The Kashmir crisis isn’t about territory. It’s about a Hindu victory over Islam.

For two weeks, Kashmir, India’s sole Muslim-majority state, has existed in a surreal state of nonexistence. Since a presidential decree abolished the state, revoked its autonomy and partitioned it into two federally administered territories, the Internet has been shut down, cellular networks have been disabled, and even landlines went dead. Public assembly is banned, and citizens are under curfew. A soldier has been stationed outside every house in some villages. Eight million people have been cut off from the world — and from one another. Pharmacies are running out of medicine, households are low on food, and hospitals are clogging up with injured protesters. Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, insists that all this is for the good of the Kashmiris. India’s grip on Kashmir has seldom been stronger. Its hold on Kashmiris, however, has never been more threadbare.

Modi’s sudden takeover in Kashmir is the fulfillment of a long ideological yearning to make a predominantly Muslim population surrender to his vision of a homogeneous Hindu nation. It is also a way of conveying to the rest of India — a union of dizzyingly diverse states — that no one is exempt from the Hindu-power paradise he wants to build on the subcontinent. Kashmir is both a warning and a template: Any state that deviates from this vision can be brought under Delhi’s thumb in the name of “unity.”

Those who believe that such a day will never come — that India’s democratic institutions and minority protections will assert themselves — also never thought that someone like Modi would one day lead the country. Modi once seemed destined to disappear into history as a fanatical curio. As the newly appointed chief minister of Gujarat, he presided over the worst communal bloodletting in India’s recent history in 2002, when 1,000 Muslims, by a conservative estimate, were slaughtered by sword-wielding Hindus in his state over several weeks. Some accused Modi of abetting the mobs; others said he turned a blind eye to them. The carnage made Modi a pariah: Liberal Indians likened him to Hitler, the United States denied him a visa, and Britain and the European Union boycotted him.

But Modi expanded and solidified his appeal among India’s Hindus, a religious majority whose resentment at being invaded and ruled for centuries by Muslims had been papered over for decades with platitudes from India’s secular elites. He used three powerful tools to propel his ascent. The first was

  1. sadism, the hint that, under him, Hindu radicals could indulge a dormant bloodlust: After the killing of a Muslim man in police custody, for instance, Modi mused at a 2007 rally, “If AK-57 [sic] rifles are found at the residence of a person … should I not kill them?” (The crowd roared back: “Kill them! Kill them!”) The second was
  2. schadenfreude, an exultation in the torment of defenseless minorities: At an earlier rally in 2002, Modi had ruminated on the fate of the Muslims displaced by the recent Gujarat riots, asking: “What should we do? Run relief camps for them? Do we want to open baby-producing centers?” His audience erupted with laughter. “We have to teach a lesson to those who are increasing population at an alarming rate,” he said. The final affect was
  3. self-pity, a license for Hindus to regard themselves as the real victims. He told Parliament that India had been a slave nation for more than 1,000 years and claimed that there were forces out to kill him.

Since his 2014 election to the premiership, bigotry has been ennobled as a healthy form of self-assertion. Lynchings of Muslims — breathlessly demonized as jihadists devoted to seducing and converting Hindu women — by aggrieved Hindu mobs have become such a common sport that dozens of videos of grisly murders circulate on WhatsApp groups run by Hindu nationalists. Last summer, a minister in Modi’s cabinet garlanded eight men who had been convicted of lynching a Muslim man. In this universe, Kashmir could never remain autonomous, a place impervious to the desires of a majority happy to see its will done by violence.

India-Pakistan split deepens with train travel block

India has urged Pakistan to review its decision to downgrade diplomatic ties over the withdrawal of special status to Kashmir.

Modi’s reelection this year emboldened the supporters whose rage he skillfully incited. The prime minister rarely acknowledges the murders of minorities. Rarer still are instances when he condemns them. Not once, in fact, has he memorialized, by name, Muslims slain by Hindu fundamentalists. This is not an accident. It is a small step from letting Hindu vigilantes subjugate their Muslim neighbors to subjugating them himself, using the power of the state, as he has now done in Kashmir.

Modi’s political awakening occurred in the training camps of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing paramilitary group that incubated the modern politics of Hindu nationalism. The RSS introduces young “volunteers” to the vast pantheon of supposed villains who plundered and emasculated India over the ages — the medieval Islamic invaders, the accommodationists like Mohandas Gandhi and the Congress party he led, the Muslim nationalists who mutilated India to create Pakistan and sought to abscond with Kashmir — and exhorts them to shed their Hindu impotence. The effect on Modi’s young mind was so powerful that he came to regard the RSS as his family, abandoned his wife and mother, and wandered through India as a catechist of the Hindu nationalist cause.

By seizing Kashmir, Modi has mollified votaries of Hindu nationalism and established himself as the father of what they proudly call the “New India.” Kashmir was always at the top of their wish list, which also includes the construction of a temple in Ayodhya, where a mosque stood for half a millennium before Hindu nationalists razed it in 1992; the erasure of small privileges granted to minorities (such as a subsidy for the Muslim pilgrimmage to Mecca); a legal end to religious conversions by Hindus; an extra-legal suppression of interfaith romance and marriagesespecially when the bride is Hindu and the groom Muslim; and, ultimately, the rewriting of the constitution to declare India a formally Hindu state.

But can India, the most heterogeneous society on Earth, survive the ascent of a majority like this? In his stirring inaugural speech to the first freely elected assembly of Kashmir in 1951, Sheikh Abdullah, the wildly popular socialist who championed Kashmir’s accession to India, laid out the choices before Kashmiris. India’s commitment to “secular democracy based upon justice, freedom and equality,” he explained, negated the “argument that the Muslims of Kashmir cannot have security in India.” India’s constitution, Abdullah said, “has amply and finally repudiated the concept of a religious state, which is a throwback to medievalism.” Abdullah denounced Pakistan, a quasi-theocracy that waged a war in 1948 to seize Kashmir, as “a feudal state” where “the appeal to religion constitutes a sentimental and a wrong approach.” But his rejection of Pakistan was also a reminder to India that secularism was the nonnegotiable condition of Kashmir’s allegiance. Kashmiris, he said, “will never accept a principle which seeks to favor the interests of one religion or social group against another.” That sentence was aimed then at Pakistan. It applies now to India.

Kashmiri separatists who once labeled India a “Hindu state” could be dismissed at the time as chauvinists, and India could credibly argue for Kashmir’s place within its polyglot fold: The religion of Kashmiris was irrelevant to their full citizenship of the Indian state. But now the separatists’ claim against India has as much substance and weight as Abdullah’s against Pakistan. The argument of “inclusive nationalism” deployed by Modi’s predecessors to persuade Kashmiri separatists to participate in elections is unavailable to him, a religious nationalist. An India that has ceased to be secular will have forever lost its argument for Kashmir. The calm currently imposed on the region conceals a deep rage that is waiting to erupt. The abuse of Kashmir justified by Modi as “integration” may, if it is not confronted and reversed, be the beginning of the end of India’s unity.

Muslim men need to understand that the Quran says they should observe hijab first, not women

For some reason, a lot of men seem to think they can simply force women to observe hijab. Instead, the Quran and Prophet Muhammad are clear: in Islam, us men are not actually allowed to do that at all. The burden of modesty lies with us

.. when addressing hijab, the Quran does not address women first. It addresses men first. That’s not a typo. Islam places the primary responsibility of observing hijab not on women – but on men.

.. People often conflate “hijab” and “headscarf”. Wearing the headscarf is one form of hijab, but men often forget that hijab is much more. And at the genesis of the hijab discussion, the Quran commands men to not stare at women and to not be promiscuous. The Quran 24:31 obliges men to observe modesty: “Say to the believing men that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts.

.. This verse rebukes forced laws on women that claim “women must cover otherwise men are distracted”. It destroys rape culture because it commands men to reform themselves first and exclusively. It demolishes complaints that what a woman is wearing is “too provocative”, whatever that means, because it flat out forbids men from gawking at women.

.. The Prophet Muhammad’s directives further affirm this view. He admonished men, “Be chaste yourselves, and women will be chaste as well,” again putting the primary burden of hijab on men.

.. We’ve all heard guys say, “I want a chaste wife,” yet themselves they’re anything but. To such men I say: don’t be a hypocrite. The Quran keeps us accountable. Only after the Quran thoroughly commands men to observe hijab by being modest, not staring, and reforming ourselves, does the Quran address women.

.. something strange happens to many men. While wholly missing the primary burden of hijab first placed on them, men suddenly and magically discover the concept of hijab for women.

.. For some reason, men think they can simply force women to observe hijab. Instead, the Quran and Prophet Muhammad are clear: in Islam, no such permission exists for men to force hijab on women.

.. As His Holiness, the Khalifa of Islam Mirza Masroor Ahmad, reminds men who force hijab on women: stop and restrain yourselves instead. In a 2014 sermon he admonished men: “Men should remember that they have not been given powers to police others and they should restrain themselves. It is not for them to cover the heads of women from outside. Men are commanded to restrain their eyes, they should fulfil their own obligations. There is not even any commandment to forcibly cover the heads of Muslim women, let alone non-Muslim women. It is men like these who have hardline ideas…”

Hijab is a critically important Islamic teaching. No one denies this. But it seems to me that too many men forget it applies to us first. Let’s stop obsessing over women, and worry about reforming ourselves first. That apparently novel idea is indeed the true jihad and true meaning of hijab.

France’s Weinstein scandal is also about Islam

“It’s not about the victims, nor even about Ramadan as a sexual predator anymore, but about two clashing views on secularism and the place of Islam in the political debate,”

.. Ramadan — the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood — has vigorously defended Muslim communal life in ways that have alienated French intellectuals on the political left and right.

.. Ramadan is sometimes seen as attempting to explain — and even condone — the actions of the attackers

.. As he wrote in 2012: “The young people who join extremist groups are clearly suffering from massive deficiencies in religious knowledge, and are often politically gullible (when they are not attempting to salve pangs of conscience by cutting themselves off from a life of delinquency).”

.. French Muslim leaders have attacked what they see as a double standard: intense public outrage over abuses alleged against a prominent Muslim but nothing comparable in other cases, such as the rape allegation against the former presidential hopeful and International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011.

.. “We have Islamized a question of law and ethics, if you will. Instead of focusing on the crimes at hand, the trial of one man has become the trial of the entire Muslim community,”

If Only Stephen Paddock Were a Muslim

If only Stephen Paddock had been a Muslim … If only he had shouted “Allahu akbar” before he opened fire on all those concertgoers in Las Vegas … If only he had been a member of ISIS … If only we had a picture of him posing with a Quran in one hand and his semiautomatic rifle in another …

If all of that had happened, no one would be telling us not to dishonor the victims and “politicize” Paddock’s mass murder by talking about preventive remedies.

.. Then Donald Trump would be tweeting every hour “I told you so,” as he does minutes after every terror attack in Europe, precisely to immediately politicize them.

..We will turn the world upside down to track down the last Islamic State fighter in Syria — deploying B-52s, cruise missiles, F-15s, F-22s, F-35s and U-2s. We will ask our best young men and women to make the ultimate sacrifice to kill or capture every last terrorist. And how many Americans has the Islamic State killed in the Middle East? I forget. Is it 15 or 20? And our president never stops telling us that when it comes to ISIS, defeat is not an option, mercy is not on the menu

.. No matter how many innocents are fatally shot — no matter even that one of their own congressional leaders was critically wounded playing baseball — it’s never time to discuss any serious policy measures to mitigate gun violence.

..  But for Pruitt, we know, it’s never time to take climate change seriously.

.. It’s also corrupt. Because it’s driven by money and greed — by gunmakers and gun sellers and oil and coal companies, and all the legislators and regulators they’ve bought and paid to keep silent. They know full well most Americans don’t want to take away people’s rights to hunt or defend themselves.

.. Forget about persuading these legislators. They are not confused or underinformed. They are either bought or intimidated.

.. This is about raw power, not persuasion. And the first chance we have to change the balance of power is the 2018 midterm elections. Forget about trying to get anything done before then. Don’t waste your breath.

Just get power. Start now.