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Books and Documents

Islamic History

From Bulleh Shah and Shah Hussain to Amir Khusro, same-sex references abound in Islamic poetry
Haroon Khalid

Bulleh Shah of course had pre-modern notions of sexuality and religion. For him the rigid categories between religion, gender and sexuality did not exist. For example in the following verses he has no scruples in incorporating a Hindu deity into his Muslim ethos, blurring the distinction between Muslim and Hindu concept of God.

 

It is High Time to Discard the Pernicious Myth of India’s Medieval Muslim ‘Villains’
Audrey Truschke

It is high time we discarded the pernicious myth of India’s medieval Muslim villains. This poisonous notion imperils the tolerant foundations of modern India by erroneously positing religious-based conflict and Islamic extremism as constant features of life on the subcontinent. Moreover, it is simply bad history. India has a complicated and messy past,...

The ‘crown jewels’ have been handed to a country with one of the worst human rights records in the world. Saudi Arabia will head a Consultative Group of five Ambassadors empowered to select applicants globally for more than seventy-seven positions to deal with human rights violations and mandates.

 

The Future of Ancient Sites in the Middle East
George Richards

As a necessarily speculative case-study, ISIL's stated policy not to destroy Palmyra - the spectacularly preserved Roman oasis-town in eastern Syria that it captured in May - may be driven by a reluctance to alienate the local population in one of the most strategically important Syrian cities under ­­ISIL control. ...

 

From Defeat to Disintegration: Reflections on 1967 and Afterwards
Hisham Melhem

Not only the Arab secularists and leftists saw the 1967 as more than a military debacle, but something that reflects deeper cultural and even moral maladies, this was also the view of some of the Islamist critics, who agreed with the leftists that the defeat was an indictment of Arab nationalism in both of its incarnations, Ba’athisim in Syria and Nasserism in Egypt. It was in the aftermath of 1967, that the Islamists, who were suppressed in Egypt and Syria during the heydays of Arab nationalism....

 

The Empire Must Not Strike Back
Khaled Diab

When it comes to the Middle East, nostalgia politics is in vogue. While ISIL is busy "restoring" an a-historical caliphate, others are pining for the apparently lost innocence of empire. The Tanzimat of the mid-19th century, among other things, created a common citizenship, erased ethnic and religious inequality and even decriminalised homosexuality, though they marked the beginning of more direct rule....

 

Art, History and Artefact
Rafia Zakaria

Over half a century after its culmination, however, its ideas are being replicated in equally grotesque ways. Whether it is the Taliban in Bamiyan or Daesh in Palmyra, the wilful destruction of history has become a stunted and self-destructive form of anti-colonial resistance....

 

Islamist terror groups in West Asia have not only destablised entire nations but have also threatened to snap mankind's civilisational linkages with its ancient past. Not satisfied with having laid waste to modern-day Iraq and Syria, the savages of the Islamic State are steadily obliterating the historical remnants of the ancient empires of Mesopotamia, Rome and Greece — one museum, statue, temple and tomb at a time.

 

The big question, of course, is why the antipathy between Sufis and Salafis is becoming a civil war in Islam. Indeed, the war itself is fairly one-sided, as the other side is the victim of the attack and has no strategy for a concerted counter-attack. But without romanticising either Sufism — any ‘ism’ is problematic — or the “good Muslim”, we only have to peruse early Sufi medieval texts to see how Sufi philosophies provide major sources of resistance to Salafist and other exclusionary ideologies....

 

Any Destruction of Humanity’s Shared History is ‘Not Just a War Crime But ... An Enormous Loss to Humanity’
Hajrah Mumtaz

Palmyra is a Unesco World Heritage site, dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries. Considered one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world, it is also called the Venice of the Sands. Unesco’s director-general Irina Bokova says that any destruction in Palmyra would be “not just a war crime but ... an enormous loss to humanity”....

 

Why the Ancient City of Palmyra, Seized by the Islamic State, Matters
Ishaan Tharoor

Palmyra, which is located in the center of Syria, was an old oasis town that turned into an influential desert crossroads for around the first century A.D., at a time of significant Roman influence in the Near East. Its architecture and artifacts reflect its place as a meeting point between civilizations and cultures….

 
Sir Syed’s legacy
Muhammad Ali Musofer

Sir Syed’s legacy

To highlight the importance of rational thinking, Syed Ahmad Khan wrote extensively in Urdu and his exegesis of the Holy Quran is viewed as one of the prominent examples of rational interpretation of scripture in the modern age. To align Muslim religious thought and scientific knowledge, Sir Syed asserted that scientific knowledge did not contradict religion….

How Damascus Can Learn From the ‘Conquest of Kabul’
Jamal Khashoggi

The Mujahidin leaders gathered in Rawalpindi surrounded by hundreds of Afghans, from judges and politicians to field commanders, to merchants and immigrants in the biggest “loya Jirga” seen in the history of Afghanistan, all of them dreaming of building a new Afghanistan founded on Islam and freedom....

 

The Quran narrates the story of the meeting between King Solomon and Queen of Sheba, a sun-worshipper and the latter embracing Islam after some observations she made in the palace and gave her own succinct explanation for leaving sun-worship and embracing Islam. The story has a deeper meaning which till now has generally been ignored. ... It drives home the message that belief in non-gods or false gods is due to a lack of understanding of the reality of universe and nature and science only helps lift the curtain from this illusion of falsehood and enlightens the mind….

The Crisis of National and Religious Identity in Afghanistan Today
Amanullah, King of Afghanistan,1919 - 1929

Arabic Muslims completed the campaign they began in 642 to dominate the lands that make up present day Afghanistan. During the next five centuries, most Afghanis converted to Islam. Afghani Muslims have made major contributions to Shariah, theology, Sufism, philosophy, physical sciences, literature, and art with local features....

Freedom at Risk
Irfan Husain

Freedom at Risk
Irfan Husain

One of the abiding myths of the last half of the 20th century was that democracy, combined with free trade, would lead to liberal societies and peace between nations. Welcome, then, to the bloody new world of resurgent nationalism and religious extremism. Once suppressed by autocratic rulers allied to either of the two superpowers, these forces are now threatening to tear the world apart....

 

Challenges for the Muslim Ummah
S M Hali

The parliamentary leaders of Pakistan for once have seen through the stratagem of involving the military might of the Muslim Ummah in a protracted war, which would weaken them and cause substantive damage….

 

Out of the ‘Kingdom of Sands' came to life Frankenstein breeding monsters that behead, crucify and even eat human organs. Four years ago, extremists of the so-called "Islamic State" that are well-nursed with Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi thought started to sweep across the region beginning their blowout in Syria, with Saudi Arabia being its major source of financing and backing....

 

Yarmouk Cries for Help
Harun Yahya

In an unexpected twist of events, and to make matters even worse, the self-ascribed Islamic State (IS) seized 90 percent of this area and started its own campaign of violence as a manifestation of their skewed interpretation of Islam. The UN has urged immediate evacuation and according to the latest news, some 2,000 had already been evacuated....

 

Islamic State Descends from Wahhabism
H.D.S. Greenway

The Wahhabis profess a life of exceeding austerity, and what they practice themselves they rigorously enforce on others,” he said. “They hold it as an article of duty, as well as faith, to kill all who do not share their opinion and to make slaves of their wives and children. Women have been put to death in Wahhabi villages for simply appearing in the streets....

One of the most notable (and successful) of these rebellions was the Bahia Revolt, which took place in 1835 in Brazil. This revolt, unlike some others, was planned and led entirely by Muslims. The story of how they were able to plan a revolt in such horrid conditions and have such a large impact is remarkable. The most interesting and defining factor of the revolt was its Islamic character....

 

A New Great Game in West Asia?
Afrasiab Khattak

The region attained significance for not only being the centre of three major religions of the world – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – but also because of the discovery of the largest reserves of oil and gas. The creation of an ever-expanding Israel in 1948 by the major western powers jolted the region but west Asia largely maintained its post-colonial structures....

 
Islam: A Moderate Movement by Design
Imam Mika’il Stewart Saadiq

If anyone were to objectively study Islam they would see a perfected design that transcends time, continent, and ethnicity. And when I say, “…objectively study Islam…”, I mean to study and analyze the Glorious Qur’an and the way the Prophet Muhammad lived as a model human before his receiving revelation and then being the Vessel of the Qur’an afterward....

 

Turkey’s Erratic Genocide Jurisprudence
Burak Bekdil

That set a new Turkish jurisprudence on the genocide dispute. Between 2001 and 2012, Turkey moved from threatening countries whose legislatures could recognize the genocide to living happily ever after with such countries as long as their denial laws do not take effect....

 

Islam Bulldozes the Past
Daniel Pipes

While the seizure and appropriation of other monuments began at the very inception of Islam (i.e., the Kaaba), the destruction that has reached orgiastic heights with ISIS is something new; note that nearly all the examples listed here date from the twenty-first century. Turned around, those recently-destroyed antiquities survived so long because Muslims had left them alone. In this regard, things are far worse these days than ever before – not a surprise, as Islam is in its worst shape ever. All other major religions have moved beyond such crudely violent impulses whose motive is unacceptable and whose results are tragic....

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