Pakistan: our not-so-willing partner

September 22, 2006 at 9:15 pm (Afghanistan, International community, Islamism, Pakistan, The United States, The West, US Government)

Richard Armitage threatened that The United States would bomb Pakistan to the Stone Age if it did not cooperate with The United States against al-Qā’idah. This is to be expected. Pakistan had many reasons to cooperate with The United States, but it also had many reasons not to. One, of course, was Pakistan’s active support for the Tālibān, whom they would then have to essentially destroy. It is not easy for anyone to destroy one’s own creation.

Pakistan has been a crucial partner in The West’s War on Terrorism. Without Pakistan’s assistance, for example, The United Kingdom would not have been able to break the terrorist ring to bring down American airplanes. But there is a shadowy side to this relationship as well, and we had better pay close attention to this aspect as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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To what “There is no compulsion in religion” refers

September 22, 2006 at 5:22 pm (Arabic, Islam, Islamism, Religion, Theology)

The Qur’an says: “There is no compulsion in religion” (لآ إكراه في الدين, lā ikrāha fi-d-dīn; 2:256: verse/āyah 256, chapter/sūrah 2 (sūratu-l-baqarah)). This refers to conversion: “there is no occasion for employing coercion in the matter of adopting and embracing Islam as its excellence is self-evident. This is the doctrine of toleration in Islam.” (Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi. Tafsir-ul-Quran. Lucknow, India: Academy of Islamic Research and Publications, 1981, v. I, p. 178.)

The above verse continues: (قد تبين الرشد من الغي, qa(d)-ttabayyana-r-rushdu mina-l-ghayy; ibid.), “The correct has been distinguished from the wrong.”

As such, because anyone with a brain ought to tell right from wrong, and thus choose Islam over everything else, there’s no need to convert anyone to Islam. Those who refuse to convert are actively and consciously rebelling against God.

But then the question arises: what about the use of force or compulsion after conversion? Considering the widespread use of “religious police” – such as the (مطوّعين, muTawwa‛īn, also known as the “mutaween”) of Saudi Arabia, the (بسیجی, basījī) of Iran, and similar groups in other areas – there has to be a shar‛ī (شرعي, shar‛ī, “of or pertaining to (ألشريعة, ash-sharī‛ah) or Islamic religious law”) justification for the use of force and compulsion by Muslims on other Muslims. I will have to hunt down the specific ruling or interpretation that permits this.

My point: don’t let the verse “There is no compulsion in religion” mislead one. It refers to conversion only. After conversion, all bets are off, as it were.

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Scapegoats

September 22, 2006 at 11:44 am (Christianity, Islam, Religions)

Three men who were found guilty (in what many have reported to be a sham trial) of “touching off” a conflict between Muslims and Christians in Sulawesi, Indonedia, have been executed. This is notable because none of the Muslim instigators (whether of this incident or of any of the other Muslim-Christian massacres) have been arrested or investigated. Indonesian authorities held off executing these men before, in response to an appeal of Pope Benedict XVI and mass protests.

Christian Indonesians responded with violence, particularly in Atumbua, West Timor, the birthplace of one of the men. All calls for the government to investigate and bring to justice other leaders of that massacre or others that have occured since 1998, have been rejected by the government. Considering the number of people – Muslim and Christian – who have died in inter-religious riots since 1998, and considering the sham-ness of this trial, people are understandably upset. (Note: The conflict among Muslims and Christians in Sulawesi and other areas is separate from the Islamist terrorist movements and attacks in Bali and Aceh.)

I do condemn the violence by the Christians. This is not the way to respond. They used international pressure before, and should find a way to use it again.

I also condemn the government of Indonesia for its biased policies. It ought to punish all instigators, Muslim and Christian, rather than select three scapegoats and execute them. It sends a wrong message to both parties: to Muslims that they can perhaps get away with violence, and to Christians that the state is uninterested in their pleas and that they will be unfairly punished when they respond to violence.

For more information, see:
“Indonesian executions spark violent protest” by Reuters.
“Indonesian executions lead to violence” by AP, via Yahoo! News.

If someone is aware of a good article on the whole Muslim-Christian riots in Indonesia, please e-mail me the link or post it in the comments. I’d appreciate it very much.

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“Stone Age”

September 22, 2006 at 11:12 am (Amusement, Pakistan, Personal, South Asia)

In this comment, Dex wrote:

Safe trip, dude. Try not to use the phrase “stone age” if you can help it.

Back when we were living in Pakistan, someone from my father’s company’s headquarters in The United States came to Karachi. While they were being driven through the city, this gentleman looked around and remarked to my father, “I thought the war with India had already ended!”

My father responded, “There is no war with India.”

The gentleman replied, “Oh. Sorry. Just that it looks like this was bombed recently.”

This is how Karachi looks sometimes. And in some places thereof, most of the time.

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Qabalah

September 22, 2006 at 3:53 am (Hebrew, Judaism, Religion)

Qabalah (which, like many Hebrew words, is spelled about a hundred and one ways) – so mysterious! so exotic! so in! What do you think about when you hear or read the word “Qabalah”? People tying red wristbands (bendels)? Esoteric doctrines? The Tree of Life?

“Qabalah” – and I use this spelling because it most closely reflects the original Hebrew word from which it came – comes from the Hebrew (קַבָּלָה, qabalah, “reception” or “the act of receiving”). There is nothing exotic about this word. In every-day Hebrew, it means “reception” as in a hotel’s reception desk. I don’t know why this word was chosen to refer to what it refers to. Technically, all Jewish tradition, texts, rituals, beliefs, observances, law, and so on, is received by one generation, handed down by the one before it. In any case, “Qabalah” also refers to a part of Jewish mysticism. (There’s more to Jewish mysticism than Qabalah.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Trinity and Belief

September 22, 2006 at 1:52 am (Christianity, Islam, Personal, Religion, Religions)

In this comment, Alaa wrote:

“My question to you is, IF you knew in your heart that Christianity is true (as outlined above with Jesus being the Son of God), would you follow Him?”
I would like to add that Christianity is based on belief only I don’t think it’s easy for someone to know that god is three and the three is one. Add to that what jesus did! all you can come up with is just a belief! while it’s easy to know that there is GOD but not to know his “number”! Christianity and Judaism were mentioned in Quran but Quran is not mentioned in both of them so Christians and Jews are the ones who should try to know more about Quran.

(First off, the reasoning behind your statement that Christians and Jews should know more about the Qur’an is somewhat vacuous. However, if one accepts such reasoning, one may say that considering Islam claims descent from Christianity and Judaism, Muslims should study and try to learn more about Christianity and Judaism. And from reputable sources, not Islamic propaganda and falsehoods.)

Such comments – claiming Christianity makes no sense because of the Trinity – are very common by Muslims. Almost every mufassir (مفسّر, mufassir, “one who comments” or “commentator”) of the Qur’an brings this point up. (Perhaps because the Qur’an brings it up a number of times.) I have often heard in my youth, “How can Christianity be right? We know there’s only one God but Christians believe in three Gods! They claim to be monotheist too – but it makes no sense!” I sometimes heard, “There can only be one God. If there’s more, they’ll get into a fight. How will they run the universe then?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Apology and advance apology

September 22, 2006 at 12:54 am (Pakistan, Personal)

Sorry for the light posting. I am going to be going to Pakistan! Again! Wheeee! Can’t you just feel my excitement!? *shudders*

This time I’m going with Mom. So we have been running around getting stuff done in preparation for our impending departure. On Sunday, Mom decided to go to Pakistan, where Dad is these days. We’re leaving this Saturday. Perhaps this might expain why there has been so much mad dashing around.

Nonetheless, I hope to leave with some interesting posts – focusing on religion and culture, as usual, but with unique topics. I do not know how often I will be able to post during the two weeks we will be gone, so I apologize in advance for any light (or absent) posting in the new future.

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Answers to al-Imām Zia Sheikh; أخوبة للإمام ضياء شيج

September 22, 2006 at 12:31 am (Arabic, Christianity, Hebrew, Islam, Judaism, Languages, Religion, Religions, Theology)

Answers to some of his questions and comments. Read the rest of this entry »

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