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Books and Documents

Books and Documents

Everybody Lies: How Google Search Reveals Our Darkest Secrets
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Everybody Lies: How Google Search Reveals Our Darkest Secrets
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

The final – and, I think, most powerful – value in this data is its ability to lead us from problems to solutions. With more understanding, we might find ways to reduce the world’s supply of nasty attitudes. Let’s return to Obama’s speech about Islamophobia. Recall that every time he argued that people should respect Muslims more, the people he was trying to reach became more enraged. Google searches, however, reveal that there was one line that did trigger the type of response Obama might have wanted. He said: “Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbours, our co-workers, our sports heroes and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform, who are willing to die in defence of our country.” After this line, for the first time in more than a year, the top Googled noun after “Muslim” was not “terrorists”, “extremists”, or “refugees”. It was “athletes”, followed by “soldiers”.” And, in fact, “athletes” kept the top spot for a full day afterwards. When we lecture angry people, the search data implies that their fury can grow. But subtly provoking people’s curiosity, giving new information, and offering new images of the group that is stoking their rage may turn their thoughts in different, more positive directions.....

 

“…it’s only to cement our ideology in the Muslim minds. The billions of dollars continue to pour in only to erase all other competing versions and interpretations of Islam for Muslims, and for the rest of the world. These funds are put into the laps of shady businessmen like you so that you expunge all other interpretations and establish that Wahhabism is the only version of Islam....

 
Probe Dispassionately Islam’s Spread in India
Raziuddin Aquil
Probe Dispassionately Islam’s Spread in India
Raziuddin Aquil

The Turks, Afghans and Mughals, amongst other sets of Muslim immigrants from Central Asia, Iran and the Middle East, were essentially urban people and wherever they settled down in the subcontinent, new cities and towns emerged. In some cases, following the change in political regimes as well as a dominant Muslim presence, a pre-existing city was renamed and transformed into a Muslim stronghold. Also, the prolonged interaction between Muslim urban centres and a predominantly Hindu rural hinterland led to the gradual diffusion of Islam in this region….

Eaton stresses that life is to be lived not according to our self-will, but, rather, according to God’s guidance. This is something that not just Muslims but all other people who believe in God would readily agree with. Another theme common to all religions that Eaton touches on is life after death (for which this life is a preparation). He reminds us: ‘Religion assures us—all the authentic religions say this, whether openly or by implication—that what lies beyond our brief life or, to put it another way, what lies outside the little world we know, is more real than anything that we experience here.’?....

 

Karo Kari or honour killing in upper Sindh is popularly perceived as a phenomenon according to which a male relative can kill a woman and her lover, if he thinks that his ‘honour’ has been violated due to sexual relations between the two, relations that are not sanctified by society via marriage.

The ultimate vindication of honour lies in physical violence, as ‘to kill or die for honour’ is a regular phrase that resounds in discourse on honour in this area. However, it is also important to note that the static binaries of honour violence, as a relationship between men and women...

 

When we met Katie, she had very strong views about Muslims: that she wouldn’t want to sit next to a Muslim on a bus; how she was fearful of women wearing the Niqab. But she also wanted to try to understand the Muslim community and had a genuine desire to have her preconceptions challenged. We hoped that people who shared some of Katie’s views would go on the journey with her. I think the disguise element was an absolutely crucial part of this....

 
A Night at the Museum
Sumaira Samad
A Night at the Museum
Sumaira Samad

A primary theme characterising the various eras is that of degeneration and decay. The Mohenjo-Daro of 2084 BCE is a city in decline. The spirit that inspired its great civic planning, egalitarianism and vast trading networks has given way to narrow self-interest, hollow rituals, and intrigue. The Takshasila of 455 CE is also about to change forever; the reforming spirit of Buddhism is dwindling and both secular and religious authorities follow a myopic, self-serving path. Mughal India, meanwhile, is at the height of its splendour, a rich blend of various cultures and religions....

 

The hatred that manifests in the euphemism “anti-Zionist” serves today to normalise the ever-embattled condition of Jews who, by dint of being Jewish, are viewed as part of an international conspiracy to deny Palestinian rights. If that seems hyperbolic, why is it a typical sight in Britain and Europe to see Jewish schools, community centres and synagogues under guard – armed guard in France?....

In our age, Islam is often taken to task for the violent imagery that is contained within the Qur’an, and the example set by its warrior-prophet, Muhammad, but less often scrutinised is the propensity of Christianity for acts of savagery. Many early Christians held to the pacifism of St Basil, who laid down that Christians who had shed blood were not eligible for communion, but St Augustine of Hippo developed the doctrine of the just war, arguing that it was meritorious to use violence against those who held other religious beliefs....

 

On some other issues, publics in Eastern Europe have similar views regardless of their country’s church-state relationship. There is no clear difference, for example, on views about democracy. In countries with or without official or preferred religions, similar shares of people view democracy as preferable to any other kind of government (medians of 47% and 46%, respectively). Similarly, on the topic of pluralism, medians of 50% in both types of countries say it is better if society consists of people from different nationalities, religions and cultures (as opposed to a homogeneous society)....

Islam is the most common government-endorsed faith, with 27 countries (including most in the Middle East-North Africa region) officially enshrining Islam as their state religion. By comparison, just 13 countries (including nine European nations) designate Christianity or a particular Christian denomination as their state religion. But an additional 40 governments around the globe unofficially favour a particular religion, and in most cases the preferred faith is a branch of Christianity. Indeed, Christian churches receive preferential treatment in more countries – 28 – than any other unofficial but favoured faith....

“When the movie was released in Israel and Palestine, it was like a bomb for both sides,” says Hamoud, her hands flicking for emphasis. “There were walkouts. It was a shock to the system for Palestinian society, about rebelling from the mainstream, and people feeling shame about themselves. But a lot of people – women, gay people, alternative scenes – were just so pleased it represented them.”....

 

Strikingly, Hamza directs followers not to travel to theatres of war within the Muslim world, but instead to attack targets in the West and Russia. “Perhaps you are longing for emigration,” he says. “Perhaps you yearn for sacrifice in the battlefields. Know that inflicting punishment on Jews and Crusaders where you are is more vexing and severe for the enemy.” He urges “martyrs” that “the message you intend to convey through your blessed operation must be explained unequivocally in the media” and suggests talking points to align these explanations with al-Qa`ida’s own propaganda.....

 

The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and JuD trace their roots to an organization called Markaz-e-Dawat ul Irshad (MDI) that was established in 1987 to focus on jihad, which was taking place in Afghanistan, and Dawah (proselytizing) for which Hafiz Saeed set up the JuD in 1985. The organization evolved over years from jihad during the 1980s and the 1990s to doing charity and more recently politics. It is adept at the art of survival by staying on the right side of the Pakistani state. ...

 
The Language of God—A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
Yoginder S. Sikand, New Age Islam
The Language of God—A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
Yoginder S. Sikand, New Age Islam

Scientific and spiritual worldviews both provide, Collins says, “differing but complementary ways of answering the greatest of the world’s questions, and both can coexist happily within the mind of an intellectually inquisitive person living in the twenty-first century.” He helpfully tells us: “Science is not threatened by God; it is enhanced. God is most certainly not threatened by science; He made it all possible. ....

The Exile: Osama Bin Laden after 9/11
Owen Bennett-Jones
The Exile: Osama Bin Laden after 9/11
Owen Bennett-Jones

Some militants are on the state payroll but maintain a degree of independence. Some retired ISI officers join militant groups but from time to time report back to their old employer. And yet the claim that some serving ISI officials took independent decisions on such a sensitive matter as Bin Laden’s location is highly contentious. The ISI may be far less competent than it is often portrayed....

 
Revisiting Sufi Classics
Dr Muhammad Maroof Shah

A Sufi was stoned by children and as it became dark, hailstones greeted him and he started cursing children whom he imagined were throwing pebbles on him in the dark. But at length he discovered that the pebbles were only hailstones and felt sorry stating: “O God, it was because the house was dark that I have sinned with my tongue.” Attar remarks “If you understand the motives of those who are in darkness, you will, no doubt, forgive them.” Who amongst us has not unresolved grudge against someone and still says “Mlliki yawmiddin” that implies that God alone is the judge.....

 

These questions arise not least because of the uncertainties and complexities over what happens for Syrians in real life once Isis fighters have been defeated – as is now the case in Mosul, recaptured by Iraqi forces last month, and could be in Raqqa with the current US-backed military efforts to reclaim the city. ....

 
Of Context and Semantics
Amina Wadud
Of Context and Semantics
Musab Khalid

The landscape of Islamic rhetoric is slowly changing, and with the emerging coverage of Queer Muslims to the liberal and feminist populace, the very foundations of traditionalist values are being questioned. It would be highly remiss of me to not recommend this book, which created the benchmark in Islamic feminist literature....

Past and Prejudice
Khaled Ahmed
Past and Prejudice
Khaled Ahmed

Turkey started late but will catch up with India where Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen is being subjected to censorship. Of course, India can’t be compared to what is happening to the Islamic world. But it can start looking worse than the British Raj for people like journalist Saeed Naqvi. He has spelt out his reasons in his recent book, Being the Other....

 
Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms
Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms
Neza T. Reyhan, New Age Islam

According to the Quran, God has sent prophets to every nation, and they have taught the same basic religion—of submission to the One God. The Rabbi quotes the Prophet as saying: “Prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.” This suggests the basic oneness of the teachings of all the prophets. “Since all monotheistic scriptures come from the one and only God,” the Rabbi says, “we should view other scriptures as potentially enriching our own understanding and appreciation of our own scripture”—surely a powerful way to bring people from different faith traditions into closer communion....

The realisation that Timbuktu’s fragile heritage was in danger set off alarm bells across the world. The city was once one of Africa’s most revered centres of learning and the arts. From the 13th century onwards, but particularly during the great days of the Songhai empire, which reached its peak during the 15th and 16th centuries, Timbuktu became the West African equivalent of Oxbridge or the Ivy League, pullulating with scholars busy copying out old Arabic manuscripts and composing new works of theology, history and science.

 

Muhammad was then brought to a local police station where he was interrogated as someone who might have had something dangerous underneath his shirt. The veteran had reported him to the train conductor on the grounds that he was carrying a bomb. Law enforcement officials questioned Muhammad about his family background, religious beliefs and political views....

 

There was, however, the sound of rumblings on the horizon; the mullahs (clergy) of Pakistan had expressed their displeasure at the institution of the women guards and their presence in the celebrations of the new state. Some of the clergy had issued religious edicts against women parading with their heads uncovered and bosoms exposed, fuming that these women would be staring into eyes of men, and be left with no shame and dignity. ...

 

No culture has been—or can be—immune to change, no matter what self-styled purists may demand or expect. Change is a hallmark of human life, personal as well as collective.  Even if some people would like to preserve cultures intact, as in a museum, this can never happen. Internal developments as well as the impact of external events ensure that cultures are always in a process of flux....

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