Bangladesh, Cultural, Economic, Human Rights, International, Life as it is, Political, Religious

Enemies of Bangladesh striking from within

More than fifty years ago, Bangladeshi people fought a bloody war against Pakistani brutal oppression. In suppressing the legitimate demands of the people of then East Pakistan, Pakistani military authority had the ready and willing support of armed gang of the 5th columnists – the so-called Islamist thugs trying to save the country for religion.

Bangladesh won the independence after shedding tremendous amount of bloodshed, sacrificing the dignity of tens of thousands of Bengali women, millions of people had to flee their homeland by crossing the borders in all directions to India. After nine months of war, the country achieved independence by beating the Pakistani force.

Now the 5th columnists are attacking the very foundation of Bangladesh from within and to add insults to injury on the day of independence, on the day when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman inspired the Bengali people to rise up and fight for our national dignity, for our national identity. How dare these Hefazat-e-Islam thugs attack Bangladesh’s national emblem as well as national properties when the country was primed to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of its independence.

These Hefazati people are not only the enemy of the State, they are also the vicious people and criminals. They cannot tolerate the celebration of independence of Bangladesh, which broke away from their stark racist religious state of Pakistan. Even after 50 years, they are hankering after their fanatic country Pakistan and scheming to end the secular state of Bangladesh.

Now the question is, who are these Hefazati people and how did they get such a strong foothold in the country which they opposed so violently? To answer this question, one has to look back to the political history of Bangladesh. The killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation, on 15th August 1975 was the turning point when the country had been wrenched out from secularism towards Islamisation. Ziaur Rahman who took control of the country after the turmoil of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s death started to change Bangladesh Constitution from secularity to Islamic Constitution, putting Bismillaher Rahmanir Rahim in the Preamble of the Constitution and stating Islam as the State religion. He then allowed Rajakars, al-Badr and other blatant religious groups who were violently involved in killing innocent people during the liberation war to come back to Bangladesh.  

At the same time, Saudi money started pouring in to open madrasas – Qawmi type which is of the fundamentalist variety – throughout the whole country. In addition, mosques were established in almost every street corner of the capital city and all major cities of the country with Saudi money. Ziaur Rahman surreptitiously encouraged these religious activities and with the explicit and implicit support of these religious bigots, he started a political party called the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). After Ziaur Rahman, Mohammad Ershad continued in the same vane allowing and encouraging clandestine foreign supply of funds for political-religious purposes.

At the moment, there are at least 64,000 Qawmi madrasas in the country and the number of students is assumed to be nearly 10 million (as par Institute of Commonwealth Studies). The exact number of madrasas or madrasa students is not known as these madrasas are not registered and regulated by the Bangladesh Madrasa Education Board, as these madrasas are financed privately. That is where the problem lies and the dark side of madrasa education starts to emerge. It is an open secret that Saudi Arabia as the main sponsor of the Salafist / Wahhabi ideology is the financier of these Qawmi madrasas and mosques, not only in Bangladesh but also in many other Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia also financed the setting up of Ibn Sina banks, Ibn Sina hospitals, universities, primary schools and even bus services and hotels in Bangladesh. The tentacles of Islamic financial activities go far and wide and are deeply rooted. Obviously, with such financial muscle comes the political muscle and any democratic government of a relatively poor country would be hard pressed to confront them.  

Hefazat-e-Islam as a political organisation emerged in 2010 when millions Qawmi madrassah people were readily available to populate this blatantly communal organisation. In fact, Hefazat has become the political forum for these Madrasa-trained people who have no vocation or skill to offer, other than simply reciting some verses from Quran without even understanding anything about it. These madrasas only produced millions of morons and enemies of the State. These people are total dead weight to the country.

Over the years, these madrasa-trained people had been piling up and they would now demand employment. That they are not suitable for any productive work is beyond their comprehension. However, the government should have warned them before they were allowed to go down the blind alley and now it falls on the government to train them and move them towards the constructive sector of the economy. These people, as they stand now, are now primed to be radicalised and can very easily be turned into Islamic terrorists.    

Demonstrating against foreign leaders or foreign powers, vandalising private and public properties, attacking minorities and their properties etc would seem to be the pastimes for these people. The government must stop them firmly. The whole sector of madrasa education should be closed down without any delay. The problem that the military-people-turned-politician had created in the past to get a foothold in the political field has to be tackled now. The country has to bear the brunt of the thuggery of Hefazati people by deploying the Border Guards to protect foreign leaders and saving government and minority properties, but can this extra vigil continue indefinitely? The root cause, the source of the problem needs to be tackled head on; otherwise, the mayhem caused by these illiterate madrasa-trained people may continue.

Dr A Rahman is an author and a columnist

Cultural, Life as it is, Religious

Mendacious claims of scientific truths in Quran

There had been innumerable claims over the years, in fact over the centuries, by the Mullahs, Islamic apologists and pseudoscientists that Quran conveys deep scientific thoughts and facts, which non-believers and even ardent Muslim believers have overlooked and ignored them. After all, they claim, Quran is the final word from Allah, the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the whole Universe and it is quite logical that Allah will pass on some of knowledge to the people of the world through His beloved Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).

Allah did send the deep secrets of scientific truths to his Prophet, as claimed by him, and those secrets were transcribed in the Quran. Now one may ask, why these Mullahs and pseudoscientists who were in the know, did not take full advantage of this secret store house of knowledge, one has to ponder for a rational explanation.

However, without further ado, let us try to decipher those scientific truths and knowledge that the Prophet transcribed in the Quran and examine them against the science that we the ordinary human beings have learnt through our education system. Only two very simplistic and almost mundane scientific issues will be examined here and, in the future, more challenging issues will be dealt with. The two issues considered now are (i) Quranic version of Sunset and Sunrise and (ii) Quranic version of resting place for the Sun. In the description below, the first number in the list is the Sûra number and the second and subsequent numbers are the Ayat numbers.         

Quranic version of Sunset and Sunrise

18: 84 – 86

84: Verily We established his (Alexander, the Great. In Quran he was referred to as Zul-qarnain, see below) power on earth. And We gave him the ways and the means to all ends.

85: One (such) way he followed,

86: Until, when he reached the setting of the Sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water; near it he found a People; We said: “O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority) either punish them or to treat them with kindness.”

18:90

90: Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We provided no covering protection against the Sun.

Comments

Is there any scientific basis, as claimed in the Quran, that the Sun sets in a spring of murky water and where it sets there were people (as if that was at the end of the world)? Moreover, does Sun rise at exactly the same place?

Scientifically these are total nonsense; only a totally ignorant person can say these things. The Sun does not set in a spring of murky water, although a wayward Bedouin may have viewed it at one point that it is setting in a spring of water or even in a sea or seen the reflection of the setting Sun in a sea. To find people where Sun sets is described as if it is an amazing thing; as it would be if it were at the end of the world (flat Earth). And then the Sun does not pop out (rise) over certain number of people always and hence the question of providing protection is totally irrelevant. The Sun rises over all the people of the world at various locations at various times.

From various references of Zul-qarnain in the Quran, one can make a good guess that Zul-qarnain is none other than Alexander the Great, although there are controversies. However, whether Zul-qarnain was Alexander the Great or not is irrelevant in the present context, except that he was empowered with authority to punish people or pardon people, as was Alexander in the conquest of Western Asia, Persia and India.

Quranic version of resting place for the Sun

36: 38 – 40

38: And the Sun runs unto a resting place for him (Sun); that is the decree of Him, the Exalted in Might, the all Knowing.

39: And the Moon – We have measured for her stations (to traverse) till she returns like the old (and withered) lower part of a date-stalk.

40: It is not permitted to the Sun to catch up the Moon, nor can the Night outstrip the Day; each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit.

Comments

The above Ayats are from Sûra Yâsin, which is considered to be “the heart of the Quran”, as it is the Revelation which Mohammad brought to this Earth. It is the central doctrine of Revelation and the Hereafter (meaning after death).

Now can somebody make any sense out of these totally nonsensical Ayats? If somebody tries to say that these are scientific facts which Mohammad brought as divine Revelation, then that man must be considered as barking mad. Admittedly, nearly 1400 years ago when Mohammad was trying to pass on these messages as Revelations, Earth was considered to be flat and at the centre of the universe and the Sun and Moon were considered to go round it in their own orbits. But to proclaim, in the name of divine decree, that Sun goes at the end of the day to its resting place and Sun and Moon were in a sort of race with each other are sheer lunacy. Even by the standards of knowledge at that time, these races and resting places etc would be considered as sheer stupidity. What is even more disorientating is that there are Mullahs and block-headed Muslim apologists now, at the present day and time, who try to claim that these are scientific truths given by the all-powerful all-knowing Creator of the Universe!   

Hadith confirmation of Sun setting

According to Sahih al-Bukhari Hadiths: Abzur Ghifari narrated: One day Prophet Mohammad asked me, “Abzur, do you know after setting where Sun goes?”  I replied, I do not know, only Allah’s apostle can say better. Then Prophet replied, “After setting, the Sun remains prostrated under Allah’s Aro’sh (Allah’s throne) and waits for Allah’s command for rising again in the East. A day will come when Sun will not get any more permission from Allah to rise again and Qeyamot (dooms day) will fall upon earth”.

Conclusions

Reading all these ‘Revelations’, one gets the distinct impression that he is reading the delirium of an ignorant egoistic man who was trying to sell his garbage as the dictum of the prophet of the Creator of the Universe. The most unscientific facts in the Quran are:  

The Sun and Moon are not going round the Earth.

The Sun does not set in a spring of murky water.

The Earth is not flat.

The Sun and Moon are not racing against each other.   

The Sun does not lay prostrated besides Allah’s throne from Sunset to Sunrise.

A Paxman is a freelance writer on socio-political and religious matters.

Cultural, Environmental, International, Life as it is, Political, Religious

Donald Trump’s Negative qualities

An anonymous writer from England wrote this magnificent piece to an American friend stating why Britain despises Donald Trump’s qualities (?) – all negative, highly embarrassing and despicable. He wrote:

A few things spring to my (British writer’s) mind.

Trump lacks most of the qualities which the British traditionally esteem. For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So, for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp focus.

Plus, we like a good laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever. I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to British sensibility – for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it is a fact. He does not even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty. Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers. And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It is all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront. Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood. Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that. He is not even a spoiled rich-boy or a greedy fat-cat. He is more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.

That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all. He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.

So, the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think ‘Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:

  • Americans are supposed to be nicer than us and mostly are
  • You don’t need a particularly keen eye to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it is impossible to read a simple tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal; even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W Bush look smart.

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clump of hair and scream in agony:

‘My God .. what  .. have .. I .. created?’

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be a box office hit.

–           Compiled and edited by Dr A Rahman.

International, Life as it is, Political, Religious

Mosque loudspeaker saga continues

Last week when I wrote about a single mosque in Toronto using four loudspeakers to declare “Allah is the Greatest” and that there is “No God, but Allah.” I thought it was the case of one mosque, a few zealots and their formerly communist councillor investing in her Muslim vote bank.

A Mosque in Toronto, Canada

I was wrong. Within days, dozens of mosques across the country deployed loudspeakers, ostensibly to soothe the loneliness of Muslims because of the lockdown, but what critics may rightly claim could be laying the foundations to establish what are predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods, which we see in Paris, Amsterdam and cities in Britain and Germany.

The most blatant illustration of the power some voices in the Muslim community have over our municipal politicians was demonstrated in Mississauga, where Mayor Bonnie Crombie rejected the advice of her top administrators, and in a drive-by vote managed to pass a unanimous resolution amending the city noise bylaw that will legalize the blaring of loudspeakers at all Mississauga mosques.

When Mississauga councillors Sue McFadden and Ron Star on Wednesday sought to overturn the first vote and have a discussion, they were somehow persuaded by the mayor into changing their mind. The fact that critics of the loudspeakers have already been labelled racist and Islamophobic would scare the bravest amongst us.

If Crombie thought the affected people would simply roll over and hand the keys of city decision-making to the Mullahs of Mississauga, she was in for a surprise. The city known for its suburban subservience triggered a citizen’s revolt led by one person – Ram Subrahmanian, who announced a plan to launch a constitutional challenge against the change of Mississauga’s noise laws.

Subrahmanian, who is part of the Peel Region group ‘Keep Religion Out Of Peel Region Schools (KROOPS)’, also managed to receive around $120,000 for this cause through a Facebook page. As of Wednesday, Subrahmanian appears to have recruited over 6,000 people, each committing to donate around $45 for the court battle was joined by Muslim Canadian Congress spokesperson Munir Pervaiz, who cited many Islamic scholars who have denounced the use of loudspeakers in mosques as against the spirit of Islam.

Subrahmanian told me that lawyers are preparing to seek a constitutional challenge in the Ontario Courts of Justice. “This is not about religion or being against Islam. This is about the separation of religion and state and preventing any group trying to thrust their religion on others via loudspeakers that blare religious messages into the privacy of homes,” he said.

So, what exactly is the Islamic call to prayer? Here is the English translation:

Allahu Akbar (“Allah is greatest,” four times)
I testify that there is no God, but Allah (twice)
I testify that Mohammed is God’s Prophet (twice)
Come to prayer (twice)
Come to salvation (twice)
Allahu Akbar (twice)
There is no God, but Allah (twice)

Cities across Europe and in India (home to the world’s second-largest population) have taken measures to ban the loudspeaker.

In Germany, a non-Muslim couple succeeded in banning a mosque from broadcasting its Friday midday call to prayer by loudspeaker.

Elsewhere, the Green Party mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, refused a mosque’s request for loudspeaker call to prayer, saying that “given advances in technology, from alarms to apps, it was not necessary to use loudspeakers to remind the faithful when to pray.”

In India courts have ruled against the use of loudspeakers on mosque minarets, but the faithful continue to defy the laws.

The fact is that for 1,400 years, through the conflicts of Islam’s birth in the 7th century to the “golden era” of Andalusia and Baghdad (11th to 14th centuries), Islam’s call to prayer was never accentuated to increase the decibel noise.

According to Pervaiz, the loudspeaker has little to do with Islam and everything to do with Islamism — the use of Islam for political purposes.

Tarek Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and columnist at the Toronto Sun, is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Bangladesh, Human Rights, International, Life as it is, Political, Religious

Is India going to lose its soul?

As the new Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) risks defining Muslims as ‘infiltrators’, Tushar Arun Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson, joins the protest to save India’s heart and soul.

Protest against the CAA after Friday prayers outside the Jama Masjid in New Delhi

Last week 25,000 protesters gathered in Mewat, in the Indian state of Haryana, to begin the historic five-mile walk to Ghasera village. It was here, 72 years ago, that Mahatma Gandhi made the same journey during the turmoil of partition, visiting the area with the promise of a dignified life for local Muslims.

While millions have retraced Gandhi’s steps before, this time felt different. Against the backdrop of a new Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) passed by the Indian parliament last week, which many believe is openly discriminatory against Muslims and relegates them to second-class citizens, honouring Gandhi’s words of religious harmony and reconciliation felt like a powerful political statement. “Mewat has witnessed many protests, but this is the biggest in our life,” resident Shahzad Khan told local media.

As India has seen some of the biggest protests in four decades, the image and legacy of Gandhi, known as the “father of India” for his role in independence, has been omnipresent. Across India people have voiced fears that the new act, passed by prime minister Narendra Modi’s right wing, Hindu nationalist, Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) government, risks destroying the secular, pluralistic India that Gandhi dedicated his life to building.

It was no accident that on the same day that protesters marched in Mewat last week, thousands of demonstrators gathered at August Kranti Maidan in Mumbai, the spot from which Gandhi gave his famous “Quit India” speech to the British government in 1942.

Among the millions who have taken to the streets defending Gandhi’s inclusive vision of India has been Gandhi’s great-grandson, Tushar Arun Gandhi. “For the first time in independent India,” said Tushar Gandhi, “laws or systems are being attempted to be imposed which discriminate, which differentiate, on the basis of religion.”

Tushar Gandhi has dedicated much of his life to his great-grandfather’s legacy, establishing and running the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation in Mumbai, but he said with the passing of the new citizenship law something had shifted. “Everybody has a turning point in their life. If being thrown out of the train was a turning point in my great-grandfather’s life, I think this issue of trying to change the soul of my nation is the turning point in my life,” he said. In 10 years, he added, this country “won’t be India any more. It will be a fascist dictatorship. And, mind you, it will be a dictatorship using democratic process, and that is even more dangerous”.

Under the new legislation all Hindu, Christian, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh migrants who arrived from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2014 will be allowed to claim Indian citizenship.

However, the same will not apply for Muslim immigrants. In conjunction with a planned initiative by the BJP government to begin a national register of citizens (NRC), where every person in India will have to present paperwork to prove their Indian lineage, the new act means that it is only Muslims in India who face the possibility of being defined as “infiltrators”, to either be deported or put into detention centres being built across the country.

Tushar spoke of his pride at seeing Gandhi’s image being brandished as thousands of protesters defied the bans on public gatherings by the authorities and turned out on to the streets in a wave of peaceful mass civil disobedience reminiscent of Gandhi’s movement 90 years ago.

“Just think of the far-sightedness of that man in 1930,” said Tushar. “When he was asked to send out a message to mankind, he wrote, ‘I want world sympathy in this battle of right against might,’ and today we are again fighting a battle of right against might, so it’s very natural that he becomes the icon of the protest.”

He was also adamant that the effects of the citizenship act would be felt far beyond India’s borders.

“There should be a debate on the ramifications of [the CAA] internationally,” says Tushar. “It concerns every democracy and it concerns everybody who believes in inclusivity and in the liberal ideology.”

While Modi has often described himself as a follower of Gandhi, Tushar said that this was meaningless in the face of the Hindu nationalist agenda being pushed by Modi’s BJP government, which aims to irreparably fracture the country down religious lines. “It’s not what you profess, but what you practise that makes the world realise who you follow,” he said of Modi.

Over a week since the passing of the citizenship act, the protests in India have showed no sign of abating and indeed have gathered even more momentum over the weekend. Like so many, Tushar Gandhi said he would keep turning out on the streets to fight for an India where religion did not determine your status as a citizen.

“We will have to keep up the momentum, we will actually have to increase the intensity of the protests if we are to bring this government to its knees,” he said. “Because you must remember this is an arrogant government. It is not going to come to its knees that easily.”

While the authorities are increasingly meeting the protests with suppression and violence, with the death toll from the demonstrations reaching 17 by Saturday, Tushar said it was more important than ever that Gandhi’s legacy remain at the heart of the protests.

“A long-drawn-out agitation can only be sustained if it is peaceful and non-violent,” he said.

This article by Zoe Osborne and Hannah Ellis-Petersen was first published in The Observer on 19 December 2019.