July 1, 2014

Tawhid and human rights

An interesting conversation again of the Halal Monk with Musdah Mulia on the coherence of Islam and human rights.

How exactly do you connect the spiritual principle of tawhid – which refers to the divine unity and unicity of God – with democracy?

As you know, every Muslim accepts the principle of tawhid. In its essence, tawhid is the unity of God as it is expressed in our creed of faith: there is no God except THE God. A direct result of this tawhid is the fact that no creature can be equal to God and the conviction that no human equals God gives rise to the principle of the equality of humankind. For a king cannot be a god to his people, a husband cannot be a god to his wife, a man cannot be a god to a woman. Because they are not gods, kings and leaders cannot be worshipped by their people like a god; employees should not worship their employer; wives should not worship their husbands, and so on and so forth. In other words, no human is superior to any other. All are fundamentally equal. No one can decree his will to another human being as if he was God.

From this obviously follows that all forms of discrimination against women or minorities can be considered as a denial of the principle of tawhid. Quite the opposite, a true understanding of tawhid seeks the liberation of all human beings from every form of tyranny, dictatorship or despotic structure. A true understanding of tawhid and Islam should bring about a society based on moral, civil and humanitarian values that frees it from any injustice or suppression.

Click here to read the complete interview

June 4, 2014

The pitfall of interreligious dialogue

"Interreligious dialogue is simply about exploring the fact that you noticed a fundamental difference. It might make you wonder how the God of Christians and Muslims can be one and the same if they have such different understandings of God. And it might make you dig deeper into your own tradition as well. (...)

Of course, if people are getting together in community groups to get to know each other, that’s great. Because at the community level, people might have misconceptions about many things that can easily be clarified by simply talking to each other. But if you do scholarly work, you have to be open to the possibility that there might be no definitive outcome at all.

Actually, one of the pitfalls of efforts of dialogue is the idea that we should reach some kind of goal with which we should all be happy. I’m opposed to a ‘dialogue on the surface’ as well. We need to go deeper. But how do you know you’ve gone deep enough? It makes no sense to say: “oh this is deep enough.” It’s just about trying to understand how people talk about the things that matter to us in life. And once you start to look at it like that, you don’t go into any dialogue setting with some sort of intended goal. You’re just there to learn. You’re not there because you have to defend your viewpoint but to listen how somebody else is expressing something that you’re interested in."

A very thoughtful part of a nice interview with British scholar Mona Siddiqui.

April 21, 2014

On transmodernity

"Traditions carry much beauty within themselves, but a great deal of problems comes from tradition. Normally, traditions are not something static. They are constantly reinvented, so to say. In fact, a tradition stays a tradition by reinventing itself. If it doesn’t reinvent itself, it can become a custom and a custom can become very oppressive." - Ziauddin Sardar  in his conversation with the Halal Monk.

January 28, 2014

Meanwhile in Fallujah, Iraq

The attrocities of Fallujah are not widely known. They are however a very significant part of our geo-political history in the last two decades. Those who do not know why, should look at the documentary of the 'Justice for Fallujah' project. Here's the trailer.

Click here to watch the full documentary.

And after you've seen the trailer or full documentary, read this little 'update' about the current situation in Fallujah in 2014. Saddam, US, Maliki... it seems that justice never was and still is'nt an option for the people in Fallujah.

January 22, 2014

The ideologue of early Pakistan

Sir Muhammad Iqbal is little known in the West but he is of enormous importance to many Muslims. Allama Iqbal – as he is reverently called – was a man of many facets. He was a poet, a philosopher, a scholar of Islamic civilization, a reformer as well as a statesman. So although he’s the driving ideological forces behind the Pakistani independence movement, he also became regarded as the Shair-e-Mashriq ("Poet of the East") in the Urdu speaking

Iqbal had an enormous influence in the Islamic thinking of this region and his ideas ultimately led to the creation of the country named Pakistan. His intellectual legacy therefore continues even today in the many domains he wrote about. It should not wonder then that many scholars and academics continue to do extensive research on his elaborate writings and thoughts.

Click here for a conversation with Tahir Hameed Tanoli about the life and message of this important political poet.

January 15, 2014

Weekly inspiring Gandhi quotes

For those who feel like being inspired at the beginning of every week with a little message of nonviolence...

Thoughtsofgandhi.org is a webproject which spreads weekly quotes of Mahatma Gandhi.

The site allows you to subscribe to the emails of the weekly thoughts, but also publishes them on FacebookTwitterGoogle Plus and through RSS.

November 12, 2013

Is Sufism 'the tolerant antidote'? A different view

Very often, Sufism is presented as the tolerant antidote to an all too violent mainstream islamism. The reality of the matter turns out to be quite a lot more complex. As Jonas Yunus explains on his Halal Monk website:

"I most certainly agree that the Islam of the average Pakistani is very different from the aggressive Islamism that has kept their politics hostage for the last few years. But unlike many others, I could not agree that Sufism is the simple oppositional answer.

All over the Muslim world, Sufism has a lot of different faces. (...) There’s the Sufism of the people, the Sufism of the middle class and Sufism of the academics. This is certainly the case in Pakistan as well. We can even add the Sufism of the artists and the Sufism of the state.

And yet, even though all these ‘Sufisms’ have been present in Pakistan for a very long time, we also have to keep in mind that the word ‘Sufism’ was quite alien to the vocabulary of Pakistani Islam until some fifty years ago. As the Pakistani scholar and expert Samina Mian told me “The word Sufi or Sufiya (the plural in Arabic) was always traditionally used to describe the saints. But the saints themselves would never say ‘I’m a Sufi’. They would say ‘I’m a Muslim’. Or simply call themselves believers. So we talked of people who were given the title, but it was not a part of our self-definition.

(...) So is Sufism truly the antidote or the counterpart of an all too rigorous and violent interpretation of Islam? It depends."

Click here to read the full article.