Kamran Brohi's Blog

An Academician & Researcher

Fake doctors and our role in society

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I was astonished to read a recent report, published in daily DAWN, that some 70,000 quacks with bogus degrees are operating throughout the country. This figure is given for those who are operating with bogus degrees. I wonder how many more are there, who don’t even bother to use the fake degrees and operating without such degrees or licenses, with the patronage of the local authorities. Due to these quacks, my wife lost her sister last year, who was a mother of 3 children and was a healthy and lively woman. People have blind faith in these ruthless quacks, which are operating freely not only in small towns and villages but cities as well across the country.  Some poor people are visiting them because they charge much lesser than the genuine practitioners.  Most of them are even providing their own prepared medicines to their patients, which have no labels or formula of any kind printed on them. I personally know one dispenser in my local town, who pretends to be a doctor and has been successfully running a clinic since last 15 years and more. However, once when authorities started an operation for cracking these quacks, he hired a doctor and placed his nameplate outside his clinic, which had no name in the past.

These quacks are able to operate without any fear because people have adopted the behavior of ignoring them for unknown reasons, in spite of the fact they are endangering the lives of innocent people and kids. No one bothers to check if the doctor one is visiting is displaying the license of the PMDC in the clinic or not and whether the license is genuine or fake? PM&DC is a statutory regulatory authority established under Pakistan Medical & Dental Council Ordinance 1962 as a body corporate which apart from its various functions and duties, maintains the Register of Medical & Dental Practitioners.

The report published in daily DAWN also suggests many measures to government to nab these quacks who are operating in Government and Private Hospitals or running their own clinics. It also reads that “Not many people perhaps know that the PMDC’s website allows the general public to check if their doctors are registered with the council and are thus licensed to practice medicine. The PMDC and the health authorities should encourage the general public, through advertisements and posters, to be involved in exposing fake doctors in this manner”

I think all of us should not just sit and watch like spectators and let these bogus doctors play with the lives of innocent, as no one is safe from these bogus doctors and sooner or later they might hurt us or our beloved ones, so we should also get ourselves involved in this struggle by trying to find out which bogus doctors and nurses are operating in our areas and should report this to police and other authorities such as PMDC. The easiest way to do it is using the following facility, which is available on the website of PMDC.

http://dev.plexushosting.com/PMDC/SearchPractitioner/tabid/153/Default.aspx

The website of the PMDC is available on the following URL:

http://www.pmdc.org.pk/

Written by Kamran Brohi

October 26, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Posted in Notes

An intresting column published in Daily Jang by Asad Mufti

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col8

Point to Ponder:

ظالم ہیں مظلوم بھی ہم ،ہر شر سے منسوب ہیں ہم

ایسا حال ہوا کیوں اپنا، میں بھی سوچوں تُو بھی سوچ

Source: http://www.jang.com.pk/jang/sep2009-daily/24-09-2009/col8.htm

Written by Kamran Brohi

October 1, 2009 at 8:51 am

Posted in Notes, Personal Diary

A formula for governance

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‘Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!’ — Sir Walter Scott

As Pakistanis we don’t seem to love our land or take pride in it. We don’t value or cherish it; not for us the motto ‘this land is my land; this land is your land’. Warts and all, this is the only piece of land we will ever get to call our own.

Ask the Palestinians what it means to have land you can call your own. Or the thousands of Asian immigrants who fled the tyranny in Idi Amin’s Uganda to settle in the west. Sixty-two years hence, we remain a lost generation, wandering like a lost tribe perusing a mirage, having watched our chieftains’ loot, pillage and plunder.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens questioned whether, ‘Pakistan is a country or merely a space’, contrasting it with Henry Kissinger’s quote on Iran ‘whether the Islamic Republic was a country or a cause’.

Stephens likened Pakistan to Somalia, which too, he claimed, is a space providing a sanctuary for pirates, destitution and Islamic jihadists. Before we become the subject of international and national debate on whether we are a ‘space’ or a ‘cause’, we need to extricate ourselves from this seditious swamp and address the conditions that create the physical and ideological chaos.

It does not take genius to prescribe the time-tested formula of good governance. Good governance means redressing the problems both social and economic. It means revising skewed budgets in favour of education, healthcare and social welfare. We have the very rich or the very miserable, and very little in between. An economic model that redresses the balance cannot be postponed.

Nobody has articulated the precepts of good governance better than Hazrat Ali (RA) in his historic treatise in the form of a letter to Malik Ashtar, governor of Egypt. It is worth paraphrasing selected portions from the letter:

‘Be it known to you, O Malik, that people speak well only of those who do good. It is they who furnish the proof of your actions. Hence the richest treasure you may covet must be the treasure of good deeds. Keep your desires under control and deny yourself that which you have been prohibited. Develop in your heart the feelings of love for your people and let it be the source of kindliness and blessing to them.’

‘Bear in mind that you are placed over them, even as I am placed over you. And then there is God even above him who has given you the position of a governor in order that you may look after those under you and to be sufficient unto them.’

‘Maintain justice in administration and impose it on your own self and seek the consent of the people, for the discontent of the masses sterilises the contentment of the privileged few and the discontent of the few loses itself in the contentment of the many.’

‘Remember, the privileged few will not rally around you in moments of difficulty: they will try to sidetrack justice, they will ask for more than what they deserve and will show no gratitude for favours done to them. They will feel restive in the face of trials and will offer no regret for their shortcomings. It is the common man who is the strength of the state and of religion. It is he who fights the enemy. So live in close contact with the masses and be mindful of their welfare.’

‘Do not take counsel of the one who is greedy, for he will instil greed in you and turn you into a tyrant. The worst of counsellors is he who has served as a counsellor to unjust rulers and shared their crimes. So never let men who have been companions of tyrants or shared their crimes be your counsellors.’

‘Keep near to you the upright and the God-fearing, and make clear to them that they are never to flatter you and never to give you credit for anything that you may not have done. For the tolerance of flattery and unhealthy praise stimulates pride in man and makes him arrogant.’

‘Do not treat the good and the bad alike. That will deter the good from doing good, and encourage the bad in their pursuits. Give credit where it is due.’

‘Select for your chief judge the one who is by far the best among the people, one who cannot be intimidated; one who does not turn back from the right path; one who is not self-centred and avaricious; one whom flattery cannot mislead or one who does not exult over his position.’

‘Never select men for responsible posts either out of any regard for personal connections or under any influence, for that will lead to injustice and corruption. Select for higher posts men of experience, firm in faith and belonging to good families. Such men will not fall an easy prey to temptations.’

‘Great care is to be exercised in revenue administration, to ensure the prosperity of those who pay the revenue to the state, for it is on their prosperity that the prosperity of others depends; particularly the prosperity of the masses. Indeed, the state exists on its revenue.’

‘You should regard the proper upkeep of the land in cultivation for revenue cannot be derived except by making the land productive. He who demands revenue without helping the cultivator to improve his land, inflicts unmerited hardships on the cultivator and ruins the state. The rule of such a person does not long last.’

‘Adopt useful schemes for those engaged in trade and industry and help them with wise counsels. Visit every part of the country and establish personal contact with this class, and inquire into their conditions. But bear in mind that a good many of them are intensely greedy. They hoard grain and try to sell it at a high price; and this is most harmful to the public.’

‘Beware! Fear God when dealing with the problems of the poor who have none to patronise, who are forlorn, indigent and helpless. Among them are some who do not question their lot in life and who, notwithstanding their misery, do not go about begging. For God’s sake, safeguard their rights.’

‘Meet the oppressed and the lowly periodically in open conferences, and be conscious of the divine presence there. Never for any length of time keep yourself aloof from the people. The ruler is after all human, and he cannot form a correct view of anything which is out of sight.’

‘It is imperative on you to study carefully the principles which have inspired just and good rulers who have gone before you’.

Need more be said?

Source: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/03-a-formula-for-governance-qs-02

By Tariq Islam
Monday, 24 Aug, 2009 | 10:11 AM PST |

Written by Kamran Brohi

August 25, 2009 at 4:58 am

Posted in Pakistan

Facebook survival guide for awkward adults: What you need to know to avoid embarrassing your kids (and yourself)

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By Daniel Harrison, contributor

Introduction

Thirty-five percent of adults would like to know 25 stupid things about you. Actually, that’s an overstatement, but 35 percent of your peers are actually using the sort of sites where that nonsense occurs.

That’s right, Pew Internet Research tells us 35 percent of grown-ups (defined as anyone between the ages of 18 and dead) are now using social networking sites. Of course that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily on Facebook. They might be on LinkedIn (a business social networking site) or MySpace (for musicians and goth tweens), or maybe they’re on Friendster. (Just kidding; no one’s on Friendster.)

Still, the fastest growing group on Facebook is infamously the 35-54-year-old segment. And since grown-ups have quadrupled their likelihood of using these sites in the last four years, you might find this orientation guide to Facebook useful.

So, uh, what is it?

Facebook is what we’re calling a “social networking site,” which means they don’t have to create content, just post what your friends write. That, however, is not actually as bad as it sounds.

What it really means is they let you create a profile, invite some “friends” to view it, and post countless precious updates so people know you’re alive and doing junk. You can also use it to send e-mail-like messages or to raise your blood pressure while trying to use their simply awful IM.

Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook to let college students find each other after parties. Then he saw a bazillion monetizable eyeballs outside and decided to throw the doors open. Now with all those eyeballs, a cadre of advertisers using his system to reach them, and a percentage off the top, all he has to do is tart it up to look like Twitter (apparently).

Anyway, it’s fun! The two tricks to getting along well on Facebook are, don’t trust anything, and if you want to remain hip, don’t try so hard. Preserve that hard-won dignity you earned by surviving puberty, the prom, and possibly parenthood.

Getting started: Your picture

When you set up a profile, Facebook suggests you choose a picture to represent yourself. As with anything, your choices here can reveal some truths you would have preferred stayed hidden.

For instance, if you’re not an actor or model, use a glamour shot at your own peril. You don’t look reflective, brooding or perky. You look like a narcissistic jerk. Sincerity is (always) hipper than hair gel, you smug peacock.

Second, college is over and no one’s buying it! You got fatter; hair migrated; and drinking caught up. What do you think happened to us for crying out loud? Let it go. Time forces what we might euphemistically call “the mantle of wisdom” upon us all; How gracefully you accept it is up to you. In short, don’t lead with a picture of yourself that’s older than Facebook.

Your picture, again

Since you’ve probably already screwed this up – there being so many ways to do so – your best bet is just to get a snapshot Simpsonized or Obama-ated and go with that.

Listen, your kids are adorable, and while we’re at it, let’s extend the fiction to say we’re glad you finally got someone to marry you.

Nevertheless, those crowning achievements do not belong in your profile picture. Nor, by the way, does a picture of a dog (unless, that is, you really are a dog, in which case, congrats on getting online. That’s impressive! Good dog!)

Here are the rules: Kiddie pics go in your gallery (we love to see them) and spouse pics go in the gallery or on their own Facebook accounts. If your spouse isn’t on Facebook, maybe he or she just isn’t that into you and your annoying friends. Just saying.

Accepting ‘friends’
Welcome to the firing line! People who have been on Facebook for over a month inevitably find themselves asking, “who are all these ‘friends,’ and, what on Earth was I thinking?”

The moment you sign up, people will find you and ask you to be “friends.” They want to pester you with fake flowers for a garden you don’t actually have. Scientists will puzzle over this for decades to come. If these potential “friends” aren’t, you know, actual friends you might want to talk to on the phone, you should probably pass.

Simply put, the more “friends” you have, the more nonsense will scud up your inbox. If you don’t care about the jerky details of Jerkwad’s summer “vacay,” don’t make Jerkwad a friend. Besides, you don’t have to accept or reject “friend requests” as soon as you get them. Wait until the requester does something useful like hit the lotto.

Nothing stays in Vegas – nothing!

You’ll probably end up being Facebook friends with real friends, people you dislike, workmates who can’t take a hint, and God only knows who else. As this dude dressed as a fairy found out, the hard way, some of your “friends” are “friends” with people you are hiding stuff from.

If your jackass freshman roommate somehow got to be buds with your boss and put up a picture of you at a party when you were supposed to be home sick, you’re hosed.

Worse yet, if said ex-roomie goes ahead and uploads that picture of you and the mule from spring break ’98, and then tags you in it (for the love of Pete), all your friends get a look. Why did you make that dude a friend anyway? We talked about this.

It’s theoretically possible to set your privacy settings up so none of this happens, but honestly, you’re probably not smart enough.

Updates: Stay classy, San Diego
You don’t have to simply suffer other people’s inane updates. (Bob loves pie? Thanks for the breaking news, Bob. I’m going to write that down for future reference.) No, you can also tell your friends all the dull stuff in your own life.

Some might find your updates offensive. The cautionary tale here is one about a guy who stabbed his wife to death when she changed her status to “single.” Facebook takes unfair blame for this, though. It’s like blaming Nokia after calling your boss between the third and fourth rounds of shooters to tell him where he can shove his snooty attitude. Still, if your friends are crackerjack insane, don’t provoke them. P.S., that’s true offline as well.

Meanwhile, some announcements aren’t really fit for a broadcast medium. Are you getting divorced? Should some of your acquaintances visit a public clinic soonish? If so, that’s news you take door-to-door before putting it on Facebook. Your sainted Grandma never threw wide the shutters and bellowed, “What up haters? I’m pregnant!” to the assembled townfolk, now did she? Use some judgment — it’s the Internet, not a barnyard.

Comments

Mostly comments are fun. You or a friend posts a status update and people crack wise or express sympathy or whatever. Community ensues and everybody avoids doing any work for another couple of minutes.

However, be aware that some people have way too many friends. Commenting on their status, means you’ll be alerted whenever their friends comment after you.

While that would be okay if your friends have chosen their friends on the basis of wit and insight, they most likely have not. In a sufficiently large population, 50 percent of everyone is below average. And now you have to listen to them sound off.

Applications
There is nothing funny to say about Facebook applications.

Applications are part and parcel of the platform that Mark Zuckerberg put at the disposal of his ad-men friends. Anyone can build a tiny program that operates on the Facebook platform, and so they have.

Some allow you to do soundly important stuff like play a fakey stock market, or challenge friends to games of Scrabble. Others let you tend pretend gardens, take endless quizzes about the 80s, or give each other fake beers. Now you’ve got a fake beer with a real craving chaser. Yay! Nobody wins!

Most importantly though, applications provide value to their creators in direct proportion to how many people use them. Consequently, they’ll do their best to trick you into inviting all your friends to install them. And when you install them, there’s a good chance they’ll steal your saleable data, so that’s nice.

To recap: Applications are irritating; you get them from your friends. And they’re easy to spread inadvertently. This is how venereal diseases roll, too. So there’s that.

Groups

Groups are some advanced Facebooking material and you should probably just forget about using them. Like anything, they can be useful if used well. In practice though, they generally suck. If you are fanatical about stuff like chalupas or Marilyn Manson’s inexcusable absence from “Guitar Hero,” or if the strength of your conviction that cancer is bad is enough to make you click a button, then groups may be for you.

However, unless you POSITIVELY KNOW that your friends feel the same way, leave us out of it.

Don’t presume just because a digital Teddy bear was enough to get you interested in curing malaria that we’re equally shallow. Or maybe a unicorn already cajoled us into raising awareness of Type 1 Diabetes and we’ve got scant time left for your fluffy bear and its impositions concerning our favorite diseases.

Contributor Daniel Harrison thanks Facebook pros Michael Thomas and Emma Patrash for aid in helping him avoid embarrassing himself here, like he’s doing right now on Twitter.

Source : http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29555198/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets?pg=1#Tech_FacebookGrownups

Written by Kamran Brohi

August 23, 2009 at 4:44 am

Posted in Notes

The Madrasa Myth & how private schooling can save Pakistan’s next generation

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The authors argue that the importance of the private education sector in Pakistan is overshadowed by unsupported claims about madrasas and their role in terrorism. They have suggested that private schools are performing better in Pakistan and suggested that Rather than focusing on madrasas and public schools, the donor community should take note of a striking change in the Pakistani educational landscape: the emergence of mainstream and affordable private schools.

According to this study they conclude that although aid donors may want to help reform Pakistan’s religious and public schools, genuine reform will emerge from local debates and initiatives.

On May 3, the New York Times published a lengthy description of Pakistan’s education system. The article, like so many before it, rehearsed a well-known narrative in which government schools are failing while madrasas are multiplying, providing a modicum of education for Pakistan’s poorest children.

“The concentration of madrasas here in southern Punjab has become an urgent concern in the face of Pakistan’s expanding insurgency,” veteran Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise wrote. “The schools offer almost no instruction beyond the memorizing of the Koran, creating a widening pool of young minds that are sympathetic to militancy.”

The story coincided with a debate in the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee over a new aid package for Pakistan. The proposed legislation, among other initiatives, focuses upon eliminating madrasas with ties to terrorism and reforming the public school system, riven with teacher absenteeism and out-of-date pedagogy. Numerous charitable organizations and NGOs have also embraced this dual focus.

Unfortunately, this well-intentioned approach risks failure. First, contrary to the public hysteria about madrasas serving as “weapons of mass instruction,” in 2005, just 1.3 percent of children in Pakistan’s four main provinces attended madrasas. Most students attend public schools (nearly 65 percent), and the remainder attend nonreligious private schools (34 percent). Nor are madrasas the last resort of the poor. In fact, the socioeconomic profiles of madrasa and public school students are quite similar — except that madrasas have more rich students than public schools. Of the extremely small number of households enrolling at least one child full time in a madrasa, 75 percent use other types of schools to educate their other children.

Despite the tremendous importance of improving Pakistan’s public schools and madrasas, moreover, attempts to influence their structure and output have been largely ineffective. Pakistan itself is struggling to reform its public education system, debating the federal-local divide, voucher schemes, and merit pay.

Rather than focusing on madrasas and public schools, the donor community should take note of a striking change in the Pakistani educational landscape: the emergence of mainstream and affordable private schools.

Indeed, nonreligious private schools now enroll one third of Pakistani students, according to the 2005 education census. This sector is dramatically expanding. In 1983, there were roughly the same number of madrasas and private schools in the country — 2,563 madrasas and 2,770 private schools. By 2005, there were five times as many private schools. Moreover, the growth in private schools has increased since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, while madrasa growth has stayed relatively flat.

Data collected by the authors as a part of the largest-ever longitudinal study of education in Pakistan find that private schools are cost-effective and affordable. They keep costs low because they are “mom and pop”-managed, for-profit, independent schools, unsubsidized by the government and responsive to local demands for education.

Although education standards all over Pakistan are poor, private schools outperform government schools at all income levels. In three districts of rural Punjab where the project team tested more than 25,000 primary-grade students, private school children outperformed those attending government schools by a large margin. Moreover, data show that the same students learn more when they switch from public to private schools and learn less when they leave private schools for public schools.

Incredibly, this higher quality comes at a lower cost. Most private schools in Pakistan charge a monthly fee of less than a single day’s wage for an unskilled worker. And it costs less than half as much to educate a child in a private school as it does in a public school. For these reasons, private schools are expanding from urban and suburban areas into Pakistan’s countryside.
Why are these schools able to deliver affordable value? Private schools take advantage of an important untapped supply of labor by relying upon moderately educated young women from local neighborhoods who are willing to work for low pay. In fact, private schools are one of the largest sources of regular, salaried employment for Pakistan’s women. Private schools also boast lower teacher absenteeism than public schools, which minimizes wastage and increases time spent learning. They also use their compensation structures effectively to reward better teachers and punish those who don’t perform well.

Moreover, these private schools tend not to be affiliated with religious groups or movements. Private schools generally use a curriculum that is similar to that of government schools, but with a greater emphasis on teaching English. The vast majority of these private schools are coeducational at the primary level, compared with government schools, which are mainly single-sex.

Where the donor community can do most good is in developing and expanding Pakistan’s most dynamic education sector. Small-scale studies are already showing that innovative programs, aided by NGOs and the private sector, can make dramatic gains. A study we conducted showed that disseminating better information about school performance led to dramatic improvements in both public and private schools. With more transparency and information available, private school fees dropped, test scores at private and public schools climbed, and public school enrollment increased.

Pakistani parents, like parents everywhere, are pragmatic about education. Although aid donors may want to help reform Pakistan’s religious and public schools, genuine reform will emerge from local debates and initiatives, some of which are already underway. The risk is that future monies allocated to such purposes could be wasted or, at best, spent inefficiently. An aid program based on bold, persistent experimentation will help foster a true public-private partnership model that takes advantage of this low-cost private sector and improves the public sector in turn.

Unfortunately, the importance of the dynamic private education sector is overshadowed by unsupported claims about madrasas and their role in terrorism. Given that Pakistan’s population is ever more dominated by youths and given the urgent need to produce a skilled labor force to drive Pakistan’s future, the stakes for education reform could not be higher.

Andrabi, Das, and Khwaja’s research was funded by the Knowledge for Change program and the South Asia region at the World Bank. Detailed results are available at econ.worldbank.org and through http://www.leapsproject.org. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the World Bank, its executive directors, or the governments they represent. C. Christine Fair, whose work on madrasas was conducted when she was with the U.S. Institute of Peace, will join the faculty Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in August.

Tahir Andrabi is an economics professor at Pomona College; Jishnu Das is a World Bank senior economist; and Asim Ijaz Khwaja is associate professor of public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Source: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4958

Written by Kamran Brohi

August 5, 2009 at 8:17 am

Posted in Pakistan

Hijab in Europe- 8 minute short film

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Hijab in Europe- 8 minute short film

A Spanish short film by Xavi Sala about Hijab in Europe and the discrimination young Muslim women face in a so-called “free” Europe where everything but religion is tolerated in the name of freedom…

Written by Kamran Brohi

August 4, 2009 at 3:15 am

Posted in Notes

Islamic history and principles of pluralism

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The recent tragic incident, in which six Christians brunt alive this weekend, in southern Punjab in Pakistan, on allegations of having desecrated the holy Quran, is very sad and condemnable, which certainly violates the basic principles of pluralism and tolerance. Such incidents, are only due to non tolerance and unawareness of the basic principles of pluralism.

We should work together to promote the basic teachings of Islam and basic ideas and principles of our country, which are inspired and adopted from the concept of pluralism. I found this article very informative, in this regard and sharing it for the benefit of all citizens of our country irrespective of race, creed or faith.

I have felt a great unrest among my christian friends, who are feeling very insecure after such incidents and some of them, who are very dis-hearted, are even denying being the part of this country. Pakistan is already facing the worst crises of extremism and terrorism and can’t afford another crises like this.  I think all of us, should play our part in this regard and come up with positive suggestions, ideas, contributions and remedies on how to prevent such tragic incidents, in the future.

There is a pervasive view in the media today that Islam does not support pluralism. Sadly, we often hear how difficult it is for non-Muslim minorities to live in peace and harmony in Muslim countries. Violent extremists who misuse Islamic theology to justify terrorist attacks have exacerbated prejudices against Muslims and today many people think that Muslims do not believe in pluralism and diversity.

By contrast, history reveals that Islam – as preached in the Koran and exemplified by the life of the Prophet Muohammad and his companions – actually accepts, celebrates and even encourages diversity.

It should be noted that the term “minority” has no place in Islamic law. It has no place in Sharia (or law based on Islamic principles) and jurists have never used the term. Rather, it emerged from Western societies, which use it to distinguish between ethnic groups.

According to Islamic principles, everyone who lives in a Muslim state is entitled to enjoy the same rights of citizenship, despite the differences they may have in their religion or population size.

In 622, when the Prophet Mohammad migrated from Mecca to Medina in the Arabian Peninsula and started to build the first Muslim state, he ensured that its Muslim and non-Muslim inhabitants could coexist in harmony. There was a substantial Jewish community in Medina, and the Prophet proposed an agreement of cooperation – between Muslims and the 11 Jewish tribes – called the Constitution of Medina, which Muslim historians and scholars generally accept as the first written state constitution.

This constitution spelled out the rights of Jews as non-Muslim citizens in the Muslim state. As a result, the Prophet managed to establish a multi-faith political community in Medina based on a set of universal principles. The rules set out in the constitution were meant to maintain peace and cooperation, protect life and property, prevent injustice and ensure freedom of religion and movement for all inhabitants – regardless of tribal or religious affiliation. Allegiance to the community superseded religious identity, as spelled out in the rules for joint defense: “[E]ach must help the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document.”

The Prophet’s treatment of the “People of the Book,” in this case Jews, showed religious tolerance as well as prudence. The constitution established the pattern for the future relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, specifying non-Muslim citizens as equal partners with Muslim inhabitants.

Almost 15 years when Muslims conquered Jerusalem from the Byzantines, Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab granted its people, who were mainly Christians, safety for their persons, property and churches. As well-known British historian Karen Armstrong writes, “[Omar] was faithful to the Islamic inclusive vision. Unlike Jews and Christians, Muslims did not attempt to exclude others from Jerusalem’s holiness.”

Omar’s assurance of safety to the people of Jerusalem stands as an important example for leaders in multi-faith societies today, and history has proven that when these examples were put into practice, non-Muslims were were treated kindly and justly.

These examples of Muslim and non-Muslim coexistence are not confined to a specific time or place, but are meant to be applied in all times and places. Today, for example, Jordan’s Constitution guarantees freedom of religious belief. Christians in Jordan, who form the majority of non-Muslims, enjoy by law nearly 10 percent of the seats in Parliament and have similar quotas at every level of government and society. Their holy sites, property and religious practices are protected from any kind of interference by the state.

Cultural and social realities in many Muslim-majority societies have led to violations of the rights of non-Muslims in contemporary times. Islamic history, however, demonstrates that the path towards mutual understanding and tolerance does not deviate from the essence of Islam. On the contrary, to revive the spirit of inclusivity, Muslim societies should look to the Koran, and emulate the model it lays out.

An inclusive vision is, and always will be, the only safe haven for followers of other religions in an Islamic society.

Maher Y. Abu-Munshar is a lecturer in Islamic Jerusalem studies, ALMI, University of Aberdeen and author of “Islamic Jerusalem and Its Christians: A History of Tolerance and Tensions” (IB Tauris, 2007).

By arrangement with the Common Ground News Service (www.commongroundnews.org)
URL: http://www.newageislam.org/NewAgeIslamArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=1588

Written by Kamran Brohi

August 4, 2009 at 1:16 am

Posted in Notes