Tag Archives: Moses

The History and Disappearance of the Jewish Presence in Pakistan

Pakistan was never traditionally anti-Semitic. In fact, it may come as a surprise that Pakistan hosted small, yet thriving, Jewish communities from the 19th century until the end of the 1960s.

By Shalva Weil for ISN Insights

In November 2008, Lashkar e Taiba (LET), a radical Islamist group from Pakistan, specifically targeted “Nariman House” in Bombay (Mumbai) for a terrorist attack, along with other tourist locations, such as the Taj Mahal hotel. Nariman House was a ‘Chabad house’ of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Hasidic Judaism – a Jewish outreach center that included an educational center, synagogue and hostel. It was run by Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. When the building was attacked, six occupants, including the Rabbi and his pregnant wife, were killed. A total of 164 people were killed in the Mumbai attacks. David Coleman Headley, who testified in the United States at the end of May 2011 in the trial of his friend, Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana, confessed that he had planned the Mumbai attacks in conjunction with an officer of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, a man whom he called “Major Iqbal”. The officer was reportedly delighted that the Jews were targeted.

The Jews of Pakistan

Pakistan was never traditionally anti-Semitic. In fact, it may come as a surprise that Pakistan hosted small, yet thriving, Jewish communities from the 19th century until the end of the 1960s. Recently, Yoel Reuben, a Pakistani Jew living in the town of Lod in Israel, whose family originated in Lahore, documented some of the history of the Jewish communities with photographs of original documents. When India and Pakistan were one country, before the partition in 1947, the Jews were treated with tolerance and equality. In the first half of the 20th century, there were nearly 1,000 Jewish residents in Pakistan living in different cities: Karachi, Peshwar, Quetta and Lahore. The largest Jewish community lived in Karachi, where there was a large synagogue and a smaller prayer hall. There were two synagogues in Peshawar, one small prayer hall in Lahore belonging to the Afghan Jewish community, and one prayer hall in Quetta. Even today, according to unofficial sources, there are rumors that some Jews remain in Pakistan, including doctors and members of the free professions, who converted or pass themselves off as members of other religions.

The Jews of Pakistan were of various origins, but most were from the Bene Israel community of India, and came to Pakistan in the employ of the British. Yifah, a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, relates that her great-great-grandfather Samuell Reuben Bhonkar, who was a Bene Israel, came to Karachi in British India to work as a jailer, and died there in 1928. The Bene Israel originated in the Konkan villages, but many moved to Bombay from the end of the 18th century on. In Pakistan, they spoke Marathi, their mother-tongue from Maharashtra; Urdu and most spoke English. Prayers were conducted in Hebrew.

In 1893, a Bene Israel from Bombay, Solomon David Umerdekar, inaugurated the Karachi Magen Shalom Synagogue on the corner of Jamila Street and Nishtar Road, which officially opened in 1912. During these years, the Jewish community thrived. In 1903, the community set up the Young Man’s Jewish Association, and the Karachi Bene Israel Relief Fund was established to support poor Jews. In 1918, the Karachi Jewish Syndicate was formed to provide housing at reasonable rents, and the All India Israelite League, which represented 650 Bene Israel living in the province of Sindh (including Hyderabad, Larkano, Mirpur-Khas and Sukkur, as well as Karachi), was first convened – founded by two prominent Bene Israel, Jacob Bapuji Israel and David S Erulkar. Karachi became a fulcrum for the Bene Israel in India, the place where they congregated for High Holiday prayers. There was also a prayer hall, which served the Afghan Jews residing in the city. A 1941 government census recorded 1,199 Pakistani Jews: 513 men and 538 women. So accepted were the Jews of Karachi in these years that Abraham Reuben, a leader in the Jewish community, became the first Jewish councilor on the Karachi Municipal Corporation.

Continue reading The History and Disappearance of the Jewish Presence in Pakistan

The dogmas of Fatwa and Sharia Laws still dominate million of Muslim lives

Sharia Laws — Heavy Deception With Abusive Divinity

The dogmas of Fatwa and Sharia Laws still dominate million of Muslim lives

by Mesbah Uddin

No doubt, early Islam possessed many fine and noble attributes. But Islam couldn’t have swept Arabia and its adjacent lands so fabulously if Sharia Laws and Fatwa had been the models of Islamic edicts at that time.

It is an irony to iron-out the deep wrinkles of Islam, we know today. Corrupted beliefs are too profoundly ingrained in Islam. The dogmas of Fatwa and Sharia Laws still dominate million of Muslim lives and the vulnerable ones get succumb to Fatwa’s claws.

A year before his death and before the Koran was compiled, Prophet Muhammad made his last pilgrimage from Medina to Mecca. There He made a great sermon to his people. The sermon breathed a spirit of generosity. The Muslims created a society more free from widespread cruelty and social oppression than any society had ever been in the world before.

But that was then – the prophetic Islam. Today, Islam encompasses numerous fragments, interpretations and the dreadful echoes of Sharia Laws. The Sharia Laws are much heavier on one side. It is the side that is not the Koran but the Hadith. It might surprize the readers that stoning to death” cannot be traced anywhere in the Koran, but it is profusely enshrined in the pages of the Hadith. Obviously the Hadith narrators borrowed it from a famous story in the Christian Bible – the New Testament, and passed it in the name of Prophet Muhammad.

The story (John: 8) tells us that some Jewish crowd brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They made her stand before Jesus, and then said to him: “Now, master, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. According to the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women to death. Now, what do you say about it?’ After they persisted in their questioning, Jesus finally straightened up and said simply, “Let the one among you who has never sinned throw the first stone at her.” …

Read more : Bangladesh-web

We hypocritical Muslims – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Muslims have convinced themselves that they are super-humans. They believe that the world should be very attentive to the Muslims’ religious and cultural sensitivities while they can persecute any minority

On an international level, people from every religion exchange greeting cards to commemorate different occasions. We all know that most of these cards are meant for the wastebasket. What if a Christian or Jew saw a Muslim salesperson throwing his card with Jesus or Moses’ name on it and called the police to register a case of blasphemy against him/her and the police arrested the violator? Most western readers would laugh out loud at this unlikely scenario but it is not a laughing matter for a physician from Hyderabad, Pakistan, who, unwittingly, threw a Muslim’s visiting card in the trash basket. He apologised to the offended party and yet the police arrested him under pressure from religious fanatics.

The manner in which the religious parties are campaigning for Aasia Bibi’s hanging has given me many nightmares while living in the US capital. What if the Bible belt of the southern states in the US became as influential as the religious parties in Pakistan? The US Congress and Senate would add a constitutional amendment on blasphemy laws according to which anyone who believes in any prophet after Jesus would be sentenced to death. Under pressure from Washington, most European and South American countries and those with majority Christian populations would follow suit in making the Christian blasphemy law. Hindus, Buddhists and people of other religions would also be forced to pass such laws. What kind of world would we live in if all that should take place?

Whatever happens, the Blasphemy Law will be fully operational against Muslims because they were the ones who set the precedent. This means that the millions of Muslims living in non-Islamic countries would face persecution and may even be led to the gallows. Fundamentalists and extremists of every religion will justify Muslim persecution on the basis of their belief in a prophet who came after Jesus and other prophets and the way the people believing in this religion have been targeting Christians and other minorities in their own countries.

Lucky for the Muslims living in the US and other non-Islamic countries that no nation has blasphemy laws and Muslims can throw any greeting card in the wastebasket or even openly put down other religions without fear of reprisal. Of course, after 9/11, Muslims may be screened more at airports. Even the Indian ambassador to Washington, Ms Meera Shankar, was put through a body search for which India has lodged a strong protest with the US. One can see regular white Americans also being humbled at airports. Therefore, discrimination is there but Muslims never realise that they have worse practices in their own countries. They do not see a connection between the liberties they enjoy abroad in contrast to the persecution of minorities in their homelands.

Furthermore, Muslims in the US and other European countries are not taking discrimination lying down; they are fighting for their equal rights. Nowadays, US-based Muslim organisations are campaigning for the US government to allow them to send zakat money to other countries. The US put many restrictions on such charities under the pretext that such money is being used to fund Muslim terrorist organisations. The point is that Muslim organisations can challenge such laws publicly despite American sensitivity about the role of charitable organisations in funding jihad.

While Muslims enjoy such liberties in the western world, they are intolerant towards minorities in their own countries. Religious parties take the most hypocritical positions at home and abroad. They agitate for equal rights in the west and demonstrate to maintain the Blasphemy Law and hang a poor rural Christian like Aasia Bibi in Pakistan. Religious parties want democratic freedom when it comes to their own interests but become fascists when it is someone else’s right. For example, the Jamaat-e-Islami wants pure democracy and transparency in the country but in institutions under their control, like the Punjab University, they become a corrupt, tyrannical force. A similar pattern is repeated wherever religious parties gain control, be it in FATA or an educational institution.

Aasia Bibi’s case does not make much sense. Having lived with many rural Christians — who are mostly very poor and are considered untouchables — I know that these poor souls are incapable of committing the crimes they are accused of. Most of the time, the grudging ‘Muslim masters’ register such cases to punish them for disobeying or refusing to do free work. Muslim organisations are up in arms to free Aafia Siddiqui for violating US laws but show no compassion for Aasia Bibi. Obviously, this is a crude example of double standards. …

Read more : WICHAAR