Mar 292014

Liberal Muslims who are conversant about the Qadiani Ahmadiyya community have to walk a very fine line: the Ahmadiyya are discriminated against in Pakistan and are targeted by extremists in that country and liberals generally don’t want to be part of any judgmental discourse on what they perceive as a theological matter.

It has been frustrating to try to talk about the social, political and legal aspects of the Qadiani minority’s problems in any independent manner.  Without delving into the history, it has been easy to toe the Qadiani Ahmadiyya propaganda line without much critical analysis.  While we agree religion-based extremism in Pakistan is a grave threat, we could not get liberals to think about the Qadiani propaganda from an angle not tinged by the unacceptable emotions directed against the Ahmadiyya by the religious mafia in Pakistan.

People we have directly tried to engage have included Yasser Latif Hamadani, Zofeen T. Ebrahim, Saroop Ijaz and Sana Saleem, among others.  We have tried to convince these liberals that we, as former Ahmadis, can never condone any act of violence, suppression of civil rights, or discrimination against the Ahmadis but we have to tell you of our experience: that this seemingly ‘reform’ movement is a new religion with a new prophet.  And that it is as misogynist and sectarian as the Taliban, and has the latent tendency of being every bit as violent and land-grabbing as the Taliban.  There cannot be firmer ‘true believers’ than those with a latter-day prophet.

Leave it to Nadeem Paracha, the doyen of Pakistani liberal writers to grasp the crux of the matter with this gem: “star[t]ling irony of a left-liberal government passing a controversial theological edict.”

Continue reading »

Mar 282014

I had always recognised Voltaire as a philosopher and an important cog of Western liberal thinking but I recently came across a play written by him: Le fanatisme, ou Mahomet le Prophete, literally Fanaticism, or Mahomet the Prophet.

Voltaire, and his admirers, have tried to interpret this play as a general criticism of religion and, by a stretch, a criticism of Christianity.   Voltaire himself said  “I tried to show in it into what horrible excesses fanaticism, led by an impostor, can plunge weak minds.”

Voltaire considered himself ‘virtuous’ and it does not become a virtuous man to demean the character of a historic figure in fiction.  Historical truth is not just a modern sensibility, as the Emperor Napoleon said about the play:

“Mahomet was the subject of deep criticism. ‘Voltaire,’ said the Emperor, ‘in the character and conduct of his hero, has departed both from nature and history. He has degraded Mahomet, by making him descend to the lowest intrigues. He has represented a great man, who changed the face of the world, acting like a scoundrel, worthy of the gallows. He has no less absurdly travestied the character of Omar, which he has drawn like that of a cut-throat in a melo-drama.’”

A new translation is out and a review of the translation says (emphasis mine):

The play itself is an enjoyable, light read. Ruthven’s preface and the translator’s introduction, which focuses on the reception that the play received among contemporaries and how it was viewed by later critics, illuminate some of the background to the way Islam is understood in the West.

Indeed.  Islamophobia is nothing new. It was dormant during the European World Wars and the Cold War to enable strategic alliances with Muslim states.


Jan 032014

The Quran denounces riba in the most categorical terms. The term riba is synonymous with the traditional concept of usury, and in modern terms, generally means interest, i.e. exploitative interest on debt, especially to the poor.  Generally, it excludes commercial discounting on current trade — which is not usury or riba for obvious reasons.

Prohibition on usury was enacted by all three Abrahamic faiths, but in modern times, it is actively preached only by Muslims. Here is an excerpt from Matthew Green’s take on this:

What those old Jewish and Christian fathers understood, and Islamic scholars still understand, is that debt creates moral problems by dehumanising the relationship between debtor and creditor. Financial assets are in fact human relationships between real people, which we are attempting to abdicate responsibility for. Alas though, it is unthinkable that our current economic system, with its manifold benefits, can be created or sustained without them. But we would all be better off if we understood the moral and personal implications, and consequent limitations, of financial assets and the markets through which we acquire them.

Oct 292013

Between the lines, Israel would have you believe that the ‘fanatic’ Iranians were the enemies of Jews.

An article in the Jersualem Post dispels that myth. Not only does Iran have a tiny but healthy Jewish community that has been around for ages, its diaspora in the United States is helping to mend ties.

“If the US and the international community do not make the best of this golden and perhaps unrepeatable opportunity, then it will be in the benefit of those who are against the normalization of ties between Iran and the US,” the head of the Jewish community in Tehran wrote in an open letter to the US president.

Homayoun Sameyah Najaf Abady also rejected the suggestion made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the Iranian people are denied personal freedoms.

Speaking in an interview with BBC Persian television earlier this month, Netanyahu stated, “I think if the Iranian people had freedom, they would wear jeans, listen to Western music, and have free elections.”

AFP quoted Sameyah as responding in the letter, “We, the Iranian Jews, as an Iranian religious minority, participated in the elections and elected our popular president freely.”

He said that the Jewish community has freedom of choice in “wearing jeans and listening to music.”

Aug 272013

saudi_arabia_flag_mapAfter considerable agonising over trans-national Muslim affinity, and avoiding criticising any single party, the time has come to say it: if Arab cultural fetishes and monarchical paranoia are not actively combated by Muslims worldwide, they threaten the trans-national fabric of the Ummah (Global Islamic Community).  This is a rather lengthy article and needs some background in Islamic history and terminology and I will do my best to explain any exotic terms as I go along. Continue reading »

Aug 262013

We are pleased to announce our third annual award. The award goes to the Web site and its driver, Steven Danios.

As opposed to last year, we have chosen an entity that is not identified by a single event, but has taken a novel and effective approach to fighting Islamophobia, and has been persistent in the endeavour.  With relentless, civilised and in-depth tracking, the site does the job well.

It is only through continuous and selfless commitment to a noble cause that change happens, and this site is an excellent example.


P.S. (Update August 2013):  Please contribute to their current project:


Jul 012013

In a welcome move, the UK government has barred Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer from entering the United Kingdom to address events organised by the EDL (English Defence Lesage).

The EDL is a British far-right movement that is particularly anti-Muslim, considering Muslims a threat to English society.  Ms. Geller and Mr. Spencer are American bloggers and activists whose singular purpose is to make the American people and United States government fearful of Muslims and their ‘hidden agenda’.  Their writings resemble police blotters — an unending litany of Muslim criminals from various parts of the world and pseudo-psychological babble about how the religion of Islam is behind the mens rea for the crime. Continue reading »

May 232013


We are horrified and shocked by the killing of a British soldier in a barbaric and inhuman manner.

Seminar time will be reduced from 10:00 to 14:00 with lunch at 12:45

Presenters will change their topic in light of the horrible event and topics will reflect that. A.K. Shaikh presentation will be on Sunday and registered attendees will be notified of the location.


May 122013

So, the anti-defamation league is out in full force over an ad that contains this map, making it a ‘Jewish’ issue. I wonder where they were when Pamela Geller was putting up nonsensical ads with actual religious overtones. This ad was paid for by Henry Clifford. You can see his interview with CBS after the fold.


Continue reading »

Apr 212013

boston-marathon-bombing-suspects-2013The terrorist bombings in Boston have brought home a very hard truth: Western moral certainty that led us through the Cold War is ceding its surefooted stance to extremist Islamists.

Open and transparent justice has always worked simply: innocent or guilty, resulting in exoneration and freedom or sentence and punishment. Holding people indefinitely in a semi-guilty state of limbo has always been the dream of medieval barons, tyrants and dictators.  With money and technology, it is now possible to hold everyone in the world in a state of ‘continuous monitoring’. The question is: if such pervasive control is possible, should it be funded and done? Will secret courts and more prisons and continuous invasive monitoring stop terrorism? I argue not.  If there was no continuing need for supersonic flight technology and the Concorde was retired, is it possible that no useful social purpose will be served by invasive monitoring, aggressive prosecution, and indefinite incarceration? Continue reading »

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