2ndlook

Christian Madarasas: Making A Comeback?

Posted in America, India, Media, politics, Propaganda, Religion, Satire by Anuraag Sanghi on March 16, 2013

Just like the Taliban, modern Christian West can be paranoid about people who eat differently, dress differently. Remember the dot-busters. Or the anti-yoga wave.

If Islamic madarsas taught Koran and gave rise to Taliban, will we see Christian madarsas and Christian Taliban when Western schools re-start teaching Bible?

Republican Democracies

By the time Napoleon started secular education in France, Christian Taliban reared in Christian madarsas, had already wiped out entire populations in North America and Australia, ravaged the South American and African continents – and killed tens of millions in India and Asia.

Talibanic Roots

The word Taliban comes from talib – that is one who has received taalim – education. Usually at a madarsa. Designed to give competence in Arabic, build knowledge in Quran and Muslim theology, madarsas have long been the backbone of Islāmic education.

Why is post-Napoleonic, secular, State-controlled education system so afraid of religion? Why is the Bible not taught in schools? The Western experience with the Church, Christianity – the persecution and oppression that came along with it, has deeply scarred the people in the West. Knowing the method of religion, Western liberals resist the idea of religion in public life and State support for religion.

But is there a chance of Christian madarsas making a comeback?

Thirty Days and Thirty Nights

The last one month alone has given a strong indication that Christian madarsas may not be a far-fetched idea.

To start with we have a respected business publication the Wall Street Journal giving prominence, through their Op-Ed page, to the idea that Bible must be taught in American schools.

of the many things we say and do every day that have their origins in the most read, most influential book of all time. The Bible has affected the world for centuries in innumerable ways, including art, literature, philosophy, government, philanthropy, education, social justice and humanitarianism. One would think that a text of such significance would be taught regularly in schools. Not so. That is because of the “stumbling block” (the Bible again) that is posed by the powers that be in America.

It’s time to change that, for the sake of the nation’s children. It’s time to encourage, perhaps even mandate, the teaching of the Bible in public schools as a primary document of Western civilization.

We know firsthand of its educational value, having grown up in Europe—Mark in England, Roma in Ireland—where Bible teaching was viewed as foundational to a well-rounded education. Now that we are naturalized U.S. citizens, we want to encourage public schools in America to give young people the same opportunity.

This is one of the reasons we created “The Bible,” a 10-part miniseries premiering March 3 on the History Channel that dramatizes key stories from Scriptures. It will encourage audiences around the world to open or reopen Bibles to understand and enjoy these stories.

Teaching the Bible is of course a touchy subject. One can’t broach it without someone barking “separation of church and state” and “forcing religion down my throat.”

Yet the Supreme Court has said it’s perfectly OK for schools to do so, ruling in 1963 (Abington School District v. Schempp) that “the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as a part of a secular (public school) program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.”

The Supreme Court understood that we’re not talking about religion here, and certainly not about politics. We’re talking about knowledge. The foundations of knowledge of the ancient world—which informs the understanding of the modern world—are biblical in origin. Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president known more as a cigar-chomping Rough Rider than a hymn-signing Bible-thumper, once said: “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”

Interestingly enough, the common desktop reference guide “The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy” best sums up the Bible’s value as a tool of cultural literacy. Its first page declares: “No one in the English speaking world can be considered literate without a basic knowledge of the Bible.”

via Roma Downey and Mark Burnett: Why Public Schools Should Teach the Bible – WSJ.com.

More Important Than The Bible

There are more important parts of Western civilization that probably need studying – which are now hidden. To start with, how about the pagan past – before Christian misrule, oppression and persecution killed all alternatives – except the One Book. Tired of Church oppression and persecution, Western liberals are wary of a Bible comeback.

700 years ago, Cristian authorities governing Europe resisted the idea of using the decimal system – invented in India, adopted by the Arabs and spread across the world by Genghis Khan’s Mongol Empire. To see how important this was for Europe, try multiplying using Roman numbers DCLXXVIII (678) with DCCLXXXIX (789).

Could Europe’s 500 year leap of technology have happened without Indian decimal system?

Yoga teacher Jackie Bergenon at Paul Ecke Central Elementary School in Encinitas, California, USA - conducting a yoga class. Credit: Eduardo Contreras / U-T San Diego; source & courtesy - latimes.com

Yoga teacher Jackie Bergenon at Paul Ecke Central Elementary School in Encinitas, California, USA – conducting a yoga class. Credit: Eduardo Contreras / U-T San Diego; source & courtesy – latimes.com

Yoga & Islam

A few years ago, in November 2008, Islāmic clerics in Malaysia declared that yoga was un-Islāmic. A few weeks later, Indonesian clerics added their voice to Malay’s Islāmic voices against yoga – and to be shunned by Muslims. Indians (especially the Right Wing types) nodded their heads, with an expression that said, “I told you so!”

Western media has been quick to pounce on this anti-yoga attitude as Islāmic fundamentalism. Curiously, Islāmic attitudes against yoga were probably inspired by Christian tirade against yoga since the 80s. When Playboy releases a nude yoga tutorial, you can be sure that yoga has truly arrived in the US. Estimated at more than US$3 billion (Rs.15000 crores), a few years ago, with 15-20 million (1.5 crore) users, yoga is no passing fad in the US.

If Not Ban, License It

Conservative, Christian America is doing everything possible to stop yoga.

Starting with licenses and regulation, going to stories planted in New York Times on the ‘harm’ that yoga can cause, to a conspiracy theory that yoga is a plot by Hindu ‘missionaries’ to convert Christian Americans. Canada is not far behind in this anti-yoga activism by the Church.

A few parents are resisting yoga in American schools. Their suit filed in California courts seeks to stop yoga from schools.

Reason: Yoga is religious indoctrination, ‘inherently and pervasively religious, having its roots firmly planted in Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist and western metaphysical religious beliefs and practices.

Christian yoga teachers, like Tara Guber, have tried to handle theological objections from Christians by stripping all ‘Hindu’ elements from yoga.

Assertions like these from Christians that seek to strip yoga from its Hindu roots drive Hindu yoga experts up the wall. Subhas R. Tiwari, a professor at the Hindu University of America who holds a master’s degree in yoga philosophy, states: “Such efforts [to Christianize yoga] point to a concerted, long-term plan to deny yoga its origin. This effort . . . is far from innocent. It is reminiscent of the pattern evident throughout the long history and dynamics of colonizing powers” (“Yoga Renamed is Still Hindu,” Hinduism Today, January-February-March 2006). Tiwari believes efforts to Christianize yoga are unjust “encroachment” and thinly veiled Christian proselytism of Hindus.

via The Trouble with Yoga | Catholic Answers.

Rajiv Malhotra of the Infinity Foundation, joins this issue with conservative Christians – confirming that yoga does have a philosophy which goes deeper than simple body positions and physical exercises – which undercut the savior-approach of Christianity.

Prejudice and paranoia. Like in the case of the Russian ‘Barbie Doll!

'Barbie' Valeria on the beach  |  Image source & courtesy - thesun.co.uk

‘Barbie’ Valeria on the beach | Image source & courtesy – thesun.co.uk

From Russia, With Love

Known for her Barbie-doll like looks, apart from her native Ukraine, media attention from the British media has been widespread. Her videos have been a YouTube sensation, with more than ten million hits. And a million followers on Facebook.

Reportedly, a meditation practitioner, Valeria Lukyanova sports a bindi, teaches at a spirituality school. Known to her students as Amatue – from the Atlantean language, meaning “Goddess of the Sun.”

After becoming a vegetarian, she is practicing how to use prana in yogic way, to sustain her life. For long a heavy alcohol user, she now lives on fruit juices and chutney-like vegetable purées.

For some time, her very existence was in question. Her appearance seemed photo-perfect – apart from one breast-augmentation surgery, she is supposedly ‘real’, without plastic surgery.

There is nothing in her background that is known, which can lead the media to be critical of her. Without a criminal record, with no known underworld links, there is no reason for media to be critical of her. Not even drugs. Not hungry for media attention, British newspaper The Independent reported “after much persuasion, Ms Lukyanova agreed to meet The Independent for lunch”.

Valeria Lukyanova with mother Irina  |  Image source & courtesy - thesun.co.uk

Valeria Lukyanova with mother Irina | Image source & courtesy – thesun.co.uk

So why is this British journo so dismissive about Valeria ‘Barbie’ Lukyanova? Is it because she does not eat beef, steak – but instead ‘a glass of freshly squeezed celery and carrot juice, mixed together with a trio of gloopy Indian chutneys into a devilish cocktail.’ Explaining herself, to this prejudiced journo, while ‘taking small sips of the slimy drink.’

Is Shaun Walker worried about ‘Lukyanova’s spirituality, which she propagates online and teaches in a series of lectures and seminars, is based on vegetarianism and meditation.’ while ‘not linked to any religion, though she admits it draws much from Buddhism.’ Is Shaun Walker negative because, ‘Lukyanova remains the best known of the dolls and her “spiritual teachings” and as  ‘found a receptive audience among many young women’. The entire post is dripping with paranoia and innuendo – against a harmless, pretty 23-year old girl from Ukraine.

Why. Just Why? WHY?


Islamic World: Last 100 Years

Posted in History, Pax Americana, politics, Propaganda by Anuraag Sanghi on March 9, 2013

Fundamentalist Islam has, apart from the solitary success of increasing enlistment, delivered nothing on political governance, economic growth, social justice, modernization of education or even military preparedness..

August 1953: Scenes from the coup that Iran will not forget.

August 1953: Scenes from the coup that Iran will not forget.

By the middle of the 19th century (1850), decline of Islamic empires was truly and completely real.

Empires Of Islam

After a 1000 years of expansion and dominance, by 1850 just two declining Islamic powers were left to compete on the world’s imperial stage. One was the Mughal Empire that controlled India. An India, that was: -

The other major Islamic Empire was the Ottoman Empire, centered in modern Turkey, that controlled a geography from the borders of Iran to the outskirts of Europe.

From Western Seas

Opposing these Islamic Empires were the Christian colonial Empires of Spain & Portugal, France and Britain.

The first challenge to the Christian colonial Empires came from India – with the Anglo-Indian War of 1857.

Stretching over a period of nearly two years, the alliance was nominally headed by the Mughal Emperor, and the war was mainly between the Marathas and a mercenary army of Indian soldiers, raised and equipped by the British. The war-chests of Maratha-Mughal alliance were puny compared to the British capital – bolstered by huge capital inflows from slave trade, slave plantations of sugar and tobacco, apart from piracy, loot and plunder.

Within two years, the Mughal Empire was over.

Minor Islamic kingdoms of Egypt and Persia ruled at British sufferance. The Ottoman Empire folded up 60 years later.

In 1920.

Street scenes from August 1953 coup in Iran.

Street scenes from August 1953 coup in Iran.

Under Western Thumbs

Nearly a 100-years after the end of the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic world is still ruled by Western puppets.

In Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Egypt – or a Turkey which is happy being at the periphery of every Western alliance – CENTO, European Union, etc.

Under Nasser or Yasser Arafat, people mobilization was a political movement – the agenda being independence from Western subjugation.

All these movements succumbed to religious obscurantism after the overthrow of Shah Of Iran. Iran’s incendiary mix of religion and anti-American politics found a Sunni resonance in Saudi Arabia with a Wahhabi revival. Pakistan turned from Deobandi to Wahhabi strains of Islam.

Desperate situations call for desperate …

The use of fundamentalist Islam has been successful in increasing citizen enlistment against the West. Apart from the solitary success of increasing enlistment, the Shia-Sunni consensus on fundamentalism has delivered nothing on political governance, economic growth, social justice, modernization of education or even military preparedness. This uni-dimensional agenda of ‘modern’ Islam has many detractors within and outside the Islamic world.

In the last 40-odd years

Recently released classified information and memoirs by retired spies, provide a more complex picture of the CIA, its effectiveness, and its overall power, suggesting that at times Langley was manned not by James Bond clones but by a bunch of keystone cops. My favorite clandestine CIA operation, recounted in Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes, involves its 1994 surveillance of the newly appointed American ambassador to Guatemala, Marilyn McAfee. When the agency bugged her bedroom, it picked up sounds that led agents to conclude that the ambassador was having a lesbian love affair with her secretary. Actually, she was petting her two-year-old black standard poodle.

But the CIA’s history does include efforts to oust unfriendly regimes, to assassinate foreign leaders who didn’t believe that what was good for Washington and Wall Street was good for their people, and to sponsor coups and revolutions. Sometimes the agency succeeded.

Topping the list of those successes—if success is the right word for an operation whose long-term effects were so disastrous—was the August 1953 overthrow of Iran’s elected leader and the installment of the unpopular and authoritarian Shah in his place. Operation Ajax, as it was known, deserves that old cliché: If it didn’t really happen, you’d think that it was a plot imagined by a Hollywood scriptwriter peddling anti-American conspiracies.

Book cover of Ervand Abrahamian's The Coup.

Book cover of Ervand Abrahamian’s The Coup.

Ervand Abrahamian isn’t a Hollywood scriptwriter but a renowned Iranian-American scholar who teaches history at the City University of New York. With The Coup, he has authored a concise yet detailed and somewhat provocative history of the 1953 regime change, which the CIA conducted with the British MI6. If you don’t know anything about the story, The Coup is a good place to start. If you’ve already read a lot about Ajax and the events that led to it, the book still offers new insights into this history-shattering event.

Abrahamian constructed his narrative by analyzing documents in the archives of British Petroleum, the British Foreign Office, and the State Department as well as the memoirs of the main characters in the drama. These characters—British spies and business executives, American diplomats and journalists, Soviet agents, Communist activists, Nazi propagandists, Shiite mullahs, Iranian crime bosses—have double or even triple agendas to advance as they jump from one political bed to another and back, lying, cheating, stealing, and killing. It all makes the CIA-led extraction of the American hostages in Iran, depicted in the film Argo, look kind of, well, boring.

On one side there was Muhammad Mossadeq, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953, a secular, liberal, and nationalist leader who wanted to join the “neutralist” camp that disavowed commitment to either of the superpowers during the Cold War. An aristocratic and eccentric figure who welcomed foreign officials into his house wearing pajamas, Mossadeq introduced many progressive social and economic reforms into the traditionally Shiite society, and sent shock waves across the world when he moved to nationalize Iran’s oil industry, which had been under British control since 1913 through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.

On the other side there was Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt, Jr., Teddy’s grandson, a legendary spymaster, a self-promoter who dined with major world leaders and business executives but also befriended power-hungry Iranian military generals, corrupt politicians, merchants in the bazzar, and quite a few thugs, who helped him achieve what became Washington’s goal: to remove Mossadeq and his political allies, which included liberals, social democrats, and Communists, from power; to return the oil industry into British hands (with more American presence in Iran’s oil business); and to place reliable pro-western politicians in power.

It seemed to work beautifully. The United States gained a key strategic ally in the Middle East. American companies received a considerable share of Iran’s enormous oil wealth. Other oil-producing Middle Eastern nations got a lesson in what might happen if they nationalized. At a time when the Americans were facing challenges from nationalists such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and were trying to contain the so-called Soviet threat in the Middle East, Our Man in Tehran welcomed American soldiers and investors (and purchased a lot of American weapons). It all looked good until it didn’t.

While the coup did set back the nationalization of the oil resources in the Middle East, the delay ended in the 1970s. In that decade, Abrahamian writes, one country after another—not just radical states such as Libya, Iraq, and Algeria, but conservative monarchies such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia—“took over their oil resources, and, having learned from the past, took precautions to make sure that their oil companies would not return victorious.”

At the same time, the coup decimated the secular opposition, leaving Shiite clerics as the most viable political force when the Iranian Revolution deposed the Shah in 1979. The pro-American puppet gave way to a radical and anti-American Islamic Republic where the secular and liberal opposition remains weak and leaderless. That, as they say in Langley, is blowback.

The coup also intensified what Abrahamian calls the “intense paranoid style prevalent throughout Iranian politics.” While the Iranian clerics worry that Washington wants to do a rerun of the 1953 regime change, many members of the opposition are counting on that to happen. In Tehran, they still think the CIA makes the world turn around.

via Our Man in Iran – Reason.com.


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