Zur von Frau Merkel neu entfachten Burka-Debatte

burka

Unter heftigem Beifall hat Angela Merkel letzte Woche beim CDU-Parteitag in Essen ein Verbot der Vollverschleierung gefordert, “wo immer das rechtlich möglich ist.” Diese Forderung wurde dann auch so von der CDU beschlossen.

Abgesehen davon, dass es in Deutschland praktisch keine vollverschleierten Frauen gibt und es sich deshalb um eine reine Symboldebatte handelt, ist die Forderung nach einem Verbot von Burka und Niqab strategisch falsch. Rechtspopulisten wie die AfD bekämpft man mit einem überzeugenden Eintreten für freiheitliche Werte, nicht mit mehr Populismus und dadurch, dass man deren Positionen legitimiert. Sie ist darüber hinaus sachlich unbegründet. Continue reading →

The Simien Mountains, and the first hijra in Islam

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The terrain of Sudan is generally flat, and the climate is dry and extremely hot, whereas Ethiopia is mountainous, hence sometimes referred to as the Roof of Africa, making it considerably cooler than other regions around the globe at a similar latitude. Around the border at Gallabat/Metema, that contrast is particularly stark, and experiencing it as we crossed the border was amazing. Within a short distance, the sparse desert landscape turned into a dense collection of abundantly green hills, valleys, and mountains, and the scorching heat gave way to a mild breeze. Continue reading →

A millennium of Islamic scholarship, and a revolution yet to be completed

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Last time, we left off at the Egyptian desert highway from Alexandria to Giza. The distance between the two cities is only a little over 200 kilometers, and it did not take us long to reach our destination.

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Atheists ain’t bad people; neither are theists

atheism

Last year, a Pew Research Center survey found that Americans have a significantly less favorable view of atheists than of Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus. Only Muslims were rated more negatively than atheists. That is consistent with another survey conducted by the same institute in the same year, which found that about every second American would not be happy with a family member marrying an atheist. In a 2012 Gallup poll among Americans, 43 percent of respondents said that they would not vote for a presidential candidate who is an atheist. Simply put, Americans do not like atheists. As everybody knows who knows anything about Bangladesh, neither do Bangladeshis. Continue reading →

Kindle the common light

I am a Christian. I judge but I try not to be judgmental (Matthew 7:1-6). I am a Muslim. I try to keep my promises, and be fair towards others (Qur’an 17:34-35). I am a Hindu. I try to speak and act truthfully (Mahabharata, Book 12, Section CCLIX). I am a Buddhist. I try to nurture compassion for all living things (Sutta Nipata 143-152). I am also an atheist. But that I think is at most of secondary importance.
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Freiheit und Toleranz statt Burka-Verbot

Seit 2011 ist in Frankreich ein Gesetz in Kraft, das die Verdeckung des Gesichts in der Öffentlichkeit unter Androhung einer Strafe verbietet. Obwohl immer wieder betont wird, dass das Gesetz auch Strumhauben und andere nicht-religiöse Kleidungsstücke betrifft, ist klar, dass der französische Gesetzgeber vor allem auf islamische Kleidungstücke wie die Burka und den Niqab abgezielt hat. Dies zeigt sich auch daran, dass das Gesetz gemeinhin als „Burka-Verbot“ bekannt ist. Frankreich befindet sich nun in der fragwürdigen Gesellschaft von Saudi Arabien, dem Iran und anderen Staaten, die Frauen dazu zwingen, sich in einer bestimmten Weise zu kleiden. Eine junge Französin muslimischen Glaubens wollte das nicht akzeptieren und zog vor den Europäischen Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte in Straßburg, der das französische Gesetz im vergangenen Juli bestätigte und damit einen besorgniserregenden Präzedenzfall geschaffen hat, der die europäischen Werte der Toleranz, kulturellen Vielfalt und individuellen Freiheit gefährdet, auf die wir zurecht stolz sind. Continue reading →

পশু কোরবানি কি ধর্ম হতে পারে?

গত ২২শে সেপ্টেম্বর ভারতের ভুপালে পশুপাখীর অধিকার সংরক্ষণ কর্মীরা তাজ-উল-মসজিদের সামনে, ঈদ-আল-আধাতে মুসলমানদের পশু কোরবানি না দেবার অনুরোধ সম্বলিত বাণীর প্ল্যাকার্ড নিয়ে শান্তিপূর্ণভাবে দাঁড়িয়ে ছিলেন। তাঁদের বক্তব্য ছিল নিরামিষ আহার স্বাস্থ্যের পক্ষে ভালো তো বটেই, উপরন্তু পরিবেশ, প্রকৃতি ও পশুপাখীদের জন্যেও ভালো। বেনাজির সুরাইয়া ছিলেন এই কর্মীদের একজন। তাঁর পরিধানে ছিল সবুজ রঙের হিজাব এবং লেটুস পাতা দিয়ে মোড়া পরিচ্ছ্দ। তাঁর হাতের প্ল্যাকার্ডে লেখা ছিল Make Eid happy for all- Try Vegan, অর্থাৎ ঈদ যেন সবার জন্য আনন্দময় হোক, নিরামিষ খাবার খেয়ে দেখার চেষ্টা করতে পারেন। Continue reading →

Can slaughter be religion?

A few days ago, on September 22, a group of Indian animal rights activist went to the Taj-ul-Masjid in Bhopal, one of the largest mosques on the subcontinent, and tried to persuade Muslims to celebrate a vegan Eid al-Adha this year, by pointing out the many benefits of a plant-based diet for human health, the environment, and the welfare of nonhuman animals. One of the activists, a Muslim woman named Benazir Suraiya, wore a green hijab and an Islamic dress covered in lettuce leaves, and held a sign that said, “Make Eid Happy For All: Try Vegan.” The program was organized by PETA India, a Mumbai-based animal rights organization that operates under the principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment, and that has organized similar programs on other religious occasions in the past, including Christmas, Easter, Diwali, and Janmashtami. This time, however, things turned violent. A mob formed and started to attack the group of female activists. The women were punched, and hit with shoes, and stones were thrown at them, prompting them to flee the scene while police tried to contain the mob. Disturbingly, some people, including members of the media, seem to believe that the women deserved to be assaulted, and the police in fact booked Ms. Suraiya and two others on charges of hurting religious sentiments. All in all, a woefully common story that would be a good starting point for a discussion of the delicate feelings and sense of entitlement of some religious folk, and the rampant disregard for the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful protest. But I do not want to talk about that here. Instead, in the spirit of the free exchange of ideas, let us have the conversation that was successfully stifled in India. Continue reading →

The French burqa ban: So much for Liberté!

In 2011, a French law came into effect which makes it illegal to cover one’s face in public. Even though lawyers for the French government emphasize that the law also applies to non-religious face-veiling garments, such as balaclavas and hoods, it is clear that its principal target is Muslim clothing, particularly the burqa and the niqab. The legislative process that led to the law now widely known as the French burqa ban started shortly after then-President Nicolas Sarkozy declared that the Islamic burqa – which he thinks makes women “prisoners behind a screen” – is not welcome in France. Those who violate the law face fines of up to 150€, or lessons in French citizenship. Continue reading →

Blasphemy and the right to offend

Background: The Daily Star

The right to express one’s opinion freely is maybe the most important democratic right, and it is currently under assault in Bangladesh. Hifazat-e-Islam demands the introduction of strict blasphemy laws, and the government, instead of defending freedom, resorts to an ill-advised and imprudent appeasement strategy that hinders the press in its duty to inform the public, threatens the futures of young bloggers who were, and continue to be, arrested, and puts in peril the future of the democracy of the country. Continue reading →

মুসলিম ভাইবোনদের প্রতি খোলা চিঠি

প্রিয় মুসলিম ভাই ও বোনেরা, মুসলিম জাতির জন্য আশির্বাদ ও বছরের আধ্যাত্মিক একটি উৎসব হিসেবে কুরবানী ঈদ আমাদের দ্বারপ্রান্তে। মক্কার পবিত্র মাটিতে লক্ষ লক্ষ ধর্মপ্রাণ মুসলমান পবিত্র হজ্জ্ব পালনের পরপরই আমাদের দেশে এই উৎসব পালিত হয়। আত্মীয় ও বন্ধুবান্ধবেরা একসাথে নামাজ আদায় করে, উপহার বিনিময় করে এবং ঈদের বিশেষ খাবার উপভোগ করে। এ বছরের এই বিশেষ দিনটি উদ্‌যাপনের প্রাক্কালে আমরা আপনাদের খোলা মন ও হৃদয় নিয়ে দিনটি পালনের কিছু দিক পুনঃবিবেচনা করার আমন্ত্রণ জানাচ্ছি। Continue reading →

Compassionate Eid: An open letter

Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters, we are approaching a blessed and spiritual time of the year, Qurbani Eid, which comes after millions of devout Muslims complete their pilgrimage to the holy grounds of Mecca. Families and friends will come together for prayers, exchange gifts and enjoy special food. As we prepare to take part in this year’s holiday, we would like to invite you to reexamine some aspects of how it is celebrated with an open mind and an open heart. Continue reading →