June 22nd, 2009
04:46 PM ET
March 9th, 2009
03:05 PM ET

What does Islam look like in India today?

The Washington Post
Interfaith Youth Core
Eboo Patel

The first thing Allah Rakha (A R) Rahman did when he arrived back on Indian soil after picking up two Oscars in Hollywood was to offer prayers at a Sufi shrine. Rahman, who won two Oscars for the music he created for "Slumdog Millionaire", accepted Islam in the late 1980s, after experiencing a dream sequence calling him into the faith. He has been on Haj multiple times and is regular in his five daily prayers. That he makes dance music for Indian beauties and seeks guidance at the mausoleums of Muslim saints only affirms his place in the mainstream of Indian Islam.

India has long been at the center of Muslim pluralism, a movement with three core elements:

1) A spiritual ethic defined by the Islamic concept of Tawheed, the idea that God is all-pervasive;
2) A social ethic that views those of other creeds as partners in the journey to serve God and humanity;
3) A cultural ethic that seeks to absorb the multiple identities of faith, nation, ethnicity and language, understanding this multiplicity as mutually enriching rather than mutually exclusive.


Filed under: India • Islam
March 5th, 2009
01:38 PM ET

India, the aspiring pluralistic democracy

Eboo Patel
Washington Post
Interfaith Youth Core

In the middle of the Q and A section of my talk on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in this heartland city of Bhopal, a student from the local technical college stood up and said, "Sir, I have prepared a 15-minute lecture on Martin Luther King Jr. that I would like to read to you. Sir, would you like to hear it?"

He wasn't kooky activist, he wasn't kidding and no one in the audience laughed at him. He is part of middle India, earnest and aspirational India, ready to-do-whatever-it-takes-to-make-it India. After the program was over, he ran up to me excitedly and thrust the text into my hands. It was written in a schoolboy's cursive, in blue ballpoint pen. "I don't want to take your only copy," I told him. "Don't worry, sir, I have memorized the speech." I don't doubt it.

I'm on a brief speaking tour of India sponsored by the U.S. State Department, using the legacy of King and Gandhi as a springboard to explain why the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest should lead the world on the critical issue of interfaith cooperation.

If there is one term that describes contemporary India, it is aspiration. What is particularly refreshing to me is to watch that striving not just in India's economy, but also in other parts of its democracy.

The Chair of the country's first journalism department told me that there are somewhere between 35,000-40,000 newspapers in India - about a thousand of them in English - with new ones sprouting up all the time.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Eboo Patel • India • Religion
February 27th, 2009
04:54 PM ET

Dr. Gupta helps in India

While on assignment in India, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta helps a little girl who is injured in the town of Sonepat.

Filed under: Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Global 360° • India
December 3rd, 2008
06:44 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Is the auto bailout a bust?

Cate Vojdik
AC360° Writer

We’re following breaking news on the auto bailout. We’re getting reports that Senate Majority leader Harry Reid says the Big Three bailout is in jeopardy. Democrats apparently don’t have enough votes to give the Big Three the money they want from the $700 billion rescue plan pot. We’ll have more details by air time.

According to new CNN polling, the bailout is already a bust among Americans. Six in 10 oppose rescuing the Big Three with taxpayer money. In early November, nearly half the public supported federal help for Detroit. So what’s changed? We’d love to hear your take.

Some more baffling math from the poll: Three-quarters of respondents said they think they’ll personally feel the impact if the auto makers go bankrupt. We’re intrigued that so many Americans support letting the auto makers go belly up, while admitting their families will suffer from the consequences. Again, we’d love your input.


Filed under: Cate Vojdik • Economy • India • India Attacked • Pirates • The Buzz
December 3rd, 2008
08:05 AM ET

Love the victims, loathe their killers

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and boys pray next to the bodies of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and boys pray next to the bodies of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

All terrorism is monstrous, but the murder of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg by ‘religious Islamic extremists’ stands out for its unspeakable infamy. The deliberate targeting of a small Jewish center and its married young directors, whose only purpose it was to provide for the religious needs of a community and feed travelers, proves that those who perpetrated this crime are bereft not only of even a hint of humanity, but every shred of faith as well. The world’s most aggressive atheists are more religious than these spiritual charlatans and pious frauds. When Osama bin Laden, whose beard masks the face of the ultimate religious hypocrite, attacked the World Trade Center in New York, the target was purportedly chosen as the very symbol of American materialism and excess. But what could these ‘religious’ people have been thinking in exterminating a twenty-something couple with two babies who moved from the world’s richest country to India to provide religious services and faith to the poor and the needy? What blow against Western decadence were they striking by targeting a Chabad House whose entire purpose it is to spread spirituality to people whose lives lack it? Now is not only a time to remember the victims but to hate their killers. One cannot love the innocent without simultaneously loathing those who orphan their children.

I know how uncomfortable people feel about hatred. It smacks of revenge. It poisons the heart of those who hate. But this is true only if we hate the good, the innocent, or the neutral. Hating monsters, however, motivates us to fight them. Only if an act like this repulses us to our core will we summon the will to fight these devils so that they can never murder again.


Filed under: India • India Attacked • Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
November 30th, 2008
09:55 AM ET

Attacks: A first-hand account

The Hindu

A. Vaidyanathan , eminent economist and a member of the Central Board of Directors of the Reserve Bank of India, was in his room in the heritage wing of Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace and Towers when the terrorists struck on the night of Wednesday, November 26. After his return to Chennai, he spoke to The Hindu on his experience. Here is his first-person account, given to Meera Srinivasan in Chennai on Friday:

I was there for a meeting on the 26th. The meeting was in the afternoon. They usually put me up at the Taj, so I went there. Some of my friends, whom I normally spend time with, were not in town. So I decided to stay back in the room. I ate in the room and was just watching cricket.

Then at 9.30 p.m., things began popping. My room was in the second floor of the Palace, very close to the stairwell of the central dome. That’s where the thing apparently started. It went padapadapda...single shots and then bursts of fire. I was wondering why they were bursting crackers. There was no particular celebration at that time, there was no festival. And certainly inside the Taj wasn’t the place.


Filed under: India • India Attacked
November 28th, 2008
02:07 PM ET

India terrorists – guns without conscience

Gary Tuchman
AC360 Correspondent

The terrorists who killed so many innocent humans in India are thugs. They are not any smarter, any better, any more noble, or any more thoughtful than the thugs who murder people during bank robberies in Miami, convenience store hold-ups in Los Angeles, or carjackings in Chicago.

There's a tendency among some to marvel at how "well coordinated" an attack like this India one was. Well, don't marvel. If you no longer held a real job, were given bucket loads of money, and had a multitude of time on your hands, you too could "well coordinate" such a plan.

Fortunately, most people have consciences. Let's not allow society to romanticize and marvel over the planning of terrorists' soulless and monstorous escapades.

They are no different from your average street thug.

Filed under: Gary Tuchman • India • India Attacked
November 28th, 2008
02:06 PM ET

The deep Jewish roots in India

David Schechter
CNN Senior National editor

Some people have been puzzled or surprised that a Jewish Center, called a Chabad house, was attacked in Mumbai. It's true that the Jewish population in India numbers just a few thousand - in a country of billions. But Jews have a long history in India, maybe 2,500 years; and some say they are descended from one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel.

Most of India's Jews live in Mumbai, making it a natural place to find Chabad, a movement within Orthodox Judaism that sends emissaries world-wide from its headquarters in the Crown Heights section of New York City.

Mumbai also is a center of international business and a city frequented by young Israelis, who set off to see the world after completing their military service obligation and before entering university. Chabad is even big in Katmandu.

Chabad is an acronym of the Jewish words for wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Though rooted in the oldest of Jewish beliefs, Chabad also spreads its message online at http://www.chabad.org. And if you'd like to know more, a good read about Chabad is "The Rebbe's Army" by Sue Fishkoff.

Watch Nic Robertson's report on the stand-off at a Chabad in Mumbai.

Filed under: David Schechter • India • India Attacked
November 28th, 2008
02:02 PM ET

The FBI – ready for Mumbai

Security forces outside the Taj Mahal Hotel.

Security forces outside the Taj Mahal Hotel.

Kelli Arena
CNN Washington Correspondent

The FBI has a team ready to fly to Mumbai and join the investigation. Officials are working with Indian diplomats to get them there. They need an invitation from the Indian government. And the State Department is still discussing Indian officials how the FBI would operate once it hits the ground.

That can be a delicate negotiation with any country. But U.S. ties to Pakistan, India's longtime enemy, make it more complicated.

Whenever Americans are injured or killed anywhere in the world by a terrorist attack, the FBI opens a case. But it can only operate in another country with that government's permission.

After the U.S. embassy Bombings in Nairobi, there was full and total cooperation. After the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, there were more guarded dealings with the host government.

In India's case, you have a strong, sovereign, and fairly well organized government that has investigators from Canada, Great Britain, Australia and other countries all asking for access because their citizens were victims here.

The Indian government will have to arrange whatever access they will grant for each country's agencies. For the FBI, the State Department will have to negotiate that carefully.

Filed under: India • India Attacked • Kelli Arena • Terrorism
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