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Malaysia’s troubled Hindu-Muslim Ties: Varsity’s modules depict Hindus in India as unclean

The peaceful co-existence of Hindus and Muslims which was there in Malaysia for decades is now slowly giving way and is leading to intolerance

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Representational image. Pixabay

October 15, 2016: Muslim majority country, Malaysia since the time of its independence in 1957 believed that the minorities ought not to be made to feel threatened thinking that they would not be able to maintain their own respective identities or promote their cultures. This kind of understanding is mainly based on the belief that there was political and cultural space for each and every religion and culture to thrive but Islam continues to be the state religion.

This kind of understanding is mainly based on the belief that there was political and cultural space for each and every religion and culture to thrive but Islam continues to be the state religion.

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The peaceful co-existence of Hindus and Muslims which was there in Malaysia for decades is now slowly giving way and is leading to intolerance. In this year’s June, Malaysians were shocked to know that the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s (UTM) Islamic and Asian Civilizations module, derogatory comments were made about Hinduism as well as about Sikhism, mentioned straitstimes.com.

It was insulting to know that the lecturer claimed Islam introduced civility to the lives of the Hindus in India. He also added that the Hindus preferred to be “dirty”, and that that only Islam talks about the importance of cleanliness. Though the offending lecturer is terminated, this conduct of his was astonishing.

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Muslims in Malaysia should also think more about their Hindu countrymen. One the best ways to do so is to acquaint themselves with the writings of, a Muslim scholar known as Abu al-Rayhan Al-Biruni. He was in the court of Mahmud Ghaznavi (979-1030).

With the troops of Mahmud Ghaznavi, Al-Biruni travelled to India and lived there for years, during that time he mastered Sanskrit, and also translated a number of Indian religious texts into Arabic. He also studied many Indian religious doctrines and have written several books and treatises, which includes the Kitab Fi Tahqiq Ma li-l-Hind (The Book of What Constitutes India).

According to the straitstimes.com report, it was his view that the Indians believed in one god, which means the same god that is being worshipped by the Jews, Christians and also the Muslims. Malaysia in general always speaks of a harmonious society. Only due to the political developments in the recent years, people are getting to see an unhealthy development by making reckless statements by the politicians, religious leaders and also the educators and is upsetting the current harmony of the society. That in turn, is affecting the Hindu-Muslim relations.

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It is important that for the sake of each other maintaining mutual respect and tranquillity in the country is required. Muslim leaders have a greater responsibility, which means that the Muslim political and religious elite should not just merely tolerate the presence of the non-Muslims or the minorities but also should actively protect their rights and properties.

– Prepared by NewsGram team

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New law in Tajikistan bans hijab, asks women to stick to traditional clothes

Unlike Islamic countries, women in Tajikistan do not wear a hijab that is supposed to be wrapped under the chin, but a scarf that is tied behind the head

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Tajikistan passes law for women to stick to traditional clothes
Tajikistan bans Islamic veil. Pixabay
  • Legislators in Tajikistan passed a new law requiring people to wear country’s traditional clothes
  • Reportedly, the decision is intended to stop women from wearing Islamic clothes
  • Women wearing hijab are already forbidden from entering the government offices, under the existing laws

New Delhi, September 5, 2017: A new law that requires people to “stick to traditional and national clothes” has been passed by the Tajikistan legislators, adding Tajikistan in the long list of countries that ban or limit Islamic dress.

Although the legislation hasn’t specifically mentioned “hijab”, but the authorities’ previous statements about hijab representing an “alien culture” makes their goal to discourage women from wearing Islamic hijab quite apparent.

Despite it being a Muslim majority country, Tajikistan’s minister of culture, Shamsiddin Orumbekzoda, talking to Radio Free Europe, called Islamic dress “really dangerous”.

“Everyone looks at them with concern, like they could be hiding something under their hijab,” he said.

Unlike Islamic countries, women in Tajikistan do not wear a hijab that is supposed to be wrapped under the chin, but a scarf that is tied behind the head.

Women wearing hijab are forbidden from entering government offices in Tajikistan
A woman wearing hijab working in Saudi Arabia. VOA

Under existing laws, women wearing hijabs are already forbidden from entering the country’s government offices. In August, around 8,000 women wearing hijabs were approached by the government officials, in the capital of Dushanbe, who were then asked to wear their scarves in the Tajik style.

According to the Daily Mail report, police last year, in the Central Asian state, convinced 1,700 women to remove their headscarves, arrested 89 hijab-wearing prostitutes and closed down 162 shops and stalls selling hijabs.

Also ReadNothing New! Muslim Women who don’t fully respect Islamic head scarf are Prostitutes, says an Iranian Cleric

The Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, while delivering his Mother’s Day speech in March, criticized women for wearing “foreign” black clothing. He had also criticized hijab in 2015, when he stated that blindly copying a foreign culture is not a sign of having high moral or ethical standards for women, as mentioned by the Al Jazeera.

While many citizens support the law considering the security and preservation of culture, many are polarized over its implications regarding personal liberties.

“I have to decide for myself what to wear. No one has the right to tell me ‘you have to wear this,’” Oinikhol Bobonazarova, a human right activist told RFE.

The new legislation carries no penalties as of now, but some have claimed that punishment or fines may be introduced later.

Tajikistan calls itself a secular state with a Constitution that provides for freedom of religion, however, the religious practice among the citizens of the Muslim majority country, seems to be tightly controlled by the state.

France, Netherlands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany are some of the many countries that have banned full face Islamic veils.

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)

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India’s Textile and Fashion Heritage now part of Google project

Google's project 'We Wear Culture' is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago

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we wear culture
Google's new art project 'We wear Culture' digitizes fashion, Wikimedia
  • Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India
  • It intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures
  • Its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago

June 15, 2017: To a certain extent, a culture is defined by what is worn by its people. In a country as diverse as India, vast and varied spectrum of cultures and clothes is one of the specialties. Google’s latest virtual exhibition project now provides us the opportunity to explore and know more about it.

Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago, from the ancient Silk Road to the unmatched elegance of the Indian Saree,  from the courtly fashion of Versailles, to the Victorian ballgowns with intricate thread work.

According to Amit Sood, director of Google Arts and Culture,”We invite everyone to browse the exhibition on their phones or laptops and learn about the stories behind what you wear. You might be surprised to find out that your Saree, jeans or the black dress in your wardrobe have a centuries-old story. What you wear is true culture and more often than not a piece of art.”

Culture is defined by what is worn by its people. Click To Tweet

The company also mentioned that noteworthy collections from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) and varied weaves from across India, from Gharchola to Patola to Temple to Ikat sarees will be included in the online project, as it intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures.

ALSO READ: New Google Project Digitizes World’s Top Fashion Archives.

According to PTI reports, the world fashion exhibit also includes designs from north-eastern India including the weaves of tribes such as the Nagas, Meitis. it will showcase the traditional attire from Meghalaya called ‘Dhara’ or ‘Nara’ worn by the Khasi women as well.

As a part of the exhibit, Sewa Hansiba Museum has brought the unique colorful and rich embroidery arts, applique and mirror work from different communities such as the Ahir, Rabari, Chaudhury Patel and many others from the western part of India online.

The exhibition conducted by Salar Jung Museum brings to light the Sherwani and its journey of becoming the royal fashion statement of the Nizams from 19th century Hyderabad. Fashion and textiles enthusiasts can revisit Colonial Indian attires with Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum. Over 400 online exhibitions and stories sharing a total of 50,000 photos, videos and other documents on world fashion are open to exploration as well.

The ‘We wear Culture’ initiative highlights significant events in the growth of the world fashion industry; the icons, the movements, the game changers and the trendsetters like Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Audrey Hepburn and many more.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang