have that state of mind.

So I watched thousands of YouTube videos, read books, and visited various websites.

One of my teachers used to advise us against believing any of the stuff on Islam available on the Internet lest that should weaken our faith.

Now I understood why he would say that; the more something is hidden from you the more you grow curious about it.

When things about Islam are sought to be covered up, one gets the feeling that something is wrong somewhere.

Now I feel a lot lighter! I feel as if I have fallen in love with life.

I no longer feel like hating people of other religions.

Go by your faith in order to find contentment, they say. I say you have contentment if you haven’t encroached upon what is someone’s due and stayed away from hurting anyone.

I continue to look for truth, but one thing can be said definitively: once a doubt sprouts in your mind, it’s very difficult to go back to where you once were.

(End of matter)


(Stories about Prophet of Islam)

(March 7, 2016; from Bhensa)

Muslims ascribe a false story to the Prophet.

According to that story, an old Jewish woman would regularly throw garbage on the Prophet whenever he walked past her home.

The Prophet would never take offence, nor say anything to the old woman.

Then one day when the Prophet walked once again past her home, nobody threw rubbish on him.

So the Prophet went to her home to enquire the reason behind the break in that routine.

He learnt that the old woman had fallen ill and so couldn’t throw garbage on him that day, and so on so forth…

On the other hand, there is a true story found in two books of Sira (biography of the Prophet), one authored by Ibn Ishaq and another by Ibn Sa’d, which Muslims try to hide.

(The story goes that) the Prophet asked someone to kill Asma bint Marwan only because she wrote poems against him.

She was ruthlessly killed in the darkness of night when she was sleeping with her five children.

One should learn to live with an understanding of the difference between falsehood and truth!

(End of matter)

Monday, April 10, 2017

How does resistance to Christianity's worldwide mission of ethnocide constitute a 'proselytising campaign' by RSS?

As is the wont of almost all mainstream media in India, the Hindustan Times employs Orwellian terms to describe resistance offered by Sarna communities in Jharkhand to Christianization and threat to their own cultural survival as a "proselytising campaign" launched by the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

In a 10 April 2017 report full of quotation marks showing its barely veiled contempt for a drive allegedly undertaken by the RSS to make "Christianity-free" the Arki area in Jharkhand, the newspaper said: "Ghar Wapsi, the Hindi word for homecoming, is the proselytising campaign launched by some Hindu outfits to convert non-Hindus and “bringing them back into the fold of Hinduism”.

Even while the HT report quotes a tribal leader as explaining the nature of the campaign, it completely omits any mention of the years of Sarna resistance to Christianization, including a massive rally of local people in 2013 against the Roman Catholic Church's installation of a statue that depicts Mary and Jesus as a local saree-clad woman holding her baby.

So the HT would have you believe through its tendentious and wrongly informed reporting that resistance to Christianization and working against its fratricidal effects, if any, constitutes a "proselytising campaign" --- and the actual "proselytising campaign" of conversion to Christianity does not even need to be mentioned as if it were some kind of service provided by a local primary health centre!

Also read the report linked below of August 2013 of The Indian Express (not free from the bias that the Indian media employs in reporting or not reporting the enormous crimes committed by the Christian churches in India) to get a background of the Sarna resistance to Christianization in Jharkhand.

The Roman Catholic Church has been employing the same ethnocidal tools against cultures in India that it has used for centuries against indigenous communities/cultures across the world, most strikingly in the Americas.

The Church uses inculturation --- an ethnocidal tool developed and refined over centuries through its brutal colonization of the world and the massive anthropological studies that have been undertaken by the Western colonizers --- to inoculate a culture with its Jesus myth, which gradually poisons the ethnosphere enough with fratricidal conflict to allow for progressively easier Christianization and eventual stifling of the targeted culture.

In purely conceptual terms, ethnocide means targeting the 'syncretism' of a culture.

'Syncretism' simply means societies regarding diversity and even contrariety of ideas and practices as perfectly natural.

It should be easy to imagine for any sensible person as to why it would be quite impossible for a society to function smoothly without 'syncretism'.

'Syncretism is what distinguishes 'culture' from 'religion'.  Every human culture can't help but be 'syncretistic.'

'Religion' (by which I mean only Judeo-Christianity and Islam), on the other hand, rejects 'syncretism' even while exploiting it for its own totalitarian ends.

Judeo-Christianity and Islam abhor and anathematize 'syncretism' because 'syncretism' stands in the way of their false dogma of just ONE person (Jesus or Muhammad) being chosen and commissioned by the singular and jealous God to open the door of divinity, truth, and salvation to all of humanity.

So the Roman Catholic Church goes about professing an interest in a community or culture and gets its missionaries to learn the language and mix with people.

The Church learns about the cultural expressions of the people (such as the iconography of what they hold dear or sacred) and then begins to insinuate the Jesus myth into those cultural expressions, often with the help of global evangelizing organisations that provide the intellectual resources through seminars on 'theology', academic studies, and anthropological data, etc.

All this is done doggedly over years or decades during which the missionaries manage to get a church or two planted, and set up church-funded schools/health centres as well as the so called local 'human rights' groups.

The Roman Catholic Church as well as other branches of Christianity have been carrying out such ethnocidal operations over centuries in all parts of the world. Such 'culture killing' operations are resourced locally as well as nationally and internationally because of the global hegemony that the West enjoys not only in 'religious' terms but also 'secular'.

Such has been brutal effect of these ethnocidal operations that the Roman Catholic Church destroyed cultural diversity of the entire south America in a matter of a century or two and forced millions of its victims to profess the Jesus myth.

The Vatican says the following in an 'apostolic exhortation' called 'Evangelii Nuntiandi'.

"Strata of humanity which are transformed: for the Church it is a question not only of preaching the Gospel in ever wider geographic areas or to ever greater numbers of people, but also of affecting and as it were upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, mankind's criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation."

“All this could he expressed in the following words: what matters is to evangelize man's culture and cultures (not in a purely decorative way, as it were, by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their very roots), in the wide and rich sense which these terms have in Gaudium et spes, always taking the person as one's starting-point and always coming back to the relationships of people among themselves and with God.

The Gospel, and therefore evangelization, are certainly not identical with culture, and they are independent in regard to all cultures. Nevertheless, the kingdom which the Gospel proclaims is lived by men who are profoundly linked to a culture, and the building up of the kingdom cannot avoid borrowing the elements of human culture or cultures."

Christianity thus positions itself as an ethnocidal (i.e. 'culture killing') force in the world, whose aim is to work against 'syncretism' of human cultures across the world and replace it with a dead, homogenizing dogma of the so called 'monotheism' as expressed in the Jesus myth.

Tribals' body, the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Mahasabha, has been bitterly opposing the ethnocidal operation that the Vatican has undertaken in Jharkhand to homogenize and Christianize the local communities.

The tribal people organised a massive rally in Ranchi in 2013 against the church's installation of a statue depicting 'Mother Mary' dressed as a tribal woman, obviously as part of the Vatican's worldwide employment of 'inculturation' to convert people to Christianity.

The Church's response has been a brazen attempt to defeat local resistance to evangelization by falsely claiming that it's the Sangh Parivar that's 'communalizing' the issue by mobilizing local people against it.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Prophet of Islam ordered his supporters to kill those who insulted him, says Pakistani academic

In Medina, the Prophet of Islam himself called for and ordered his companions (Sahaba) to kill many of the people who had insulted him, says Rana Tanveer Qasim, who teaches Islamic Studies at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore, in a video posted on 16 January 2017 on the following Web link.

"You (Prophet) not only encouraged such self-surrendering Sahaba (as those who stepped forward to carry out your order to kill your insulters) but also prayed for divine help to be rendered to them," writes Qasim in a scrolling Urdu text message in the video clip that runs for 8.33 minutes.

"For instance, Ahadith narrate incidents that insulters of the Prophet, put to death by Khalid bin Waleed, Hazrat Zubayr, Umayr bin Adiy, and Muhammad bin Muslima, were sought to be killed by you (Prophet) through an open invitation," he writes.

('Ahadith' is the plural form of Arabic word 'Hadith' which, according to Wikipedia, is one of various reports describing the words, actions, or habits of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam.)

"You (Prophet) yourself prayed for Allah to render assistance through Rooh al Quds (the holy spirit) to Muhammad bin Muslima while sending him on a mission to kill Ka'b bin Ashraf.

(Wikipedia says, "Ka'b bin Ashraf was a Jewish leader in Medina and a poet. He died on the order of the Islamic prophet after the battle of Badr.)'b_ibn_al-Ashraf

Qasim has meant his Urdu text message as a counterblast to an article written by Imtiaz Alam, the Secretary General of South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), in which he sees the latter as wrongly siding with Salman Haider and others being accused of running Facebook pages such as 'Bhensa', 'Mochi' and 'Roshni' that allegedly insult the Prophet.

In Pakistan, showing disrespect to the Prophet of Islam carries death penalty if guilt is established in a trial that must take place with a Muslim judge presiding

Salman Haider, Ahmad Waqass Goraya and Aasim Saeed, who were allegedly critical of Islam as well as policies of the Pakistani state, went missing in early January in Pakistan.

They were later found and are now facing investigation into allegations that they used Facebook pages to insult Islam and its Prophet.

(Learn more about their case by reading the news report on the link below.)

Alam's article was published on January 15 as one of his regular columns in Jang, an Urdu newspaper. It can be read on the following link.

In the article, Alam calls for shutting down of "factories that manufacture Takfeer (branding someone a Kafir through a fatwa) and Tauheen (affirming through a fatwa that someone has insulted the Prophet and other revered figures of Islam)".

"Mr. Imtiaz Alam, how on earth did you assume that Salman Haider and his associates are clean when the reports show that controversial and insulting material is being found on their (Facebook) pages," writes Qasim of UET-Lahore.

"Instead of calling for an investigation into the matter and for lawful punishment if they are found to be involved in the alleged acts, you have taken a one-sided view that endorses their perspective and censures those who are commenting on their insulting actions," writes Qasim in his video message.

In terming the critics of the alleged blasphemers as Takfeeri, Alam, according to Qasim, has in a rather "philosophical style" made the assumption that the Prophet never used violence against his adversaries and those who abandoned him.

"While the Prophet's disposition to have mercy and to condone (an offence) is very clear, the unambiguous parts of Quran and Sunnat as well as the incidents involving the Sahaba bear out the basic principle that the punishment for offending against the glory of the Prophet is only death," writes Qasim, who did his PhD at the Islamia University of Bahawalpur and has been associated with UET-Lahore since 2002.

Qasim contrasts the Muhammad's life in Mecca when he had little power and little choice other than to put up with his adversaries with his life in Medina when the Islamic state had been established and Shariat (Islamic law) had been imposed.

"In this situation (in Medina), it was the state's responsibility to protect with force the Namoos (honour) of the rulers and religious leaders of the Muslims.

"Some Ayats (of Quran) tell us that Muslims did not have the power (in Mecca) to crush the heads of those who insulted the Prophet. So, during that period, Allah the Highest exhorted the Muslims to act with patience and forbearance, and Himself consoled you (Prophet) with the assurance that those bad mouthing you actually deny the Allah Himself -- and that Allah alone is adequate in dealing with them," writes Qasim.

"So, in the initial years of Mecca and Medina, Allah Himself made an example of those slandering the Prophet by making them meet their deaths."

Qasim says Quran's Surah Al Imran 186 represents Allah's call for Muslims to embrace patience and forbearance while being subjected to the great agony of being reviled by the "people of the book" as well as Mushrikeen. 

(Read English renderings of this Surah on the following link.

'Mushrikeen' is the plural of Arabic word 'Mushrik,' meaning a person who commits the sin of 'Shirk'. 

Anyone who violates the exclusive status of the singular God (Allah) by including others in that sacred space as worthy of reverence or worship is deemed to have committed 'Shirk', an unforgivable crime in Islam.

'Mushrik' is often translated into English as 'polytheist'. It's also a word that Muslims apply primarily to those whom they deem 'idolaters'. 

Read more about 'Shirk' in a Wikipedia entry on the following link.)

Usama bin Zaid narrates (in Hadith) that the Prophet did act with a condoning attitude (in the matter of those who called him names) in line with the Allah's command, writes Qasim in his video message.

"And then when you (Prophet) fought the battle of Badr, Allah the Highest had killed all those Kafir leaders of Quraish that He intended to kill." 

(According to the Wikipedia, the Battle of Badr, fought in 624 CE in western Arabia, was a key battle in the early days of Islam and a turning point in Muhammad's struggle with his opponents among the Quraish in Mecca.)

Qasim says the policy of overlooking those who offended against the glory of the Prophet continued until the end of the initial years of Medina.

"There were a number of incidents of that period (coinciding with the policy of forbearance) during which you (Prophet) were also called Raa'ena, among other names," writes Qasim.

(Apparently, 'Raa'ena' meaning "be our shepherd" was a word Jews used to mock Muhammad. So Allah directed the Muslims not to address the Prophet as such and use the more respectable word 'Unzurna'.)

"People give a wrong impression (by citing the incidents of the period of forbearance). They cite incidents of the initial period of Mecca while overlooking the incidents following the establishment of the Islamic state," says Qasim.

"There are instances of the Prophet's responses to such incidents after Muslims got the power. The generous Prophet had Ka'b bin Ashraf the Jew killed under his own supervision, got Abu Rafi Salam bin al Huqayq the Jew killed under his own order. You (Prophet) tasked Abdullah bin Atik with the job of killing that Jew (al Huqayq)."

(Wikipedia says al-Huqayq was a chieftain of the Jewish tribes of the Khaybar oasis. 

When Al-Huqayq approached neighbouring tribes to raise an army to attack Muslims, they assassinated him, aided by an Arab who spoke a Jewish dialect. 

His brothers the famous poets Al-Rabi ibn Abu al-Huqayq and Sallam ibn Abu al-Huqayq were also assassinated at Muhammad's orders.)

Qasim continues: "You (Prophet) sent Hazrat Zubayr to kill a Mushrik who insulted you."

(Wikipedia says Zubair was a nephew of Khadijah, the first of Prophet's many wives, and one of the earliest converts to Islam. 

It is said that Zubayr joined all of Muhammad's military expeditions.

After the Muslims had conquered Al-Qamus, the Jewish treasurer, Kinana, was brought to Muhammad, but he refused to reveal where their money was hidden. 

Muhammad then ordered Zubayr to "torture him until you extract what he has". Zubayr "kindled a fire with flint and steel on his chest until he was nearly dead".)

"Amir bin Amiya killed his Mushrik sister who had insulted the Prophet and you (Prophet) deemed her blood as futile," writes Qasim.

Umayr bin Adiy Khatmi killed Banu Khatma's defiant wife Asma bint Marwan and the generous Prophet applauded this act of Umayr bin Adiy Khatmi.

(According to Wikipedia, Aṣma bint Marwān was a female member of the Ummayad clan who lived in Medina in 7th century Arabia. 

After the Muslim victory over the Quraysh in Mecca in 624 in the Battle of Badr, a number of Muhammad's opponents were killed. 

She composed poems attacking the local tribesmen who converted to Islam and allied with Muhammad, and called for his death.

Upon hearing that, Muhammad then allegedly called for her death in turn, saying "Who will rid me of Marwan's daughter?" 

Umayr bin Adiy al-Khatmi, a blind man belonging to the same tribe as Asma’s husband (i.e., Banu Khatma) responded that he would. 

He crept into her room in the dark of night where she was sleeping with her five children, her infant child close to her bosom. 

Umayr removed the child from Asma's breast and killed her.)'Asma'_bint_Marwan

Qasim writes that during the Prophet's time a Yahudia (Jewess) would insult and slander Nabi Kareem (Prophet). So when a Muslim strangled her to death, you (Prophet) deemed her blood to be of no use.

One should distinguish between those who caused pain to the Prophet on a personal basis and those who mocked the Prophethood, says Qasim.

"Being greatly merciful, you (Prophet) forgave those who inflicted physical torment on you. But you did not forgive those who ridiculed your status as a prophet. That is because disrespect shown to the Prophethood is actually a slur on the Allah Himself as is borne out by scores of places in Quran where the Allah has talked about Himself together with His prophet."

Returning to his denunciation of people like Imtiaz Alam of SAFMA, Qasim adds that terrorism has already been trying to disfigure the beautiful face of Islam and now the Quam (nation) has had to deal with "intellectual terrorists".

Qasim signs off by calling for strongly countering this "intellectual terrorism". 

"We need noble and Muwahid (displaying unwavering adherence to the Muslim creed of one God) intellectuals who can guide and hand-hold the Ummah through this most ruthless of the clash of civilizations and take us forward."

Saturday, December 10, 2016

'Political' and 'economic' domains heteronomize human life

The abstract domain of the 'political' or the 'State' makes for progressively greater control over and heteronomy of human life. The same can be said about the abstract domain of the 'economic'.

The 'political' and 'economic' are imperial-colonial domains that parasitize or prey on the real domain of 'social' -- i.e. of 'society' or 'community' -- where human life is autonomous and without the coercive controls and micro-management characterizing the former two domains.

(Autonomy means freedom from external control or influence. Heteronomy means subjection to an external law or power. Autonomy and heteronomy are thus opposite of each other.)

The autonomy of the 'social' domain or 'society' means it runs on its own; it does not need the so called 'government'.

Anyone who believes that it's the 'government' that runs a 'society' is deluded even though the processes of the 'State' do contribute to progressive undermining of the autonomy of human communities, strengthening the impression as if everything is being run by, or is determined by, the 'government'.

The very idea of 'government' is part myth and part pretense.

'Governments' don't run 'societies'.

(A 'government' is more like a parasite that lives in the organism called 'society' and draws its sustenance from it, harming it in the process. Parasites don't 'run' the organisms in which they live. Also bear in mind that all people who are seen as making up the 'government' are also members of the 'society' that they purport to 'govern'.)

'Societies' function on their own; they don't need 'governing'.

All functionality in evidence of a human society comes from 'social' processes, not 'political' and 'economic' management, which, if anything, seems to contribute more to 'social' dysfunction rather than 'social' functionality.

Whatever 'social' functionality 'experts' attribute to the 'government' actually comes from 'social' processes and not from what gets labelled as 'political' and 'economic' manoeuvring.

So if people are born, brought up, and are running their lives normally, that's evidence of a functioning 'society' -- even where processes of the 'State' have greatly degraded the 'social' domain, thus atomizing and heteronomizing 'society'.

There is actually no such thing as 'polity' or 'economy'; there is only 'society'.

All human relations are essentially 'social' in nature, including those that get labelled as 'political' and 'economic'.

As I have said repeatedly in my blog posts, 'political' and its kindred domain of 'economic' are pure abstractions in that they exist only in the minds of the 'educated'.

The 'political' and 'economic' domains emanate from 500 years of Western colonialism and imperialism; they are always top-down in nature, looking down upon societies, and are used to justify and carry out the imperial-colonial agenda.

Flowing as they are from imperialist ends, the 'political' and 'economic' domains also have motivations and 'morality' widely at variance with motivation and morality of human communities.

In fact, the 'political' and 'economic' domains are used to bend, pervert or invalidate the morality of human communities.

The 'social' domain is not an abstraction. 'Society' is where human life is conceived, birthed, nurtured, sustained, and blossoms in all its glorious interdependence with others.

'Society' (or 'community') is where human life can be seen in its unabstracted state -- in its wholeness. This unabstracted state and wholeness can also be denoted by the term 'culture'.

Each human person bears out the existence of 'society' or 'community'.

So even an individual's existence is an evidence of 'society' or 'community' considering that no person exists in isolation or in absence of relation to others.


Monday, December 5, 2016

'Economy' is a fraud, but 'society' is real

Demonetisation reflects government's vacuity and shows that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has no clear understanding of the distinction between what passes off as the ('organised') 'economy' and mind-boggling number and variety of social transactions that are often mislabeled as the 'informal economy'.

This so called 'informal economy' is India's society itself -- 'society, not 'economy' -- and is the 'freest' and most 'competitive' possible, meeting people's myriad needs with value for money that the organised 'economy' can never give.

(One must bear in mind that what 'economists' call 'market' is nothing but 'social exchange', i.e. the set of all those transactions through which the society meets its needs.)

In contrast, what passes off as the organised 'economy' is a manipulated system and an exemplar of a lack of freedom and competition.

The inherent corruption of the so called organised 'economy' is underpinned by laws such as those that put a veil over the functioning of business entities called 'companies'.

Who is more competitive: a roadside food provider who is competing with myriad others in the vicinity and is attracting customers only by virtue of the quality of his fare or the McDonalds that needs prime real estate worth crores, expensive equipment, and yet delivers standardized fare (based mostly on recipes appropriated from the larger society or culture for free) at prices that exclude most people or deliver poor value for money?

So any attempt to push the 'society' to start behaving like the 'economy' is ill advised and misguided. It's the so called 'economy' which ought to start behaving like the 'society', and not the other way around.

Whereas 'society' exhibits great degree of freedom and autonomy (and what 'economists' call competition), the 'economy' needs constant support of the government to keep itself going.

While 'economy' pretends to be providing 'work' and 'employment' to people, it's actually the 'society' which not only makes people useful and capable, without discrimination, but also gives meaning to their lives.

No wonder, all 'economists' admit that it's the 'informal economy' -- their code word for 'society' -- which accounts for most 'workers' in India.

(As far as I am concerned, each member of a society is a 'worker' in their own right.)

India can run -- and run better -- with recession in the 'economy' or even without the so called 'economy'. But India cannot run without its 'society'.

No reason can be good enough for interfering with the functioning of 'society'.

Anything that restricts or interferes with the freedom and autonomy of the 'society' is bad.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Of mass media, propaganda and mass society

I responded recently to certain questions a researcher posed to me as part of her ongoing work on a paper on media trends in India.

This post is based on my responses in italics to some of her questions.

*I was asked how my blog site works differently from a traditional newspaper. (This question may sound strange, but I was told it was originally meant to be asked of people running much larger-sized publishing outfits and was put to me without being rephrased because of time crunch.) 

Mine is just a blog site that I use as a personal diary to post my thoughts, articles, etc., whenever
I feel like writing. 

There have been many weeks or even months when I didn’t feel like writing and so didn’t post anything.

I think all or most ‘traditional newspapers’ are or behave as if they are ‘mass media’ vehicles.

I view a ‘mass media’ vehicle as targeted towards ‘mass society’ and making use of ‘mass production’ set-up.

A ‘mass production’ set-up, by its very nature, can only be a capital intensive enterprise, which means only very few people can own and control it.

That implies (a) ultimate control vests in one or a few persons, (b) existence of a hierarchy of managerial/editorial functionaries as is usual in any capitalistic enterprise even though such a hierarchy is ill-suited to journalism’s need for open and uninhibited communication.

These implications lead to further implications, such as top down command and control that often results in tendentious reportage or manufacture of propaganda material.

Another upshot of ‘mass production’ set up is a narrow defining of areas to be covered by reporters according to their place in the hierarchy, which means initiative and intellectual growth gets straitjacketed.

In a ‘mass production’ set-up, the managers/editors must fill up the available space (excluding the space reserved for advertisers) with some ‘material’ each day of publication regardless of whether they have the news or commentary that really measures up their own standards.

So factuality, discourse, debate, intellectuality, reasoning, sentiment, balance and every other element of journalism become subservient to regular ‘production’ of the periodical, which becomes the overriding concern.

The medium becomes an end in itself; the information and ideas just become the filler and all journalistic functions become increasingly production-oriented and degraded.

I also feel that moving up the hierarchy in a media organization often means that the journalist so promoted ends up making less effort to gather facts (degradation of empirical nature of journalism) and settles into smug opinionatedness.

Given the top-down nature of control in a media organization, one also feels that going up the hierarchy has a lot to do with a person’s willingness to conform to the owners’ wishes. 

Thus journalists transform into some kind of ‘managers’ as they move up the hierarchy.

These factors put one’s job in a mass media organization completely out of kilter with one’s need for one’s sense and sensibility to evolve. 

In other words, one’s media career often inhibits or works against one’s better sense and one’s intellectual evolution.

One can debate what came first: ‘mass media’ or ‘mass society’. It’s clear to me, however, that ‘mass media’ facilitates the creation of ‘mass society’ and the existence of ‘mass society’ helps justify the existence of ‘mass media’.

There would be no ‘mass media’ without ‘mass society.’ And the ‘mass society’ would loosen up towards more autonomy and less heteronomy (i.e. would tend towards losing its ‘mass’ character) if ‘mass media’ were to be eliminated.

I would instantiate ‘mass society’ as people living in large cities like Mumbai and Delhi with incredibly high population densities and huge crowds in public places being a regular experience of each individual.

The defining characteristics of a ‘mass society’ are its heteronomy and impersonal relations which are wholly accounted for by two abstract domains of ‘political’ and ‘economic’ – as contrasted with the more autonomous and real domain of ‘communal’ which includes family, close friends, neighbours, etc.

Such ‘mass societies’ inexorably come to be seen as possessing ‘crowd’-like characteristics and as requiring to be ‘supplied’ with news and views through standardized means similar to the ones utilized in meeting their more material needs.

Put simply, ‘mass societies’ are treated as ‘crowds’ to be satisfied, pacified and controlled with mass produced goods and services, including the media.

Standardized means of production and supply of news and views to a large population, which can only be organized as a capital intensive enterprise, will inevitably tend towards a system of propaganda in line with the requirements of the two abstract domains of ‘political’ and ‘economic’.

In simpler terms, ‘mass media’ can only be a means of propaganda with the propaganda function varying or evolving according to the ‘political’ and ‘economic’ factors.

Since I deem ‘political’ and ‘economic’ domains abstract and unreal as against the real domain of ‘communal’ (i.e. of ‘community’), I view mass media as tending towards the unreal.

(I should point out again that I believe that the two abstract domains of ‘political’ and ‘economic’ stand for ‘heteronomy’ of human life whereas the real domain of ‘communal’ represents the ‘autonomy’ of human life.)

*I was asked how I view the mainstream media, especially with regards to the issues I cover in my blog posts.  

Mainstream media in India, in my opinion, bears striking similarities with the ‘propaganda model’ of mass media expounded by Herman and Chomsky in their 1988 work, ‘Manufacturing Consent: the Political Economy of the Mass Media’.

I, for instance, have taken a critical look at the public-private partnership (PPP) policy and projects in my blog.

The mainstream media, on the other hand, has refused to look critically at PPPs and continues to publish the propaganda material handed out by the government and big business.

I also have thought through concepts like ‘religion,’ ‘culture,’ ‘secularism,’ ‘communalism’ (a word that seem to have a special meaning and negative context in India), etc.

The mainstream media continues to be obtuse and dangerously propagandistic in its uncritical acceptance and promotion of stupid Western ideas as applied to the Indian context.

*I was asked as to how the name of my site reflects my cause.

The title of my blog site, ‘Thinking Through,’ reflects the difficulty I have in accepting the received, mass disseminated ideas.

I think many of these ideas, particularly those of the West, are pernicious or simply stupid when they are applied to non-Western societies (or even to Western ones).

I think ‘mass media’ and ‘mass education’ are taking us all towards ‘mass stupidity’.

So the problem is not that people can’t appreciate the truth; the problem is that a constant state of propaganda fills one’s head with so much stupid ideas that people find it difficult to appreciate simplest and most intuitive of realities and truths.

I was asked as to what I wanted to achieve through my blog.

I believe I have worked for the last 4-5 years on concepts like ‘religion’, ‘culture’, ‘community’, etc., and have come up with quite intuitive understanding of them.

I believe these ideas can disabuse people of the stupidity, narrow-mindedness and conflict into which they are forced through mass propaganda.

So my primary goal is to have my ideas help people realize their own vulnerability to propaganda and start thinking on their own.

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