Marriage Evils

Today it is tragic to see that Muslim weddings in our city seem to be devoid of any commitment to Islam. They have instead become famous for ostentation, vulgar display of wealth and wasteful expenditure. That too when we as a community are among the most economically backward and deprived of all people. To see the wealthy among us displaying such a colossal lack of concern for the deprived, by spending lakhs and crores on weddings while poor Muslims suffer untold miseries is something that is designed to attract the anger of Allah.


According to the statistics for 2014-15, Hyderabadi Muslims spent Rs. 4000 crores on catering and hall rental for weddings. The actual amount spent will be far higher as we all can guess. How will we answer Allahwhen we meet Him as we surely must? Meanwhile our divorce and separation rate is three times that of any other community in the country. So obviously our spending is not bringing us any happiness. I am not saying that divorces are only because of spending. They are also the result of the almost total lack of upbringing of our children, the total lack of Akhlaaq, the very little connection with Allah and His Deen. Our insane spending in marriages is an indicator of a much deeper malaise which is destroying our community.

See these statistics: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/565190/more-women-divorced-india-report.html

Allah honored the marriage by calling it one of His signs. He said:


Rum 30: 21. And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may find tranquility in them, and He has put between you, love and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.

Marriage in Islam is an act of worship because if it is done according to the Sunnah of Rasoolullah it is something that Allah will reward us for. The key is to ensure that we do it in accordance with the Sunnah.

Abdullah ibn Mas’udtreported that Rasoolullah said to us: O young men, those among you who can support a wife should marry, for it restrains eyes (from casting evil glances) and preserves one from immorality; but he who cannot afford it should fast for fasting is a means of controlling sexual desire. [Tirmidhi]

In this Hadith and in several others, it is clear that marriage is the responsibility of the man who must make arrangements to contract it according to his means. It is not the responsibility of the girl’s parents to worry about her marriage or to incur any expenses in this connection. This is the cardinal difference between the Islamic way and that of others, where the woman and her parents are freed of this responsibility.

Abu Hurairah (R) narrated from Rasoolullah who said: “A woman may be married for four things: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her religious commitment. Seek the one who is religiously-committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e., may you prosper).” [Bukhari & Muslim]

It is clear from this Hadith that though you may look for the other three things in a spouse, what you should choose her/him for is religious commitment over and above anything else.
It is the rich who set the trend. And it is thanks to them that middle class and poor Muslim parents are pressured to spend more than they can afford for the weddings of their children. As a result, one of the biggest problems in Muslim society is that of indebtedness – inability to pay back interest bearing loans. Even more tragic is the fact that in most cases it is women who pressure their men folk to spend money on all kinds of customs and practices which have nothing to do with Islam. 

The only purpose is to ‘impress’ others with the degree of Jahaalat that one can achieve and the constant refrain is, ‘What will people say?’ Allah called ostentation and ostentatious spenders the brothers of Shaytaan.



(Garland for the bridegroom being brought in by a crane in a Hyderabadi wedding)

He said:
Isra 17: 27 Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayateen and the Shaytaan is ever ungrateful to his Rabb.
Add to this the evil of dowry which we have adopted with the result that men have no shame in demanding it and parents of the bride are forced to cough up the ransom for their daughter. We have all kinds of shameless ways of asking for it. Dowry is Haraam. Asking for it is either begging or extortion and makes you a Bhikari (beggar) or a highway robber. I ask the parents of brides, ‘Why do you want to marry your daughter to a beggar or bandit? Then there are demands on the bride’s family for ‘fat’ weddings with all kinds of unislamic customs like Manja, Sanchak, Mehndi, Sangeet, Dholak and the pressure on the bride’s family to host a dinner on the day of the Nikah.
All these customs are against Islam, add to the expense and make the wedding a source of great suffering for the bride’s family. In addition, all these customs are against Islam and sinful to say the least.

Compare this to the Islamic way: The man or his family send his proposal to the bride’s family. The man and bride meet face to face and decide if they want to marry. The amount of Mehar is decided among them which the man has to pay. The Nikah takes place in the masjid. Then the man hosts a Walima (meal in celebration of his wedding) on the same or next day. The bride’s family incurs no expense at all. The man incurs whatever expense he wishes as the Walima is his responsibility. And all this happens simply, with dignity and in accordance with the Law of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger. Such a marriage is blessed and its results can only be good.

We believe the time has come for all people with a conscience to raise their voice against these evil practices. Whether or not you are religious, it is our duty to refuse to support these social evils.

For this it is essential that we do three things:

1. When we have a wedding in our family ensure that it is strictly according to the Islamic way which I have described above. In that alone there is Khair, the blessing of Allah and the honor of the Sunnah of Rasoolullah.

2. When you are invited to a wedding, ask about what is happening there. If there is any unislamic custom, don’t go. Tell them clearly that you will not attend because the wedding is not according to Islam. Don’t make an excuse. Say clearly that you are against unislamic weddings as you are a Muslim and so will not attend.

3. It is especially important that Ulama and opinion leaders don’t attend because their attendance becomes a proof for people that what they are doing is correct. When Ulama don’t attend and tell people why they are not attending, people stop to think and InshaAllah this can bring about change. One argument in support of Ulama attending unislamic weddings that I heard takes the cake. Someone said, ‘If we don’t attend people will do even worse and they will dance naked.’ Not my words but the words that I was told.

4. My submission is that this argument goes directly against the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Allah said about supporting good and not supporting evil:

Ma’aida 5: 2 Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment.

Rasoolullah said: Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (R) said: I heard Rasoolullah say, “Whoever sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

Please see this Ayah and Hadith and tell me where is the permission to participate in a gathering where the laws of Allah and the Sunnah of Rasoolullah is being broken and remain silent and benefit from the meeting? The only justification, especially for Ulama to go to unislamic weddings would be to stop whatever is happening there which is unislamic. Needless to say, that would create an even bigger Fitna. And so the only choice they have is to boycott such events and tell people why they are boycotting them. If not, they will become the proof that people will use to commit Haraam and they will be answerable before Allahfor that.

There are two stages that a person goes through in life – the wedding and the funeral. That is why in Hindi and Urdu – we have the same word with a slight difference, for the traditional vehicle of the bride which symbolizes the moving from one state to another – doli and dola.

I ask you, will you accept a funeral with a band and dancing before the Namaz-e-Janaza? Why then do you accept a wedding with bands, dancing, free mixing of men and women, ostentation and vulgar display – all against Islam?

All social change starts with one person – me. So take this decision that you will not attend a wedding which is not in accordance with Islam. Tell others about it. And stick to it. Don’t go even if it is the wedding of your closest relative. And if anyone talks about family ties, please tell him/her that our ties with Allah and Rasoolullahtake precedence over all other ties. Allaheven ordered us to disobey parents if they order us to disobey Him. So where is the question of doing thing to anger Allahto please anyone else?

Islam seeks to make Nikah easy and Zina (fornication) difficult. We have turned this on its head and then we wonder why there is so much corruption in society.

Abu Hurayrah (R) said: Rasoolullah said: “If someone whose religious commitment and attitude pleases you proposes marriage, then marry [your female relative under your charge] to him. If you do not do that, there will be tribulation in the land and much corruption.” (Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah, Sahih by Albani).

Hazrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) reports that Rasoolullah said: “The Nikah with the most Baraka is that Nikah wherein the least expense was incurred.” (Musnad Ahmad)

The primary responsibility to ensure that no unnecessary expenses are incurred and that nothing is done which is against Islam is that of the bride and groom. NOT OF THE PARENTS. If you don’t think you are old enough to stand up for your Islamic duties, then you are not old enough to get married. Obedience to parents or anyone else comes AFTER obedience to Allah and Rasoolullah. Neither your parents nor anyone else is going to come into your graves with you. You will be there alone and you will answer why you allowed unnecessary expenses and unlawful practices to be done in your marriages. How do you expect Baraka in your married life, the help of Allah, good children, happy relationships and prosperity and safety when you did everything possible to anger Allah during your marriage? Get real people. Stop fooling yourself. You are not fooling anyone else. So please grow up or remain unmarried. It is as clear as that.

Narrated Anas bin Malik (R): Rasoolullah saw the trace of yellow on ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf (R) Rasoolullah asked him: What is this? He replied: Ya Rasoolullah I have married a woman. He asked: How much Mahr did you give her? He said: A nawat weight of gold. He said: Hold a Walima, even if only with a sheep. (Sunan Abu Dawud; Sahih, Albani)

This shows that when he got married not only did he not host a meal inviting his friends on the day of the Nikah but he did not even invite Rasoolullahand Rasoolullah didn’t know that he had got married until the next day. This is not an indication of lack of Adab. It is an indication that the Nikah is to be a simple ceremony without any party after it. 

Rasoolullah told him to give a Walima which he did. That shows that the Walima is the responsibility of the groom and not the bride or her family.

Finally, please remember that if we, especially the wealthy among us, don’t change our ways, then we will invite the Adhaab of Allah. It is in this connection that Allah warned us and told us that we are the architects of our own destruction. He said:

Ra’ad 13: 11   Verily! Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah).

And He warned the wealthy among us, especially and said:

Isra 17: 16.   And when We decide to destroy a town (population), We (first) send a definite order (to obey Allah and be righteous) to those among them who are given the good things of this life. Then, they transgress therein, and thus the word (of torment) is justified against it (them). Then We destroy it with complete destruction.

Allah promised to punish those who insist on disobeying Him. Allah’s orders are for our benefit. When we obey Him we create a beautiful society that is beneficial to everyone. If we disobey Him, we harm ourselves in this life and attract His anger and punishment. Allah said:

An’am 6: 44     So, when they forgot (the warning) with which they had been reminded, We opened to them the gates of every (pleasant) thing, until in the midst of their enjoyment in that which they were given, all of a sudden, We took them to punishment, and lo! They were plunged into destruction with deep regret and sorrow.

Please remember that you are the most important person in the world and all change begins with you. So first of all if you took a dowry, calculate it in today’s money and return it to your wife. Let her give it to her family or keep it. It was Haraam for you to take it and so return it. Do this for all the material stuff you took also. Calculate the value in today’s terms and return it. Then make Tawba for whatever you did or allowed to happen in your marriage that was against the orders of Allah and the Sunnah of Rasoolullah. Free Tawba is not accepted. You have to compensate people for your oppression before you seek forgiveness of Allah. So please do this. And do it immediately. And it you feel reluctant about it, then remember that when you meet Allah this compensation will be extracted from you and that will be far more expensive. I don’t wish that on you under any circumstances. Thank Allah that He kept you alive and gave you an opportunity to make Tawba. Don’t squander that. Make Tawba and return what you took.

Remember that you will not be asked, ‘What happened?’ You will be asked, ‘What did you do?’

So don’t allow what is not in your control to prevent you from doing what is in your control.

Entrepreneurship Development is the key to economic upliftment

This picture which I took in Pune on my way to the airport after teaching a leadership course at SKF, is my all-time favorite. It is a picture of a man who decided to take his future into his own hands and become an entrepreneur. He gives the lie to all those who complain about lack of resources, education, government support, fate or whatever. He has less resources, education, government support than anyone who will read this post. Yet he is better than almost every one of us because he decided to do something instead of complaining. This is a picture of courage, enterprise, creativity and confidence. It is an inspiration for me and for anyone who is seriously interested in development. And a kick in the pants for all those who make excuses.

One thing that the Sachar Committee Report showed clearly to anyone who has eyes is that discrimination is a part of life for the Muslim in India. While we keep fighting for reservations and whatnot, I am one who believes that if one wants to succeed in life, he can’t rely on the mercy of others. One has to rely on oneself and one’s own effort for the simple reason that it is the only thing which is in our direct control. With that in mind I am writing what I have advocated all over the world. I have tried to devise a strategy that is self-sustaining and requires very little start-up funding. This strategy is not for Muslims alone. It is for anyone who wants to do something about poverty and economic deprivation. Discrimination is not a Muslim copyright. It is what every poor person faces. For poverty is the religion of the poor. And that is the conversion we need to make – from job seeker to job provider.
Action Plan
  1. Vocational training
  2. Entrepreneurial development
  3. Venture Capital Fund
Vocational Training
  1. Start a Vocational Training Centre in every school. This must be done in every Government and private school and Madrassa. Every child must learn a skill. Products can be sold and the income can be used for the Center. This will also provide employment opportunity for artisans/professionals who are presently unemployed. Parents and community members can be encouraged to participate in this venture by lending their time and skills.
  2. Funding can come from CSR of companies who will be happy to fund such ventures.
  3. The building infrastructure already exists. If the timetable is an issue (usually there is enough time in the normal day itself) then the Vocational Training can be done after school.
Entrepreneurial Development
Simultaneously an Entrepreneurial Development Training plan must be established teaching students of the Center how to turn the skill into a business. This will ensure interest in the Vocational Training Course itself as people will be interested if they see how they can make this into a viable business and career option.
I suggest opening both the Vocational Training and Entrepreneurial Development Training to local communities also to help everyone and gain popular support. The Entrepreneurial Development Training course must consist of the following skills to be taught in a completely practical mode. NO LECTURES except as initial explanations. All teaching by practitioners (preferably voluntary) and all practical only.
  1. Writing a Business Plan to pitch for investment
  2. Budgeting and P & L Accounting
  3. Hiring and Team building
  4. Selling and Service Orientation
Venture Capital Fund
Final strategy in this is to start a Venture Capital Fund in each District/city managed by an independent Board of Directors of five members who are all reputed and highly trust worthy business people (include at least two women) with active businesses. CEOs may also be taken on the board but NO RETIRED OFFICIALS. One very important consideration which must be written in, is that Board Members MUST attend all meetings and inability to do so for two meetings will eject them from the Board.  This is critical.
This VC Fund will give interest free loans based on Business Plan with easy installment payment options to graduates of the different Vocational Skills Training Centers in the District/city. The funding to set up the VC Fund can come from MNC/Public/Private firms CSR or philanthropists. Later it can be increased when beneficiaries donate to the fund which helped them to set up. A cap can be set on the amount of each loan so that the Fund is not over extended in any one loan. I recommend Rs. 2 laks as a cap. But the Board can decide.
I believe that this plan to create entrepreneurship will free us from our malaise of looking to government to solve our problems and the problem of discrimination which our children face when they try to apply for jobs. Help them to stand on their own feet and instead of asking for jobs, they will provide jobs to others. Economic development is at the root of self-respect. It is the biggest need today for the poor in every country. It is the most powerful bulwark against extremism. People who have something to lose, don’t become extremists. So give them something to lose.

Wedding Khutba

All praise and thanks to Allah the Rabb of the universe. Salam on His Messenger and his family. To begin, Allah said:
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
Rum 30: 21. And among His Signs is this, that He created for you spouses from amongst yourselves, that you may find tranquility in them, and He has put between you love and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for people who reflect.
It was the Sunnah of Rasoolullah to advise newlyweds about their forthcoming life together as man and wife. In this advice are also reminders for us, their family and friends, wed and unwed. I will therefore request your attention.
Allah called the marriage one of His signs. The purpose of a sign is to remind you of the original. The sign shows the way, the direction. Let our marriages display this sign, the sign that honors us as it reminds those who look at us of Allah. Let the marriage be celebrated as a reflection of the goodness of Islam. Let it reflect the Noor of the Sunnah of Rasoolullah. Let the marriage be a reminder that one day we have to meet Allah. Let the spouses each be the helper of the other in pleasing Allah. If you please Allah, Allah will please you. He will put love for you in the heart of the other, because that is something that only He can do. Rasoolullah said, ‘Allah loves the man who wakes up for Tahajjud and wakes up his wife. And Allah loves the woman who wakes up for Tahajjud and wakes up her husband.’ The result of Allah loving you is that the whole world will love you. This is the great secret of life; that love, dignity, respect (Muhabbah, Izzah) all come from Allahand He gives them only to the one who He is pleased with. So focus on pleasing Allah and you will find that the world is pleased with you.
Allah mentioned three qualities of the marriage which he honored by calling it His Sign; tranquility (Sukoon), love (Mawaddah) and mercy (Rahma). Today as we are all gathered to wish the best of lives in this world and the next for our dear children, let us reflect on what marriage means in the context that Allah defined it. All goodness can only come from obedience to Allah and following the Sunnah of His beloved Messenger.
The first term that Allahused is Sukoon (tranquility), which means harmony, understanding, lack of conflict. Allah said, ‘We created your mates from among yourself so that Li taskunu ilaiha’, ‘So that they may take Sukoon from it.’ Allah called this the very purpose of the marriage – so that you may take Sukoon from one another. A marriage in which there is no Sukoon is not a marriage.
So what is Sukoon? In the language it is the absence of movement – no Fatah, Dhamma, Kasra. Sukoon is the absence of movement away from the spouse in any way. No movement away from the spouse of the eyes, actions, heart, thought. Sukoon is the presence of an atmosphere of complete safety that requires no defences. Having some level of defence from people in general is a sign of emotional maturity. Transparency, spontaneity and openness is a good thing generally speaking but overdoing it with all and sundry can be detrimental in many ways. But with respect to the spouse, a good marriage is one where there is no need to have any defences between spouses. Remember that this will happen only when both people feel safe. When they know that lowering their defence will not result in hurt. It takes a lifetime to build this trust and one single instance to destroy it. This is the meaning of Sukoon; the freedom to be yourself in a safe environment without the anxiety to guard yourself against attack. Many people treat the married partner as a sparring partner and are always trying to score a knockout. That is a very shortsighted and stupid policy as you will never be able to lower your guard and will never have Sukoon in your life.
This situation of tension happens when there is competition. Competition for control, for attention, for affection. Spouses many times unconsciously, compete to show who is the boss. They compete for attention from others in the family. They compete for affection from children, parents and so on. This comes from a basic insecurity about yourself and your relationship with your spouse which you always feel is under threat and so you need constant reassurance. Sukoon is the result of one overriding principle; ‘How can I make my spouse happy?’ Goodness in marriage is the outcome of mutuality. Of mutual consideration. Of the mutual desire to go out of the way to please the other. This is the opposite of individualism. It is the opposite of the focus on gaining one’s happiness even if it is at the cost of the happiness of others. Remember that you have rights and you have duties.
Focus on rights and you will neglect your duties and be unhappy. Focus on duties and the rights will fulfill themselves. The duties of one are the rights of the other. It is the duty of the husband that he should cover his wife with love and mercy. It is his right that he should be obeyed. Allah said, ‘Ar rijaalu qawwamoona alan Nisa,’ ‘Men have been given authority over women.’ It is the duty of the woman that she should obey her husband and her right that he should treat her with respect, affection and dignity. If the woman fulfills her duty of obeying her husband, his right that he should be obeyed gets fulfilled. And if the husband covers his wife in love and mercy, her right that she should be treated with respect, affection and dignity will be automatically fulfilled. Focus on duties and not rights because you will be questioned about your duties, not about your rights.
Sukoon is the result of compassion, kindness and sensitivity. It is not the result of selfishness, self-centeredness and conceit. Sukoon is the result when you stop competing; for attention, for demonstration of love, for power and control. The married home is the harbor, not a boxing ring for you to score a knockout. It is the place of safety that the ship seeks when it returns from fighting the storms of life. What would be the fate of the ship which returns to find a new storm brewing in the harbor?
Remember that in a marriage all those who compete can only lose. You lose if you win and you lose if you lose. Everything in a marriage can decline; beauty, strength, power, influence; sometimes even money. But the only thing that not only doesn’t decline but actually increases over time in a good marriage is Sukoon. Sukoon is companionship without speaking, it is the communication in a look, it is the thought that transfers from one to another without any conscious effort.
It is magical to see one spouse completing sentences for the other; supplying names without even being asked; giving one something they had only thought about and hadn’t even asked for. Alhamdulillah I have the honor of being from a family where this was and is common and I am sure I am not alone in this. If there is one reliable sign of a good marriage, it is the amount of Sukoon. I wish all of you, great Sukoon in your marriages.
The second word that Allah used is Mawaddah – love. Love is not like. Like needs reasons. You like or dislike someone for something. But you love someone despite something. Love has no reason behind it. It is that Neymah from Allah which enables you to only see the good in the other and in the relationship. Love is reflected in this world in the relationship that a mother has for her child. A relationship which is blind to his faults. It is not that the mother is really blind to the faults but she loves the child despite his faults. Love is what characterizes our relationship with Allah. Allahloves us not because we are particularly lovable. But because we are His creation. He loves us not because of but inspite of our faults. We ask Allah to forgive us not because we deserve it but because He loves us. Love has no reason but itself. Love has no logic but itself. Love is fulfilled by itself, not by the response it gets. Truly blessed are those who can love and truly blessed are those who are loved.
Love needs to be expressed. It is expressed by showing appreciation and giving thanks. Thanks to Allah who gave you a spouse who is good to you and thanks to the spouse who adds value to your life. Love is expressed by giving the other precedence in fulfilling her needs and preference over what you want for yourself. Love is expressed in being a mirror to the spouse; giving critical feedback with care. Love is expressed in listening to that critical feedback without taking offence, knowing that it comes from a sincere and genuine concern for your welfare. Love is expressed in sharing your hopes and aspirations, fears and apprehensions. Love is expressed in taking an interest in things that interest your spouse, in giving him/her space to aspire to excellence in their field and in taking the pressure that this may put on your married life. Love is expressed most of all by standing in the night before Allah and making dua for your spouse.
To love your spouse is to love them at the time when they are not particularly lovable, because that is the time when they need love. To love your spouse is to find joy in looking at them, talking to them, simply being with them.  To love your spouse is to love those he/she loves. Love needs no reason. Love is not for what the person says, or does or gives. Love is for what the person is, what he or she means to you. Love needs no words to be expressed and indeed all the ‘I love you’ in the world can’t communicate love if it is not there. When it is there, it is like light; it permeates the darkness of loneliness, of grief, of despair. Love is unconditional. What is conditional is not love – it is self-interest pretending to be love. Allah called love something that He put between the spouses. It is His Neymah, His blessing, so cherish it, enjoy it and thank Him for it. Love is the sign of our connection with Allah. It is His gift and it is from Him. Thank Allah both for a spouse who reminds you of Allah and who makes you practice Sabr. Allahis with the Sabireen.
The last word that Allahused in this Ayatul Kareema is Rahma. Rahma is a quality and attribute of Allah Himself. In its highest form it is His name – Ar Rahmanur Raheem. The most merciful whose mercy never decreases and lasts forever. Allah honored the marriage by saying that He placed this quality in the marriage. Truly blessed are those who find it in their marriage and cherish it.
What is Rahma? Rahma is to return wrong with good. Good for good is justice. Evil for evil is justice. But good for wrong is mercy; Rahma. Allah is full of mercy because He continues to fulfill the needs of all; those who obey Him and those who don’t; those who please Him and those who anger Him. His Mercy encompasses all His creation. His Mercy permeates all His actions. His Mercy overrides His anger. He has written Mercy for Himself (6:54: Kataba Rabbukum ala Nafsihir Rahma) and we ask Him for His Mercy when we meet Him. We ask for His forgiveness, not because we deserve it but because He is Ar-Rahman.
Happy marriages are not made up of a set of perfect behavior from both spouses. Actually that expectation – holding others to a standard that you don’t apply to yourself – is the cause of conflict and unhappiness. Happy marriages are the result of forgiveness. Happy marriages are the result of a selective memory. A memory that remembers only the good and not the bad. A memory that doesn’t even keep junk in the folder for a month like most spam filters, but deletes it immediately; but retains every little good action or word permanently in the RAM; instantaneous random recall. So I wish you all memory that retains only good. Mercy is forgiveness. Mercy is the basis of forgiveness. We need mercy because we need forgiveness. Mercy is to honor all those times when the spouse did all that could be expected and more and to remember this when they are no longer able to do it anymore. Mercy shows that we are not merely transactional beings like animals who respond as long as they are being fed but that we have the nobility never to forget any good that came to us from the other. Mercy is the light of the face and the expanse of the heart. Mercy is the quality that Allahblesses those He loves with; so that they do what they expect Him to do for them. Mercy is Allah’s special attribute and that which He blessed Rasoolullahwith when He called him Rahmatul-lil-A’alameen. To have mercy is to ennoble yourself because mercy is about you, not about them.
I want to end with dua for both our children, Fatehma and Ali. I ask Allah to give you the greatest of strengths, Ta’alluq Ma’Allah; the greatest of wealth, Contentment with His Qadr; the greatest of Honor, following the blessed Sunnah of Rasoolullah.  I ask Allahto make your marriage full of Khair, full of His Ridha and the fulfillment of your dreams. I ask Allah to give you children who will be the coolness of your hearts and a credit to your name and a means of Sadaqatul Jaariya. I ask Allahto make you among those who never disobey Him and never go against the Sunnah of His Messenger Muhammad. I ask Allah to open your hearts to Hidaya from Himself and make you among those who will be living walking, talking Standard Bearers of Islam. I ask Allah to grant Hidaya to those you make dua for, to those you present Islam to, to those who you meet, to those you look at and to those who look at you. I ask Allah to guide you to make Tawba and to forgive your transgressions and to convert them to good deeds, as He promised to do.

I ask Allah to give you Khushoo in Salah and make it the sweetness of your life so that you look forward to it. I ask Allah to make you among those whose dua is never rejected and when you raise your hands in dua to accept it before you lower your hands. I pray that Allah makes each day of your life better than the previous day; the last of your deeds, the best of your deeds and the last day of your life, the best day of your life, when you will meet Him. I ask the same dua for all of you who are gathered here and for your families who may not be here. May Allahaccept my dua.

Voice Recording: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AmvJrLlWGmcWpTJP6-Rw2_nDuzCj


Dealing with a political problem called ISIS

This is truly one of the saddest pictures that I have ever seen. You can see how she is holding back her tears. What have we adults done to our children?
I defend Islam. Not those who call themselves Muslim but go against Islam.
ISIS is a political problem. Not a religious one. 
So trying to explain ISIS and its actions through the Qur’an and Sunnah – the theological basis of Islam is futile and misleading. ISIS is a narrative started by those who created ISIS and to answer them is to play into their hands.
It is like someone who asks, ‘Have you stopped beating your wife?’ You can’t answer that question in the normal way by saying yes or no. You are damned if you say yes and you are damned if you say no. The only way to answer that question is to say, ‘I never beat my wife.’ Or even better, say, ‘I am not married.’
This is the raising of a voice in the hope that I will be joined by other voices – not only Muslim voices – but Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Atheist, Anyone voices – of people who believe in compassion, morality, ethical behavior, justice and accountability. People who live by principles that reflect integrity and honesty and a sense of responsibility for our lives and actions. People who are not racist and who don’t put a differential value on the lives of other people; who consider murder to be equally heinous no matter who is killed. People of courage who are not afraid to stand for justice, especially when they stand alone. People who don’t do it because they think it will change the world. But who do it because they don’t want the world to change them. People who one day will then discover that the world did change. Change for the better to leave behind a legacy of honor. It is to such people that I speak. And it is they who I wish will respond by raising their own voices for justice, ethics, integrity and compassion.
The people of ISIS will never be able to justify their actions by the Qur’an and Sunnah. This corrupt and malicious group will continue to appear and be cut off until the Dajjal himself will emerge from among them.
Abdullah ibn Amrtreported: Rasoolullah said: ‘There will emerge from the east some people from my nation who recite the Qur’an but it will not go beyond their throats. Every time a faction of them emerges it will be cut off. The Prophet repeated this and on the tenth time he said:
كُلَّمَا خَرَجَ مِنْهُمْ قَرْنٌ قُطِعَ حَتَّى يَخْرُجَ الدَّجَّالُ فِي بَقِيَّتِهِمْ
Every time a faction of them emerges it will be cut off until the Dajjal emerges from their remnants. Source: Musnad Ahmad 27767, Grade: Sahih
Rasoolullah  warned of the coming of a people like ISIS and described their rigidity, rudeness and lack of mercy as signs of their distance from Islam and its true teaching and understanding.
Ali ibn Abi Talib (R) narrated from Rasoolullah: When you see the black flags, remain where you are and do not move your hands or your feet. Thereafter there shall appear a feeble insignificant folk. Their hearts will be like fragments of iron (no mercy). They will have the state. They will fulfil neither covenant nor agreement. They will call to the truth, but they will not be people of the truth. Their names will be parental attributions, and their aliases will be derived from towns. Their hair will be free-flowing like that of women. This situation will remain until they differ among themselves. Thereafter, Allah will bring forth the Truth through whomever He wills.
Those involved in the ISIS, have, by their own actions, removed themselves from the fold of Islam. They have left Islam and those who join them will also be among them. Those Muslims who kill innocent people, Muslim or not, have committed murder. They are liable for capital punishment and if they die before they are punished in this world, then their destination is the Hellfire. This is the consensus decision of all the Muslim scholars of the world. I can give a list of Fatwas for anyone who is interested. We are thankful to our media for publishing them. Every leader of Muslims has condemned the ISIS and their actions. People join the ISIS do so for two reasons: to fulfill their own perverted fantasies or giving in to despair and hitting out those who they imagine are the reason for their frustration. Both reasons have nothing to do with Islam.
When crimes against humanity are committed, it is the duty of Muslims to stand with the oppressed whether they are Muslims or not. If such crimes are committed in the name of Islam, we have a further obligation to clarify for people the truth about our religion.
I live by the motto: I will not allow what is not in my control to prevent me from doing what is in my control. I invite you to do the same. Do what you can. For you will not be asked, “What happened?” You will be asked, “What did you do?” Do something worthwhile. For to live, is not merely to draw breath.
The best and easiest way to deal with political phenomena like the ISIS is to ask one simple question: WHO GAINS and WHO LOSES?
In this case the answer is staring us in the face: Who gains?
Weapons manufacturing countries and weapons dealers gain. Money launderers gain. Human trafficking gangs gain. Leaders with political agendas gain. And power hungry criminals gain.
They say that numbers don’t lie. So here are some numbers. Please take a look and tell me what you think we are really promoting. We get what we pay for; so here goes.
How logical is it to ask for peace when our economy and financial well-being is based on war. Wars happen because they are profitable. ISIS is a highly profitable enterprise and it makes a lot of financial sense to those who benefit from it. Loss of life is called ‘collateral damage’. Not murder, genocide, crime, desolation and degradation of human life.
I graduated in history and political science and post graduated in management and applied behavioral science. Over the past 33 years I consult globally with government, public and private companies, major business families, clergy, police and administration professionals, journalists, teachers and educationists.  So I am speaking from my knowledge base.
In any dynamic system – politics is a dynamic system – a vacuum can’t exist. ISIS got created when the United States decided to wage war based on a pile of lies, in Iraq. That created a power vacuum which the ISIS has filled. Mercifully you don’t have to believe me. The Iraq Enquiry Report, called the Chilcot Report says it all though it stops short of naming the perpetrators as war criminals. But named or not, every man, woman or child with even a rudimentary idea of politics is saying, ‘Tell me something I don’t know.’ I am sure the report is not a surprise for anyone in this theatre.
But we the people of the world, are grateful to the Sir John Chilcot for having voiced all our opinions and backing them with clear data. What remains to be seen is what happens. I don’t know about you, but in my estimation, saying, ‘I am sorry’, after killing a million people, is not enough. Not enough in any criminal justice system in the world. Not enough in any religion. Not enough for any logical, moral human being in any part of the world.
Who doesn’t gain?
Muslims don’t gain. Muslims are the victims; the largest victims of the ISIS. Directly because they are the largest number killed by ISIS. Directly because their lands have been devastated, homes destroyed and millions have become refugees, wandering from door to door seeking charity and dying on the beaches and in the waters of the ocean. Directly because they have become the victims of knee jerk reactions of governments and people who, infuriated at the actions of ISIS, attack their local masjid, Muslim home, Muslim women who have the confidence and courage to wear their religious symbol – the Hijab. Governments are passing oppressive legislation denying Muslims their fundamental rights and using racial and religious profiling as a tool to victimize a Muslim for being Muslim. Governments are treating Muslim educational establishments as if they are dens of evil, seeking to restrict and disrupt their activities to educate their children. It has become literally dangerous for a Muslim in the West to go to school, travel to work or for pleasure or even to go to the masjid.
Truly today it is the Muslim woman who is the symbol of Islam. She is the champion of Islam. Allahis he witness and on the day when she meets Him she will stand with the Prophets. For like them she chose to face the world with courage, unsupported, except by the One who created her and whom alone she worships. I salute our sisters, mothers and daughters. You are our greatest and most inspiring leaders.
So ask, ‘Who gains and who loses?
Today the creators of ISIS are guilty of gross underestimation of its capability. People, even those who are expected to, don’t seem to realize that criminals are the best organized group in any society. ISIS are criminals. They are very well organized.
This underestimation is the result of hubris, arrogance and complacency. We don’t seem to realize that authoritarianism is the most efficient form of administration and volunteerism brings the greatest energy. Quick results that you can instantly enjoy are the highest form of motivation. Such an outfit, especially if it takes refuge in some religious chicanery and deception, attracts people who have passion but no perspective or wisdom. Wisdom and perspective come from introspection, reflection, learning with understanding and studying under a capable mentor. Such people can see through the deception of ISIS and will never join. So it is the former that we have to address, convince and wean away from a course that can only lead to destruction in this world and the next.
We can’t fight that by force or by our own version of oppression. We have to fight it by understanding, wisdom, a huge amount of patience and believe it or not, love. It is the battle of hearts that we have to win. You can’t do that by force. Nobody can do that by force. Add to this the fact that there are clear vested interests in this whole tragic scene, merchants of death who benefit from arms sale, buying stolen oil at cheap rates, human trafficking, using mercenaries to settle old scores and occupation of land. It is a very complex scenario which needs to be tackled on all fronts at once. It is a war of the heart. However, we seem to be bent on helping them to win it.
How does Radicalization happen?
The cycle of radicalization is: Discrimination (poverty, denial of opportunity, fear), fueled by Demonization (of Islam, community), leads to Alienation (feeling discarded, hated). Radicalization (start hating the ‘other’) develops and eventually can result in Violence (hit back). Hit back anyone who is seen as the ‘other’. Radicalization is the reaction to helplessness and despair; which results in desperation and a feeling of having ‘nothing to lose’. This is aided by internet preachers who preach false doctrines of violence in the name of taking ‘revenge’ which the recruits accept because they don’t have the knowledge to see through the farce.
Radicalization doesn’t happen in the Masaajid. It doesn’t happen in the home. Parents are often the last one to come to know that their children have become radicalized. Radicalization doesn’t happen in Muslim schools. The more you attack Masaajid, Madaaris, schools, Muslim homes and Muslims and Islam, the more you help radicalization. Mocking Islam and its symbols is as infuriating to Muslims as mocking the symbols of any religion would be to the followers of that religion. Calling that freedom of expression, is at best delusional and at worst premeditated mischief and evil. Insulting people and what they hold holy and dear is not freedom. Pope Francis, responded when asked about the cartoons seeking to mock the Prophet Muhammad, ‘If my secretary mocked my mother, I would punch him in the nose.’ When asked about so-called ‘Islamic Militancy’ and the demand that he should condemn it, he responded, “If I speak of Islamic violence, I should speak of Catholic violence.” He was referring to the despicable, brutal and barbaric killing of the French priest Jacques Hamel last week. The Pope is a man of rare integrity and courage in the world today. He is a man of god and I pray for him. The priest who was killed recognized his killers as they were about to kill him and said, ‘Go away Satan.’ That is what they are. Satan, Shaytaan. Asking Muslims to answer for them is insulting, misguided and completely unwarranted. The Pope spoke for Muslims and all sane, logical and fair minded people when he made his statement.
To quote a journalist friend of mine wrote to me, “In my understanding, there are two scenarios playing out almost all over the globe, in general, and in the ‘Muslim’ world, in particular. One is the very clear and present injustice being perpetrated through the physical invasion, occupation and devastation of ‘Muslim’ countries for the greater interests of the power-and-arms lobbies within certain governments, thus leading to extremism and calls for blind vengeance among the thousands so traumatized.
The other possible scenario is the devilish execution of an insidious strategy of setting up bogeymen organizations and individuals projected as Islamic forces but which do everything – spectacularly and horrifyingly – against the spirit of Islam, so that, ultimately, the negative tarnishing of Islam and ‘Muslims’ happen effectively, with little blame on the real plotters and script-writers behind the scenes. In both these scenarios – whether the open, or the hidden, one – the loser is the ‘Muslim’ nation.”
This is why education is important. You need education to gain perspective and understand the games people play and how to counter those games.
Radicalization happens on the internet and it happens in prisons. And it is helped and supported by deprivation, discrimination, demonization of Islam and the whole community of Muslims. It is helped and supported by the knee jerk reactions of governments, law enforcement and security agencies and the biased reporting of the press and media. It is helped and supported by media trial of suspects, their torture by police and by their disappearance in extra judicial killings. It is helped when legal means for redressal of wrong are denied. Frustration, desperation, a feeling of being cornered fills the heart. All these are gifts from heaven for recruiters and those selling the doctrine of radicalization.
Let me give you some examples from the recent past:
Confessions of a Killer policeman: Thounaojam Herojit
Then the article quotes: “Herojit went with them as far as the front gate before his parents caught up, begging the men to let him go. He was too young, he didn’t know what he was saying. They would find the money. The insurgents gave in but said, “But first he needs to be taught a lesson.” They made him lie face-down on the ground. One of them brought over a bamboo rod, which the family used to bar the gate. Herojit does not remember how long they beat him, but afterwards the family sat around him and they all cried. And after that, he told us, “I was ready to kill.”
How many times do we need proof that it is heavy handed action that is the best way to recruit for extremism? In this case it was what we can call a reverse process but our actions at law enforcement produce plenty of such cases. Randomly picking up youth on suspicion, holding them incognito, torturing them to extract confessions and then ‘encountering’ them are all gifts for ISIS type recruiters. The law can’t be upheld by those who break it.
Another headline: Campus magazine ‘critical’ of government: After BJP protest, HRD ministry, L-G Bedi ask varsity to explain.
You can stop the open expression of dissent. But can you stop dissent itself? What happens when you try to enforce that? You drive the dissent underground and your problem gets compounded. Dissent is the most reliable sign of a democracy. Dissent is the border between democracy and dictatorship. Dissent is an early warning system for the Government to take corrective action failure to do which can result in them losing power. Dissent is the pulse of the people which indicates health or sickness. When governments shut down legitimate dissent, it goes underground and metamorphoses as extremism. The same thing happens in industry when short sighted managements try to prevent union activity or to play one union against the other. In the end it is the management which loses. I speak from over 16 years of hands on experience with highly militant communist unions in Guyana and Kerala.
In a now famous interview on December 5, 1996 on 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl asked the then Secretary of State of the United States about U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that half a million children have died. That’s more children than died in Hiroshima. Do you think the price is worth it?
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright 60 Minutes (5/12/96) 
“I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.”
I submit to you that differential pricing of human life doesn’t work. Human life is sacred. All human life is sacred. The value of a person’s life is not based on his race, color, culture, religion, belief or wealth. We are all human and all equally valuable in the eyes of the One who created us all. Islam doesn’t distinguish between the life of a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Both are sacred in Islam. Both are inviolable.
The punishment in the Shari’ah for murder is death – irrespective of who killed whom. And that is how it should be. Justice is portrayed as blindfolded because justice is when punishment depends on the crime, not the criminal. Differential punishment doesn’t work; just as differential value of human life doesn’t work.
Allah said in the Qur’an about this:
مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَى بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا
Maeda 5: 32:  Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.
I want to draw your attention to the obvious, that the Qur’an clearly doesn’t differentiate between the life of a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Killing any person is like killing of all humanity. And saving the life of any person is like saving the life of all humanity. I am proud to say that history is witness to Muslims who practiced this and saved the lives of countless non-Muslims in various conflicts. One of the most famous is the story of Imam Sidi Kaddour Benghrabit, the Founder and Imam of the Grand Mosque of Paris who at great danger to his own life, saved the lives of many Jews who would otherwise have gone to Hitler’s gas chambers. But the memory of the world is short.
Another headline: Israel to demolish 7 agricultural structures, water wells in southern Nablus. http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772471
Is this a crime or not? What would happen if anyone other than Israel did this? Ask why the same law is not applied in this case. What is the logical effect of such discrimination? Does it need an Einstein to figure this out?
And if this is not enough, here is yet another headline: Israel passes law allowing imprisonment of Palestinians aged 14 and under:
Is this justice? How does this compare with laws related to crime by juveniles? What do you think will happen to those youngsters in prison? Who is ready to ask all this?
Incidentally all so-called mainstream media don’t publish this news. But remember it gets published anyway and so by hiding it, nothing is achieved apart from even more anger. I am not going to waste your time discussing the reasons here. Just want to highlight what is happening in the world which fuels anger and helps radicalization. If we are serious about fighting radicalization, we have to get serious about dealing with injustice no matter who does it or where. If you want to put out a fire, you can’t be adding fuel to it which trying to beat it down. You have to cut off its fuel. Then it will die on its own, even if you do nothing. That is what I mean.
We don’t simply achieve democracy by wanting it. We have to fight for it every single day. The same goes for human dignity, justice, morality and global peace. We have to fight for peace by establishing justice. Peace is the effect of justice. Those who like to talk about peace must ensure that justice is established. Until that is done, any apparent peace is only a recess between wars.
Justice is the enemy of ISIS and all extremist ideologies. Justice gives the lie to the recruiter’s tale. The extremist’s action is the scream of pain of someone who has lost hope. He feels he has no choice. All legal doors are closed to him. So he hits out as his last action to get attention in a world which has forgotten him and doesn’t care. He seeks negative attention which he sees as better than being ignored. Being ignored denies his existence. Negative attention helps him to assert himself once more, even if it is only once. It takes a very big heart to understand all this and to treat people who are hateful, with love. It has to come from within. It is not an act. Acting can’t be sustained. Despair is at the root of all violence and hope is its cure. Our choice.Hope will only come when we return hatred with love. Love those who are difficult to love. But love them because they need love. Love them because that is the cure for hatred. It is not easy. Neither is the product of hatred. We are the people of Mahatma Gandhi. We are people whose forbearers proved to the world that non-violence works. We are the people who proved to the world that it is possible to return evil with good. What has happened to us today? Gandhiji has gone out of fashion. Our rhetoric is characterized by hatred and extremism. Our reactions mirror the actions of our erstwhile colonial rulers, not the actions of our own parents and grandparents who fought back with love. We need to learn our own history.
As I mentioned, I am social scientist by preference and training. So let me talk to you about mental models and systems theory. That is how I believe the ISIS and all radicalization problems need to be addressed and solved. Through holistic thinking and holistic solutions. Not by fragmentation.
“We cannot solve our problems at the same mental level at which we created them.” Albert Einstein
“Although people do not always behave congruently with their espoused theories (what they say) they do behave congruently with their theories-in-use (mental models).” Chris Argyris, Harvard
We all have various mental models and for most of us they are unquestioned and unexamined objectively. We tend to have a lot of emotional baggage associated with them and strong links to our egos and so feel very vulnerable when invited to question them. Mental models we are aware of and question are beneficial to us. Mental models we are not aware of, enslave us.
What to do about Mental Models – 4 Steps
Intervention:
  1. Identify and articulate existing mental models
  2. Map them with desirable mental models
  3. Define behaviors which reflect the new mental models
  4. Put metrics on them to monitor performance
Mental models lead to formation of Stereotypes. What is a stereotype?
Something happens to me involving another individual
  1. I like or dislike what happened
  2. I form an opinion about that individual
  3. I then apply that opinion to all individuals who belong to that group.

We don’t ask ourselves the critical questions: How representative of the group was that individual? Is it fair to that group to take an experience in isolation and form an opinion about the whole group, the majority of whom I have never met or interacted with?
The problem with this is that our behavior with others is based on our mental models about them. We then get responses from them which by means of selective perception, we use to ‘confirm’ our original opinion of them. I am sure with a little bit of reflection on how we think of people we can identify our own stereotypes. Stereotypes are almost all negative and must be dealt with urgently.
So what do we need to do? I don’t want to go into detail here. There is detail which involves working with Systems Theory and if someone is interested we can work on this. But in one line, we have to counter the vicious cycle of ISIS with our own virtuous cycle. Systems Theory tells us that if you want to reverse a Causal Loop you have to start a Compensating Loop. The Causal Loop that ISIS has started is well on its way helped and supported by global actions which can only be called insane. We can’t counter that loop by doing more of the same. So we have to do the opposite.
Action Plan
  1. Vocational training
  2. Entrepreneurial development
  3. Imam Development Program
  4. Transparency in law enforcement
  5. Responsible journalism
Vocational Training
  1. Start a Vocational Training Centre in every school
  2. Every child must learn a skill
  3. Products can be sold and income used for the Centre
  4. Employment opportunity for artisans/professionals
Entrepreneurial Development
  1. Writing a Business Plan to pitch for investment
  2. Budgeting and P & L Accounting
  3. Hiring and Team building
  4. Selling and Service Orientation
Teach them how to turn the skill into a business
Venture Capital Fund
  1. Interest free loans based on Business Plan
  2. Easy installment payment options
  3. MNC/Public/Private firms CSR to provide capital
  4. CEO’s on the Management Board
No government involvement after setting up
Imam Development Program
  1. Involve Ulama (with contemporary knowledge)
  2. Use Minorities Commission or NGO to run it
  3. Teach leadership skills to Imams
  4. Pay a stipend and travel costs (if necessary)
Give the Imam prominence and respect. Work through the Imams and Muslim scholars. Respect them, collaborate them and help them. They are your allies.
3 – 6 month course, covering the following topics:
  1. Understanding current events (no propaganda – just honest appraisal)
  2. How to make the masjid a window into the Muslim life & culture
  3. Cross cultural sensitivity, interfaith dialogue, community service
  4. Refute the message of the extremist from the Islamic ideological angle
  5. Answering questions about current challenges in an Islamic context
  6. Counseling skills
  7. Public speaking skills
Transparency in law enforcement
1.    Sensitivity training for police officers and men. One of the best courses I taught was at the NPA in 1991 on Sensitivity Training which was mandated by the Home Ministry in Rajiv Gandhi’s government. Sadly, it was discontinued later, falling prey to change in politics. I suggest this is revived and replicated in all our states.
2.    Basic course on ‘What is Islam’, for police officers, to remove prejudice. Knowledge is essential to build cross-cultural understanding. It is a strange thing that we live together but know nothing about one another. Must change
3.    Police Public Partnership for Crime Prevention. Take people into confidence in Law Enforcement. Involve elders of the community, lawyers, Imams. Let them see the evidence on the basis of which the suspect has been arrested. Treat the suspect as a suspect, not as a sentenced criminal. Strictly follow due process to build credibility. Credibility and trust in government and police has been seriously eroded to the extent that the default reaction is to distrust and disbelieve anything that comes from either. So even when the police are speaking the truth, people won’t believe them. This sets off its own vicious cycle where policemen feel that there is no point in communicating with people who won’t believe them anyway. There are many cases however, to the contrary in the police, where police public participation and communication has worked wonders. Where highly toxic and volatile situations were defused because people trusted one officer. These cases must be documented and publicized and become case studies in the NPA and Police Training Colleges all over the country.
Responsible Journalism
  1. Media is the shield of the citizen
  2. Media is the conscience of the nation
  3. Journalists are the champions of civil society
  4. Media is not a PR company & media trial is injustice
मंझधार में नैय्या डोले तो मांझी पर लगाये 
मांझी जो नाव डुबोये उसे कौन बचाये 
In conclusion I would like to say that I hope this thought-share will help to put things in perspective and enable us to do what it takes to work for peace and harmony in our communities. The success of a democracy is not only dependent on the integrity of its leaders but even more on the activism of the public. It is the public which needs to remind leaders that they hold their positions at the pleasure of their electorate.
It is when the electorate forgets its power and becomes subservient to leaders that democracies metamorphose into dictatorships in all but name. The alternative to justice is injustice, pain and suffering. In our interconnected world, the much touted Global Village, nobody will escape.
I know that when all is said and done and when we stand before our Creator – all of us without exception – we will not be asked, ‘What happened?’ We will be asked, ‘What did you do?’ At that time, I want to be able to say, ‘I didn’t let what I couldn’t do prevent me from doing what I could.’ I wish the same for you all. I want to end with an excerpt from an excellent article that I read some time ago.
Its last paragraph beautifully sums up the issue: “All of this puts Muslims in a double bind: If they just go about their lives, they stand condemned by those who demand that Muslims “speak out.” But if they do speak out, they can expect to be told that short of declaring their sacred texts invalid, they are fooling themselves or deceiving the rest of us. Muslims are presented with a brutal logic in which the only way to truly disassociate from ISIS and escape suspicion is to renounce Islam altogether.”

Accepting Freedom


Many years ago, I wrote a piece which I posted on my blog called, ‘Same Chairs, Different Bottoms’. Here it is for those who may not have read it. It is necessarily full of Indian (and Hindi) idiom which is not translatable so I apologize to those who don’t understand Hindi in advance. Also you need to know something of the history of India around 1947 when we became free of the British to appreciate the satire. But here goes.

http://yawar-where-are-the-leaders.blogspot.in/2014/01/same-chairs-different-bottoms.html
I was in South Africa in August 2016, just before the Municipal Elections which are a big indicator of the mood of the nation with respect to the party that fought for and got them independence from apartheid, I can’t help but recall sadly our (India’s) own journey down that road. The inability to gain independence of the mind, while we got independence legally from a foreign ruler. It is for this reason that even today in India, a British national has more status, privileges and aura than an Indian, especially an Indian Muslim or Dalit.

The Indian National Congress which was the party that ‘got us independence’ if I may say so, lasted around forty years before it was ousted. Same evils of the euphoria of hubris that the ANC seems to be suffering from; the apparent belief that independence was the destination instead of the reality, that it was the beginning of the journey, even the race. Bringing a nation out of slavery is easy compared to making it own the responsibility of being free. Freedom is in the mind. Not in the law books. Free people behave differently because they believe that they’re the owners. So they don’t steal from themselves, they don’t abuse privilege, they don’t seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the nation.

That’s why in countries like Sweden you have the Prime Minister riding a bicycle to work and nobody even comments. It’s not a publicity gimmick like our Indian politicians do once in a while. It’s normal. Being PM is like being a teacher or a bus driver. All equally dignified and important. But that’s also because Sweden was never a colony, was never subjugated. But countries which have had oppressive governments for generations like South Africa and India have learnt a different equation with the government. India went from monarchy or monarchies to British colonial rule to democracy. Government was always alien. The few with the power to rule the many. To this day we use the term, Modi’s rule, Congress Raj, Collector’s Peshi (means ‘August Presence’…a Mughal Court term, used today for the District administrator). If you used the term ‘rule’ for Stefan Löfven they’d laugh you out of town. The titular ruler of Sweden, which is a constitutional monarchy is King Carl XVI Gustaf who has been King of Sweden since 1973. He is the 74thKing of Sweden, and also rides a bicycle normally. He’s a ruler like the British Queen, more a tourist attraction than anything else.

Democracy is supposed to be ‘government of the people, for the people, by the people’. At least this is what we were taught in school 45 years ago. But for this to happen, it is the people who must be educated and who must understand the meaning of ownership and exercise it. So whoever may be the political party in parliament, the power always belongs to the people of the nation who give it to a set of leaders to exercise it on their behalf for their (the people’s) benefit. It is the like the driver of a car. The car belongs to the owner. The driver drives it at the pleasure of the owner, as long as the owner employs him, to wherever the owner orders him and then when his day is over, he gets on his own personal transport and goes home. That is the actual meaning of government and ‘ruling’ party in a real democracy. It would never be acceptable for the driver of the car to take it home or to do with it anything at all without the permission of the owner. The driver will never be the owner of the car no matter how long he drives it. He will always be a driver. And be judged and rewarded on the basis of his driving and the care he lavishes on the car to keep it in pristine order. But today whether you look at the drama that’s called US elections or in UK or in the many other countries including India and South Africa you are looking at drivers whose real intentions seem to be to grab the car and dispossess the real owner.

Free nations have dignity. Self-respect is a characteristic of free people which prevents them from being corrupt. You can’t steal from yourself but when you see yourself as an outsider you can steal from the “Other”. Corruption is a sign that you don’t consider yourself to be a part of the nation. Corruption is treason. It is the most anti-national of acts. It is an act of war on the nation. But in all our countries, it is rampant, accepted, even aspirational. India and South Africa are not alone in this by any means. This seems to be the fate of almost every erstwhile colony which gained independence after a struggle. All are struggling from the phenomenon of ‘Same chairs, different bottoms’. They don’t seem to see the fact that it is the chair which must be changed. The change is not in the bottom which sits in the chair, but the mindset which defines what the chair actually means.

The change is by no means easy. It means that people must elect leaders based on principles, ethics, morals and character; not on tribe, caste or community. It means that leaders then have to behave like elected representatives, not like rulers, kings and queens. It means that they must be scrupulously objective, honest, non-partisan and just. It means that integrity, not anything else, must rule every transaction. It means that there must be no financial, social or other benefit in being a leader. It means that we need to take away every ‘benefit’ that we enjoy today when we are elected to office – yet want to be there only in order to serve.

It means that public servants must reflect, even meditate on the term ‘public servant’ and consciously accept it as their self-concept. They must act like servants of the public, not as their rulers. It means that we must remove all privilege that goes with so-called public service today in countries like India. It means that almost every reason why most people opt for public service today must be removed. Then only those who still want to serve will be there to serve; quietly, unsung heroes whose love will fill the hearts of those whose difficulty they alleviate. It means we need to create a generation which finds satisfaction from drying people’s tears and seeing their smiles.

It means that the public must behave with self-confidence, self-respect and fairness and not demand more than they are due; nor seek privilege over others based on caste, creed, community, tribe or social status. It means that the public must value and want justice, not injustice which they personally benefit from. It means that people must value the law and want to follow it even when it may be painful, because they know that it is good for everyone, including themselves. It means that the law must be superior to people. That crime doesn’t pay, criminals do. It means that if a crime is committed, the criminal will be punished no matter who he or she is. No exceptions. That is the meaning of rule of law and what differentiates a democracy from a dictatorship or feudal rule.

It means that the election process itself must be changed where it is the people who pay, not aspiring leaders. As long as elections involve fund raising by candidates, they will breed, even enforce corruption. Good leadership is the need of the people and we the people must pay to have good leaders. It means that campaigning must be dignified with candidates (and parties) speaking about what they have to offer. Not spend time in maligning and demeaning others. Elections must not be a circus nor a drain on the exchequer. Media must be restrained and report facts and give space to information. Not become the spokespeople for vested interests and peddle propaganda, innuendo and lies in the name of news. Media must be and keep itself free from external influence and be the conscience keepers and champions of the values of the nation. It means that accountability must be objective, absolute and unquestioned.

When we are able to accomplish this then and only then will we be truly free. Only then will we regain our self-respect. Only then will we be able to hold our heads high as a nation that has truly thrown off the chains of servitude. Slavery is in the mind. Subjugated nations become subjugated and remain subjugated because they accept these chains of the superiority of man over man based on external causes; race, position, power, authority or anything else. Equality means to treat yourself as equal to the other – not the other way round. If you say that equality means to treat the other like yourself, you are unconsciously placing yourself at a higher level and feel satisfied at ‘bringing’ the other to your level. That still means you are doing them a favor. So I prefer to describe it as seeing and treating yourself as equal to the ‘other’. In essence, it means eliminating the ‘other’. For in a free nation, all people are citizens; albeit with different responsibilities, but all equal to one another and all accountable to the nation which comprises of all of them.

Fantasy, you say? Well, I am a poor old man. Please indulge me. Or accept the fact that when you are far removed from reality, it looks like fantasy. Searching for justice, equity and dignity in our feudal, patriarchal nations, is the real fantasy. Change it or suffer.