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eGazette May 2013 – Separation of Mosque-Church and State

Al Islam eGazette

His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad’s interview with LA Times, USA


By Carol J. Williams for LA Times

Epigraph: “I shall cause thy message to reach the corners of the earth!” Revelation received in different languages by the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani

 

 

 

His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the global leader of the 124-year-old Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, is greeted by the religion’s U.S. national president, Dr. Ahsanullah Zafar, upon arrival at the Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino, USA. (Kalim A. Bhatti / May 8, 2013)

 

Just weeks after the terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon, the global leader of the world’s 10-million-plus Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has brought his religion’s message of peace, public service and uplift to the faithful of Southern California.

While those principles are embraced by most of the Muslim world, the Ahmadis’ outlook is distinctive. The visiting khalifa, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, is critical of mixing religion and governance and points to the restive Middle East countries in the “Arab Spring” aftermath as examples of discord born of religious rule. He speaks laudingly of Western democracy and praises Israeli President Shimon Peres for his ideas on restoring stability to the conflict-plagued region.

The first West Coast visit of the khalifa was scheduled long before the April 15 attacks in Boston that have newly shaken the American public’s sense of security and serenity. But in the nervous aftermath of that latest terror strike, which may or may not have had any connection to radical Islam, the need to tackle misconceptions and prejudices about Muslims is all the more obvious and challenging, in the view of the religious leader.

Ahmadis, like other adherents to moderate Islam, denounce violence and abhor the scorn that the acts of a few inflict on the many. Yet the community has internal and doctrinal conflicts of its own. Founded in 1889 in the Indian village of Qadian, the movement split in 1914 into the khalifa’s community and a smaller rival movement. With the 1947 partition of India, the community dispersed, when many of its followers fled to the new state of Pakistan. There, Ahmadis have been shunned and prohibited by law from calling themselves Muslims. The 62-year-old khalifa’s followers have been the target of anti-Ahmadiyya terrorists, including a May 2010 attack on Friday prayers in Lahore in which 86 Ahmadis died.

Ahmad will be speaking to politicians, academics and community leaders in Beverly Hills this weekend, including both Los Angeles mayoral candidates.

Now based in London and active in worldwide outreach, the khalifa spoke with The Times on Wednesday about his mission and the troubled state of the world.

Q: How do you spread the message of Islam as a religion of peace in the circumstances you find in the United States where, because of terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists, some people harbor misconceptions about the nature of Islam?

A: Muslims have been persecuted and attacked by their opponents throughout history, and have found themselves at war, compelled to retaliate for the mistreatment. But there is now no such religious war. Whenever any jihadist organization stands up in the name of Islam and misconstrues its true teachings, we have to stand up to this and speak out. Not only in the United States but everywhere in the world you see the name of Islam being defamed by opponents, those who don’t have a true understanding of Islam. These are militant groups, not followers of the true religion, and we always stand against them.

Here in the United States, we have a program of good works. For the past two years we have been conducting the “Muslims for Life” campaign. We organize the donation of blood. The first time this drive was conducted we collected 10,000 blood donations and distributed them to hospitals.

Q: Your community is committed to separation of church and state, which is a distinction from some Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East where political leaders are trying to establish Islamic governments in the place of the authoritarian regimes ousted in the Arab Spring revolutions. Would the region be more stable, in your opinion, if new secular governments were created instead?

A: In Egypt, what we have seen after having removed Hosni Mubarak is that nothing has changed. We have a government that still doesn’t discharge its duties to the public and isn’t respecting the rights of the people. In Libya, every tribe has its own government. The defense minister warned recently that some are attempting to overthrow the elected government and that unless some steps are taken there will be another disaster. In Tunisia, everyone says they are changing the country for the best and in the name of religion, but there is no peace. If there is going to be true democracy in the region it has to be practiced as in the West [without religious domination].

Q: How does the international community go about restoring peace in the region now racked by war and violent opposition?

A: A few months back, President Shimon Peres of Israel said the United Nations should send forces into these disrupted countries, but only forces comprised of Arab soldiers, not Western troops. It is the proper role of neighbors to get together and try to stop the conflicts in their region. It’s the duty of neighboring countries to stop the atrocities in Syria.

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An Audience with Press, 23rd March 2013, with the Champion of Peace, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad

 

 

Press Conference of the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad

To watch video click here


Benjamin Franklin: ‘Laws too gentle are seldom obeyed; too severe, seldom executed!’

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD

 


Epigraph: “And as for the man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off their hands in retribution of their offence as an exemplary punishment from Allah. And Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (Al Surah Al-Ma'idah 5:39)

 

 

The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, located in the rotunda of The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, features a colossal, 20 feet tall, statue of seated Benjamin Franklin

Harvard Law School Library’s website, Words of Justice, says about Benjamin Franklin’s quote, which makes the title of my article:

In addition to being a statesman/diplomat, inventor/scientist and founding father, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was also a publisher. This quotation is one of many proverbs in his publication Poor Richards Almanac, issued annually from 1732 to 1758. This best-selling pamphlet in colonial America also contained weather, poems, puzzles, astrological/astronomical information and other items that made it a popular publication with the general public. The quotation, published in the 1756 Almanac, suggests the need for proportionality in sentencing and warns against extremes of punishment in society’s laws. It advises that penalties must be severe enough to deter people from the censured behavior, but not so severe that people are reluctant to enforce them. The quote is very similar to a statement by Lord Keeper Finch in 1742 in which he stated “In making of laws, it will import us to consider, that too many laws are a snare, too few are a weakness in the government; too gentle are seldom obeyed, too severe are as seldom executed.”

Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physicsfor his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass ‘armonica’.[1] He facilitated many civic organizations, including a fire department and a university.

Towards the end of his life, he freed his slaves and became one of the most prominent abolitionists.

His statement, ‘Laws too gentle are seldom obeyed; too severe, seldom executed!’ is very profound and no wonder Harvard Law School Library’s website, chose it among a few dozen quotes in Words of Justice. It is self evident that if punishment of speeding, for example, was only a dollar and associated police harassment of the minority population, was not added unofficial punishment, everyone will be speeding, in USA. My evidence? Almost everyone does go beyond the speed limit a little, with the expectation of some grace zone, above the officially posted speed limit.

To illustrate the other spectrum of Franklin’s quote, we observe that no one has appetite, in this day and age, for stoning anyone to death, which is prescribed as a punishment for several crimes, in the Bible, but not in the Quran. For a list of some of the crimes for which stoning is prescribed, see an article: Violence in the Bible and Jihad in the Quran.

Benjamin Franklin’s quote is profound in both of its clauses.

To read further click here


An Unlikely Connection Between the Prophet Muhammad and George Washington

Source: The Huffington Post

By Craig Considine: PhD. candidate, Trinity College Dublin; Film director, ‘Journey into America’; Interfaith activist

 

 

The Washington Monument, along with Lincoln Memorial and Capitol Hill in moonlight

In seventh century Arabia, a middle-aged man had a vision to create a new religious and social order for a largely pagan and tribal society. The man, Muhammad, told his band of followers to behave wisely and civilly. “The best among you,” he said, “are those who have the best manners and character.” More than 1,000 years later, Muhammad’s wisdom would be echoed again, this time in the British colony of Virginia, by a 13-year-old schoolboy jotting down a lengthy set of behavioral rules that would later be published as “Rules of Civility.” The schoolboy was none other than George Washington, who would one day become the first president of the United States of America.

Muhammad and Washington may seem like an unlikely connection, but in fact, they share strikingly similar biographies. Muhammad and Washington were students of history, restorers of justice and fierce warriors who led their respective nations through successful revolutions. Both men united a large swath of political territory and served as the founding father for two unprecedented social movements — Islam and the United States of America — whose universal ideals would both spread throughout the world respectively.

Washington’s contemporary, Richard Henry Lee, once said that he was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” Washington’s nemesis, Britain’s King George III, said that Washington was “placed in a light the most distinguished of any man living” and had “the greatest character of the age.” Similarly, Muslims worldwide see Muhammad as the perfect human being. In “The Prophet of Islam,” Professor K.S. Rao said we witnessed “the union of the theorist, the organizer and the leader” in him. Even a non-Muslim, such as Mohatma Gandhi, called Muhammad “a treasure of wisdom not only for Muslims but for all mankind.”

The connection between Muhammad and Washington can be explored further in the Holy Quran, the Islamic Scripture which documents God’s revelations to Muhammad, and “Rules of Civility,” a book which outlines Washington’s advice for the proper conduct of young American gentlemen. For Muslims, the Holy Quran is the literal word of God, while “Rules of Civility” is less concerned with religious affairs and more focused on social rules and behavior. The Holy Quran and “Rules of Civility” have different frames, but both texts — in a wider sense — offer guidance toward achieving a more peaceful and noble life.

To read further click here


May 2013

 


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Why Bangladesh Should be a Secular State?

 

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD

Bangladesh will retain Islam as the state religion in amendments the government is proposing to its constitution, a government minister said yesterday, Associated Press reported.

A former military ruler declared Islam the state religion in 1988 by amending the charter, but it barely affected Bangladesh’s secular legal system mainly based on British common law.

The government says the proposed changes won’t affect the legal system. Inheritance and other family laws already are based on religion.

The decision was made two days ago at a Cabinet meeting, the minister told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

A special government committee prepared proposals for the amendment, and the government will send those proposals to the parliament for passing as a law.

Muslim Sunrise

In 2009 the population of Bangladesh was estimated at 156 million. About 90% of Bangladeshis are Muslims and the remainder are mostly Hindus. What about the Hindus if Bangladesh goes Islamic and which version of Islam? Would it be Sunni Islam, Shia Islam or Ahmadiyya Islam?

Could this turn of events in Bangladesh be the slippery slope that is menacing Pakistan?

What if the neighboring India decides to be a Hindu State, while they have significant Muslim, Sikh and Christian minorities?

What if they start practicing Sati and the caste system and put the 170 million Muslims in India in the lowest scheduled caste?

To read more click here


Bangladesh Govt does its homework – Constitution leaves no room to declare Ahmadis non-Muslims

Muslim Sunrise

Courtesy: The Daily Star

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Law ministry finds 6 against constitution, 7 covered by existing laws

 

By Reaz Ahmad and Shakhawat Liton

Out of the 13, the law ministry has identified six demands of the Islamist group Hefajat-e Islam that go against the constitution while the remaining seven are well covered by existing laws.

Hefajat-e Islam’s demand for restoration of the phrase “Absolute trust and faith in Almighty Allah” in the constitution as one of the fundamental principles of state policy goes against the basic spirit of the constitution, the law ministry said.

“Therefore, there is no constitutional obligation to meet the demand,” the law ministry said in its opinion prepared after reviewing the 13-point demands of Hefajat.

The law ministry made the review upon receipt of a letter from the foreign ministry on April 7, a day after the Hefajat long march to the capital.
Similarly, the Hefajat’s demand for enactment of a law imposing a ban on “free-mingling of men and women” is also against the constitution, noted the law ministry review report.

The Daily Star obtained a copy of the report yesterday.

“Freedom of individual and speech, and free-mingling of men and women are recognised in the constitution as fundamental rights,” the ministry said, adding that enactment of any law curtailing fundamental rights would be against Articles-7 and -26 of the constitution and would become void.

If such laws were enacted, hundreds of thousands of female workers would be unemployed, severely hampering national development, it said. Co-education in schools, colleges and universities would have to be dissolved, which would hamper women empowerment and would be against the spirit of the constitution, the ministry said.

It said there was no reason or scope to scrap the women development policy and education policy as the policies were formulated as per constitutional provisions and the mandate of the United Nations.

The women policy is not against Islam and the issue of religious education was included in the education policy, the ministry argued.

Referring to Articles-28, -41 and -44 of the constitution, the ministry said the constitution leaves no room to meet Hafajat’s demand for declaring “Qadiani” people non-Muslims.

To read more click here

 

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