The root word of the term Islam is Silm, which means peace. Islam, correctly understood, is a religion of peace. In Islam, one name of God Almighty is As-Salam, which means Peace. So, God Himself is peace and is the source of peace. In the Quran, Paradise is called Dar us-Salam or the home of peace (10:25). In the Quran, the Prophet of Islam is referred to as Rahmatun Lil-Alamin, meaning ‘a mercy to all mankind’ (21:107).
So, this is the real picture of Islam.
I think that peace is the SummumBonum, the greatest good, because peace has no limit. We all say that we want peace. We never say that we want ‘limited peace’, because peace has no limit. Peace is indispensable for every sort of progress. Without peace, you can’t do anything properly, not even walk on a street with peace of mind. All positive activities will come to a halt if there is no peace. Whether it be in religion or in secular affairs, in every sphere of life peace is essential for progress. That is why it is the SummumBonum.
All the verses of the Quran have a connotation of peace, either directly or indirectly. For instance, the Quran says as-SulhKhayr, “reconciliation is best” (4:128). It means peace is best. From this teaching, some Sufis adopted the formula of Sulh-E Kul, which means peace with all.
The very first verse in the Quran has a connotation of peace. It says: AlhamdulillahiRabbilAlameen, which means “All praise is due to God, the Lord of the Universe.” (1:2) here, praising God means giving thanks to Him and acknowledging Him. When you realize that God has created you, that He has created every single thing in the universe, you feel a certain thrill. You feel that God is so very great! You are amazed thinking of the many blessings He has blessed you with, and so you want to acknowledge this by praising Him. You express this acknowledgement by saying Alhamdulillah (praise be to God!).
Now, you can truly be thankful to God for His blessings in this way only when you are at peace, only when your mind is filled with positivity. Unless your mind is free from agitation, from conflict, from negativity, you cannot truly praise God in this way. If you are living in hate and violence, you cannot say Alhamdulillah! Or maybe you could do it only as a matter of lip-service, but not from the heart. To utter the phrase Alhamdulillah! in a spirit of thrill, you have to forget about all negativity, you have to be free of all hate and revenge.
‘Alhamdulillah’ requires positivity. It requires a positive mind. It requires a positive personality. So, in such a situation, terrorism has no place in Islam. Violence and hate have no place in Islam. Islam requires positivity.
Once, a Companion of the Prophet asked him: “O Prophet, give me a master advice by which I may be able to manage all the affairs of my life.” And the Prophet replied: “Don’t be angry.”
‘Don’t be angry’ means don’t be angry even when provoked. Anger is a reaction to provocation. Without provocation, there is no anger. So, what the Prophet was teaching was that even if you are provoked, you have to try to live without anger.
Since human beings are compelled to face negativity and provocation every now and then, how can they live without anger? For that, you have to learn the art of anger management. And the art of anger management is the art of converting your anger into forgiveness. You have to be able to respond positively even in negative situations. Then only can you can live without anger.
Alhamdulillah is the gist of all the teachings of Islam, of all the forms of worship in Islam. The greatest experience for us is that we are receiving great blessings from God at every moment. God supplies us with sunlight, without which we cannot see. God supplies us with oxygen day and night, without which we would die. We need so many things just in order to survive, and God gives all of these to us without us having to pay anything for them! So, when you feel you are a blessed person, that every moment you are receiving great blessings from God, then you say Alhamdulillah! This is the greatest worship, the greatest act of Islam. You cannot say Alhamdulillah in the true spirit if you are living in hate and negativity.
So, you can say that a true Momin or believer is one who lives in positivity. A believer is a positive personality in the complete sense of the term. All the Islamic requirements—Kalima(reciting the Islamic creed), Salat(prayer), fasting, Zakat (almsgiving) and Haj—can be properly performed only if you have a positive mind. All these teachings of Islam require positivity.
A well-established principle of Islam is Ar-Rahilu Lil-Imam. It means that to declare war is the prerogative of the state. According to Islam, no agency other than the state is allowed to go to war. In other words, the use of arms is the prerogative of the state. If this were not so, society would be engulfed in anarchy.
Every society consists of two parts: the state, and individuals. The state is authorized to use arms. It is responsible for the administration, for ensuring justice and implementing laws. As far as individuals or groups other than the government are concerned, they can act using only peaceful means. If they find others doing wrong, they can try to persuade them to change their ways. They can reach out to them in love. They can pray to God for their guidance. They can offer them advice. They can engage in dialogue with them. They can use logic and reason. But they cannot use arms, which is the prerogative of the state alone.
The Prophet Muhammad started his mission in Mecca in 610 CE. He was appointed by God as a prophet in this year. He continued to live in Makkah for 13 years, during which period some people accepted his message, but the majority of the Quraysh remained hostile. They wanted to kill him. At this time, some of the Muslims wanted to engage in fighting against theQuraysh, but the Prophet said: “I have not been given the permission to fight.”
Now, what is the meaning of this sentence? It’s not a simple sentence. It reflects a philosophy of war and of state. In Makkah, Islam was not in a position of government or state. When the Prophet was there, he was simply a prophet, a reformer and a preacher. So, at that time he told his disciples that they had to keep patience.
Patience, or Sabr in Arabic, is not cowardice. It is not passivity. Patience itself is a great action. It means to engage in peaceful activism, in educational activism, in intellectual activism, in spiritual activism and in prayer activism. It includes all these peaceful forms of activism. Sabr means to think in a positive way. It means peaceful planning, peaceful thinking and a peaceful response to a situation. All these things are forms of patience. So, when the Prophet advised his Companions to keep patience, it was no simple matter. It was actually a great advice. It meant that although they couldn’t use arms, there were, at the same time, many peaceful fields that were open to them. Even today these fields are wide open. Even today you can engage in Dawahactivism, in educational activism, in intellectual activism, in spiritual activism and so on, using entirely peaceful means. This was the meaning of that advice of the Prophet.
There is so much scope in these fields of peaceful activism. And the Prophet availed of all these opportunities of peaceful activity, and the result was miraculous. During the 13 years when he was in Makkah, he was able to make a great team, of people who later went on to become his most senior Companions and who have a great status in Islamic history, such as Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, Ali ibn AbiTalib, Muadh ibn Jabal and many other Companions. All these people were born in Makkah and accepted Islam when the Prophet was there. While in Makkah, without going to war the Prophet was able to engage in Dawah work and attract all these intellectuals.
In the days after the treaty of Hudaybiyyah, Khalid ibn al-Walid decided to go to Madinah and accept Islam at the hands of the Prophet. At that time, he said something very meaningful. When he wanted to embrace Islam, someone asked him why, and he said: “People have entered Islam and now no man of taste is left in Makkah.”(Al-Bidayahwal-Nihayah) That is, all those people who have wisdom, sincerity, or are people of taste have embraced Islam.
So, the Prophet was able to extract all those men of taste, those intelligent people of Makkah, without going to war or using arms. This success was the miracle of sabr.
Sabr means peaceful planning, constructive planning. Sabr is a very important concept in Islam. It is not something passive. It is completely active. It means planning, but without using arms.
Decoding rot in education: Over 1100 cr in kitty, JK failed to conduct ‘out of school children’ survey
Srinagar, Feb 23: As much as the authorities say otherwise, the state of education in Jammu and Kashmir remains pathetic as key indicators show the government has repeatedly failed on improving school academic and management standards.
An official document of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) showing the progress under the Samagra Shiksha scheme spills the beans.
To begin with, the authorities in J&K, as per the documents, have not conducted any survey to determine the number of Out of School Children (OoSC) since 2016.
The last survey, 2016-17, had listed 52500 Out of School Children.
“Rate of mainstreaming of out of school children in regular schools is very low. J&K has not conducted/updated survey of Out of School Children since 2016-17. There is an urgent need to have a renewed focus on universal enrollment, attendance, and completion of elementary education,” reads the MHRD document outlining the status of the Samagra Sikhsa scheme in J&K for the year 2019-20.
The poor performance in determining OoSC is just the tip of the iceberg.
When it comes to education indicators, the document reveals that 70 percent of upper primary schools have less than three subject teachers, while 90 percent of Secondary Schools have less than four subject teachers per school.
Moreover, the retention rate at secondary level, the document shows, is merely 56 percent.
“J&K may focus either on teacher’s rationalisation to meet requirements of the subject teachers or to recruit fresh subject teachers on priority,” the document reads.
The poor indicators are no wonder since at least 520 schools (both secondary and higher secondary) in J&K function without heads or principals.
“There are 418 Head Master/Principals’ vacant posts in Government Secondary schools and 102 in Government Higher secondary schools respectively which may be filled on priority,” the document.
This is besides the 3,952 vacant teacher posts in secondary schools across J&K.
When it comes to providing ICT tools for the students, J&K fares poorly here as well.
The document shows that as many as 455 schools in J&K have not implemented [email protected], a scheme that was adopted by the government of India in 1993.
The primary component of [email protected] is providing computer-aided education to secondary and higher secondary Government and Government aided schools, a must considering how education deliverance is technologically driven in this era.
Teacher training, the vital component of academics, too has hit a brick wall in J&K.
As per the document, there are 53 academic vacant posts lying in State (now UT) level Institute of Education (SIES) and 107 posts in the District Institute of Education (DIETs).
In addition, there are 2061 untrained teachers in Government Secondary schools, who do not meet the requisite professional qualifications.
Funds wise, J&K seems to be getting and spending plenty.
Alone under the Samagra Shiksha scheme, J&K received Rs 1151.70 crore in 2018-19.
For 2018-19, the government of India, as per the document, committed to providing Rs 1794.84 crore (Rs 1402.96 crore for elementary, Rs 359.25 cr for secondary and senior secondary, and Rs 31.92 cr for Teacher Education).
Thanks to Project Tiger: Majestic Hangul gets a new lifeline in Kashmir
Srinagar, Feb 23: Majestic Hangul has got a new lifeline after Jammu and Kashmir government decided to adopt `Project Tiger’ model to arrest the declining population of the critically endangered animal in the valley.
Hangul, cervus elaphus hanglu, is a critically endangered species found mainly in the Dachigam National Park and its adjoining areas in Kashmir. The male Hangul is characterized by the antlers and brownish red coat. The female Hangul do not have the horns. It is the only survivor of the Red Deer group in the Indian sub-continent and its population has been on a decline over the years.
On the directions of Lieutenant governor GC Murmu, Wildlife Department in collaboration with SKAUST has decided to follow the characteristics of Project Tiger to conserve Hangul for posterity.
Launched in 1973, Project Tiger is one of the successful programmes for saving the national animal from becoming extinct.
Professor SKAUST and Principal Investigator of the Project Hangul Dr Khursheed Ahmad said under new scheme of things Hangul reserves will be created to ensure a viable population of the animal in their natural habitats
“The Project Tiger envisages the setting up of tiger reserves to help in maintaining the population of national animal. In the same way, Hangul reserves will be created to ensure a viable population of Kashmir stag in their natural habitats,” he said.
Dr Khursheed noted that in a particular expanse of land will be identified in the habitat and marked as the ‘core’ area of the reserve.
“These areas will be kept free of all human activities. It usually has a legal status of National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary. No human activity is allowed inside the core area, including tourism. Grazing and wood collection are already banned in these areas,” Dr Khursheed said.
Wildlife Warden, Central, Altaf Hussain described the Hangul reserves as important areas for the protection and conservation of the Kashmir stag. “There will be a separate authority for Hangul reserves. Project is still in the formative stage and is likely to be initiated soon”, he said.
Dogs’ day out at KU, literally
Srinagar, Feb 23: Kashmir University has become a free zone for stray dogs as dozens of them are seen roaming in the main campus, feasting on the leftover food from the varsity canteens.
The canine fear increases manifold after dusk as scholars and students fear venturing out.
The campus has three gates, which are guarded 24×7. However, stray dogs, apparently, have a free pass to enter in and roam around anytime.
Be it the administrative block, the scholars’ hostel, or the Naseem Bagh end of the campus, these dogs are seen either ambling in groups or basking on the greens, as students, especially females, walk pass them, dreaded of getting bit.
“The leftover food produced in university cafeteria is thrown in open which attracts these dogs. They have created terror among the students as well as the faculty members,” said an official of the university on the condition of not sharing his name.
“There are around 200 dogs in the campus. The university has become breeding ground for them,” he said.
A professor at Kashmir University, who too wanted to remain anonymous, said: “Yesterday at around 5 in the evening I was leaving the university when I saw group of 8-10 dogs outside my department and I could not dare to walk. I went back to the department and requested my colleagues to escort me to my car.”
The professor said that students dread to walk alone in the campus.
“Students especially females who reside in hostels do not dare to venture in the campus after 5 in the evening,” the professor said.
Insha Wani, a female research scholar at Kashmir University said: “I am a science research scholar and we have to be in the department for longer to perform certain experiments in the laboratory. But due to the threat of canines, we leave earlier and this is affecting our research.”
She said that last year one of the students was injured when a stray dog chased him and he was later referred to hospital.
Media Advisor Kashmir University, Professor Shahid Rasool said: “University is aware of the dog menace and is trying hard to keep them away, but they manage to slip in as the gates are to be kept open for public movement.”
He said that they have taken the issue with all the relevant agencies for a number of times.
“Our proctor wing chases the dogs away on daily basis,” he added.
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