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Books and Documents

Books and Documents

Of these, perhaps the most powerful and flamboyant is Noorjahan who has coins issued in her name and is allowed to issue Farmans — both kingly prerogatives — and who enjoys the singular privilege of being the only wife of Jahangir for the last 16 years of his life. Of her Sir Thomas Roe, the English Ambassador to the Mughal court is constrained to observe: “Noormehal fulfils the observation that in all actions of consequence in court, a woman is not always an ingredient, but commonly a principal drug of most virtue.”...

 

For decades, modern-looking men with clean-shaven faces, sporting silk ties and wearing Italian suits, had led Iran. They could converse in fluent French and, even more conveniently, in English. They were sometimes criticized for being autocratic, but they were at least “our” autocrats. The country is now led by turbaned and gray-bearded clerics aided by stubble-faced technocrats deeply distrustful not only of US foreign policy but also of many aspects of secular culture—except nuclear technology....

 

BB tried to be pragmatic and to be on the right side of General Aslam Beg, the army chief, but “her minister for defence, Colonel Sarwar Cheema, did not help with the equation and incurred the hostility of the army chief”. BB was not good herself at taking sane advice as she ignored Hassan Zaheer, her principal secretary and author of a tell-all book on the dismemberment of East Pakistan....

 

The long counterinsurgency campaign included the Bud Dajo massacre (March 1906) of nearly a thousand unarmed Muslim villagers who had taken refuge in an extinct volcano on the island of Jolo. A grim photograph of American soldiers posturing afterward like big-game hunters over a heap of corpses would not look out of place in a Holocaust museum. When asked by a Senate committee in 1902 if punishing families by burning crops and villages lay within the rules of civilized warfare, Brigadier General Robert Patterson Hughes, provost marshal general of Manila, replied, “Those people are not civilized.”...

The first of these is Para Vidya (higher knowledge). The other is Apara Vidya (lower or ordinary knowledge)—in other words, spiritual and material knowledge respectively. God is the source of these two forms of knowledge and man should acquire both. This paradigm can be of considerable benefit in the study of nature. It recognizes that nature has two aspects: material and spiritual (composed of conscious entities or living beings). In this paradigm, God or the Supreme Being is the Cause of all causes....

 

The first is the idea of Islamic ideology as the basis of polity in Pakistan. To this end, he quotes both Suhrawardy and Toynbee, showing that any attempt to create an exclusively Muslim or Islamic state would actually lead to the state’s destruction. Indeed it would have been even more useful if he would have referred to Mr Jinnah himself, who had told the Raja of Mahmudabad that the idea of an Islamic state where Muslims were divided into 70 plus sects would mean the state’s dissolution....

 
Why Science Does Not Disprove God
Why Science Does Not Disprove God
Roshan Shah, New Age Islam

Aczel doesn’t claim that he has convincingly proved the existence of God—but that isn’t his purpose here. What he seeks to show—and this he does impressively—is that science has not proven the non-existence of God. He doesn’t deny that religion as a human institution can have its flaws. “But”, he explains,  “God—a power well outside our ability to comprehend, transcending the creation of the universe we see around us—may well exist, and science has not, and will not, disprove it.”....

Toynbee argues that the process of history cannot be understood rationally because history is a creation of God and man is just an instrument who helps accomplish a divine plan. Therefore, human nature should be understood through intuition and by adopting mystical methods....

“I spend no time working for conversions. I love the poor and respect Islam. So does God. I believe that Muslims can be, and are saved within Islam. So I make no effort to convince Muslims to profess Christianity. What I do is to try to live a Christian life in the midst of Muslims...We trust that Allah is using us to move hearts towards Him. I haven’t yet met a Muslim who really wants to hear a Christian’s views on Jesus (They have their own idea about Jesus). But I have met hundreds who appreciate very much seeing someone who follows Jesus. Therefore, that’s what I spend my time trying to be—a follower of Jesus.”...

Some of the crucial issues that the book deals with are: how faith in and commitment to a particular religion and witnessing to it among others can go along with respect for other religions and their adherents; the contemporary importance of interfaith and inter-community bridge-building; varied purposes and forms of interfaith dialogue and collaboration; religion as a means for promoting peace, as opposed to its misuse as a vehicle for fomenting conflict; theological arguments to counter radicalism in the name of religion;  the need for rethinking religion in a contextually-relevant and spiritually-elevating manner....

Atheism’s depressing worldview is in contrast to that of the theistic understanding where death is linked to the hope of being welcomed by a loving God and the possibility of a life of peace and fulfilment in the Hereafter. Unlike atheists, theists believe there’s someone to accompany them in life and death, to pray to and thank for. They also have something to hope for after death....

Recognising this basic oneness can facilitate a more appreciative attitude towards other faiths while also helping us recognise that religion ought to be something that we ourselves embody, in terms of leading an ethical and God-oriented life (reflected in love for God and for all fellow-creatures), rather than just being a set of dogmas to blindly believe in and rituals to mechanically perform....

Pakistan does need to self examine in order to shift the narrative from its repressive commitment to religion. India, too, has a major role to play by helping it shed the feeling of insecurity from its larger neighbour that had been responsible for many of the course shifts. There is a laundry list of political and social initiatives but Madiha also retains a realistic outlook by pointing out that the Islamists are sure to oppose legal reforms, reform in school curricula and regulation of Madrasas....

 

If Jahiliyyah amounted to the servitude of humans to other humans, for Qutb, true Islamic life involves total submission to God. Qutb preached that Islam would ultimately prevail but its triumph would not occur simply by virtue of its revelation by God but rather through a group of people understanding the task, believing in it completely and conforming to it as closely as possible.” Qutb called for the creation of a Qur’anic generation which would act as a vanguard “to point out the road of salvation to humanity and to build the road as well.”...

 
Why Pakistan Lost Out
Khaled Ahmed
Why Pakistan Lost Out
Khaled Ahmed

The state was more inclined to favour the narrow worldview of the madrasa than the schools it ran or private sector schools. Politicians who announce doing away with “English-medium” O-level institutions have no regard for the job market that regularly rejects the ideologically acceptable products. The book asserts: “Over the past three decades, intolerance and violent reactions to dissent and differences of opinions, particularly relating to issues that have to do with religion....

 

Indeed, the paucity of books on anti-Islamist Muslims symbolizes their larger predicament: they are threatened, marginalized, and dismissed as frauds. Threats come from the Islamists, the advocates of applying Islamic law in its entirety and severity as a means to regain the medieval glory of Islam. Islamists attack modernizers with words and weapons, rightly sensing that these liberal Muslims pose a profound challenge to the current Islamist hegemony. ...

 

Writing from the American context, but making a point that has much broader relevance, Isaacs says, “Today, the doors are open in our society to remove God from everything. Evolutionary theory now unapologetically asserts that human life had no creator or designer, and that our lives on Earth serve no designer’s purpose—we are simply accidents of nature”. Materialist evolutionists think there’s no God, no ultimate foundation for ethics, and no ultimate meaning to life.....

“...[A]fter  I was released and reached home safe, I realized that my mission is to be a witness to the fact that THE LORD ALIVE HEARS OUR PRAYERS AND THAT HE WOULD SURELY ANSWER THEM IN HIS OWN GOOD TIME. I realize that I am a living proof that our God still loves us and cares for us. The One who knew me before I was born, formed me in my mother’s womb and called me to follow Him closely is ever at my side, strengthening me. My whole life has been an experience of His presence walking side by side with me.”...

 

In response to the spiritual void and uncertainty of the 'new Iran' - many sought out 'uncanny' ways to deal with the new reality. The Iranian Metaphysicals tries to make sense of the complex and discursive realm of contemporary Iranian spirituality. An anthropological work; we encounter a wide range of people, from clerics, to laymen to scientists....

 

Ibrahim and Wade agree that the transition to democracy failed to reverse the crisis for the Rohingya because the National League for Democracy (NLD), a party of and for Burmans, never saw this issue as crucial. During the transition and into current times, taking a stand for the Rohingya has become politically risky even for Suu Kyi. Wade observes that “[p]rior to 2012… [t]hey were never incorporated into the narrative of the wider struggle of persecuted minorities there. They had no voice, and no presence. It seemed as if they were ghosts — people who lived in Myanmar, but who didn’t quite exist.” NLD spokesman U Win Htein told Wade: “We have thousands of problems, and Muslim problems are one of a thousand. We will deal with each and every one of them according to the priority we choose”....

 

What this book shows is that the great philosophes may have been innovative thinkers, and they took Islam seriously as a religion, but they ultimately lacked the scholarly skill to excavate Islam in Europe. It was, instead, done by an often motley group of scholars who fought against remarkable odds to establish the field of Islamic studies. As we know today, this did not necessarily lead to a great understanding between religions....

 

Splashed with amazing colour pictures, Why I Still Carry a Guitar is a must-read book that can stir one’s conscience and make us think that though we may be born in a certain faith context, as we grow up, rather than blindly swallowing whatever has been told to us by others, we should to study deeply matters of faith independently and seek thereby to get a better understanding of God. Then religion may become sheer music to the ears! ....

 

One of the major debates under the rubric of security dilemma shaped the question: how to understand Islam? The American presence in the Middle East in general and its influence in Muslim majority countries first saw the birth of Al-Qaeda, a group under the leadership of Osama Bin Laden. He once was the blue-eyed boy of the White House who later turned rogue. The attack in 2001 shaped the American policies towards Muslims in general; it led to American misadventures in Iraq in 2003 under the rhetoric of ‘either with us or against us’....

 

There is always the question of the degree of religiosity observed by a family. Then there are other questions that Farooquee’s childhood stories address: What does your family think about cow slaughter? They oppose it when others around them oppose it as they do not want sentiments to be hurt. Is circumcision painful? Not at all. You can hardly feel it when it happens....

 

“The civilization of Muslim Spain was the embodiment of the Islamic compulsion to seek Ilm, or knowledge. Andalusia produced many firsts. Through Spain, Europe received models for universities (Oxford and Cambridge are examples), philosophy and literature, and the study of medicine originating from the work of Avicenna and Abulcasis.”...

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