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DECEMBER 2001 Contents

 Architecture

 Joseph Allen Stein
 A tribute by Ram Rahman


 
Art
 
A Spiritual Activist
 Rozalia Radhika Priya


 
Music

 Ghulam Ali

 Prem Joshua
 (Listen to the track
 'Lahore Connection')

 Maharaja
 (Listen to the track
 'Moria Badnawa')


 
Technology

 Telecoms & Software
 - Trends in south Asia

 Value/Wealth Creators

 Narayana Murthy - Infosys

 Sam Pitroda - C-DOT

 Aziz Premji - Wipro

 Sunil Mittal - Bharti Mittal

 Ambanis - Reliance

 Safi Qureshi

 Hassan Ahmed - Sonus

 Atiq Raza - Raza Foundries

 

 Literature/Books

 'It was five past midnight
 in Bhopal' - Lapierre

 
 
Performing Arts

 Simplifying Ramayana
 - Bharatiya Kala Kendra

 
 Viewpoint

 Islam's middle-path


 Mythology

 Sakti - Mother Goddess


 Films

 Nandita Das


Events

 Wharton India Economic
 Forum Conference


 Editor's Note

 

 
the craft shop

the print gallery

Books

Silk Road on Wheels

The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

Parsis-Zoroastrians of
India

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in Bangladesh

 

 

 

 

 

The 'middle way' of Islam

by

Izzat Majeed


History has no morality, and certainly no sense of justice. Capital knows no religion and has no country. The vast majority of the Muslims of the world do not care about Osama bin Ladenís proclamations and his antiquated notion of Islam. He helped create the Taliban (some say he actually rules over them). If the sheer barbarism of the Taliban regime is his version of an Islamic society, then he must be a true dreamer to think that any Muslim with half a brain will listen to him. The long lost tribal simplicity and austerity that once characterised the practice of Islam interests no one today. The self-inflicted death of intellect in Islam a thousand years ago is the main cause of the retrogressive and unenlightened mullah culture in Muslim societies today. 

Bin Ladenís self-selected messiahism is too opportunistic and shallow to become a political movement of a revolutionary sentiment among the dispossessed Muslims of the world. He has gathered the delusion of strength and stumbled over the invention of ideology based on a religious populism in an ocean of illiteracy and abject poverty. And he has gone wild.

Terrorism without an historical juncture supporting a movement for change is just thatóterrorism. It can shake the world for a moment or two, but it is easily killed. His legacy of terror, which also victimised the poor, uneducated and downtrodden Muslims of the world, vanished in the caves of darkness and despair. He brought wretchedness to proud but hungry and abused Afghans, with his empty slogans and his money and showed them a new hell where bombs and chocolates fall from the skies.

We Muslims cannot keep blaming the West for all our ills. We have to first get our own house in order before we can even make any credible struggle possible to rid us of ignorance, living-in-the-past chest thumping and intolerance of the modern world.

The embarrassment of wretchedness among us is beyond repair. It is not just the poverty, the illiteracy and the absence of any commonly accepted social contract that defines our sense of wretchedness; it is, rather, the increasing awareness among us that we have failed as a civil society by not confronting the historical, social and political demons within us.

The social and political acquiescence to this condition by the vast majority of our people has given rise to cultural paralysis and a totally bogus interpretation of Islam based on self-serving political agendas. Without a reformation in the practice of Islam that makes it move forward and not backward, there is no hope for us Muslims anywhere. We have reduced Islam to the organised hypocrisy of state-sponsored mullahism. For more than a thousand years Islam has stood still because the mullahs, who became de facto clergy instead of genuine scholars, closed the door on ijtehad and no one came forward with a dynamic and evolving application of the message of the Holy Quran. All that the mullahs tell you today is how to go back a millennium and more. We have not been able to evolve a dynamic practice to bring Islam to the people in the language of their own specific era. Little wonder, therefore, that the bulk of our mullahs are illiterate in any modern or ancient sense of the word. They are simply illiterate. Period. Oxford and Cambridge were the 'madrasas' of Christendom in the 13th century. Look where they are today - among the leading institutions of education in the world. Where are our institutions of learning?

The basis of ignorant mullahism issues from a fundamental debasement of the human being. Ours is an ongoing inquisition that thrives on ignorance and poverty. The pathetic ruling elites of the Muslim world remain trapped in their own abandonment of any knowledge about Islam. The likes of Bin Laden cannot lead all of us to a barbaric social order and call it Islam. Most Muslims live in the dark ages already. The last thing they need is the growing darkness of Bin Ladenís caves and the stale intellect that is anti-human and anti-progress.

In verse 143 in Sura Al-Bacarah (the Cow), the Almighty says: "And thus have we willed you to be a community of the middle way." It is this God-ordained 'middle way' that we Muslims have lost. And we must find it in harmony with today's and tomorrow's hope for moderation and a better quality of life for us all.

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