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Archive for November, 2006

The Pope is visiting Turkey. Protests are taking place against the pontiff. This is from a BBC report(here):

The Pope’s words which sparked this and so many other demos came in a lecture back in September to his old university at Regensburg in Germany. He quoted the remarks of the 14th Century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

In the noise of protests and etc. the actual debate got buried. We are not discussing whether Muhammad really preached by the sword, or whether he asked others to do it. There was a very nice opportunity to debate faith, history, and the relevant issues of the present time. Take for example, how ‘christian’ is the European culture and the inclusion of ‘Islamic’ Turkey into ‘Christian’ EU.

Not many of us are perhaps aware that the values of peaceful coexistence (or in other words, religious tolerance), freedom of speech and a zeal of knowledge were all introduced to the unruly Europe of the fourteenth to fifteenth century by the Muslims (Arabs and Turks in the East and African Moors in Spain). Even the use of soap, shampoo and beverage come from Muslims.

Apparently, before the Renaissance, non-Christians did not enjoy living in Christian-ruled country much. Shakespeare’s famous plays carry stamps of this mentality. Prejudices about the Jews are not very difficult to find in his plays. All European countries that were ruled by the Christians before the Renaissance are overwhelmingly Christian dominated. The reason is not hard to guess (or to look up). Evidences are just staring at us.

Ironically, the same Muslims do not have very good record of tolerance in many/most countries of present time. And even more ironically, the non-Muslims ascribe this to Islam, but not to the Muslims’ degraded society.

Pope has time and again tried to prove that European liberal values (which hardly goes well with the Church’s blood-ridden history) are alien to Islam, and therefore (as in a more specific case) Turks should be kept out of EU. One just have to remember the Church’s role during the Crusades to have a good smile at this.

But, but, but… for one reason the Church must be thanked. It was because of the Crusades that was started by the Church that the Europeans came in close contact with the Islamic/Muslim/Arab civilization and the rich philosophical and scientific traditions continued from the Greeks.

One side-note may be helpful here. It is often thought that Arabs translated and preserved the Greek science and philosophy. It is not the whole truth. The Arabs built upon it too. Algebra, Chemistry, Astronomy, Surgery and Medicine owe a lot to the Islamic civilization, so to say. But that is not the most important contribution of the Arabs to science. The biggest contribution was the introduction of inductive science. One that is based on observation, conclusion and experimentation. As against the Greek science that is deductive. The Euclidean Geometry and the Aristotle’s Science are examples of such. Archimedes, however, practiced inductive science. But his kind were minority at his time.

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Update

After a week of silence. I don’t have anything to say, either. So lets look at what has been happening this week.

India and China has vowed cooperation in Trade. We keep hearing reports of them making rail lines, dams etc. along India’s border, apart from the claim over parts of today’s India.

On the other side of the border, Pakistan and China has vowed more trade and technology cooperation. Especially some nuclear power plants are to come up in Pakistan with China’s help to balance India’s (almost ready) deal with the United States. Here is a BBC analysis.

Apart from that, I came across an interesting report/interview about/with LK Advani.

In Another report, India has been listed among 54 flawed democracies. There is no reason, I believe, to elaborate because the reasons stated are Cliche (but perhaps true).

VHP was irked by a VCD showing Hanuman and Ravana playing cricket, in Punjab.

In response to the alleged rampage of Police on Muslims after Mumbai blast, a special committee has been formed to handle such complaints.

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Articles

As I am a bit busy, I won’t write. Instead, I will suggest some articles.

Sachar Committee Report

Survey Of Socio-Economic Conditions Of Muslims In India by Imran Ali & Yoginder Sikand
A review. Somehow the fonts on this particular page are too small. You will have to enlarge the fonts to read it.

Ghettoes Reserved For Muslims? by Farzana Versey
The author tries to point out that it is not only Muslims that prefer to live in groups. Add to that the reluctance of many to rent or sale to Muslims.

The debate over veil
It refuses to die out. Here are two articles:

Beyond the Veil by Fareena Alam.
Excellent article.

Wail not for the veil, but education by Firoz Bakht Ahmed
Raises some valid questions.

Malegaon (again!)

Malegaon blasts : Partisan approach and biased police by Asghar Ali Engineer
Nothing much new except Engineer’s personal experience of interacting with the locals.

Madrassa Education

Combining the ‘secular’ and the ‘religious’: Madrasas with a difference by Yogindar Sikand
Some madrassas are following ‘mainstream’ courses.

Hajj Subsidy

Haj Subsidy, Anyone?
From a blog. I didn’t know a lot of things they have to say. I did not verify facts(about air fare) either, but the points are very clearly stated. Overall a good read.

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Malegaon Protests

Adnan has an interesting post in his blog. He writes:

Angry at the indiscriminate arrests and illegal detention of hundreds of Muslims in the aftermath of Malegaon blasts, the local residents staged a unique protest. After the Friday namaaz, they wore the kind of masks which police make the accused persons to wear at press conferences.

Pak rape law being reviewed
Pakistan has finally been looking into the controversial Hudood law amid trouble.

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Peace is easy

The drama has finally been restarted.

(I mean Indo-Pak peace talks have resumed.)

Somebody said

“Quitting smoking is easy, I’d dunnit so many times!”

Likewise we can say

“Peace talks are …”

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Chinese Arunachal?

China has claimed that Arunachal Pradesh belongs to China.

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Reservation for the Muslims

The controversy on granting reservation for the OBCs at the institutes of higher learning has hardly died down. There is a new controversy going on about granting some reservation for the Muslims. It is not yet clear where and how much. I mean is the reservation going to be in schools and colleges, or in govt jobs or somewhere else?

There is no doubt that Muslims are lagging behind average Indian in every sphere of life.

The reservation policy, however, is not going to work. Even more so for the Muslims. There are several reasons why a reservation for the Muslims is not desirable:

  1. Catapulting into some institution is not of much help, as the student, terrible underequipped compared to his classmates, will struggle with the course. Neither is reservation in jobs anything of help. The unskilled man/woman will struggle with his/her own job, let alone going back and helping his/her people. I have noticed that people, who get into places where they do not deserve to be, when asked for help, are generally not helpful to others. I believe this comes from insecurity.
  2. Mostly the rich and powerful among the Muslims (the so called creamy layer) are going to benefit from such policy.
  3. The right wing parties will use it( footnote 2) as another pretext to sow discord among Hindus and Muslims. They will be more venomous in this case compared to the one of SC/ST/OBCs, because at least the SC/ST/OBCs are mostly Hindus. We shall see more confrontations of the Muslim and the Hindu society.
  4. It may be unconstitutional( footnote 3).

The solution does not lie in this. Rather I think the urge and effort has to come from within the Muslims. More organisations like BIFT has to come up. Tagore once said “(a person’s) need is a lot stronger than (another’s) sympathy.”

The government too can do a lot (not by something like offering reservation) by some assertive actions like building up more schools in Muslim dominated areas, granting scholarships to needy students through the Waqf board and by including Urdu in the list of languages offered in good government schools like DPSs, KVs and others( footnote 1). There is a clear trend of many government school administrations denying admission to students from Muslim muhallas. The govt can take action against such administrations. And it should stop trying to rob the few Muslim institutions their special status. They are like oasis for the Muslims.

A very important thing that the government can do is to clear the Waqf of the corrupt people it has got. If they do that, the situation is bound to look up within some time.

Related read:
1.
TEHELKA DEBATE
2. Under-representation of the Muslims in India and Their Upliftment: Some Thoughts
3. Muslim quota? The debate is on

FOOTNOTE
1. It is not that they don’t offer Urdu, but many schools don’t and even in some that does, there is shortage of teachers.

2. A recent news points out that the BJP does not like the idea of granting reservation for the Muslims. That is quite expected. It is not from good will towards Muslims, but because of their policy of hatred.

3. Few days back a supreme court order has declared reservation on the basis of religion as unconstitutional, in response of Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to grant reservation for the Muslims.

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