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Books and Documents

Books and Documents

Hamza bin Ladin: From Steadfast Son to Al-Qa`ida’s Leader in Waiting
Ali Soufan

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 JuD and LeT Guide on How to Win Friends and Influence People
Dr Ayesha Siddiqa

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 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.....

 

The State Is Right to Humanise Isis Recruits, We Need To Understand
Rachel Shabi

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

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....

 

The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu: How Precious Manuscripts Were Saved
William Dalrymple

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.

 

Islam, Race and Pluralism in the Pakistani Diaspora
Craig Considine

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....

 

When Will Young Pakistani Women Find Their Own Fiery Brand Of Revolution? Or Is It Here Already?
Aneela Zeb Babar

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. ...

 

Spiritual Transformation the Only Way Out Of the Ecological Crisis

It is only through awareness of the Creator—God—and of the fact that this world is God’s, not ours—can we develop a truly respectful attitude towards nature and other species. A spiritual transformation is thus the only way out of the ecological crisis and for extricating us out of the morass of soul-numbing materialism in which we are drowning. ...

The Political Education of Mahmoud Abbas

When Israeli tanks besieged Yasser Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah in 2002, the Palestinian leader famously declared, “Oh God, grant me a martyr’s death.” Two and a half years later, his wish came true, in part. In November of 2004, the “Old Man” died in Paris after suffering a brain haemorrhage. Arafat’s death left his party, Fatah, in disarray....

 

The 1,000-Year-Old Lost Arab Poetry That Lives on in Hebrew
Benjamin Ramm

A thousand years ago, as much of Europe languished in the Dark Ages; the Iberian Peninsula was a cultural oasis, the brightest beacon of civilisation. Under the Umayyad dynasty, the caliphate of Al-Andalus stretched from Lisbon to Zaragoza, and centred on the Andalusian cities of Córdoba, Granada and Seville. From the 8th Century, the caliphate oversaw a period of extraordinary cross-cultural creativity known as La Convivencia (the Coexistence)....

 

Women, Interrupted: They Have Had To Bear the Brunt of Religious Zealotry in Pakistan
Khaled Ahmed

“Before being killed, she begged the men who had dragged her out of the house not to slit her throat, which they would usually do, but shoot her instead. They fulfilled her last wish and shot her in the head. Her corpse was hung from the lamp-post like those of other such victims in the main square of the chief city of the Swat Valley, where such executions were regularly being carried on.”....

 

How Wonder Woman Turned From a Hero to A War Crimes Supporter
Susan Abulhawa

But make no mistake. Zionism cannot reconcile with feminism, and such antiquated imperial feminism belongs to another era, when feminists fought for the right to vote, but only for white women. In the words of Jaime Omar Yassin, "Feminism cannot be Zionist, just as it cannot be neo-Nazi - feminism that doesn't have an understanding of how it intersects with racial and ethnic oppression is simply a diversification of white supremacy."....

 

Sufism Remains Heart of Islam, Even Now

Yet, in a context like medieval India, Sufi saints did play major roles in shaping political culture as well as social mores. They enjoyed large followings of the kind that has continued in modern times—followings transcending communal religious boundaries. Despite some questionable appropriations and tactical compromises, Sufism remains the heart of Islam, practising and preaching in the language of love even in these times of terror and violence....

 

The fact that Manal was born to a family on the West coast and that her mother is from North Africa made it more likely for her to be circumcised than for the majority of Saudi women in the rest of the country. Unlike her, I’ve never had a fundamentalist phase. Even as a child I was immune because I was repulsed by the similarities I saw between the self-righteousness and certainty of both Kansas Christians and Riyadh Muslims....

 

Recommended Reading: Explaining Our World Today
Akbar Ahmed

These are not normal times for a Muslim professor on a Western campus. At the beginning of each term, I calculate that students coming to my class have lived just about their entire lives in a post-9/11 environment. There is an Islamophobic atmosphere of controversy and crisis around Islam and widespread outright lies and falsehoods about the religion—“fake news.” Every act of Muslim terror only makes matters worse....

 

Arab TV Series Dramatizes Life under ISIS
Ben Hubbard

A mother travels to Syria to find her son after he ran away to join the Islamic State. A Christian renounces her faith and plots to blow up a church. A black-clad matron tells teenage girls to rest up before they are raped by extremist fighters. These frighteningly familiar stories of life under the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will this month become plotlines on prime-time television across the Arab world.....

 

Modern Politics in Pre-Modern History
Audrey Truschke

Aurangzeb is controversial not so much because of India’s past but rather because of India’s present. Twenty-first-century India is plagued by religious-based conflict, especially between Hindus and Muslims, India’s religious majority and its largest religious minority, respectively. As the minority, Indian Muslim communities are in the weaker position. They are often demonised as anti-national, less Indian than Hindus, and tend to bear the brunt of religious-based clashes in terms of the loss of human life and livelihood.....

The Myth of the Muslim World
Asma Afsaruddin

"The intellectual image of the Deity has never been degraded by any visible idol; the hours of the Prophet have never transgressed the measure of human virtues; and his living precepts have restrained the gratitude of his disciples within the bounds of reason and religion." Such views influenced Edward Gibbon and his largely favourable depiction of Islam in his The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Similar positive assessments of Islam continued to be found through the first quarter of the 19th century;...

 

Fleeing a Fictional World of Despots and Drones
Francine Prose

As the violence escalates, the central characters become hunted fugitives, refugees in their own city. We learn their closely guarded secrets, and we come to share their terror of the probable consequences should those secrets be revealed. We read with increasing anxiety and in the growing hope that these heroic men and women — Christian and Muslim, from a wide range of backgrounds — will somehow triumph....

 

How the Islamic State Rose
Stanly Johny

The ISIS may now be losing territories to Kurdish rebels in Syria and the Iraqi Army in Iraq, both backed by the U.S. But its ideology, like that of al-Qaeda and other jihadist organisations, is unlikely to fade away in the near future given the geopolitical and sectarian fault lines of West Asia. ...

 

Jihad and Death – The Global Appeal of Islamic State

Are the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad responsible for modern Jihadism, or does the terrorists’ ignorance of their religion show that Islam is cover for inner disquiets that make more sense to the psychologist than the imam? Last July’s lorry massacre on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice was committed by an unstable libertine who had only recently discovered Jihadism....

 

The Enemy within – A Thrilling and Satisfying Polemic
Leila Aboulela

Despite all this, she has been subjected to the insult of being perceived as “the enemy within”, and finds herself wondering whether the UK will still be a home for her grandchildren. It is this personal stake that gives her forthright and intelligent book its sense of urgency. By tackling the “Muslim problem” head on...

 
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