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Books and Documents

Islamic Culture

Women, Urdu and Bollywood
Aijaz Zaka Syed
Women, Urdu and Bollywood
Aijaz Zaka Syed

It’s not possible to disagree with the argument that if Indian Muslims are at the bottom of the heap in many ways, their women are at the bottom of this bottom. I could understand why my friend was appalled though. The expression employed was crude even if candid.  The Progressive Writers’ Movement, to which Kaifi belonged, tended to use such strong language to shock and awaken the sleepy social conscience…..

 
Pahela Baishakh: Beyond Kurtas and Saris
Afsan Chowdhury
Pahela Baishakh: Beyond Kurtas and Saris
Afsan Chowdhury

Baishakhi is a festival of harvesting and commercial year launching. It has been in Bengal and in many parts of India since the time of Akbar the Mughal during whose rule the revenue system was reorganised. It’s the time of renewal, promises and inclusion of all in a socio-economic system. It’s therefore a festival without religious overtones….

 

It could be argued that these fine Islamic arts are more advantaged nowadays in Turkey, blossoming along with the recent spiritual revival in the country. Anyone visiting or living in Turkey nowadays is certain to encounter the different genres of these fine arts of Islam. This is clear from many examples of Turkish architecture in the form of mosques and former palaces, great poetry….

 

When reading or hearing about Sufi music, one immediately imagines a “spiritual session” during which Mouwashshas (a form of classical Arabic poem) are sung, as Sufi music in Iraq is linked to the Kasnazani order — known for their performances involving “whirling dervishes” — in addition to the Qadiri order. During their evening performances and religious occasions, Sufis usually recite poems and beat drums to create rhythm. ....

 
Shah Abdul Latif:  The Voice of Love
Sadia Dehlvi
Shah Abdul Latif: The Voice of Love
Sadia Dehlvi

The young poet fell in love with the daughter of Mirza Mughal Beg, a proud scion of the Afghan rulers. Although Shah’s family happened to draw their lineage from the family of Prophet Muhammad, there was a difference in the social status of the families. The ruling family was aristocratic, while the Shahs came from a family of mystics. In 1713, robbers assassinated Mughal Beg and decamped with all his riches. Reduced to poverty, the Mirza family eventually agreed to give their daughter in marriage to Shah, who had by then gained fame as a poet…..

 

Aziz Mian was the wild man of Pakistani Quawwali. Long-haired, almost always sloshed on his favourite brand of whisky, and punctuating his Quawwalis with sudden spoken-word interludes that he would shout out as if he was having an argument with God and the conservative clergy. Though the Sabri Brothers too came from the same Sufi-music background as Aziz Mian, they were more subdued and harmonious in their approach towards their music.....

 
Dhaka: The Enduring City
Milia Ali
Dhaka: The Enduring City
Milia Ali

Beneath Dhaka's unattractive façade lies a compassionate soul. The city and its people have a great ability to accept and adapt. From a quaint town of the '70s it has transformed into a bustling city -- reinventing itself to accommodate the rapid changes. But, despite all its urbanisation Dhaka still retains touches of its rustic self… The other day I was shopping in Gulshan 2. A hawker sitting with his basket of Dhaka cheese offered me a big chunk. When I told him I had no cash left on me he said: “Aapa, please take it, you can pay me tomorrow....

 

Iran has already tried to block Western music and movies and social media. But they cannot block them successfully. These technological influences are even more powerful and more effective and corrosive than the invasion of Western fast food. No radar system and no Internet block and no diet can possibly protect Iran from the real secret weapons of the West. It just won’t work. Freedom cannot be blocked. Here’s to a year free of fear and filled with freedom.....

 
There Is No Single Islamic Culture
Mohamad Jebra
There Is No Single Islamic Culture
Mohamad Jebra

What most converts to Islam seem to miss is that Islam is a spiritual and religious system, it is not an alternative to one’s cultural and national identity. In fact, wherever you go in the world you will find a unique and harmonious merging of Islamic and local values. Sub-Saharan Africa has a unique Islamic culture, which greatly differs from Chinese Muslim culture, which, likewise, greatly varies from Balkan Islamic culture…..

The ‘Evil’ In Our Textbooks
Madiha Afzal
The ‘Evil’ In Our Textbooks
Madiha Afzal

Our penchant for conspiracy theories also falls into place. We are taught that Muslims were victimised before Partition. The British conspired with the Hindus and the Congress to do so. One of the reasons given for “the fall of East Pakistan” is “international conspiracies”, with players as diverse as Russia, India and America conspiring against us. Little wonder, then, that we have an unhealthy sense of national paranoia….

 

The shrine culture, pertaining to the devotional, recreational, and economic activity around the shrines of ancient Muslim saints, had been around in the subcontinent for almost a thousand years. The saints’ Islam was more accommodating than dogmatic, and a largely permissive culture of ecstatic devotional music, innovative rituals and indigenous intoxicants started to take shape around the shrines, mostly involving poor farmers, the dispossessed, (and later,) the urban lumpen proletariat....

 
My Name Is Pakistan and I’m Not an Arab
Nadeem F. Paracha
My Name Is Pakistan and I’m Not an Arab
Nadeem F. Paracha

The point is, instead of assimilating the finer points of the diverse religious and ethnic cultures that our history is made of and synthesise them to form a more convincing and grounded nationalism and cultural identity, we have decided to reject our diverse and pluralistic past and instead adopt cultural dimensions of a people who, ironically, still consider non-Arabs like Pakistanis as second-class Muslims....

 
Religion and Rituals
Dilnawaz Qamar

Practices of rites and rituals without changing lives confine the religion to the precincts of a mosque, a church, a temple or holy place. Religion is practical that changes one inside out, not only a set of actions performed daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. It is our choice to become either an ignorant dummy or one seeking the will of God....

 
The Truth behind ‘Arabisation’ Of Pakistani Culture
Aasim Sajjad Akhtar
The Truth behind ‘Arabisation’ Of Pakistani Culture
Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

‘Arabisation’ not only flies in the face of the more liberal and fluid cultural practices that have prevailed in this region since antiquity, but also more damningly is the primary impetus behind the militant Jihadi upsurge. I largely agree with this perspective, although such general hypotheses necessarily oversimplify social reality....

Timbuktu Libraries in Exile
Community – Seattle, Washington, United States

In 2012, under threat from fundamentalist rebels, a team of archivists, librarians, and couriers evacuated an irreplaceable trove of manuscripts from Timbuktu at great personal risk. The manuscripts have been saved from immediate destruction, but the danger is not over. A massive archival effort is needed to protect this immense global heritage from loss....

 
The Islamisation of a Culture
Rana Allam
The Islamisation of a Culture
Rana Allam

I do not want to imagine what kind of culture this minister will enforce in our cinemas, books, music, arts and cultural centres! These, along with their censorship committee, are under the leadership of the Islamist Alaa Abdel Aziz. But will they be able to censor Egyptian youth?...

 
Connecting Minds — Creating the Future
Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Connecting Minds — Creating the Future
Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

More than 1,200 years ago, while Europe was in its Dark Ages, the Muslim world was ruled by a dynasty of Islamic leaders who embraced free thought and creativity from all corners of the globe. Never before had history witnessed such cultural openness and symbiosis as during the reign of the Abbasid Caliphs. They built the world’s first university, named it Bayt Al Hikma (House of Wisdom) and filled its library with the finest cultural, scientific and literary creations known to mankind....

 

Muslim women do need liberating — not from Islam — from their indigenous cultural practices, often conflated with Islam. Muslims must not be reticent; they need to bear the responsibility for the liberation of Muslim women and ensure that they are not deprived of the rights granted to them by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) more than 1,400 years ago....

Child Marriage in Islam: A Myth?
Dr Wan Azhar Wan Ahmad

In Islam, this is the true position of a girl achieving puberty or the age of proper understanding when it comes to marriage. The religion basically prescribes that a child ceases to be a minor upon her first menstruation, regardless of age. Once approached with a marriage proposal, she has the option to accept or reject it. Her consent is a necessary prerequisite for a valid marital contract. Her guardian enjoys no liberty to force her to accept any proposal if she is unwilling....

At least, this was the case until the new religious leaders decided to redefine what Egypt's national culture is. The political victory of the Salafist movements and the Muslim Brotherhood after the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak reawakened the Salafists' desire for a cultural revolution that would match their views. The question of whether dance - and ballet, in particular - is permissible from a religious perspective is not a new issue....

 
Filmistan: Here and There
Waseem Altaf
Filmistan: Here and There
Waseem Altaf

Indian films are screened in more than 90 countries of the world whereas Pakistani films have almost no access to international market. While there are dozens of cinema houses in Delhi, Islamabad is the only capital city in the world where there is not even one single cinema hall. At present most of our film studios are in ruins and a sizable number of cinema houses lay demolished. Today Indian films are tough contenders for International film awards and.....

They scorched the stages of Algeria and Tunis, in Casablanca and Baghdad, and also in Berlin and Paris. With bobbed hair − a daring style for the time − a thin cigarette in a holder between their fingers, they were among the leaders of the musical and cultural scene in their countries and even became international stars. They are the great Jewish female musicians and singers who were active in North Africa and the Middle East in the mid-20th century...

 
Ignoring the Stereotypes of Expats, Saudis
Sabria S. Jawhar
Ignoring the Stereotypes of Expats, Saudis
Sabria S. Jawhar

The Saudi pushed aside women to retrieve his bags from the belt, and then demanded loudly that the porter come immediately. For many foreigners, it was probably their first impression of Saudi Arabia as they entered the country. In another instance, my husband recalled waiting to make a transaction at a Western Union office when a Saudi woman entered the office full of expats, grabbed her maid by the hair and pulled her out of line and literally threw her into the car....

 

“We, the students of Dacca University, who initiated the language movement in East Pakistan three years ago (and) who are now more determined than ever to secure for Bangla the status of state language of Pakistan, will take this opportunity, while you are assembled at Karachi, to press once more our legitimate claim . . . We refuse to believe that any language under heaven can be Islamic or Christian or heathen....

In ancient Egypt only high priests and anointed pharaohs were allowed into the temple precincts. The common folk followed their own religious practices, based on what they heard went on behind the temple, inside the temple walls, together with the knowledge that they were allowed or expected to acquire....

 
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