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Volume 5 Issue 08 | August 2011


Original Forum

Readers' Forum

State Policy, the Constitution and 6
Equal Rights for Disadvantaged Groups
--Devasish Roy Wangza

State Religion for Whom?
-- Dr. Anish Mondal
The Curious Case of Rohingya Refugees
---- Ziauddin Choudhury
Incorporating Religious Institutions in Climate Change Adaptation:
an Islamic perspective

-- Mohammed Abdul Baten
Bollywood and Dhallywood: Contentions and connections
-- Zakir Hossain Raju
Photo Feature: Life on the Margins
Education in Transition:English based learning in Bangladesh today
-- Olinda Hassan

RTIA and People's Right to Know
-- AJM Shafiul Alam Bhuiyan

Knowledge Society: Manifesto for a new world

-- Alamgir Khan

Good governance in Bangladesh: The role of the civil services
-- Hafeejul Alam

Tagore on Film
--Trisha Gupta

Your savings can hurt you, especially, if you are Belal...

-- Nofel Wahid


Forum Home

Readers' FORUM

Bringing change

Shazia Shanaz's write-up in the July issue of Forum makes me ponder upon the trend of men abusing women. Many are Muslim men, despite the fact that Islam tells us to treat everyone equally and to be respectful and polite to women. I agree with the writer, that we “should and must” speak up and talk about it in as
many ways as possible. Perhaps this may help us in modifying our somewhat (sadistic) negative outlook towards women in general.

In my personal view -- and I may be wrong -- the general trend among men is to avoid mixing freely with the opposite sex as part of our social conservative upbringing and mindset formed from a young age. Free mixing between boys and girls is generally looked down upon, starting from say the age of seven or eight. This may create an unreasonable and possessive attitude among boys and a submissive one among girls, directly or indirectly encouraged by family elders who uphold male dominance in the family. Generally, elders decry free mixing. They feel that it is related to the
permissive Western culture, and makes young men and women to be too free and easy during their early years (especially in the teens). This
may possibly lead to a suppressed sexual complex, leading to sometimes irrational and violent tendencies, and even a sense of inferiority complex when we come across capable women. This could possibly be a key reason behind the criminal behaviour of Rumana Monzur's husband, who was a so-called educated person!

In my opinion, co-educational schools help the growth of an easy social intermingling between growing boys and girls, with both having equal social status, from a young age. This helps develop a natural attitude between them and there is no ingrown and unconscious awareness of any superiority or inferiority complex based on gender.

S.A. Mansoor


Our precious jewels

Every year, through the reports of some socially committed newspapers, we come to know of some underprivileged students who exhibit real talent in the public examinations, despite being deprived of the basic rights and opportunities which a student must be given. Rather, they constantly have to fight to survive and continue their education. Many have to bear the load of their family and the expenses of their studies by pulling rickshaws, working at the hotels and restaurants or working as domestic help, etc. However, despite the grand exhibition of their merit, many of them end up discontinuing their studies as they do not have financial support. Though some non-profit organisations and benevolent people come forward to help, most of these underprivileged students remain deprived and as a result, their dreams begin to fade. We must come forward to inspire our precious jewels and help to make their dreams come true.

Ashim Kumar Paul
Department of English
Govt. Edward College, Pabna


Questions on being a Muslim in America

“The Washington Post” recently held a newspaper series named Muslims in America. As a part of this series, readers were asked to respond to a few questions on Islam and America. Below are my responses to their questions:

How often do you talk to your children about what it means to be Muslim in this country? What are the conversations like?

Although I don't have kids, I involve talks about Islam with my cousins, 13 and 8, respectively. I have mentioned going to umrah Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the pilgrimage millions of Muslims have attended before me and will continue to do so after me. As they grow older, I want them to understand that Islam is not just rituals, but meanings behind the rituals. I want them to know that although cultural practices may differ from Muslims in America, to Muslims in South Asia, to Muslims in the Middle East, one sees no difference among humanity, when thousands bow down to the Almighty in unison.

What are the most interesting conversations you've had on the subject of radicalization? Do you worry about it?

I have often discussed radicalization in the Muslim community with family members. Case in point, the failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. Although a naturalized US citizen, Mr. Shahzad chose to lethally harm innocent civilians in his own adopted country. Why? According to media reports, he was enraged by drone attacks in his birthplace, Pakistan, that was killing civilians. In his maddeningly enraged mind, perhaps this was an eye for an eye? What is the solution when US foreign policy leads to disenchantment and rage among its own citizens?

Many Muslim American leaders have called this one of the most challenging times to be Muslim. Do you agree or disagree and why? Tell us a story that illustrates your point.

The proposed Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan is a vital case study for Muslim life in the US. The $100-million, multistory building is planned to be a community center with meeting rooms, a fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, restaurant, culinary school, library, auditorium, and a mosque. It's safe to say that the last word got tons of people riled up. Although President Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg bravely supported the project as a basic religious right, it was amazing how many people, prominent Republican politicians included, denounced and demonized a city-approved religious building.

I attended a sermon by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the Islamic Center, and believe that his sermon was probably the best I heard from an Islamic leader. It emphasized the inner meaning of Islam, not just the rituals. It preached getting to know why you are doing something, rather than just following religious practices as handed down to you. His Sufi teachings encompass peace and understanding. However, peace and understanding were far, far off from many of those who vehemently opposed building a structure of tolerance near the site of greatest politically-induced terrorist attack in the name of religion.

What don't non-Muslims understand about living in this country?

Non-Muslims can be led to thinking that Islam promotes violence, as so many terrorists cite the Holy Quran before killing others. However, not all conflicts are about religion. The perpetual conflict in Israel/Palestine is political, it's about land at the end of the day, land claimed by both parties who refuse to truly compromise. Religion is used as a recruiting tool to achieve political goals, violently if necessary.

“The Washington Post” columns and images in this series depict Muslim life in the United States, a detailed illustration of life for millions affected in some way or another after 9/11. It is a worthy attempt by one of America's finest newspapers to dispel myths and suspicions that surround the Muslim community.

Tamim Choudhury
Austin, Texas

The opinions expressed in Readers' Forum are those of the writers' and in no way reflect the opinion of the publication.
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