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Archive for November 26th, 2011

Syyed Qutb (1906- 1966)
He is regarded as the father of modern fundamentalism and described by his (Arab) biographer as “the most famous personality of the Muslim world in the second half of the 20th century”. Born in Egypt and his stay in the USA clarified his Islam roots,- and for all his anarcho-Islamic position, he dared to think his own thoughts and died in prison for his unflinching stance and he died by hanging for plotting to overthrow the government.
Qutb, is being increasingly cited as the figure who has most influenced late bin-Laden, the al-Qaida leader. Yet outside the Muslim world, he remains virtually unknown. Associate professor of history at Creighton University, John Calvert, states that “the Al Qaeda threat” has “monopolized and distorted our understanding” of Qutb’s “real contribution to contemporary Islamism.” Every prophet might as well place a rider about his life and works with this caveat,’ save me from my disciples!’ Likewise man whose only credentials is his thoughts may put them in words lest he should be misinterpreted. Even so he requires such a caveat. Qutb in his work Fi Zalal al-Koran (In the Shadow of the Koran), a commentary on the Koran in 30 volumes which began to appear in 1952 has been vilified for espousing a pernicious doctrine for which the blame lies elsewhere. What is his work? In writing already certain paraphrasing has undergone from what he had in mind, but for which think how clear the Quran would be to render any commentary as superfluous? Syyed Qutb suffers for this reason and his doctrinal position is an exposition of the explanation of Islam scholars who have already claimed their position as uncontestable. Is this what the blessed prophet had in mind? Your guess is as good as mine.
benny

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Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839)

Known as the Lion of Punjab he earns his rightful place in the Hall of Fame for the enlightenment he brought into a country whose bane was lack of vision among rulers who roughshod over subjects in order to prove their exalted position. He was a protector of the weak and poor in a state that he established where he proved by example the strong were as just and their strength was in making the weak feel secure.
Succeeding his father at the age of 18 he wielded the Sikh Raj a region straddling the border into modern –day People’s Republic of China and Islamic Republic of Afghanistan or the Kingdom of Kabul as it was known then.
In his reign lasting nearly forty years he had conquered vast tracts of territory strategically juxtaposed between the limits of British India to the left and the powerful Afghan Empire to the right. The land that eventually became the Kingdom of the Sikhs had been ruthlessly subjected to the worse kind of atrocities by invading armies coming through the Khyber Pass into the Indian sub-continent, over eight centuries. Among his conquests most notable achievements were in his conquest of Lahore in 1799 and he made it his capital, annexed Kashmir (1819). He wore out the Afghan army by sheer doggedness won from them the control of Peshwar in 1834.
The extent of his kingdom steadily broke away after his death and the sway of Great Britain had become all too powerful to break. But one lasting legacy of this great ruler was his religious tolerance. The empire of the Sikhs was most exceptional in that it allowed men from religions other than their own to rise to commanding positions of authority. Besides the Singh (Sikh), the Khan (Muslim) and the Misr (Hindu Brahmin) feature as prominent administrators. The Christians formed a part of the militia of the Sikhs. In 1831, Ranjit Singh deputed his mission to Simla to confer with the British Governor General, Lord William Bentinck. Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa, Fakir Aziz-ud-din and Diwan Moti Ram ― a Sikh, a Muslim and a Hindu representative ― were nominated at its head. Rather than caste merit was considered for appointment to important offices.
‘At present, flushed by a series of victories, they (the Sikhs) have a zeal and buoyancy of spirit amounting to enthusiasm; and with the power of taking the most exemplary revenge, they have been still more lenient than the Mohammedan were ever towards them.’(Masson, Charles. 1842. Narrative of Various Journeys in Balochistan, Afghanistan and the Panjab, 3 v. London: Richard Bentley)
Maharaja Ranjit Singh is remembered for uniting the Punjab as a strong nation and his possession of the Koh-i-noor diamond. Ranjit Singh willed the Koh-i-noor to Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa while on his deathbed in 1839. His most lasting legacy was the golden beautification of the Harmandir Sahib, most revered Gurudwara of the Sikhs, with marble and gold, from which the popular name of the “Golden Temple” is derived.
He was also known as “Sher-e-Punjab” which means the “Lion of Punjab” and is considered one of the three lions of modern India, the most famous and revered heroes in Indian subcontinent’s history. The other lions are Rana Pratap Singh of Mewar and Chhatrapati Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler. The title of “Sher-e-Punjab” is still widely used as a term of respect for a powerful man.
Captain William Murray’s memoirs on Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s character:
Ranjit Singh has been likened to Mehmet Ali and to Napoleon. There are some points in which he resembles both; but estimating his character with reference to his circumstances and positions, he is perhaps a more remarkable man than either. There was no ferocity in his disposition and he never punished a criminal with death even under circumstances of aggravated offence. Humanity indeed, or rather tenderness for life, was a trait in the character of Ranjit Singh. There is no instance of his having wantonly infused his hand in blood.”
Many famous folk stories about Maharaja portray a leader and the inspiration Maharaja Ranjit Singh was. In one famous incident, when Maharaja was about to cross the badly flooded river near Attock (now in Pakistan and called Kabul River). One of Maharaja’s generals reported this fact to Maharaja, saying that the river cannot be crossed and it is now an Atak (an obstacle in Hindi) for us. Maharaja retorted “eh Attock uhna lai atak hai, jehna de dillan wich atak hai” or “This river Attock is an obstacle for those, who have obstacles in their hearts”, then crossed the river successfully. The army and other generals followed his lead.(ack: wikipedia)
benny

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In the evolution of man instinct came to play a vital role since Nature fine-tuned his physiology to address the question: flee or fight? The adrenalin rush of your body in sensing danger is of different make up than when you need to think seriously what is the best course for your future. In the latter case time is on your side and you may weigh pros and cons to arrive at a conclusion. This is what thinking means. You brain is not merely reptelian brain but has also complex rewiring to help you in the process. Speech, visual and other faculties are controlled from locations that can be mapped and studied. Thus nature has provided certain initial back-up to which your life among men and animals add ancillary support. The thinking machine Head has its adjunct the Heart with which your feelings reinforce your life experience. Basic emotions fear and pleasure have myriad shades of meaning to make your life significant. This is what makes man different from animals.
Such a man also has rational and irrational side to which I only need to point the wakeful state and the dream state. If you go by the latter irrational side alone you are a menace to the society and you might require supervision and medicine to keep you from harm. The point is the head should remain in its place and consequently the heart must hold its own. The relationship of State and religion is like this.
ii
In order to understand how poorly religion and state can hold together we only need to look at the Church of Rome.
In the Early Church the bishops elected for the office were considered as shepherds of the flock. Following the stricture of Jesus to Simon Peter they were to cater to the spiritual needs of the early converts who were mostly marginalized in society or were actively hounded out by Rome as a threat to the empire. As seized of their charge the early bishops did not dabble in temporal matters. The serious threat to the religion actually came from the time Constantine made Christianity as the state religion. He made it not out of any genuine conviction but as a matter of state policy. Such explosive mixture could only delay but not prevent the march of events. The empire was doomed to collapse and it did happen. With it the primary aim of the Church was seriously compromised.
After the fall of Rome during the “Middle Ages”, the papacy was influenced by the temporal rulers of and surrounding the Italian Peninsula; these periods are known as the Ostrogothic Papacy, Byzantine Papacy, and Frankish Papacy. Over time, the papacy consolidated its territorial claims to a portion of the peninsula known as the Papal States. Thereafter, the role of neighboring sovereigns was replaced by powerful Roman families of which I may merely mention the Tusculan Papacy.
From 1048 to 1257, the papacy experienced increasing conflict with the leaders and churches of the Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. The latter culminated in the East-West Schism, dividing the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. While Popes were politicking the Church underwent through serious spiritual crisis among believers that came in the form of the Black Death. With such a calamity for the suffering flock the Church failed to address their spiritual confusion. They believed it was the divine chastisement and came from God. ( The Black Death wiped out nearly two thirds of Europe and the Pope sat out through this terrible times in Avignion,France. No wonder the survivors came out with a new idea of making their present life count. The Carpe Diem effect. This led to Reformation and the Enlightenment in course of time. Initiative in trade and commerce had passed from Italy to Germany, England and Holland.)
The Church was split by politics rather than any theological disagreement that quickly escalated from a church problem to a diplomatic crisis that divided Europe. Secular leaders had to choose which claimant they would recognize that showed the lie that the authority of the Pope came straight from St. Peter. The schism was ended by the Council of Constance (1414–1418).

Islam also suffers from the same tragedy. Petro-Islam is out and out buying converts who fit neither here nor there. Their head is a counting machine while their heart is far from obedience to their God.
P.S: The tragedy of putting the cart before the horse , mistaking the heart for the head led to the decline of the Church and Italy never survived the Black Death. In a manner of speaking the medieval mindset still plagues them. Unification of Italy was hampered by Papacy and the present economic crisis owe partly to it. We see conjugation principle at work here.
benny

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