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Let me first congratulate you for bringing out a real 'me'yaari' risala for minorities in general and muslims in particular.
Haider Abbas Rizvi, Lucknow

A galaxy of Red/liberal fringe Muslims gathered in Delhi last week trying to hijack `Muslim leadership' from Shahi Imam by exhorting the media to give them the legitimacy denied to them by Muslim masses themselves. One is surprised how those who are against the very concept of organised religion per se should be posing as more `loyal than the King' in their efforts to pass themselves as the true torch-bearers of `Islam in danger'. Shabana Azmi took inherited poetic licence to suggest Shahi Imam should be dropped on Kandahar, to help solve his problem as well as India's. If Mullah Omer can get into the argument, it will not be uncharacteristic of him to suggest hanging Shabana from Qutub Minar, the way Taliban hanged Najibullah in Kabul. All these catchy sloganeering will get everybody media coverage, but will not solve the problem facing Muslims of India. While Muslims in India, by and large, together with majority of their compatriots lament that innocent civilians are dying in Afghanistan in US bombing and leftists are rejoicing in India, with the thought that those who have routed Soviet Russia out of Afghanistan, should be now getting their just desserts at the hands of their former allies, for whom they had sacrificed the cream of their full generation. This is the true face of their professed humanism.
Ghulam Muhammad, Mumbai

Sorry Plight of Muslims
As an elderly Muslim and a humble student of Islam in general, and Qur'aniyat and history in particular, I feel extremely sorry for the mess in which the Ummah finds itself today. In view of the grave dereliction of divine duty bestowed upon the Ummah, we should be the last to even utter a word of protest against USA and its allies. How can we?
We had over a thousand year of total sway over the most populated and culturally established parts of the world with the richest human and natural resources. Allah (SWT) desired that at least one hundred Muslims should be able to take on two hundred when occasion demanded to fight. It started in right direction. But after a thousand years we find ourselves in exactly the opposite condition - even worse.
Even now we are divided in over 50 different countries politically. Freedom of movement of Muslims - let alone non-Muslims - is barred till all the western style formalities are completed. Arab countries have gone a step ahead. They simply confiscate the travel document from the visitor even on pilgrimage. Is this the same Ummatul Muslimeen which was founded in Medinah Munawwara over 1400 years ago? Do we really have a right to protest - protest to the non-Muslims!! We must be crazy. Delivering emotional and provocative speeches with no means to canalize the roused feelings into a positive action, with no control over the people who indulge in what can best be called 'self inflicted injury'. Muslims create inconvenience to the common people by blocking road, indulge in brickbating when told to clear the public place, raise slogans and move in processions causing great nuisance to the people. Is this permitted in Islam. Our beloved Prophet (SAWS) who said that the least one can do to prove his Eimaan is to remove a harmful thing lying on the public passage or the words to that effect. Then we have the audacity to bring in burqa clad ladies on the streets with placards. Is it Islamic. If we have so many grievances against our own government then the best option is to exercise the right to migration to any Islamic country. Is there any one who will allow.
Islam lays great stress on fulfilling the covenants. Being lawful and law abiding citizens we must not do or say anything which causes inconvenience to the common people and embarrass the government which is duly constituted. None of the Muslim countries can claim to being ruled by people who command the confidence of their own people. If so why are they divided? Why cant they become one? UK proved how far flung lands can be ruled from a single place. How the Muslims living is Islamic countries are tolerating such a thing. Division is the worst weakness. And we are divided horizontally, vertically, ideologically and what not.
All these organizations, which themselves create divisions, and the worthies are shedding crocodile's tears to-day just because USA is bombarding Afghanistan. What were they doing when M/s Hikmatyar, Ahmad Shad, Dostam and Co. were slaughtering each other - something prohibited in Islam? Where were they when the so called 'Taliban' let loose terror and massacred people in Mazar-e-Sharif?
Let us be honest. We are NOT the Ummah as depicted in Qur'an and Hadith and exemplified during the Holy Prophet's (pbuh) time. We are pseudo Muslims masquerading as more Muslims than the real ones. I condemn strongly all such people who are publicly airing their voices against USA and delivering fiery speeches. They are committing un-Islamic act and should seek pardon from Allah (SWT) and refrain from doing more damage to the peace loving Muslims of this country. We are fully independent in professing and practicing our religious tenets like no where else in this world including over 50 Islamic countries.
I request you to publish this in your esteemed journal if you believe in freedom of expression and alternate opinion. After all you have named it 'MILLI' Gazette.
As members of Indian nation every Muslim is bound by the Constitution of India. We are duty bound to support the duly constituted by government in its foreign policy.

Mohammed Shabbir Hussain

The Israeli government has had an illegal settlement policy in the Occupied Palestinian Territories ever since they were siezed in 1967. The expansion of settlements greatly increased since the 1993 Oslo peace accords were signed, to such an extent that more settlements have been built in the last 8 years than in the preceding 26.
Neil Lowrie

Try to be good human being first
Are you not sick of the violence being perpetrated in the world by your fellow Muslims that you want to further polarise the world? grow up! get a life!! Try to be a good human being first!
Anil John

Unite as one Ummah
Muslims of the world must give up their grouping under various banners and must unite as one umma immediately or else West will weaken muslims like little ants and finish them up in next century. God is great.
Salim, USA

Writer in purdah demands space
Many facts in several of your articles are incorrect. My suggestion is to create a forum on your website for people to express their opinions on these articles.
anonymous email recieved on 25 Oct.
Editor: Readers are always welcome to email us their comments. We are most liberal about publishing even offending feedback. The only ones excluded are the abusive letters which we receive in bulk.

Non-Muslim entry into Baitul Haram
When the law was passed that no non-Muslim could enter the Bait-ul Haram. Was it during the Prophet's times, or was it later? Liberal Muslims these days talk so much about how we should open up and let non-believers into our mosques and sacred spaces to promote better understanding etc. So this issue about the Bait-ul haram came up and some people claim that this was a much later law.
Aisha Khan, New York
Editor: Non-Muslims were prohibited from entering the Sacred Mosque [The Haram at Makkah] at the time of the Conquest of Makkah some two years before the Prophet died. This was because the non-believers, the polytheists of Arabia, used to perform Haj and tawaf etc naked [like you see some Hindu sadhus]. They believed that performing those rites naked was a great act of worship. However, non-Muslims were not prohibited from living in Makkah or visiting it. It was during the second caliph Umar's time that non-Muslims were prohibited from living in the Haramain, i.e., Makkah and Madinah but they were allowed to visit it as traders etc for two days at a stretch, but there are instances as Dr Hamidullah has shown, that this rule was not effectively implemented. The current practice of not allowing non-Muslims from entering the Haramain at all is a later innovation and I am not aware since when it is in practice. However, there is no prohibition on non-Muslims entry into mosques although some mosques do not allow non-Muslims during times of prayers but I do not think that there is any fiqhi basis for this practice.

I am writing to support the view expressed by Sreekanth (MG, Oct 16), asking that the newspapers of the Muslim community in India should expand their coverage to include the many well-meaning non-Muslims. Since in the last couple of decades Muslims in India have continued to suffer injustices, one after another, many community activists have a propensity to talk about those injustices only, dwell at length on the activities of the anti-Muslim forces/parties, and shut themselves off from the non-Muslims around them. More than anything the issues oriented Muslim press is becoming a victim of this single-track mindset. Aside from the Urdu press, even the English language newspapers/magazines are also falling into this rut. The end result is that these otherwise excellent newspapers/magazines, contain mostly endless tales of woes, with hardly anything to offset the dirge. While Muslim readers of such newspapers/magazines somehow plod through them, the well meaning non-Muslim readers find them very difficult to read. The end result is that a very large majority of Hindus do not have adequate knowledge of the issues of the Muslims. That leads to many well meaning Hindus remaining silent on issues of Muslims. Instead, the defamatory propaganda of the anti-Muslim forces sinks in their minds as the only truth.No wonder that many more unbiased middleclass Hindus are starting to believe the hogwash about the Muslims.
Sreekanth is right on the mark when he says that the untimely death of Madhav Rao Scindia, one of the greatest Hindu friends of Muslims and a gutsy fighter for the equal rights of minorities in India, should have received wide coverage in the Muslim press. His death was a very major loss for the entire Indian Muslim community. However, recent issues of the English language Muslim press had neither any commentaries on his death, nor detailed reporting of that tragedy. Another glaring drawback of the Muslim press is to totally ignore Muslim individuals & organizations in India who are successful in various fields. That results in an overall mood of despair in the community where many, especially the youth, do not see successfull role model Muslims.
The English language Muslim press has a responsibility to make efforts to improve communication and dialogue between Muslims and Hindus. That will be possible only when the substantial well meaning Hindus find the Muslim press broad-based and readable, not myopic. While Muslim press must cover all issues of Muslims, it is not necessary to give saturation coverage to such issues, while totally ignoring the many friendly Hindus and mainstream Indian issues.
In my opinion, giving some space to non-Muslim issues and covering the total spectrum of the Muslim community will significantly improve the readability of Muslim newspapers, for all, Muslims and Hindus alike. Furthermore, it will serve a very important cause of the Muslim community - making Hindus aware of their issues. Even from their very weak position in India today, the Muslim media can demonstrate true leadership.

Kaleem Kawaja , Washington DC.

US attacks on afghanistan
I read the American attacks Special issue of the Gazette. It was the first time that I read this Gazette. In it I have found the hope for the numerous Muslim voices and many true aspects of a situation that fail to reach the people owing to the bias of the mainstream media. We hope that this endeavour of yours has a long life and comes out with the intended results. I think that you should undertake some exercise for promotion of the paper, so that the impact is greater. We would like to promote the readership in our University. In this regard your suggestions will be helpful in furthering the cause.
M.Tauheed Ahmad, HH Hall, AMU

US, Oil and Afghanistan
US oil major, UNOCAL, is once again in the news in the neighbourhood. It seems wherever it wishes to do business, its presence is so jinxed that it invites trouble. This time in the neighboring Bangladesh, the defeated Awami League leader Hasina Wajed, with all her anti-mulla credentials intact, though ironically following the lead of another Mullah, the Taliban's own Mulla Omar, but having opposed UNOCAL's proposed $1.2 billion gas pipeline from Bangladesh to New Delhi, claims to have invited UNOCAL/US wrath that resulted in the conspiracy to rig the recent Bangladesh national elections and thus paved the way for a more pliable Khalida Zia's overwhelming majority wins to form the government in Bangladesh who is merrily signing the deal to export the gas to India. So it will appear, it is the same East India Company syndrome, that is keeping south east Asia, in the troubled state of conspiracies, wars, and death and destruction unleashed by the US in defence of its oil companies. In the midst of all this havoc, Indian leaderships is fuming that US neglect of their presence in the subcontinent is the biggest blunder US is committing. It is not clear if India's own claim to a super-power status is to follow the same US formula of unleashing death and destruction on the neighbours, to promote its own economic interests, in direct contrast to the pious commitment to free trade and globalisation charade.
A question remains unanswered. Why Mulla Omar and Hasina Wajed, both on the two extreme ends of cultural/ideological divide, have simultaneously come out with identical responses to UNOCAL's proposals.
Is it that the UNOCAL not offering attractive and competitive terms and railroading the proposal under threat of reprisals, like toppling the governments, through ballot box manipulation in Bangladesh and through bombing civilians in Afghanistan to force Taliban to `surrender power'. Indian political parties should rise above partisan rivalries to unite and evaluate the full consequences of participating in the `Great Game', now proposed to be played in the area that in hindsight appears to have been blessed with the famous `benign neglect' for last half a century. This is no time for cross-border tit for tat slogan-mongering in the best traditions of subcontinents' womenfolk gathered around the village wells or mohalla's water taps. The time is to unite and seriously plan for the future in a world full of dangers and uncertainties.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai


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