A Red Mosque that breathes fire
|Religious students standing near Lal Masjid or Red Mosque in Islamabad.|
In the central district of Pakistan's purpose-built capital, Islamabad, stands a mosque that, in recent months, has attracted worldwide attention for asserting religious law in disregard of state authority.
Architecturally, the Lal Masjid (the red mosque) is totally eclipsed by Islamabad's magnificent Faisal Mosque.
But way back in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, this rather inconspicuous place of worship began a militant career, the latest twist of which is a confused and bloody confrontation with the Musharraf regime.
A firebrand imam, Abdullah, and his two sons, often called the Ghazi brothers, collaborated closely with the Pakistani government and its Arab partners in assisting the Mujahideen battling the Soviet army.
They took advantage of this nexus and made the mosque the nucleus of a large complex that includes Pakistan's most radical madrassa (religious school) for women.
In the process, the Ghazi brothers, who took over the complex after their father was mysteriously assassinated, expanded its premises into adjacent government land.
A distinctive feature of the seminary's educational program was the emphasis on activism in ushering in an Islamic way of life. Since the beginning of this year, the Lal Masjid seminaries have pushed the limits of autonomous action inviting criticism from the Westernized elite that they were acting like a state within a state.
Demolition of some small mosques built illegally on government land seemed to have fuelled their indignation at President Pervez Musharraf's secularization of the society.
In April, the two brothers set up a Sharia Court outside the state system that issued a fatwa (religious edict) against a woman minister of the Musharraf government who eventually resigned in a huff. The students attracted attention by kidnapping policemen on surveillance duties and later some Chinese women working in pain management clinics.
With government's credibility plummeting, there has been no lack of cynical explanations of this bizarre activism. It has been seen by some as a crisis contrived by the government to divert public attention from the much bigger agitation for the reinstatement of the Chief Justice of Pakistan.
Allegedly, the threat from religious centers was also designed to scare the United States that the alternative to Musharraf was the seizure of nuclear- armed Pakistan by Muslim extremists.
If the regime was using the Ghazi brothers for its own ulterior purposes, it has been gradually sucked into a dangerous situation. On July 3, strong para-military forces laid siege to the premises saying rather disingenuously that it was to prevent the Lal Masjid vigilantes from embarking upon raids on various establishments in the capital.
This force of tough Rangers was allegedly fired upon from the complex. As it retaliated, about 20 people died in fire fights that kept erupting till late into the night. On Day Two of the stand off, the government was, however, more skilful, encouraging seminary students to surrender in return for promise not to prosecute them. More than a thousand accepted the deal.
The highs and lows of the Lal Masjid movement to enforce Sharia during the last six months may well be remembered as an illustration of the shallow approach of the present political dispensation in Islamabad to the Islamic issue in Pakistan's polity.
Muslim societies have historically needed a framework of beliefs - a superstructure of ideas - for reference.
The Musharraf regime has shown little interest in furthering the renaissance of Islamic thought that began in South Asia in the late 19th century and, instead, relied on superficial slogans such as "enlightened moderation" coined largely to rationalize and justify alignment with the United States in the current Afghan war.
Under external pressure, it opted for ad hoc use of extreme force against "extremists" and after suffering serious losses in the tribal belt along the Afghan border reverted to a more moderate policy mix.
It has failed to create an intellectual ethos that would resonate well with a Muslim nation and consequently its partnership with the United States has lacked popular validation. Crude manipulation of state decisions by Washington has undermined national cohesion and fomented ideological anarchy.
This situation impacts negatively on Musharraf's plans for his own re-election and for the next elections to the federal parliament and provincial assemblies.
Five years ago he helped an alliance of religious political parties to make significant gains; the alliance, MMA, reciprocated by enabling him to secure parliamentary approval for combining the office of president with that of chief of army staff against the spirit of the Constitution. This time, Musharraf is still undecided about potential electoral allies.
The intensity of the present political conflict in the country makes it prone to episodes like that of the Lal Masjid. It will hopefully be over with some loss of human lives but Pakistan's political class is yet to compute long term damage to the national polity.
Muslim states need processes of accommodation of faith, tradition and heritage; it is a dynamic and continuous engagement. Instead, Muslim rulers often accept Western pressures that divide, rupture and polarize them making them susceptible to violence.
The Islamic tendency has to be brought into mainstream and not driven into underground asymmetrical warfare. Only a more indigenous and inclusive approach to issues can restore tranquility.
Tanvir Ahmad Khan is a former foreign secretary and ambassador of Pakistan.
Topics: Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, United States Of America
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Any way, I'll briefly explain to you that Islamic finance or Islamic banking is a principle of loan and borrowing that distinct itself from the conventional banking. Conventional banking is prohibited because it thrives from the practice of gaining profit from interest, and interest or usury is prohibited in Islam because of it oppressive manner in business dealings.
Now, how an Islamic banking makes profit is by way of an agreed deal, the " aqad " in which the borrower and the creditor will agree on some margin of profits over the number of years that a loan is to be paid. If it is a housing loan, if the loan payment period is 10 years then the borrower will agreed to pay the full amount within that period which is made up of the difference between the value of the house now and the estimated value it will in 10 years. That is the LOWEST ESTIMATED VALUE.
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The Islamic banking system relies heavily on the Hanafi school of thought, in it's principles, which are nevertheless Islamic system.
I'll write more if time permits. Regards,