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"Surely, those who believe, and the Jews and the Christians and the Sabians, whoever have faith with true hearts in Allah and in the Last-day and do good deeds, their reward is with their Lord, and there shall be no fear for them nor any grief."

— Qur'an 2:62

Latest from CIP

Saudi Arabia and its links to 'Islamic State'

Irfan Al-Alawi  •  February 12, 2016  •  Lapido Media [London]

Relations between the rulers of Saudi Arabia, the Wahhabi clerics that control its religious life, and the Wahhabi-inspired so-called 'Islamic State' (IS) have come under increasing scrutiny in the Arab world and globally.

Like many features of life in the Saudi kingdom, the links between Wahhabism and IS appear ambivalent but now increasingly discernible.

On 22 January in an interview with Middle East Broadcasting (MBC), which is operated from the Gulf state of Dubai, a leading Saudi-Wahhabi cleric declared that the 'Islamic State' (IS) followed the ideological principles of the official Saudi sect.

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review of Agents of Empire

Stephen Schwartz  •  February 8, 2016  •  The Weekly Standard

Noel Malcolm, senior research fellow at All Souls College Oxford, is a polyglot and polymath. Skillful with sources in Albanian, Romanian, Serbian, modern Turkish, Italian, and other languages, he is probably best known for books produced during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, Bosnia: A Short History (1994) and Kosovo: A Short History (1999). He has published definitive editions of the writings of Thomas Hobbes and was knighted in 2014.

His latest—Agents of Empire—a highly engaging (if complex) work began in obscure circumstances and deals with arcane matters. Still, Malcolm is gifted in moving from the microcosm to the macrocosm, and his survey of competing European and Eurasian dominions more than four centuries ago offers many useful insights for the present.

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Regulation of UK madrassas is acceptable to spiritual and traditional Muslims

Irfan Al-Alawi  •  January 21, 2016  •  Lapido Media [London]

Some UK mosques have struck out against proposals by Government for regulation of Islamic madrassas, or religious supplementary schools attended by children after their regular instruction.

The British Government publicised its madrassa concept late last year.

The official plan followed critical remarks by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Cameron warned that some Muslim children had 'their heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate' in the madrassa environment.

He called further for a halt to 'teaching intolerance'.

According to BBC News, there are 2,000 madrassas in Britain.

Many are large, elaborately-managed institutions, but the country also has numerous small madrassas.

None is directed under Government guidelines.

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Terror and Radical Islam in India and Pakistan

Muhammad Ashraf and Stephen Suleyman Schwartz  •  January 21, 2016  •  Cafe Dissensus [New York]

[CIP Note: This interview was posted by Cafe Dissensus under the title "Plural Islam in South Asia."]

Muhammad Ashraf: As 2016 began, terrorists attacked the Indian air force base at Pathankot. Seven members of the military and six extremists were killed in four days of fighting. Media report that responsibility for the assault belongs to a terrorist group mainly active in Pakistan, Jaish-e-Muhammad ['Army of Muhammad'], which is aligned with Lashkar-e-Taiba ['Army of the Righteous']. Both have focused their violent attentions on Kashmir. What is the main motive guiding such terrorist networks in Pakistan in your opinion?

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Sufism and Islamic Tradition Defeat Fundamentalism in Kerala, India

Muhammad Ashraf and Stephen Suleyman Schwartz  •  January 14, 2016  •  CIP

Kerala is a state on the southwest Indian coast in which Islam counts a quarter of the population 0f 33.3 million, according to the national census. It is characterized by good relations between Muslims and the local Hindu majority of 56 percent, plus a Christian minority of 19 percent. Islam in Kerala is influenced strongly by the spiritual heritage of Sufism. This has allowed the Muslims of the state to resist an offensive by the fundamentalist and radical Deobandi sect, which purports to represent authentic Sunni Islam.

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Norway Ready to Rid Itself of Radical Mullah Krekar

Stephen Schwartz  •  January 11, 2016  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

It seems time is running out for the main protagonist in a quarter-century-long saga involving radical Islam and hyper-humanitarianism, extending from Iraqi Kurdistan to Norway. A U.S.-designated terrorist group, Ansar al-Islam (Volunteers of Islam) is prominent in the Syria and Iraq fighting, reportedly with Saudi backing, as an opponent of both the Bashar al-Assad regime and the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS). Ansar al-Islam has been led by a figure notorious in Iraqi Kurdistan, Mullah Krekar, whose real name seems to be Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, and whose current age is 59.

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Celebrating Muhammad's Birthday in Kerala, India

Muhammad Aslam  •  January 1, 2016  •  CIP

With great enthusiasm and joy, the Muslims of Kerala, India, welcomed the first day of the month of Rabi ul-Awwal by the Islamic lunar calendar, which coincided with December 12, 2015, by common reckoning.

Students and other youth, elders, and the rest of the community expressed their happiness by rejoicing in their own ways. Celebrations began with the appearance of the moon of Rabi ul-Awwal in the sky, and colorful and distinctive programs will continue through the end of the month. All the children and youth participate in decorating the minarets of masjids and other buildings, using chains of light-bulbs, while the roads are filled with colored posters and other papers.

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Islamic Tradition and Reform
Sir Sayed Ahmed Khan's Vision in Post-Colonial Education

Noorudheen Musthafa  •  December 30, 2015  •  CIP

"Call me whatever names you like, I will not ask you for my salvation, but please take pity on your children. Do something for them (send them to schools), lest you have to repent (for not sending them)." – Sir Sayed Ahmed Khan [1817-1898]

It is often obscured whether modern intellectual discourse follows a path to the center of Humanity or produces lasting phenomena counter to indigenous, traditional morally- and ethically-dictated principles.

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CIP 2015 Appeal for End-of-Year Donations

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz  •  December 27, 2015  •  CIP

As the common year 2015 ends, the Center for Islamic Pluralism (CIP) wishes the best to our friends, but also must appeal for funds to continue our work.

As subscribers to our website will know, CIP is an international network of scholars, clerics, intellectuals and journalists in more than 36 Muslim countries and Muslim-minority communities.

CIP has stood since its foundation against extremism and fanaticism in Islam.

Our reputation has expanded globally and new contacts are made almost daily, from the U.S. to Africa. Numerous articles and interviews by our members are featured in important media platforms and in multiple languages.

CIP leads in global reporting and commentary on:

1. Wahhabism, the ideology of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and, in its most vicious form, of the so-called "Islamic State;"

2. Human rights violations by the Iranian clerical regime;

3. The international struggle against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM);

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Baba Arshiu Bazaj of Taylor, Michigan, dies at 109

Albanian Bektashi Sufis  •  December 26, 2015  •  Illyria [New York]

The Albanian-American newspaper Illyria has reported the death of rahmetli Baba Arshi Bazaj, may his mystery be sanctified, at 109 years of age. Baba Arshi was the head of the Bektashi Sufi teqe established in Taylor, Michigan, USA, by the noted Bektashi figure Baba Rexheb Beqiri (1901-95).

Baba Arshi expired at the teqe where he had long served. He was born in 1906 in Sevaster, near Vlora in Albania. He was a life-long Bektashi. His diligent work for the Bektashi community began in Vlora and concluded near Detroit. His funeral will be held on December 29.

He was close to Baba Rexheb. The teqe where they functioned kept Albanian traditions alive, motivating belief in continuing efforts for a new life and hope of liberation of Albania from the grip of Communism.

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Iran Meddles in Nigeria's Sectarian Strife

Stephen Schwartz  •  December 23, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Nigeria, once known only as Africa's most populous country, now mainly makes headlines for the eruption in its northeast of the brutal jihadist force, Boko Haram ("Western education is prohibited"). Boko Haram has occupied parts of Nigeria and invaded neighbors, including Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. It declares itself a West African province of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).

The four countries attacked by Boko Haram and another Muslim-majority state, Benin, have formed a coalition against it, with support from the United Nations, the United States, Britain, and France. But resistance to the jihadis has been weak. Nigeria is well-endowed with human and financial resources—before the shale revolution it stood alongside Saudi Arabia and Venezuela as a leading vendor of oil to the U.S.—but its political and social structure have left it vulnerable to a serious terrorist threat.

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An Interfaith Example for the Holiday Season

Stephen Schwartz  •  December 21, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

Early this year, coinciding with the celebration of Christmas on January 7, by Egyptian Coptic, Ethiopian, most Slavic Orthodox, and Georgian Orthodox churches, with some Greek Orthodox faithful, I wrote in the blog of the religious journal First Things on the adoption of the holiday honoring the birth of Jesus by Muslim religious authorities in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

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In Saudi Arabia's Local Elections, (Some) Women Vote and Win

Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz  •  December 14, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

On Saturday, December 12, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia held local elections. Polling covered 343 constituencies, according to the Jidda-based Arab News. It was the third recent Saudi municipal balloting, following votes in 2005 and 2011. The 2005 election was the first since 1965, after 40 years.

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Islamic Pluralism and South Asia
An Interview with Stephen Suleyman Schwartz

Muhammad Ashraf  •  December 11, 2015  •  CIP

Query: Brother Suleyman, while the 'Islamic State' has brought upheaval to the Arab lands and the West, we see that 'IS' has not gained a strong position in South Asia, where a distinguished, prominent, and varied presence of Sufi traditions exists. What is the role of these traditions in stabilizing moderate Islam in the region?

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America's Response to Mass Shootings Is Always Insufficient

Stephen Schwartz  •  December 4, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

On the morning of Wednesday, December 2, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27, burst into a conference-room holiday party in the federally-funded Inland Regional Center at San Bernardino, CA, where Faroook was employed. They killed 14 people and injured 21, armed with two assault rifles and two semiautomatic handguns, as reported by to the Los Angeles Times.

Farook and Malik were killed by San Bernardino police in a shootout four hours later.

Farook was born in Chicago and worked for five years at the San Bernardino County Health Department. Malik was born in Pakistan. After the apparent arrangement of a marriage on an internet site, they met in Saudi Arabia in 2014 before coming to the United States together.

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Female Genital Mutilation Reportedly Imposed by ISIS

Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz  •  November 30, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

On October 11, the London Independent newspaper revived charges first made last year, by United Nations officials in Iraq, that the Islamic State (ISIS) has called for female genital mutilation (FGM) to be forced on women and girls living in the city of Mosul. ISIS seized Mosul in June 2014 and, almost immediately, reports were heard that the atrocious practice was being imposed.

ISIS itself and various experts dismissed the reports as fabricated, but they were countered by local people in Mosul and Kurdish advocates, who insist the demand is a genuine product of the fanatical "caliphate."

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The Lesson of the Albanians
On the 103rd Anniversary of Their Independence

Stephen Sylejman Schwartz  •  November 28, 2015  •  Illyria [New York]

The world continues to suffer the aggression of radical Islam. The bloodshed seen in Paris on November 13 was merely the latest in a series of horrific terrorist acts beginning in 2001. In the United States and elsewhere, suspicion of Islam and of Muslims is high – Syrian and Iraqi refugees from the same Islamist extremism in the Middle East may be excluded from asylum in America.

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Islamist Politics and Turkey's Disunity

Stephen Schwartz and Veli Sirin  •  November 23, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

[Veli Sirin is European Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism.]

The Islamist atrocities in Paris on November 13 have overshadowed a different but relevant crisis in radical Muslim politics. In Turkey, on November 1, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regained its parliamentary majority. AKP had lost its control over the national legislature in June, when its representation fell from 327 to 258 out of 550. Erdoğan's followers have now clawed back to 317 seats.

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The Dayton Accords at 20
But there's little to celebrate.

Stephen Schwartz  •  November 23, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard

The Dayton accords, formally signed in December 1995, have reached their twentieth anniversary. Dayton is commonly portrayed as a "peace agreement" for war-torn Bosnia-Hercegovina and an outstanding achievement of Bill Clinton's administration. The accords were an achievement; the war ended. Yet close scrutiny reveals a shabby aftermath.

The Dayton negotiations halted combat between Bosnian Muslims (many of whom prefer to be identified as Bosniaks rather than by religion), Bosnian Serbs, and Bosnian Croats. The war began in the spring of 1992 and was mainly fought between Serb aggressors and Bosniak defenders, with the Croats ambivalent allies of the Bosniaks.

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The New Paris Horror and the Putin Trap

Stephen Schwartz and Irfan Al-Alawi  •  November 19, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

The November 13 terrorist assault on Paris, which left at least 129 dead and 451 injured, has had a similar aftermath as its predecessors. The September 11, 2001 attack on New York and Washington, the March 11, 2004 bombing of the Madrid metro system, the London Underground bombings of July 7 and July 21, 2005 - were all carried out by members of Al-Qaida or their sympathizers. The Mumbai terror onslaught of November 25-29, 2008 was committed by the Pakistan-based ally of Al-Qaida, Lashkar e-Taiba. Sundry episodes of homicide and destruction have been perpetrated by radical Muslims across the Middle East and in the West during the past 14 years.

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The Sheikh AlIslam Fil-Balad Al-Haram Al-Sharif
The Sheikh Al-Islam Fil-Balad Al-Haram Al-Sharif

Salaat ul-janaza [Funeral service] of Sayyid Muhammad ibn Alawi Al Maliki, The Grand Mosque in Mecca, October 2004
Salaat ul-janaza [Funeral service] of Sayyid Muhammad ibn Alawi Al Maliki, The Grand Mosque in Mecca, October 2004

Islam's past
Islam Past: Turkish mosque in Romania
Turkish mosque in Romania
Photos: Stephen Schwartz

Islam's present
Islam the Present Wahhabi vandalism at mosque in Kosova
Wahhabi vandalism at mosque in Kosova

Islam's future
Islam's Future: New mosque in Kazakhstan
New mosque in Kazakhstan

Audio Presentation
Yasawi Shrine
Seek healing in Sufism
by Yasawi Sufi Saparbai Kushkarov of Uzbekistan,
in Uzbek, Russian,
English, and Arabic

Video Presentation
Bin Yilin Turkusu - Saga of the Millennium
Bin Yilin Turkusu
(Saga of the Millennium)

Homage to Seyed Khalil Alinejad
"Homage to Seyed Khalil Alinejad"
Artwork © Jennifer Pawlak
No reproduction or reposting without permission of CIP.

Marje Sistani
Obey your country's laws, Marje Ali Sistani urges Muslims in West.

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
Stephen Suleyman Schwartz:
Why I Serve as Executive Director of CIP

© 2016 Center for Islamic Pluralism.

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