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Books and Documents

Books and Documents

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...

 

Reconciling Islam with the Modern World

She first quotes Iqbal (whose suggestion that elected Parliament should be able to complement Ulema’s work and exercise Ijtihad appears shockingly modernist).“The law revealed by the Prophet takes special notice of the habits, ways and peculiarities of the people to whom he is specifically sent. The sharia values [ahkam] are in a sense specific to that people; and since their observance is not an end in itself they cannot be strictly enforced in the case of future generations....

Religion Gone Astray—What We Found at the Heart of Interfaith

Like individuals, religions, when they become institutions, can, as the title of this book says, go ‘astray’, deviating far from their purpose. They do this, the authors say, when, for instance, they are interpreted to promote monopolistic claims to truth, when they are marshalled to foment conflict and engage in violence against people who behave and believe differently and when they are invoked to seek to justify gender injustice. Hence, the authors stress, they ‘need to be called back’—...

The Story of Piro and the Gulabdasis

The main protagonists of this fascinating piece of work are a terribly marginalised Piro—a low-caste Muslim prostitute in nineteenth-century Punjab—and her Guru Gulabdas, a cult-figure and preacher of syncretistic Bhakti variety. The main part of the story revolves around Piro’s struggles over her own life, body and thought in association with Gulabdas, for whom she abandoned her Muslim-ness, amidst violent opposition, and sought a new beginning in the devotional milieu at the Dera of the Guru....

 

Guru Nanak’s Devotion to God and His Message of Social Equality

About his mission to unite people who claimed to follow different faiths in common devotion to the One God, because of which many Hindus and Muslims came to accept him as a true man of God. About his teachings about the meaninglessness of narrowly-inscribed religious labels and identities that hinder one from realizing God.  About his critique of supremacism, bigotry, exclusivism, communalism, priest craft, caste and caste-based discrimination and superstition in the name of religion. About his insistence that mere rituals or belief in dogmas are utterly insufficient for salvation.....

 

Non-Violence and Peace-Building in Islam

Hardly a day passes without the media reporting some violent barbarity somewhere in the world being committed in the name of Islam. Today, there is an urgent need for popularising an alternate understanding of Islam, one rooted in a commitment to peace, nonviolence and inter-community harmony. Peace and prosperity for all peoples, not just Muslims alone, crucially depends on this....

Pained at the horrific conditions of many Muslim societies today, that are characterized by patriarchy, intolerance, violence and oppression, Sardar insists that the root cause for their malaise is what has come to be seen as ‘Islamic orthodoxy’ (in its Sunni as well as Shia versions). Hence, the only solution lies in replacing this with an alternate understanding of Islam, one drawing on the tradition of Muslims like the Mutazilites, who placed a premium on reason in their understanding of Islam, and the Sufis, for whom love was the pivot.....

 

Social and Political Issues Facing Muslims Living in the West

He also sees value in Western secularism, explaining that “Muslim Westerners have understood that when secularism and religious neutrality are not instrumentalised by ideologues or intellectuals or political trends opposed to any presence of religion, they guarantee religious pluralism in Western societies and protect their legitimate rights.”...

 
A Call for Spiritual Renewal
K. Suhela, New Age Islam

A Call for Spiritual Renewal

It’s hard for us even to be civilized in the parking lot of a Masjid, for God’s sake. The only time we are organized is when we have to be organized in Sufuf (rows), when Salah is called, but outside of that—forget about it! Just basic human decency, basic human decency, we don’t possess. We don’t possess it. What have we done? What have we produced as a people? How have we contributed to the world? The only time we make it to the news is when we blow something up or we are in some chaos or another....

 

Falsity of the Thesis ‘Clash of Civilizations’ That Insists, Muslims and Others Simply Cannot Live Together In Peace and Harmony

She appreciates his “cultural scope”, that “spans continents”, and suggests that his “near-seamless transition from a village prodigy to a global scholar” is a “stunning example of Muslim cosmopolitanism”. She refers to Nadwi’s kindness, reserve, politeness and patience, and his open-mindedness and respect for differences while being deeply-rooted in his faith....

The Surprising Role of Jesus in Islam

Is that too big a leap in both time and theology? Maybe not. Akyol frames it this way: “The three great Abrahamic religions of our battered world, despite all the past and present tensions between them, come together” in the story of Jesus. “Whether we are Jews, Christians or Muslims, we share either a faith followed by him, or a faith built on him, or a faith that venerates him.”....

“Vedanta views different religions as so many ways to the same goal. Vedanta does not antagonize any religion. Vedanta takes the position that the same God can be viewed by individual minds in different ways. There are sure to be various conceptions of God. The human mind can conceive of God according to its capacity. The Hindus may conceive of God in one way. Mohammedans in another way, the Christians in another way, the Jews another way. Each of these conceptions can lead the spiritual aspirant to the ultimate goal....

Muslim Non-violence and the Future of Islam

He stressed teachings of nonviolence and forgiveness in the Quran and the traditions from the Prophet and the Imams. Al-Shirazi argued that the “just as the soul is stronger than the body, so too is nonviolence, since it is the weapon of the soul, and so it is more powerful than the weapon of the body, which is made of matter.” He highlighted cases of early Muslims who personified nonviolent resistance to oppression....

Erdogan 'The Chief'
Mustafa Akyol

Erdogan 'The Chief'
Mustafa Akyol

Many of the other emotion-laden scenes — such as Erdogan’s brief imprisonment in 1998 by another secularist, military regime — emphasize the same basic message: The good, religious, modest people of Anatolia defeated a brutal, vicious, secular establishment in Turkey thanks to Erdogan — the bold, brave, unyielding “Chief.” Erdogan’s exceptional personality is of course highlighted: He is afraid of no threat, including death, which he sees as “coming together with God.” ....

 
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