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Books and Documents

Books and Documents

Incidents of Islamophobia are common and – for those of us who are targeted by them – easy to recognise. The biggest accomplishment of Erum’s book, therefore, has been to document these stories for those who would not as easily have noticed, or even imagined, their existence. As she puts it herself, she has begun to fill a large gap in Indian literature...

 

Gandhi…had wanted to avoid the country’s partition. Failing in that he engaged himself in preventing the division of hearts, emphasising that even as the country had been divided, the hearts must not be divided. Also knowing that if the hearts had not been divided, the country could never have been divided and contending with this paradox, because he understood that neither India nor Pakistan stood to gain in the absence of mutual friendship. Should one become hell, the other can never be heaven.....

 

“I want to be the last girl in the world with a story like mine,” Murad concludes. Despite recent gains against ISIS in Iraq, many Yazidis still remain in captivity. As a story that hasn’t yet ended, “The Last Girl” is difficult to process. It is a call to action, but as it places Murad’s tragedy in the larger narrative of Iraqi history and American intervention, it leaves the reader with urgent, incendiary questions: What have we done, and what can we do?...

 

The crucial chapter about the Quran records all the important principles enshrined and underlines their relevance in modern times. Fair play, decency, trust, honesty in daily transactions are emphasised in the Quran. Peaceful co-existence, non-violence, non-dynastic rule, freedom of religion, impartiality, compassion, kindness, justice, decorum and good behaviour are some of the values explained at length using quotes from various verses and anecdotes from the life of the Prophet....

 
How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations
How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations
Roshan Shah, New Age Islam

The idea of the dignity of difference does not mean relativism, the Rabbi explains. It is based on God’s transcendence of God from the created universe, with its astonishing diversity of life forms, all of which derive from a single source. The Rabbi suggests a “test of faith” being whether believers in God can make space for difference. “Can I recognize God’s image in someone who is not in my image, whose language, faith, ideals, are different from mine?” he asks, adding, “If I cannot, then I have made God in my image instead of allowing him to remake me in his.”....

 

“If they think we are terrorists then we will show them what we can do. How can they say that to us? Every time there is a terror attack in the news, my classmates ask me the next day, “Arre Yeh Kya Karwa Diya Tumne? [What have you done now?]” “As if I am responsible!” When I asked Raffat why he gets into physical fights instead of complaining to the school authorities, he says that there is no point in trying to reason away the unreasonable. “If they want to fight, we cannot shy away!” said the visibly upset young man....

Muslims have to look within and do a soul searching about their political priorities. They also have to ask whether there is anything wrong with the theology which they have been practising so far. There is a problem if there is a reluctance on part of the community to teach their young about modernity and become an obstacle in the education of millions of young children. There is the added problem that the hegemonic Muslim theology has had a complicated relationship with the idea of the nation itself. ...

Neither Indians nor Pakistanis quite forgave Dina Wadia for being Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s daughter; the former made her life miserable through a protracted, mean-spirited grab for her father’s house in Bombay and the latter ignored her as an embarrassment who dared to marry a non-Muslim in defiance of her father’s wishes. ...

The main point of the Quran’s discussion of violence is to establish limitations on its use, and to “abstain from violence to the degree that that is possible.” While a few endlessly cited verses have to do with violence, “the overall tenor is one of mercy and forgiveness, which are evoked everywhere, almost obsessively.” This is what is striven for in the Quran, not war....

Over time, then, while earlier generations in the West had regarded the existence of God as a natural and fundamental belief, as something that was self-evidently true, many now took a diametrically opposed view. They began claiming that atheism was the natural philosophy of humanity and that it was the beliefs of religious people that required rational explanation. They insisted that belief in God was a form of wishful thinking for consoling weaker and foolish people and for exploiting the poor, or an illusion created by fearful minds to console themselves in the face of what they regarded as the universe’s meaninglessness....

 
The Secrets about Fatehpur Sikri
Rana Safvi
The Secrets about Fatehpur Sikri
Rana Safvi

The Mughal association with it began with the Battle of Khanwa between Babur and Rana Sanga in 1527. After his victory, Babur constructed a garden there, which he named Bagh-e-Fatah (victory garden). The village was renamed Shukri (place of thanksgiving). Babur’s grandson Akbar ordered the construction of a royal city, which then served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571, on an isolated elevated, rocky ridge. Thus was built a majestic imperial city....

 
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. ...

 
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