Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Significance of Michael Jackson’s Conversion to Islam

Significance of Michael Jackson’s Conversion to Islam
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Pop star Michael Jackson has converted to Islam at a ceremony in Los Angeles recently. Jackson , whose once amazing career has been eclipsed in recent years, is said to have changed his name to Mikaeel, one of the angels of Allah name and taken the ‘Shahada’ or a declaration to believe in Islam.
The iconic star continued to be in news for legal and financial troubles. His career seems to be on wane since the news for his bizarre behavior led to the accusation of child molestation. He however was acquitted from all charges in this case after a Jury gave the verdict in his favor at the end of a sensational trial that lasted for 14 weeks in Santa Maria, CA in 2005. Some say this was the turning point in Jackson’s life.

According to a report, the legendry rock star showed interest in Islam after discussing the religion with a music producer and a songwriter on his new album. The duo started talking to him about their new beliefs to which they had converted recently and how they thought they had become better human being thereafter. It’s after that Michael began warming the idea on Islam and after being convinced about this faith, he finally went through the motion of its declaration as his belief.

The report says, the 50-year old legend wore the traditional Islamic attire as he pledged his allegiance to the Koran at a friend's home in Los Angeles. The religious ceremony took place at the Hollywood Hills home of Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro, who composed music for Jackson’s iconic "Thriller" album. The function was attended by legendry Yousef Islam, a.k.a, Cat Stevens, another pop icon of the sixties.

When I heard about the news I was wondering whether there could be any connect between pop star Michael Jackson and the celebrated Urdu poet Mohammad Iqbal.

Iqbal penned the India’s unofficial national anthem “Sare Jahan Se Accha”... whereas Michael Jackson gave to the world - 'Just beat it'!

When we analyze the news of conversion Michael Jackson to Islam and its impact on his new faith, especially in the context of the controversies that has been erupting time and again since The Satanic Verses and running through the Danish Cartoons that maligned and denigrated the Islamic faith then the poet Iqbal gets connected with Michael Jackson episode.

Iqbal says: “Kuch Baat hai ke hasthi mithe nahi hamari, saadyon raha hai dushmane daure jamma hamara”…… ‘There is something in my religion that it fails to die; people have remained its enemy from centuries.’

These lines actually were art of "Sare Jahan's" poem, but the poet modified it later to convey the message of preeminence of Islam in the world.

The significance of Michael Jackson’s conversion to Islam could be ascertained from the fact that in recent past a series of writers have mushroomed that thrive on spreading the canard against Islam. There whole effort is to belittle a religion that’s faith of majority of people in fifty two countries of the world.

The trend of anti- Islam writers continue to grow since Sir Salman Rushdee wrote The Satanic Verses. The master story teller assumed iconic status by denigrating the religion whose name he continues parade even after making a killing out of mocking at it in his figment of imagination.

Back home, another author Taslima Nasreen became a celebrated figure after writing abuses against Islam. Her basic argument is Muslims should stop reading Koran and stop believing in Islam as its inhuman outdated religion. However, she too continues to parade her Muslim identity and never tried to set an example of her progressive beliefs and ideas.

There is another subtext to Michael Jackson episode especially for those who are busy spreading the canard that “All Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorist are Muslims.” This has become a fancy catch phrase since the 9/11 and to justify the war on terror and target a particular community.

The Michael Jackson episode has also ramification on the conversion debate raging in India. The Hindu extremists are accusing the Christians of using fair and foul means for doing conversion activities. The change of faith by Michael Jackson suggests that conversion is a voluntary decision of an individual person and no amount of incentives can change anyone’s heart.
Well whatever may be reason for the conversion of faith of Michael Jackson, the fact remains that the world adores him as a singer, dancer and a performer par excellence. As Mikaeel, he would continue to receive the same warmth of love and affection when he comes on stage to regale the world once again.

The entire world looks forward for this musical genius new album after he has changed his faith. The expectations are; Michael Jackson would reach to greater musical heights as Mikaeel, the angel of Allah.

After all did not Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, became phenomena after becoming Mohmmad Ali. Did not Dilip become a rage in India after becoming Allah Rakha Rehman.

The significance of Michael Jackson’s conversion would definitely change the perception about Islam and provide an answer to all those who are busy in running a campaign against it. Its here poet Iqbal’s prophecy comes true.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com

Friday, November 14, 2008

India: Sale of party tickets is democratic order

India: Sale of party tickets is democratic order

Syed Ali Mujtaba

The allegation by the senior Congress leaders Margaret Alva and Yogendra Makwana regarding the sale of party tickets have brought the functional dynamics of the Indian democracy into open, purportedly touted as the largest in the world.

Each ticket was supposedly sold at a premium of 80 lakh to 1 crore rupees. A cheap bargain described a witty scribe when he heard the rates and said in actual practice the price tag are much higher.

The selling of the tickets is an established practice among the southern Indian parties particularly those in Tamil Nadu. Most of these parties are personal fiefdom or proprietorship of a particular person or a family and they run the operations of the party as a private business.

Come every election, and an action packed high voltage drama erupts for the distribution of the ticket. All criterions that are mentioned in the rule books of democracy are put on stacks and it’s the commercial entrepreneurship alone that comes into play.

The criterion that’s normally considered for the distribution of the tickets is; caste factor, muscle power, but the most important of all is the capacity of the candidate to buy the ticket.

This is quite a huge source of revenue to the parties and anyone who aspires to be a politician has to be prepared with the financial muscle to buy the ticket on a premium price. This premium keeps going up with every elections keep in mind the inflation rate that’s growing every year.

This practice is in vogue from a long time and there is nothing secret about it. The model code of conduct that comes into force after the announcement of the election hardly pays any attention to such kind of fraudulent practices. The election commission turn a blind eye to this travesty of democracy.

It seems now this virus has even reached to the national parties as well. The allegation made by the senior Congress party leaders like Margaret Alva and Yogendra Makwana has blown the lid out of the working of the Congress party.

Marget Alva had alleged that in the last Karnataka state election, the Congress party had sold the tickets to the highest bidder. She has come out in open because her son was denied the ticket who refused to pay the money being the progeny of one of the most senior leaders of the party.

There was something fishy going on in Karnatka Congress when senior Congress leader Jafer Sharif had announced to sit on hunger strike, when his grandson was denied ticket during the election. The veteran leader had taken up the matter to Delhi and had met the party president to show his resentement. Since then there has been some rumors about the sale of party tickets.

Now when senior Congress leader Margaret Alva and Yogendra Makwana has blown the whistle the rumors are taken for truth. Alva is believed to have sent her resignation as Congress general secretary to Sonia Gandhi in protest of this issue.

The seriousness of this allegations could be ascertained from the fact that similar charges are beginning to resound from other quarters of the Congress camp as well.

Another party functionary, Yogendra Makwana, who headed the AICC's scheduled caste department has come out in support of Margret Alva. Makwana says there must be "something substantial" in Alva's remarks and demanded an inquiry into her charges.

Makwana without mentioning names charged that at least two SC women aspirants for tickets from Rajasthan had made a similar complaint to him. He alleged that an AICC leader demanded Rs 80 lakh for a ticket from a candidate from Bara constituency in Rajasthan. Another candidate from Alwar complained to him to have asked for Rs 40 lakh for a ticket. Makwana says not one of the 30 names he proposed for the Rajasthan assembly polls was accepted.

The Congress party in a damage-control exercise has rejected the allegations of tickets sale and ruled out a probe into it. Party spokesperson, Jayanti Natarajan has said "there is no truth in the allegations so the question of a probe does not arise."

However, there are not many takers to Congress defense, allegations are flying thick and fast that a coterie has over taken over the Congress and some unscrupulous people are making fortune by the sale of party tickets. Its also said that many senior leaders in the Congress are feeling suffocated as they are gradually being sidelined. Their allegation of sale of tickets has blown the lid over the functioning of the Congress party.

Every one knows that Rajya Sabha seats are sold to the industrialist and business houses from a long time. The money bags buy them because they feel becoming Member of Parliament would add on their status. They also can do some wheeling and dealing to expand their business empire.

However, even this interest is loosing sheen. Now many see becoming an MP a waste of time. To come round the problem recently a money-bag had bought Jharkhand RS ticket for its company’s manager. This person was suppose to look after his business interest in Parliament.

The pronouncement by senior Congress leaders like Margaret Alva and Yogendra Makwana have have confirmed that the practice of the selling of the tickets in the state assembly is an accepted practice in Indian democracy. Its logical deduction points that the same practice could be at work for the Lok Sabha seat as well. If this is so then this is the most disgusting part about the functioning of Indian democracy one can imagine.

This dark side of Indian democracy which had been at work for long but no one wanted to talk about it is now unmasked by the utterances of the senior Congress leaders. Hats off them. After sixty years of independence this is a new level to which Indian democracy has stooped to and his brings us to the big question - Is India on sale? Well your guess is as good as mine!


Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@ yahoo.com