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Shi'a Pundit

Devoted to the viewpoint of Islam of Muhammad SAW and Amir ul-Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib SA, in the Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili Dawoodi Bohra tradition.

June 30, 2004

Muslim-American Mujahideen.

Capt. Humayun Khan, a 27yr old Muslim American soldier in Iraq, lured a suicide bomber vehicle away from his unit and gave his life for a free Iraq:

His family says Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim and an American, loved his country and the military. He also believed strongly that peace would be the ultimate outcome of the war in Iraq.

Khan did not live to see that outcome.

The Department of Defense announced the 27-year-old was killed Tuesday in Baquabah, Iraq. It happened when suicide bombers drove into an American compound while Khan was inspecting soldiers on guard duty.

Khan, who lived in Bristow, is the 20th Virginian to die in Iraq.

"Instead of running, he stood foward to the oncoming taxi to prevent it from going inside," said Shahrayar Khan, who is 11 months older than his brother. "Even being in Iraq, surrounded by moral peril, I knew he would do the right thing. That he was there to protect and to save lives."

InnaLillahi Wa inna Ilahi Raji'un.

Another muslim soldier, Cpl Wassef Hassoun, has been captured by Al-Qaeda extremists in Iraq and also faces the likely prospect of beheading. Falsely accused of deserting his post (a charge that most observers accepted uncritically), his family prays fervently for his release.

It is crucial to note that these soldiers are doing jihad. Not just the internal struggle to stay upon the Path, but the lesser but no less critical at times type that involves risking your life to defend what you believe in. The essence of jihad is to fight in defense of your values, and these men have chosen to answer that call in service of the only nation on Earth that lets them pursue their faith in true freedom and liberty. Is it any surprise that they take up arms?

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June 19, 2004

Si vis pacem, cole justitiam.

The beheading of Paul Johnson is disgusting and vile murder for its own sake, not in service of any true religious impulse or belief. These are thugs and they will pay for their inhuman brutality.

Muslims have never been silent about the evil done by these munafiqin claiming to carry the tandard of Islam.

And what about jihad? This is not it - killing an innocent man is hirabah. Jihad is a girl asking that she not be forced to take clothes off - itself as much an outrage as when women are forced to put clothes on. And Jihad can and sometimes must be violent - as with the Army of Thulfikar, who have taken to the streets of Najaf to rid their neighborhoods of evil thugs. Jihad is a continuum of pious resolve, self-examination, and Jacksonian defense. Islam is not a religion of peace, it is a religion of justice. And the divine justice upon the murderers of Mr. Johnson will be terrible indeed.

translation of the Latin: "if you desire peace, work for justice." Justice precedes peace, in other words. Sometimes, to achieve justice, one must work against peace in the short term - and that too is jihad.

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June 18, 2004

Muslims in India - Bohraization.

Omar Khalidi is an architectural historian at MIT, with a special interest in the political future of muslims in India. He was recently interviewed by the Times of India while on a lecture tour, and had some interesting comments about my community as a role model.

You have studied the Indian Muslim situation for years. How does the community fit into the larger picture of India?

For the present, they do not fit into the tech-savvy, high income, self-confident India of the 21st century. Despite the famous Khans of the Bollywood, Infotech czar Premji, and the famed musicians, most Muslims are far poorer than their compa triots. Their stock in the political decision making is empty. Thin dispersal of the Muslims across the country prevents their numbers from being shown in legislative seats. Many constituencies with large Muslim voting population have been reserved for the SCs. Without some political leverage, public policies cannot be changed The biggest Muslim concern today is physical security of life and property Followed by economic and educational opportunities. For this one cannot blame the govern ment alone. Mus lims need a huge amount of self-in trospection to find the lacunae.

Have the Indian Muslims benefited from the socio-eco nomic development of India in the post Independence era?

No, they have not but not because they are Muslims, but because the economic policies pursued by successive governments have benefited only the upper middle classes and the rich and leave out the rural poor, the urban slum dwellers, SCs and women. The Muslims be come worse off because there is a political culture of indifference towards them. I say indifference — not discrimination — be cause Muslims do not have the political clout, which was lost in the wake of Pak istan’s creation. They inherited the stigma for Pakistan’s birth. So when public funds are distributed, there is a tendency to ignore them. The same policy would have been pur sued in the case of the SCs, but they are pro tected by the policy of reservation at all lev els. A new middle class emerged out of the ranks of the deprived SCs, far outpacing Muslims.

You once called for the ‘Bohraisation of Muslims.

By that I mean that Muslims ought to take more interest in trade, small businesses and self-employment. The era of flabby civil service is over. The path of upward social mobility is by entrepreneurship. In this venture, they have their own Prophet Mohammad as the role model. Don’t forget that he and his wife were both merchants And Bohras — whatever their sectarian beliefs are — have followed the example of the Prophet almost to the letter. The vast majority of the Bohras are small and medium businessmen and industrialists Only a tiny number of Bohras are independent professionals. I have not heard of a Bohra in government employment exceptions apart. The Aga Khani Khojas Memons, Nawaits of Bhatkal in Karnataka Tamil Labbais, Saudagaran of Delhi Kolkata and UP and elsewhere can be good role models for other Muslims.

Part of the economic success of the Bohras is also due to the liberal yet pious approach to theological interpretation - particularly with respect to womens' rights and embrace of technology and modernism. But the lion's share of credit for the Bohra community's success lies with the leadership of the office of Dai u-Mutlaq, who have promoted entrepeneurship and trade explicitly by explicitly invoking the Prophet Mohammed's teachings - and rejecting the vocabulary of hatred and intolerance that has steadily crept into the Muslim mainstream.

The relative independence, if not affluence, of my community, even in the smallest villages, is why I sometimes seem ignorant of the broader social status of muslims in India in general - it's just been as light-years beyond my experience as Bangladeshi poverty has been to Razib.

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Nahj-ul Balagha

About Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit was launched in 2002 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The blog focuses on issues pertaining to Shi'a Islam in the west and in the Islamic world. The author is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

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