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American Arrested in Pakistan was on Solo Mission to Hunt Bin Laden

By Manzer Munir for Pakistanis for Peace

Gary Brooks Faulkner, a 51 year old construction worker from California was arrested by Pakistani police Monday night with a pistol, night vision goggles, and a 40 inch sword and apparently on a mission to kill Osama Bin Laden in revenge for the September 11 attacks on the US.

Faulkner was captured by the Pakistani police in the city of Chitral in the northwestern region of Pakistan near the Afghanistan border. According to a senior police officer, Faulkner was carrying religious Christian books and was reportedly on a mission to avenge the victims of the 9-11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

According to Pakistani officials, Faulkner arrived in Pakistan on June 3 and stayed in a local hotel in an area of Pakistan known for its spring festivals and frequented by foreign tourists also. Apparently this was Mr. Faulkner’s sixth trip to Pakistan since 2002. At a press conference in his present state of Colorado, Faulkner’s brother Scott Faulkner, a physician, stated that his brother Gary was “on a mission.”

“He’s not crazy,” Dr. Faulkner said of his brother. “He’s not a psychopath. He’s not a sociopath.” Because of Osama Bin Laden’s security and Gary Faulkner’s kidney condition, Dr Faulkner did not believe he would see his brother again as he dropped him off at the airport prior to his flight to Pakistan this month. “I did not think I was going to see my brother again,” Dr. Faulkner said. “That’s the nature of going to Pakistan and hunting a wanted man who is surrounded by people with automatic weapons.”

Dr Faulkner stated that his brother underwent kidney dialysis three times a week and that if he killed or capture Bin Laden, he would use the reward money to live the rest of his life in Nicaragua helping build houses for the homeless.

According to Pakistani police, Mr Faulkner disappeared from his hotel Sunday night and away from the posted police guards, who are customarily there for the security of foreigners. When he checked out without informing police, officers began looking for him, according to the top police officer in the Chitral region, Mumtaz Ahmad Khan. He was in custody after a 10 hour search in a forest area in a high security zone close to the border with Afghanistan. He surrendered without any resistance and was flown to Peshawar where members of the United States embassy were notified of the arrest of an American.

“We initially laughed when he told us that he wanted to kill Osama bin Laden,” Khan said. But when officers seized the weapons and night-vision equipment, “our suspicion grew.” He said the American was trying to cross into the nearby Afghan region of Nuristan.

Chitral and Nuristan are among several rumored hiding places for bin Laden along the mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is currently being questioned by members of Pakistan’s intelligence officials according to reports and is in Peshawar where at present he has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Whether Faulkner was there on a half baked suicidal, Rambo style mission or he truly believed he could be successful in finding and infiltrating Osama’s inner circle in order to capture or kill him remains to be seen. Nonetheless, it is a testament to the American “Can-do” spirit that a patriotic yet perhaps disillusioned and aging construction worker could take it upon himself to go to dangerous areas of Pakistan in order to avenge the victims of September 11. Whether he is simply crazy or foolish, one can not deny his desire to capture one of the most wanted man in history. We can only dream of the possibilities of real capture or death of Bin Laden if the majority of people in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region wanted to capture Osama and the terrorist Taliban leaders like Mullah Omar and others who shelter him.

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India, Pakistan and the Musical Gurus of Peace

By Varun Soni for The Huffington Post

In July, India and Pakistan will begin a new round of talks in hopes of reviving their diplomatic efforts and renewing their peace process. While there are many pressing political issues to discuss, these talks could also be a remarkable opportunity for an innovative public diplomacy initiative between the nuclear neighbors. Although public diplomacy is often thought of as a form of state-to-state engagement, it also has the power to engage populations on a person-to-person level as well, especially in the age of social media and networking. Given the fact that many Indians and Pakistanis sing the same songs and listen to the same music, there is a unique opportunity now to promote popular music as a form of public diplomacy.

Although India and Pakistan are politically divided, their cultural roots still bind them together. Nowhere is this more apparent than Punjab — a region that was partitioned to create the modern nation-states of India and Pakistan in 1947, and further divided into the Indian states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh in the 1960s. Despite these geopolitical divisions, Punjabis in both India and Pakistan remain united by “Punjabiyat,” a shared cultural heritage that has developed over millennia.

The historical Punjab is the only region in South Asia where Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs are all represented in large numbers. Even as Punjab’s history is one of conflict and communalism, it is also one of overlapping musical and religious traditions. For example, the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh canonical text, contains within it not only the devotional compositions of Guru Nanak and his Sikh successors, but also verses from poets now considered Hindu and Muslim, such as Namdev and Baba Farid. Likewise, the Sikh devotional music of kirtan draws from similar lyrical sources and employs a similar instrumentation as Hindu bhajan music and Sufi qawwali music. For contemporary musicians, the devotional syncretism of Punjab remains a powerful model for how music can provide an encompassing framework for both unity and diversity.

Earlier this year, I interviewed the Sufi rock star Salman Ahmad as part of a USC book launch series focused on religion, popular culture, and diplomacy. As the founder of Junoon, Pakistan’s most popular rock band, Ahmad discussed his experiences performing in both India and Pakistan and explained how rock and roll empowers and connects the youth in both countries. In the name of rock-and-roll diplomacy, Ahmad organized last year’s Concert for Pakistan at the UN General Assembly Hall as a way of raising money and awareness for the three million internally displaced people of the Swat Valley in Pakistan. Inspired by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar’s famous Concert for Bangladesh, the Concert for Pakistan brought together prominent Indian and Pakistani musicians, diplomats, and entrepreneurs in solidarity and support for Swat.

Another powerful moment in India-Pakistan musical diplomacy occurred in August of 1997, when India and Pakistan celebrated their fiftieth anniversaries of independence as nation-states. In order to commemorate this occasion, the virtuoso Indian music composer A.R. Rahman recorded with the late great Pakistani qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Together, the most famous musician from India and the most famous musician from Pakistan composed “Gurus of Peace,” an impassioned plea for peace between India and Pakistan. “Gurus of Peace” proved prescient, as the following year both India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons, prompting President Clinton to call the India-Pakistan border the world’s most dangerous region. But A.R. Rahman and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had reminded the region the year earlier that India and Pakistan could unite through musical fusion instead of divide over nuclear fusion.

In the 1950s, the US State Department began sponsoring jazz luminaries, such as Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie, to perform concerts overseas and serve as American cultural ambassadors. This public diplomacy initiative was aimed at winning the hearts and minds of potential allies in the Cold War, but the concerts also connected communities and ideas at a person-to-person level, and inspired artistic movements throughout the world. Likewise, India and Pakistan should sponsor and promote a series of musical concerts, workshops, and exchanges as a way of creating connections and engaging communities on a non-state level. Musical diplomacy certainly has its limits and should only be one part of a broader public diplomacy strategy, but after more than 60 years of missed public diplomacy opportunities, it’s time for India and Pakistan to follow the lead of A.R. Rahman and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and give music a chance.

U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan

By James Risen for The New York Times
WASHINGTON — The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said in an interview on Saturday. “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.” The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines. American and Afghan officials agreed to discuss the mineral discoveries at a difficult moment in the war in Afghanistan. The American-led offensive in Marja in southern Afghanistan has achieved only limited gains. Meanwhile, charges of corruption and favoritism continue to plague the Karzai government, and Mr. Karzai seems increasingly embittered toward the White House.

So the Obama administration is hungry for some positive news to come out of Afghanistan. Yet the American officials also recognize that the mineral discoveries will almost certainly have a double-edged impact. Instead of bringing peace, the newfound mineral wealth could lead the Taliban to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country.

The corruption that is already rampant in the Karzai government could also be amplified by the new wealth, particularly if a handful of well-connected oligarchs, some with personal ties to the president, gain control of the resources. Just last year, Afghanistan’s minister of mines was accused by American officials of accepting a $30 million bribe to award China the rights to develop its copper mine. The minister has since been replaced.

Endless fights could erupt between the central government in Kabul and provincial and tribal leaders in mineral-rich districts. Afghanistan has a national mining law, written with the help of advisers from the World Bank, but it has never faced a serious challenge.

“No one has tested that law; no one knows how it will stand up in a fight between the central government and the provinces,” observed Paul A. Brinkley, deputy undersecretary of defense for business and leader of the Pentagon team that discovered the deposits.

At the same time, American officials fear resource-hungry China will try to dominate the development of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, which could upset the United States, given its heavy investment in the region. After winning the bid for its Aynak copper mine in Logar Province, China clearly wants more, American officials said.

Another complication is that because Afghanistan has never had much heavy industry before, it has little or no history of environmental protection either. “The big question is, can this be developed in a responsible way, in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible?” Mr. Brinkley said. “No one knows how this will work.”

With virtually no mining industry or infrastructure in place today, it will take decades for Afghanistan to exploit its mineral wealth fully. “This is a country that has no mining culture,” said Jack Medlin, a geologist in the United States Geological Survey’s international affairs program. “They’ve had some small artisanal mines, but now there could be some very, very large mines that will require more than just a gold pan.”

The mineral deposits are scattered throughout the country, including in the southern and eastern regions along the border with Pakistan that have had some of the most intense combat in the American-led war against the Taliban insurgency.

The Pentagon task force has already started trying to help the Afghans set up a system to deal with mineral development. International accounting firms that have expertise in mining contracts have been hired to consult with the Afghan Ministry of Mines, and technical data is being prepared to turn over to multinational mining companies and other potential foreign investors. The Pentagon is helping Afghan officials arrange to start seeking bids on mineral rights by next fall, officials said.

“The Ministry of Mines is not ready to handle this,” Mr. Brinkley said. “We are trying to help them get ready.” Like much of the recent history of the country, the story of the discovery of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth is one of missed opportunities and the distractions of war.

In 2004, American geologists, sent to Afghanistan as part of a broader reconstruction effort, stumbled across an intriguing series of old charts and data at the library of the Afghan Geological Survey in Kabul that hinted at major mineral deposits in the country. They soon learned that the data had been collected by Soviet mining experts during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, but cast aside when the Soviets withdrew in 1989.

During the chaos of the 1990s, when Afghanistan was mired in civil war and later ruled by the Taliban, a small group of Afghan geologists protected the charts by taking them home, and returned them to the Geological Survey’s library only after the American invasion and the ouster of the Taliban in 2001.

“There were maps, but the development did not take place, because you had 30 to 35 years of war,” said Ahmad Hujabre, an Afghan engineer who worked for the Ministry of Mines in the 1970s.

Armed with the old Russian charts, the United States Geological Survey began a series of aerial surveys of Afghanistan’s mineral resources in 2006, using advanced gravity and magnetic measuring equipment attached to an old Navy Orion P-3 aircraft that flew over about 70 percent of the country.

The data from those flights was so promising that in 2007, the geologists returned for an even more sophisticated study, using an old British bomber equipped with instruments that offered a three-dimensional profile of mineral deposits below the earth’s surface. It was the most comprehensive geologic survey of Afghanistan ever conducted. The handful of American geologists who pored over the new data said the results were astonishing.

But the results gathered dust for two more years, ignored by officials in both the American and Afghan governments. In 2009, a Pentagon task force that had created business development programs in Iraq was transferred to Afghanistan, and came upon the geological data. Until then, no one besides the geologists had bothered to look at the information — and no one had sought to translate the technical data to measure the potential economic value of the mineral deposits.

Soon, the Pentagon business development task force brought in teams of American mining experts to validate the survey’s findings, and then briefed Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Mr. Karzai.

So far, the biggest mineral deposits discovered are of iron and copper, and the quantities are large enough to make Afghanistan a major world producer of both, United States officials said. Other finds include large deposits of niobium, a soft metal used in producing superconducting steel, rare earth elements and large gold deposits in Pashtun areas of southern Afghanistan.

Just this month, American geologists working with the Pentagon team have been conducting ground surveys on dry salt lakes in western Afghanistan where they believe there are large deposits of lithium. Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni Province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large of those of Bolivia, which now has the world’s largest known lithium reserves.

For the geologists who are now scouring some of the most remote stretches of Afghanistan to complete the technical studies necessary before the international bidding process is begun, there is a growing sense that they are in the midst of one of the great discoveries of their careers. “On the ground, it’s very, very, promising,” Mr. Medlin said. “Actually, it’s pretty amazing.”

Child Labor Alarmingly Rising in Pakistan

By Jamil Bhatti, Zeeshan Niazi for  Xinhua News Agency

Shahzab, 10 years old, screwing the parts of motorbikes in a workshop with tinted hands and cloths with oil, was unaware of the seminar being held on the Child Labor Day in a five star hotel on Saturday in Islamabad.

“I don’t know what kind of this day is. I come for work at 8 a. m. and remain here till 8 p.m.,” Shahzab told Xinhua.

Shahzab is living with his senior mechanic and the owner of the workshop for last four years. His father handed him to the owner due to poverty. Now his father comes monthly only to receive his wages, about 1,200 rupees (1 dollar about equals 85 rupees) per month.

“Why the people don’t know these children are flowers of heaven and a beautiful creation of God, we should bring them up in soothing atmosphere instead of these hardships,” said Muhammad Zubair, a customer in the workshop.

Millions of children might be seen throughout the country working as a full time laborer even on the day when the International Labor Organization (ILO) along with other organizations, appealed to the world to “go for the goal – end child labor.”

ILO aims to end the worst form of child labor by 2016. But in Pakistan the child labor is growing instead of ending or lessening.

The Survey of All Pakistan Labor Force in 2007 and 2008 showed that there have been over 21 million labor children between the ages of 10 to 14 working in the country, out of which 73 percent are boys and 27 percent are girls. It is almost double of what Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated in 2005.

Pakistan’s National Child Labor Survey conducted in 1996 found that 3.3 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 were working in different fields on full time basis across the country. In Pakistan, ILO, along with Provincial Labor Department, is working to organize speech competition, an exhibition of paintings, a magic show for kids, and a street walks to raise awareness among people against the child labor.

Activists working to eliminate the child labor said that children work in the rural areas as bonded workers and often are not paid for their labor. Most of them work only for food and shelter that they get from the employer.

Sagheer Aslam, a child rights activist in Islamabad, is of the view that poverty, illiteracy and parents’ authority over the children’s choice of work and wages are the main reasons behind the child labor.

“Social status, lack of proper skills and the ignorant attitude of the society are some other major factors in the promotion of this social evil,” said Aslam.

The number of child laborers is rising day by day in Pakistan, opposite to the other parts of the world.

Sahiba Irfan, program officer of Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), does not support the marking of international child labor day.

“This specific day cannot bring any change in the society for child labor or for any other problem. There should be all time struggle to create awareness among people for some positive change, ” she said. Irfan considered it is very hard to eradicate this evil suddenly from a society where more than 50 percent people are living below the poverty line.

“This practice continues for centuries. It is impossible to finish it in one go but we can change child labor into child work by sending children to school and to work for part time,” she added.

SPARC, an organization working for the rights of the children in Pakistan, is drafting a law to present it before the National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament, for getting the approval to implement it. Figures and their analysis advocated that the child labor is getting worse with every coming day in the country.

Children are found working in every field of life but some are the most common, like work inside mines, cutting marbles, mixing of pesticides, cement industry, filling gas cylinders, textile factories, stone crushing, hotels, workshops, carpet waving, deep fishing and glass factories.

Laik Khanzada, nine-year-old trainee motor mechanic, still wishes to go to school but cannot fulfill it. “I used to go to school but then left because we had no fee to pay,” said Khanzada, who wishes to be an officer if he gets a chance to study.

Owners of the workshops can’t help to appoint them in their workshops as trainee due to many reasons. “They come here due to poverty, if we do not keep them, they will become dangerous for society being loafer and addicted to drugs,” Yardost Khan, a workshop owner in Islamabad, told Xinhua.

Khan, responding to a question, said that it is not their duty but of the government to send them to school. “We are here only to teach them mechanical techniques for their future livelihood,” Khan said. Moving around Pakistan’s streets we can see underage children working very hard. If some one asks them the reason, they have only one answer “poverty”.

Continuing rise in the number of labor children hints that marking of this international day is limited only to the conferences in five star hotels. The children plight demands some serious actions to solve their problems.

Analysis: Turkey Looks East, Snarling Key US Goals

By Steven R Hurst for The Associated Press                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    President Barack Obama scored two key foreign policy victories this week _ a new round of U.N. sanctions on Iran even as he kept Israeli-Palestinian talks on life support after the Israeli attack on Turkish ship carrying aid to Gaza.  The unintended costs may be heavy.

Both issues threaten key alliances with Muslim Turkey. And both test the ability of the U.S. and Israeli to cope with Ankara’s move out of the Western and NATO orbit toward largely Islamic regions of the Middle East and Central Asia. That matters because the United States is losing sway with its longtime NATO anchor, a democracy that bridges Europe to Asia and the Middle East.

Israel too is struggling to avoid Turkey’s threatened estrangement _ a break that would cost the Jewish state its only Muslim military ally. Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Israel after its establishment more than six decades ago. The widening fissures in both alliances likely carry heavier psychological than strategic implications for the time being, particularly for Israel.

Here’s why. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan “suddenly is the most popular politician in the Arab world and he doesn’t speak a word of Arabic,” asserts Henri Barkey of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Erdogan’s popularity grew exponentially after the Israeli commando raid on a Turkish-sanction flotilla of aid ships bound for Gaza. Muslims across the Middle East are holding him up as a hero for his tough talk against the Jewish state in their midst. That’s a stunning reversal. Turks, who migrated into modern day Turkey from Central Asia centuries ago, had always been seen in the Arab world as heirs to the Ottoman empire that had oppressed Arabs for 400 years.

Erdogan received a thunderous reception from fellow Muslim leaders Thursday at the Turkish-Arab Economic Forum that opened with calls for an international investigation of the May 31 Israeli raid that killed eight Turkish activists and a Turkish-American teenager. Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002 in a landslide victory, a clear shift away from Turkey’s secular traditions that were established in the modern state, the post World War I and shrunken remnant of the Ottoman Empire.

The political shift was a clear precursor of Turkey’s move toward a more comfortable and powerful place in the Muslim world, despite continued efforts for membership in the European Union. Erdogan has since taken to championing the Palestinians’ cause, often more loudly than their fellow Arabs. That had badly strained Israeli-Turkish relations even before the crisis that blew up around the Gaza aid flotilla.

Then there was Turkey’s insertion of itself into the effort to move Iran away from uranium enrichment and its alleged program to build a nuclear weapon. After Iran rejected a deal to swap nuclear fuel last fall, the United States was determined to impose a fourth round of U.N. sanctions on Tehran. Washington had the backing of fellow U.N. Security Council members France and Britain all along and was on the verge of announcing that Russia and China also were on board.

Turkey, with help from Brazil, suddenly announced that it had revived the swap deal and that Iran had agreed. That agreement, more than a half year after initially rejected by Iran, was deeply flawed.

And the next day the United States said a new sanctions package had unanimous support from all five permanent Security Council members. It thanked Turkey for its efforts but said the train had already left the station. When the council voted earlier this week, only Turkey and Brazil cast no votes. Those did little but register protest since neither country holds a veto.

In spite of its rhetoric and obstructionism, Turkey does not appear ready any time soon the break fully from the West. It has vast interests intricately woven into NATO and the European Union. Turkey has a customs union agreement with its top trading partner, Europe, and wants to become part of the EU. But there is no doubt that the tone in Turkey’s foreign policy is changing.

Although the United States has been its chief ally since the Cold War, Turkey opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq through Turkish soil, triggering tensions with Washington. Until the late 1990s, Turkish relations with Iran were tense, with its secular, westernized government accusing Tehran of trying to export its radical Islamic regime to this predominantly Muslim but secular country. Today, Turkey wants to build deeper trade ties with Iran.

Erdogan also is building support for next year’s election by playing the Islam card _ one that appeals heavily to traditionalist, rural and Muslim voters who make up the vast majority of the electorate. “This is not being driven by foreign affairs,” said Jonathan Adelman, professor at the University of Denver. “Erdogan is winning points at home _ going back to the country’s Muslim roots.”

Taliban Hangs 7 Year Old Afghan Boy For Spying

By Tucker Reals for CBS News

Taliban militants accused a seven-year-old boy of spying and hanged him earlier this week in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, a local government official tells CBS News.  

Provincial government spokesman Daud Ahmadi confirmed the incident which took place on Tuesday in the Taliban stronghold of Sangin, in Helmand. Ahmadi told CBS News’ Fazul Rahim the boy was hanged in public after a Taliban commander read a verdict out loud, accusing the youth of spying for international forces.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that, if confirmed by his national government, the hanging would be “heart breaking and shocking.”

Karzai spoke in Kabul at a joint news conference with Britain’s new Prime Minister David Cameron, who was in town for his first visit as head of state. Cameron said the alleged hanging would be a “horrific crime… a crime against humanity,” if proven.

A local resident in the remote village of Sang e Hissar, in the Sangin valley, tells CBS News he witnessed the hanging. The man says three militants brought the boy before a crowd of about 150 people, read the short verdict, and then hanged him from a tree.

The youngster was the grandson of a respected local elder, the resident tells CBS. According to the villager, the Taliban have intensified their campaign of intimidation in the area in recent months.

A Taliban source in Helmand told CBS News’ Sami Yousafzai on Thursday he was aware of the boy being killed, but that it was a case of a militant settling a personal vendetta against the boy’s family, then using the spying charges as an excuse. The source said he believed the boy’s executor had fled across the border to Pakistan.

The hanging comes as a Taliban commander in neighboring Kandahar province — the Taliban’s traditional home territory — tells CBS News that a suicide attack on a wedding party that left 40 people dead was “collective punishment” for villagers standing up to the Islamic militants’ control in the region.

Islam in the Indian Subcontinent and the Rise of Sects

By Nagwa Malik 

Islam, a religion described by many as a religion of peace, and by many again a religion of terrorism. Why this huge controversy? Simple. Islam is a religion of peace and fortunately or unfortunately it goes past creed, race, cast, color or country, through all the continents and like the Chinese whisper, the meaning gets scrambled along the way.

But if we examine Islam in the Indian subcontinent alone we find various colors within this one religion. In fact I am amazed to see that the amount of misinformation, lack of information and incomplete knowledge is so high in this area of the world that most of the sects are generated from within this boundary alone. Islam is one, it is a sign of unity, so the thought of any sect violates the essence of the religion. The Quran itself states that creating sects in Islam is Haram (forbidden).

This is one fact that we  as Muslims do not seem to realize. Why are these sects formed and continue to grow? Because every individual interprets the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) and even the Quran in a different light and in doing so everyone seems to think they have hit upon something new and that something new has to be the real truth. They go around preaching in their excitement of having learnt what they think is unknown to anyone else, and thus a sect is formed. Did you know that there are more sects within the Islamic religion in this part of the world than the rest of the world put together?

I am very sad to point out that where every scholar from every part of the world will agree upon certain basics of Islam, these very basics will be found challenged and put through controversy by only writers of the subcontinent.  Similarly this question about challenging hadith or the concept of it has been only and only from this part of the world in the same way does the production of hadiths that do not exist in the first place at all. These two extremes are born from within our very country, and nowhere else in the world.

People realise their lack of knowledge at a rather later stage in life usually 40 above and decide to conduct a research. This usually comes out rather worse for the rest of the human race, for they do not do a complete research, but pick on that one single idea that has clicked and instead of trying to find out the truth, only start justifying their idea as the truth. This leads to rather disastrous results which is why Islam practised in the subcontinent is not the fundamental basics of Islam. You know the saying: a half truth is worse than a lie. A very small example of this is the recent wave of ideology that whatever is in the Quran is Islam, and there is no other source. That the Quran is complete and nothing is left unexplained. The idea continues with the denouncement of Hadith or the Prophet’s tradition. How bizarre can one get in trying to understand religion, only to denounce that very fundament of religion? It is true that Quran touches on every subject and completely defines the Muslim code of life, but not everything is put to print. Some things have been left to the Prophet (pbuh) to practise and to explain.

There are four basics of Islam which are not to be tampered with when conducting any research, and these four are undisputed by every scholar in the world except again the few in the subcontinent who think they have hit the jack pot…rather the opposite if you ask me; these four are Quran, Hadith, Ijma and Qiyas. These basics form the Shariah. The present legal system followed by the west and rather poorly by the subcontinent is actually based on this very foundation of Islam and Islamic legal system. The tradition of cross referencing a case, reading from the statute, citing previous cases all stem from the four basic references of Islam. To denounce anyone is to denounce the religion itself. So one has to be very careful before one forms rather ingenious theories about understanding Islam.

A tip for all new researchers: try to avoid reading books written by local writers first, or try to avoid reading them at all, for they base their books on controversies. Instead pick up authentic writers accepted all over the world for their deep and accurate research work. Try reading old writers who have been authenticated by the Islamic panel internationally. It should be noticed that people in Pakistan and India are less informed about their religion than other Muslim countries, and those who have had a basic education of Islam abroad hold a more solid and clear view of Islam whereas unfortunately in the subcontinent this is not so. Abroad there is only one book, one rule, one religion, whereas in the subcontinent there are many books, many rules and many sects. We need to eradicate this flaw within our system.  When we go for the pilgrimage we find that the pilgrims from around the world are mostly young but only pilgrims from the subcontinent are old. That explains a lot doesn’t it? For a country called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan we are curiously very unfamiliar with Islam and its basic teachings.

Before we go about getting excited over our incomplete research works and start preaching them, please do understand a rule of Islam which says misinformation is a sin.  It is suggested, then, that once it is sure that a thorough research is conducted in the right way, and the three stages of basic research have been passed through, then and only then should one allow oneself to preach. Also, one must try practising it first. Too often people who claim to be righteous Muslims  are ones who inevitably do not fully practice what they preach. We must remember the saying: neem hakeem khatara-e-jaan, neem mullah khatara-e-imaan. (A half baked physician is a danger to your life and a half baked mullah is a danger to your faith).

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