Burning holy books is akin to religious madness

‘The American people do not want the mosque there and, of course, Muslims do not want us to burn the Quran,’ said Terry Jones. The imam has agreed to move the mosque. We have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday.

SOMETIMES BACK this author had written about the insensitive, irrational and idiotic idea of putting a mosque near Ground Zero. “Unnecessary Provocation” is not the way of Islam. The irony is that the followers of all religions, when they delve into the faith of their interpretation and imbibe, the more fanatic and unreasonable they become.

Jews believe themselves to be the most religious and today they are committing the most inhuman heinous crimes against Palestinians. The fanatical Muslims around the globe are leaving no stone unturned to make the world believe that Muslims can’t live in peace and harmony with others.

Christians have done no better in Bosnia and elsewhere.

Buddhists hang their heads in shame when they talk about the Pre-Second World War atrocities of Imperial Japan in China and other parts of East Asia. Pol-Pots are not the old story.

Back home, we have our own Gujarats and Orissas. Recently, the world was about to witness the most inglorious and maddening spectacle – a drama that was pregnant with the possibilities of centuries of new fights between Crusaders and Ghazis.

The Christian minister of a small church in Florida had announced to burn The Holy Koran to protest against the building of mosque near Ground Zero. He has now canceled on Thursday his plan to burn copies of the Quran that had been scheduled for Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The planned protest had sparked angry demonstrations by Muslims around the world. The Reverend Terry Jones announced his change of heart at a news conference late Thursday in front of his church in Gainesville, Florida.

And here is what Sarah Palin the Republican contender of Vice Presidential post of U.S. last election said: “Book burning is bad. But the Muslim cleric who is running for parliament in Afghanistan is calling for the murder of American children in response to scorched Korans, which is worse. Where is the media’s focus?

Book burning is antithetical to American ideals. People have a constitutional right to burn a Koran if they want to, but doing so is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation – much like building a mosque at Ground Zero. I would hope that Pastor Terry Jones and his supporters will consider the ramifications of their planned book-burning event. It will feed the fire of caustic rhetoric and appear as nothing more than mean-spirited religious intolerance.

Don’t feed that fire. If your ultimate point is to prove that the Christian teachings of mercy, justice, freedom, and equality provide the foundation on which our country stands, then your tactic to prove this point is totally counter-productive.

Our nation was founded in part by those fleeing religious persecution. Freedom of religion is integral to our charters of liberty. We don’t need to agree with each other on theological matters, but tolerating each other without unnecessarily provoking strife is how we ensure a civil society. In this as in all things, we should remember the Golden Rule. Isn’t that what the Ground Zero mosque debate has been about?

President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and numerous religious leaders around the country spoke out against the planned protest and urged the previously obscure Florida minister to abandon the idea. Jones also poke to Defense Secretary Robert Gates shortly before his news conference. Pentagon officials say Gates urged the minister not to go ahead with his protest on Saturday, arguing that it would put the lives of U.S. soldiers serving abroad at risk.

Pastor Terry Jones said he called off the Quran burning protest because he had secured an agreement with Muslim leaders in New York City to move the location of a controversial planned Islamic center and mosque away from the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks known as Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.

“The American people do not want the mosque there and, of course, Muslims do not want us to burn the Quran,” said Terry Jones. The imam has agreed to move the mosque. We have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday. And on Saturday, I will be flying up there to meet with him. I get a little bit emotional,” he said. “This has been, of course, for us a very, very difficult, trying time. We have been in very much thought and prayer over this whole period. A lot of times we were asked, what would it take to call this thing off.”

Jones said an idea came to him while praying that he would call off the planned burning of the Quran, if Muslim leaders in New York City would agree to move the site of Islamic center away from site of the 2001 terrorist attacks in lower Manhattan.

“The American people, as a whole, do not want the mosque at the Ground Zero location,” said Jones. “That if they were willing to either cancel the mosque at the Ground Zero location or if they were willing to move that location, willing to move it away from that location, we would consider that a sign from God. I will be flying up there on Saturday to meet with the imam at the Ground Zero mosque. He has agreed to move the location.”

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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Khwaja Ajmeri – a messenger of love and peace

Khwaja sahab

Khwaja sahab

While Wahabiyat closes all the doors and windows on intellectual thinking, Sufism encourages freedom of opinion and unity with God. For Sufis, discrimination on the basis of race, religion, colour or creed, is ungodly.

EVERY THURSDAY, thousands of Sufi shrines across the country come to life as rich and poor, men and women, old and young, scholars and the ignorant, Hindus and Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, transvestites and ganja-smoking dancers come together to speak out their hearts in tacit communication; to pray and party with hope and faith. They arrive with different identities but they leave with one message – love.

Today when a bearded, gun-toting, salwar kameez attired soldier with bombs and fierce hate in his eyes has become a mascot for Muslims, it is still possible to discover the places and people where coolness of mind and body prevails. In the past decade, especially since 9/11, the Islamic world has been witnessing the falling popularity of Wahhabbism (so-called radical Islam) and the powerful resurgence of Sufi culture. It is a blunt response to the literalism and ethical bankruptcy of the Wahabiyat followed by Taleban, Sipa-e-Sahaba and Lashkar like organisations.

While Wahabiyat closes all doors and windows on intellectual thinking, Sufism encourages freedom of opinion and unity with God. For Sufis, discrimination on the basis of race, religion, colour or creed is ungodly. Intellectual development and creativity in cultural spheres are the hallmark of the Sufi movement. Sufism (mystic consciousness) calls for peaceful co-existence of all faiths.

When the viceroy of India had visited the shrine of Khwaja Moin-ud-Din Chisti at Ajmer he saw the people coming there – Hindus and Muslims, Sikhs, believers and non-believers. After his visit he said: “India is ruled by two governments – the British government and the government of Khwaja Ajmeri, and the second one is the greater power because it rules people’s hearts.” Today, Ajmer is ready to welcome the devotees of Khwaja who walk down miles and miles to attend the 797th ‘Urs’ – the major Sufi festival that starts on June 26.

The Urs is a congregation for a Sufi saint’s death anniversary. It is not an occasion to mourn but to rejoice. In Sufi doctrine death or ‘fana’ becomes a source of ‘baqa’ or ‘eternity’.“Duniya ki taraf peeth kara, to khuda ki taraf munh hota hai (If you turn your back to the world you will face God),” was the message of Khwaja of Ajmer. The infinite generosity of the lodge (an abode for lovers of God) is the polar opposite of the world of everyday greed and corruption. Khwaja Ajmeri was the disciple of Khwaja Abu Abdel Chisti and came to India with the army of Shihab-ud-Din Ghauri in 1192 AD and made Ajmer his final worldly destination.As the story goes, when Hazrat Waris Ali Shah of Deva Sahrief came to Ajmer, he took off his shoes and did not put them on throughout his life.

Khwaja Ajmeri was himself a great devotee of Hazrat Imam Hussain who was martyred in Karbala (Iraq) 1400 years ago fighting against the tyrant Ummaiyad ruler Yezid. During his life, Khwaja was a symbol of love and amity between all religions and he inspires the same feeling even after his death.

 

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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