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13 Point Plan for American Muslims Flourishing Under a Trump Presidency

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By Hassan Shibly

Yes. You read that right. This is not a 13 point plan on how to merely survive a Trump Presidency. This is a plan for how we can flourish under a Trump presidency and emerge as stronger Muslims and better positioned Americans than before.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) never takes, He only gives. Every apparent challenge is in reality a great opportunity. He promises that with every difficulty comes multitudes of facilitation of ease. If we respond accordingly this challenge will certainly strengthen us in this life, and more importantly, in the next. The Prophet Muhammad’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) greatest victories often came after his most difficult challenges. When the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) acquiesced to a one sided treaty that appeared as a humiliating setback for the Muslims, the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) revealed “Truly We have opened up a path to clear triumph for you” and it was the challenging conditions of that treaty that facilitated the way for liberation of Mecca a short time later.

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It is the Sunnah of Allah that sometimes, things appear to move backward for us to progress forward. Just like the gears of a clock must turn backward for the hour hand to move forward, or how the string of an arrow must be pulled back, for the arrow to fly forward. The challenges and setbacks we face, have the potential to push us to greater heights. Diamonds are only created after being subjected to great pressure.

Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) has many examples of this in how he dealt with both Qarun and Pharoah, both of whom have many similarities with the type of leadership we are dealing with today. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) told Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) “we put you through many trials”—these trials prepared him for the success he ultimately had. And even the Pharaoh was used by Allah to gather people to listen to the message of Moses, and ultimately embrace and support him. Yet it was Musa’s trust in Allah that led him not to despair when those around him feared destruction and said “we are surly destroyed,” Musa’s adherence to Allah’s advice “do not slacken in my remembrance” elevated him and he replied “For sure we are not! My Lord is with me, he will guide me!” It is important to note here that Allah told Musa “I have chosen you for myself” and the following commands included speaking truth to power and challenging the Pharoah.

It was the targeting of Musa by the Pharaoh that ultimately lead to people gathering around Musa, and Musa’s challenging the tyrant of his time was a great form of worship, and it was Musa’s faith and connection with Allah that helped him overcome the challenges he faced and liberate his people.

A Trump Presidency has already brought the American Muslim community in particular and the United States in general tremendous challenges. A man was just elected President who has stated “Islam hates us,” and advocated for a ban on Muslims entering the US and requiring Muslims to register in a government database, monitoring Muslim communities and masjid, and falsely claimed that American Muslims celebrated 9/11.

This anti-Muslim rhetoric has led to a 500% increase in documented anti-Muslim hate incidents in the State of Florida over the last year, and according to the FBI a 67% increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes reported to them nationwide.

Any hope his Presidency may be better than his campaign have dwindled after his appointment of hateful and ignorant anti-Muslim bigots within his administration. Since his election he has selected for senior appointments individuals who have claimed American Muslim leaders are complicity in terrorism, have called Islam a cancer and that fear of Muslims are rational, and who believe Muslims are not entitled to Constitutional protections of freedom of religion and that Islam should be eradicated.

No one can doubt the potential challenges this may bring the American Muslim community. Just as we are witnessing an increase in challenges, we are also witnessing the emergence of many people who have committed to learn about Islam, support our community, and even embrace our faith. This is our opportunity to shine and rise to the occasion. To use the audience the conversations about Islam are generating to show people who we are and how our faith can address the problems plaguing our country. To also establish ourselves as champions of civil rights and justice for all.

hassan Shibly

By following these 13 points we will surely rise stronger in the coming years:

The truth is, these 13 points would have been necessary regardless of who won the election. The community has faced tremendous challenges over the last 8 years under the Obama Administration. Islamophobia has been on the rise, while the FBI and CBP disproportionally target law abiding members of the American Muslim community. It may be that perhaps many of us put our trust in Hillary Clinton and would have gone back to sleep had she won, while the problems facing our community continue to escalate. Perhaps Trump’s victory is an important reminder for us to take a look at what is happening and to place our trust in God and invest our time and resources drawing closer to God by investing in defending our faith and justice for all.

1.Do not give up your identity. Our faith is the most valuable thing we have. It is also the only thing we have that can never be taken away from us. We can only chose to give it up if we allow ourselves to be intimidated by the fear and hate promoted against us. The Islamophobia Industry has spent over $200,000,000 to demonize Islam to scare Muslims away from adhering to their faith. They recognize our faith is our source of strength. As Umar (Ra) said “We are a people whom Allah honored us through Islam, and if we seek honor through other than that, we will be humiliated.” Do not let Islamophobes win by giving in to their intimidation and hiding your identity. Now is the time to respond by holding on stronger to our faith and identity. Our faith gave the sahabah strength to overcome their challenges and likewise it is the key to our strength. It cannot be taken away by anyone. Do not chose to give it up. “Do not lose heart nor grieve, for surely you will rise high if you are believers”

2. Avoid sins as much as possible and quickly repent every time you make a mistake. Do not despair because of your shortcomings. Rather use each mistake as an opportunity to draw closer to Allah through duah and istighfaar. Recognize however that unchecked sins are cited in various ahadith as a source for difficulties in life and being subjected to oppressive rulers and defeat.

  1. The sahabah would be told “Never fear your enemies, but fear your sins, your enemies cannot destroy you, but your sins can.”
  2. Umar ibn Abdelaziz would tell his soldiers “Do not be equal to your enemies in sins, for if they are greater than you in number and resources and you are equal to them in sins, then they will surely defeat you, for why should God help you?”
  3. Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) wrote in reply: “You Muslims can never be defeated because of being few in number. But because of becoming involved in sin, you will be vanquished in spite of being many in number. Hence guard yourself carefully against sin.”
  4. “As you are (as far as your actions are) so will be the rulers that will soon be set over you.” (Mishkat)
  5. Rasulullah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) said: “You people should continue to enjoin people towards the doing of righteous deeds and you should continue to prohibit them from evil; otherwise Allah will put into authority over you the worst of people to rule over you. At such time the best from among you will pray to Allah (for deliverance) and your prayers will go unanswered.’.’ (Jami-us-Sagheer)
  6. Rasulullah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also said: “When my Ummat will begin to bear hatred in their hearts against the Ulema and when they shall make the construction of their bazaars and shopping places conspicuous and grand, and when they shall in contracting marriages consider only the possibility of accumulating wealth (instead of looking at the honesty, piety and deeds of suitable partners) then Allah will set four calamities over them: famine, the oppression of rulers, dishonesty of the officials administering their affairs and attacks by their enemies.”
  7. “Allah says: I am Allah besides whom there is no Deity, the Master of Kings, King of Kings. Verily the hearts of kings are under the control of My Hands. When My servants obey me, I turn the hearts of kings and rulers towards them so that they rule over them with mercy and kindness and when My servants disobey Me, I turn the hearts of kings and rulers to treat them harshly, with anger and vengeance. Thereby they mete out torture and oppression. Hence do not occupy yourselves with praying for curses upon kings and instead turn to Me in remembrance and with humility. And I will preserve you against the tyranny of the kings.”

3. Invest in Ibada: As we saw in the life of Prophet Ibrahim, Musa, and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon them all, it was never having greater strength and resources that gave the believers victory over those who oppressed them. Rather, it was their spiritual strength and connection with Allah that helped them overcome the challenges they faced and attain victory over great odds. Now is a great time to remember the importance of having trust in Allah, and building a strong relationship with Allah, through our ibadah to attain the strength we need to remain steadfast and successful. It was the Prophet’s worship of Allah by night that gave him victory by day. Without Allah’s help, we cannot overcome the challenges we face. And when we face difficulties that serves as a great reminder for us to invest in reestablishing our connection with Allah through investing daily time for our ibadah. Fulfilling our obligatory prayers goes without saying, and after that also setting daily time for Dua, athkar, and recitation of the Quran, will give life to our hearts, increase our trust in and connection with Allah, and give us the light and energy we need to uplift our community. Above all it is the key to the only thing that matters: Allah’s pleasure. A study of the Quran and hadith makes clear that challenges in life serve to turn us back to him. That Allah gives us ease and goodness so that we may draw closer to him through gratitude, and he allows us to go through difficulties and challenges so that we can turn back to him.

4. Read the Seerah and other books. Reading the seerah does wonders for keeping our hearts and faith alive and strong. It also gives us hope and teaches us many lessons. Nothing we face is new. The Prophet and Sahabah have been through it all before. Reading the seerah will teach us countless lessons, keep our faith strong, and give us inspiration and wisdom to stand strong. Besides the seerah it is also important to read about the biographies of great heroes and scholars and read books that will grow our minds and strengthen our intellect and faith. Knowledge is the greatest tool we have.

5. Do not let ego, jealousy, suspicion tear us apart. We can’t afford to waste time on in-fighting and ego. Love each other. Wish well for each other. Support each other. Be happy seeing other communitymembers, leaders, organizations succeed. Work sincerely for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Do not let ego divide us. Along with sins, nothing is more destructive to our community than in-fighting which is usually the result of jealousy, ego, or assuming the worst of each other. We cannot overcome external challenges if we are busy fighting and undermining each other. The Prophet Muhammad PBUH is reported to have said “By Allah! I am not afraid that you will worship others along with Allah after my death, but I am afraid that you will fight with one another for the worldly things.” Realize that government often engages in divide and conquer tactics to divide the community. We cannot fall for that.

6. Absolutely excel at what you do. Allah loves the strong believer more than the week believer. The stronger you are spiritually, intellectually, morally, physically, economically, socially, the easier it will be for you to benefit the community with a sincere heart and hard work. In America we are few number, and need to make sure each and everyone one of us counts and is contributing positively in society in as effective way as we can. Be the best student you can be. Stand out in your studies, profession, or interests. Use your success to represent our community the best you can and also find ways to leverage your skill sets to build greater appreciation for our faith and community through service to humanity.

7. Devote time to community service. Our deen is a deen of service. American Muslims must be visible at the forefront of projects that serve and uplift the community as a whole. Find something you are passionate about and dedicate time every week to participate: It could be Habitat for Humanity, the PTA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the local School Board or City Council, Neighborhood Watch, homeless shelter, tutoring program, NAACP, ACLU, or any other community service based institution be it part of local government or NGO. American Muslims must be at the forefront of giving back and serving our community. That is the core of our faith. It is also the best way to reflect the message of Mercy our Prophet was sent with to humanity.

8.Dawah with knowledge and wisdom driven by love and genuine care. Our faith is a gift for us and has the solutions to the problems plaguing our country such as racism and economic disparity and injustice. One of the tragedies of the American Muslim community is at best we have often been simply been calling for people to tolerate us and accept us and not outlaw our faith or discriminate against us. We are simply seeking to say “don’t hate us, don’t outlaw us, we are all the same.” That is an extremely humiliating position to be in. Instead of calling for mere acceptance, we should be proud of our Muslim identity, and with wisdom and driven by love, share with those around us how our faith can uplift and empower them. We have something our neighbors, country, and world needs. We would be selfish not to share it. Our Prophet came to share a message to liberate humanity. We must learn our faith, and be fearless in sharing it, but share it with wisdom and knowledge, while driven by love and compassion, not arrogance. And the time to share the beauty of our faith has never been easier as countless people are becoming curious and sympathetic to our faith and community in light of the increased attacks against our faith in politics and media. We are witnessing the Hamza effect, and just like Hamza declared his support for the Prophet to spite those attacking it, and became a true believer, many are committing to support our community to spite the Islamophobes attacking us and in doing that they are discovering the beauty of our faith

9. Prepare for the 2018 Elections. America’s governance was designed with a system of checks and balances to create separate bodies of those who write the laws, those who interpret and apply them, and those who execute and enforce them. The damage the President can cause is severely limited without Congressional support. What’s troubling is that Congress as it stands is currently controlled by the party of President-Elect Trump. Meaning that it will be easier for Trump to push forward his agenda and try to enact laws detrimental to our freedom and liberty. However elections for some members of the US Congress is in two years, and if the Democrats take control of the Legislature it will make it significantly harder for Trump to push forward laws harmful to our community. Get involved from now in supporting candidates for Congress and local office. Local elections, such as who is on the school board, city council, or county commission, often have the greatest impact on your life. They determine if hate groups can succeed in banning text books that speak accurately about Islamic history from Public schools or whether your masjid can get the zoning permit it needs. Furthermore elected officials often build great relationships with and hire their campaign staff and may rely on them to shape their perspectives and policies. American Muslims taking active roles in political campaigns can have tremendous long term impact both in helping elect candidates sympathetic to our community and being in a position to advice the elected officials. America’s largest hate groups are targeting local and state elected in hopes of pressuring them to pass anti-Muslim legislation and policies, deny Muslim institutions zoning permits, and demonize Islam in the public schools. Helping elect local and state officials who will not be sympathetic to anti-Muslim hate groups, and having relationships with these elected officials, can go a long way to protecting our community.

10. Facilitate for more lawyers to emerge from and serve our community and report civil rights violations. Go to law school. Clerk for a judge. Get a few dozen friends together and commit to support the creation of a full time attorney to work with a local Muslim organization to represent and defend our community. Play any part you can to strengthen our community’s legal defense. With the current administration it appears unlikely that our community can get far via lobbying the administration. The administration may in fact try to pass laws or enact policies and actions that are against the supreme law of the land, the US Constitution. Our biggest defense will be to challenge such laws, policies, or actions via the courts. The administration may have the votes it needs in Congress to pass laws that target our community and it may even have sufficient public support to continue the government’s engagement of actions that hurt our community, but challenging such laws and policies via the courts may be our best defense. The US Constitution is our protection against tyranny and oppression by the government, and investing in a strong legal team to defend our community by challenging laws, polices, and actions that are against the US Constitution may be the strongest defense we have. When it comes to those in power, our job is to hold them accountable, not to seek their pleasure. It is critical that we do not allow our rights to be violated and that we are sure to report to our civil rights organizations each and every violation of our civil rights.

11. Increase Media Presence and Interfaith Engagement: The overwhelming majority of the public know nothing about Islam nor do they know any Muslims. Educating the public and building strong relationships is critical. Every Muslim community must have institutions or at the very least, individuals, well trained to speak to the media and proactively engage the media to make our community voice heard on a wide array of issues. Furthermore social media, and the use of features such as Facebook Video and Facebook Live, make it very cost effective to produce content that can go viral and be viewed by thousands if not millions. Consider supporting institutions to leverage such opportunities or make the most of them yourself if you have or can work with people that have the skillset as well as wisdom for appropriate messaging and narrative crafting. While outreach via the media and social media is important, on the ground relationship building is necessary. Time must be invested both in developing relationships with those who know and are sympathetic to our community and engaging with those who have yet to have the opportunity to meet a Muslim. Effective media engagement and interfaith outreach can help us foster an environment where there will be less tolerance towards elected officials, laws, and policies that threaten our liberty. When it comes to the public, our job is not to win arguments, but to win hearts.

12. Commit at least one dollar a day to the community. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) describes the hypocrites as those who do not give even the little. Abstaining from contributing even a little is dangerous for our community because if everyone contributed a little, our community’s financial needs would be met. The Islamophobia industry has spent over 200 million dollars to demonize Islam in America over the last few years. However, if the 7 million American Muslims spent one dollar a day to challenge Islamophobia, that would be 210 million dollars a month dedicated to the cause. Four our community to flourish, our mosques, schools, dawah institutions, community service and charity organizations, and organizations committed to defending our rights and representing us need to be well funded. Every Muslim should select a masjid, school, dawah institution, charity, and civil rights organization for the community and commit at least one dollar a day to each or combined, but commit something regularly and consistent. The Prophet Muhammad subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) taught that the best deed is the most consistent even if it is small. And Allah swt warns us to “spend in the path of Allah and not lead ourselves to destruction.” If Islamophobias are spending millions to turn popular opinion against Islam and we do not each spend a little to counter that, we will indeed place ourselves in a destructive position as we suffer the consequences of anti-Muslim laws, policies, and actions from the government. But if we all do a dollar a day, our community will have the resources it needs not only to protect itself, but to win hearts through having the resources to serve the public.

13.Take safety seriously. Every day we hear of a mass shooting, a hate crime, or other acts of violence. It is important that we do not allow ourselves to become victims. Take a personal defense class. Consider keeping on you a means of personal defense. Arrange for your local mosque or school to have a safety and security audit and training.

​In conclusion, now is the time to hold strongly to our identity and not be intimidated by those who hate us. We must avoid sins which are a cause for difficulties and bad leadership, and invest time in strengthening our connection with Allah through personal ibada. Nothing we face is new, and we can find hope, inspiration, wisdom, and strength by studying the seerah of our beloved Prophet PBUH. Most importantly, we cannot let ego, greed, and jealousy divide us. We must excel at whatever it is we do and use our skill sets to serve others and represent the community in the best possible ways. We must recognize our faith is beautiful and has lots to offer our country and it’s up to us to reflect and share the beauty of our faith with others. It is critical that we are involved in the next set of elections to do our part to elect those most beneficial to our community and country and develop strong relationships with them. We must however invest in a strong legal defense to challenge government laws, policies, and actions that are contrary to the US Constitution. We also must increase our visibility in the media and engage in more cross cultural and interfaith outreach, as now more than ever, the public recognizes the danger of Islamophobia and is committing to stand with us. We must also commit to a consistent monthly amount to support our institutions and also take basic self-defense and security precautions. Through all this inshallah we will emerge as beacons of light, hope, and justice for all even in the most challenging of times.

 

Hassan Shibly is a civil rights attorney and Chief Executive Director of CAIR-FL, a non-profited committed to promoting understanding, challenging Islamophobia, and defending civil rights for all people regardless of race or religion.hshibly@cair.com

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    MUZZAMMIL AHMED

    December 12, 2016 at 11:08 PM

    ASSALAMUALAIKUM O RAH ATULLAHI O BARAKATUHU
    Alhamdulillah, it is the need of the our and what ever the circumstances and is because of our bad deeds and sins only.
    As the author says I fully agree that it is the Allah Subhanahutala alone can save us .
    I pray ALLAH SUBHANAHUTALA TO SHOW THE UMMAT THE RIGHT PATH AND TO ACCEPT THE SUNNAH OF HAZRATH RASULULLAH SALALAHU ALAIHI O SALLAM.
    AMEEN

  2. Avatar

    Naem

    December 13, 2016 at 6:57 AM

    Thank you for the nice used letters. I would be happy to receive your articles.

  3. Avatar

    a human being

    December 13, 2016 at 6:20 PM

    Ma sha Allah .nice advising informative article.

    May i just provide a critical note..if i may..when speaking about Allah..to use Him and His and He instead of small h..etc.

    Personally i only don a beard..but as to holding onto identity….just a reminder of what our Beloved pbuh said regards to those who revive a sunnah in times of fitn..etc..and its rewards of 100 matyrs..Allah Akbar.(obvisouly sunnah is not only in dress)

    Allah preserve our sisters and all the ummah. Ameen.

    Peace

  4. Avatar

    Ghulam Sarwar

    December 13, 2016 at 7:07 PM

    These are good advice. Islam means peace and Muslim is a one who is peaceful. While expecting good things from Government, Muslims must present good behaviour, i.e. undisputed faith in the country and guarantee of being very peaceful persons.
    Imam Abu Hanifah gave good advice (1200 years ago). “Never rise against any established government. It may be a good or bad government, once established, never rise against it or protest against it” (some words to that effect.)
    Hassan Shibly sahib mentioned the time of Moses (a.s.). WE should remember how much they (The Jews) suffered under the despotic reign of king Pharoah. The king was using religion to advance his politics. Muslims should beware of politics. Do not use (Never use) religion for politics.
    Hassan Shibli words are advice for the Muslims. He should have included an advice about Muslims relation to the government. If Muslims will have undisputed faith in the established government, the government will not have any need to keep track of their activities. Muslims need to look out for any bad sheep amongst them. Give them all lecture of good peaceful behaviour.

    • Avatar

      Khurshid Syed

      December 17, 2016 at 3:39 AM

      “If Muslims will have undisputed faith in the established government, the government will not have any need to keep track of their activities. Muslims need to look out for any bad sheep amongst them. Give them all lecture of good peaceful behaviour.”

      @Ghulam Sarwar….. are you serious !! …. Nobody is giving anybody a “non-peacefull” advice.

  5. Avatar

    abayd

    December 14, 2016 at 12:25 AM

    May Allah reward the author for his encouraging words which will help us avoid sorrow and despair during this period of hardship in sha allah, and his exhorting us to do good deeds and repent from our sins. This is excellent advice we are all in need of, especially myself. One friendly correction I feel obligated to humbly make, however, is where he says “Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla never takes, He only gives.” It was narrated by Bukhari and Muslim that the prophet salla allahu alayhi wa sallam said:

    …ارجع إليها ، فأخبرها أن لله تعالى ما أخذ ، وله ما أعطى ، …
    Which means: go back to her, and inform that that verily to Allah taala belongs what he takes and to him belongs what he gives…to the end of the hadeeth. This was in the context of what to say to someone who’s relative has died, which is a reminder that Allah takes and gives.

    I ask Allah the most exalted to give us all patience and surety, and to dispel sorrow and despair from our hearts, and to protect us from all harm, wa jazakum allahu khayran.

    • Avatar

      abayd

      December 14, 2016 at 12:27 AM

      correction: should read and inform *her*

  6. Avatar

    James

    December 15, 2016 at 8:45 AM

    Change the laws which destroy the lives of men. It SHOULD be readily accepted that women are more controlling than men. They have a naturally highly manipulative side to them and will always put their needs first. Countless studies have shown that women are more violent than men. Women have successfully convinced police to always arrest the man in a domestic violence dispute, regardless of the woman’s behavior and they want to keep it that way. Until a few decades ago women would restrain themselves for various reasons including fear of retaliation from men and nowadays they just don’t care because most men do not respond with violence to violence when it comes to women and if they “dare” just say something or shove her even in self defense, if the woman calls the police than guess WHO is going to jail REGARDLESS of whose fault it is. That is because of our stupid mindless laws and double standards we have in this country (and other “civilized” countries) which leads to all kind of Injustice towards men.

    Women see men as ATMs, wallets, and bank accounts. Nothing more.

    • Avatar

      Confused by Humans

      December 29, 2016 at 4:19 AM

      ^^^^^ THIS COMMENT SHOULD BE DELETED!!!!!! ^^^^^

      Not sure if this thing is being monitored but there is no need for hate speech and promotion of violence. This is not what our religion teaches. Nor is it within any decency of humanity to complain that a person pushing another person is in the right (even if one of those persons lacks male genitalia). I really hope that this post is simply poorly executed satire (inshallah).
      : P

      • Avatar

        James

        January 2, 2017 at 8:59 PM

        Women have the right to talk about their needs, men do not. I get it. Only women are human beings.

        Women have the right to keep a child if pregnant and give it up for adoption, absolving herself of financial responsibility. Men do not.

        Women have the right to keep the baby even if the father did not want the baby and had taken reasonable precautions to avoid pregnancy. Men do not and will have to accept the decision of the female to govern their livelihood.

        Women have the right to abort a baby for any reason. Men do not.

        Women have the right to scam a man into child support if it is not his, a man has little right to fight against a fraudulent claim.

        Women have the right to rip a man of his life saving in the name of alimony and divorce settlements. Even jobless men are forced by courts to pay alimony. Men have no say in the matter.

        Women have the right to choose whether they wish to be drafted in war, emergency or martial law recruitment. Men do not.

        Women have the right to child custody almost unanimously even if the father wants custody as well. Men are severely disadvantaged.

        Women have the right to falsely accuse of domestic abuse in family court, or rape cases with virtually no chance of any legal repercussion even if it ruins the mans life.

        Women have the right to hold underage statutory male rape victims accountable for child support. Men would be hard pressed not ending up in jail for sex offence in this case.

        Women who commit crimes are systematically held less accountable than their male counterparts, by police and courts to the extent that there is a vast disparity in almost every possible crime. Many female Rapists, pedophiles and murderers get away with their crime or get severely reduced charges because they try to justify her actions threw sympathy that men do not get.

        Women have the right to talk about their gender issues without being wrongfully dubbed politically incorrect or backwards, men do not, even if they feel not addressing these issues is what is backwards.

        Men’s health is suffering – more men die of cancers and yet women are given more in health – no one cares about men’s health problems e.g. prostate cancer, its always about women. If a woman hits a man the police laugh at the man if he reports it because the legal system is so against men it is incredible.

        Public education has been changed to suit the needs of girl’s method of learning. While at the same time they know boys learn differently, and don’t care.

        Women can send a man to jail, or ruin his career, just on their word…No evidence at all. Women have laws to only protect them.

  7. Avatar

    AbuMisbah

    December 15, 2016 at 10:44 PM

    Assalam alaikum Br.Hassan Shibly,
    JazakAllah Khair.

  8. Avatar

    Adam

    December 18, 2016 at 10:04 AM

    We have no goal, no program towards any goal, we are not a nation, but individual, small groups against each other, we lost “Hikmah”, we have no leader, but individual some each goes his/her direction, we are not doing things for Islam, but using Islam for our “dunya”, we don’t know how to organize things, never organized in our time, we “may” all look at our self that we are a perfect one, but that just “we saying that” far from reality.

    We approach other by wrong way, either look away totally or try to be a part of them, no Hikmah again.

    We don’t learn from problems.

    We have to improve our quality, set goal, program, organize, training, improving, work together, use a common language I all our Islamic issue, Masjids, Kutbah etc…

    One language, unite us, one goal too, program make us working together, training to learn how to admin our Masjids, orgs, serve our communities, and others, improve our quality.

    All blame not on ordinary Muslims, but on those in the front, talking, making Islamic matters…

    Those in the front must unite first, then the rest of Muslim unite as a result…

    • Avatar

      concerned and fikrful and worried individual

      December 26, 2016 at 5:58 PM

      Unity on all fronts..is it possible?

  9. Avatar

    concerned and fikrful and worried individual

    December 26, 2016 at 5:55 PM

    Salaam alaikom

    @br.adam…peace brother..br.boona spoke we used to care..les brown said..and just to modify interms of our state as an ummah..” used to bees no longer go around making any honey….”….we are all consumers in every sense…in sha Allah we all start producing….but as we talk and complain..there is hope to regain the majd..the azza…etc of this blessed message of islam

    as to offer a solution if can be called such, as you mentioned the nucleus ie masajid..why can not we demand peacedully involvememt in masajid commitees to the running of the affairs and dawah…etc… just as there to be some sort of organisational in put from the lays ourselves too….ie production

  10. Avatar

    Fatma yah

    December 27, 2016 at 12:02 AM

    Besides, fundraising for US$210 million a month to spread ads against islamophobia shows exactly where American Muslims priorities are – on themselves. Why can’t u people have the same dollar a day consistency when it comes to keeping your Muslim families worldwide out of the poorhouse? Disgusting. I don’t blame trump voters – they saw who they were up against – vain and self-serving people.

  11. Avatar

    Umm Ayoub

    February 19, 2017 at 2:50 AM

    Assalamou alaykoum,

    There is another option you did not mentioned, it is to flee America and to make immigration to Canada or another country. I know it may seems extreme, but the danger is there. There is also a plan to shut down the most important civil right organizations, like CAIR, or MSA, etc. Why put money on theses if they are at hight risk ? Put your money in safe places, like Canada instead. Where you will find, during this difficult time organizations who will still have a voice. The Prophet (SAWS) recognized, when he was overcome, that he should look for an exit, and it is this way that the community was able to survive. Sometimes, we have to stop fighting and retreat for a while. I am not discouraging the Muslims who want to fight, but try to put your persons, your efforts and your money where it can be safe in order to benefit the most the community. Allah almustaan.

  12. Avatar

    Safiyah

    February 28, 2017 at 2:06 AM

    MashaAllah! This needs to be distributed to the ummah! It is what we need. Thank you, thank you! Jazakum Allahu Khair. May you be rewarded for each and every member of the member of the ummah who reads this, as well as others whose hearts it may turn to know that Islam is a positive beautiful way to live, inshaAllah, Alhumdulilah.

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#Current Affairs

In The Name of God: A Communal Rupture Sowed By Communal Legacy

At one point of time, there used to be a mosque in Ayodhya. It stood tall and lofty for 470 long years, until a mob of extremist Hindu fanatics came at it with axes and pickets and razed it to the ground. Stemming from the popular belief that it was the birthplace of the mythological figure of the warrior Hindu god called Ram, the act was carried out for the future construction of a temple devoted to him, and one that had to be erected at the same spot where the 16th century mosque had existed for so long. 

“All we need for the betterment of life is Lord Ram, and there is no survival without Lord Ram”.

The supporters of the Ram Janmabhoomi cause kept reiterating this loud and clear in Anand Patwardhan’s documentary film Ram ke Naam (In The Name of God), that still serves as the single-most myth busting source centred round the whole dispute. But this very claim itself is based on partial accounts that stem from loose historicity, as depicted in the footage.

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On December 22 1949, Lord Ram was said to have appeared in the dream of a priest in Ayodhya, who along with a few other men installed an idol of the god inside the mosque in the dead of night. The film tracked down one of the priests who had participated in the plan, and identified him as Mahant Ramsevak Das Shastri. He claimed that the erstwhile district magistrate K.K. Nayar was also an organiser of this act and had ensured that Shastri and the others accused were released on bail. Although generally identified as the first breach of communal trust that gradually gave rise to the whole dispute, in truth, this religious fundamentalism has its roots running deeper than most of us fully grasp or acknowledge. 

Even at present, about a dozen places in India and Nepal claim to be the potential birthplace of Ram and there is no consensus among Hindu scholars and historians regarding the same. Ayodhya has been housing many Ram temples since the 19th century, and incidentally, quite a lot of them had claimed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram at one point of time or the other. After the construction of the Babri Masjid in 1528 by the Mughal emperor Babur, historic records show that the first instance of communal riots in the area was not before 1855. Sunni Muslims clashed with Bairai Hindus in the area claiming that the temple of Hanumangarhi (for the Hindu mythological figure Lord Hanuman) was built where once stood an already demolished mosque. Nawab Wajid Ali, the then ruler of Ayodhya promptly intervened and made peace, but not before the incident caught the attention of the colonial overlords. This took place just two years prior to the Great Revolt of 1857. It was the first known pan-Indian unified struggle for independence, and one that was founded upon the Hindu-Muslim unity which had been turning into a growing threat for the ruling East India Company. And of all the temples claiming to be the holy birthplace of Lord Ram, the British chose a mosque having Mughal origins to be the designated one for spreading the rumour that Babur had constructed it after destroying what was once a temple housing Lord Ram’s original birthplace. 

As this notion started gaining momentum, the British installed a fence on the premise, which led to an arrangement that had the Muslims praying inside the inner court and the Hindus being allowed to use the outer courtyard. This communal understanding and secular practice went on and in peace till 1949, until the breach orchestrated by Nayar occurred. 

The 1949 breach then led to communal rifts, which was followed by the mosque being sealed. This marked the beginning of how those in power have been manipulating the masses for centuries, either for ensuring a vote bank, or being mostly fueled by a blind sense of religious fanaticism that made them feel empowered over other religions. 

Repeated petitions were filed to open the locks and allow namaz inside the mosque. While the inner court was kept out of bounds, puja was allowed to be carried out in the outer courtyard. As many as four suits were filed between 1950 and 1961 asking for the restoration of the Muslims’ right to pray, none of which were heeded. Twenty years later, the Sunni Waqf Board finally filed a suit for complete possession of the site, and the one which turned out to be the final blow. Hindu groups in turn formed a committee to protect their rights, and the plan to construct the Ram temple was spearheaded, causing the Ram Janmabhoomi movement gaining momentum like never before, with erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.) member L. K. Advani giving leadership to the same. 

It was no less than a “political game”, according to the court appointed priest Laldas, who was charged with tending to the Ram idol after the mosque was sealed. During his tenure from 1983 to 1992, he was known to have been critically vocal against the whole Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the premeditated conspiracy that was growing around Babri at that time. He was removed from service 9 months prior to the demolition act and was found to be shot dead a year later under mysterious circumstances. 

“BJP does not believe in Ram, only in hatred…the Hindu Parishad members have never made a single offering or prayed at the temple even once,” he had told Patwardhan during an interview clip in the documentary. 

Surprisingly, none of the subjects that Patwardhan approached in the film knew exactly when Lord Ram was born, or at least even in which century. Not the poor tanner squatting on the ground, not the first year law student brandishing a sword before the march to Ayodhya and not even the saffron clad priest inside the air conditioned Toyota van. But all of them were unwaveringly certain in their belief that Ram’s birthplace was none other than Babri, and how it has been a known fact for many years. 

It was December 6, 1992 that witnessed the right wing mobilisation movement carry out the act of political vandalism quite unparalleled in the modern world, leading to subsequent communal riots, and a massacre which the country has not completely recovered from since. Babri was destroyed. 

Twenty seven years, varying heartbeats, deadly communal violence acts and the loss of about 5,000 odd lives later, the landmark justice on the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute was delivered. 9th November 2019 was a date that meant too much to too many people. It was a day that either meant the end to so many years of rioting, divisibility and cut-throat communalism, or a further tint in the already widening secular fabric of the nation. 

2019 was also the year that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in for a second term and had implemented a number of administrative decisions that gave BJP’s Hindu supremacist ideology a new momentum and utmost urgency. One of the first things that he did after taking office was revoke the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution on August 5, 2019, which had so far granted the internationally disputed Muslim dominated region of Kashmir a special status independent of Indian jurisdiction. The abrogation allowed Kashmir to be reinvaded by a strong Indian military, annexed to the Indian subcontinent and put under complete curfew with an internet blackout. And exactly one year later, Prime Minister Modi is about to lay the foundation stone for the newly constructed Ram temple in Ayodhya on the site of the demolished mosque on August 5, 2020, as thanks to the landmark verdict on the decades-spanning historic wound that has completely redefined the politics of the country, the forces responsible for the demolition had found themselves in complete legal possession of the land. 

For many blinded by irrational faith and hyper nationalism, the judgement reinstated the inherent vice of fanatic Hindutva ideology in the sense that their religion is all superior, and one that fuels the necessity to construct the Ram temple at the very spot of the Babri Masjid. But to others still believing in the idea of the independent India that awoke at the stroke of the midnight hour on 15th August 1947, the judgement could have very well been a bigger, and more dangerous rupture in the democratic and secular pillars of the country than the actual act of the demolition itself. 

The current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, who was charged with overseeing the construction of the temple had gone on record as early as 2017 during a pre-election campaign to promise a Ram Mandir

Agar Samajwadi Party jeetegi to Karbala-kabristan banega, jabki Bhajapa ki Sarkar banegi toh Ayodhya mein Ram mandir banega.

30 years ago it was L.K. Advani who had promised that Mandir wahi Banega and today, it is Yogi Adityanath, the third face in line on the saffron political firmament, who is delivering on this promise.

Vikas Pathak, who is a professor at the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai, said that this is Hindutva’s true and unalloyed form, one that was supposedly hidden beneath layers of political exigencies for so many years leading up to this. This claim is further supported by an independent multimedia journalist in Kashmir, who said he feels the same due to the obvious choice of the date of inauguration. Requesting to be anonymous, he expressed his thoughts on how this is more of a planned move than a mere coincidence, and one which gives out a clear message.

The fact that it’s happening on the anniversary of the repeal of Kashmir’s autonomy, accentuates the importance that the Modi government places on its aggressive pursuit of a Hindu nationalist agenda”, also augmented Michael Kugelman in his comment on the matter. He is senior associate of the Wilson Center and the deputy director of its Asia Program. 

Just like Jai Shree Ram, this Mandir agenda too had been normalised into one which sounded like a clarion call for battle. In Patwardhan’s film, an unnamed Congress politician held a campaign where he asked the Vishwa Hindu Parishad that if indeed a Ram temple should be built, why could it not be anywhere else in the city, as Ayodhya is such a large place. 

“I am amazed at this stubbornness that they will build the temple at the very same spot! And that too, only after destroying the mosque… He (Advani) can easily build a temple anywhere in Ayodhya, but please do not insist that this can only be possible by demolishing an existing mosque. I want to promise that the temple will most definitely be built, but the mosque must also remain.”

As we went on to see in the film, and even twenty seven years down the line, it was firmly decided that Mandir wahi banega, and one existing holy site was destroyed to give rise to another. Come November 2019,  the temple plan gets sanctioned by the Supreme Court of India as well, ironically granting the Sunni Waqf board an alternate piece of land to construct their mosque instead.

While the 5-judge bench lay claim to the demolishing act accepting it as a crime, and while they also accepted that the installation of the idols inside the mosque was an act of desecration, it also gave the land over to those who desecrated it at the same time. A judge on the bench had called it “one of the most important cases in the world,” but when the perpetrators of what the Supreme Court has openly identified as a crime find themselves to be the main beneficiaries of the judgement, it brings to question how just the verdict actually is.

Quite bizarrely, the court had declared that while there was some evidence of Hindus worshipping on the disputed site, no such documentary evidence could be found in the case of Muslims until before 1857. 

“The mosque was built in 1528, and the area was under Mughal occupation till 1722. Then it was ruled by Nawabs, and finally annexed by the British in 1856. It must be self-evident that during this entire period of being under Muslim rule, Muslims were offering namaz inside the mosque and not the other way round”, said a Kashmiri student currently studying at Jadavpur University in Kolkata on the condition of anonymity, adding how such a reasoning based on “balance of probabilities” as one of the reasons to give it to the Hindu side is itself one of inequality. 

On the other hand, the judgement also referred to a 574 pages long report published by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) 15 years ago, which claimed that Babri Masjid was not built on vacant land. Reading the unanimous judgement and considering the report valid on the assurance of being scientifically tested, Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi who was leading the bench said: 

“There was a structure underlying the disputed structure. The underlying structure was not an Islamic structure.”

While the court relied heavily on this ASI report, independent archaeologists who observed the site on behalf of the Sunni Waqf board differed entirely with the ASI findings. While the six month long court ordered investigation did reveal the existence of an underlying structure beneath the mosque, eminent archaeologists Supriya Varma and Jaya Menon believe that the evidence collected on their part do not support the claims made by ASI. 

Their report read: “underneath the Babri, there existed older mosques.” 

They further added that even if the underlying structures were not of Islamic origin, they closely resembled Buddhist stupas at the most, and in no way anything remotely close to a Hindu temple. This particular claim is in turn also supported by the archaeological surveyor Alexander Cunningham, who was the first individual to survey Ayodhya (around 1862-63), and was known for his interest in tracking down and identifying places associated with Buddhism.

Had India as a country boasted of a very robust and strong judicial institution, such an incident would not have been dragged all the way from 1949 to 2019, let alone pave the way to constructing a temple on the disputed land. December 6, 1992 should have been permanently brought an end to it with strict actions being taken against the perpetrators. While the B.J.P. indeed is directly linked to the whole incident, the Congress government led by Rajiv Gandhi allowed the locks to be opened in the 1980s. Following the demolition, the Congress Prime Minister Narsimha Rao allowed them to get away with the violence in 1992. And in 2019, the Supreme Court judges have done the same. 

Ayodhya, for more than a quarter of a century, had been turned into a place of cynical and political revanchism. And thrust between this politics of a loosely manufactured historicity aiming to upend the Republic of secularism by replacing it with a system running on Hindutva ideology, were those that represented what India truly stands for. Of the numerous subjects that Patwardhan interviewed, both Hindus and Muslims, most of them unanimously awaited, and wanted peace. Something that was so easy to understand for someone who lived a simple life of an ironmonger, belonging to the low Bishkarma caste, was at the same time completely unimaginable to those amassing trucks and weapons to demolish the mosque:

“Once it exists, it is wrong to break. If someone tried to break our temple, would we allow it? We’d say go build your mosque elsewhere.”

Zahir Adil, the lead on Save India From Fascism Project of the human rights organization Justice For All also expressed a similar sentiment, saying how he would have actually welcomed it if the temple was not built after illegally destroying a historic mosque. 

“Apart from being a day that RSS criminals are rewarded with a new temple after perpetuating systemic violence in India, 5th August 2020 also goes down in history as the day that the words Jai Shree Ram will be displayed in the iconic Times Square as the Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone for a Ram Temple on the site of the demolished mosque”, informed Masood Rab, spokesperson of Coalition of Americans for Pluralism in India (CAPI). It is one among the coalition of organizations that  have refused to carry forward the programming by the pro-Modi group in Times Square. 

The RSS, or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, being the parent organization of the current ruling party in India has its roots in pre-Independence times and were also known for openly supporting Hitler’s Nazi agenda. They were banned as many as four times when India was ruled by the national Congress, but it has now become the de-facto power under BJP rule, with Modi himself being a known RSS member. 

Indian American Muslim leaders, as well as human rights organizations, having categorically denounced this display of religious bigotry has called for a day long protest in the iconic Times Square from 8 AM, asking for this display of vehement arrogance to be stopped. Those like Adil and Dr. Shaik Ubaid (President of the Indian Minorities Advocacy Network) have also expressed concern on how the proponents of this fascist ideology have become so confident that they are celebrating an illegal and bloody act in the middle of Times Square, and for the entire world to see. But others like Kugelman expect, and have pointed out that while there will be messages in Times Square blaring out communal rhetoric, there may also be messages expressing solidarity for Kashmiris.

“It is perhaps fitting, in this globalized era, if the incredibly polarizing Kashmir issue plays out under the bright lights of Times Square”, said Kugelman over a brief electronic conversation, but added how this juxtaposition is also extremely divisive within the country on the whole.

The mandatory in this case seems more like a political campaign trick than anything to do with actual Hinduism, and essentially a symbiotic Displace perpetrated by a fascist government.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that this could be the rise of divisive Hindu supremacy as never seen before. In all its entirety, the day of August 5, 2020 marks the end of an era and the possible beginning of a new one. It detriments the idea that our founding forefathers had envisioned for the nation, and while we may not like it at the same time, this is essentially a new India that is emerging for everyone to see – one that is a land of strident Hindutva and religious dissonance at the forefront. 

LINK to the documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMT18TMNQbY

 

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#Current Affairs

The Perennial Siege: Kashmir’s Tense Lockdown Anniversary

A year after the revocation of Article 370—special status of the valley, Kashmir continues to be under security lockdown, intermittent internet restrictions, almost negligible functioning of education system, amid reports of continuous detentions and across-the-board human rights violations.

Two-day curfew has been imposed in Indian-administered Kashmir in anticipation of containing any form of dissent ahead of the 5 August anniversary—the day Indian government stripped Kashmir of its special status. Officials say the curfew is meant to prevent violence by groups planning to observe 5 August as “black day”.

On August 5 2019, the state was split into two federally administered regions and its semi-autonomous status was revoked. The decision to revoke article 370—part of Indian constitution that guaranteed Kashmir special status—an action with potentially devastating consequences for Kashmiri identity and community was met with anger and feeling of betrayal in the region although it was widely welcomed in the rest of the country. In preparation for this, it put Kashmir into a complete lockdown at midnight on Aug. 4, 2019. Eight million Kashmiris were restricted in their homes. In-an-effort to impose a complete communication blockade, internet connections were cut, and phone connections were terminated.

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Everything seems to have come to a halt, and the past experiences have begun to conjure the images of unprecedented violence. Since the revocation or illegal annexation of Kashmir on August 5, the betrayed and besieged population, including me, treated like a prisoner in a forsaken paradise on earth, continue to mourn India’s deceptively organized virulent manifestation of democracy. The fact-finding report, Women’s Voice, counters the state narrative of “return to normalcy,” indicating that 13,000 boys and young men were detained illegally after August 5, including some as young as 14, with some imprisoned for up to 45 days, and with families paying as much as 60,000 rupees ($850) for their release

Kashmiris, however, saw their integration as a threat to the state’s ethnic character, and a milestone on the road to the realization of the BJP’s dream of a fundamentally Hindu nation. Many legal commentators decried the Indian government’s unilateral abrogation as “illegal,” calling it an “unconstitutional deed,” which was “accomplished by deceitful means” (Noorani 2019). 

The Problem oF Kashmir

A brief context of the conflict offers a perspective to understand the problem of Kashmir. “The world is reaping the chaos the British Empire sowed,” Amy Hawkins wrote in Foreign Policy, and “local populace is still paying for the mess the British left behind in Hong Kong and Kashmir.” The anti-colonial uprisings in the Indian subcontinent, China, the Arab world and elsewhere did not result in freedom or democracy for the nations ruled by the British Empire”. In Kashmir, the British left a bleeding wound amid the partition of colonial India. Kashmir in post-partition and to be more succinct, post-1947 emerged as a boiling pot from the cultivation uterus of the two-nation theory.

Since then, Kashmir is known to be the most heavily militarized zones in the world. More than 7 million soldiers have been deployed, as per the reports, to counter what the Indian army itself claims as “cross-border terrorism”. This myth has been busted time and again because of the actions of the Indian government in the last three decades. If there were any doubts earlier, they should have cleared by now. Their real enemy is the Kashmiri people, especially “Kashmiri Muslims”, the hindrance in the way of turning India into a “Hindutva nation” claims Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2019 U.N. general assembly speech.

India’s decision to abolish the state’s nominal autonomy last year is the most far-reaching move in the region in the last 70 years and has been pushed by the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) as a development-focused action to “mainstream” the only Muslim-majority state in the subcontinent. While the government —which justified the shutdown as “preventive” — and the leading Indian media outlets are propagating an image of the region as slowly returning to “normalcy”, the reality on the ground, as documented by the New York Times, is very different. 

Kashmir continues to simmer under the siege.

Post 5—August SiegeAnd  Defiance

This season’s siege is more crushing than ever, possibly the worst since the first one nearly 30 years ago, a stratagem designed carefully to humiliate an entire population. There is also an unwavering manifestation of defiance, as by now the Kashmir street is sufficiently educated politically to not pin its hopes on an infusion of benevolence in the government’s Kashmir policy or any practical outcome from the partial solidarity from the international community. The mass arrests, in thousands, including minors and pellet victims [including a cancer patient] holding 7 million populations under eight hundred thousand jackboots has unveiled the façade of Indian democracy. 

“No government in the world has blocked Internet access as frequently as India. An incredible 213 times in just three years”, reports Time Magazine, “which is far more than Syria, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt together”. And more than half of those shutdowns have been enforced on Kashmir—is that because, questions Abid (PhD scholar, Dept. of political science department, Kashmir University) “of the special (autonomous) status Kashmir “enjoyed” in the larger Indian union? Will they also ban clean air, now that the special status has been erased?” 

Picking out promising adolescents; sometimes old men and even women, they branded them, as with batons and red-hot irons, to forcefully teach them how to behave. Abid Khan, 28, and Idrees, 29 from Shopian district in South Kashmir were raided in the middle of the night, tortured for hours by dozens of army men. Khan says he was dragged out and blindfolded along with his brother, who has learning difficulties, on August 14. “They gave electric shocks to my brother on the road outside our home. I heard him scream painfully,” quoted in AFP story, showing marks on his arms, legs and buttocks. Khan said. “Then they gave me electric shocks again on my genitals and wounds. One of them said ‘I will make you impotent’.” On September 13, Irshad Ahmed, a 12-year-old boy from neighboring Buchpora, Srinagar, suffered a serious head injury. His hospital registration card noted that it was a ‘fire-arm injury’, adding the word “alleged”. Those accompanying him said he had been hit by a cluster of pellets in his head. The bar has been raised so high for all forms of political dissent, and the detentions, numbering in thousands have choked any form of political activity on the ground. What remains still is an unwavering manifestation of the overarching defiance against the government-enforced execution of oppression. 

Pandemic Lockdown- In and Out of Kashmir

Since the world has now entered the sixth month of Covid-19 restrictions. With self-isolation, physical-distancing and e-learning online education, for most populations the robust internet and phone service has still provided a lifeline to let them work and be engaged and entertained. But in the Himalayan territory of Kashmir, the repression and militaristic method in the latest indignity in a 73-year cycle of oppression, militarization and scarcity especially since last year August in Kashmir has intensified: communications were completely cut in August 2019 and were only beginning, even after weeks pandemic broke out. Since March, only 2G is available, and only sporadically. As Waheed Mirza, novelist and political commentator on Kashmir asserts “A military siege is like a chokehold on an entire people”.  

For the world, asserts Arundhati Roy:

“Kashmir and Kashmiris signify as a prototype to learn the craft of surviving under a lockdown. For the former, it is a self-imposed precautionary measure experienced for the first time in the recent history by the world to fight against an unseen disease; as for the latter, it is the endless fight against the continuation of a seven month long enforced siege against their will.”

 This reality soon turned into a buzzword “the world is turning into Kashmir”. Azad Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan asserted India has been using the “cover of the coronavirus” to “mow down” Kashmiri youth and change the Muslim-majority character of the disputed region.  

According to news reports on Kashmir, anyone who violates curfew–even those with valid passes allowing them to leave their homes–risks being detained by soldiers or police and possibly beaten. Even doctors, who’ve been celebrated as heroes elsewhere in the world, report being harassed on their way to work in Kashmir, which already suffers an acute lack of medical resources and staff. Limited access to information has also obstructed Kashmir’s coronavirus fight. The region uses 2G internet, an online connection so slow that it is nonexistent elsewhere in the world. Indian authorities have cut online access in Kashmir 55 times since it was restored in March 2020. According to the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies, a local group that documents and litigates human rights abuses “this has delayed doctors’ ability to read emerging treatment guidelines and new research on the disease”.

For some, the repressive methods allude to the fact that the Indian government’s priorities in Kashmir have not been changed by the pandemic. “Any administration that is willing to impose the longest Internet shutdown in history only believes in the right of censorship and surveillance,” says Mishi Choudhary, the legal director at the Software Freedom Law Center, a group that campaigns for Internet freedoms. The period post 5 August 2019 has changed the whole political landscape of the region. This season’s siege is more crushing than ever, possibly the worst since that first one nearly 30 years ago, a stratagem designed carefully to humiliate an entire people. 

Mental health workers say “Kashmir is witnessing an alarming increase in instances of depression, anxiety and psychotic events”.  Doctors Without Borders estimated after surveying 5,600 households in 2015. Nine of 10 have experienced conflict-related traumas. The figures are much higher than in India, according to other surveys.

Education: The Perennial Casualty

Ten months after India unilaterally revoked Kashmir’s autonomy, reports New York Times, “education stands as one of the crisis’s most glaring casualties”. Previously, Kashmiri Valley in particular suffered huge education losses as the students were forcibly kept away from schools and colleges by frequent official curfews and restrictions, shutdowns, incidents of violence and prolonged political unrest stretching for months, the worst of these witnessed in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2016. “The long school closures in the valley cause major disruptions in young people’s educational and professional development, producing feelings of insecurity, helplessness, and demoralization,” said Haley Duschinski, an anthropologist at Ohio University specializing in Kashmir.

Around 1.5 million Kashmiri students remain out of school. All educational institutions are closed, and most government and private schools are shut—except for few intermittent opening of educational institutions for some weeks, one of the clearest signs of the fear that has gripped Kashmir since the Indian government locked down the disputed territory. Parents in the Kashmir Valley also show this fear that “they are terrified of sending their children out with any exception reaction from the public amid troops deployed everywhere and on the prowl for trouble”. 

“What if the school or a bus carrying children is attacked?” asked Saqib Mushtaq Bhat, a father worried about violence by Indian troops or militants. “What if there are protests and their faces get shot by pellets?’’ Amid only 2G internet services working in the valley, G.N. Var, chairman of Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) which has 2,200 schools associated with it, termed it ‘denial of right to education’. The research scholars across the valley have equally suffered due to low speed internet and hugely affected the mental stability of people across the spectrum of the society. 

He said, “The restrictions on high speed internet are making it difficult for our students to avail online courses and access information which is vital in their career-building. We see it as a denial of the right to education.”  Reports suggest “no government in the world has blocked Internet access as frequently as India with 55 Internet blackouts in 2019 alone, including the longest in recorded history, 213 days, when Delhi put the valley on lockdown last year August.

Settler Colonialism

So far, anti-insurgency operations have proved equally devastating for Kashmiris amid the pandemic. As of June 30, 229 killings, 107 CASO’s (cordon and search operation), 55 internet shutdowns, 48 properties destroyed in the first half of 2020. Children and women continued to be victims of violence in J&K as 3 children and 2 women were killed in the first half of 2020. India continues to take possession of Kashmir despite being hit ever harder by the pandemic.

With all the constitutional amendments and new laws India has instituted in Kashmir especially since 5 August last year, the Palestinian case is often invoked to find the parallelism of how this sounds like the beginning of settler colonialism. The recent developments that highlight this process are, on the contrary, a further deepening and expansion of a matrix of control characteristic of such a project, duly aided through laws, to ensure the eventual elimination of the native.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration’s order to withdraw a 1971 circular that made it mandatory for the Indian Army, the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force to obtain a “no objection certificate” to acquire land in the region is also seen as part of a settler colonial project. Not only has the decrees evoked a sharp reaction among locals, which have long feared Delhi’s forceful integration of the restive region with the Indian union, but observers are also accusing Modi’s right-wing dispensation of using the Covid-19 pandemic to advance its Hindu settler colonial enterprise in the region, saying it is a page right out of the Israeli playbook to transform the region’s demographics. United Kingdom-based Kashmiri lawyer Mirza Saaib Bég argues that “J&K’s demography is bound to be altered beyond belief. And at a speed so astonishing that the procedure for issuing a domicile certificate will seem, unfortunately, a quasi-colonial project”.

Around 400 thousand people have been granted domicile certificates in Indian-administered Kashmir till July, 2020 proving right the fears of the beginning of demographic changes in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region. The certificate, a sort of citizenship right, entitles a person to residency and government jobs in the region, which till last year was reserved only for the local population. “The whole purpose of revoking Article 370 was to settle outsiders here and change the demography of the state. Now this provides the modalities and entitles so many categories of Indians whose settlement will be legalised over here.” – Kashmiri law professor and legal scholar Sheikh Showkat Hussain (Al Jazeera, April 1, 2020).

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden said, “India should take all necessary steps to restore the rights of all the people of Kashmir.” He also asserts “Restrictions on dissent, such as peaceful protests or shutting or slowing down the internet weakens democracy,” in a policy paper posted on his website. Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that India’s latest step was a vindication of the country’s “consistent stance that the major intention behind the Indian Government’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 was to change the demographic structure of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and turn Kashmiris into a minority in their own land”.

“This has long been part of the RSS-BJP’s ‘Hindutva’ agenda,” the statement added.

An  Indian Consul General in New York, Sandeep Chakraborty’s recent call for the ‘Israel model’ in Kashmir should ring alarm bells for the Muslim world. He flagrantly asserted “I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it,” Chakravorty said.

Kashmiris on Twitter were quick to call out Al-Jazeera, accusing them of “promoting settler colonialism”. The social media users were mainly drawing a parallel with expansionist or colonial settlements of Israeli Jews in Palestine or of Han Chinese in Xinjiag to forcibly settle and diffuse indigenous identity.

Tailpiece:

Kashmir is transformed into an open prison where the state works with a self-proscribed impunity to confiscate or mitigate basic universal rights, while the Indian state is trying to entice assimilatory participation of the common people. That territory-wide control by the state and its various institutions is countered through years of survival, persistence and resistance against the state’s operations over Kashmiri lives.

One inevitable fact that successive union governments since India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru have arrogantly with military highhandedness ignored is the political question of Kashmir. The recent political expedition of the Indian government in Kashmir paradigmatically problematized the political destiny of Kashmir and future of Kashmiris. Even in the 21st century globalized world, in the middle of a global pandemic, 8 million people are denied access to education, livelihood, entertainment, and health respite via a medium that has become an essential service for the rest of the world.

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#Current Affairs

Indian Myths Channel Genocide in Kashmir

India is a land and society of myths. More so now than ever before, under the Hindutva-inspired Bharatiya Janata Party government led by the claim of the myth manufacturer Modi: “India is a democracy; it is in our DNA.”

A much talked about myth has been that India is a secular state, and in the light of the post August 5 2019 developments in Kashmir and the Indian mainland, much sighing is being aired that Indian secularism is endangered.

However, the question arises, when was India secular? Was India “secular,” when it invaded Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) on October 26, 1947 on the pretext that a non-Muslim should rule a Muslim-majority state, or was it “secular” when Hyderabad Deccan was invaded and annexed on September 23, 1948 on the pretext that a Muslim could not rule over a Hindu majority?

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Based on a myth about the birthplace of the mythical “Lord Rama,” the 600-year old Babri Mosque was attacked and demolished on December 6, 1992. India’s Supreme Court validated the goon squad’s action on November 9, 2019. Today, the mosque’s attackers rule India.

Even the national anthem ‘Vande Matram’ is not secular, where Muslims object to its idolatrous aspects. For instance, the fourth stanza, addresses motherland India as, “Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen, with her hands that strike and her swords of sheen, Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned…”

When a Muslim sings these words, he is forced to equate his country with the Hindu goddesses Durga and Lakshmi, thereby deifying the land of India. This goes against the concept of tawheed (the Absolute Oneness of God), according to which a Muslim cannot supplicate to anyone except God.

The other long-standing myth, which India validated through a presidential fiat last year, is that J&K are its “integral” part – a territory it has occupied since September 1947 with a million-man force. In doing so, it served up another myth: the constitutional relationship between J&K and India.

Subodh Varma (“Some Myths About Article 370, 35A and Kashmir”, Sabrang India August 8, 2019) explains that in the process of effectively scrapping Article 370 of the Constitution through a presidential order supported by a Lok Sabha (lower house) resolution, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its supporters regurgitated a slew of myths, half-truths and sleights of hand that have been part of its parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) propaganda for decades. Ironically, many parties and opinion leaders who do not subscribe to the RSS ideology also repeated them, which show how far these myths have traveled. Meanwhile, social media went ballistic with RSS/BJP supporters posting bizarre claims while others started offering land for sale in Kashmir.

Arun Jaitley (d. August 24, 2019), who served as finance minister from 2014 to 2019, had tweeted on August 4, “J&K integration with India took place in October 1947. Article 370 came into force in 1952, Article 35A came in 1954, four and seven years later respectively. How can Articles 370 and 35A be a condition precedent to merger?”

He had sought to prove that Articles 370 and 35A were somehow unrelated to J&K’s “joining” [albeit perforce] the Indian Union implying that they are unnecessary and also that they were the result of some [past] Congress governments’ stupidity.

This is a lie.

On October 26, 1947, India invaded J&K, obliging its ruler, Raja Hari Singh, to sign the Instrument of Accession (IOA); the Dogra ruler’s ancestor having purchased the territory and its citizen from the British. However, this document states that the Indian parliament could only legislate on the state’s defense, external affairs, communications and some ancillary subjects. The agreement’s Clause 5 reads: “The terms of this my Instrument of Accession cannot be varied by any amendment of the Act or of Indian Independence Act unless such amendment is accepted by me by an Instrument supplementary to this Instrument.” Clause 7 says: “Nothing in this Instrument shall be deemed to commit me in any way to acceptance of any future constitution of India or to fetter my discretion to enter into arrangements with the Government of India under any such future constitution.”

Simply stated, it says that many things left pending in the IOA were to be settled later through negotiations. After its invasion, India, which faced the Kashmiri resistance till 1949, finally seeking a UN-negotiated armistice, has yet to lay out the laws and governance mechanism. Accordingly, the UN Security Council adopted successive resolutions call for a plebiscite where the Kashmiris would vote freely to decide their future.

The UN continues to recognize Kashmir as a disputed territory.

The 1947 partition agreed upon by Muslim and Hindu leaders with Britain, the departing colonial ruler, reads that Muslim majority states would merge with Pakistan. Kashmir is a clear case.

To preserve the IOA’s spirit and to reassure the Raja, Article 370 was moved in India’s Constituent Assembly in May 1949, which was voted to be part of the Indian Constitution in October 1949. Consequently, Presidential Orders were issued in 1950, 1952 and 1954 to settle various issues. Jawaharlal Nehru  -India’s first prime minister- and his interior minister Vallabhbhai Patel (d. 1950) were part of these negotiations, which negates the RSS myth that Patel opposed Article 370.

The RSS propped up the full integration bogey to stir up agitation against the land reforms initiated by the Raja-appointed Sheikh Abdullah government. The RSS gave it a communal hue as the landowners were mostly Dogras and Pandits and most peasants were Muslims.

The RSS/BJP propaganda about Article 35A hides the fact that Raja Hari Singh had proclaimed the Hereditary State Subject Order in 1927, which allowed only the state’s residents to own land and to government jobs. The state’s assembly voted to include this order in the J&K Constitution. In keeping with the IOA terms regarding the preservation of rights of state’s residents, Article 35A was added to the Constitution through the Presidential Order of 1954.

Kashmir’s annexation falls under RSS ambition of a pure Hindu India.

The RSS states that J&K, with its “oppressive Muslim-majority character, has been a headache for our country ever since Independence.”

RSS alleges that forces “inimical to Bharat never wanted Kashmir to integrate itself with Bharat …  and in October 1947, these elements conspired with the enemy to defeat every move to save the situation from our [Indian] side.” While, India continues to loudly claim that it was Pakistani tribal fighters and not Kashmiri freedom-fighters who confronted the Indian invading army, RSS claims that it was its fighters who fought alongside Indian troops, adding that if a ceasefire had not been agreed upon, its fighters would have helped completely conquer J&K.

RSS blames the large Muslim presence for J&K being conferred a special status under Article 370, even after its total “accession.”

On December 11, 1991, BJP president Dr. Murli Manohar and Narendra Modi, and also, the now interior minister Amit Shah, led the 15,000 mile “Ekta Yatra” (Unity March) from Kanyakumari -a Tamil Nadu coastal town, the southernmost town in mainland India- which culminated in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk on January 26, 1992 to hoist the Indian flag, signaling that they had “arrived to settle the account.”

RSS claims: “The endless appeasement of the Muslim population, especially in Kashmir, practiced by the successive governments at Delhi, has been the bane of our government’s Kashmir policy. Just as too much mollycoddling and lack of discipline spoil the child, so has been Kashmir, a problem created out of our own folly.” RSS alleges that Pakistan arms militants for armed revolt from within India.

Amit Shah has harped the long-repeated party line that Article 370 is the root cause of spread of terrorism. As a corollary, it is also said that the article was the source of sentimental belief in a separate Kashmir, providing ground to cross-border terrorists to exploit.

However, it is the erosion of Article 370 that has led to increasing disenchantment of Kashmiris and their search for a way out. For instance, Article 370 provided for extending provisions of law to J&K through Presidential Orders, issued after concurrence of the state assembly. However, the 1954 Order has extended almost the entire Constitution to J&K. Out of the 97 entries in the Union List, 94 have been made applicable to the state and out of the 47 entries in the Concurrent List, 26 have been extended to the state. This has largely reduced the state’s powers. Overall, Article 370’s provisions were used at least 45 times to extend Constitution’s provisions to J&K.

Not only have the J&K rights been increasingly restricted, but also the spirit of the section has been violated by simply getting the state government to rubber stamp such extensions.

Also, the J&K Constitution was amended several times using Article 370. For instance, Article 356 was extended removing a similar provision in the J&K Constitution (Article 92), which called for President’s concurrence for imposing President’s rule. Article 370 was used for the extension of President’s rule. Even Article 249 (parliament’s power to make laws on State List entries) was extended to J&K through a recommendation of the governor, bypassing the state legislature.

In the past, Congress governments and later BJP, used these measures to manipulate the politics of the state to install ministries or impose President’s Rule.

Another myth, really a blatant lie, proffered by BJP, is that development was not possible because Article 370 didn’t allow it. Post-August 5, Indian politicians and opinion leaders continue to harp that with the removal of special status, including J&K will now become part of global India. Seriously, how Article 370 stopped any government from providing or encouraging more investment and industry in the state when most provisions of the Constitution, including Union list entries were extended to the state. The Union governments could have undertaken any economic measures or programs they wanted in J&K. In fact, there was nothing except unkempt promises of colossal special packages. No Indian government undertook any economic or political measures that would provide sustainable and long-term benefits to J&K.

Simply, the removal of Article 35A will now free real estate sharks to gobble up properties and use it for setting up private businesses including private schools. It is difficult to believe that private investment will flow into J&K, when an occupied people there are discontented and uncertain.

Indian propagandists in and out of government harp on the myth Articles 370 and 35A, and the arrangements they enshrine, were unique to J&K. In fact, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, and Goa enjoy similar provisions. In other states too, there are laws preventing non-domiciliary persons from owning land.

The Narendra Modi-led central government had, after the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, recently announced that people will now be able to buy land in Kashmir. As a result, the 1971 circular, which restricted land acquisition and requisition without a ‘No Objection Certificate (NOC)” from the Home Department, has now been replaced by the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. And, the displacement of Kashmiris with the replacement of Indians has begun the process of ethnic cleansing, leading to a genocide of the Kashmiri people.

Citizens of India ought not to live by the myth of living in the largest democracy and in greatness but instead should heed to Gandhi, “as human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”

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