Friday, October 8, 2010

True Love is like Still waters

     There is nothing more worthwhile in life than to be having a heated conversation with intelligent people nibbling onto delicious snacks. Oh yes, i'm mentioning the previous evening which lasted till 4 am in the awesome company of our distinguished guests, Sabyasachi (Dada/Acharyaji) and Namrita.
the loving duo
     Dada is a close friend of my husband, who has named him Acaryaji in honour to respect his abundance of knowledge and wisdom. And i witnessed it yesterday...after a very thought provoking and convincing discussion on Love. The duo have been married for 10 years and prior to that were in a relationship for 5 yrs...making it a total of 15 yrs of togetherness and still going rock strong (touchwood). They were witness to my husband's unending persuasions of proposals to me when i was refuting them. They narrated incidents and declared that they were convinced that this man could love no other woman and has gone bonkers over me. Flattering as it was, i was not convinced (i'm stupid) and so started our very intense, passionate and educating (acquiring knowledge+sense) expedition of words and feelings.
     Of all the things everybody said, what struck me was Dada's statement, "jo dikhta hai wo pyaar nahin"(what can be seen is not love). Well, with my experience, that about sums it up. It is foolish to believe in words spoken by men (in my case). I probably rarely witnessed my husband's times of trials (to have me in his life) though i was always surprised (n sometimes irritated) with his constant persuasions. But i know today, i have struck gold. No man can love me more than my husband. There are very few women who are that lucky. Perhaps love in its true strength can never really be expressed or shown, it is just experienced and felt. Things about feelings is that they never have any logic. And one lesson i have learnt about love from my husband is that love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast, it is not proud or rude, it is not self-seeking or keeps record of wrongs. Love is truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. What is a love that does not protect.That is what my husband did for me. I believe in love today because of him. 
     I have believed in many a false words of love. What can i say, i was a girl who believed in fairy love and lived in a dream world. But i'm lucky to have found the true love everybody seeks in the real world. I'm a lucky girl. 
     At the end of it i came to one conclusion, true love is like still waters, they run deep.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Its funny how your mind can go about wandering, without you even being aware of it , and touch upon some space and time in your memory that suddenly you start generating feelings for that moment you had not felt at that time. when the action had happened you were in a different space with very little time to think or review and mostly your reactions were your instincts....but after much time has passed, the incident comes back as a scene from a film, which you can pause, play, replay....and think...what if i had reacted in a different manner?

Basically, this time you are imagining it....and as they say, truth is just perception. different people may have different versions of truth...but my truth is my truth and i cannot lie to myself. But the truth or the recollection, perception are not what set us thinking. Thinking starts with feelings.
Feelings, yes.....feelings that do not obey our common sense or wisdom or maturity. Feelings have an  identity of their own. I have knowingly never done any harm to anybody, barring one incident. And logically thinking, knowing myself, i think i should feel bad for doing it. But again, feelings have their own mind....i always feel good about that one act.
Similarly, when i remember times when people have been bad to me, again i tell myself that i should not feel bad since i did not do anything wrong and it was the malice of the other person which he inflicted upon me. But again, i feel bad....where i should not.
I often remember a time when i was badly beaten up and i knew that i should be very angry, but i felt guilty.....very surprising to my own self.
I remember a time when the one man i trusted more than myself went about doing shameful acts and started blaming me for his deeds....he wanted me to feel guilty....but i felt hatred for him. Well that was well deserved as my common sense also confirms the true nature of the man (which is worth only hatred).
There is a very popular saying   that a man who has conquered his mind has conquered the world. As i understand it, it means that somebody who has been able to suppress his feelings is the one who can achieve anything in this world. But can we call a man without feeling a man?
I don't know if feelings are right or common sense...or is it good to follow your heart or your mind. Or if there should be a equal utilization of both.....but can we ever really know what is the best for us? 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How to become a real Muslim - Kenan Malik

A very interesting article....a must here it is
How to become a real Muslim

A media reliant on scandal has colluded with self-promoting but

marginal Muslim clerics to create a cycle of self-reinforcing myths

around the Mohammed cartoons, writes Kenan Malik. The fear of causing

offence has helped undermine progressive trends in Islam and

strengthened the hand of religious bigots.

In Ireland seven people are arrested over an alleged plot to kill

Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who had depicted the Prophet Mohammad

with the body of a dog in the newspaper Nerikes Allehanda. In Aarhus,

a Somalian axeman tries to hack down Kurt Westergaard, the most

controversial of the Jyllands-Posten cartoonists. In London, Faisal

Yamani, a Saudi lawyer, threatens to use Britain's notorious libel

laws to sue ten Danish newspapers that published the cartoons in the

name of all 95,000 "descendants of Mohammed".

Cartoon controversy

Free speech is a fundamental human right and a central tenet of

democracy. Or is it? Reactions to the Danish cartoon controversy

reveal strong divergences about what the right to free speech entails.

[ more ]

Five years after Jyllands-Postenpublished its now-notorious

caricatures, the reverberations are still being felt. And not just by

the cartoonists. The threats and violence that continue to surround

their publication have had a chilling impact upon writers, publishers,

gallery owners and theatre directors. Two years ago, the American

publishing giant Random House dropped The Jewel of Medina, a breezy,

romantic tale about Aisha, the Prophet Mohammad's youngest wife, after

fears that it might prove offensive. When, last year, Yale University

Press published The Cartoons that Shook the World, Jytte Klausen's

scholarly study of the cartoon controversy, it refused, much to her

disgust, to include any of the cartoons. When the free speech magazine

Index on Censorship, published aninterview with Klausen about Yale's

decision, it too refused to show any of the cartoons.

"You would think twice, if you were honest," said Ramin Gray, the

Associate Director at London's Royal Court Theatre when asked he would

put on a play critical of Islam. "You'd have to take the play on its

individual merits, but given the time we're in, it's very hard,

because you'd worry that if you cause offence then the whole

enterprise would become buried in a sea of controversy. It does make

you tread carefully." In June 2007, the theatre cancelled a new

adaptation of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, set in Muslim heaven, for fear

of causing offence. Another London theatre, the Barbican, carved

chunks out of its production ofTamburlaine the Great for the same

reason, while Berlin's Deutsche Oper cancelled a production of

Mozart's Idomeneo in 2006 because of its depiction of Mohammed. Three

years ago, the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague removed an exhibition of

photos by the Iranian artist Sooreh Hera that depicted gay men wearing

masks of Muhammed. "Certain people in our society might perceive it as

offensive", said Museum director Wim van Krimpen. De Volkskrant, a

leftwing Dutch newspaper, praised the museum for its "great

professionalism" in excising the images. Hera herself received death

threats. Tim Marlow of London's White Cube art gallery suggested that

such self-censorship by artists and museums was now common, though

"very few people have explicitly admitted" it.

For many, all this suggests a fundamental conflict between the values

of Islam and those of the West. The American writer Christopher

Caldwell in his controversial book Reflections on the Revolution in

Europe, published last year, argues that Muslim migration to Europe

has been akin to a form of colonization. "Since its arrival half a

century ago", Caldwell observes, "Islam has broken – or required

adjustments to, or rearguard defences of – a good many of the European

customs, received ideas and state structures with which it has come in

contact." Islam "is not enhancing or validating European culture; it

is supplanting it."

This idea of a "clash of civilizations" was first mooted twenty years

ago in the wake of the Salman Rushdie affair by the historian Bernard

Lewis and popularized a few years later by the American political

scientist Samuel Huntingdon. Today, it has become almost common sense.

"All over again", as the novelist Martin Amis has put it, "the West

confronts an irrationalist, agonistic, theocratic/ideocratic system

which is essentially and unappeasably opposed to its existence."

Yet, even as he goes along with the clash of civilizations thesis,

Caldwell reveals its inadequacies. "What secular Europeans call

'Islam'", he points out, "is a set of values that Dante and Erasmus

would recognize as theirs". On the other hand, the modern, secular

rights that now constitute "core European values" would "leave Dante

and Erasmus bewildered."

In other words, what we now regard as "Western values" – individual

rights, secularism, freedom of speech – are modern values, distinct

from those that animated European societies in the past. And it's not

just medieval Europeans who would reject contemporary European values.

Many contemporary Europeans do too. The British writer Melanie

Phillips is militantly hostile to what she sees as the "Islamic

takeover of the West" and what she calls "the drift towards social

suicide" that comes with accepting Muslim immigration. Yet she is

deeply sympathetic to the Islamist rejection of secular humanism,

which she thinks has created "a debauched and disorderly culture of

instant gratification, with disintegrating families, feral children

and violence, squalor and vulgarity on the streets." Muslims "have

concluded that the society that expects them to identify with it is a

moral cesspit", Phillips argues. "Is it any wonder, therefore, that

they reject it?" Caldwell, too, thinks that while the West's current

encounter with Islam may be "painful and violent", it has also been,

"an infusion of oxygen into the drab, nitpicking, materialist

intellectual life of the West", for which we need to express our


There is, in other words, no single set of European values that

transcends history in opposition to Islamic values. Nor indeed is

there a single set of western values today. The very values against

which radical Islamists rail – the values of secular humanism – are

the very values that so disgust some of Islam's greatest critics.

If there is no such thing as a set of "European values" that transcend

time, the same is true of "Islamic values". Islam, like all religions,

comprises both a set of beliefs and a complex of social institutions,

traditions and cultures that bind people in a special relationship to

a particular conception of the sacred. Over the centuries, those

institutions and cultures have transformed the reading of the Qur'an

and the practice of Islam. Religions, like all social forms, cannot

stand still. Islam today can no more be like the Islam of the seventh

century than Mecca today can look like the city of Mohammed's time.

Islam has been transformed not just through time but across space too.

The spread of the faith from the Atlantic Coast to the Indonesian

archipelago and beyond incorporated peoples who fitted into Qur'anic

scripture many of their old religious and social practices. What

Pakistani Mirpuris see as traditional Islam is very different from

that of North African Bedouins. And what British Mirpuris see as

traditional is different from the traditions of Mirpuris still in

Mirpur. "The key question", the French sociologist Olivier Roy points

out, "is not what the Koran actually says, but what Muslims say the

Qur'an says." Muslims continually disagree on what the Qur'an says, he

adds dryly, "while all stressing that the Koran is unambiguous and


Even a tradition as seemingly deeply set and unyielding as the one at

the heart of the controversy over the Danish cartoons – the

prohibition on the pictorial representation of the Prophet Mohammed –

is in truth neither deeply set nor unyielding. Far from Islam having

always forbidden representations of the Prophet, it was common to

portray him until comparatively recently. The prohibition against such

depictions only emerged in the 17th century. Even over the past 400

years, a number of Islamic, especially Shiite, traditions have

accepted the pictorial representation of Muhammed. The Edinburgh

University Library in Scotland, the Bibliotheque National in Paris,

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Topkapi Palace Museum,

Istanbul, all contain dozens of Persian, Ottoman and Afghan

manuscripts depicting the Prophet. His face can be seen in many

mosques too – even in Iran. A seventeenth-century mural on the Iman

Zahdah Chah Zaid Mosque in the Iranian town of Isfahan, for instance,

shows a Mohammed whose facial features are clearly visible.

Even today, few Muslims have a problem in seeing the Prophet's face.

Shortly after Jyllands Posten published the cartoons, the Egyptian

newspaper Al Fagrreprinted them. They were accompanied by a critical

commentary, but Al Fagrdid not think it necessary to blank out

Mohammad's face, and faced no opprobrium for not doing so. Egypt's

religious and political authorities, even as they were demanding an

apology from the Danish Prime Minister, raised no objections to Al

Fagr's full frontal photos.

So, if there is no universal prohibition to the depiction of Mohammad,

why were Muslims universally appalled by the caricatures? They

weren't. And those that were, were driven by political zeal rather

than theological fervour.

The publications of the cartoons in September 2005 caused no immediate

reaction, even in Denmark. Only when journalists, disappointed by the

lack of controversy, contacted a number of imams for their response,

did Islamists begin to recognize the opportunity provided not just by

the caricatures themselves but also by the sensitivity of Danish

society to their publication.

Among the first contacted was the controversial cleric Ahmed Abu

Laban, infamous for his support for Osama bin Laden and the 9/11

attacks. He seized upon the cartoons to transform himself into a

spokesman for Denmark's Muslims. Yet however hard he pushed, he

initially found it difficult to provoke major outrage in Denmark or

abroad. It took more than four months of often hysterical campaigning,

and considerable arm-twisting by Saudi diplomats, to create a major

controversy. At the end of January 2006, Saudi Arabia recalled its

ambassador from Denmark and launched a consumer boycott of Danish

goods. In response a swathe of European newspapers republished the

cartoons in "solidarity" with Jyllands-Posten.

It was only now that the issue became more than a minor diplomatic

kerfuffle. There were demonstrations and riots in India, Pakistan,

Indonesia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, Nigeria, Palestine, Afghanistan

and elsewhere. Danish embassies in Damascus, Beirut and Teheran were

torched. But, as Jytte Klausen has observed, these protests "were not

caused by the cartoons, but were part of conflicts in pre-existing hot

spots" such as northern Nigeria, where there exists an effective civil

war between Muslim salafists and Christians. The violence surrounding

the cartoon conflict, Klausen suggests, has been "misreported" as

expressions of spontaneous violence from Muslims "confronted with bad

pictures". That, she insists, "is absolutely not the case". Rather

"these images have been exploited by political groups in the

pre-existing conflict over Islam."

Why did journalists contact Abu Laban in the first place? The Danish

press described him as a "spiritual leader". He was in fact a

mechanical engineer by trade, and an Islamist by inclination. His

Islamic Society of Denmark was closely linked to the Muslim

Brotherhood but had little support among Danish Muslims. Out of a

population of 180,000 Danish Muslims, fewer than a thousand attended

the Society's Friday prayers.

Abu Laban was, however, infamous for supporting the attack on the Twin

Towers. From a journalistic viewpoint, it made sense to get a quote

from someone so controversial. But politically, too, it made sense.

For western liberals have come to see figures like Abu Laban as the

true, authentic voice of Islam. The Danish MP Naser Khader tells of a

conversation with T√łger Seidenfaden, editor of Politiken, a leftwing

newspaper highly critical of the caricatures. "He said to me that the

cartoons insulted all Muslims", Khader recalls. "I said I was not

insulted. He said, 'But you're not a real Muslim'."

In liberal eyes, in other words, to be a real Muslim is to find the

cartoons offensive. Once Muslim authenticity is so defined, then only

a figure such as Abu Laban can be seen as a true Muslim voice. The

Danish cartoons, as Jytte Klausen observed, "have become not just a

tool for extremism but also created a soap opera in the West about

what Muslims 'do' with respect to pictures'. Or, as Naser Khader has

put it, "What I find really offensive is that journalists and

politicians see the fundamentalists as the real Muslims." The myths

about the Danish cartoons – that all Muslims hated the cartoons and

that it was a theological conflict – helped turn Abu Laban into an

authentic voice of Islam. At the same time, Abu Laban's views seemed

to confirm the myths about the Danish cartoons.

The template for this kind of mythmaking was the Salman Rushdie

affair. More than twenty years on from the fatwa, we have come to

accept almost as self-evident the idea that the worldwide controversy

was sparked by the blasphemies in The Satanic Verses, which all

Muslims found deeply offensive. It is not true.

The Satanic Verses was published in September 1988. For the next five

months, until the Ayatollah Khomeini issued his fatwa on Valentine's

Day 1989, most Muslims ignored the book. The campaign against the

novel was largely confined to the Indian subcontinent and to Britain.

Aside from the involvement of Saudi Arabia, there was little

enthusiasm for a campaign in the Arab world or in Turkey, or among

Muslim communities in France or Germany. When the Saudi authorities

tried at the end of 1988 to get the novel banned in Muslim countries

worldwide, few responded except those with large subcontinental

populations, such as South Africa or Malaysia. Even in Iran the book

was openly available and was reviewed in many newspapers.

As in the controversy over the Danish cartoons, it was politics, not

religion, that transformed The Satanic Verses into a worldwide event

of historic proportions. The novel first became an issue in India

because the Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist group against which Rushdie

had taken aim in his previous novelShame, tried to use the novel as

political leverage in a general election campaign. From India, the

anti-Rushdie campaign spilled into Britain, where the Jamaat had a

network of organizations, funded by the Saudi government. From the

1970s Saudi Arabia had used oil money to fund Salafi organizations and

mosques worldwide to cement its position as spokesman for the umma.

Then came the Iranian Revolution of 1979 that overthrew the Shah and

established an Islamic republic. Tehran became the capital of Muslim

radicalism and Ayatollah Khomeini its spiritual leader, posing a

direct challenge to Riyadh. The Satanic Verses became a weapon in that

conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Riyadh had made the initial

running. The fatwa was an attempt by Iran to wrestle back the


The Rushdie affair was a watershed in Western political and cultural

life. It was through the Rushdie affair that many of the issues that

now dominate political debate – multiculturalism, free speech, radical

Islam, terrorism – first came to the surface. It was also through the

Rushdie affair that our thinking about these issues began to change.

The controversy over The Satanic Verses was primarily a political, not

religious, conflict. But having accepted the myths that the

controversy over The Satanic Verses was driven by theology and that

all Muslims were offended by the novel, many liberals came to the

conclusion in the post-Rushdie world both that the Islamists were the

true voice of Islam and also that in a plural society social harmony

required greater restraints on free speech.

"Self-censorship", the British Muslim philosopher Shabbir Akhtar

suggested at the height of the Rushdie affair, "is a meaningful demand

in a world of varied and passionately held convictions. What Rushdie

publishes about Islam is not just his business. It is everyone's – not

least every Muslim's – business."

Increasingly, western liberals have come to agree. Whatever may be

right in principle, many now argue, in practice one must appease

religious and cultural sensibilities because such sensibilities are so

deeply felt. We live in a world, so the argument runs, in which there

are deep-seated conflicts between cultures embodying different values,

many of which are incommensurate but all of which are valid in their

own context. For such diverse societies to function and to be fair, we

need to show respect for other peoples, cultures, and viewpoints.

Social justice requires not just that individuals are treated as

political equals, but also that their cultural beliefs are given equal

recognition and respect. This is the philosophy of multiculturalism.

And in the multicultural world, the avoidance of cultural pain has

come to be regarded as more important than what is often seen as an

abstract right to freedom of expression. As the sociologist Tariq

Modood has put it, "If people are to occupy the same political space

without conflict, they mutually have to limit the extent to which they

subject each others' fundamental beliefs to criticism." In the

post-Rushdie world, liberals have effectively internalized the fatwa.

The consequence of all this has been that liberals have come to

support the most reactionary figures within the Muslim community.

Rushdie's critics no more spoke for the Muslim community than Rushdie

himself did. Both represented different strands of opinion within

Muslim communities, just as Naser Khader and Abu Laban do. Rushdie

gave voice to a radical, secular sentiment that in the 1980s was

deeply entrenched. Rushdie's critics spoke for some of the most

conservative strands. Their campaign against The Satanic Verses was

not to protect Muslim communities from unconscionable attack from

anti-Muslim bigots but to protect their own privileged position within

those communities from political attack from radical critics, to

assert their right to be the true voice of Islam by denying legitimacy

to such critics. And they succeeded at least in part because secular

liberals embraced them as the "authentic" voice of the Muslim


The United Kingdom Action Committee on Islamic Affairs (UKACIA), the

principal anti-Rushdie campaign in Britain, was comprised largely of

organizations inspired by radical Islamism. These groups came to form

the core of the Muslim Council of Britain, which was set up in 1977

and quickly became accepted by policy makers and journalists as the

voice of British Islam.

"The overwhelming number of organizations that the [British]

government talks to", says sociologist Chetan Bhatt, an expert on

religious extremism, "are influenced by, dominated by or front

organizations of the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Muslim Brotherhood. Their

agenda is strictly based on the politics of the Islamic radical right,

it doesn't represent the politics or aspirations of the majority of

Muslims in this country."

Indeed it doesn't. Polls have consistently found that only around 5

per cent think that the MCB represented them. But the official support

given to such organizations in the post-Rushdie era has distorted

perceptions of Muslims communities in Britain and to a certain degree,

Muslim self-perceptions too. And not just in Britain. There has been,

Naser Khader suggests, a similar process in Denmark. "Just months

before the cartoon controversy, the Prime Minister had invited Abu

Laban to a conference on terrorism. People like me kept saying, 'They

only represent a few people'. But nobody listened. The government

thought if they talked to someone who looked like a Muslim, then they

were talking to real Muslims. I don't look like what they think a

Muslim should look like – I don't have a beard, I wear a suit, I drink

– so I'm not a real Muslim. But the majority of Muslims in Denmark are

more like me than they are like Abu Laban."

When I was growing up in the 1980s, the concept of a "radical" in a

Muslim context meant someone who was a militant secularist, someone

who challenged not just racism but the power of the mosques too.

Someone like me. Today, of course, it means almost the opposite – a

"radical" is a religious fundamentalist. Why the shift? Largely

because of disenchantment with the secular left, on the one hand, and

the institutionalization of multicultural policies, on the other.

Disenchantment with secular politics, the disintegration of the Left,

and the abandonment by the Left of the politics of universalism in

favour of ethnic particularism, has helped push many young, secular

Asians towards Islamism as an alternative worldview. At the same time,

the emergence of multiculturalism, and of identity politics, has

helped create more tribal societies and eroded aspirations to a

universal set of values.

Within Muslim communities these developments have helped undermine

progressive trends and strengthened the hand of religious bigots.

Secular Muslims have come to be regarded as betraying their culture,

while radical Islam has become not just more acceptable but, to many,

more authentic. As the secular tradition has been squeezed out, the

only place offering shelter to disaffected youth has been militant


Liberal multicultural policies have not created radical Islam, but

they have helped create a space for it in western societies that

previously had not existed. They have also provided a spurious moral

legitimacy to Islamist arguments. Every time a politician denounces an

"offensive" work, every time a newspaper apologizes for causing

offence, every time a journalist tells someone like Naser Khader that

he's not a "real" Muslim, they strengthen the moral claims of the

Islamists. There will always be extremists who attempt to murder

cartoonists or firebomb newspaper offices. There is little we can do

about them. What we can do is refuse to create a culture that

emboldens such people by accepting their voices as somehow legitimate.