Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Religious fanatics control educational system in Pakistan

June 24, 2020

Nasir Khan

Pakistani physicist Dr. Hoodbhoy’s dismissal proves once again that there is no place for any enlightened academic or scientist in Pakistan who does not follow the official line of the horrid ignorance that is imposed in the name of Islam. The Islamist right-wingers have the final say what is to be taught in the educational institutions.  Thus ignorant people have a decisive voice in shaping the educational policies of the educational institutions. They decide what a teacher of science or other subjects should say and not say.

We have heard and witnessed over the decades that Pakistani ruling elites and exploiters of Islam proclaiming time and again that in Pakistan everything taught should be according to the teachings of the Quran. But the irony is that these people even don’t know this basic fact that the Quran is a sacred book of Muslims, not a guide or manual on physics, chemistry, geology, history, geography or cosmology, etc.

Religion vs. Reason

by Khaled Ahmed June 22, 2020  

File photo of Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy. Attila Kisbenedek—AFP

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy’s dismissal from Lahore’s FCC University is a win for irrationality

Professor Dr. Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, currently teaching physics and math at Lahore’s Forman Christian College University, has been informed that his contract will not be renewed in 2021. The same week, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar announced that all universities of the province would be required to teach the holy Quran as a compulsory subject, with students allowed to graduate only after the course has been completed.

Hoodbhoy, born in 1950, is a Ph.D. in nuclear physics; he objects to acts of state and society against reason. His book Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality explains the source of his trouble with the ideological state of Pakistan. It is not that he hates religion; he objects to acts of irrationality in the name of religion. The two scientists he most admires, Ramanujan and Abdus Salam, were deeply religious.

He protested, however, when Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s own police guard murdered the politician after Taseer defended a Christian woman accused of insulting Islam’s Prophet under Pakistan’s draconian anti-blasphemy law. Having lived under General Ziaul Haq’s Islamic martial law, he was put off by a 1987 conference on “scientific miracles” in which Muslim scientists mixed religious miracle with scientific discovery. Pakistani scientists, encouraged by a funding of Rs. 6,600,000 (half provided by Saudi Arabia), flew off the handle and talked rubbish about science and demeaned the divine writ of the Quran.

Pakistan’s chief scientist, Salim Mehmud, tried to give himself a leg-up by making a hash of the theory of relativity after linking it with the “mairaj” (ascension) of Islam’s Prophet. Another scientist, lucratively employed at The Holy Quran Research Foundation, proposed that taming “jinns could solve the country’s energy-related problems” as the creatures are made of fire. Many others, lured by the limelight, delivered of themselves gems of medieval gibberish in the name of Islamic science.

Hoodbhoy has examined the roots of these ridiculous attitudes among Muslim scientists and come up with a well-researched book about the maltreatment of the scientific principle in Muslim societies. He asked Nobel Prize laureate Abdus Salam to write its preface because the professor had already made a plaintive appeal to the Muslim world to spend money on scientific advancement instead of “conquering” science through dogma.

Hoodbhoy tells us that scientific facts are contingent on reality. They are empirically proven but subject to change upon further discovery. In his view, it is wrong to link the eternal truth of Islam to this evolving understanding of natural phenomena. Science relies on observation and logic whose predictability is not destroyed by the new understanding of quantum physics. For a believer, it is important to separate divine knowledge from empirical fact, but this separation should not impinge on the ferocious Islamic polemic against secularism.

Science in Islam was destroyed because it was never applied enough to involve the common man. Kings often employed scientists, but they were at times killed after the death of their patron. Al-Kindi was lashed 50 times in front of an illiterate approving crowd; Al-Razi was hit on the head with his own book on rationalism till he lost his eyesight; Ibn Sina’s entire life was spent running away from one prince after the other for fear of being killed for heresy; Ibn Khaldun, the great social scientist discovered by the West, was condemned by Taha Hussain as a non-believer pretending to be a Muslim.

In his book, Hoodbhoy quotes Syed Ameer Ali on Islamic thinkers who thought the scientific method anti-Islamic: Al-Ashari, Ibn Hanbal, Al-Ghazali and Ibn Taymiyya. He examines the case made by leading Asharite Imam Ghazali against the study of logic and mathematics and thinks that this was to become the greatest intellectual hurdle against the learning of science. He criticizes contemporary Islamic scholar Hussein Nasr for blaming the sciences for the misdirection of the Muslim mind. His critique of Ziauddin Sardar for introducing the polemic of secularism into the sciences is balanced and fair.

Hoodbhoy steps beyond the pale of anti-scientism in today’s new intellectual trend when he gives statistics about the poverty of science learning in the Muslim world. The gap between India and Pakistan is significant because it goes beyond the argument of population ratios. One has to helplessly concede that where Muslims control societies, the one branch of knowledge that becomes neglected is the sciences. Prof Salam’s advocacy of the pure sciences becomes meaningful when one realizes that professional disciplines far outstrip the disciplines that teach science.

Hoodbhoy is not the only dissenting voice to have been dismissed from the echelons of academia in recent weeks. Author Mohammad Hanif posted on Twitter that he, too, had been let go from Karachi’s Habib University. Similarly, Prof. Ammar Ali Jan, also affiliated with FCCU, has also claimed on the social network that he had been released as visiting faculty over his public activism that was making the varsity “controversial.”

Pervez Hoodbhoy’s book has diagnosed what is happening to the Muslim mind toward the end of the 20th century. This mind is not only producing strange reactions to the sciences in general; it is also trying to tackle the question of governance without separating the state from religious belief. The new coercive order spreading over Muslim society is not political but intellectual. The tragic fact however is that this experiment is too late in the day and quite redundant in the light of what the institution of the state has gone through in Islam’s own history and in other civilizations.

The Media Has Conveniently Forgotten George W. Bush’s Many Atrocities

June 7, 2020

bush 9-11 guantanamo torture war

James Bovard, June 4, 2020

Former president George W. Bush has returned to the spotlight to give moral guidance to America in these troubled times. In a statement released on Tuesday, Bush announced that he was “anguished” by the “brutal suffocation” of George Floyd and declared that “lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all.”

Bush’s declaration was greeted with thunderous applause by the usual suspects who portray him as the virtuous Republican in contrast to Trump. While the media portrays Bush’s pious piffle as a visionary triumph of principle, Americans need to vividly recall the lies and atrocities that permeated his eight years as president.

In an October 2017 speech in a “national forum on liberty” at the George W. Bush Institute in New York City, Bush bemoaned that “Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.” Coming from Bush, this had as much credibility as former president Bill Clinton bewailing the decline of chastity.

Most media coverage of Bush nowadays either ignores the falsehoods he used to take America to war in Iraq or portrays him as a good man who received incorrect information. But Bush was lying from the get-go on Iraq and was determined to drag the nation into another Middle East war. From January 2003 onwards, Bush constantly portrayed the US as an innocent victim of Saddam Hussein’s imminent aggression and repeatedly claimed that war was being “forced upon us.” That was never the case. As the Center for Public Integrity reported, Bush made “232 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and another 28 false statements about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda.” As the lies by which he sold the Iraq War unraveled, Bush resorted to vilifying critics as traitors in a 2006 speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Bush’s lies led to the killing of more than four thousand American troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. But since those folks are dead and gone anyhow, the media instead lauds Bush’s selection to be in a Kennedy Center art show displaying his borderline primitive oil paintings.

In February 2018, Bush was paid lavishly to give a prodemocracy speech in the United Arab Emirates, ruled by a notorious Arab dictatorship. He proclaimed: “Our democracy is only as good as people trust the results.” He openly fretted about Russian “meddling” in the 2016 US election.

But when he was president, Bush acted as if the United States were entitled to intervene in any foreign election he pleased. He boasted in 2005 that his administration had budgeted almost $5 billion “for programs to support democratic change around the world,” much of which was spent on tampering with foreign vote totals. When Iraq held elections in 2005, Bush approved a massive covert aid program for pro-American Iraqi parties. The Bush administration spent over $65 million to boost their favored candidate in the 2004 Ukraine election. Yet, with boundless hypocrisy, Bush proclaimed that “any (Ukrainian) election…ought to be free from any foreign influence.” US government-financed organizations helped spur coups in Venezuela in 2002 and Haiti in 2004. Both of those nations, along with Ukraine, remain political train wrecks.

In that October 2017 New York speech, Bush proclaimed: “No democracy pretends to be a tyranny.” But ravaging the Constitution was apparently part of his job description when he was president. Shortly after 9-11, Bush turned back the clock to before 1215 (when the Magna Carta was signed), formally suspending habeas corpus and claiming a prerogative to imprison indefinitely anyone he labeled a terrorist suspect. In 2002, Justice Department lawyers informed Bush that the president was entitled to violate the law during wartime—and the war on terror was expected to continue indefinitely. In 2004, Bush White House counsel Alberto Gonzales formally asserted a “commander-in-chief override power” entitling presidents to ignore the Bill of Rights.

Under Bush, the US government embraced barbaric practices which did more to destroy America’s moral credibility than all of Trump’s tweets combined. Bush’s “enhanced interrogation” regime included endless high-volume repetition of a Meow Mix cat food commercial at Guantanamo, head slapping, waterboarding, exposure to frigid temperatures, and manacling for many hours in stress positions. After the Supreme Court rebuffed some of Bush’s power grabs in 2006, he pushed through Congress a bill that retroactively legalized torture—one of the worst legislative disgraces since the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. During his years in the White House, Bush perennially denied that he had approved torture. But in 2010, during an author tour to promote his new memoir, he bragged about approving waterboarding for terrorist suspects.

Is Bush nominating himself to be the nation’s racial healer? When he was president, Bush inflicted more financial ruin on blacks than any president since Woodrow Wilson (who brought Jim Crow barbarities to the federal government). Bush trumpeted his plans to close the gap between black and white homeownership rates and promised in 2002 to “use the mighty muscle of the federal government” to solve the problem. Bush was determined to end the bias against people who wanted to buy a home but had no money. Congress passed Bush’s American Dream Downpayment Act in 2003, authorizing federal handouts to first-time homebuyers of up to $10,000 or 6 percent of the home’s purchase price. Bush also swayed Congress to permit the Federal Housing Administration to make no–down payment loans to low-income Americans. Bush proclaimed: “Core American values of individuality, thrift, responsibility, and self-reliance are embodied in homeownership.” In Bush’s eyes, self-reliance was so wonderful that the government should subsidize it. And it didn’t matter whether recipients were creditworthy, because politicians meant well. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign trumpeted his down payment giveaways, a shining example of “compassionate conservatism.”

Thanks in large part to his policies, minority households saw the fastest growth in homeownership leading up to the 2007 recession. The housing collapse ravaged the net worth of black and Hispanic households. “The implosion of the subprime lending market has left a scar on the finances of black Americans—one that not only has wiped out a generation of economic progress but could leave them at a financial disadvantage for decades,” the Washington Post reported in 2012. The median net worth for Hispanic households declined by 66 percent between 2005 and 2009. That devastation was aptly described in a 2017 federal appeals court dissenting opinion as “wrecking ball benevolence” (quoting a 2004 Barron’s op-ed I wrote). But almost none of the media coverage of the ex-president reminds people of the economic carnage of this Bush vote-buying binge.

It is possible to condemn police brutality and, even more importantly, the evil laws and judicial doctrines that enable police to tyrannize other Americans without any help from a demagogic ex-president who ravaged our rights, liberties, and peace. As I commented in an August 2003 USA Today op-ed, “Whether Bush and his appointees will be held personally liable for their [Iraq War] falsehoods is a grave test for American democracy.” The revival of Bush’s reputation vivifies how our political media system failed that test. As long as George Bush doesn’t turn himself in for committing war crimes, all of his talk about “achieving justice for all” is rubbish. Author:

James Bovard

James Bovard is the author of ten books, including 2012’s Public Policy Hooligan, and 2006’s Attention Deficit Democracy. He has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Playboy, Washington Post, and many other publications.

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Not the One but the Many

May 27, 2020

In his poems and articles, Badri Raina often reflects upon the social and political conditions in his native land, India. He knows how Hinduva’s fascist nationalists have hijacked the secular direction of the Indian polity which accorded full recognition to ethnoreligious diversity of the state after the end of the British colonial rule in 1947.

Many left-wing people also became convinced that India’s constitution will protect the minorities of India under an independent judiciary. But such hopes were shattered when the Hindutva emerged as a dominating force that had broad support in the Hindu population.

Badri Raina’s new poem is a reflection of his long-held views and struggles. However, the ideas he advances in this poem are also applicable to many countries where morbid rightists use the cover of religion and populist demagoguery to further their sectarian objectives.

—Nasir Khan

Not the One but the Many

By Badri Raina

May 24, 2020
One swallow does not a summer make,

Nor one race or caste a nation;

And no nation, however exceptional,

Tantamounts to creation.

What cruelties we perpetrate

To make one size fit all,

When various are our expressions,

And multifarious Nature’s call.

Think what calamity would ensue

If birds were just one bird,

And flowers all of a single hue,

And all humans just a herd.

God gave us variety,

We seek a domination

Of  the syllables that fell to us

As universal conversation,

The bird that sings a different tune,

And wears a different plume

We see as threat to our clime,–

An estrangement and doom.

The brain, one thought, would evolve

To embrace abundance;

Alas our blinkers are fortified

The more we advance.

UK: Where is Keir Starmer leading the Labour Party?

May 12, 2020

Nasir Khan

Keir Starmer is playing political games to gain electoral support from the large British Indian community to further his political career. To this end, he has chosen to side with the ultra-rightist Hindutva regime of PM Modi.

On 5 August 2019, Modi set aside the constitutional guarantees of the semi-autonomous status to the State of Jammu & Kashmir which the Indian rulers had given to this state after the Partition of India in 1947. When Modi’s PJP won a large electoral majority in the Indian national elections in May last year, he set in motion a total blockade of Jammu & Kashmir to impose direct Indian rule there. That was in flagrant violations of the eh UN resolutions and also the guarantees that Indian rulers had given to Kashmiris in 1947.

However, the people of Kashmir never compromised their demands and their national right to self-determination. Their movement for freedom from the Indian rule became an open revolt in 1989. Since then, Inda has done all to crush by its military power the freedom movement of the people of Kashmir, who are mostly Muslims. Indian army has killed over one hundred thousand Kashmiris.

At a time, when the colonised people of Kashmir need the support and solidarity of all freedom-loving people, trade unions and labour organizations, the direction taken by Keir Starmer is the opposite of what a Labour leader should have done.
The steps taken by the British Muslims are fair and must be a reminder to this Labour leader that his policy to appease the Hindu voters is downright opportunistic and degrading. He is pushing the Labour Party in a direction that will make it look like an extended arm of Isareli Zionists and Hindutva fascists.

Ordinary working-class people have been the backbone of the Labour Party. We who have stood by the Labour Party, as I have done for over half-a-century, are deeply anguished to see Keir Starmer turning a blind eye to what the ordinary members of the Labour Party have stood for. It is high time that such people raise their voice collectively and also stand with people who oppose Starmer’s political overtures to the brutal oppressors of Kashmir and also Palestine.

Over 100 mosques threaten to boycott Labour over Kashmir

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Keir Starmer

Over 100 British mosques and Islamic centres have signed a letter to Labour leader Keir Starmer saying they would support a call for Muslims to abstain from voting for Labour unless it supports Kashmir’s right to self-determination.

The letter came after Starmer described the Kashmir dispute as a “bilateral issue” between India and Pakistan after a meeting with an Indian lobby group at the end of last month.

Starmer’s comments caused outrage among Muslims and eventually led to several Labour Muslim MPs reiterating their support for Kashmiri rights.

The Labour leader has since said that the party’s position on Kashmir has not changed and that it recognises previous UN resolutions on the rights of the Kashmiri people.

Here is the letter from the mosques in full:

We, the undersigned members of the Muslim community living in the UK (many of whom have families in South Asia), are writing to express our utter shock at the contents of your letter in which you clearly express unflinching support for the Indian Government’s position on Kashmir.

This, at a time when the very same Indian Government is engaging in anti-Muslim rhetoric and failing to protect the Indian Muslim community from populist violence, and enacting laws that will potentially render 40 million Muslim citizens in India stateless, which as you well know contravenes international law.

Muslim coronavirus patients are being turned away from hospitals. Kashmir itself has been in lockdown for more than eight months now. India, under the premiership of Narendra Modi, is stepping away from being one of the world’s largest democracies and hurtling instead towards becoming a fascist-led authoritarian state where minorities, Muslims and others, no longer feel safe or protected. It is the members of this very same hate-fuelled ideology who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.

We wish to remind you that Kashmir is not a bilateral issue, evidenced by the 11 UN Security Council Resolutions which declare Kashmir a disputed territory and that the people of Kashmir have the right to self-determination, something which was enshrined in India’s constitution under Article 370. The meeting at the Security Council last year on 16th August 2019 is further evidence that this is not just a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

It is one of the world’s oldest unresolved territorial conflicts that has the potential to lead India and Pakistan into a devastating nuclear war which would have global repercussions. You have not only completely disregarded the international element of the conflict but have also pointedly ignored the Labour Party’s own resolution, voted in at the 2019 conference, which states:

“[We] accept that Kashmir is a disputed territory and the people of Kashmir should be given the right to self-determination in accordance with UN resolutions. The Labour Party to stand with the Kashmiri people fighting against occupation, this is vital as we stand for social justice and ethical foreign policy.”

It would seem to us that holding foreign governments to account over their discriminatory policies and human rights abuses does not seem to be a foreign policy goal under your leadership. As a former barrister, you will clearly be aware of the seriousness of India’s violation of UN resolutions. In addition, you, as the new leader of the Labour Party ought to shoulder greater responsibility on this issue given that the partition which led to this conflict was overseen by a Labour government at the time.

Indian occupation forces in Kashmir

It seems to us that there is an ingrained view that the British Muslim vote has and always will be a secure one for the Labour Party, to be taken for granted with little consideration of the issues and concerns which matter to us as British Muslim communities. In view of the concerns raised above, we strongly urge you to reconsider the party’s position.

We hereby state in no uncertain terms that should you fail to modify your position on the issue of Kashmir and by extension, the plight and oppression of the large Indian Muslim minority within India, then we will consider the Labour Party to have simply taken advantage of the Muslim community.

We will, therefore, have no option but to support a call for the Muslim community to abstain from voting for Labour at all upcoming elections. We hope that this will not be necessary and that the Labour Party will continue to stand against human rights abuses wherever they may be. We urge you not to underestimate the strength of our feeling on this issue.

Yours sincerely,

Federation of Redbridge Muslim Organisations (FORMO) – 17 organisations
Hazrat Sultan Bahu Trust – 22 centres
Indian Muslim Federation UK
Muslim Association of Kent – 20 organisations
South East London & Kent Council of Mosques (SELKOM) – 7 organisations
Waltham Forest Council of Mosques (WFCOM) – 9 organisations
Al-Hira Masjid Newham
Academy of Inspiration
Al Ansar Masjid
Al-Emaan Centre (Keston Mosque)
Al Madina Mosque Barking
Al Noor Foundation
Anjuman-e-Islamia Newham
Apex Trust
Association of Muslim Lawyers
Attiq Malik on behalf of Liberty Law
Barking Muslim Social and Cultural Society
Brent Central Mosque
BWA Muslim Cultural Centre (New Cross Mosque)
Chingford Islamic Society
Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery
Finsbury Park Mosque
Ghosia Masjid WFIA (Lea Bridge Road Mosque)
Great Barr Muslim Foundation Birmingham
Harrow Central Mosque
Hounslow Jamia Masjid
IG-Soc (“Connecting Muslims in Redbridge”)
Ilford Islamic Centre (Albert Road)
Ilford Muslim Society (Balfour Road)
International Business and Professional Corporation,
Redbridge Jamia Masjid and Islamic Centre (JMIC)
Stoke Poges Lane Masjid
Kent Muslim Welfare Association (Gillingham Mosque)
Lewisham Islamic Centre
Leyton Jamia Masjid MCT
Leytonstone Masjid Majlis-e-Ulama-e-Shia-Europe
Masjid Abu Bakr
Masjid Al Humera Newham
Masjid-e-Owais-e-Qarni (Belgrave Road)
Masjid-e-Quba Newham
Masjid-e-Tauheed Manor Park
Masjid Falah
Masjid Tawhid
Muslimah Sports Association
Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC)
Neasden Mosque & Islamic Centre
Newbury Park Mosque
Newham Community Project
Newham North Islamic Association
North West Kent Muslim Association (Crayford Mosque)
Pakistan Welfare Association (PWA) Slough
Qur’ani Murkuz Trust (South Woodford Mosque) Redbridge Islamic Centre (Redbridge and Gants Hill) Redbridge Talks
Seven Kings Muslim Educational Trust
Shirley Muslim Association
Sri Lankan Diaspora UK
Tehreek-e-Kashmir UK, London
The Mosque & Islamic Centre of Brent
Ujala Foundation Slough
UKIM Masjid Ibrahim and Islamic Centre Newham

Two influential poets Ghalib and Iqbal

March 30, 2020

Nasir Khan

Mirza Ghalib (1797 – 1869) and Mohammad Iqbal (1877 – 1938) are two great poets in their own ways. Iqbal is also a politician, a populist, an ideologue of Islam where he expounds Islam along mystical and unclear paths (his ‘Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’ being a clear expression of his confused thinking and lack of clarity despite his pedantic English that only few can understand or digest!). But his command of Urdu and Farsi in conveying his poetic message and ideas is impressive.

His poetry covers many areas and it can’t be labelled under any one theme. His revolutionary and progressive ideas are appreciable but his tilt towards religiosity, mysticism and Islamic nationalism in the latter part of his life was a big waste of the intellect of a good man. The Pakistani reactionary political establishment took full advantage of his shoddy Islamist ideology and transformed him into a mullah which he was not!

In contrast to Iqbal, Ghalib was only a poet and not a politician or messenger of any political revolution. In his verse, he conveyed his sublime ideas in a way unmatched in this language. His word has enriched the Urdu language by his poetic expression and his style of prose (see his letters). If we can extend the area of philosophy to general wisdom, deeper insights in human psychology and human condition then Ghalib stands far higher than Iqbal in such areas. He is a universalist, not bound by faith, creed or ideological nihilism as Iqbal seems to be. Iqbal’s origin as a Kashmiri Pandit, which, no doubt, I feel happy about as a Kashmiri myself, but that is not decisive when I assess him. I end this piece with a verse of the immortal Ghalib:

Ham kahan ke danaa the, kis hunar main yakta the
Be sababb hua Ghalib, dushman aasman apna

Religions and their Followers – a reply

March 26, 2020

— Nasir Khan

Mr. Woodward, I hope you don’t misunderstand me when I write this as a freethinking humanist. I know that religions have caused much bloodshed and misery in human history. But religions have no real content. It is the followers of a religion who give meaning or importance to what their religion is and what it is not.

Religions have been a powerful factor in human history which the rulers used for their political domination and the servility of their subjects. That role is still there and is used by present-day rulers as it suits them, except for the countries where State and Religion are separated.

The second point in this context I would like to make is that religion is an idea often based on some dogmas. Such dogmas become essential parts of a religion that people interpret and sometimes come up with varying interpretations, leading to inter-religious conflicts. Such things have been the cause of much blood-shedding in Christianity and Islam, etc. Anyone who has read the histories of these religions knows that.

Religion and its followers are not the same. That should be easy for us to see. For instance, a group of fanatic followers may misuse their religion. In fact, such things have happened in all recorded history. If they use it to justify the killing of other people for some reason by using the name and cover of religion, who can stop them? None, in my view.

Religion as a collection of ideas does not impose itself upon humans; humans do that. Vicious people will use it as they want. But humane and noble people who want to use their religion for doing some good work are also free to do that. Such conflicting uses of religion are not a secret. We have to understand that in this world there are believers of religions. As long as they do not leave their religions, no one should force them to do so.

In that case, my attitude towards these people is simply this: As long as they do not harm others and use their religions as their personal beliefs, then we should respect them. They are our fellow human beings and they use the freedom to choose and practise their religion. But as a humanist, I should not abuse and dehumanize them. Instead, we who are freethinking people should work systematically to bring information to these people in a manner that they don’t feel threatened. You know how people react when they feel their beliefs and valuable things in life are under threat. Before we can teach others, we have to learn ourselves to carry on our work.

The Sunni-Shia Division in Islam

March 7, 2020

The following brief account may help some curious readers about the Sunni-Shia divide in Islam that also affects political affairs in the Middle Eastern region.
Remarks on the Sunni-Shia division in Islam
— Nasir Khan
The division of Islam into Shia and Sunni branches from the mid-seventh century was more due to the political factors than with the fundamentals of the faith because they were the same for all people including the power elites. Obviously, two rivals engaged in a struggle to gain the upper hand in a political race cannot win unless they strike some compromise and avoid the conflict. This was possible between rival claimants, Ali bin Abi Taleb and Muwaiya bin Abi Sufyan, but did not happen in the early phase of the growing polarization that was taking place in the Muslim community.
One puritan group, the Kharijites, saw the developments with apprehension for the new faith and the Muslim community, which by now was large and was rapidly spreading in many regions of the world. The Kharijite solution to stem the tide of power-politics that was damaging the new nation was a radical one: liquidate the rival claimants to the Caliphate and save the faith and the Caliphate. Despite what they did, the problem did not vanish.
Now the Sunni and Shia forms of thought about the office of the Caliph started to diverge. Afterward, even the theological differences started to grow. Inevitably, the Sunni and Shia doctrinal differences became more pronounced and the different schools of jurisprudence put their stamp on the growing disparity between the two groups. Therefore, what started as a political factor eventually developed into two rival sects within Islam.
What sort of relationship emerged between the two branches when Islam became a world religion and Islamic Empire grew in size and power can be briefly put this way: The Sunni Islam became dominant but Shias were not victimized. The relationships were mostly cordial and one of toleration and mutual respect.
The intolerance towards Shia and the victimization of Shias in countries like Pakistan in these times is a tragic story of a faith that has been hijacked by some fanatic ignorant people in the name of their brand of ‘puritan’ theology. But these criminals and assassins are a right-wing fringe element within Pakistan. The great majority of ordinary Sunni Muslims has nothing against Shia Muslims and vice versa. Both of them look upon each other as brothers and accept each other’s right to follow Islam according to their traditions and customs.
But in Iraq under President G.W. Bush American invaders and occupiers of the land fanned the sectarian divide, resulting in the bloodshed of Iraqis. The suppression of the Shias in Saudi Arabia is also a manifestation of how the Wahabbi rulers impose their morbid religious cult in violation of the fundamental principle of the freedom of religion which is followed in the civilized world.

Nasir Khan: Israel Pushing US to War with Iran

February 12, 2020

Nasir Khan: Israel Pushing US to War with Iran

  • Fars News Agency, Monday, Feb 10, 2020

TEHRAN (FNA)- Nasir Khan, historian and peace activist, says Donald Trump, the US President, issued the assassination order of Lieutenant General Soleimani under the influence of Netanyahu’s allies working in his Administration. 

In an exclusive interview with FNA, Nasir Khan said, “[Netanyahu] had people like Secretary of State Pompeo and former National Security Advisor Bolton doing their work for him.”

“Netanyahu has used all the ploys. He has played a key role in pushing Trump to unilaterally retreat from the international nuclear agreement with Iran, and has done all to influence Trump to attack Iran”, he added.

Nasir Khan, Ph.D. Philosophy, is a historian and political analyst. He has authored several books and written numerous articles on international politics, socialism, religion and human rights.

Below is the full text of the interview:

Q: How do you see Lieutenant General Soleimani’s role in the fight against Daesh, also known as ISIL or ISIS?

A: The emergence of Daesh was primarily due to the general instability caused by the US war of aggression on Iraq in 2003. The systemic destruction of Iraq, its army and infrastructure had created a complicated and confusing situation in and around Iraq. As a result, Daesh was able to expand in Iraq and Syria, where a disastrous civil war had started. The Syrian forces had lost large areas to Daesh.

General Soleimani as a bold military strategist played a pivotal role in defeating Daesh in Iraq and Syria. For instance, his role in breaking the siege of Amirli in 2014, liberating Jurf Al-Sakhr and planning the operation to take Tikrit in Iraq in 2015 from Daesh are memorable. In 2013, he coordinated the military plans with the militias and Hezbollah fighters and captured Qusayr, a town on the Syria-Lebanon border. In 2015, Russian military intervention on the side of President Assad was decisive, but it was Soleimani who had masterminded the ground support to fight against the Syrian rebels.

Q: Why do you think the US targeted Lieutenant General Soleimani, who played a major, active role in defeating Daesh?

A: First, after the defeat of Daesh the US saw Soleimani as an able military strategist of Iran, who had the potential to become a serious obstacle to the US imperial designs on Iran. Therefore, according to US imperial outlook, Soleimani’s death will make the US goals in the region easier. Secondly, both Israel and the US had coordinated their plans to assassinate him. He was perceived as a threat to the interests of the two close allies in the region.

Trump was impeached and Israeli PM Netanyahu was indicted last year. Trump and Netanyahu aim to win elections this year. The two will present the killing of Soleimani as a trophy to the electorate of America and Israel. Netanyahu knows how easy it is for him to influence American political establishment, the US Congress and American voters. Thus Trump has a big supporting ally in Netanyahu to win the election again. To our dismay, major international hegemons help each other in such devious ways.

Q: During his presidential campaigns, Trump claimed he would prevent further wars. What has pushed him in the last three years to the brink of a new war?

A: Netanyahu has used all the ploys. He has played a key role in pushing Trump to unilaterally retreat from the international nuclear agreement with Iran, and has done all to influence Trump to attack Iran. In this, he had people like Secretary of State Pompeo and former National Security Advisor Bolton doing their work for him.

To our surprise, Trump resisted any such military solution last year. He stopped only just ‘ten minutes to go’ before his order to attack Iran was carried out. He sacked war hawk Bolton. But all that political scenario has now changed with the assassination of General Soleimani. Trump has prepared the groundwork for a war on Iran that can lead to catastrophic consequences for the region and the world. The only person who benefits from such a conflict will be Netanyahu who is fighting for his political survival. The lives of people have no meaning for him if he can have his way.

Women of India – Poem by Badri Raina

December 28, 2019

Indian poet and writer Badri Raina praises the women of India who are in the forefront of the ongoing protests and political struggle against the brutal Hindutva regime of PM Modi.

Women of India
By Badri Raina

ZNet, December 27, 2019

Sitting out the chilling night

At Shaheen Bagh, you lead

India’s second struggle for freedom,

shaming men who would come

But are held back by fright.

Women of India, your resolve

Against tyranny once made,

Brooks no politic retreat.

Firm in mind, you are firm

On your freezing feet.

A face of impish delight smiles

Upon you.

Tucked in his lungi, he seems to know

That you will defeat the guiles

Of the day’s defrauders,

As you did of colonial marauders.

Those that worship the armed goddess

In the plush confines of temples

Now confront her in the flesh.

Looking at your sentient courage,

My defiant soul leaps out

Of my old age.

To declare to my beleaguered nation

That the republic is safe

In your incandescent passion

Against a state of things where

Laws may accommodate

Subliminal hate.

A comment on PM Modi’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019

December 21, 2019

Nasir Khan

Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAB) goes against the fundamental principle of secularism in the Indian Constitution and democratic and non-sectarian values. There is no place of religious discrimination in a secular society that has the followers of many religions.

If people started discriminating against others on the basis of their religions then that will lead to social and political chaos in the whole of India.

The Hindutva fascists are creating conditions where they can set the militant Hindu mobs against Indian Muslims. That will lead to massacres and violence. This is a very dangerous and ill-chosen political course by the Chief of Hindutva forces who is the Prime minister of India now.

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