Books and Documents

Books and Documents

Why Islam Needs a Reformation
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Why Islam Needs a Reformation
Ayaan Hirsi Ali

It is not just al Qaeda and Islamic State that show the violent face of Islamic faith and practice. It is Pakistan, where any statement critical of the Prophet or Islam is labelled as blasphemy and punishable by death. It is Saudi Arabia, where churches and synagogues are outlawed and where beheadings are a legitimate form of punishment. It is Iran, where stoning is an acceptable punishment and homosexuals are hanged for their “crime.”…

The Ottomans had lost wars before, but never the empire itself. This time it was different. The demands imposed by the Allies provoked a revolt by Mustafa Kemal, the hero of Gallipoli, who pushed the Greeks and Italians out of Anatolia, deposed the sultan and abolished the caliphate. ....


After 1970, Turkey was rocked by a series of socio-economic shifts. Urbanization that had been ongoing for decades accelerated throughout the 1980s, prompted largely by an economic restructuring plan recommended by the IMF after the military coup d’état of 1980….


PREFACE: The Arabic Qur’an: For Muslims the world over the Qur’an is the infallible Word of God - a divine litany of unparalleled beauty and grandeur. They read, recite and memorize the Qur’an – partly or even wholly, to please God, to experience the transcendent, and to seek peace and tranquillity. However, they seldom make any attempt to study the Qur’an to comprehend its message. There is a tradition that “one who discusses about the Book of God, (the Qur'an) makes a mistake, even if he is correct.”1

The non-Muslim scholars of Arabic in the Christian West also acknowledge the extra-ordinary literary merit of the Qur’an,2 but they often find its contents confusing and even alienating. Even secular Arab Muslims reading the Qur’an out of context may find it very challenging. This is due to some unique features of its text as summarily illustrated below.

The Qur’an engages a wide range of subjects and themes, which, barring a few exceptions, appear repeatedly either in their entirety, or in bits and pieces across the text, without any apparent order or organization. Thus, diverse themes may be interwoven in the same paragraph without any logical order.3

The Qur’an is an oratorical discourse with God as the speaker. However, God’s mode of address shifts from first person singular and plural forms (I and We) to third person singular: He, Your Lord, al-Rahman(the Benevolent). It also constantly switches between its addressees: thus, a passage may open with an address to the Prophet, but the subsequent verses may be addressed to his followers, the People of the Book (Christians and Jews), the pagans, the disbelievers who persistently denied the revelation, and humankind in general.4

The language and style of the Qur’an also changes abruptly. Sometimes it is very clear and precise, sometimes it is condensed and elliptic, and sometimes it is highly context–specific. Besides, some of the Qur’anic passages, especially those from an early period of the revelation have a cosmic perspective, and are deeply mysterious, while others evoke God’s transcendence and are profoundly mystical. There are many evocative passages in the Qur’an where “what is left unsaid is as important as what is said,”5 and the reader is left wondering what the Qur’an really means by such and such example or pronouncement.6

Moreover, the Qur’an evolves the various elements of its broader message in stages, and therefore, reading any passage in isolation can be highly misleading.

Thus, the Arabic Qur’an can be very challenging and can even disorient and misguide a casual reader, not aware of its subtleties, nuances and various contexts. However, the Qur’an leaves sufficient clues for the reader to help comprehending its guidance and broader message......

Related Article:

Introducing the Book 'Essential Message of Islam' by Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed

Review of 'Confessions of a Terrorist – A Novel'
Review of 'Confessions of a Terrorist – A Novel'
By Anita McKone for New Age Islam

Reliable factual information gathered by terrorism expert and author Professor Richard Jackson is set within a simple but compelling fiction: Michael, a British intelligence officer, and Professor Youssef Said, a Middle Eastern terrorist organiser, face each other across a table in a rundown building in Leeds, UK....


Editor's Note: New Age Islam is happy to be able to present for the first time on internet this ground-breaking work by Quran exegetes Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed for the benefit of its readers. The authors hardly need any introduction on this website. Muhammad Yunus Saheb has been contributing for long and we have posted Ashfaque Ullah Syed Saheb's individual contribution too in the form of his televised lecture. Presented below is the introduction to the book written by the renowned academic and author Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl:

For those who have the moral will, the book I introduce here will prove to be an invaluable reference source on the Islamic faith.  For those who do not wish to be participants in the perpetuation of religious bigotry and hate, this book will provide an accurate, thoughtful, and reliable introduction to Muslim beliefs and practices.  I wish we lived in a world in which this book would become a standard reference source for students of religion who are interested in an accurate introduction to the religion of Islam.  The best thing I can say about this book is that it is the product of a labor of love that lasted for more than a decade.  The authors do not offer a personalized view of their own religiosity; they explain in a very straightforward and accessible fashion what mainstream Muslims believe in and especially, what the Qur’an itself teaches.  Non-Muslims will understand why well over a billion people call themselves Muslim and also how Islam inspires Muslims to deal with and improve upon the world in which they live.  Indeed this book manages to translate the Muslim vision or the way that Islam heals the ailments of humanity in the current age and every age.  Readers who wish to learn the theological and moral dogma of Islam will find this book indispensable.  But this book is not just an informative tool for the fair-minded and interested reader.  This book is an educational tool for both Muslims and non-Muslims—it is an authoritatively reliable text to teach young Muslims, or even Muslims who never had the time to study the Qur’an, or the fundamentals of their religion.  The book is written with the kind of balance and fair mindedness that makes it equally valuable for Muslim and non-Muslim students of Islam.  The least I can say about this text is that it was written by two ethically conscientious and principled Muslims in order to share their religion with every ethically conscientious and principled reader in the world.  They must be heard.

Today, whenever we talk about a group of young Muslim men travelling across borders and fulfilling a religious responsibility, the discourse is about fighting what is popularly referred to as jihad, culminating in grotesque violence in the name of religion. And, whenever we talk about the caliphate--of which the Ottoman was the last, abolished in 1924-- the discourse is about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), known for its atrocities in West Asia, proclaiming its re-establishment....

Book Review: Rumi (Sufi Comics)
Roshan, New Age Islam

Rumi’s magnum opus is the Masnavi-e Manavi (“Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning”), a vast collection of mystically-inspired poems. It is considered to be among the gems of world literature, and has been translated into numerous languages. It focuses on instructing disciples on the Sufi path how to reach their goal....

His numerous books helped set the philosophical agenda for atheism for half a century or so, until when, around the age of 80, just a few years before his death, he declared that he was wrong all along about God. No one expected this from one of the world’s leading champions of atheism, not least Flew himself. “[I]t may well be that no one is as surprised as I am that my exploration of the Divine has after all these years turned from denial to discovery,”….

One theme that emerged again and again, one not portrayed in the wider media, was that of mercy and compassion. This idea of Rahma (mercy) is at the centre of the Islamic experience. The fundamental nature of Allah is mercy. As one of the contributors (Mohammad Hassan Khalil) said, the “idea of Rahma frames the Qur’an.”  That sense of divine mercy overcoming all else came up again and again as a quality of God, as a divine attribute that we as humans are to emulate. Within the Muslim community it lends a strong concern for social justice and externally ones’ dealings with those outside the Ummah. If the Quran is a vehicle, mercy is the chassis…..

Understanding Islamism through History
Talmiz Ahmad
Understanding Islamism through History
Talmiz Ahmad

Islamism is the movement that seeks to achieve a reformed political order that is founded on a reconciliation of Islamic principles and those of modern political theory, such as constitution, parties, elections, representative government, human rights, freedom, justice, and social and economic welfare. It emerged, not in the 1920s as Mr Owen says, but in the early 19th century, in response to the total defeat suffered by the Arabs at the hands of the western colonialists……


My mother is so liberal she makes me look Republican. I was shocked when she said, "You know those people wouldn't cross the road to piss on you if you were on fire." (In addition to being liberal, she's also Southern.) I couldn't believe my civil rights-loving, ERA-supporting, Bill-Clinton-was-the-victim-of-a-vast-right-wing-conspiracy-believing mother was siding with my boyfriend's NRA-supporting, Ronald Reagan-worshipping, Knight Templar-pretender of a father…..


While her dread of her father drove her to don the robes of a Buddhist nun, her spiritual master gradually helped Ani Choying overcome the wounds of her battered childhood. Slowly, she began to learn to derive joy from so-called ‘little’ things—saving an injured mouse, for instance, or crying over a Bollywood film or coming up with a new idea for a song. Being a nun didn’t make her oblivious to the beauty of life.....


Everywhere, pluralism was replaced with a ferocious polarisation. Almost all the former Ottoman lands suffered bouts of savage bloodletting, and some of these – Turkey 1919-21, Palestine 1948, Cyprus 1963-4, Lebanon 1975-90, Bosnia 1991-2, Iraq from 2002 and most recently in Syria from 2011 – grew into civil wars of startling violence and fought along religious fault lines......


The thrust of this wonderfully intriguing book is that virtually all the religions of the Middle East, not just the Abrahamic ones (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) but also a clutch of mysteriously esoteric ones, are marvellously entwined. This should draw people together, encouraging mutual respect for their common spirituality and lovingly shared heritage, not tear them lethally apart. If only….


The fact, however, is that science has definitely not, and certainly cannot, disprove God. Little do proponents of the thesis that science has shown God to be a myth know that scores of leading scientists across the world, overwhelmed by the remarkable intricacy and complexity of the cosmos, have had to conclude that the universe must definitely have a creator, and that without God life would not have been possible and the cosmos itself would have been inconceivable......

He was against all forms of pluralism, and loathed the traditional "elasticity of doctrine, ritual and practice" that made Islam dynamic and vibrant. His theological position, writes Michael Crawford, "made him condemn much of the Islam of his own time". It was thus natural for ibn Abd al-Wahhab to declare that following any school of Islamic jurisprudence, except his own Hanbali School, was indistinguishable from shirk, or polytheism…..

2003- For the first time, a program was organized by the Foundation for Pluralism to bring all the Hindus communities of Dallas together. Shanti-Shanti is an American girls duos chanting songs in Sanskrit, and they were introduced to the Hindu Audience for the first time. Indeed, that is the first time; Dr. Mihir Meghani of Hindu America Foundation was invited to be a part of the event, as he was set to bring all the Hindu Sampadrayas together. ....


Ibn al Arabi asserted that the identity of “Huq” {the Creator} and the “Khalqh” {the created} is One.  According to him, ‘God is the Unity behind all Plurality and the Reality behind all phenomenal existence. In his ‘Futhhath’ he says: “there is nothing but Allah; nothing in existence other than He; there is not even “there” where the essence of all things is one.” The Shaikh ul Akbar’s “Wahdat ul Wujud” {“The Unity of Being” or “Ostological” or “Pantheistic “Monoism” is but an extension of the Doctrine of Tauheed {“Unity of God”} The Shaikh professed that “there is nothing in existence except Allah”   and that “to realize this, what is required is Not “Reason” but “Zauqh” {institutive experience of an individual}……


Could it be that those who are radicalized—and as explained by the authors, they tend to be reasonably well educated—also recognize the double standards, hypocrisy, and contradictions within that system? Ideology is recognized by the authors as being “the centre of gravity of jihadists and radical Islamist movements,” followed by a clear basic explanation of Islamist ideological points. However, that is followed by a discussion of that touches on the “theatres of global jihad.” The ideas expressed: recognizing the Sykes-Picot secret deal of 1916; the “foreign support for…apostate regimes;” and the “insurgency” in Iraq and “invading Afghanistan and Iraq;….


Whilst Ibn al Arabi was of the opinion that ‘Unit Of Being” is an “ Objective Experience’ , the Mujaddid  professed that it is an “Subjective Experience”  because , though a mystic  might feel as if he is identified with God almighty, in fact it is NOT so. What actually happens, according to him, is that in his or her ‘” Sukr” {Rapturous Ecstasy} the mystic loses himself or herself in the object of his or her love and therefore feels as if he or she has reached the stage of “’Fana {total annihilation}   and thus attained “Baqa {Eternal Life}.  This experience, Shaikh Sirhindi declares, is both  illusive and transient  because the mystic reverts  from “Hal: { ecstatic  intoxication}   to his or her original  state of “Sahu” { sobriety}  which is  the stage  of  “Abdiyath’….

A Season for Martyrs
Bina Shah
A Season for Martyrs
Madeline Amelia Clements

Disenchanted with his media job, uninspiring studies, the privileged lifestyle of his Karachiite friends, even the prospect of a coveted US visa, and additionally depressed by his cameraman’s killing in the first assault on the Dubai-returned Bhutto, Ali starts to find some solace by “dissolving”, “annihilating” or “losing himself” in ecstatic “union” with the protesting crowds whose activities he is sent to monitor.......

Sahab-e-Alam, Dilip Kumar, Speaks!
Farooq Sulehria
Sahab-e-Alam, Dilip Kumar, Speaks!
Farooq Sulehria

The book offers many things for many people. While his fans may find out more about him, cultural critics and artists can draw many lessons in film-making. In fact, this book should constitute an essential reading at film schools….

Religion and Science in Harmony
Religion and Science in Harmony
Roshan Shah, New Age Islam

Religion and science need not be seen as enemies of each other, the authors contend, unlike what hardened atheists as well as some extreme literalist religionists imagine. The changing understandings of the natural world that scientific investigations engender may necessitate, the authors say, continuous reconsideration of some of the ways in which we understand religious texts, particularly sections that relate to the natural world. On the other hand, they point out, the discovery by scientists that the laws of nature are finely tuned for life clearly indicates that people who deny God in the name of science should reassess their understandings of science and the world…..

Timbuktu is a well-known name in India. Even those who are illiterate and don't know much about the geography of the world use this name in phrases. Basically, this name tickles their funny bone and, thus, they believe that sending somebody to Timbuktu would be a funny thing. Not anymore…..


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