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Old October 21, 2007, 11:49 AM
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Sohel Sohel is offline
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Originally Posted by shaad
So do I; but part of having a secular, democratic government is allowing all parties (even those running on religious platforms) to participate.
I am certain that we’re not in disagreement here, but I honestly don’t think "secularism" as a Western concept is that important an issue. Religious culture, and "inclusive" slash "just" socio-political structures do not need to be mutually exclusive, ideologically or otherwise. It is important to note that Western secularism, as expressed in a wide variety of legal codes and practices that govern its institutions, is itself based on Anglo-American Common Law rooted in Judeo-Christian, i.e. religious morality. That said, I think fair and equal treatment under the law is the important issue at hand. Semantics …

As a Muslim, I do not find the Abrahamic morality as revealed in the Holy Quran to contradict that particular issue in any way, shape, or form. Maybe during this great Information Age of the New Islamic Revivalism, we are sowing the seeds of our own brand of "democratic secularism", albeit with predictably strong and occasionally violent opposition from the few who perhaps do not recognize the inherent indignity in speaking for others, and feel threatened by such dynamic and inevitable change. Only history will tell of the details of our new Al Andalus and how it came to be in the 21st Century.

Anyway, so much for that little tangent.

Perhaps it would be fair to say that a majority of Muslims continue to seek common ground in order to endeavor for justice and peace in an increasingly smaller and "complex" world, all the while trying to understand the differences that separate all of Allah’s creations as best as they can as individuals, perhaps without too much external coercion. Some appear to do more erudite job than others and that is nothing new in the 1500 years of Islamic traditions. Early Muslim scholars found common ground in Socrates, Plato and Aristotle in order to better understand the overwhelming evidence of Allah’s system, as many modern Muslim scholars find common ground in Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr and Michel Foucault among others.

Then again, there are those Muslims who advocate the separation of people from each other and regard "difference" as a threat that must be contained or destroyed. This creates a legacy of fear, divisions, mistrust, conflict and finally an incessant and perverse "war" of all against all. Such a "war" serves only their original, unresolved fears, and reinforces all subsequent inadequacies and insecurities in a perpetuation of pain and suffering at the hands of the very impiety and injustice that often result in such heartbreaking, unkind and dangerous behavior.

When all is said and done, all those who don’t break their covenant with Allah will be victorious, if they keep in mind that it is the very liberating act of the struggle itself, rather than the its eventual outcome that may lead to our salvation.

"We have decreed that the believers will be victorious." (30:47)

"GOD will support with victory those who support Him. GOD is powerful, Almighty." (22:40)

"GOD will surely defend those who believe. GOD does not like any betrayer, disbeliever." (22:38)

"O you who believe, if you support GOD, He will grant you victory, and strengthen your foothold." (47:7)
A critical part of that covenant with Allah is the practice and cultivation of piety and justice. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, pluralism, direct representation and tolerance are good expressions of a sense of piety and justice.

The spirit of democracy within that context is not at all contradictory to Islam unless one decontextualizes and twists Islam to fit into their pathological quest to "control" what ultimately cannot be controlled within the incessant generation of spontaneous differences, and the overall multiplicity of our heterogeneous and symbiotic universe in various states of constant flux. Even when such delusions of "control" seem real, they never last as long as the delusional mind would like them to, and never without terrible consequences in this life and the life to come. At the end of the day, only Allah can exercise such powers of ‘control’ in His Omnipotence.

The trouble with JIB is not difficult to gauge. Their Maududi ideology clearly advocates the following concept: -

“theo-democracy," in which three principles: tawhid (unity of God), risala (prophethood) and khilafa (caliphate) underlie the Islamic political system.

Maududi asserts that Islamic democracy is the antithesis of secular Western democracy which bases hakmiya (sovereignty) on the people. In an Islamic democracy the sovereignty of God and sovereignty of the people are mutually exclusive.

Maududi maintains that an Islamic government must accept the supremacy of Islamic law over all aspects of political and religious life.
First of all, it is indeed sad to see fellow Muslims who feel a need to justify Allah's "sovereignty" through socio-political means at their earthly disposal. As a Muslim, I need Him and need to submit willfully to the "way" revealed in the Holy Quran for my own benefit and that of this world. In my humble opinion, He does not need us validate His sovereignty. As a Muslim, I believe that we need to submit willfully to Him, as per the revelation in the Holy Quran to the best of our good faith ability as sentient individuals, for our own happiness in this life and the life to come. Period.

The Quran alone for me is the COMPLETE Word of Allah - revealed for ALL of mankind and not just the elite few - and contains all the inspiration and guidance I need to express and cultivate that personal submission. The Holy Quran is DIVINE revelation that supercedes, and therefore is the unifying root of submission with as many branches as there is variety in Allah's creations. It CANNOT be any individual branch of any given human endeavor - no matter how noble, important and valuable that endeavor may be - while at the same time being the positive light in CAN BE in transforming those endeavors into something truly worth our while as Allah's creations.

That is my humble and almost instinctive view on Islam and politics. My Muslim brothers and sisters in JIB and other similar parties - and I do not use the words 'brothers" and "sisters" sarcastically - do not share my view. Here are a few relevant verses before I move on: -

“'Shall I seek other than God as a judge when He has sent down to you this Scripture fully detailed?'” Those to whom We have given the Scripture know it is sent down from your Lord with truth; so do not be of those who have doubt." (The Message 6:114 )

"Say: 'Which is the greatest testimony?' Say: 'God is witness between me and you, and He has inspired to me this Qur'an that I may warn you with it and whomever it reaches, that you bear witness that along with God are other gods!' Say: 'I do not bear witness!' Say: 'He is only One god, and I am innocent of what you set up!'” (The Message 6:19)

"And We have come to them with a Scripture which We have detailed with knowledge; a guide and a mercy to those who believe." (The Message 7:52)

"We have revealed to you the Scripture with truth that you may judge between the people by that which God has shown you, and do not be an advocate for the treacherous." (The Message 4:105)

"And the Day We send to every nation a witness against them from themselves, and We have brought you as a witness against these. And We have sent down to you the Scripture as a clarification for all things, and a guide and mercy and good tidings to those who have surrendered." (The Message 16:89)

"And We have sent down to you the Scripture with truth, authenticating what is present of the Scripture and superseding it. So judge between them by what God has sent down, and do not follow their desires from what has come to you of the truth. For each of you We have made laws, and a structure; and had God willed, He would have made you all one nation, but He tests you with what He has given you; so strive to do good. To God you will return all of you, and He will inform you regarding that in which you dispute." (The Message 5:48)

"That is because God was not to change anything He bestowed to a people, unless they change what is in themselves. God is Hearer, Knowledgeable." (The Message 8:53)
Now to my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters who have their own view when it comes to the matter of Islam and the exercise of political power.

Problems begin when they create a list of their preferred "rightly guided scholars" often based on a set of traditional, valuable but nevertheless self-attesting guidelines that may or may not take the letter and spirit of the Quran and the all realities presented by this Information Age into proper account, while often violently rejecting or "blacklisting" other views as the "blasphemous" utterances from "deviant imposters" and "Kaffirs". According to some traditional Quranic interpretations, the only time a Muslim can call another a "Kaffir" is when in fact he or she has been accused a being one him or herself. Such is the inevitable way all hypocrites are exposed. I have posted an interview of Sheikh Hamza Yusuf at the very end of this post on this and other matters. Parts 3 and 5 address the K-word well. The Sheikh is a respected Muslim scholar and a central figure in the course of my life. I humbly suggest to all those interested in the matter to take the time and listen closely to what he has to say in its entirety.

Anyway, the exclusionists anoint the politically convenient scholars of their choice who according to their absolutist, "infallible reasoning" are "supremely qualified to interpret the intent of the Law Giver" as guardians or de facto partners and intermediaries between Allah and an individual’s salvation in various acts of "shirk" clear to everyone.

Everyone except of course, themselves and those sad, brokenhearted and sorrowful souls who seek the ultimately false sense of security in their dogma and "discipline" which feed the engine of fear and paranoia, exclude and vilify others, and seek to impose and exercise sectarian power unilaterally without the possibility of a role reversal or genuine dissent. In a not at all unexpected or unforeseen irony, they either "reject" or "accept" Quranic revelation only in terms of their own power-relation dynamics and dogma instead of the other way around. Intellectual dishonesty, deliberate decontextualizations, the emotionally manipulative art of doublespeak, and the insatiable thirst to have the "input" match the "expectation" keep the fire of the sectarian zealotry burning, and the crypto-Fascist hierarchies intact.

"Say: 'O My servants who transgressed against themselves, do not despair of God's mercy. For God forgives all sins. He is the Forgiver, the Merciful.'" (The Message 39:53)

"And who is more wicked than one who is reminded of his Lord’s verses but he turned away from them, and he forgot what his hands had done. We have made veils upon their hearts from understanding them, and a deafness in their ears. And if you invite them to the guidance, they will never be guided." (The Message 18:57)

"And when God Alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter are filled with aversion; and when others are mentioned beside Him, they rejoice!" (The Message 39:45)
Another story, but before moving forward, let me state clearly that I think the problem is not with the Islamic scholars or their traditional scholarship, but the value we assign to their work, and the manner in which we use that work for political gain. It is often not the scholar but the "follower" who uses the scholarship in order to exclude and hate those who disagree with their views, and resist their will to impose those views by coercion and force.

Having said all that, Islam inspired democracy in Bangladesh, or democracy in the traditionally pluralist and anti-sectarian Islamic religious culture of Bangladesh, must continue to rise above the urge to "bite the rabid dog" and recognize its citizens' right to be wrong, and protect those rights from in Jefferson’s words, "the tyranny of the majority" provided that they do not break the laws of the land and trample upon the rights of their compatriots.

The late Maolana Bhasani, despite all of his political and human shortcomings, understood this clearly. A man deeply inspired by Islam to do politics, he understood the paramount importance of keeping Islam out of the inevitably corrupt influences of political technologies of power. He understood in his own way, as do the overwhelming majority of the devoutly Muslim population of Bangladesh, that politics has no purpose other than the continued preservation and strategic growth of the "normalizing" technologies of coercion at its disposal, and socio-political exercise of those coercive powers upon the masses irrespective of ideological rationale.

Since Bhasani, organized Islamic politics in Bangladesh has been largely reactionary, anti-pluralist and all too often Pakistan and Saudi-centric. Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan and other outfits such as Hizbut Tahrir remain the "spiritual" slash "ideological" center of their politics of exclusion and deception, in a manner similar to the almost deified value attached Soviet and Chinese Communist Parties in relation to Bangladeshi Communist politics from the not too distant past. In order to understand JIB better, one also needs to understand the connections between JIB and all of their allies, including the Taliban in Afghanistan. Please feel free to click away at those links ...

It is again ironic that they seek to subvert and undermine the very Constitution and laws that provide them with such protection in line with the true letter and spirit of the Quran, and subsequent cultivation of piety and justice that is the best possible expression our collective submission as a society and nation.

We as submitters must believe that Allah is indeed Omniscient and Omnipotent, and that only He knows what is truly in the hearts of His creations. As an authentic expression of our faith, we must therefore fight for the fundamental human rights of all, including those amongst His creations who disagree with us. An integral part of that fight also implores us to remain equally vigilant and passionate about defending those rights against all adversaries foreign and domestic hell-bent on their destruction.

Originally Posted by shaad
I'd be fine with banning those members for whom we have official records of taking part in or encouraging the atrocities. I would argue against banning the party itself, because at present we have a known organization where people with a particular religious/political leaning end up. If we were to ban it, many of these folk would be more likely to join more extremist underground (and thus hard to keep track of) organizations like JMB.

Implementing the laws of the People’s Republic - especially those laws related to violent crimes past and present as well as sedition - through an independent Judiciary diligently enforcing due process to the best of its ability, is sufficient to bring all those who seek to undermine our Constitution to justice. There is no need to ban any political party.

That said, one must clearly distinguish between terrorist, paramilitary outfits such as the JMB, including all of their foreign and domestic patrons, and a political party that abides by the laws of the People’s Republic irrespective of its political views.

Originally Posted by shaad
And let's not forget that Jamaat has not had any significant increase in number of seats won since they started taking part in Bangladeshi elections.
Spot on.

The wisdom of our pluralist religious-cultural fabric and the "common" Bangladeshi voter continues to recognize what they are and reject them at the polls decisively as they have in the past. Despite all the socio-economic exploitation and resulting poverty, they still cannot be coerced into believing that some of the politically motivated charity is anything other than coercion itself.

That sort of political growth however, will not stop them from taking full advantage of what is being offered at the plate in spite of the ulterior motives that fool no one. They see passionate demonstrations against free speech blown out of proportion, while the complicity of silence rules that political roost when it comes to addressing incredible socio-economic injustice and class-based, often Muslim on Muslim violence that result from that injustice at home.

Hizbut Tahrir with JIB, IOJ and KH support can advocate violence when it comes to a conceptually plagiarized cartoon, but say nothing about the BDT 10 "Iftaar Allowance" demanded by exploited factory workers as promised by some of their blood-sucking owners. These matters are not lost on anyone other than those using Islam as a coercive means of imposing their exclusionary views and attempting to gain a cheap and easy political foothold within the Bangladeshi Muslim psyche which continues to reject them at the polls, and reject them comprehensively.

Our people have no trouble recognizing - especially in light of our history since 1971 in general, and the last 20 odd years in particular – those who do what they do only out of the conviction of their own vanity and narrow self gain at the expense of others. The act of wallowing in self-admiration carries with it a shine and a stink they no longer have trouble recognizing as the evil it truly is, was, and always will be.

Our people are smart, skilled, hardworking folks who manage to survive the socio-economic violence and inequities of our class system with a smile on their faces, and make nothing less than noble sacrifices for their families and communities without compromising the traditional values at the root of our peaceful culture. They do this everyday despite all of the subsequent adversities presented by such a disparate, unequal playing field of real economic opportunities kept that way by the desensitized vanity of a ruling class which has strayed far from the spiritual center of those values, and consequently its own moral fiber.

More power to our people who will take the money that belongs to them anyway, but not vote for you when the time comes. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? …

Peace, Sohel

PS: Sheikh Hamza Yususf interview.

Part I: Creed … plus

Part II: Theology and Intellectual Traditions … plus

Part III: Faith … plus

Part IV: Knowledge and Action … plus

Part V: Creed of Imam Tahawi and Inclusivism … plus

Part VI: Anger and Scholarship … plus
"And do not curse those who call on other than GOD, lest they blaspheme and curse GOD, out of ignorance. We have adorned the works of every group in their eyes. Ultimately, they return to their Lord, then He informs them of everything they had done." (Qur'an 6:108)

Last edited by Sohel; October 21, 2007 at 03:49 PM..
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