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Riot-hit Muslims find solace in Hindu village

Mehndi Hasan, Roshan Ali and Mohammed Rasheed call Palda a “terrain of peace”. Theirs are among 450 riot-hit Muslim families that have each bought a small plot in this predominantly Hindu village, looking to settle down among its “kind and generous” people. Hasan, 45, had fled his home in Qutba, just 3km away, with his wife, five children and parents after rioters ran amok, killing and burning, in the Muslim village on September 7. But the Hindus of Jat-dominated Palda provided shelter to them and another 100-odd Muslim refugees for weeks and months.
The Telegraph

1984: Giani Zail Singh’s daughter says PM, govt ignored his pleas for help
“The year 1984 was the most painful year for my father,” says Dr Gurdeep Kaur, daughter of former president Dr Giani Zail Singh. In an interview with PTC News here yesterday, Dr Gurdeep Kaur who now lives here with her engineer husband Surinder Singh Virdi, maintained that her father was deeply hurt both by Operation Bluestar and the anti-sikh riots. The agony of Giani Ji, she says, was that despite being the supreme commander of Indian defense forces, he was neither consulted before Operation Bluestar nor could he, in spite of his best efforts, stop the riots against innocent Sikhs.
India Today

Contextualising yoga: modern practices in a western world
For many people across the world yoga is a way of ensuring a healthy life away from sedentary habits, a way of decreasing stress and increasing general wellbeing. However, the religious or spiritual element present in the practice of yoga may scare people who are concerned about religious purity or the integrity of their beliefs. Some might believe that yoga contradicts their religion, others might think of it as devil’s work. But is modern yoga a form of spiritual or religious practice?
The Critical Religion Association

Essay: Are women devalued by religion?
This scriptural exaltation of women’s equality only makes the actual condition of women in our society more questionable—and the attitudes of many male religious leaders on the subject more suspect. After all, at its best, religion frames our values and invites each and all us—not just men—to reach for the heights of the human spirit. Religion, we also know, is a compelling arbiter of personal ethics and public actions. Human behavior is based on assumptions, and where women are concerned, religion has helped define the human community’s assumptions about the place and role of women in society. Religion tells us that women are valuable, of course, but also that women are secondary to men.
Shifting Paradigms

Religious extremism growing at a rapid pace: Marmur
Religious converts are often said to feel that they haven’t been converted enough and compensate by denigrating the religion in which they were reared. That’s perhaps also why some adopt extreme views within their new faith. The unnamed Muslim or Jewish York University student who recently refused to attend a class because women would be present could have been of that ilk.
The Star

Is this what religion has become in Kenya?
Freedom of worship has led to the proliferation of cults and religious sects in Kenya. This has been worsened by the fact that starting a church in this country is as easy as starting a self-help group. Actually, all you need is a duly completed application form, a constitution and a registration fee of Sh2,000. Submit these, wait for three months, and you will be in ‘business’.
Standard Media

 

 

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Is seeking votes on religious grounds a corrupt practice?

Later this month, a seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court will pass a ruling on the interpretation of Section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act, deciding on whether an appeal for vote in the name of religion will come within the ambit of ‘corrupt practice’. A five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Justices R.M. Lodha, A.K. Patnaik, S.J. Mukhopadhaya, Dipak Misra and Ibrahim Kalilfulla, posted the issue for consideration by a seven-judge Bench, along with a reference of seven-judges of an appeal already made as early as in August 2002, pending adjudication.
The Hindu

Rajoana urges Akal Takht to issue edict for boycott of Congress
As the controversy around 1984 anti-Sikh riots is brewing again, death row convict Balwant Singh Rajoana has said that the Akal Takht should issue a “hukmnama” (edict) directing the entire Sikh community to severe ties with Congress, alleging that the party was responsible for the carnage. Stating that Akal Takht had issued an edict asking Sikhs to snap social ties with followers of a popular dera when its head had allegedly imitated 10th master of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, around seven years ago, Rajoana questioned why a similar decree was not be made regarding Congress party, which “conspired” to kill Sikhs in Delhi in 1984.
The Times of India

Yoga, imported from India, attracts 20 million Americans
The origin of Yoga is blurred, but may go back before recorded history, even prior to the emergence of Hinduism. An early text is attributed to a scholar known as Patanjali, who gave step-by-step instructions. From his writings Ashtanga Yoga emerged, also referred to as Classical Yoga. Most adherents in this country practice some variation of Patanjali. Thousands of classes are held across the co untry at yoga studios, Ys, colleges, churches, and elsewhere. A major 300-acre Yoga center known as Kripalu is located in Stockbridge, Mass. Yoga has its critics in America, mainly because of its historic ties to Hinduism. Various evangelical clergy have spoken out sharply against it. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has said that Yoga is “at odds with the Christian understanding….Believers are called to meditate on the Word of God.” The televangelist Pat Robertson has charged that Yoga “gets real spooky.” (Actually, Robertson can get real spooky.)
My Record Journal

First Purusha, Then Prakriti Manifested: Sadhguru
Shiva is referred to as the ultimate man, he is the symbolism of ultimate masculinity, and even he is half a woman. I think that is compliment enough. You don’t have to say Shiva came and became half of Parvati because that is not how nature happened. First was Purusha, and then Prakriti manifested. First there was the source of creation, then creation happened. If you were to say, “I delivered my mother,” that would be inappropriate. If you say, “Ardhanari means Shiva became a part of Parvati,” that is what you are saying.
The New Indian Express

Dalai Lama for promotion of secular ethics among youths
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama today urged spiritual leaders of all religions to remind the younger generation the importance of India’s tradition of secular ethics. “Modern India has become a little bit materialistic and the younger generation talks more about money than spirituality, but spiritual leaders must remind them material development provides only physical comfort and not mental comfort,” he said while addressing an Interfaith Conclave on Peace and Religious Harmony here.
Business Standard

The Islamic Republic at 35: A matter of interests
As Iran celebrates the 35th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution, British Prime Minister Palmerston’s apt phrase rings truer than ever: Iran has no permanent friends, only permanent interests.The main question facing the leadership is how, at three and a half decades, can its revolution remain relevant? As always with Iran, its international relations and domestic politics intricately overlap, and its interests impact each other. Towering above the others, its primary interest is to reduce the draconian weight of international sanctions, which are squeezing its economy and threatening the legitimacy of its clerical regime. Second, Iran needs to patch up relations with Saudi Arabia to stem the dangerous politics of sectarianism that is ratcheting up conflict within the Islamic world. Third, Iran’s support of Syria needs to lead it to the international negotiating table, since its aim, much like Russia’s, is to ease Assad out so conflict declines, while retaining a dominant position inside a post-Assad Syria.
—  Aljazeera

 

 

If You Have Faith, You’ll Stop Arguing Why It’s Important in the Marketplace

Freedom of speech means that you have full permission and a right to say what you want, write what you want and speak what you want. Sadly, some groups believe this means you should be silenced if your beliefs are different than mine, or even given special rights if your faith is threatening mine.
Reuters

Yoga is the best way to enforce prohibition, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says
Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Tuesday termed people who do not practise yoga as ayogiyan (a term in Sanskrit and Tamil which means unethical person). “If you don’t practise yoga, you are good for nothing. This has been the belief since ancient times,” he said while speaking at the valedictory function of the 20th international yoga festival organized by the tourism department.
The Times of India

Harassed 300 Dalits Embrace Buddhism
The Dalits were banned from entering the temple and were also not allowed to use the local crematorium. They alleged that the district administration had failed to respond to as many as 28 petitions filed by them in the last two years. Around 79 Dalit families live in a colony in the hamlet which houses over 3,000 Caste Hindus. “As we are in the minority, Caste Hindus banned our entry inside their temples,” a Dalit said.
The New Indian Express

What 21st century Buddhists need to do is study: His Holiness
He said that among the three turnings of the wheel of Dharma, the Perfection of Wisdom teachings, the second turning of the wheel is supreme. The Heart Sutra describes both the Buddha and Avalokiteshara as absorbed in concentration. Initially the Buddha taught how we are propelled into cyclic existence, but not who is propelled. The Heart Sutra teaches not only that the person is empty, but that the five aggregates that are its basis are also empty. This indicates that phenomena as well as persons are empty of inherent existence. The Perfection of Wisdom Sutras teach that there is no essence in anything, everything is empty of inherent existence and is merely designated, nominally existent.
The Tibet Post

This is your brain on religion: Uncovering the science of belief
As far as I’m concerned, the most interesting question about religion isn’t whether God exists but why so many people are religious. There are around 10,000 different religions, each of which is convinced that there’s only one Truth and that they alone possess it. Hating people with a different faith seems to be part of belief. Around the year 1500, the church reformer Martin Luther described Jews as a “brood of vipers.” Over the centuries the Christian hatred of the Jews led to pogroms and ultimately made the Holocaust possible. In 1947, over a million people were slaughtered when British India was partitioned into India for the Hindus and Pakistan for the Muslims. Nor has interfaith hatred diminished since then. Since the year 2000, 43 percent of civil wars have been of a religious nature.
Salon

Religious NGOs, Civil Society and the United Nations
A new study by the University of Kent’s Department of Religious Studies in the United Kingdom has revealed that more than 70% of the United Nation’s religious non-governmental organisations are Christian. The report, religious NGOs and the United Nations, calls for better clarity in how religious NGOs are represented at the UN and for more emphasis to be placed on religious tolerance.
Global Research

The shadow government’s secret religion
The expansion of Washington’s national security state — let’s call it the NSS — to gargantuan proportions has historically met little opposition.  In the wake of the Edward Snowdenrevelations, however, some resistance has arisen, especially when it comes to the “right” of one part of the NSS to turn the world into a listening post and gather, in particular, American communications of every sort.  The debate about this — invariably framed within the boundaries of whether or not we should have more security or more privacy and how exactly to balance the two — has been reasonably vigorous.  The problem is: it doesn’t begin to get at the real nature of the NSS or the problems it poses.
Salon

Religious Homophobia Is Still Homophobia
I’m a bisexual Seventh-day Adventist evangelical Christian. I’ve only ever gone to Seventh-day Adventist educational school systems. I grew up in pathfinders, singing for church special music since I was three, and going to Bible camps during my summers. I still go to a Seventh-day Adventist university where I work on creating safe spaces (unofficial GSA’s) nationally within the Seventh-day Adventist church. I get the Gay Christian world — I live in it. Around the entire LGBT conversation, whether it’s marriage or politics, the main contention point is religion. It’s the root of the opposition and it is where homophobia was birthed.
Huffington Post

Spirituality in a secular world — a conversation
Something essential is missing from modern life. Many who’ve turned away from religious institutions — and others who have lived wholly without religion — hunger for more than what contemporary secular life has to offer but are reluctant to follow organized religion’s strict and often inflexible path to spirituality. In A Religion of One’s Own, bestselling author and former monk Thomas Moore explores the myriad possibilities of creating a personal spiritual style, either inside or outside formal religion.
Fosters.com

Philosophy and Religion Intermarried in Groundbreaking New Book
Gleason’s book journeys through the depths of passion and prudence, of belief and rationality, of theology and philosophy. Loosely interlinked ordinary people represent moral allegories that attempt to explain whether free will or determinism exists, or whether humanity simply exists in a random set of events. The book’s overall theme is the merging of religious credos with philosophical underpinnings, the thematic crux of this fictional novel.
Digital Journal

 

Muslims prepare charter of demands ahead of polls

Ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls, a section of Muslims has prepared a charter of 20 demands and sent it to different political parties. Called Muslim electoral declaration, the demands are now being discussed among community members.
SOURCE: The Times of India

1984 anti-Sikh riots: US court asks Sonia to respond by Jan 2
A US federal court has given Congress president Sonia Gandhi till January 2 to respond to a Sikh body’s charges of protecting and shielding party leaders allegedly involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh violence.
SOURCE: The Hindu

How Yoga Became A $27 Billion Industry — And Reinvented American Spirituality
In the more than 40 years since Khalsa opened his school, he has watched as yoga in America has evolved from a niche activity of devout New Agers to part of the cultural mainstream. Dozens of yoga variations can be found within a 1-mile radius of his studio in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, from Equinox power yoga to yogalates to “zen bootcamp.” Across America, students, stressed-out young professionals, CEOs and retirees are among those who have embraced yoga, fueling a $27 billion industry with more than 20 million practitioners — 83 percent of them women. As Khalsa says, “The love of yoga is out there and the time is right for yoga.”
SOURCE: Huffington Post

Annie, why won’t my mother let me choose my own religion?
I am 14 years old and facing a dilemma. My father isn’t particularly religious, but my mother is a strict Catholic, and my older sister and brother have been confirmed. I have another six months before I am expected to go through the process of confirmation. I do not want to do this. But as the time approaches, my mother has become increasingly forceful on the subject.
SOURCE: The Omaha World Herald

Over 100,000 Muslims take pledge against terrorism, spread message that Islam is religion of peace
The ceremony,organised by the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, was held at the Ramlila ground, and came after a two-day conference attended by clerics of Jamiat-e-Ulemas in the Maldives, Britain, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar at Deoband in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district, where it was decided to set up a forum to promote world peace.
SOURCE: India Today

Spirituality: Rational and Radical
Most people sense that spirituality is about much more than beliefs in unseen forces and attachment to tribal identities. However, to develop a constructive alternative account we need to draw the discussion away from competing clusters of perspectives on the nature and meaning of the universe (theistic, atheistic, spiritual but not religious, agnostic etc) and back towards human practices and experiences that ground spirituality in our lives, where we can see its universal relevance and political importance.
SOURCE: RSA

Is Atheism a Religion?
Ninian Smart has identified seven characteristics of religion:
Narrative
Experiential
Social
Ethical
Doctrinal
Ritual
Material
Does atheism have these characteristics?
SOURCE: American Clarion

Islam in the West
Islamophobia designed to distort the image of Islam is sometimes turned on its head. A case in point is the story of Swiss politician Daniel Streich, known for his campaign to ban minarets, who has reverted to Islam. During the minarets campaign, Streich started reading the Quran in order to find ammunition with which to attack Islam. The Quran had a deep impact on him, and Streich began to agree with and acknowledged the proclamations of the Quran. Streich embraced Islam in 2008 and left the Swiss People’s Party in 2009 calling its campaign against Islam as witch hunt. Deeply opposed to the minaret ban, Streich now promotes religious tolerance and he is hoping to build Switzerland’s fifth mosque and the most beautiful in Europe. Streich, who now regularly recites Quran and offers his prayers five times a day, says he has found the truth of life in Islam. “Islam offers me logical answers to important life questions, which, in the end, I never found in any other faith,” he says.
SOURCE: Oman Daily Observer

‘Religion leaders, capitalists corrupting literary forums’
Jana Nudi, the two-day literary meet, which ended here on Sunday, resolved to press the State government for passing the Anti Superstition Bill. It resolved to oppose all forms of discrimination in serving food in temples. It also resolved to oppose all forms of palanquin processions. It was resolved that religion leaders and capitalists were corrupting literary institutions. The writers resolved that there would be opposition to all forms of violence against women.
SOURCE: The Hindu

Don’t Judge Religions By Extremist Acts
Secretary General of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) Dr Khalid Abubakar Aliyu says Muslims and Christians are not at war anywhere and that conflicts perpetuated by a few extremist religious leaders for reasons other than religion should not be blamed on the religions.
SOURCE: AllAfrica

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