An imagined interview with Ajmal Kasab

Having worked through the top echelons of the Indian government and after biting my nails for three months, the government finally acceded to my request for an interview with Ajmal Amir Kasab, the terrorist captured alive during 26/11. The meeting came barely days before his trial was to have begun.

As an idea, such an interview was the equivalent of making an elephant pass through a needle hole, but still worth a try, I thought. During the process of obtaining permission, I was asked to also explain why I wanted to interview Kasab in the first place. 

The letter from the ministry of ****, which bore typical turns of bureaucratic phrases, succinctly stated: “Your request to meet accused in the Mumbai terrorist attacks Ajmal Amir Kasab cannot be granted for reasons of security and national interest. However, the government would want to know why you are desirous of meeting him. You are hereby directed to state your position in writing to Mr **** in the ministry of **** within seven days upon receipt of this notice.” 

The last line of the letter came as a flicker of hope, a sign I did not miss. I had to explain forcefully, I thought, the reason why I was keen on meeting a terrorist. I would want to challenge India’s most hated prisoner to a theological contest. This was what finally paved the way. 

The riders, which the government’s permission came with, barred me from making public the numerous conditions I was required to meet. But one of the conditions I could write about was that I needed to run my piece past the government. I did, and the authorities miraculously didn’t recoil at what came out of the meeting. 

Cut to Arthur Road Jail, Mumbai. The gates were flung open sharp at 9 a.m. I am oath-bound not to mention the exact date or paint a picture of the interiors of the jail and the jail officials who led me to Kasab’s dungeon, where he was seated on a mat. 

It was a very small chamber, is all I can say. But it wasn’t hellish either. I mean, provided one got to eat and defecate, one could remain physically healthy. What such solitary confinement could do to one’s mental health, I do not know.     

As the small iron door was opened, Kasab blinked but did not move. He was surely surprised, I could make out, by this unscheduled and untimely opening of his cell door. 

A senior official who accompanied me as my chaperon introduced me briefly and told Kasab he was under no legal compulsion to oblige me.   

I was now confronted with one of the 10 terrorists who had embarked on deadly raids across India’s financial heart on November 26, 2008, claiming 166 innocent lives. For me this was going to be no ordinary tête-à-tête. Here’s what I did not know: it was to be the same for Kasab. 

The man looked fresh and his face had a fine line streaking across the left cheek, something that usually appears when one sleeps tight and skin is pressed against the bed in a particular position for a long period. 

Kasab was still seated on the floor and leaning against the wall, unmoved. If expressions were anything to go by, this sudden break in monotony had made him visibly happy.   

My first words to Kasab: “Since you have agreed to talk, please be clear that in my opinion, you are a terrorist. I am here to challenge you to an Islamic debate. If you can prove to me that your path is Islamic and right, I will help you. But if I prove to you that your path is un-Islamic and wrong, then you will have to help me. You will have to help me by making an appeal to all jihadis to shun violence.” 

Kasab’s first words to me: “Assalam-wa-alai-kum.” 

“What did you say? Can you come up again?” I reply back. 

“Assalam-wa-alai-kum,” Kasab says, again. 

“What does it mean?” I ask him, as he looked surprised that I had not replied back with a “wa-alai-kum assalam” as is traditionally said. 

“It’s surprising you are a Muslim and don’t know what assalam-wa-alai-kum means. It means ‘peace be upon you’,” Kasab quips. 

“You must be joking,” I tell him. “How can peace be upon me when you come in with Ak-56s and bags full of bombs and kill our people who have done nothing to harm you?” 

I then ask: “Have you studied in a madrassah?” “Yes, but I dropped out early?” comes the answer. 

“So you haven’t learnt the Quran, its commentaries, meanings and various interpretations? You are uneducated, even in the Islamic sense.” I tell him. 

“Yes,” pat comes the answer. 

I quote Kasab Chapter 5 of the Quran: “Whosoever takes an innocent life, it is as if he killed entire humanity and whosoever saves a life, it is as if he saved entire humanity.” 

A gruffly Kasab then tells me: “But isn’t India an enemy of Islam and Muslims?” 

“No” I tell him. “Could Muslims have become Presidents of India if that were to be so. Do you know there are more Muslims in India than in Pakistan?   

Kasab’s jaws drop. Then over the next two hours, argument after argument followed. About 100 interpretations of the Quran were showed to him. Every argument landed on him like a bombshell. 

The terrorist was astonished to learn the findings of a worldwide Gallup Poll of Muslims I showed him, though he made me swear in the name of Allah that such a survey was indeed conducted. 

I told Kasab that the survey, conducted by the Gallup polling agency over six years and three continents, sought to dispel the belief held by some in the West that Islam itself is the driving force of radicalism. (For the Gallup survey, go here

I also told him the survey proved that the overwhelming majority of Muslims condemned the 9/11 attacks, and “other subsequent terrorist attacks”. 

I also told him that according to the survey “about 93 per cent of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims are moderates and only seven per cent are politically radical, according to the poll, based on more than 50,000 interviews”. 

So many Muslims can’t be wrong, I told Kasab. 

The terrorist by now was a shadow of his earlier self. 

He refused to make an appeal to jihadis himself to give up violence but instead asked me to do so on his behalf.   

“Please tell them that Allah doesn’t allow killing of innocents. I was wrong. Tell your government to sentence me soon enough. I will die of loneliness if not anything else. Also, please tell your government to provide me non-vegetarian food at least once a week.”

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  • KK

    Dear Zia,
    Its an excellent article, keep it up. But I am still not clear: was it real or you have just imagined: sorry for asking a foolish question, but your title says its imaginary but I feel like real.


    Zia Haq Reply:

    Incredible! The interview is imaginary as the headline states. The issues are real. Thanks.


    Ishmart Alec Reply:

    Even in the earlier posts, you had talked about what clerics never told us. Could you say if these principles are actual working examples or mere propogating of theories like any of those clerics.

    As you said, its a mater of interpretation…so are your interpretatiosn the realities of muslim life or what muslims as a community should strive to achieve?


    Partho Reply:

    It sounds nice and might be an effective hindi film screenplay. However, there is no chance of Islam being seen as a constructive force in today’s world unless:
    1. Islam accepts unequivocally that there are other ways for people to lead their lives that are fulfilling, meaningful, in the interest of humanity and in no way inferior to Islam.
    2. Islam accepts that people who follow the faith are primarily rooted to the culture and customs of the place where they have been or have lived. No demands should be made on the faithful to show loyalty to the ummah.

    Do you see any of these happening? Do you see a debate on the existing interpretations of the Sharia? Do you see any chance of these debates being taken up without fatwa’s for the heads of the initiators of such debate?

    Or is one to assume that the Sharia is sacrosanct in the way it is interpreted today? Never mind the Al Quoran, do you even see the Al Hadis being debated in the madrassas?

    Till that happens, I’m afraid you are another apologist who wants to convince the ‘rest’ of how brilliant and complete and perfect Islam is. Mind you, it may well be; however by demanding that the ‘rest’ should simply accept the primacy of Allah’s words and then debate the contents of Sharia under that basic assumption, is unfair and in my opinion, humbug.


    Zia Haq Reply:

    Can you prove I said this: “…however by demanding that the ‘rest’ should simply accept the primacy of Allah’s words and then debate the contents of Sharia under that basic assumption..” Not my comments. My language is exactly opposite yours.

    You are only happily publicising your ignorance when you ask if debates over re-reading the Texts have begun. They have begun. You obviously haven’t heard about Turkey revising the Hadeeth. I would not like to go into many other examples because many of these will be subjects of future blogs.

    Loyalty is an issue discussed in the first blog. The redeeming feature of our society is that right-minded Hindus will always speak up for Muslims and vice-versa. My apologies but you aren’t, in my opinion, one of them.

    Partho Reply:

    I could not have put it better than what you have. Yes, Turkey has been examining it for some time. And you think it is enough to showcase a distant Turkey for your argument!! A Turkey that had, till very recently, banned overt Islamic symbols. It is certainly not the example that springs to the mind of an Islamic country. In fact, Ataturk may not be a model for most Muslims in the world. Do you think he is?

    I was hoping you would give me an example of such discourse in India, or even the subcontinent. Even one such example would have meant hope. Alas, there is none.

    Unfortunately, we seem to be more polarised now than 20 years earlier. And Islam too is polarising more rapidly than ever before. The danger, which you have glossed over, is that Islam has not had a rethink that most other religions have had. And you do not feel it is necessary to have that started in this country. Or maybe you do – maybe I’ve misunderstood you all this while.

    I agree I am ignorant, maybe even intolerant than many other people. But it is also true that I want to learn from cultured debate, by sustained logical arguments the thoughts and predilections of those who claim to be misunderstood. In the process I hope to reexamine my prejudices (for I have many) and understand humanity.

    The final point that you have missed altogether is, yes, likeminded Hindus will support Muslims. They have and always will. Why? Because that is the nature of the religion to be inclusive, to say that, Yes, Allah is also God. Some say it is a weakness, some say it is a strength.

    But Have the Imams and Sayyeds and Qazis and the other of the Muslim leadership ever articulated that in the Friday prayers, that, yes, the Hindu brethern on this country too are blessed even if they are idolaters? Have mainstream Muslims ever attempted to look beyond the Sharia, beyond the dictates of Islam and made it into a firm, articulated argument for co-existing in a syncretic culture as ours? (Yes, Sufis have. But they are not mainstream).

    Have you heard them ever? At best what you will find is silence, or, a motherliness statement saying how important it is for all of us to coexist, or an argument on how Islam forbids this and that. Have you heard any talk from them of how the Ummah is not a good concept for a country like ours? For that matter, you too, so far, have steered clear of Ummah.

    So how is this approach, inclusivist? How does it intend to survive in a country of such diversity without tearing the fabric somewhere? Where is the starting point? Where does it give – by saying that India is dar-ul-aman – is that it? Has it escaped your attention that even this little ‘concession’ can only be understood in the context of Islam, not beyond. It does not include. It only tolerates.

    Sam Reply:

    Islam is a disruptive force in todays world.
    Whether it will be a polarizing force or will bring peace to its followers and neighbors is yet to be seen.

    Bobby Reply:

    “The final point that you have missed altogether is, yes, likeminded Hindus will support Muslims. They have and always will. Why? Because that is the nature of the religion to be inclusive, to say that, Yes, Allah is also God. Some say it is a weakness, some say it is a strength.”

    Long time back a historian (among other things) by the name of Al-Biruni had said of Indians (hindus), that they are full of themselves thinking their religion, their culture, their knowledge is like no other-best of the best…even centuries later its so true! just one look at all the hot-air about “inclusiveness” is enough to convince anyone. Inclusive! Jesus Christ! I wonder whether the dalits would be laughing or crying if they read this!

    Anil Kumar Reply:

    When you ask special treatment in name of religion you get identiifed as a follower of that religion. So many thigns come to mind
    (1) haz subsidy
    (2)MEdersah aid without any reform
    (3) Reservation on basis of religion

    Partho Reply:

    You are, no doubt correct in pointing out that Dalits have had the rough-end of the stick for at least 2 thousand years. So have the aboriginals of the subcontinent, the adivasis. While the Adivasis were never included in the Hindu life, Dalits were. Seen from today’s point of view, that treatment was and is abominable. Hence, we had social leaders like Jyotiba Phule, his wife, Vinoba BHave and may of his ilk attempting to usher in the change.

    Dalit empowerment will happen, as it already is. It will still not correct the past mistakes. But we can look forward to a new tomorrow. As things stand today, there will be very few in mainstream politics or in mainstream press who would either grudge, or actively stop the empowerment of Dalits. It is inexorable, and, if you ask me, high time it happened.

    Similar activism, vigilance and protection is required for the Adivasis as well. Unfortunately, that conversation is not often heard.

    Moot point: does the majority support such a social transformation? I would say, Yes. Would you agree Bobby?

    imran khan Reply:

    Who calls/called you a Muslim, sir?
    Don’t be such an attention seeker, don’t be such a cry baby. the wounded/oppressed/martyr tag is not the only way to increase the TRPs.
    I am sure in India, we are all known by our names only and despite the various inherent imperfections this country does still gives space, a fairly equal one, to all. no society is perfect in any case. look around, in south asia as well as beyond.

    Soma Reply:

    Imran, I don’t know if that’s your real name. But even if it is, you are probably a very rich Muslim, or a socialite to not know what many middle class Muslims face today. Refusal to get decent rented living space in a mixed locality, loans to buy cars or fund the education of their children. And i am not talking of slum-dwelling Muslims with 11 kids as the stereotype goes. If a religion is in crisis — more so abroad than in our own country — is it fine to alleniate progressive Muslims? Probably you have not faced this, probably you are a rich man’s son, probably you are not 18 and have not tried to get a loan. or you are not Muslim.

    imran khan Reply:

    dear soma. you are so disarmingly ridiculous and blinkered.
    who gave you the right to probe whether i am a muslim or not? do you think a few like you who keep cribbing and revel in the stereotypes and ghettoism have the right to decide who is a musim and who is not? do you think a muslim HAS TO be part of the mob, comprising bigoted souls like you, to be seen as a Muslim?
    You are so typical, you represent the vested elite of our society who wants to keep the others in ghetto and in an alieanated mindset.
    You have problems in getting a flat? well, my meat-eating Hindu friend tried to get a flat in vegetarians-dominated buildings in grant road and mumbai centrak, in mumbai, but the gujaratis shooed him away! what about kashmiri brethren who have been sunddered from their homes in kashmir valley? just no body talks of them.
    i am in mid-20’s, middle class, and a working professional with a state research institution. did my IIT from mumbai. and hold your breath, i am a muslim. when it came down to the crunch, nobody stopped me from reaching where i am now. have a car loan, drive an i 20.
    muslim, muslim, muslim. do you think in wholly Muslim societies, we dont have divisions, discriminations and biases? even in wholly shia or sunni dominated social units, there are divisions based on lineage, sub caste, place of origin, rich or poor, who panders the powerful, etc.

    Prabhakar Reply:

    If 7% of 1.3 billion Muslims are radicals that is 100 million people who idolize Osama Bin Laden

    Is that only 100 million or 100 millions too many ?

    Will the remaining 1.2 billion Muslims support arrest of these 100 million radicals.

    And what is to say that 1.2 billion Muslims won’t become radical one day.

    How many Muslim radicals can we tolerate – 1 million, 10 million, 100 million, 1 billion?

    Bobby Reply:

    Dear Partho,

    yes I agree, and i dont think its because of any intrinsic inclusiveness which hindus have developed that others dont possess. As an example If you had taken a poll amongst muslims around the world and asked them whether non-muslims should be allowed to live their life according to their customs as long as they dont harass others, the majority would still say-yes.

    when you say that “no chance of Islam being seen as a constructive force…”, I dont understand what constructive force does hinduism or any other religion play? apart from producing phony godmen.

    And talking of fundamentalism, I firmly believe in the context of India, Hindu fundamentalism is a far bigger danger compared to muslim fundamentalism.

    Atul Reply:

    Hi Zia,

    I dont know about you, but I am absolutely overwhelmed at the responses to your posts!

    As far as I can understand, this imaginary conversation would hold good for any extreme act by a follower of any other religion at any time and place. I wonder if the responses would be similar.

    However,I would ask my colleagues to examine whether the issues lies in Islam, or in its practitioners. History has shown the latter to be true of other religions.

    And more important, whether these issues are based on facts, or heresay. You would agree, after all, that proper knowledge of the problem is paramount to arriving at an appropriate resolution.

    Zia Haq Reply:

    Hi Atul:

    The imaginary piece was just a creative and fictional approach I took to speak out against terror. Writers employ various methods to drive home their points: imagery, imagination, word-play and sarcasm, among others.

    The goal is not to please audiences. That’s easy. It’s also easy to miss the woods for the trees. Is there a crisis in Islam? Yes. Should we ignore the vast majority of absolutely loyal and law-abiding citizens and only talk about a small minority of radicals? No.

    If we propagate the myth that Islam itself is the driving force for radicalisation, then we only help terrorists. If that were true, then all Muslims would have been terrorists.

    Thanks for writing in. I am also grateful for all sorts of reactions: the extreme, the sensible and the downright intolerant.

    Let me reiterate something: A start needs to be made. Attitudes need to be changed. Courses need to be corrected. Some mistakes need to be condoned. Some condemned. The art of living together needs to be learnt. Non-interference (in each other’s religion) has to be practised. Bridges need to be built. And the delay in achieving all this needs to be avoided.

    Atul Reply:

    And you have my support in this quest. Do let me know how I can be of assistance.

    Your patience will be tested several times over….. so God Bless & Good Luck!!

    roodrow Reply:

    How do you know that the interpretations of Koran by the moderates is the correct one and not of that by the terrorists? I read some of the “press releases” of Al Quaida and they have explained quite clearly , with appropriate quotes from the holy book, that jihad and suicide bombing ensures paradise in islam, among other things. Sacrificing self for the cause of Allah(which is the creation of worldwide islamic state) is permitted by Koran. I dont see any fallacy of logic in this. It could be a different interpretation, but I wont call it a “mis”-interpretation as we still dont what is the correct version.

    Anindya Reply:

    why pick Ajmal Kasab to debate with? I guess we will all agree that he is an intellectual nobody. Why not pick Osama, Masood Azhar, Zawahiri and the like?
    Turkey has been a secular country the last 60 odd years. If there is any movement there, it is actually towards Islamisation in recent years. I would like to know if there is even one country in the world today which has moved towards adopting more secular ethos from its currently Islamic culture/ polity.
    As Partho says, please point out some instances/ personalities closer home in support of your arguments. And yes, Pakistan is closer than Turkey!
    Are you aware of a Hindu theocratic state in the world? Or Jain, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish..
    What is it in Islam that ensures it has so many “Islamic Republics”? Do you know anything about the conditions of minorities in even so called modern Islamic republics are?
    Do you know of a Hindu or a Christian or a Jain… anything other than a Muslim head of state in an Islamic country?
    The fundamental issue is your inability to step even a millimeter outside your Muslim identity. A Hindu, or a Christian steps outside the rigid boundaries of his Hindu/ Christian identity many times.

    Bobby Reply:

    “Do you know anything about the conditions of minorities in even so called modern Islamic republics are?”

    well to begin with lets ask what is the condition of muslims in India. Two words: Sachar Commission.

    Apparently its worse than dalits, which is saying a lot.

    “If there is any movement there, it is actually towards Islamisation in recent years”

    exactly like India, which has been a secular country for the last sixty years , and where support for hindu fundamentalist parties which demand a Hindu Rashtra are growing in the last decade or so.

    Sam Reply:

    In india, the goal of treating everyone as equal has not happened in the past.

    So it is being corrected in the last few decades.

    While this is true, and no one in india hides behind any religious texts or law on the books, let us look at the contemporary societies worldwide.

    Atleast there was no slavery and the man and woman were not sold like cattle, to be separated from their families, kids, ….

    Islam permits slavery, and slavery was abolished in Saudi arabia in 1963.
    Slaves were sold in Mecca and many other places, until British put pressure to abolish/reduce it.

    Atleast the dalits, had family, some property and community to live in.

    This is by no means condoning, but a comparative study in the rest of world helps to put that in the context.

    Sam Reply:

    Mohamamad himself captured slaves, made people slaves under him, ….
    Also having sex with slave girl is not considered an offence in islam. This is in addition to the 4 wifes allowed. A Man could have sex beyond 4 wifes, with any slave girl he owns.

    Historically, the major juristic schools of Islam traditionally accepted the institution of slavery.[1] Muhammad and many of his companions bought, sold, freed, and captured slaves. Slaves benefited from Islamic dispensations which improved their situation relative to that in pre-Islamic society.[1] At the end of the 19th century, a shift in Muslim thought and interpretation of the Qur’an occurred, and slavery became seen as opposed to Islamic principles of justice and equality.[2] This interpretation has not been accepted by the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia.[3]

    SKS Mumbai Reply:


    “He refused to make an appeal to jihadis himself to give up violence but instead asked me to do so on his behalf.    “Please tell them that Allah doesn’t allow killing of innocents. I was wrong”
    Un quote

    Phew! And everybody lived happily thereafter.

    “Tell your government to sentence me soon enough. I will die of loneliness if not anything else. Also, please tell your government to provide me non-vegetarian food at least once a week.”
    Un quote

    As far as the news reports suggest, Kasab’s urgency in requesting a quick sentence has nothing to do with his “loneliness at arthur road jail” (or the earth, as they say). It is the excitement of reaching Zannat to make out with celestial babes and attain perpetual orgasmic bliss. As his other 26/11 friends are currently enjoying all the great things that life has to offer oops!! not life, Death has to offer.

    Anindya Reply:

    @Bobby: the debate is not about the conditions of Muslims in India vs that of Dalits. I want to highlight, the “misconceptions”/ “misgivings” or “prejudices” that ordinary Indians like me harbour about Muslims and/ or Islam.
    Some specific answers to my questions would help. What exactly is the point that you are trying to make when you bring up Dalits?
    Interesting comment you make juxtaposing Turkey and India’s experiments with secularism and the move towards fundamentalism. How many Hindu fundamentalists are active in Turkey? Today, anywhere in this world, if there is any religious extremism, you do not have to even ask what religion it is.
    In India, there has been no mass-scale migrations of any community post-partition (save Kashmir; and we all know who migrated).

    Bobby Reply:


    If you understand english, then it should be pretty clear to you that I was not comparing Dalits to muslims.

    About Turkey, my point is that its not special in any way. What you say about rising fundamentalism in that country can be said of India- a predominantly Hindu state.

    And when you say religious extremism is confined to muslims only, yes thats true with the definition that any violence on the part of a muslim is terrorism and any violence on the part of hindus and christians and jews is only self-defence. Yes indeed with this definition what you claim is true.

    Sam, My understanding is that your link is simply stating that reforms are happening in Islamic countries and while slavery was allowed previously its currently not the case due to new interpretations in Islam. So how is it different from what you are claiming is happening in hindu society where caste-system which previously were thought to have been sanctioned in the scriptures is now being opposed?

    Sam Reply:

    If I have to be born as a slave vs dalit, i would chose being dalit in india.
    even with discrimination, i can still have my family, wife, kids, home, property, community..

    in india there was no slavery, while the rest of the world had this at such a large scale.
    even islam’s founder had slaves. it is even justified in Koran.

    so if you want to go back into the back and compare existing social conditions, please do two comparisons.

    One is absolute comparison.
    Other one is relative comparison.

    India is light years ahead in not having slavery…
    Can you imagine, someone separated from their family being sold, wife being sold, children being sold, all for the profit of the “owner”.

    This is such a degradation, which luckily india never stooped to..

    Bobby Reply:

    I think its a matter of definition, You can have various forms of slavery. Caste subjugation is definitely some form of slavery. In any case this is what Wikipedia has to say about the topic.

    Anindya Reply:

    @ Zia: I have been visiting your blog since your first post. I sincerely hoped for enhanced understanding of how Muslims view the world around them; signs of the community coming to terms with not so much its past (because, the past can shame all of us), but its present and future. I was looking for introspection, questioning of why Muslims in India are caught in this vicious circle of poverty, ignorance, lack of modern education, women’s subjugation.. are all these just a matter of perception? Do you think all these are just a matter of our wearing the right power glasses?
    I say this with great sadness; when a community which gifted the world priceless monuments like the Taj Mahal, great poets like Ghalib and whole cultural centres around Awadh, Aligarh; educationists like Sir Syed Ahmad and even today has a disproportionate share of performing artiste community.. why does that community need apologists? Is this because all of us, fanatical Hindus we must be, have decided to launch this great disinformation campaign against Islam? If we just shut up, Islam and/ or Muslims in India will have no problems?
    Let me do my bit! I henceforth, will stop visiting/ commenting. I wish you well; as I do all my countrymen. It is your blog. It is your choice what you choose to answer and how.
    But, I just happen to think that being moored to a religious identity does your community no good. I think that modern (read western education) can’t be a matter of individual choice. It must be enforced. Women’s health, women’s rights .. these are more important than doctrine.
    I read you, and with a lot of respect when you say that you do not answer stupid questions about a conflict between your Indian and Muslim identities. What if the national priorities of ensuring universal health, education, nutrition can not be met without compromising on some of the dearly held beliefs of your community? Can we wait for the re-assessment/ reading of your texts- outcome uncertain, timeframe indefinite?

    @Bobby, bye. I am sorry I could not be bothered to defend my knowledge of English to you. It is evident you have no answers to any of the pointed questions I raised.

    Bobby Reply:

    no Anindya, you wont find the answers because you dont want answers, you just want confirmation of your biases, anything that does not confirm to your prejudices, your brain is programmed to reject.

    Bobby Reply:

    No Anindya, you dont want answers, you want confirmations of your prejudices and anything which is against your prejudices your mind is programmed to reject.

    Zia Haq Reply:

    It’s such an emotional parting! Hang on. Introspection we will do. Talk about what ails Muslims we will. Have to wait a little. Have to give me time. In my first blog, I tried to compare how Hindu India has fared versus Muslim India. I had said Muslim India has resisted modernity, while Hindu India was so much more synchronised to the global order. Role of Muslim women is such an interesting topic. But take a breadth. Give some time. This blog is four posts old.

    A Muslim talking against Muslim terror needs your help and, of course, some patience. I have other things to do to keep my home fires burning!

  • Sam

    Please define who is “innocent life” according to Qoran.

    Also that verse was said only to prophet’s army men. all other who do not belong to that army are considered “not innocent”.

    What is the context of that verse and what it is the definition of an innocent ?

    Many preachers in UK and other places said, only Muslims can be innocent.
    All other religious people are not innocent.
    Please check many videos recorded by main stream preachers, who say if anyone who is not accepting Muslim God Allah is not innocent.


    Zia Haq Reply:

    Usual questions. Usual suspicion. Needless paranoia.


    Sam Reply:

    what are your answers ?

    please explain what you exactly mean …

    Waiting for your answers..


    Sam Reply:

    I hope you answer or clarify this”

    How is INNOCENT defined ?
    Who is innocent ?
    what is the context of the verses you quoted ?

    What would you say to some muslim clerics, say the innocent does not apply to Christians, Hindus, … anyone who does not accept Muslim God Allah..

    K Reply:

    Sam my friend,

    Does Allah or Bhagwan or God have to write common sense into his/her books to make us follow it ? If the books say that only the god’s armymen are innocent, why would anyone believe it in 2009 ?

    This is the most ridiculous discussion – arent all thinkers supposed to evolve in their thinking over time ? Why are we still stuck in the 10th century !!!

    Sam Reply:

    We just want to clarify, what is the context of the innocent statement
    and what is the definition of innocent.

    The reason is many islzmic preachers in UK, have said it clearly that statement does not apply to Christains/Hindus/// others.

    They say only Muslimz can be innocent.

    This is on British TV, by a learned Islamic scholar.
    If you think, he is wrong, please debate with him and convince him.

    But before that, whenever you say something, please clarify what exactly you mean.
    In all legal texts, every single word is clearly and succintly defined. We are asking you the same.

    Or leave Koran aside, and tell in plain words what you mean.
    The choice is yours.
    If you use koran, dont hide behind the religious text or accusations that to question rigorously is anti-islam.

    Sometimes I wonder why Muslims always try to quote from their books.
    Is it to pre-emptively stop the other person from criticizing, as they would be worried or reluctant to get invovled with muslim religious books ?



    Sam , why do you guys always quote Hindu,Muslim and Christian? there are other wonderful religions also in this world but no body mention that.
    You are all racists any way. Why in the world , you would like to Know more about Koran/Quran.
    You should all be shameful.

    Rizwan Khan Reply:

    Mr. Sam, please see “Peace TV” regulalry, that is Indian channel, there I hope you will get all the answers.

    KK Reply:

    I do not have problem with all the good attemps by Zia, but I am touched with your opinion. This was what I was commenting on Zia’s other post and people like Bobby (am not sure real name or not) were defending without understanding it.

    Unless there is a reform within Islamic ideology on many social issues, it will be hard to convience non-beleivers in modern days. Same applied to other religions, but other religions like Chritianity, Hindu, Budhhist, Sikh etc are ahead of Islam when it comes to reforming in modern sense though there are still many issues in those religions but not so serious like Islam has presently. If there was no reform Yoga & Meditation would not have been accepted in western world despite the fact that its origin was related to Hindu Sadhu (religioous).

    To reform Islam one does not need to be next Rushide or Taslima, there are ways which Islamic beleiver and scholars are not bringing together to accept criticism and reform it (like Sufism was once adopted in the past but division in Shia, Sunni etc did not allow it to dominate more) instead they are trying to explain non-beleivers about their faith on how beautiful it is, which is bringing a religious angle (like VHP convience people how good is Hinduism or missionary says how good Jesus is). Like one of my muslim friends in middle east who is more intelecutla than a religious guy said to me: “when they read the holy book Quoran and other religious text about their history they find only wars and killing each other in the name of religion, shia vs sunni, beleiver vs non beleiver etc, thats how they learn religion and among poorly educated this struggle bring inspiration for religious tension and shia-sunni feeling which is dominant in his region, for example, Shia people do celebrate Ashura violently in those regions till today every year claiming that they were helpless when Hussain/Hassan were killed by …… “. Personally I have not read Quoran fully, but this is what a muslim intelecutual expressed out of frustration about Islam and on shia-sunni tension.

    In India too many people are least aware about Indian history. Many of the history text books on medival and ancient periods are not written independently, there are no proof and records of many historical events, in post independence ear some of the religious fightings were intentionally removed from histroy texts (largely politicized) not to bring communal tension, in some case even archeological evidence is ignored to satisfy a community. It is to be seen, how long it holds like this.


    Partho Reply:

    Thanks KK.
    MInd you, Islam is the youngest of the major religions, hence ‘purest’ / ‘harshest’. However, it is around this time-frame that all major religions went through the first set of changes. Chisrtianity saw ferment after 1400 years and the ferment continued for 500 years. Some might say, it continues. Hinduism went through at least three such major ‘overhauls’ (it is quaint and somewhat disquieting to now observe that the subcontinent was almost 70% Buddhist at the advent of the Adishankarachaya). The last of these major ‘overhauls’ was the period when Raja Ram Mohun Roy, Swami Dayanand Saraswati and Dwarakanath Tagore drove it in a particular direction. Some might say that the one spearheaded by Babasaheb Ambedkar and Jyotiba Phule was the last.

    The point is, Islam is ripe for a transformation. It will happen. No matter what. I wonder how much of bloodshed and travails will it cause us, the citizens of this earth.


    Partho Reply:

    I must hasten to add that the disquiet that one feels while pondering over Buddhism during Adishankaracharya’s time is about the absence of Buddhism in the everyday debates in our country now. It is almost always seen as a reaction to the dalit story of giving up Hinduism to take up Buddhism – something reactionary, something sinister. Its a pity; for much of the wisdom this land has created has been during the Buddhist era. There is space for the Buddhist thought to be part of everyday discourse without it being labelled as either esoteric and foreign (thanks to the Dalai Lama and Richard Gere), or anti-Hindu (after all, Charvaka’s athiesm is also part of the Hindu thought)

    saurav Reply:

    Being an atheist, I do not have any affinity to religions. However, my research on atheism suggests that India has been more accommodating to this school of thought than countries whose cultural basis have been Abrahamic religions. This trend continues till modern day, in most other societies, being an atheist is par with devil incarnate. India has been certainly liberal in this sense. Indian philosophy always had scope for the unknowable.

    Zia Haq Reply:

    Violence exists in many religions, any student of religion will tell you that.


    Ishmart Alec Reply:

    thanks for confirming my thoughts. these are needless banter of one muslim with no support whatsoever. your thoughts dont find acceptance amongst muslims

    Zia Haq Reply:

    Violence and killing of innocents are not necessarily the one and the same thing. Religious Texts across religions indeed have varying amounts of chapters devoted to violence. Even in a modern context, all acts of violence are not necessarily acts of terror. For example, a soldier defending a country in the battefield is engaged in an act of violence but not in an act of terror. You cannot do without violence as a normative concept. It could even be undesirable to do away with it.

    No religion allows killing of innocents. Islam certainly doesn’t allow this. There are many things Islam doesn’t allow but Muslims still do them. Beyond this, there is no point

    Now considering the sort of person you are, you may very likely want me to define who is “innocent”. Whoever you think is innocent will be acceptable to me. Beyond this, it will be a needless debate with individuals with strong biases like you.

    nbz Reply:

    @Ishmart Alec
    ” these are needless banter of one muslim with no support whatsoever. your thoughts dont find acceptance amongst muslims.”
    What’s your problem? If it is a banter so be it. Why are you such a regular reader here then?

    Sam Reply:

    We just want to clarify, what is the context of the innocent statement
    and what is the definition of innocent.

    The reason is many islzmic preachers in UK, have said it clearly that statement does not apply to Christains/Hindus/// others.

    They say only Muslimz can be innocent.

    This is on British TV, by a learned scholar.
    If you think, he is wrong, please debate with him and convince him.

    But before that, whenever you say something, please clarify what exactly you mean.
    In all legal texts, every single word is clearly and succintly defined. We are asking you the same.

    Or leave Koran aside, and tell in plain words what you mean.
    The choice is yours.
    If you use koran, dont hide behind the religious text or accusations that to question rigorously is anti-islam.

  • driftwood

    the point i note about such debates is that there comes a point when one side doesn’t have anything valid left to offer & simply refuses to answer, choosing instead to hide behind a cloak of evasiveness & moral high ground. that is dangerous. all that talk of ‘a start needs to be made. attitudes need to be changed’ is fine but i’d urge the writer to apply the same in his case too.

    see, u have to understand that hindus have had VALID cause for their fears, no matter how unfounded u or bobby or toby may find them. likewise, the muslim trader at mahim is also scared shitless everytime riots break out in the city. he has reason to. i am as scared of muslim terrorists when am traveling in mumbai locals, as my sis is of maoists in assam. our fears have a valid rationale; we have suffered & continue to do so. BUT THERES A DIFF – the maoists were not resp for the bombings at bali or madrid or glasgow. muslim terrorists were. Kindly review the major terror attacks in recent years and check the sources responsible for them.


    Zia Haq Reply:

    I am as much scared of Muslim terrorists. I have brothers, parents, friends and daughters like you, Mr Driftwood.


    Bobby Reply:

    Dear Mr Driftwood, if your whole point is that people are scared of terrorists then you need not have wasted your time, we all know that.


    driftwood Reply:

    Bobby: i love it when ppl deliberately simplify things & attribute it to others. typical ‘u said it syndrome’. only for u, however, i will elaborate. the point of that list was to show that irrespective of gallup polls or ur out of place talk of ‘phony godmen’ islamic fundamentalism is a global menace. surely, then u cant equate it with the self preservation’ or ‘retaliatory’ instincts of other religions that u speak of.

    on the other hand, hindu fundamentalism is a new phenomenon (no, dont quote veer savarkar, we all know his limited impact) & clearly a backlash against the continuous ravages islam has inflicted upon us.

    the problem is not with muslims but with islam, & rather than re-interpreting or justifying the quoran, its perhaps a better idea to tell people to trust their basic humanity rather than the dictates of their religion. all this debate would seem quite futile then.
    of course u can go around in circles, i am done here.

    zia: i have respect for ur scholarship. but the whole point is that i was disappointed by a certain note of evasiveness i detected. maybe, i was wrong & ur as tired of justifying the usual suspects as i am of elaborating on my fears.

    p.s. it is ms driftwood.


    Bobby Reply:

    Dear Ms Driftwood,

    Islamic fundamentalism is a global problem because Islam is a global religion, and hindu fundamentalism is an Indian problem because Hinduism is mostly restricted to India. So thats very simple. In particular in the Indian context Hindu fundamentalism is by far a bigger problem than Muslim fundamentalism, again not because hinduism preaches more hatred than islam, but precisely because Hindus are a overwhelming majority.

    secondly to argue that hindu fundamentalism is a reaction to muslim fundamentalism, in a country where the overwhelming population is hindu, is a bunch of nonsense. Actually this argument is also not very new, it was succesfully used in Nazi Germany to whip up support for the nazi policies amongst the germans towards the jews.

    So not only is your point not true, its actually dangerous……

    Moreover to say that islamic fundamentalism is because islam preaches hatred which the other goody religions dont is garbage. Genocide and terrorism has been practised by all cultures, and the amount is directly proportional to the power that civilization or culture posseses.

    For instance in todays world the american government carries out the most terrorist attacks anywhere in the world, In the middle east the biggest terrorist actions are carried out by Israel. In that past 100-200 years the major source of violence was Europe. None of these implies that Europeans or jews or americans were/are more prone to violence than others, its simply a case of who holds more power at what point of time.

    If you try to interpret that islamic fundamentalism is due to islam then you are completely wrong. Even though we tend to have very short memories, the fact is that all this islamic fundamentalism is a very new phenomenon, It started after the Afgan-USSR war. It was during this time that the US, saudi arabia and the ISI started arming and encouraging the fundamentalists thinkers among the Muslims, THAT WAS THE PROBLEM. Like it happens all the time in such cases, the monsters once released do not want to go back in to the bag……

    If power gets transferred to the fundamentalists of any religion then be sure the consequences will be the same…. One example is the sikh seperatist movements started with some overlooking by the Indira Gandhi government for political reasons. Today does anyone say that sikh religion is a problem? I am pretty sure that this Islamic fundamentalism is also a passing phase…It has its origins in history and politics and not Religious books, as is always the case.

    Finally about your comment : its perhaps a better idea to tell people to trust their basic humanity rather than the dictates of their religion.”

    Precisely my point, but for all religions, not just islam….


    Atul Reply:

    This link will make for interesting reading.


  • Bobby

    thanks for the link Atul. I could not stop laughing reading this one :)

    “But suicide bombers presumably would be in for a disappointment if they reached the pearly gates and were presented 72 grapes.”


  • Tassaduque Hussain

    I wished the interview had actually taken place and sincerely hope that one day you get to interview Kasab and let the world know what is actually in his mind. I liked the last sentence where you mentioned tabout non veg food which actually summerize the mindset of Two communities.Muslims being non vegetarian are seen as violent stock (at times trigger happy). Unless such wrong perceptions change, Harmony is difficult to come by


    Sam Reply:

    Well if someone can show that vegetarians commit less crime and less murders statistically, not the other way, there could be a little bit of truth in what you said.

    Also please let Jewish people visit Mecca & Medina, which is their anscetral land before Islam/Mohd took over that place and forbid them to enter that place.


    Anjali Reply:

    Very well written and presented bt unfortunately it was imagined nt real…..i wish tht such intvws cud have taken place…. m really in a fix tht does he(kasab) really thnk tht watevr he did was wrong?? or is he afraid of final verdict??? in my opinion thrs no point of regretting of wat he did cz .thr’s no way out 4 such acts & thr shudnt b even…..i thnk its not abt religionism or humanism…. A CRIME is a CRIME and d person shudnt b forgiven 4 tht, be it neone….A Hindu, A Muslim, A Christian or whosoevr…..Penalization shud b equivalent depending upon d nature of offense….

    Well keep up d good work goin!!!


    Sam Reply:

    Like to see a similar interview with Islamic scholars from Saudi arabia.
    I bet Zia would’nt stand a chance even for a few minutes in discussing or debating with those people.

    For example.
    They say there is no compulsion in Islam..(frequently quoted verse).

    What these columnists dont say, is there is death penalty if people leave islam.
    It is very clear in Islam.

    Why dont these columnists even ask for freedom of religion ?
    People should be free to leave islam and should not be punished by death.

    Only muslims in secular/democratic countries have this legal right.
    But muslims in many islamic countries do not have the religious or legal right to leave islam.

    I am waiting for them to discuss among each other and remove that apostasy law.

    rajesh Reply:

    what a nice work sir.I always used to wonder that are there journalist other than mr.Akbar who could interpret the words of quran in a more rational way.I strongly believe in the religion of sanity , where insane proclamation , and absurd fatwah may not sideline the progress of humanity.Islam as a religion never fascinated a convert buddhist like me, a lot much of contribution lies on the wrong misinterpretation of the verses of quran i had been seeing since my chidlhood days. I sincerely believe that those who support floggIng women , should be flogged in public to face the pain.And sir, i would like to know if shariyat is a part of quran, do quran talks of killing infidels hindu like my parents and even buddhists like me?


  • Himanshu

    Why is it that Muslims only root for secularism in countries where they are in a minority?


  • unknown

    Arguments, arguments and argument. I feel whatever Ajmal Kasab did, the whole religion and country is getting blamed, like India just needed a excuse to look down at the pakistanis. I don`t even live in Pakistan or India, but i`m so fed up of seing the same news again and again. I agree that, if Ajmal really did this, than he need to get punished. But where did the topics like slavery and Mohammad came in from? Ok, he is a Pakistani, he took the decision by himself to do this, n i dun feel that the whole nation need to get involved. And for God sake, why do people care, wich connection do Kasabs mistake have with Mohammed? And u really wanna argument then u should look into ureself first. India is having a so called: untouchble cast, people are afraid to touch them, pakistanis do at least respect their slaves, and by the money they get, they can provide their families. Otherwise, thats their own choice.


  • kamat

    today whenever we hear of a terrorist, the first picture which comes to the mind is- the terrorist is a muslim fighting for jehad. there are many other organisations as well like naxal, ltte etc etc who spread voilence across the country. but the main difference between terrorists and other organisations is these terrorists are fighting in the name of religion and other organisations are fighting for their personal benifit.
    i feel there is a high need for the muslim leaders and gurus to tell the muslim youths that islam is against terrorism and atleast try and prevent the future generation of muslims from getting brain washed and going for jehad. what do you say people?


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