Thursday, December 27, 2012


From The Heart Of A Muslim
By Tawfik Hamid
"I am a Muslim by faith, a Christian by spirit, a Jew by heart, and above all I am a human being."
~ Dr. Tawfik Hamid.Dr. Hamid is an Egyptian scholar and author of the article.
The world needs more people like him---ones who have the courage to face-up to reality.Description: image001.jpg@01CD5763.D251FDE0

I was born a Muslim and lived all my life as a follower of Islam. 

After the barbaric terrorist attacks done by the hands of my fellow Muslims everywhere on this globe, and after the too many violent acts by Islamists in many parts of the world, I feel responsible as a Muslim and as a human being to speak out and tell the truth to protect the world and Muslims as well from a coming catastrophe and war of civilizations.

I have to admit that our current Islamic teaching creates violence and hatred toward non-Muslims. We Muslims are the ones who need to change. Until now we have accepted polygamy, the beating of women by men, and killing those who convert from Islam to other religions.

We have never had a clear and strong stand against the concept of slavery or wars, to spread our religion and to subjugate others to Islam and force them to pay a humiliating tax called jizia. We ask others to respect our religion while all the time we curse non-Muslims loudly (in Arabic) in our Friday prayers in the mosques.

What message do we convey to our children when we call the Jews "descendants of the pigs and monkeys"? [Yet, both Arabs and Jews are descendants of Ibrahim (Abraham)!] Is this a message of love and peace, or a message of hate?

I have been into [Christian] churches and [Jewish] synagogues where they were praying for Muslims. While all the time, we curse them, and teach our generations to call them "infidels", and to hate them.

We immediately jump in a 'knee jerk reflex' to defend Prophet Mohammad when someone accuses him of being a pedophile while, at the same time, we are proud with the story in our Islamic books that he married a young girl seven years old [Aisha]when he was above 50 years old.

I am sad to say that many, if not most of us, rejoiced in happiness after September 11th and after many other terror attacks.

Muslims denounce these attacks to look good in front of the media, but we condone the Islamic terrorists and sympathise with their cause. Until now our 'reputable' top religious authorities have never issued a fatwa or religious statement to proclaim Bin Laden as an apostate, while an author, like Rushdie, was declared an apostate who should be killed according to Islamic Shari'a law just for writing a book criticizing Islam.

Muslims demonstrated to get more religious rights as we did in France to stop the ban on the hijab (head scarf), while we did not demonstrate with such passion and in such numbers against the terrorist murders. It is our abs olute silence against the terrorists that gives the energy to these terrorists to continue doing their evil acts.

We Muslims need to stop blaming our problems on others or on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. As a matter of honesty, Israel is the only light of democracy, civilization, and human rights in the whole Middle East.

We kicked out the Jews with no compensation or mercy from most of the Arab countries to make them "Jews-free countries" while Israel accepted more than a million Arabs to live there, have their own nationality, and enjoy their rights as human beings. In Israel, women cannot be beaten legally by men, and any person can change his/her belief system with no fear of being killed by the Islamic law of 'apostasy,' while in our Islamic world people do not enjoy any of these rights.

I agree that the 'Palestinians' suffer, but they suffer because of their corrupt leaders and notbecause of Israel. 

It is not common to see Arabs who live in Israel leaving to live in the Arab world. On the other hand, we used to see thousands of Palestinians going to work with happiness in Israel, its 'enemy.' If Israel treats Arabs badly as some people claim, surely we would have seen the opposite happening.

We Muslims need to admit our problems and face them. Only then we can treat them and start a new era to live in harmony with human mankind. Our religious leaders have to show a clear and very strong stand against polygamy, pedophilia, slavery, killing those who convert from Islam to other religions, beating of women by men, and declaring wars on non-Muslims to spread Islam.

Then, and only then, do we have the right to ask others to respect our religion. The time has come to stop our hypocrisy and say it openly: 'We Muslims have to change.'

Tuesday, December 25, 2012



Of the caste, by the caste, for the caste

CP Bhambhri

The proposal to have reservations for SC/STs in promotion to Government jobs shows that  ‘casteisation’ of Indian politics is complete

The Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill 2012 introduced in Rajya Sabha and approved in the Winter Session has intensified conflicts between political leaders on the issue of allowing caste-based promotions in public services. Ms Mayawati, as the leader of the Dalits, has publicly confronted Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose electoral vote base comprises members from Other Backward Classes. Because of material and economic conditions prevailing in agrarian India, the Dalits and the OBCs are organised on opposite sides in society.
Apart from Mr Yadav, other leaders of the OBC peasantry like Ajit Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Dal and Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal (United) have taken a clear stand against reservations for SC/STs in promotions in Government service. Public employees in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, who are opposed to this new concession for SC/STs, went on strike from December 13. The battle lines have been drawn and it is clear that there is nothing like a homogenous group of the oppressed. Different sub-castes are in perpetual struggle to get quota-based reservation for jobs. The Gujjars of Rajasthan have been on the war path for inclusion in the OBC quota, and the Government of Haryana has accepted the recommendation of the Backward Class Commission to include Jats, Jat Sikhs, Tyagis and Bishnois in the quota for Other Backward Classes. 
Bihar Chief Minister Bihar Nitish Kumar has created a new category for the Extreme or Most Backward Castes, within the OBCs, for greater share within the quota of the OBCs. This race for inclusion in the group that benefits from reservations is encouraged by sub-caste leaders trying to establish their political credentials. Also, most political parties do not have a consistent policy on this issue. Their response is determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on how much political leverage they can achieve in the process.  The best example of this was provided by former Prime Minister VP Singh, who decided to implement the Mandal Commission report on backward classes in August 1990, when he felt threatened by the supporters of Devi Lal within his own party. Singh, the Machiavelli of Uttar Pradesh, abruptly announced his acceptance of the Mandal Commission report to save his prime ministership. His decision was both applauded and condemned, as both supporters and opponents looked only to consolidate their interests in the present.
But one long-term consequence of Singh's decision was the rise of caste-based leaders like Mr Lalu Prasad, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, Mr Sharad Yadav, Mr Nitish Kumar, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ms Mayawati (and even her mentor Kanshi Ram). These leaders reduced political discourse to a caste-versus-caste level and the distinction between politics and caste was blurred. Consequently, when such leaders rose to lead a Government or a ministry, they merely acted as a patron of their own castes, often at the cost of overall social welfare. So much so that even State-level bureaucrats began to be identified with their caste groups. Moreover, these leaders continued to practise their caste politics even after they joined coalition Governments at the Centre.
So what are the implications of such caste-based politics? First, the ‘casteisation' of Indian politics is now complete. It is no longer confined to the manipulation of caste or sub-caste loyalties to win a local election; instead, its impact is felt on the whole system of governance, including the public institutions. Second, the legalisation and institutionalisation of ‘casteisation' has only solidified inter and intra-caste hostilities. Third, Indian law makers have violated the basic principle of democratic citizenship by allowing caste-based markers to come into play. 
Today, India has become a sum total of its many castes, represented in state institutions on the basis of fixed caste-based quotas. The political drama surrounding the issue of reservations in promotions on the basis of castes is only the tip of  the iceberg.


Courtesy: Author Sandhya Jain and

Note re: one correction. There is a misrepresentation of categories in the Pew Study. See: of Dharma-Dhamma continuum account for 27.8%, the second largest religious group of the world population (PEW 2010). Kalyan

The flight from faith

By Sandhya Jain on December 25, 2012
A Catholic pilgrim touches a column inside the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, on Christmas eve. (AP photo by Adel Hana)

A startling consequence of the global financial meltdown, particularly the rising levels of unemployment, spiralling prices, decline in living standards, and growing insecurity of the middle class and marginalised sections of society, has been an unprecedented flight from religion. Amongst the monotheistic faiths, Christianity and Judaism have witnessed a huge exodus of adult adherents who have moved into a category of ‘no religious affiliation’, according to a study on the size of world faiths.

Last week, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, revealed findings that people with no religious affiliation now rank third after Christians and Muslims on a global scale; Hindus take fourth place. The study, The Global Religious Landscape, is based on extensive data for the year 2010. It notes that while 84 per cent (6.9 billion) of the eight-billion-plus world population still identifies with a religion, the ‘unaffiliated’ category is drawing huge numbers, and already exceeds 15 per cent of the adult population. These include those who profess no faith or have spiritual beliefs unlinked to any traditional faith.

According to some observers, the findings suggest that the ‘no faith’ group could be as large as one billion already; certainly it is recording the fastest growth. As the globalisation of poverty and other issues make people question their traditions and beliefs, increasing numbers of people no longer identify with their traditional faith, do not practice it, but often continue to claim affiliation to their natal faith as their religion, if asked. This group is expected to join the explicitly ‘no faith’ group by the time of the next worldwide study on faith adherence.

The study shows that Islam and Hinduism (concentrated in India) are the two faiths mostly likely to expand in future; Judaism currently has the weakest chances of growth. Christianity is evenly spread all over the globe, but is facing huge challenges.

The Pew study has startled most, as normally a financial crisis, coupled with a decline in public morality and failure of public institutions to respond to the needs of society, tends to be accompanied by a steep rise in religious piety and a hunger for the certitudes provided by faith. That this has not happened in our contemporary era should prompt deep introspection.

So far, this new non-religious adult population has not articulated its views and concerns on social, economic, or political issues. It has not spelt out the reasons for its disillusionment with religion, or vision of an alternative to religion. Does this group have a public vision and will to pull society out of the current straits? Can this take the form of public mobilisation against war (as during the Vietnam War) or take off from the failure of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement and challenge the dominance of the ‘One Percent’ that controls the world economy?\

What is almost certain is that there will be a backlash from organised religion against its rejection. No major leader of any of the organised faiths has given a call for reform; hence a reworking of doctrine to appeal to the people can be ruled out in the first instance. It is more likely that there will be a growing rigidity of doctrine, which in the case of Christianity in the West will involve increased politicisation of believers. Similarly, Jews will intensify their ethnic loyalties and support for political Zionism, yet these responses may be unsustainable in the long term.

Scholars of religion note that the economic crisis has not triggered a quest for religious solace. This is largely because, in the West, neither the mainline churches nor synagogues can offer help in terms of concrete needs of their followers, such as solutions to mortgage foreclosure, bankruptcies, unemployment, loss of savings or pensions. In fact, even fast-growing churches like the apocalyptic, Pentecostal, Charismatic or Born Again Churches have not been able to attract adults in the past two decades.

Experts feel that the rise of non-religious adults in the past two decades is not related to greater education, urbanisation or exposure to rationalist thought as that has remained constant over this period. The qualitative difference comes from rising discontent over declining incomes among wage and salaried workers, steep rise in inequality, endless wars all over the planet, and the loss of prestige and credibility of major political and economic institutions. In America, as many as 78 per cent citizens have a poor opinion of the US Congress and the banks, especially Wall Street. In this scenario, religious institutions and religious faith are viewed as irrelevant or complicit in the collapse of the social and economic lives of ordinary citizens; the polity is seen as inextricably enmeshed with the corporate world.

Yet Islam and Eastern religions (Hinduism, Buddhism) are attracting new adherents. This could be because of the more tightly-knit familial and social structures of both, with the attendant moral, social, and economic support in times of crisis. The two major monotheistic faiths, on the other hand, have for long fragmented family and society down to the level of the individual; these were together controlled by the authoritarian church and state. Now both have lost credibility, with consequences that will play out in the future.