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JUNE 2000

MONTHLY    *    Vol 14-06 No:162    *   JUNE 2000 / RABI-UL-AWAL 1421H
  email: editor@islamicvoice.com

FEATURES


Conversion for Convenience
Pseudo-Deshbhakti of the Parivar
Benefits Of Adversity
Oh, For A Time-Machine!

Conversion for Convenience

Prof. Mumtaz Ali Khan


Those from the other faiths keen to take another wife convert to Islam. The Supreme Court has held such conversions mala fide. Muslim Personal Law Board must look into such misuse of liberal provisions. The rising tide of divorcing of women for failure to bring dowry also needs remedial measures

The Muslim Personal Law Board should take notice of conversions to Islam for the sake of plural marriages.

Indian Judiciary is often pronouncing its judgements on many issues that are within the domain of Muslim Personal Law. This is particular in the case of Supreme Court. When once Supreme Court delivers its judgement, normally nothing else can be done. All that we see is public agitation leading to uneasiness and unpleasant controversies. Shah Banu case is a classical example. The judgement of the Apex court, which directed the husband to maintain the divorced wife, till her death or she got remarried went against the general practice among the Muslims that divorced wife should be maintained by the husband only till the period of iddat (i.e., three months or in the case of being pregnant until the infant is two years old). This judgement ultimately resulted in enactment of a law by the Parliament.

There has been a demand for more than two decades that there should be a common civil code. Many seminars were conducted through out the country to focus on this issue. By and large, this was opposed tooth and nail by Muslims advancing various reasonable grounds. Though this issue has almost been sidelined by the BJP and its government, it is not dead.

Just recently, the Supreme Court delivered a judgement of great consequence and significance. This is in connection with conversions to Islam. Conversions from Hinduism to Islam or Christianity have posed great challenges and resulted in tensions and conflicts. Some Hindu fundamentalist groups are totally against conversions. It is true that the Constitution of India has given full liberty for religious conversion. This is a fundamental right of every Indian citizen. The only rider is that there shall not be any force or fraud.

Islam permits conversion from any religion to Islam, but it disallows force and use of unethical means. There is an interesting case that came up before the Supreme Court recently. A Hindu who was already married wanted to marry another woman without divorcing the first wife, knowing fully well that Hindu law does not permit a second wife without divorcing the first wife. The way he chose was to embrace Islam so that he can legitimise taking a second wife. This was turned down by the Supreme Court. The court said that the very intention of this Hindu gentleman was mala fide. He embraced Islam not out of conviction but out of compulsion. This is also not the spirit of Islam. Conversion is allowed in Islam if there is a real desire to embrace Islam after being satisfied with its message to humanity. The big question now is: “Are not Muslims inviting the judiciary to interfere in matters of Islamic rights?” The answer is, Yes. People are knocking at the doors of the judiciary. When doors are opened, the judges are bound to examine the case and pronounce their judgement, which may go in favour of or against Islamic version of law. Muslims cannot direct the Supreme Court, not to entertain such cases, which questions the relevance or validity of the Muslim Personal Law.

The best thing is that the Muslim Personal Law Board should examine all problems of Muslims touching Muslim Personal Law. There is an imperative need to see how best the institutions of marriage and divorce could be reset within the broad parameters of Muslim Personal Law. Misuse of the liberal provisions for plural marriage by the males and whimsical divorces by the husbands. Khula is at the moment a very difficult solution to the woman who has been harassed, exploited and neglected by the husband.

Similarly, the Muslim Personal Law has to apply its mind to control the growing menace of dowry demand and consequential dowry death cases. The culture of burning the wife should be put to an end to. In other words, a silent social reformation within the existing parameters of Islamic laws, perhaps with liberal interpretation wherever needed and possible, is the most urgent, relevant and timely solution to many ills of the contemporary Muslim society. The image of Islam has to be upheld and propagated by the torchbearers of Islam. The religious leaders have to play a dynamic role with a positive and liberal mind. Perhaps, some of them at least need periodical orientation by liberal Islamic scholars.

The author is former professor of rural sociology at the University of Agricultural Sciences and is a social worker.

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Pseudo-Deshbhakti of the Parivar

By Hasan Mansur


What have the pseudo-deshbhakts done to India : opened the inner recesses of the country’s security structure for the American FBI, flung open floodgates for all kinds of imports from the West, sacked a Naval chief and surrendered India’s honour in Kandahar. It is time for real deshbhakts to come out into the open to give a lie to their fake claims of patriotism

BJP ideologies, who constitute the think tank of the RSS, Manuvadis, lay exclusive and proprietary claims to deshbhakti or nationalism. Their most revered mentor, Guruji Golwalkar pronounced long ago that all those outside the Hindutva fold are not entitled to citizenship rights, and even went further to declare that they are all anti-national, a diktat neither withdrawn nor denied till this day either by the RSS or its political outfit, the BJP. The worst abuse in the work book of the RSS is to dub its detractors ‘anti-national’, be they, the minorities, the Left or the secular; of course a parallel charge is call them agents of Pakistan’s ISI, though in reality, the majority of the latter is non-Muslim. But to its great dismay, it has been discovering that the BJP has been indulging in actions that could be termed as pseudo-deshbhakti.

Examining BJP’s pre-1998 pseudo-deshbhakti agenda, there are three themes which are outstanding. The first, promoting the cult of materialisation, the second, bashing up minorities and the third, looking down on interfering foreigners, a xenophobic tendency. This combination of three psychological propositions was meant to crank up national chauvinism and to claim the BJP alone could be trusted to protect national interests. But the deshbhakts in the RSS are greatly disconcerted to discover that pseudo-deshbhakts in the ruling BJP calling the shots, betraying the trust reposed in their national credentials.

The materialisation project, the BJP started with a bang, exploding the nuclear bomb, its threat of pro-active approach in Jammu and Kashmir, and the brag to roll back that soft state syndrome, were all attempts to promote a machoistic culture. The Kargil conflict was god-sent, what with body-bags displayed in state funerals in villages and encashing all these in the form of electoral gains which landed the BJP in power. But the ecstasy of the Pokhran bomb was punctured by the Pakistani bomb. The sacking of Admiral Vishnu Bhagvat was the anti-climax to the Jai Jawan cries. The triumph of Kargil was shattered by the surrender in Kandahar. The reincarnation of Sardar Patel as Advani, the new Gestapo of internal security resulted in the Kashmir situation getting worse. To cap it all came the explosion in Bharatpur that showed George Fernandes in poor light.

The second item on their agenda was to cut minorities to size with a call for a national debate on conversion, the burning of Staines and frenzied cries of the ISI under every bed. But the foreign investors and the foreign governments were not amused and the pseudo-deshbhakts had to rein in the lunatic fringe who gave the country a bad name in the market.

The outcome of the post-Pokhran outpourings of oratory against US sanctions, the pulp patriotism of the Sangh Parivar activists and Vajpayee’s bragging that no external power dare interfere in the affairs of the land, was the setting up of the FBI in India which no ruling party in the past whatever its hue, had ever dared to do. To the deshbhakts, this was no insult to India’s honour and dignity.

Finally the Vajpayee government is busy signing away on the dotted lines when it comes to dealing with Americans in particular. It is giving into American pressure of removing quantitative restrictions (QR), thus selling India’s interest in the economic field. Servility to the British Colonial rule is replicated in servility to the West, servility being the inalienable legacy of the RSS. Yet it will not let the BJP relinquish power because it could through the latter subvert all democratic institutions set up by the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution.

The abject surrender to American hegemony in the name of combating terrorism, frantically seeking its blessings in their claims to one-upmanship over Pakistan drove Vajpayee to hand over public space to American security system in cities visited by Clinton. These are the pseudo-deshbhakt credentials of the BJP.

Acting on this awareness, Dalits, minorities, the Left and the poor and exploited of this land must give the lie to the fake claims of the RSS to Deshbhakti and brand it as pseudo. It no longer lies in the mouth of the RSS to challenge the credentials of it detractors; the truth is, the boot is on the other foot. It is the RSS and its political outfit, the BJP who have donned the mantle of pseudo-deshbhakts, hence they should be dubbed as enemies of the Indian people.

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Benefits Of Adversity

By Ahmad H.Sakr

It is generally believed that all calamities the reward is multiple if people observe patience and submit themselves to Allah. The Qur’an teaches people to maintain patience whenever they are struck by calamities, crises or catastrophes. In Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) Allah says the following:

Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods, lives and the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere; who say, when afflicted with calamity: “To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return”. They are those on whom descend blessings from their Lord, and Mercy. And they are the ones that receive guidance. (2:155-157).

Some of the benefits the people may drive from a crisis.

Benefits:

All these crises can cause great suffering to human beings. However, from any crisis some benefits may also ensue.

Returning to Allah: During a crisis, people turn to Allah. They will remember Him and His favours upon them. They will ask His forgiveness and Mercy. They will promise Him that they will not commit mistakes in future. Allah says in Surah al-A’raf (the Heights) the following:

And We have tried them with both prosperity and adversity, in order that they might turn to Us. (7:168)

Patience:

Patience is usually against hardships. Those who face hardships, turmoil and crises, if they are patient, Allah will reward them with Paradise. Any crisis is a type of test from Allah to examine us, to know who is more patient amongst us. Accordingly, they will be rewarded. In Surah Muhammad, Allah says:

And We shall try you until We test those among you who strive their utmost and pesevere in patience; and We shall try your reported mettle. (47:31)

Purging Hearts:

A crisis is a test from Allah to clarify through examination what is in the hearts of people. He knows exactly what we feel and think, but He makes sure that such thinking has to come out in public, or at least outwardly. Hence, a person himself will know exactly what is hidden in his heart. Remember what Allah says in Surah Al-Imran:

.... But all this was that Allah might test what is in your breasts, and purge what is in your hearts. For Allah knows well the secrets of your hearts. (3:154)

Dialogue among Muslims:

Any crisis will oblige Muslims to talk among themselves about problems being faced. They discuss causes, symptoms and results. They try to understand the situation from different angles, and hence get more information, education and better knowledge. The solution to such a crisis might be better if Muslims keep their taqwa (piety), honesty, sincerity, justice and freedom without being prejudiced.

Dialogue with non-Muslims:

Many non-Muslims start asking questions about Islam and Muslims, about Halal and Haram; about habits and customs; about rules and regulations; about Muslims and non-Muslims; and finally how to live together as human beings. Such type of dialogue help the non-Muslims understand Islam as a way of life. Muslims are instructed to make dialogue with non-Muslims and especially those who are called the “People of the Book”. Allah says in Surah Al-Imran:

....Say: O people of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you, that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah. (3:64)

Da’wah:

This leads us to the concept of Da’wah. Muslims are commanded to inform people about Allah and His message. They are to speak the truth with wisdom and the best of words. Allah says in Surah Al-Nahl (The Bees):

Invite all to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance. (16:125)

It should be mentioned here that Muslims are not out to convert people to Islam. They are not even to convince others but to inform them. In so doing they will be witnesses to Allah against those who refuse or antagonise. In Surah Fussilat (The Expounded) Allah says:

Who is better in speech than one who calls people to Allah, works righteousness and says, ‘I am among those who bow in Islam’. (41:33)

In Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) Allah says the following:

Thus have We made of you an Ummah justly balanced, that you might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves;..... (2:143)

Muslims have to assume their responsibility in speaking about Islam. They must inform people about Islam as a total and complete way of life. Allah says in Surah Yusuf:

Say you: this is my way I do invite you unto Allah, on evidence clear as the seeing with one’s eyes; I and whoever follows me. Glory to Allah and never will I join gods with Allah! (12:108)

Muslims should take the initiative to speak about Islam on Radio and TV. They should write articles in different newspapers about Islam. They should go to schools, colleges, universities and places of worships, and inform people about Islam. They should visit politicians and celebrities and inform them about Islam.

Last but not the least:

The whole world is now talking about Islam. It is a golden opportunity for the Muslims to speak, since many people are interested to know something about Islam. There is no excuse for anyone not to speak up, to inform or deliver the little information that he/she has. As long as they love Allah and His Deen (Religion), they should demonstrate that love in action.

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Leaves From Life

Oh, For A Time-Machine!

By D. A. Sait

In the early fifties when I first landed in Bangalore the city market area was a paradise of leisurely eateries, the no-alcohol, all-night restaurants you could dive into like a homing pigeon and stay put till your hair had turned grey. But alas! They have now become as extinct as the Dodo. In those care-free, bachelor days I could always take my troubles with me there, bury myself in a corner to take stock of things. No noise, no bustle. Nobody takes any notice of you for some time. Then a glass of water appears before you as is somebody had waved a magic wand. As you are sitting contemplating the great unwashed around you, your eyes light on a waiter eyeing you suspiciously as a potential threat to his statueque existence. Then he takes a look at the hordes of flies on your table and brightens visibly, for he knows he can bank on the flies to keep you entertained for some time with the assistance of the glass of water already placed before you, and those were flies well trained in the art of acrobations designed to keep you amused. Everyone of those eateries had on its pay-roll an army of such flies. When a patron has settled himself comfortably in his seat bunch of these flies zero in on him. While one of them goes on an exploratory tour of your ear another goes for your nose. Yet another, breaking new ground, conducts investigations on your eyes. To make them realize that you are not in the market for flies you launch into intensive swatting practice. The flies, who had till then been looking upon you as a protagonist of ‘ahimsa’ and peaceful co-existence, begin to rapidly revise their views. They now go flying off to the other tables to warn the other flies of intense naxalite activity in the neighbourhood of your table.

Meanwhile the waiter under whose jurisdiction your table falls has woken up to the realisation that your sole object in visiting this eatery was not merely to be entertained by the flies and the glass of water. So he institutes a probe, then reels out a list of eatables that might interest you. You choose a couple of items and then settle down to have a good nap. A couple of hours later the items ordered by you appear at your table accompanied by an escort of flies. You and the flies split the items fifty-fifty. An hour later the tea that you had ordered makes its appearance.

A couple of flies try to commit suicide by immolating themselves in your tea-cup. But the hot cup brings it home to them that the conditions for self-immolation are none too good, and they go in search of something less hot. You take your time sipping the tea. Finally, when your hair has turned reasonably grey, the waiter appears with your modest bill. With an aching heart you say good-bye to your flies for you had never had it so good. You refreshed yourself with a nap, filled yourself with snacks and tea and felt on top of the world.

Oh, for a time-machine, you feel, that could take you back to those golden, timeless moments again.

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