All posts by Minhaaj Rehman

Minhaaj Rehman is a consultant, writer, and speaker with multilingual skills. Currently, he contributes to The News, More Magazine, ProPakistani, etc. He writes on diverse topics ranging from technology to education and politics to travel.

The Sect-less Religion

Christianity, a beautiful religion spread by the labor of love and kindness by Jesus PBUH had been a source of identity for over a billion people around the world. His life was filled with sacrifice, compassion, and healing for the downtrodden. After his demise, avarice crept into his teachings and what was meant to be the veil for the bodies of unkempt, draped the lowliest of the clergy with finest of the silk.

One of the greatest books on psychological and dehumanising effects of colonization on colonial people is Frantz Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth”. Book published in 1961 in french with the title Les Damnés de la Terre.

Jean Paul-Sartre himself took the pains to write an excruciating and self-immolating preface for the it. Amidst his critique of colonization and French brutality in Algeria he notes the symbiotic relationship of the Church and the Armies. While the white man encroached the lands of what Fanon calls “lumpenproletariat” of Marx, the Church ratified not only its actions but convinced the natives of a divine legitimacy for all this. Jesus PBUH would bless their souls if they died working for the ‘intelligent race’. Franz speaks of it in these words:

“I speak of the Christian religion, and no one need be astonished. The Church in the colonies is the white people’s Church, the foreigner’s Church. She does not call the native to God’s ways but to the ways of the white man, of the master, of the oppressor. And as we know, in this matter many are called but few chosen.”

Ironically, about the same time Spanish Armada was on its way to bring triumph and plata back to the country, Christianity was at the crossroads of a reformation not very far from it. Martin Luther having witnessed the corruption of clergy in Rome had reneged as the priests of his time proclaimed.

The largest denomination of monolithic Christian faith would become a story of past and from it unstoppable branches would sprout forth. It would burn the Europe in centuries to come through protestant and catholic wars.

It is no wonder today that there is a clear bifurcation between the Christian world. After the irrelevance of Jewish faith and its restrictive admission criterion excluded the aspirants of salvation, Christianity was the only dominant religion throughout the world. Post-Lutheran downfall has reduced it into people alienated from religion altogether and the other lot struggling with finding the right sect. Science-based delusion carried many towards atheism and rest of them embroiled themselves in complicated discourses on variant readings of the Bible.

What Christian world has perceived to be its arch enemy, Islam despite its religious tolerance, magnanimous treatment of its Christian and Jewish subjects, has always been a source of discontent for it. A big portion of it comes from the early apocryphal writings of ecclesiastical writers and their misinformation and fiction about state of Christian subjects in Ottoman Empire, distortion of history about it in Prophet PBUH’s times and ISIS in modern times.

This ‘civilization’ project of Muslim world, whose cumbersome responsibility lies on the ‘civilized’ white Christian world, has been going on for quite some time and surprisingly not in a very different way than the early colonial churches.

Hoya Paxa: A Blog about Interfaith Service and Peacebuilding (inspired by Georgetown’s spirited campus cheer “Hoya Saxa!” to emphasize pax, Latin for “peace” published an article by Harshita Nadimpalli on intefaith dialogue in Pakistan. Semitic religions apart from Islam see each other with deep distrust if not aversion for having stolen their authority.

Christian-Jewish enmity has lasted for centuries which needs no proves. Islam on the other hand not only acknowledges both of them but also makes it a part of faith to revere them.

Now what type of inter-faith harmony can there be between people who call each other charlatans? If the idea comes out of secular humanism, then we don’t need a religious nomenclature for this pantomime because world doesn’t seem to fair well with the enlightenment ideas if not worst. Can it be the usual suspect that Christian missionaries in its quest of civilization this time wants Islam to follow its sorrow trajectory of apologetic inversion as Foreign Policy magazine recently suggested?

Hoya Paxa, published another post by another Hindu writer, on persecution of Ahmaddiya Muslims around the world. Article is filled with false facts, distortions, lack of knowledge and sincerity. Now if this is peace building and promotion, could it be construed that interfaith dialogues are promoting Islamic sectarianism?

Apart from the technicalities, how hilarious does it sound, when a Jewish writer speaks to Muslim audiences on deep issues of Islamic faith and holds a Ph.D in Islamic studies from notorious schools like SOAS? Why doesn’t that knowledge bring him over to the true faith?

Islam has no sects. Allah has decreed his injunctions upon the people and given them two paths to choose from. The option of believing and not believing. Islam or Kufr. There is no compulsion in it. Quran Says

“ وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِفَلَا اقْتَحَمَ الْعَقَبَةَ”

“We showed him two paths. But he has not attempted to pass on the path that is steep”

Sects emerge when people follow their whims instead of the Sunnah. Intolerance is the result of avarice, not religion itself. There is hardly anything that has not been made clear in Quran, as it states in it. Let us go back to Prophet PBUH’s life and his words as for the enemies Allah has promised to take care of that for us.

يمكرون و يمكر الله و الله خير الماكرين


Sufism and Islam — The Garbed Men

Tassawuf and Sulook is a topic that is as important as it is unique. It concerns itself with the feelings of Iman and Yaqeen and the spiritual states of the human heart. Many saints have written about it, that Sufis wore the garbs of wool (soof) and thereby are called Sufis but this does not seem to be true. Quran Kareem’s word Tazkiya was translated into Persian as Tassawwuf. The first language that Quran Kareem was ever translated into was Persian. The truth seems to be the essence of the word and the discipline of Tassawwuf.

State of the world or the lack of it is sad if nothing else. Different cultures have different ways to define it and make their peace with it. Germans call it Zeitgeist. Some deify it and some become perennial. Others choose to make peace with it or simply cut a larger piece of it. None of us can deny the fact that there is something subtle about human beings.

They are given the wisdom to reign over other species. Only they can continuously evolve and learn. Goats never think about creating a salad out of their vegetarian food. Cats don’t seem to care if milk is 3% fat or 1.5%. Lions can’t care less about beef steaks and chicken nuggets.

This gift comes with its own test. The ability to learn comes with a responsibility to use it wisely. And what can be the pinnacle of knowledge but to figure out this world and its purpose? Is it an undertaking larger than human being’s meager intellect? Is it only fair to be judged on things that one has no capacity to find a conclusion for? Then again, Human beings with all their sagacity were the only beings fit for the ultimate job. The Maarifa of the creator. Surprisingly Quran calls it his ignorance.

إنا عرضنا الأمانة على السماوات والأرض والجبال فأبين أن يحملنها وأشفقن منها وحملها الإنسان إنه كان ظلوماً جهولاً

It’s the man himself who agreed to bear the burden that heavens and the earth denied. Allah does not ask of people, things that they have no potential to fulfill. When Allah created human beings, Angels argued against it and Allah responded, “ Surely I know what you do not know”.

Allah then sent his messengers to guide his creation. The only creation that could question his existence. The creation that was given free will and the choice. None of Allah’s creation can change its course. Everything falls into a system without ever changing. Sun and the Moon chase each other without delays. Vegetation grows and dies, animals live off each other, winds circulate in loops, water cycle keeps repeating itself.

It’s only human intervention that changes this. It’s only human who use these gifts to its fullest potential and they are made for the humans. However, will this unprecedented reign make him grateful or oblivious of the original creator?

The vicegerent is only as powerful as the Master. Gratitude and loyalty are what employers seek from their subordinates. Human beings are being asked nothing else but this with the exception that they don’t contribute anything to the heavens. They only take from the Lord. The asking is just the gratitude. The remembrance, the quest to his Lord and sincerity.

Islamic Tassawwuf is nothing but this remembrance of the Creator. The emptying of heart from everything but Allah. Counter-intuitively some have assumed that being impoverished, ascetic and recluse gets one started on this path. Nothing can be further from the truth if you read the lives of great Sufi Masters.

From Imam Al-Ghazali RA to Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jillani RA and from Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi RA to Shah Wali Ullah Dehlvi RA, these people single-handedly changed the course of history. They were great iconoclasts who not only shattered the idols of material powers and empires, they purged the hearts of its spiritual diseases, Jealously, Envy, Rancor, and Hate.

Like four Madhab, served Islamic faith in gathering and synthesizing the principles of practices, four chains of Sufi traditions have taken the burden of purifying the hearts of people from the worldly malice. Naqshbandi, Qadri, Chishti and Suharwardi being the names of these orders. From Morocco to Indonesia, Zawaya and Khanqas are busy forming practical and thoughtful souls. In the quagmire of insincerity, opportunism and deception both worldly and religious, pure Islam can only be found with people who keep themselves busy in purifying their hearts. Prophet SA said,

هم القوم لایشقی جلیسهم

These are the people, the one who sits with them will not remain unfulfilled, even if he doesn’t do what they do. The ones whose tear keep flowing from open eyes, while people sleep. The ones who are found prostrating in front of their Lord begging for mercy for the non-believers around them. Whose selflessness keep the selfish afloat.

It is these who keep the wrath of Allah from the corrupt vicegerents who were meant to be the wayfarers on the path of uprightness. Prophet SA said

لَا تَقُومُ السَّاعَۃُ حَتَّی لَا یُقَالَ فِی الْأَرْضِ اللَّہُ اللَّہُ

Qiyamah will not happen until Zikr of Allah is being done on earth. The heart of darkness is lit by these candles. No matter who you believe in, who your sheikh is and what you creed is, get hold of these people because if there is hope for this world, it is them.

By All That You Hold Dear!

Edward Said’s book ‘Orientalism’ was the first academic attempt in the western world to debunk the myth of clandestine, impoverished Eastern world.

Snake charmers, streets filled with begging children, uneducated pristine brunettes, spice-loving vegetarians, the oil supplying terrorists, wife-beating fanatics, and exotic colorful performances, this is all we have in East for what westerners care. This prejudice entwined with outright lies have dominated western literature from the times of first orientalists’ interactions with the Islamic world. Muhammad Asad’s book ‘Road to Mecca’ sheds light upon it from the perspective of a Jewish convert to Islam.

Intellectually dishonest commentaries on Quran by Schacht, Nöldeke, Blachere and Puin spoke of ridiculous misinterpretations, cherry-picked excerpts, distorted rulings, misquoted texts and white lies. Earlier seminaries where these orientalists were educated and funded are the same institutes that western world today prides itself.

These Jesuit Christians slowly indoctrinated the otherwise friendly population of European continent against its Semitic cousin for their personal gain, in some cases for the perceived service they had done to Christianity.

Gerd R. Puin, a German professor of Arabic in Saarbrücken, writes in his article in Atlantic Monthly in 1999, surprisingly after centuries of first interactions with Arab world:

My idea is that the Koran is a kind of cocktail of texts that were not all understood even at the time of Muhammad. Many of them may even be a hundred years older than Islam itself. Even within the Islamic traditions, there is a huge body of contradictory information, including a significant Christian substrate; one can derive a whole Islamic anti-history from them if one wants.

There has been a consensus even among western scholars these days on how ridiculous this assumption is. One of the best book to have tackled all the false assertions of Orientalists is Professor Mustafa Azmi’s work, ‘The History of the Qur’anic Text from Revelation to Compilation : A Comparative Study with the Old and New Testaments”.

In his magnum opus, Professor Azmi not only rejects allegation after allegation orientalists have concocted against collection and dissemination of Islamic texts but also provides a juxtaposition of these procedural methods with Christianity and Judaism. An Indian National with a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Cambridge, Professor Azmi currently works as Professor Emeritus at King Saud University.

Has this all been a huge misunderstanding between the west and the east or it’s a carefully choreographed clash of civilization with its roots in theology? One of the leading scholars in the western world on the Middle East is Bernard Lewis. Despite his Jewish background and inciting views on Islamic history, he categorically denied Muslim violence in crusading years.

While it’s a documented fact that unlike Christian vagabonds who ransacked Muslim population after crusade victories, Muslim armies after the recapture let them walk away and didn’t retribute the violence. It was so ravaging that Pope himself had to come out and apologize for that to Muslims.

Stanford Shaw in his book on Ottoman Empire argues that condition of minorities in Ottoman Empire was way better than they had in their own so-called countries where Isabella Ferdinand massacred Jews for not converting to Christianity subsequently expelling them to the Ottoman Empire where they lived happily.

Lord Macaulay’s speech in British Parliament in 1835 is probably a verbatim explanation of why this jingoist ambiance is necessary for public support these governments need to continue its onslaught on foreign countries to bring bank the plundered booty. After first invasions of Indian subcontinent this was his report:

I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in the country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore,

I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

Two centuries later after a crippled independence based on divide and rule, Subcontinent today is half stable countries at daggers drawn with each other. Education, jurisprudence, politics and administration all are run by same English maxims. Capital punishment under section 302 of Penal Code of Pakistan 1860 is a perfect example of this. Pakistan came into being in 1947. How on earth is Penal Code of Pakistan written in 1860?

In the wake of the recent surge in populist politics in Europe and Islamophobic rhetoric, it is no surprise that fifth columnists among the ranks of Muslims have been trained and educated for centuries.

Quilliam Foundation, a London-based think-tank, founded by Majid Nawaz, a self-proclaimed scholar and secular critic of Islam is a perfect example of it. Its relations with Gatestone Institute an Islamophobic group is an evidence example of such synergies.

RAND corporation’s report ‘Civic and Democratic Islam’ is a document that outlines the western strategy of infiltrating ranks of Muslim academia and civil society to pave the way for a secular and western revolution. It highlights religious divisions and emphasizes the importance of supporting the factions that are in line with western foreign policy.

It is both unfortunate and tragic to see Christianity join hands with Judaism in the propagation of such outrageous views about the Islamic world. Christian Science Monitor’s reports are some of the most biased reports on the Muslim world. People like Irshad Manji and Ayaan Hirsi are being painted as if they are the epitome of Islamic ideals of a woman. Ironically this is not how western world reacted to the conversion of Lauren Booth’s conversion to Islam.

In the battle of protecting the world from the dark forces, sons of the west always leave out the east as if we have no love for our freedoms, values, convictions, identities, and progeny. While these white heroes wage wars against the deteriorated villains and Arabs, we the darker just sit around and enjoy falafel and kebabs!

Facebook Censors Kashmir Struggle

In 1948, United Nations passed resolution 47, giving people of Kashmir the right of self-determination through a plebiscite. 60 Years later, it remains victim of brutal occupation by Indian Army. Surprisingly it has found a new accomplice. Facebook.

Arundathi Roy wrote a seething piece on Kashmir’s freedom fight from Indian occupation that left many in tears. Man Booker Prize-winning author for her novel ‘God of Small things’ and human rights activist, slashes the myth of Indian-held Kashmir, portrayed as an integral part of India. The article was passionate, tempestuous and raging with emotions. Her message was vivid. Silencing of voices with blinding pellets and maiming bullets does the opposite.

Kashmir movement rekindled earlier this month when Burhanuddin Wani, a 21-year-old freedom fighter from Tral, Srinagar, in Indian-held Kashmir was shot by Indian Armed Forces. The official narrative of Indian army remained the same. A separatist, a terrorist and a rebel was taken out.

Kashmir’s population see it the other way. Burhanuddin Wani, was a bright student who topped his region in High School. After Indian Army officers beat him and his brother to death, only he survived to join the resistance movement in snowy mountains.

With no constitutional means to express his agony over his beloved brethren and creative ways to vent out his disenfranchisement, juvenile depression turned into a violent struggle against the foe.

On 8th July, he was shot after a siege. This should have closed the Pandora box. Turns out, they had just opened it. Hundreds of people from the whole valley turned up for his funeral. He became everyone’s son, everybody’s brother and his name became a brand for freedom.

Shutters of the shops were painted with ‘Burhan’ on it. Streets flooded with people, protesters took public squares and social media inundated with photos of protesting youth, blinded by Indian Army’s pellet guns, a weapon that disables people for life. Leaders of the freedom struggle are being detained in the aftermath and facilities in hospitals are abysmal. Disturbing videos of pellets being shot at stone-throwing protesters are heart-wrenching.

Leaders of the freedom struggle are being detained and facilities in hospitals are abysmal. Disturbing videos of pellets being shot at stone throwing protesters is heart-wrenching.

Kashmiri Youth being abused

In 2015, An Amnesty international report said that not a single Army personnel was tried for atrocities committed in Indian occupied Kashmir. It further highlights the legal cover for violence by passing laws that provide perpetrators of ferocity a safe passage. One of these law states:

Section 197(2), Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

No Court shall take cognizance of any offense alleged to have been committed by any member of the Armed Forces of the Union while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government.

Not only is this a blatant violation of Human Rights, but also againstInternational conventions on Civil and Political Rights, that India is a party to. The report further states that it is a breach of The Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation, and Article 8 of International Humanitarian Law.

The problem has been aggravated by criminal censorship of the issue. Amidst gag orders that have shut down mobile phone services, newspaper publishing, and Internet services, the huge blow came from a place, they least expected. Facebook.

Images of wounded victims were censored under the “Community Guidelines” and accounts of activists were blocked. This curbing of freedom of speech sent a wave of anger among journalists around the world. Guardian published a piece chronicling the discriminatory practices of Facebook in its long post.

A Pakistani activist group Never Forget Pakistan, that promotes, the memory of brave souls that lost their lives fighting against terrorism, started a campaign by uploading images of Indian Prime Minister, Narender Modi,Mark Zuckerberg and Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachan and Aishwarya Rai with sarcastic accusations of silence and apathy.

Pictures were photo-shopped images of these celebrities hit by pellets, shot by the Indian Army. The campaign went viral in hours and the messages of condemnation started flowing in . Hashtags #Indiacantsee #LetKashmirDecide #KashmirKillings rocked the world to its core.

Even the most ardent Hindu writers from India couldn’t help the tears that gushed out, watching the mutilated bodies and dead children on TV.Basharat Peer, an ex-citizen of occupied Kashmir and a New York-based journalist, narrated the story as it unfolded behind narrow streets and closed doors in the Himalayan inferno.

He wrote “In the early hours, a photojournalist Javed Darsaw that hundreds of people who had come from nearby villages were sleeping on the streets, some using rocks as pillows. About 200,000 people are reported to have attended the funeral throughout the day.”

Caustic and probing question mark remains for India to answer. “Why is the violence always a solution for all its problems?” Christian massacre ofOdisha, Gujarat riots, Tamil rebellion in the south and Dalit genocide are just a few examples of India’s barbaric treatment of its minorities.

A country that claims itself to be world’s largest democracy, has repeatedly failed to reign its rampant Hindutva ideology and its fanatic clergy. Arundhati Roy woefully bursted in her thought-provoking article, a verdict conveniently ignored by Indian Government:

“The people of Kashmir have made it clear once again, as they have done year upon year, decade upon decade, grave upon grave, that what they want is Azadi (Freedom).”