how the world sees america

Inside an Indian Madrassa: Peacefully Awaiting America's Fall

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Malegaon, Maharashtra - Mufti Mohammed Ismail, the leading cleric of Malegaon, a 75% Muslim town known for its many madrassas, tells me the religious schools here try hard to avoid discussion of America and global politics, but "there's a restlessness among students" who raise difficult questions. When teachers themselves believe "America has a systematic conspiracy to eradicate Islam" how can they explain "America's cruel and violent actions around the world" to curious students without inspiring hatred? The answer, I'm told, is in history and religion: "power is not permanent," "the cruel reap what they sow" and so "America will die its own death." In short, be patient.

Madrassa Tajweed-Ul-Quran lies three miles down East Iqbaal Road outside Malegaon, which itself is two hundred miles from Mumbai, the nearest city. The madrassa houses 150 students ages 7 to 15 for ten months a year. All of their possessions including sleeping mats fit in three-square-foot tin boxes.

Every morning the students wake up at 7:00am and spend the next four hours memorizing the Quran's 6,666 verses, which they usually achieve by age 12. After lunch, they spend four hours on general education: math, English, science. There is no TV, Internet, radio or newspapers. So after school they use their free time to play on a green patch of land between the mosque and the madrassa before nightfall. The small complex is surrounded on all sides by grasslands littered with hobbling horses whose feet have been tied to keep them from running off.

After eight years of study, the students will go on to be teachers at madrassas, perhaps this same one, imams at mosques, or candidates for higher degrees in theological studies at centers in India or Arab countries like Saudi Arabia. That's usually when the study of world politics might begin, I'm told.

But for the younger ones -- even at the largest, most technologically advanced madrassa in town, which has its own medical college and computer science courses (which I'll post about next) -- there is no class on comparative politics, no European history or America history. Why? "We are preparing our students to be messengers of humanity…who benefit others," says teacher Mauvli Asif, and "politics is not necessary" for that aim, just "core studies" and "theological studies." He adds that although he has personal views of America, he keeps them to himself. His director says the same, personal views do not represent pedagogical or institutional views.

Madrasas don't call for worldly action, other than helping others, stresses Mufti Ismail. If members of Malegaon's madrassas were to take an active stand against "American injustices around the world," as Ismail does in his political role as leader of the largest party in Malegaon, they would do so entirely through legally sanctioned means outside of school, and would "obey the laws of India and Islam." He feels "no need" for extra-legal action. India does not have a puppet leader and "we are free to practice our faith." Nothing here would lead him to invalidate secular legal structures.

Mufti Ismail continues: "America has converted almost the whole world into a battlefield, but it is not here. Muslim countries don't have the power to match America's military." He distinguishes Indian madrassas from those in Pakistan or Bangladesh, saying he retains faith in government. He further notes that no terrorist has come from an Indian madrassa. The American civil rights movement inspires Ismail, he says, and he has called for a boycott of American and British goods which he says is gaining momentum. But he would not take to the streets.

Despite isolation and a busy schedule, America does seep in and stir the restive minds of his students, young and old. Over holidays they read Urdu newspapers from Mumbai and talk to their families. The reports paint a troubling picture of America. Most recently, for example, the talk is of American helicopters attacking the Red Mosque in Pakistan. And when Muslims are blamed repeatedly for terrorism, often against other Muslims as was the case in a terrible bomb blast last year in Malegaon, there is a growing sense that media, government and foreign powers are conspiring against Islam. With all this suspicion floating, how does one keep a student's attention on the Quran and his heart set on benefiting others?

Mufti Ismail appeals to divine justice to "satisfy" his students, without embroiling them in the turmoil. "Justice will come," he says, but "God will bring it," not you. It's a way of addressing curiosity about America and resentment toward U.S. policies while refusing to retaliate. This is a delicate balance for unhappy imams in Malegaon to maintain, but until understanding improves, a vital one.

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Comments (74)

ahmed:

first of all be mindful whether you are discussing about islam or muslims.
Non Muslim become intolerant when Muslims demonstrate oneness of god(Allah)and doesn't accept any adulteration in their faith of oneness of god. Today Muslims look bad because they don't practice Islam.
So I urge all the people of the world to remind the Muslim brothers to follow their religion Islam in its entirety.

Kazi:

I see lots of people judging plenty of things here !

Just tell me how many of you, by your own eyes, have you seen a madrasa in India where they are training students to be violent.

I am sure none of you have seen !

Its only through media what you've always heard and seen.

May Allah guide us all to right path !

Please be united, don't trust few peoples words who want us to be divided, its my humble request to all !

Lee Jones:

How the world perceives America stems from how international news agencies and leaders portray America. False and inaccurate news does wonders for turning people against America. Recent stories in various Middle Eastern newspapers have accused America of plotting horrible acts, none of which are being plotted, yet these publications are not held accountable for their false reporting.

As if problems with international news sources are not enough, American news sources have gone out of their way to portray America as bad, even stooping to report false and inaccurate news. The recent New Republic and AFP scandals unjustly do serious damage to America's reputation. Suddenly it's trendy to posit the USA as an evil empire, completely ignoring the amount of aid and security America provides other countries. So sad.

Vikas:

Gandhi should have been killed 30 years before 1947. It is unfortunate that Nathu did not take that step earlier.

Macqin:

Dirty and ugly head of Islam is spreading everywhere, because of the high fertility rate in that community. Every muslim makes 6 or more kids and world will soon be full with them and only them.

America is doing a noble work by fighting against these evil people. America ..long live. Mankind is indebted to you and must thank you.

Victor:

Islam is nothing, but a conspiracy to grab land and women.
Victor

afzlr:

Hi Amar,

I know this goes against the grain of WAPO's 'open discourse'/user generated content etc. However, I think it would be much better for you to write things as you see fit--entertain feedback (privately) and perhaps revert with some responses.

This reader comment thingie has way outlasted its utility. None of us are ever going to change our views based on what you or anyone sy and all we are going to is do a version of the food fight. All these comment sections do is bring out the trolls, the flamebaiters and others with diminishing results from Cialis.

Bring back the old--WAPO tells us and we fire off you are '@$$$@$@# emails.

Aurora Melange:

If I may some up the entire blog, there is no denying the fact that there indeed is a clash of civilization, albeit under the table, is going on here. There is also no denying the fact that each and every contributor has some element of truth in whatever they have written (out of grudge or out of sympathy and understanding). So the ways to eliminate these problems are:1, Islam MUST be modernized, 2. Islam must be freed from the uneducated clerics, 3. Islam MUST be read and taught as a matter of theological history, 4. All Madrassas all over the world must be shut for ever and replaced my state funded public school with curriculum that is followed in secular institutions of any particular country.;5, The US should reassert its authority on the world as an ally and sets example and spread the superior achievements in the US regarding science, medicine, technology, philosophy, arts, literature, cinemas etc etc. Finally those who spread the evils of Wahabism must be nuked IMMEDIDATELY. Let modernity, democracy, secularism replace the century old ethos of blind and hallucinatory faith practiced mostly by timid or hungry or evil or insecure people all over the world. War front is therefore multidirectional to bring peace on humanity. I am prepared!! Thanks in the event the Post publishes this.

Wop:

I'm sick of this America bashing crap. You hate America? Then get the hell out. For the rest of you sneaky little pigs just wait until the nukes start raining down on you. A-holes.

Anonymous:

"Perhaps the madrassa leaders might consider preparing a few of their students to do humanitarian work in a place where Muslims are suffering. Darfur, for example."

Muslims aren't suffering in Darfur its the Muslims who are dishing out the suffering on the non-Muslim "infidel" population in Sudan.

Brad:

The U.S. has a vast arsenal of tens of thousands of tactical nuclear weapons, more than enough to blow up the whole Middle East. If we really wanted to destroy islam, then we would've done it already.

Dharma:

The inflow of foreign money to large religious organizations such as the Catholic Church and other faith based groups in India is strictly monitored by the Government of India. I wonder if the same is true in the case of numerous Islamic organizations in India which get substantial direct financial support from the Middle East – especially from Saudi Arabia and the oil rich states of the Persian Gulf. It is evident that many of the Islamic schools in India hide behind the cloak of religion, to promote a vendetta against the United States and western nations by poisoning the minds of their gullible young students.

In comparison, I have visited a few Tibetan monasteries in India and at every one of these monasteries any discussion of the Chinese occupation of Tibet is a topic that is totally avoided and is gently discouraged, as a sign of respect for India, their host country.

No matter which political party holds the reigns of power in the Indian government, it feels a strong compulsion to pander to the Muslim minority, to benefit from the substantial Muslim vote bank, without which an election victory is impossible. It is time that the umbilical cord that feeds the steady stream of petrol-dollars from the purveyors of hatred in the Middle East to the Islamic schools spread across the length and breadth of secular India be cut. Failing which, India too can be expected to join the ranks of those nations with large populations of impoverished youth to supply a steady stream of brainwashed young men and women, as cannon fodder to set out with Jihad inspired hatred to kill and be killed in the cause of spreading death and terror.

Another significant fact, often ignored is the disproportionately higher birth rate among the Indian Muslim minority compared to the other communities of India. It is estimated that in the next few decades India’s substantial Muslim minority would no longer be a minority. In light of the present and the future, the rapid spread of these foreign funded Islamic Madarssahs is a troubling phenomenon for India and the world.

The US government should press India to monitor and streamline the curriculum taught at these Indian Madarssahs. India should demand that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf nations extend equal financial aid to benefit secular public education in India.

Rddy:
Reddy:
Reddy:
Reddy:
Reddy:
Reddy:

Amar,

I appreciate your response, I certainly welcome more readings from you. I dont think I have any suggestions for the missionaries other than that thanks for their help parts of the country are starting to experience the christian separatism.

JRLR:

colorado kool aid writes: ""600,000 Iraqis dead" That is a completely made up number -- it is a lie."

FOR THE RECORD, here is what Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian report, in that all American document "The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness", reviewed in “The Independent” by Leonard Doyle, under 'A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi... You know, so what?':

“In the four long years of the war, the mounting civilian casualties have already taken a heavy toll--both on the Iraqi people and on the US servicemembers who have witnessed, or caused, their suffering. Iraqi physicians, overseen by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, published a study late last year in the British medical journal The Lancet that estimated that 601,000 civilians have died since the March 2003 invasion as the result of violence. The researchers found that coalition forces were responsible for 31 percent of these violent deaths, an estimate they said could be "conservative," since "deaths were not classified as being due to coalition forces if households had any uncertainty about the responsible party."

In that most revealing document, the American Iraq Vets confess having humiliated, targeted and killed innumerable innocent civilians. They describe "such acts as common", stating they “often go unreported--and almost always go unpunished”. The magnitude of the Iraq carnage is staggering.

Chris Hedges is a veteran war correspondent and an American. He is the author of "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (Random House, 2002), a masterpiece in which the author debunks the myth of war.

References:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070730/hedges/11

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2758829.ece

shahi:

its more than 600,000 people dead in iraq......its not a lie....and if u need figures....come down here in the middle-east....u will know....and wat saddam did in the past....i dnt knw how many he killed....and so he was punished....now who gave america the f**king right to invade iraq....WMD??...cud they find any...Now go and punish ur president....

sid :

Just imagine having a terrorist country like pakistan on border & these Psudo-Pakistani Jihadists as citizens..not a few million ..150 million.....Now see what big issue we face...Lets all come together and force this community to change ..after any terror attack,muslims must not be allowed on public transport or any other public amenites..unless they learn to behave they must be treated this way

colorado kool aid:

"600,000 Iraqis dead" That is a completely made up number -- it is a lie. How about the over 1 million who were killed by Saddam Hussein? Did you give a rat's *ss about Iraqi lives then? Of course not, you're a hypocrite who simply hates George Bush. You don't care about innocent lives, you only want to vent your hatred of America -- facts be damned!

I'm not sure if the rest of the world has an understanding of how viscerally disgusted we are with the rest of the world! You sit by and want us to do nothing about those who have vowed to kill us. You presume that our decision on our national security should be made in Paris, Bonn, Moscow or on the Arab street. That is not going to happen unless America elects a Democrat. I get on my knees each night and thank god that George Bush has been president and not some pathetic wimp like Gore or Kerry. All the hate you proclaim the world has for America is returned in full. A world that creeps around the edges of the playground hoping that they will not make eye contact with the bullies that are prepared to kill them is a world I want no part of.

colorado kool aid:

And people wonder how the Muslim religion gets a bad name? When you preach lies and hate to impressionable children you earn your bad reputation. The problem with Muslim extremists will not end until the Muslim religion confronts it and puts an end to it. This country must be vigliant, and willing to confront and fight, but the "end game" is up to Muslims. When they decide that hate and lies are no longer going to be part of their teachings, the world might begin to enjoy peace. Not until then.

Tamil:

wahaj hussain:On the contrary, In the Quran , Allah says killing a human being is tantamount of killing the whole humanity.

This verse is actually directed at the JEws, saying if the Jews kill one person it is tantamount to killing whole humanity. I know 90% of muslims dont understand their own Arabic Koran,so try to find a translation.

It is an open secret that Islam is the fastest growing religion of the world and according to an article published in Reader’s Digest ‘Almanac’,year book 1986 told that between 1934 and 1984, the percentage of Islam increased by 235% and Christianity increased only by 45 % and conversion rate is seen more to Islam than any other religion


If each muslim keeps their 4 wives in continuous pregnancy,what do you expect? Seems Common sense is not so common in the Islamic world.

Amar C. Bakshi:

Quick note to Reddy, I'm in Kerala now, and am exploring missionary work here, esp. American adventist missionaries. If you have suggestions, let me know. I'll post some more thoughts in a moment from a professor who attended this interview with me, and, if you'd like, larger transcriptions of the interview. Thanks for reading and discussing, Amar

Reddy:

Kash,

I agree with you on the muslim part completely and the missionaries part not so much.

I understand the frustration of millions in India dealing with people converted to Christianity and most importently bashing hinduism on our own soil and inside our temples.

But I have to say it only helps hindus in the long run. The system is too old and in a terrible need of a reform. If its not for the outsiders attcking us culturally we would have continued our ugly path.

Millions will convert to Christianity (ironically Christ has little if not any thing to do with it other than the name). Hindusim will reform itself and become more inclusive and much more better. India will be a shining example of tolerance and diversity but in a better way than now.

kash:

the muslims living in India are nothing but pakistanis living in India, if the muslims living in India , wage Jihad against the world like their pakistani jihadi brothers , then they will have to face the ever radicalising Hindutva in India , so the west , STOP sending fuking soul harvesting hesus missioanries to India , dont waste the resources of India , and save your billions to convert the mullah's...

Reddy:

Nitin,

I know a lot of muslims personally. Many of them are nice people untill they consider themselves as Indians and identify themselves with what they do like their profession etc.

As soon as they identify themselves as muslims its a different story. All they can talk about is hatred towards whoever.

I am not saying all other relegions are great, everybody made mistakes but the rest try not to repeat them or dont pride themselves about them.

India is nothing but a ticking timebomb. Remember the day when ur family gets blown up or your women get dehonored nobody but you are responsible.

You tried to appease the devil and tried to duck the issue and let it get out of hands when there was time.

I see so many people badmouth about Shivsena..all for what not a millionth of what the muslims do and also only as reaction not action. Where are these devils advocates when the muslims are perpetrating all these henious crimes everyday.

It takes a lot to get Hindus to get ignited. If they ever were ignited its definetly the other sides fault.

By the way I am an atheist and i dont consider hinduism as a relegion.

Reddy:

Nitin,

Tell your BS to all the families died and continue to die everyday in India because of the bombings by muslims.

It is eunuchs like you who lack the courage to deal with the issue and drag every issue for a thousand years and ruin everybody.

Gandhi is a great man no doubt but his policies towards muslims cause 1 million deaths in a single event (remember partition) unprecedented in the modern human society.

Stop appeasing the devil, come to your senses.

billoo bhai:

Jesus predicted a violent fall of Jerusalem that would follow him if the Jews did not mend their ways. Jesus referred to the corruption of God's message by the Jews of his time. This did happen and the Jews spent the next two millennium in the wilderness, i.e., Europe where most of them were destined to live and die.

Mufti Ismail is echoing a message leveled in history against oppressors who destroy the weak, asking for Almighty’s reckoning. People in the West are not superstitious; therefore, it should not bother them. Yet, their hostility to a simple message shows insecurity just like the coalition of the willing cannot recruit more troops. Not even the princes of England wish to become King Henry's "Band of Brothers". Afraid of Gods' vengeance I suppose.

Almighty says, even if you are one against a thousand do not weaken, trust in the almighty.

Chith:

I hope Indians of all religions stick together and
do not let muslim bashing under whatever pretext create division among them. One person who contributed to India's nuclear deterrant (which is the only thing that made India immune to Nuclear blackmail from other nations including that of USA)
is a muslim (Dr.Kalam). Islam has a spirit of fighting against injustice and India can use that spirit along with ideas from its other religions. As far as USA is concerned it is not just Bush, but for a long time USA was preparing to be global hegemon and it thought prematurely that it has achieved the status after the end of cold war but it finds now that it has miscalculated its power.

karen :

Most Americans agree education is the backbone of democracy. India takes great pride in democracy and values their independence from colonialism, but due to the huge population --for example, the city of Delhi has over 17 mil population-- only 43% of children in India have access to public education.

In Agra where the Taj Mahal is located, poverty is measured in calories per day. Many are hungry, have no access to clean water or electricity. Education is a luxury.

One enters the white marble Taj Mahal --a main symbol of India and one of the 7 wonders of the world-- through a doorway with caligraphy made of inlaid jasper with words from the Qu'ran. The Taj is a monument to the memory of Shah Jahan's favorite wife who died in childbirth. The Taj represents beauty and love and grief.

So, yes, there are many Muslims in India, but also huge numbers of many other sects. When we consider the sheer numbers of people and the huge diversity in India, we can see the extraordinary wisdom and leadership of Gandhi.

Child labor continues; many children work along side their parents in the slums picking through trash. There are a variety of non-governmental organizations that provide food, care and education to children. Most exist due to charitable contributions from international humanitarian groups and religions often are the best at raising funds. When I visited child welfare programs in India, it was apparent their support is largely from Europe and Australia with hardly any from U.S.

Let's not believe the fear hype... When worrying about who or what increases potential terrorists, think about the cold war and how our and the Soviet missles were pointing at each other. That was real. Weapons of mass destruction were not real. And we must admit that destroying countries could possibly make them hate us.

Feeding young children and teaching them to read isn't such a bad thing. I recommend reading Gandhi and making a contribution to sponsor an Indian child in a program such as Deepalaya...It is $100 a year for food, clothing, shelter and education for one child... or send a water truck to a village for $12/day You can learn more about this largest non-governmental program in Delhi at www.Deepalaya.org

rohit:

I am just amazed at how this yet another opportunity for people with prejudice to show off their anti-Muslim credentials. i am an indian and a hindu. and it is intolerable and even sad for me to see Hindus claim peace on the one hand then call Islam all kinds of names. This self-righteousness has eaten hinduism from the inside leading to such an oppressive caste system.

My family has worked with Madrassas and these students. They are poor and simple children. Those who compare Indian madrassas with those of Pakistan have never visited a Madrassa. It is hard to expect any real objectivity in forums like these so my expectations are rather low that these comments are going to move anyone. We must introspect first. Fundamentalism is thriving in every religion and it is the foremost duty of every religious and secular person to fight it. But let's start with our religions first. Islam, in my opinion, is in a critical battle for its soul. Those who want to see it survive as a compassionate religion must stand up NOW just as we did against the Hindu right in India. Every Muslim has a moral obligation to fight Bin Laden first and America or whoever later because the Bin Laden ideology is most threatening to Islam.. more than Bush's bombs... which are in a category of their one and a topic of later but necessary discussion.

peace.

John:

I've visited some of these schools in New Delhi. Quite fascinating, very hospitable, good discussions with some of the English speaking teachers. Also saw quite a few students there, ages 6 - 17 years old. Main problem is the actual teaching technics, not necesssarily the subject matter, but how to remember. Strictly verbatim remembering the Koran, word for word until the student without looking at the book can verbatim repeat every word. That is his exam. Obviously students who are creative, have new ideas, like to argue about subject matters do poorly. The ones that have incredible memories and do not question subjects do very well. That's how you seperate students with different skills and only make one group (strong memories and no arguments) feel superior. Same systems were used in the old Europe (take Germany or Russia) rather than the US (there multiple choice, open debate, writing skills, etc. open up the brains in a more comprehensive all inclusive way). That probably explains why US students, and later adults, have broader, more comprehensive views and methods of communications. Again, the Indian and Pakistani Madrasas limit the emotional growth (like forcing a plant in a too small backyard). Not healthy and explains the tension in these countries.

Anonymous:

I agree with the post that the American public can be forgiven for voting for Bush the 1st time -- (although it's hard to understand what would have encouraged them to do so other than sharing his religious beliefs) -- but how they voted for him a second time is beyond my comprehension.

The only thing I've ever read which offered some explanation was: "we were in a time of war and you don't change the commander in the middle of a war." Unfortunately, that's a really stupid argument. If you are in a time of war and your commander is an idiot, what better time for a change? Sadly, it's now too late and we have another year and one-half to get through somehow before we can finally bid adieu to this worst of all American presidents. I just pray that our standing in the world is not permanently harmed. Bush has created generations of Muslims who will hate us and fight us at every opportunity.

If I thought that the main body of the Muslims in the world were rational and realized that America has been under the governance of a religious lunatic, who will shortly be gone, I would be more hopeful; unfortunately, I believe the Muslim religion has also been hijacked over the past few decades by religious lunatics and their minds are just as closed as Bush and his cohorts. However, their acts of violence are beyond belief. Knowing that Muslim suicide bombers set themselves off in a crowd of children and think they are doing something that makes their Allah happy makes me wonder what kind of mind would be attracted to such a "religion."

I'm very fearful for our future -- not America's future but the planet's future.

P. Sood:

These madarssas are wasting human mind in remembering Quran. Scriptures from ancient times were saved by memorizing and passing them from one generation to the next.Since the invention of written word, memorizing the scriptures has become redundant.They should instead teach them how to contemplate and meditate to reach Allah. A person sitting rocking back and forth and repeating kalmas for hours on end will only turn them towards unproductive thinking and outlets. Islam needs to be re-invented in this regard. In front of written word memorizing is total waste of time. This time should used for teaching subjects that would get them remunerative jobs. That way these students will serve and humanity more appropriately.

matt:

India is a democracy in which you are free to practice Islam. There is no need to sanction India for freedom of religion. Islam is practiced in the United States as well people.

India's government and citizens are subject to terrorism from extremists as well. Most Arab governments are subject to this sort of thing as well. Don't forget, at the roots of Al Qaeda was an organization that wanted to overthrow the Egyptian government.

As far as Israel is concerned, a more even handed approach on the US's part would go a long way towards neutralizing Muslim angst in the world. Everyone has blood on their hands in that conflict, but if you live in the US all you hear about are the almost "sub human" Palestinians. Do your self a favor a read up.

Sharad Bailur:

The problem of Islam or for that matter any religion in India is the problem of not understanding the concept of secularism. So long as Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister he ensured that he did not publicly take part in any religions ceremony. But others even in his own time were not so fastidious about the separation of religion and state. When they took part in public demonstrations of their religious faith, they had to reassure those who did not share it that they respected other religions as well. The pusillanimous concept of "equal respect for all religions" was born out of this background. It has resulted in the equal encouragement of all religions and therefore the equal encouragement of competing obscurantisms. I agree with Sam Harris. India needs an assertive agnosticism which is willing to stand up and tell people of all religious persuasions that they are following outdated 2000 yr old concepts that have no relevance to today's world. Secular minded people in India should aggressively promote secularism not merely acquiese in some wishy-washy rubbish about the goodness of all religions. No religion is good. Least of all Islam.

Andrew:

Denis are you forgetting that every single Muslim country was about to attack Isreal and obliterate it? And for what, existing. That definately sounds like we brought that down on ourselves. While I do not agree with them gaining nuclear technology though I can understand why they would; having millions of Muslims eager to spill my blood would be a fire under my ass to invent some powerful weapon to hold them at bay. And if memory serves, it was Hezbollah that kidnapped Isreali soldiers from Isreal and Hezbollah's refusal to return the soldiers who are all most likely dead that prompted Isreal's invasion of Lebanon, not entirely unjustified if you ask me.

Nitin:

Reddy,
It is fundamentalists like you who claim that "every Muslim is a terrorist," who are committing the bombings and other terrorist acts in India, UK, and elsewhere. As you demonstrate, fundamentalism exists and has existed in every major religion. Thank god that India has had leaders such as Maulana Azad and Gandhi who could neutralize the effects of rabble rousers like you.

Jai Khosla:

India's Muslims are peaceful on the surface because they are only 10 to 12% of the population. Wait till they are 25% as they were prior to 19747. Then they will demand another partition of the country and this time the havoc they cause will prove that the murders they committed in 1947 were minor killings.

Perplexed:

Mistaken as they might be the people in these Madrasas are well within their rights to think that the US is on a decline. Till the time they do not break any laws of India - they are free to think and hope for whatever they want.

"Message to you and other bigots: Americans are not all the same. We also don't have control over what Bush does and does not do. Many of us have indeed protested the war since before it started, but it didn't stop Bush from invading. "
________________
Well it must hurt to be on the wrong end of the generalization stick - but I would think that people in the US , including myself, are more to blame for the actions of GWB because we have the freedom to speak out and many of us do not get off our A$$eSS to protest enough. Compare yourself to a person in Saudia Arabia or Afghanistan where if they protest they die. That extra blame is also the price we pay for living in a free country.

So before you call people bigots please look at the way all Muslims are lumped together , not just by people but by the government as well.

AL:

The mufti is a lying bastard. The US is not out to get Muslims and suggesting the US will 'one day reap what they sow' is a colorful way of sealing the hateful prejudice that Madrassas all over the world preach.

The US has helped out Muslims in trouble on several occasions in recent history, including the Balkans where a genocide was halted. Somalia where our efforts where not successful. Kuwait, which had been taken over by a cruel dictator.

In the US, millions of Muslims live as an accepted part of the scoiety and teaching of Islamic culture is common in our educational institutions.

So the troubling questions are about the US? Not about the Muslims genocide to Darfur? Or the murderous Muslims of Al Qaeda? Or the Muslim assassins in Lebanon? Or the murderous Muslims of Iraq whose actions have been a thousand times more deadly than those of the US? Or even the muderous Muslims in India?

I do hope that the US reaps what it sows. For however imperfect we may be, we are an amazing country where the average citizen is a brighter light than the bigoted Mufti will ever be.

JKoch:

Why do the madrassa clerics complain about the US? According to state.gov, the US is to appropriate $300 million in military assistance to Pakistan to combat terrorists. $1.3 billion will go to strengthen Egypt's military. Just for balance, a mere $2.4 billion will be for Israeli forces, and $40 milllion will go to help settle Jewish immigrants to Israel. Finally, a whopping $370k will be for Israeli Arab scholarships. That's enough for Ivy League tuition and board for a about 10 kids.

Who says there is no balance? Why The $238 million in economic assistance to poor starving Israel is $60 million less than the $298 miilion for vast, wealthy Pakistan. Tiny India, loaded as it is with maharajah's and billionaires, gets only $5 million.

Yes, American generousity surely wins too little praise. The American sense of world geography, demography, and history is quite ... astounding.

JRLR:

Raj: "Bob: Show me any news source where it says that the brave men and women of U.S. forces are targeting civilians in Iraq..."

RAJ, you are wasting everybody's time and your own. The Iraq Vets have now admitted doing so, describing "such acts as common".

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070730/hedges/11

The above reference is better than a news source; there, is only confirmed, by those who did it, what people with knowledge of the myth of war, some common sense, and the capacity to exercise good judgment, at times (while others were basking in some self-induced coma), have known all those years.

denis:

We in the US have drawn much of this anger on our own heads by our mindless, but well paid-for, suppot of Israel's illegal settlements,its development of nuclear weapons in violation of aid agreements, its outrageous bombing of Lebanon and, of course, the illegal, counter-productive and utterly stupid invasion of Iraq.

As a scientifically-minded secularist, I mourn the direction of young Muslims' intellects to mastering an outdated scripture. But I can't quarrel with their anger and wish to see us destroyed. Positions reversed, I'd feel the same way. We Americans need to wake up.

Jesus:

I invite you to testify that there is no God except Allah, and to testify that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and to preserve life, to tie the bonds of kinship, and to do good for your neighbors.

These are the same beautiful actions that Muhammad, the messenger of Allah invited people toward.

Allah says (in the Quran in the Chapter called Repentance or at-Taubah):
Yureedoona an yutfioo noora Allahi biafwahihim wayaba Allahu illa an yutimma noorahu walaw kariha alkafiroon. Huwa allathee arsala rasoolahu bialhuda wadeeni alhaqqi liyuthhirahu AAala alddeeni kullihi walaw kariha almushrikoon.

which means:
9:32 They want to extinguish Allah's (The God's) light with their utterances, but Allah (The God) will not allow except that He shall perfect His light, however hateful this may be to those who cover the truth.

9:33 He it is who has sent forth His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion, however hateful this may be to those who ascribe divinity to others beside Allah (The God).

Raj:

Bob:
Show me any news source where it says that the brave men and women of U.S. forces are targeting civilians in Iraq or elsewhere? Muslims are killing civilians every day in Iraq.
Also the 9/11/01 came before 3/20/03! Tell me any source that says the U.S. was going to attack Iraq (or even Afghanistan) before 9/11/01?

Difference with Muslims? bin Laden has about 85% approval rating and Mr. Bush about 28%!

Jeff:

"Message to America: you elect George Bush once, that's an honest mistake. You elect him twice...well, what does that tell us about how America has changed? Americans don't have American values anymore. That's why we need to get worried. We need to be afraid of America and sadly, that is exactly what America wants."
-----------------
Message to you and other bigots: Americans are not all the same. We also don't have control over what Bush does and does not do. Many of us have indeed protested the war since before it started, but it didn't stop Bush from invading. We do not want people to be afraid of us - but we are afraid of the bigots who want to murder us. That is why Bush was re-elected, not because Amercians wanted the war in Iraq. And, remember that America was lied to by the Administration regarding the danger coming from Iraq- that's the only reason the war was supported my many to begin with. Your stereotypes of Americans are just as bigoted as stereotypes of Islamic people.

On the other side, too many Americans are saying, incorrectly, that America gives billions to Islamic countries and they should be grateful. That's not true. American gives billions to the corrupt, brutal dictactors of Islamic countries that are hated by their people. Few people see any of that money outside the ruling elite. They resent America for this, and they have a right to-- we support brutal regimes for our own ends- oil, business for corporations, and fighting terrorists, among other goals.

Jeff:

"Message to America: you elect George Bush once, that's an honest mistake. You elect him twice...well, what does that tell us about how America has changed? Americans don't have American values anymore. That's why we need to get worried. We need to be afraid of America and sadly, that is exactly what America wants."
-----------------
Message to you and other bigots: Americans are not all the same. We also don't have control over what Bush does and does not do. Many of us have indeed protested the war since before it started, but it didn't stop Bush from invading. We do not want people to be afraid of us - but we are afraid of the bigots who want to murder us. That is why Bush was re-elected, not because Amercians wanted the war in Iraq. And, remember that America was lied to by the Administration regarding the danger coming from Iraq- that's the only reason the war was supported my many to begin with. Your stereotypes of Americans are just as bigoted as stereotypes of Islamic people.

On the other side, too many Americans are saying, incorrectly, that America gives billions to Islamic countries and they should be grateful. That's not true. American gives billions to the corrupt, brutal dictactors of Islamic countries that are hated by their people. Few people see any of that money outside the ruling elite. They resent America for this, and they have a right to-- we support brutal regimes for our own ends- oil and fighting terrorists.

x2:

Here we go again.

Muslims are sick. All they do is hate. They can't do anything peaceful.

It's almost like they're Klingons, but without the honor.

VD:

First, I appreciate your effort in talking to folks in Malegaon. It is an important issue that needs to be discussed.

I must preface what I say next with an admission. I am biased in my view of religion in general and muslims in particular and more so since the events of past few years. I do not trust the mental faculty of folks who "believe" in resurrection, rapture, heavenly virgins, reincarnation or what have you and are willing to kill and die for it. These people (and unfortunately, perhaps a large percentage of the world's population fits the bill) are either illiterate or delusional.

If any good is to come out of the events of past few years, a large scale movement that actually excises large parts of supremacist thoughts from the minds of large populations is what one can hope for. This, in my view, is not going to happen.

BOB:

""Is it not right for America to respond to what muslims have done to it aka 9-11"."

How many people died in 9/11 ? And how many have died in Iraq since 3/2003 ? Why is it so easy to cling to the brutality of 9/11, but so easy to ignore the brutality wrought on Iraq post 3/2003 ? 2 million plus Iraqis have left their homeland and are refugees in other countries; the whole country is destroyed; 300,000+ innocents have been killed; and the list goes on.

I'm not a Muslim, but this hypocrisy must stop. If you're going to blame all muslims for 9/11, then STEP UP and TAKE THE BLAME for Iraq! If you claim that you're not responsible for Bush's actions (a laughable claim, since the US is a democracy), then why hold the muslims responsible for Bin Laden's actions??

wahaj hussain:

Madarssah is a place of religious learning and simply follows the religious curriculum including understanding, proper recitation of The Holy Quran and apart from this the basic knowledge of sciences, English and some other subjects. Not to speak of plethora of misconceptions shrouding madarssahs in India and Pakistan for that matter, Islam never teaches to preach hatred or prompts muslims to kill other human beings. On the contrary, In the Quran , Allah says killing a human being is tantamount of killing the whole humanity. What had happened in Red masjid in Pakistan is something one should condemn in the severest terms as those people hiding inside masjid amassing huge weapons and challenging the writ of the government were not at all true muslims as again Islam teaches brotherhood and peace and all this is not at all permissible. Even the people of Pakistan are flabbergasted by this kind of resistance of madarssah’s clerics in the name of Islam. It is an open secret that Islam is the fastest growing religion of the world and according to an article published in Reader’s Digest ‘Almanac’,year book 1986 told that between 1934 and 1984, the percentage of Islam increased by 235% and Christianity increased only by 45 % and conversion rate is seen more to Islam than any other religion so blaming Islam as a religion is outlandish as some muslims might be misguided by some distorted but radical muslims but they are not fundamentalists as they do not know the fundamentals of Islam. Had they known the basics of Islam, most of the problems would have been solved.
What I feel it is because of political motives that religion is quite often misused. If the proper knowledge of the religion is imparted to the students in madarssah I know that no muslim can become radical.

Raj:

The only reason India does not see daily incidents of bombings, beheadings etc. is not because Muslims have been affected by peace loving Hindus (remember Mughals), but because the Indian government has created an apartheid system and let Muslims run their lives according to the Quran and not the Indian consitution which applies to the rest of the population.

Take this special privilege away from Muslims and see India erupt in flames.

manohar:

Amar,
You have done a wonderful coverage bringing Malegaon to the notice of the world. The much awaited dialogue between civilizations is a must. It will go a long way to make people know about each other, it will clear misunderstanding. Perhaps the level of fear will decrease soon. I wish you cover more aspects of Malegaon.
--Manohar

JRLR:

Hi, Amar.

Today, I would rather comment briefly on the comments.

It fascinates me to see the number of people who, in this democracy, would like that other people be stopped (!) thinking what they think, more particularly about America.

These last few days, I have been delving into "The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness", by Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian, to be published in The Nation, yet available now on the Web and already reviewed in The Independent by Leonard Doyle, under 'A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi... You know, so what?'

Whenever I stopped reading and let it all sink in deep down, the same question arose in my mind: One who reads or who already knows THIS, what can he/she possibly think about America?

A new question comes to mind, after reading the comments above: How can one possibly stop that person thinking what he/she now thinks, about America, knowing what he/she now knows?

That Iraq Vets material is very powerful indeed. It can only be dealt with head on.


References:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070730/hedges/11

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2758829.ece

Zathras:

Perhaps the madrassa leaders might consider preparing a few of their students to do humanitarian work in a place where Muslims are suffering. Darfur, for example.

Thomas:

To Mateen: I don't watch Fox News. America is not isolationist. Read some other comments here: America donates billions to Muslim countries, went to war to save Muslims from certain annihilation in Serbia, Kuwait.
It has accepted millions of Muslims immigrants and does not impose its religion, culture, dress code etc. on any of them. Can you say the same about 52 Islamic nations?

JBE:

I do not believe a word of this talk of advising student on America's "peaceful self extermination". The 3rd world sits all day and stews over injustice, and those injustices are pointed at Americans in blanket fashion for everything.

I do not.

That isn't to say Bush didn't earn us that reputation via lies, illegal war action, and destroying our good will.

I DO believe that the Imam's "inability to answer difficult questions" equates to a lack of understanding about the way the world actually operates outside of a village life.

I DO believe that a country in which the majority of citizens have no hope is one that will be leveraged by the religious industry to further its power in the community.

I DO believe that the Imam who cannot explain the wider world to his students is not qualified to be Imam in the 21st century

PD:

I think we have a tendency to blame Muslims at the drop of a hat. It's all very well to say the Muslims of India should "do something" or that the Madrassas need to be stopped. I mean, the Shiv Sena says and does crazy things. What do we Hindus do about it? Nothing. The media makes a small fuss, but our average Hindu is like, let me get on with my life, I need to go to work, I have no time for all this protesting. Why should we expect Indian Muslims to be any different?

We keep blaming Bush for being Bush - we never say, it's the Americans' fault that Bush happened. As though all Americans have a halo around their heads and are not complicit in Bush's actions. But when it comes to Bin Laden, the fault is that of all Muslims. Hence all this clap-trap advice that they should "do something." Worse, many Muslims live in dictatorships (eg Saudi Arabia/Iran). How on earth are they supposed to "do something" when their country is run by a dictator?

I saw a TV program in which a hapless Indian Muslim celebrity was being lambasted for something that a Muslim from another country did. He was like, hey, I'm Indian. I've done nothing wrong. Why do I have to keep defending myself? It's like having a man defend himself just because some other man went and raped someone.

And here's something else. We've never had Indian Muslim terrorists in India fighting against India for all the years that Kashmir has been festering. Event he government keeps saying the terrorists are all from Pakistan. Why don't we have home-grown terrorists fighing Indians because of our Kashmir policy? If Indian Muslims were really hostile to India, the country would disintegrate in no time flat.

Even today, the overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims aren't turning against India - they're turning against America. For some reason, our intellectual elite equates turning against America as turning against India. Sycophancy at its best.

And all said and done, the US, for all its preaching about democracy, doesn't care about innocent life. They don't do body counts of Iraqis, but every American life is counted...so daily we know what the American death toll is. I used to have tremendous faith, respect and affection for America. Post Iraq, no way.

Message to America: you elect George Bush once, that's an honest mistake. You elect him twice...well, what does that tell us about how America has changed? Americans don't have American values anymore. That's why we need to get worried. We need to be afraid of America and sadly, that is exactly what America wants.

600,000 Iraqis dead. For WMDs that don't exist. These 600,000 Iraqis could be alive today even under Saddam. The US media talks of an American pull-out because Americans are dying. Of course, Iraqi lives don't count, do they? All this intellectual posturing....ridiculous. I read this article about the point at which a US soldier turned against the war: a 2 year old Iraqi baby girl had an American bullet through her leg, and she looked up at him - without crying - like, "why do I have a bullet in my leg?"

Collateral damage, right?

I don't think Americans have a real handle on just how viscerally disgusted the rest of the world is with the Iraq war. America has lost its moral standing...it's going to be a long, long, long time before it regains it, if ever. America needs to fix its systems fast, so that another messianic megalomaniac like Bush doesn't ever happen again.

And, just like we keep telling the Muslims to not let more Osamas happen, we need to tell the Americans: don't let more Bushes happen.

Reddy:

I hope we see more terorists from india involve in attacks on west including US.

India is a breeding ground for them, the politicians and govt dont act because of their votes.

If more terrorists are noticed from India then may be the US will kick the indian leaders butt and they might atleast act like trying to stop them.

You can spin it anyway but every muslim is a terrorist its just that some goes off easily and some act covert and some dont dare act but inside everyone is a terrorist.

mp:

I am surprised at Thomas and a few others comments. It is not possible to stop free speech in a democracy. However as I see it the Muslims need to stop having a persecution mentality. Why do they think the United States is out to wipe them of the face of the earth. I am a very tolerant person but even for me it is becoming a stretch when I see the abhorrent killing carried out by Muslims. Through the centuries people have killed in the name of religion but what we see today is absolutely unacceptable. What the Indian Government should do is control the curriculum of these Madrassas. Educate the children and help them to become productive citizens of the world. It is poverty and illeteracy which is the driving force behind this disillusionment. The mullahs and clerics should start putting religion in it's right place and try moving their flock to educate themselves, earn money and better themselves. Once they do this they will find the world a better place to live, they can follow their own religion and values without trying to impose it on others.

Rory:

'"power is not permanent," "the cruel reap what they sow" and so "America will die its own death." In short, be patient.'


Funny, this is exactly how I feel about Islam.

drs13:

Just a little background : Muslims are a minority in India. Roughly 10-12% of the population. Majority of indians are Hindus and are by nature very peaceful and want to be friendly with USA.Just like USA, India has had to struggle with violence in Kashmir, Ayodhya, Bombay bomb blast etc. WHile USA is fighting this war globally, India had to struggle with this internally. Just be sympathetic to India and her constant struggle to be a democratic/secular country.

Sameer:

Why is it that not a single reporter dares asks the subject of his interview, "Is it not right for America to respond to what muslims have done to it aka 9-11". Assuming 9-11 had never happened America was minding it's own business and america would not have attacked Afganistan. As for for Iraq is concerned G-W screwed it up royally so that another matter.

Mateen:

Just wanted to point out to Thomas that I am a Muslim and I do not hate or blame America or the West OR Israel for the conditions of the Muslim world. The majority of the blame lies with the Muslims themselves and how they interpret their religion.
You just shot out this generic remark because most of America has been traditionally an isolationist society and they rarely have any clue about other cultures/regions of the world (as is being witnessed in Iraq). I suggest watching some other news channel than Fox News and opening up your mind to the world outside of the 50 states...

NX:

"There is no TV, Internet, radio or newspapers. So after school they use their free time to play on a green patch of land between the mosque and the madrassa before nightfall."

"Over holidays they read Urdu newspapers from Mumbai and talk to their families. The reports paint a troubling picture of America"

How are these kids supposed to develop broad view of world if they cannot access information. Add to that, they are exposed to urdu news papers which generally have anti-american bias (bias is a mild word here).

Center for Global Studies:

Dear writers:

To some extent you are right. The main reason, Indian Madrasas have been relatively less violent is the massive Hindu population around them. Over 80% Indians are Hindus and most of them are sympathetic to USA. As Muslim population grows (and they have grown from 2% in 1948 to nearly 14% of the total Indian population in 2006) pockets of Muslim majority areas like Kashmir will develop. When that happens, demands for Islamic law and justice will rise and these currently sleeping volcanoes (Madrasas) will become very-very violent as we are already witnessing in Kashmir.

Somebody needs to tell Muslims that much of the Islamic world (Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, to name a few) is living on America's charity. Somebody needs to tell them that out of 7 billion dollars that USA spends each year on foreign aids; nearly five billions go to Muslim countries. Pakistan and Egypt, each receive in excess of one billion dollars a year in outright aids from USA.

Only in the past decade, US went to war against a fellow Christian country (Serbia) just to protect Muslims. I do not know if Islam teaches gratefulness, but I have not heard a single word of gratitude from any Madrasa or for that matter any Islamic community.

Jannah bint Hannah:

Stop what? It's the most apolitical form of Islam I've ever heard of. Isn't that something desirable?

Concerned Indian:

India needs to stop this NOW!

Deb Chatterjee:

Many may not know, but, indeed as Thomas points out, India has the roots of Islamic fundamentalism quite deeply entrenched.

The Dar-ul-Uloom (Deodand school in Lucknow, UP) is a fundamentalist Sunni Wahabi sect. This is the sect that has Osama bin Laden as its follower and patron.

This Dar-ul-Uloom does not call for armed uprising against the secular Indian Government, so long as most of its demands are met. However they do not shy away from using the minority card to meet their demands based on "victimhood".

All Indian political parties pander to this sect of Dar-ul-Uloom. They want to get votes and the Saudi money to fund their election campaigns. As a terrorist group, the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), who were involved in the 7/11 blasts in 2006, draw their inspiration from this Dar-ul-Uloom. The SIMI is associated with the Laskhar-e-Tayyiba and the Jasih-e-Muhammad, Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen not only because of the Kashmir issue, but with a broader goal to Islamize India and implement the Sharia law.

Thus, in conlusion, India is so indirect a major of Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists. The giy who was caught in the 7/11 blasts in Mumbai in 2006 was a Unani doctor from Mumbai and came from a very well educated family - not the hungry and impoverished types.

The USA might do better to place sanctions on India if it cannot rein its political parties to take umbrage of these fundamental Islamic radicals.

Deli Korkmaz:

I find it really sad that these students--and presumably their teachers--see the United States as this great unimind; that nobody has bothered to explain to them how Bush was supported largely by religious conservatives who merely wanted more "moral values," much like themselves; that a government, even in a republic, can operate largely outside of the will of its people, as Bush and Cheney have done, for years.

Thomas:

India could very well be the next Pakistan in producing world class terrorists spreading terror all over the world.
They need to stop this immediately. Btw, it is very typical for a Muslim to blame others, particulary the U.S. , to justify their daily acts of mass murders, beheadings, kidnappings, bombings worldwide.

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