Friday, January 30, 2015

President Obama in India

Nasir Khan, January 30, 2015

Professor Badri Raina is a canny writer whose obervations go deeper than merely embellishing some news for entertaining the Indian crowds. This is evident in his present article.

Obama represents the power of US imperialism and he is the president of US. But people like Modi may have miscalculated that the guy is in his pocket as a Hindutva devotee who is living far away from his Mother Country whose glorious children are scattered world wide! So much chutzpah for Indian-ness, without realising that a foreign head of state should be treated according to the usual protocol, without owning him or her!

Then there comes in our Indian-ness. ‘He is just one of us!’ ‘The two are just like our own!' Oh, really? Obama must have been honoured with such adulation, no doubt!

But naivete and stupidity have no anchorage or limit. If Obama and Michelle’s looks were the point of focus then they certainly look like some of our Indo-Pakistani people who are dark-skinned, low- caste people such as Dalits, the Dravadian races or swarthy, flat-nosed old tribals whose miserable lives have not changed much in the last three thousand years.

 BHO has a long tongue and some knowledge as well. He was not ensnared by Modi’s antics. By the way, we don’t see such patronising attitude extended to other black African people as own lost children in the Dark Continent!

Badri has poured some water of sanity on the issue and not followed our leaders to ‘re-baptise’ Obama and his wife in the Vedic faith and embellish them in the saffron chaders and dhotis but first afffixing some cow-dung on their foreheads to complete the sacred initiation into the Hindufold!
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Obama: he came, he saw, he gave advice

Just when the Obama visit was going so swimmingly, bathed in the  glow of the Vedas and sundry saffron accoutrement, imagine what this Obama fellow, during an address to India’s aspirating youth, proud of the Vedic  yore, even if by hearsay, but yearning for a Yankee future, chose to do: as if  poking  a finger in the  Hindutva eye, this Obama made bold to say how “Michelle and I have been strengthened by our Christian faith.” No ghar vapsi (i.e. return to the all-encompassing original faith) there, you might well say, Vivekananda or no Vivekananda. Was he also insinuating that it might be wrong to vandalise churches etc.? In other words, teaching us tolerance on our own tolerant soil. Fingers crossed. We need his technology.

Continues >>

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pakistan from 1947 to 1971 and now

Nasir Khan, January 28, 2015

The majority of Pakistanis lived in East Pakistan. In 1971 they liberated their part of the country from the economic and political domination and exploitation of West Pakistani ruling elite, capitalists and established their independent country, Bangladesh. So half of Pakistan had ceased to exist in 1971. Thus West Pakistan became Pakistan in 1971! It was no longer the Pakistan of 1947.

Now what happens in Pakistan is all too obvious to all observers. Sindhis don’t like it; they want their independent homeland, Sindhu Land. Balochis want to have their independence. The Pashtuns have no interest in this Pakistan. Mohajirs don’t like this Pakistan. Now when it comes to its neighbours, India and Afghanistan, they don’t like Pakistan either. In fact, Pakistan has been regarded as the Number One Enemy by Indian rulers and the vast majority of Hindu Indians.

But Pakistani mullahs, Taliban, landlords and industrialists have their stakes to keep this Pakistan going as long they can – all for their own specific objectives. The mullahs, the Taliban, Islamists of Jamaat-e-Islami, sickly fanatics and Islamic fundamentalists want it so that they can impose their Islamic Caliphate and the Sharia laws.

The idea of the Sharia laws in popular imagination of Pakistanis is a simple one: Cutt off the hands of a thief and that will lead to a just Islamic system in the country – almost a Paradise on Earth!

For the industrialists and landlords this Pakistan gives them better opportunities for exploiting the resources and the people.

Thus Pakistan is quite a spectacle, really!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Washington’s love for the Saudi kings

Nasir Khan: It is the overall US patronage of the House of Saud that keeps the medieval despots in Riyadh in their palaces and enables thousands of Saudi princes to control every aspect of the desert kingdom. Human rights, rule of law and gender equality, etc, are unknown notions for the ruling dynasty. When an ordinary blogger, Raif Baidawi, wrote that the people in this country should be able to express their view on matters of common concern he was falsely charged with insulting Islam and given 1000 lashes as punishment for his views. Such is the country that is America’s closest ally and strategic partner in the Middle East after Israel. That speaks abundantly about the US policies in the Middle East.
 

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Barack Obama is travelling with a 27-strong delegation to cement ties with the new king of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday as concerns over Yemen and the Islamic State take centre stage in the increasingly volatile region.

Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan, Republican hawk senator John McCain and General Lloyd Austin, head of US Central Command forces in the region, are among the surprise additions to a hastily organised trip that has drawn critical comparisons with the US failure to send any senior figures to Paris following recent terrorist attack.

Continues >>

Friday, January 23, 2015

On the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

Nasir Khan, January 23, 2015

All the devils in Hell were much excited today to welcome a newcomer. Guess who was coming? A great king was coming to join them. When the short worldly sojourn ends here a long and upward journey to a new life starts, I was told as a child. Today was one such day for a great king to go upward.


So that was the end of that short worldly sojourn for the mighty king. There will be no more displays of gold, diamonds and emeralds to please any. That will be a task for his successor now. But any fabulous gifts of golden chains and garlands with diamonds were only for the influential and the mighty ones. Not for any ordinary people. No worker from Asia or Africa received any such gift. They were mere workers, the raw material to keep the oil industry going.

The children of Gaza, hundreds of them, and thousands of adults were massacred by Israel in the summer of 2014. There was not a single concrete step taken by the great mighty king of Saudi Arabia to stop the killing of the Palestinians of Gaza. Netanyahu knew the great king was his ally, not an opponent. So the job of killing a besieged people and destroying Gaza’s infrastructure – its buildings, homes, hospitals, mosques – and causing misery in a captive people could go ahead unhindered. And it did.

Netanyahu wanted to do it. He had the support of America and his Arab allies, including the mighty king. So Israel did what it wanted to do. The reactionaries were all on one side. They had no fear from any quarter. Everything was crystal clear for the kill, the big kill. No problem. Some voices around the world? Some bloggers and internet activists included. But who cares when you have America and Saudi Arabia on board. Therefore when Israeli military and air force were in ‘full action’ the great king, didn’t stir a finger to stop the massacres and destruction of Gaza.

But his friends may have some thing to add. I have nothing more to add today. Sometimes later perhaps.

War criminals exploit the name of God


Nasir Khan, January 23, 2015

Some people like George W Bush, for instance, also believe in a Loving God. But he invaded Iraq and killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and destroyed a great country. Now he continues to assert not only what did was right but also that God had asked him to invade Iraq. It is obvious that warmongers and powerful rulers exploit and misuse the name of God that has different names in different languages or religions for their political and military objectives. Unfortunately, God does not stop them from doing so. So, there is no point in complaining about some attributes of God when in reality we should be more concerned with those who commit the crimes against others and our struggle to stop them. The faults lies with us, not God. (Here I am using the term 'God' that is commonly understood by the vast majority of people in the world. Whether there is any such entity or not is a different question that people may discuss at length in some other place.)


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https://www.facebook.com/dailykos/photos/a.416444264254.190398.43179984254/10152883020234255/?type=1&theater

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Maulana Azad stood for a united, secular State of India

Nasir Khan, January 20, 2015

Maulana Azad, the Imam-al-Hind, was an outstanding Islamic scholar, a great orator and a prominent political leader of India during the British rule. He opposed the idea of the partition of India on the basis of religion and warned Muslim leaders of the dangers of a separate homeland for Muslims. This great scholar understood the problems Indian Muslims faced if the demands of an Islamic country (Pakistan) were accepted. 

The events leading to the partition of India in 1947 and the subsequent history of Pakistan have shown the political sagacity and far-sightedness of this astute politician. But the upholders of the two-nation theory had won and the secularists and advocates of a united India had to agree to the partition plan. 

However, it will be a lopsided view to blame only Jinnah. Many sections of Muslim community had fears of Hindu domination in an independent state of a united India. The top Hindu leaders, Gandhi and Nehru, did little to assuage such fears. As British historian Perry Anderson in 2012 in his three profound historical articles, ‘Gandhi Centre Stage,’ ‘Why Partition,’ and ‘After Nehru,’ had shown the situation was really quite complicated and any simplistic interpretations of history of the period that are quite common in India and Pakistan are of little value except for amateurish recriminations and misrepresentation of historical facts of the period.

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 MAULANA ABUL KALAM AZAD:  The 1947  SPEECH TO MUSLIMS OF INDIA (Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySLJDKy-KwM


Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Study of the Perceptions and Misperceptions of Islam and the Prophet

Perceptions and Misperceptions of Islam

 Nasir Khan, January 18, 2015

In the wake of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo’s publishing of the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that many Muslims world-wide regard derogatory and provocative, and the killings of the staff of the weekly and international reactions to these events, I am posting the ‘preface’ to my book ‘Perceptions of Islam in the Christendoms: A Historical Survey (2006)’. This book provides a historical context of perceptions of Islam for the last thirteen/ fourteen centuries.

As the price of the book in Norway, USA and UK is somewhat high for many readers, I have put it for free downloading on my website Peace and Justice Post <https://sudhan.wordpress.com/free-download-of-the-book-per…/>
 

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Preface

This book is a historical survey of the views and perceptions of Islam that emerged in the Christendoms from the eight-century to the present time. My main purpose has been to investigate the historical role of the polemical writings of Christian writers who confronted Islam as a religious and political enemy of Christianity on the basis of their own theological pre-commitments. Consequently, they succeeded in creating and reinforcing a distorted picture of Islam that became deeply rooted in the culture and psyche of the West, and had far reaching consequences for the relations between the power-blocs of Christianity and Islam since the Middle Ages.
During my research-work on this theme over a number of years, I became aware that, although, some prominent Western scholars and historians such as Sir Richard Southern, William Montgomery Watt, Albert Hourani, Norman Daniel, Bernard Lewis and Maxime Rodinson, have made enormous contribution to our understanding of the Western attitudes towards Islam in the Middle Ages, there was a need for a full survey of such views and perceptions over the last fourteen centuries of Christian-Muslim encounters. To meet this need, I undertook this historical survey, and have broadened both the subject matter and the time span for this book. In order to cover a wide range of issues within the compass of a single volume I also had to delimit the number of polemicists and other writers who wrote on Islam. However, instead of a cursory mention of some of the leading Christian apologists of the early centuries, I have given them more space within the following major geographical divisions and specific polemical tradition: (a) the Oriental Christians under Muslim rule, (b) the Byzantine Empire, (c) Catholic Spain under the Muslim rule, and (d) the Catholic West and Protestant countries. I have used original texts, wherever possible, for the exposition of these writers’ views. In this way, these writers speak for themselves. My reason for following this approach was the conviction that we can best comprehend the history of Christian-Muslim encounters from the early times by examining concrete circumstances and particular writers whose views became influential in shaping the attitude of one religious tradition towards the other.
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I have made frequent use of direct quotations from both the primary sources and the secondary literature. Moreover, I have tried to place anti-Islamic polemic within the context of major historical events and movements. On the other hand, I have not thought it appropriate to refer to all the vulgar calumnies of the apologists directed against the Prophet Muhammad and Islam, specific charges that might shock the sensibilities of a reader, no matter what his or her own orientation towards religion orthe founders of religions. Still, it is possible that some may feel offended. But historical facts have to be faced as they stand. If I had omitted all such horrid views, I would have missed the whole point of explaining how the distorted images of Islam took shape.
Every writer is a product of the social and cultural matrix of his age. The polemical writers against Islam had their own theological presuppositions, convictions and concerns. In a like manner, such pre-commitments do not disappear in modern writers either. For instance, Professor Montgomery Watt, a priest of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and Dr Norman Daniel, a committed Catholic, who have written with great sympathy and understanding a number of scholarly works on Islam, are also believers in the ultimate truth of Christianity, that is, its fundamental dogmas. As a result, when it comes to the question of judging the fundamental Islamic belief in the unity of Godhead, they measure it against the doctrine of the Trinity. Since the two theological doctrines seem to be at variance with each other, they uphold and justify the Trinity to be the truth about One God. It can readily be admitted that such a perspective, deeply subjective as it inevitably is, is difficult to avoid or overcome.
At the same time, I am aware that any attempt to answer questions about the truth or falsity of a belief or religious doctrine falls beyond the scope of historical analyses. But this does not mean that a historian should also avoid the question of how and why some belief arose and in what ways it has influenced society. What, to a believer, may be an unquestionable and sacrosanct truth is very often shaped and conditioned by social and cultural traditions. In the final analysis, such phenomena are a matter of belief, opinion and perspective, very often seconded by an appeal to authority in one shape or the other. I make no attempt to adjudicate between any opposing theological formulations, interpretations or claims. My approach to such controversial issues is primarily historical. Apart from pointing to some obvious
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logical inconsistencies that I have come across in the arguments of polemicists, I have not analysed the rationale of their religious or theological presuppositions, nor have offered any alternate solutions. I have also intentionally avoided any discussion or critique of religious propositions in their various forms, which nevertheless can meaningfully be subjected to a rational scrutiny in analytic philosophy.
But the question of Christian theological presuppositions has an important bearing on historiography. Some modern Christian historians, who, in the last few decades have looked at the history of the misperceptions of Islam in the West, have been and are committed to the truth of Christian dogmas. Apart from giving traditional explanations about how these sacred dogmas have roots in the New Testament, and were given definitive formulations and shape by the Fathers of the Church, they simply gloss over modern research in the history of early Christianity that has thrown new light on how Christian dogmas came into existence. As such important bodies of research have remained confined only to a small community of specialists and academics, most readers are unaware of their existence. I find laudable the historical inquiries, approach and concerns that have solely focused on the theme of the Western attitudes to Islam. Nevertheless they fall short of presenting a full picture. My own view is that to understand Christian-Muslim encounters in the theological sphere, of which the polemical writings of the Christians form only a part, the reader should also have a clear historical picture of how the Christian dogmas evolved, because these became the theological presuppositions of Christian belief and the criteria for repudiating Islam and the prophetic mission of Muhammad. This also enables us to compare the standpoints of two religious traditions towards each other, and thus we can situate the polemical views in their proper place and settings. In this light, I have presented the history of the rise of Christianity and the conflicts in the early Church in the first two chapters of this book. These form an essential part of the present book for understanding the subsequent attitudes in the Christendoms towards other faiths. But they can also be read on their own. They deal with an immensely exciting area for study and reflection. Due to the shortage of space, I have presented only in a summary form the views and results of the research of some leading scholars on the history of the early Church. I believe that this information will enable readers to form their own opinion on how Christianity’s doctrines evolved and assess their role as essential presuppositions that played a major part in shaping the outlook of
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Christian apologists towards Islam in a wider historical perspective. It also shows how religious doctrines about the realm beyond the material world are conceived and shaped by human agency.

What are the Qur’anic views of Jesus and the Christian dogmas? Unfortunately, even some of those Western writers who have approached Islam with greater sympathy have hesitated to bring forth openly what the Qur’an says on the matter, while some others have offered their interpretation of the Qur’an with a view to defending Christian dogmas for which one finds little support in the Qur’an. Obviously, such views are motivated to defend and preserve what one believes to be the true dogmas. In Chapter 5, I have outlined the Qur’anic views of Jesus and some of the Christian dogmas. Whether or not one agrees with these views is the least of my concerns, but the Qur’anic texts are quite explicit on these points, and it is only fair that the Qur’anic perspective as an expression and culmination of pure monotheism should be judged on the basis of what it clearly proclaims.
It is commonly assumed that one’s religious beliefs are not subject to any objective scrutiny or assessment, but that does not mean that common sense and basic principles of logic presupposed in all human thought and discourse should be discarded to uphold what to a believer may be a ‘religious truth’. Neither am I advocating that the dogmas of one religious tradition in some esoteric way are superior to or better than the other. Intellectual honesty requires that a proposition that is logically inconsistent and contradictory should not be passed on as logically valid.
In the case of both Christianity and Islam, an old monotheistic tradition is their common root and denominator. But how did the concept of One God and his attributes come to be looked at and interpreted in two religions, and set them up at odds against each other? Obviously, the emphasis had shifted to highlighting their differences, not their many similarities and agreements.

Nasir Khan,
Oslo, Norway
2006
This book can be downloaded by clicking on the…
sudhan.wordpress.com
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