Thursday, October 02, 2008

Are we Muslims Our Own Worst Enemies?

India population is predominantly Hindu but has a big number of Muslims but still a minority for a billion people nation. India was historically under by Muslim rulers.

Wikipedia - The Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent mainly took place from the 11th to the 17th centuries, though earlier Muslim conquests made limited inroads into the region, beginning during the period of the ascendancy of the Rajput Kingdoms in North India, from the 7th century onwards.

Since Dubai has a lot of India nationals and most of them are Muslims, it is interesting to see Islam through their perspectives. I know a prominent Indian Muslim who is not only a succesful businessman (mostly education with over 20 schools in India and UAE) but a well-known philanthropist and a Tabligh man. And I know hundreds of other Indian Muslims and Hindus who seem enjoying living and working in the UAE for good life.

I read this piece in Khaleej Times, the title is similar to an article by Raja Petra who is now detained under ISA for allegedly defaming Muslims and Islam.

Muslims are Their Own Worst Enemies
Aijaz Zaka Syed 2 October 2008

Every time I manage to write something, I wait for the readers’ feedback with bated breath. This is always the case, week after week.
One awaits the readers’ verdict as a nervous student waits for results after a critical exam. The feedback is invariably instructive; even if you do not always agree with the views.

Look at this take, for instance, on my recent piece on Islam and how some of its followers distort and misrepresent its humane teachings. I had argued that if the world has a negative view of the great religion, we Muslims are largely to blame.

Frankly, I was really shocked by Dr Vijaya Rajiva’s response and her views on Islam and Muslims. Because Vijaya is not only a fellow Indian but like me she has also been a passionate supporter of the Palestinian cause, frequently writing on the Palestinian dispossession and struggle. In her take on my piece, Medium is the Message, (KT, Sept 26) Vijaya wrote: “I have nothing against Muslims, especially Indian Muslims who are basically converts from one of the indigenous religions. My quarrel is with Islam itself. Its history has been one of war and violence. The conquest of southern Europe, the other countries of the Middle East, Iran, Iraq and later Afghanistan, the Muslim conquest of Sind in the 8th century AD (have all been the result of Islam’s war). Well, I’m sure you know your history!

To give an example, Mohamed of Ghazni did come and plunder and loot India but that was only one of his aims.
“The other (aim) was conversion of the infidels, at the point of the sword. Those who did not convert were summarily killed. Nadir Shah standing on the ramparts (of Delhi) watching the inhabitants of the city being put to death because they were infidels is a well-known fact. The entire history of Muslim conquests is well known. Hundreds of temples were destroyed, sacred books burned and thousands were killed or converted.

"I would be interested in knowing when exactly Islam morphed into a ‘peaceful’ religion!”
Then Vijaya goes on to say: “Intellectually, I find it insulting that there is only one God, and one Prophet (or with the Christians, one son of God). I much prefer the truth that the divine principle is a Mystery and each of us has access to it, without mediation. (There is) not just the One Way!”

Well, I wish I could reproduce the fascinating letter in its entirety but cannot do it for obvious space constraints.

One could write a whole book in response to these familiar rants steeped in ignorance and mostly based on hearsay and utter lies shamelessly peddled by European crusaders dressed as historians and scholars for a thousand years now.

I respect Vijaya for her activism on behalf of the Palestinians. But I have to say this. Her ignorance and mixing of historical facts with fiction is most shocking.

Mahmoud of Ghazni, who she calls Mohamed of Ghazni, and numerous Muslim rulers who invaded or ruled India at one time or another, were not driven by a missionary zeal to convert the subcontinent to Islam. They were merely greedy kings and conquerors like hundreds of others who came to India for its fabled riches.

Be it Mahmoud of Ghazni or Mohammed Ghouri, who invaded India 17 times, they were not ideal Muslims nor did they represent Islam. Like other kings and conquerors in history, they were merely men driven by a craving for power, not by a mission to spread Islam. They just happened to be Muslim, just like the European kings happened to be Christian or ‘indigenous’ Indian rulers happened to be Hindu.

Just as Ashoka the Great was not driven by any religious zeal when he painted the whole of Kalinga blood red, Muslim conquerors were not inspired by any noble religious agenda. This is why they were equally ruthless in dealing with their fellow Muslim rulers. What Babar did to Ibrahim Khilji and what Sher Shah Suri did to Humayun is what emperors and kings routinely did to each other -- and not just in India.

Nadir Shah of Iran, who Rajiva says watched from the ramparts of Delhi while the ‘infidels’ were killed, did not kill Hindus. If this is any consolation, almost all of those killed in Delhi at the time were Muslim subjects of the reigning Muslim king Mohammed Shah.

If Muslim rulers fought and killed Hindu kings and their subjects, they killed their fellow Muslim rulers and their subjects too with equal impunity. Mughal emperor Aurangzeb incarcerated and killed his own father and brothers.

This was all for power and the religion of these rulers had nothing to do with the whole unsavoury business. Even the most benign of Muslim emperors like Akbar did not represent Islam or Muslims, just as most of the current lot of Muslim rulers do not.

If these men had indeed been real models of Islam and its teachings, their subjects would have pleaded with them to stay and rule them, as the persecuted Jews did when Omar, the second caliph of Islam, entered the holy city of Jerusalem or as the oppressed Christians did when Tareq bin Zyad led the Muslim army into Spain.

As for the charge of forcing the Hindus and Christians to convert to Islam, there’s a very simple answer to the accusation.

If the Muslims had indeed converted the Hindus at sword’s point, India would have been a Muslim country today — which is not the case. The Muslims are still a minority in the country of a billion.

The same would have been true of Spain. Remember, both India and Spain were ruled by the Muslims for nearly a thousand years.

That said, I understand if well-read and informed friends like Vijaya Rajiva demonstrate such incredible ignorance about Islam and Muslims. Frankly speaking, despite the wealth of resources at their disposal and their growing numbers (recently the Vatican admitted Islam has replaced Christianity as the world’s biggest religious bloc), the Muslims have done little to address this issue.

They remain the real and worst enemies of their faith doing little to present its true, pristine face before the world. They’re busy pursuing trillions of dollars of worthless dreams in concrete while the world builds on its prejudices against Islam and Muslims. Is it any wonder then the world can barely conceal its contempt for us?

Aijaz Zaka Syed is Opinion Editor of Khaleej Times.
The views expressed here are his own. Write to him at

What to expect in Cityscape 2008?

Cityscape is definitely a place where to be if you are in real estate industry.

If you are still not familiar with the region's megalomaniac term, Cityscape Dubai 2008, in its 7th year, is the largest business-to-business real estate investment and development event in the world.

It is amazing to note that one of the main reasons why Cityscape Dubai is becoming so successful is the access it gives to the wealthiest and most liquid group of investors in the world.

Cityscape Dubai 2008, all set to take place from October 6-9, will showcase the potency of the UAE real estate market and it’s imperviousness to global property recession coming next month.

For some reasons which are related to my current job, there is a big expectation as well as concern in the property market. Cityscape is a developers exhibition and many people have made huge of profits in the past by buying from these developers and selling those properties the next day or even hours later.

There is a doubt that this year scenario of buying and selling for huge gains will be that easy - there is still huge inventory out on sale with difficulty.

It is the uncertainty that comes with the current economy turmoil and collapse of USA financial industry. The crash requires goverment humongous bailouts with its magnitude affect around the global, including the UAE which the government has put some 50 billion dirham on standby.

Cityscape may not bring life back into the market as well as it may not live up to the ultra high expectations as per previous years and it could be a flop. Consequenly, there would be more stories and rumours about the burst of Dubai property market. Like a domino effect typhooning and breaking all the myths into pieces of dreaded reality.

There will be a lot of new local and regional projects to be launched at decent and more affordable prices. However, I do not expect the ever growing crowd to fight over each other to buy lot of them. However, investors and speculators may return with a bang even though there are rules and regulations to regulate the transactions.

What about some welcoming surprises like Robot in 2006?

Cityscape is just a place to be for all the relevant questions and if there are any answers, if not signs of the time!

The Middle East's biggest technology conference in two weeks.

If you yet to know, Gitex is the middle east biggest technology conference and one of the biggest in the world.
It is so big that I had lost interest since 2005 to visit Gitex as the crowd and the traffic jam are unbearable. It may take at least one hour to beat the traffic jam on all the roads leading to the venue and then at least another half an hour to find a vacant parking bay, if lucky.
Then to walk through the exhibition itself is another nightmare with crowd looking for freebies and peeping for latest products or meeting friends from the region.
There are two Gitex venues, one for exhibition only and the other one for consumer products which sells directly to the customers who throng for good bargains. Both will be packed and the crazy crowd will go wild for any offers as well as hourly prizes like a laptop every hour!

I am contemplating to join the crazy and wild crowd this time for a free laptop or i-phone or blackberry though!

Sifting through the junk for jewels
Tom Gara
Last Updated: October 01. 2008 9:12PM UAE / GMT

After a quiet summer, the technology industry will soon play host to globe-trotting chief executives, high-profile product launches and the ongoing corporate soap opera that is the IT business.
The biggest technology conference in the region is just over two weeks away from hitting Dubai. Gitex Technology Week, which opens on October 19, has a reputation for size, with the event occupying the entire sprawling mass of the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Most visitors say the biggest challenge of the event is cutting through the clutter: making it past the noise and the giveaways to find the truly interesting things that make the whole week worthwhile.
Like any crowded trade show, the ratio of junk to value is high. But among the hundreds of stands filled with salesmen eager to talk about their revolutionary new printer cables and accounting software, there are always a few gems.
Gitex has, on occasion, been the platform for the announcement of major industry deals, such as the 2007 acquisition of SAP Arabia by its German parent group. There will always be a superstar international executive or two, just begging to be networked with. And for gadget lovers, the halls chirp and pulsate with an entire biosphere of toys. Unless a bigger name is revealed in the coming days, the most prominent global leader at this year’s event will be Scott McNealy, the chairman and co-founder of Sun Microsystems.
In the young, fast-moving technology sector, Mr McNealy is a veteran of almost unsurpassed proportions, having been at the top of Sun for almost 25 years. His advocacy of networked computing and open-source software preceded their widespread adoption by almost a decade, and he remains one of the sharpest and most influential minds in the industry. Sun’s Middle East business has been turning over at a healthy – but not remarkable – rate, and the company certainly has room to grow here. Whether Mr McNealy’s visit is to reveal a grand new plan for the region or to simply spread the hi-tech gospel, his public appearances will certainly be highlights of the week.
One to watch this year will be the first appearance of the computing group HP, following its acquisition of the American technology services company EDS. The UAE’s largest local technology company, Injazat Data Systems, is a joint venture between EDS and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Company; how HP plans on approaching its newfound stake in the country’s biggest and fastest growing IT business remains to be seen.
Executives from HP and Injazat have stayed very quiet since the deal was finalised in late August, saying only that an announcement on the future of the partnership would be made in the coming weeks. Almost 25,000 people, most of them EDS employees, will lose their jobs as part of the acquisition, with almost half the job losses happening in locations outside the US. With Injazat still using plenty of EDS talent in its managerial and technical ranks, and responsible for some of the biggest outsourcing deals in the UAE, HP’s approach to the partnership is a big deal for the industry.
Although Gitex presents a great stage for the drama and politics of the tech business, it is also a runway where the hottest new gadgets are paraded to buyers and the public. And for lovers of new toys, this year’s highlights will be all about the mobile. One such event will be the product launch by Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian company that has muscled its way into the smartphone market with its BlackBerry line of email-enabled mobile phones.
While the BlackBerry has become a corporate icon, the company is yet to break into the mainstream market, where stylish design and entertaining features rule the day. RIM had long been rumoured to be developing an iPhone-style touch screen device for the consumer market, and finally revealed the new phone to the US market last month. The new touch screen Blackberry, known as the Storm, is currently only available in the US, tied to the Verizon network. A Middle East launch at Gitex would certainly shake up the market – with Apple yet to secure significant distribution deals in the region, the market for a great touch screen phone remains wide open.
Another mobile maker that will make waves at Gitex is Taiwan’s HTC, which will also be hosting a launch event at the conference. Until recently, HTC was a contract manufacturer of no-name phones that was rebranded by partners like the Dubai-based I-mate. But the company has stepped out into the spotlight in a big way in the past year, launching the successful Diamond touch screen phone, and most prominently, partnering with Google to build the first mobile based on the new open-source Android mobile operating system.
The chance to play with an Android phone for the first time will have plenty of mobile lovers lining up at HTC’s stand. But even better would be an announcement on a Middle East launch for the device, which like the BlackBerry Storm would enter a market that has so far been neglected by Apple.Of course, the announcement that would blow both of these out of the water would be Etisalat or du revealing that they would be bringing the real thing to the UAE. Both companies have reportedly been in negotiations with Apple regarding the iPhone, and both say they will be making news at Gitex. But don’t hold your breath on that one.