Red Fort in Agra

The Bridge which accesses to the gate of the Agra Fort

Red Fort in Agra

The view from the garden inside the Agra Red Fort

Mutiny Aftermath

The painting which shows the condition during the aftermath of Mutiny 1857

Red Fort in New Delhi

The view of Delhi palace from Chandni Chowk

Emperor Akbar

The painting shows the condition during the reign of Akbar

Monday, October 02, 2006

Indian Muslim and Indonesian Muslim

“Indian Muslims are better than Indonesian Muslims in various aspects. They have advanced religious scholarship and thoughts, the phenomenal progress that Indian Muslims have achieved.That was because we have been facing more challenges here, as a minority, than you people have to deal with”

“Indian Muslims are better than Indonesian Muslims in various aspects. They have advanced religious scholarship and thoughts, the phenomenal progress that Indian Muslims have achieved”, said a well-known Indian writer to me at my visit to his resident in the Muslim area of Nizamuddin, New Delhi. The Mawlana was sitting on the flour surrounded by a lot of Islamic books – many of them are written in Arabic and Urdu – wearing a simple dress, white in color. It was an honor for me to sit with this respected and wise man who has achieved numerous international awards including that of the noble award. His opinion on the comparison between Indian Muslims and Indonesian Muslims was quite right to me since many religious books are written by Indian Muslim scholars, a lot of genius fatwas were issued and new thoughts were produced by Indian ulamas. In other words, India has produced numerous prominent Muslim intellectuals. All these facts proved their high ability and excellent quality.

“That was because we have been facing more challenges here, as a minority, than you people have to deal with”, he continued. I listened to him and come to the conclusion that the challenge he meant must be referred to the anti-Muslim movement. As a nation, India had been shaken by several religious problems. Since the partition, the nation was threatened with disintegration. When India was set free on August 15, 1947, the whole country was caught in the grip of a severe anti-Muslim wave. The struggle between Hindus and Muslims is the immortal phenomena. The incident in Bombay and Hindu-Muslim clash in Gujarat and the demolition of the Babri Masjid were well-recorded in our mind. As the result, many Muslim groups aroused, named by the government as fundamentalist groups. The police department blames that these groups were responsible for severe bomb blasts and other terror acts in India. The attack on Indian Parliament in New Delhi on Dec. 13, 2001, killing 14 people, was done by an Indian Muslim allegedly facilitated by foreign Islamic guerrillas, or vise versa.

On the other hand, Muslims in Indonesia are the majority (Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world), therefore they have lesser challenges and enjoyed the position of a major religious group. Islam in Indonesia appears in its peaceful face – at least before religious chaos occurred in Poso, Celebes. Indonesia is the sample of the country where the minority enjoys the equal right with the majority and can live without having to worry about their safety. I told the Mawlana that Indonesia was Hindu before the advent of Islam in the region. The remnant of Hindu architecture can be seen throughout the archipelago. Reversely, Muslim emperors had ruled India for centuries, but left only 15% are Muslims from the total population. “But we are good in quality instead of quantity”, the Mawlana smiled. I wonder, what quality did he mean?. Though many Indian Muslims personalities deserve thumbs up, but we can not ignore the ignorant Muslims who practice Hindu teachings and believe in Hindu deities.

There are many religious groups in India, some are more radical than others. That is because they felt discriminated and alienated by the Hindus. That kind of feeling is commonly found in the minor community which I call minority complex, or minority panic. Thus appeared two divisions of Indian Muslims, one is extreme and the other moderate. Each division strives to disseminate its thought and opinion about their belief. The competition between the two divisions makes them strong and progressive in their thought. Yet the dispute between them, don’t make them apart because as a Muslim community vis-à-vis Hindu community they are united. The struggle between two divisions has produced the man like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Wahiduddin Khan and Ashghar Ali Engineer, fighters of pluralism. The conservative and extreme groups have provoked the opposite groups to maintain peace and become more tolerant to the current condition as a minority.

Contrary, in the case of Indonesia, The Muslims are already moderate in its origin. The five religions known to the country – Islam, Catolic, Protestan, Hindu, Budhis - live peacefully side by side. The communal riot rarely happened. The Muslims don’t face any significant challenges from other religious groups. Yes, the feeling of insecurity against other religious groups existed but it was provoked by the outsiders, not originally comes out from the heart of the Islamic adherent of Indonesia. The nature of the people is love in peace and Islam too came to Indonesia by peace. Yet some Indonesian Muslims consider it was necessary to struggle for the minority cause. Abdurrahman Wahid, Nurcholis Madjid, Ulil Absar Abdalla are worthy of mention as the fighters of pluralism in Indonesia. Ulil often refers to Ashgar’s thought as found in almost all of his articles. Moreover, he goes far beyond what Ashgar or Wahiduddin might think about Islam and Islamic law. He has been influenced, in considerable range, by Ahmadiyah teachings, the sect that was unaccepted in India, its own birthplace. He once received the death sentence by the Fatwa of a group of ulama, due to his view saying that Muhammad was not the last prophet. Ulil-kind of intellectual has proceeded to provoke Indonesian Muslims to resist and counter his view.

In India the challenges comes from the non-Muslim first and then it divides Muslim into moderate and radical. From that condition aroused the progressive and reputable intellectuals. While in Indonesia the problem comes from Muslim itself who have much worried of disintegration, thus offers unnecessary care for the non-muslims – things that the non-muslim don’t really need it – and at last encountered by other Muslims. The wise Mawlana who was sitting with me may now begins to realize that the challenge for Indonesian Muslim has been increasing now and Insha Allah will benefit us as it did to Indian Muslim.

Friday, January 27, 2006

muhammad ali

Muhammad Ali was born in the late 1760s in the small port of Kavala. His father was an Ottoman soldier of Albanian origin and a tobacco trader. When Selim III raised an army in 1798 to send to Egypt against Napoleon, the governor of Kavala in Thrace supplied three hundred men, the second in command being Muhammad Ali. The peace Amiens in 1802 and the British evacuation of the Nile found Muhammad Ali responsible for several thousand Albanian and Bosnian troops.

When the British left Egypt in 1803, Ali sided with the Mamluks and drove the Turkish government from Cairo. He then played one Mamluk faction against another. Finally, with the aid of the Cairo populace, he chased the Mamluks, deposed the new governor who just arrived from Istanbul, and was recognized as governor by the citizens of Cairo. Later he was appointed Pasha of Egypt by Selim and asserted his full submission to him.
Finances cramped him severely. War in Lower Egypt, and the passage of troops, had reduced the Delta to Barrenness. Previously, taxes and levies supported an Egyptian army, but Muhammad Ali found little to levy and taxes quite insufficient. In order to raise fund he surveyed all land holdings, seized land grants upon which payment to the state were in arrears, abolished the ancient system of land tenure, and expropriated the remaining fiefs (multazim).

As land taxes increased, Muhammad Ali turned his attention to commerce and established a government monopoly on the export of grain, in which the profit often reached 500 %. Irrigation system was improved, which provided water all the year around, and doubled the production of the land such as wheat, barley, beans, rice, sugar, sesame, indigo, short staple cotton, and later Egypt was able to export long staple cotton in large number.

Besides finance improvement, his other successful endeavors were sanitation and education. When great plagues and cholera raged every year, he organized a more effective quarantine and appointed committee for sanitation, which was given enough fund and absolute authority. The result is the general improvement of health condition and the restriction of the visitation of the diseases.

The first schools established by Ali were for the military. Most of the instructors in these schools were French. Egyptian boys were often sent to study in France and England. The polytechnic schools were founded, preparatory schools to feed the polytechnic were organized in Cairo and Alexandria, and medical college was established. In connection with the schools a government press was set up at Bulaq near Cairo. Newspapers printed in both Arabic and French. These educational activities made Egypt a leader of the Arab world in the intellectual life.

Muhammad Ali continued to make some improvement. Alexandria was transformed into Mediterranean city resembling Marseilles, Genoa and Naple. Construction for public use was carried out on a large scale, including barracks for the army, dockyard for the navy, office buildings for bureaucracy, schools, hospitals, palaces ECT. The Mahmudiya canal was dug, and country roads were improved and widened for better transportation.

Organization of the finances of Egypt and destruction of the Mamluk power enabled Muhammad Ali to widening his rule. He dispatched his able sons on military expeditions to the Hijaz, Sudan, Crete and the Morca. In 1833, Crete, Egypt, Syria, Adana and Tarsus were assigned to Muhammad Ali, for which he agreed to pay 150,000-Pound sterling a year tribute to Istanbul. His son Ibrahim governed Hijaz and Ethiopia consisting a few Red Sea ports, and later he became the governor of Syria also. Ali’s other son took Sudan and founded the city of Khartoum.

When Muhammad Ali declared his independence, Ottoman forces invaded Syria but were destroyed at Najib by Ibrahim in 1839. Five days later, Mahmud II died, and before July was out the Turkish fleet deserted to join the Egyptian at Alexandria. Muhammad Ali was now master of the situation, and the Porte prepared to surrender to his demands. However, a joint note from Austria, England, France, Prussia and Russia informed that they were concerned with the developments within the Middle East and recommended that no action be taken on Muhammad Ali’s claims without their approval. Later, after he refused the Treaty of London in 1840, signed by British, Russia, Prussia and Russia, Muhammad Ali had to face the military action against the four powers. Acre was captured by British-Austrian troops. Forcibly, Ali recalled his son Ibrahim from Syria and accepted the British term.

The defeats of 1840 and the diplomatic negotiation of 1841 gave Muhammad Ali full power in Egypt, but left him and old and broken man. However, ha has proved that he was a great ruler of Egypt who has reformed Egypt to modern country. He lived on until 1849, however, in 1847 the government passed to his grandson, Abbas.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jamaat Islami

Jamaat Islami is one of the oldest Islamic movements and has been influential in the development of Islamic revivalism across the Muslim world in general and India and Pakistan in particular. It was founded in Lahore on 26th August 1941 through the efforts of Maulana Sayyid Abu al-A’la Mawdudi (d. 1979), an Islamic thinker and political activist who worked for the revival of Islam in India.

Mawdudi had been involved with the struggle since 1938 and opposed the Congress Party, believing that Hindu rule behind the secular nationalism would bring the end of Islam in India. He had been equally opposed to the Muslim League, which he believed to be a secularist entity. Mawdudi was supported by a number of Ulama who joined him in Lahore to form the new organization. Among them were Maulana Sayyid Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi and Muhammad Manzur Nu’mani of Deoband. Soon after its creation, the party established its headquarters in Pathankut, in east Punjab, led by Mawdudi as its first president. Between 1941 and 1947, the Jamaat spread its messages across India through its widely distributed literature, rallies, conventions, and public sessions.

The Jamaat followed the teachings of Mawdudi, which emphasize the exoteric dimensions of faith, disparage traditional Islam, rationalized faith, and predicate eschatology and salvation on social action. Since the 1960s the party has also developed a women’s wing as well as semi autonomous organizations such as publication houses and unions, especially a student union, Islami Jam’iyat Tulaba.

Following the partition of India, the Jamaat divided into three separate units for India, Jammu and Kashmir, and Pakistan. Mawdudi, along with the bulk of the original party leaders and members, left India for Pakistan and established the headquarters of Jamaat Islami of Pakistan in Lahore, and soon became fully immersed in Pakistani politics. Mawdudi and the Jamaat quickly approached the Ulama and other self-style religious movements in pressing the newly formed state for an Islamic Constitution, most notably in Objective Resolution of 1949. Jamaat’s activism in these years culminated in an open confrontation with the government over the role of religion in politics.

In 1951 the Jamaat became directly active in politics by taking part in the Punjab election. The anti-Ahmadiyah agitation in Punjab enhanced the party’s political standing. Although the agitations were led by the Ulama and religious groups such as Anjuman Ahrar, the Jamaat’s role proved critical in providing juristification for them, especially in the form of a book, “Qodiyani Mas’alah”. In 1957 the Jamaat declared that it would participate in the national elections of 1958 as a full-fledged party. But during Ayub Khan’s rule, the Jamaat’s offices were closed down, its leaders were excoriated in government-sponsored publications, its activities were restricted and Mawdudi himself was imprisoned. The Jamaat became more concerned with the removal of Ayub Khan and the restoration of a political climate that would be conducive to religio-political activism. Therefore, the Jamaat joined the alliance of political parties that advocated restoration of democracy and an end of Ayub Khan’s rule.

During the issue of Bangladesh, the Jamaat spearheaded a political movement that consciously appealed to religious sentiment to weaken the Bhutto regime. It was the Jamaat and the movement of Nizami Mustafa that undermined the Bhutto government and in 1977 provoked a military coup d’etat. In Zia ul-Haq period, Jamaat leaders occupied important government offices, including cabinet posts, and the party’s views were reflected in government programs.

By the end of the Zia period it was apparent that the Jamaat had become a powerful political force with significant social and cultural influence, due to its organizational structure and ability to manipulate the religious factor in Pakistan’s political balance. The Jamaat remains an important political party capable of influencing the course of politics through the use of its organizational muscle.



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