Tag Archives: islam

Love My Beard

solSupreme Court of India has now dismissed a petition by a Muslim guy and upheld the rules of Air Force that prohibit the sporting of beard of its personnel. Although it has saddened the Muslims in India but what is really unfortunate is that how Supreme Court looked at the matter superficially and passed judgement on this.

Soldiers and officers have been sporting mustaches, goatees, beards or sideburns all over the world in past and today also it is a common sight in many countries. As long as it is well maintained and does not proffer a eccentric image there is no reason why personnel should not be allowed to sport a beard.

Canada allows Muslims, Sikhs or orthodox Jews to maintain beard due to religious requirements. In United States US military expanded its policies on religious accommodation in 2014 and allowed all officer and enlisted personnel to request permission to wear beards and articles of clothing for religious reasons.
Many countries in the world permit armed forces to have beards and do not pose any restrictions e.g., Italy, Iran, Sri Lanka, Austria, Spain, etc. Whereas other countries allow beard / facial hair but soldiers need to make a request for it.

Many countries like Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, etc. who deployed their personnel in Afghanistan allowed their personnel to wear any type of beard. As most Afghans wear full beard having beard in Afghanistan helps in strong bonding and advancing contacts with the Afghan population. British Army has been seen sporting a full range of stubble, mustaches and beards in Afghanistan in an effort to blend with the Afghan men. Similarly army from other countries were also allowed to wear beard to break down the cultural barriers.

Now honorable Supreme Court judges need to ponder, if soldiers from other cultures can sport beard to get close to the people of another culture, why can’t soldiers in India wear beard not only to protect their own culture but more importantly to fulfill their religious obligation.


United We Stand Divided We Fall

Hateful propaganda that attempts to align other countries against the Muslim world, imposition of western values that bring inner turmoil and reinforcement of Radical Islam that provokes internal wars in the Arab nations. The conflicts in Muslim world has got elevated to a higher level and we would have not been here if we would have reflected upon what Islam teaches us.

The Road Ahead

HazratbalMuslim Awqaf Trust (Muslim Waqaf Board) was initially formed back in 1940, with the name Idara Auqaf Islamia, it has been managing various Masjids, Shrines, Institutes and working for the development of the community from last 75 years but in spite of huge assets and income it has not able to contribute much to the Muslim society in Kashmir, which is attributed to lack of vision and transparency.

Below are only couple of objective of the Muslim Awqaf Trust:

  • To set up homes for destitute women and children and otherwise to grant financial assistance to needy women and children including setting up or aiding and assisting vocational centers for the betterment of the lot of the Muslim women and orphans or needy children.
  • To grant stipends, scholarships, loans or other financial assistance to deserving persons of the State for education, vocational training and other pursuits.

Now let’s ask few questions to ourselves.

  • Is there any orphanage that Muslim Awqaf Trust has created with state of art facilities for numerous orphans in Kashmir?
  • Do we know of any well publicized scholarship test, where tests are conducted transparently and results are declared publically?
  • Do the needy people in Kashmir have easy access to money, which they can borrow from the Muslim Awqaf Trust?

How many of the questions listed above did you answer affirmatively? I believe none of the above. If we look at the income and expenditure of the Muslim Awqaf trust, which is in crores, it seems that trust could have not achieved only all of the above but much more.

Muslim Awqaf Trust is running many educational institutions under its supervision but it has not able to create a brand yet. If there would have been zest and spirit to achieve and to excel. We should have seen a family of schools where students would have been equipped to access the best opportunities of growth and advancement. The concept of enlightened Muslims could have been the backdrop of all their endeavors. Some percentage of the seats could have been reserved to the poor but meritorious students without compromising the standard of the education.

Below is the list of schools run under the supervision of Muslim Awqaf trust.

  • Sultan-ul-Arifeen Wakf Higher Secondary School, Srinagar
  • Mantaqui Memorial Wakf Higher Secondary School Awantipora
  • Muslim Boys & Girls Wakf High School, Qalamdanpora Srinagar
  • Muslim Gousia Girls Wakf Secondary School, Khanyar Srinagar
  • Baba Shukur-ud-Din Wakf Memorial Wakf High School, Watlab Sopore
  • Gousia Wakf Secondary School, Kakapora Pulwama
  • Alamdar Wakf Secondary School, Charar-i-Sharief
  • Hanfiya Nabiya Wakf Middle School, Kabamarg, Anantnag
  • Hanfiya Wakf Middle School, Asham
  • Baba Payam-ud-Din Reshi Wakf Middle School, Hajibal, Tangmarg
  • Sheikh Hamza Memorial Wakf Middle School, Aham-i-Sharief, Bandipora
  • Shah Namatulla Qadri Wakf Pry. School, Safakadal, Srinagar

None of the above schools seems to be in the list of top schools in Kashmir. The schools set up by missionaries and outside societies are still leading in Kashmir.

The Muslim Awqaf Trust has been spending lacks of rupees in replacing the beautiful lush green lawns in the shrines and other religious places with devir stone flooring. One fails to understand what is the need of the same, should we not beautify the green lawns instead and spend the money where it is needed the most.

Many shopping complexes have been constructed till now by the Muslim Awqaf Trust but the design and construction of almost all of them has been mediocre. Why could we have not started with fewer shopping malls but of world class quality that every Muslim would have been proud of.

It seem Muslim Awqaf Trust needs to do some introspection and build a vision statement for itself. It needs to open up for the society and use its resources prudently for the betterment of the Muslim community in Kashmir.

Reading Frithjof Schuon on Islam

Recently a lot of articles have been written on the writing of Frithjof Schuon and he has been projected as one of the greatest authors on Islam in the western world. In may be noteworthy that in an interview, Frithjof Schuon had mentioned that he was only interested in the hidden esoteric Islam, which he considered open mind like Hinduism and very near to Vedanta. Other than that he was not interested in Islam more than any other religion. Besides Christianity he also studied Hinduism, Buddhism and the Native American traditions.

Frithjof Schuon (1907 – 1998) was a metaphysicist and an exponent of the Religio Perennis. He has written books and articles on metaphysics, spirituality and comparative religions. The metaphysics exposited by Schuon is based on separation between ‘Atma’ and ‘Maya’. Schuon believes, idea of the absolute and the relative is provided by all the major religions sufficiently, if not always exhaustive. In Christianity, God became man and man might become God. In Hindu terms one would say, Atma became Maya that Maya might become Atma. In Islam the real and non-real is affirmed by the Testimony of Unity (the Shahadah). Religio Perennis is not a new religion but an underlying religion for Schuon. He considers the essential function of human intelligence, discernment between the real and the illusory, and the essential function of the will as the attachment to the real, which is the underlying universality in all the religions and what may be called the Religio Perennis.

He was one of the chief representative of the Perennialist school. A school of thought based upon a belief that all the world’s great religions share the same origin (in a primordial principle of transcendent unity) and are, at root, based on the same metaphysical principles. Also, modern civilization is the decadent civilization, which manifests the lowest possibilities of the Kali Yuga (the Dark Age of the Hindu cosmology). Through his many books and articles, Schuon became known as a spiritual teacher and leader of the Perennialist School. He classified prayers into three forms: first, canonical prayer, for instance the Lord’s prayer; second, personal prayer, whose best model is given by the Psalms; third, the prayer of the heart; this is mystical spirituality like Dhikr and Japa-Yoga. His book ‘Understanding Islam’ is considered one of the best book to introduce Islam to western world.