Tag Archives: Secularism

Dara shukoH: i was not a terrorist

In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate. God is the first, the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden.

Praise be to the absolute existence. God’s essence manifests so that the seed of  Perfection, which lies latent within it, may become patent.

My friend, the human spirit has entered this framework of the body so that which is potential may become actual, and may return, enriched with all experiences, to its original source.

I was born on 11 March 1615 in Ajmer. I was the eldest son of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Begum. My father named me Dara Shukoh; Dara means wealth or star, it is interesting that second part of my name is spelled in two ways where “Shikoh,” stands for terror and “Shukoh,” means glory, splendour and grandeur in Persian.

I was Sufi natured and peace loving. I was a disciple of religious gurus like Baba Lal, companion of Saint Kabir, Mullah Shah Badakhshi; I was a friend of the naked mystic Sarmad Kashani of Jewish Armenian antecedents. I was also a friend of 7th Sikh guru Har Rai.

As part of Mughal norms, I studied Quran, Persian, history poetry and calligraphy. Compared to my father and brother Aurangzeb I have huge respect towards Hinduism. I have spent time with Hindu Pandits and Sadhus to know more about Hinduism. I spent time translating Upanishads in Persian language which was an attempt to reduce differences between Islam and Hinduism in Hindustan. I devoted much of the efforts towards finding a common mystical language between Islam and Hinduism. My spiritual incessant quest for monotheistic strands in Hindu philosophy led me to study the Upanishads, and with the help of some scholars of I managed to translate 50 Upanishads from Sanskrit to Persian.  

My parents Shahjahan and Mumtaz Mahal had 4 sons: Dara Shukoh, Shuja, Muhiuddin who later became Aurangzeb, and Murad. In terms of religious outlook, I was the otherworldly Sufi, with my apparent indulgence of all faiths other than my own, Shuja had distinct leanings towards the Shia faith, Muhiyuddin the orthodox Sunni, and Murad with no religious affiliations whatsoever, content as long as the pleasures of the senses continued unabated. 

One part of the palace comes alive with me reciting poetry and holy books of all religions. And the other parts, mainly the training ground, use to tremble with Aurangzeb’s Swords and Spears. I was an art lover, and my brother a seasoned warrior. Our extremely opposite ideologies kept us apart from each other, even when we both were brought up in the same atmosphere.

When my father suddenly got unwell, he formally announcesme as his heir, granting me the title of Shahzada e Buland Iqbal. This infuriated my brothers, especially Muhiyuddin.But my brothers refrained from publicly expressing their displeasure. All of them wished to see themselves on the throne, but there was just one Peacock throne. My father’s affection towards me and coldness towards my brotherMuhiyuddin grew with every passing day. My weakest link was that I seldom stepped out of the safe confines of the palace walls. My father kept me close to himself. Whereas Muhiyuddin was frequently sent by father to the battlefields. And he returned stronger every time.

In June 1658, Aurangzeb besieged father Shah Jahan in the Agra Fort forcing him to surrender unconditionally by cutting off the water supply. Jahanara the eldest sister came to Aurangzeb proposing a partition of the Empire, Punjab and adjoining territories for me; Shuja would get Bengal; Murad would get Gujarat; Muhiyuddin’s son Sultan Muhammad would get the Deccan and the rest of the empire would go to Aurangzeb. But Aurangzeb refused Jahanara’s proposition on the grounds that I was an infidel. 

Muhiyuddin changes his name to Aurangzeb after the coronation. And also adopts the title of Alamgir. Jahanara joined her father in imprisonment at the Agra Fort, where she devoted herself to his care until his death.

The armies of both of us faced one another in the battle of Samugarh, near Agra. I managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory when I stepped down from my howdah to come to the aid of my beleaguered soldiers. When they saw the empty howdah, the soldiers assumed that I have beenkilled and surrendered. I escaped to Thatta in Sindh and then to Gujarat. I sought refuge with a local chieftain Malik Jiwan on the escape route to Afghanistan, but he betrayed me to Aurangzeb.

I was brought to Delhi, placed on a filthy elephant and paraded through the streets of the capital in chains, my fate was decided by the political threat I posed as a popular prince with the common people. Aurangzeb was not expecting such enormous public sympathy for me from the citizens of Delhi. Convocation of nobles and clergy, called by Aurangzeb in response to the perceived danger of insurrection in Delhi, declared me a threat to the public peace and an apostate from Islam. I was assassinated by four of Aurangzeb’s henchmen in front of my son on the night of 30 August 1659.

Aurangzeb could’ve pardoned me, but he wanted to set an example to every rebel, of what could happen to those who challenge him. Aurangzeb ordered his men to have my head brought up to him and he inspected it thoroughly to ensure that it was mine indeed. He then further mutilated the head with his sword three times. After which, he ordered the head to be put in a box and presented to his ailing father, Shah Jahan.

The face of water can never be veiled by ice…

though a bubble might be seen, unveiled by ice.

Truth is reality’s ocean, both worlds inside it:

like water in ice, and water… concealed by ice

President Emmanuel Macron, Secularism and Islamophobia

“The French state does not favour any one religion and guarantees their peaceful co-existence in respect of the laws and principles of the Republic,” the government’s website reads.

France has the largest population of Muslims in Western Europe, with more than 5 million estimated Muslims in a nation of 67 million.

In recent years, a specific phobia has gripped Western societies called Islamophobia. Islamophobia is an exaggerated irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life.

The tensions between certain sections of Islam and the interpretation of secular values have intensified in recent years and have been particularly divided in recent weeks. There have been demonstrations in many Muslim countries against France in the past few days. French President Emmanuel Macron became a special target of anger in certain parts of the Muslim world because of his speech following the beheading of the French teacher.

Three weeks after an attack on the former offices of Charlie Hebdo, Samuel Paty a history and geography schoolteacher was beheaded by an 18-year-old man for showing cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in his class. The professor had discussed the subject with his class after Charlie Hebdo magazine republished the drawings of the Prophet Mohammed to coincide with a trial related to the deadly attack on his journalists in 2015. Paty, advised Muslim students to avert their gaze if they thought they were offended. The assailant followed Mr Paty, who was on his way home from school, inflicted multiple head injuries with a knife and then decapitated him. The man later posted photographs of the victim on a Twitter account.

President Macron began his speech by reasserting that the French principle of secularity guaranteed the freedom to worship, rejecting the “trap” laid by extremists which would seek to “stigmatise all Muslims”. The president singled out the ideology of “Islamist separatism” which sought to “create a parallel order” to the French Republic, asserting its own laws as superior. People should face up to a phenomenon that was enticing significant numbers of young people.

Emmanuel Macron defended freedom of expression: “We will not give up caricatures and drawings, even if others back away”, he said, calling for an end to hatred and violence and for respect for others.

“Our challenge is to struggle against the downward slide of some in the name of religion, by ensuring that those who want to believe in Islam and are full citizens of our Republic are not targeted.” 

He described Islam as “a religion that is in crisis all over the world today”, before unveiling his plan to tackle radicalism. There was a need to “free Islam in France from foreign influences”, outlining plans to end a system allowing imams to train overseas, reduce home-schooling, and take control of religious funding. Associations would have to sign a contract respecting “the Republic’s values” in order to obtain subsidies.

He also acknowledged that France had failed its immigrant communities, creating “our own separatism” with ghettos of “misery and hardship” where people were lumped together according to their origins and social background. We have thus created districts where the promise of the Republic has no longer been kept, and therefore districts where the attraction of these messages, where these most radical forms were sources of hope.

Soon after his speech some leaders of Islamic world condemned President Macron, including Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Iran; while tens of thousands have attended protests in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Palestinecalling for a boycott of French goods.

Prime minister Khan did not mention the attack on Paty, or other violent attacks related to alleged blasphemy including a Pakistani migrant who attacked two people outside the former Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

“It is unfortunate that he has chosen to encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than the terrorists who carry out violence, be it Muslims, White Supremacists or Nazi ideologists,” the prime minister said in a Twitter post.

In an interview with Al Jazeera President Macron said: he understood and respected the feelings of Muslims who are offended by the drawings, but that could never justify physical violence. Blaming “lies and distortions of my words” for the reaction, he pointed out that the caricatures were “not a government project” but came from “free and independent newspapers”. Macron denied attacking Islam, saying France has “no problem” with the religion which is practised by millions of people in France who “want to live in peace”.

His targets, he said, were terrorism and those who promote “radical Islam”. These are violent extremists who distort the religion and commit violence within Islam, claiming that Muslims accounted for 80% of the victims of Islamist terrorism in the world over the past 40 years. I understand the sentiments being expressed and I respect them. I will always defend in my country the freedom to speak, to write, to think, to draw, he also hit out at what he described as “distortions” from political leaders, saying people were often led to believe that the caricatures were a creation of the French state.

Article 1 of the French Constitution is commonly interpreted as discouraging religious involvement in government affairs, especially religious influence in the determination of state policies; France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs.

A ban on Muslim headscarves and other “conspicuous” religious symbols at state schools in France was introduced in 2004.In 2011 France became the first European country to ban the full-face Islamic veil in public places, while alternatives such as HIJAB, which cover the head and hair, remained legal. The French government has insisted it will not seek to ban Muslim women who wear headscarves from volunteering to help on school trips after outrage when mothers accompanying pupils were told to remove theirs.

In October 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron hadwarned against “stigmatising” Muslims or linking the Islamic religion with the fight against terrorism. “Communalism is not terrorism.”

There are many factors that can influence how Muslim and Western societies interact and respect each other. Cultural, religious and political differences can influence the opinion of one population towards the other. That is why before judging President Macron, one must keep in mind that France is an independent sovereign state like Pakistan or any other country, protests against his controversial remarks are justified, but his government should  get the credit where its due. His government blocked the bill passed by Senate to impose a ban on Hijab in 2019.

Allow me to ask you to reflect upon the following verses of the Holy Quran:

Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured and [because] they avert evil through good, and from what I have provided them they spend. And when they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say, “For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. Peace will be upon you; we seek not the ignorant.”

The Quran, Al-Qasas 28: 54, 55