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Books and Documents

Islamic Personalities

Mir Taqi Mir: The Romancer of Delhi
Mir Taqi Mir
Mir Taqi Mir: The Romancer of Delhi
Saif Mahmood

As Delhi fights an ongoing battle with hatred, it is apt that we celebrate the birth of its greatest romancer, the presiding deity of Urdu poetry, Khuda-e-Sukhan (God of poetry), Mir Taqi Mir who was born in Agra (then ‘Akbarabad’) in this very month in 1722....

 

Terror and violence have become central to contemporary political discussion on Islam, as is the case with narratives of medieval Islamic conquests. By contrast, visits to Sufi Dargahs or tombs offer different kinds of experiences—spiritual, devotional and peaceful. Medieval Sufi discourses preach the same, emphasising the need for tolerance and forgiveness. Some anecdotes relating to one of the foremost Sufi masters, Nizamuddin Auliya, indicate how it was possible to lead a life full of love even amidst all kinds of violations....

 

After a four month long siege, Delhi fell to the British on September 14, 1857 and Baqar (1790-1857) was the first journalist to have fallen to the imperialistic designs of the British on September 16, 1857. He was a religious scholar who was well versed in Persian, Arabic, Urdu and English. He had received religious education from his father Maulana Muhammed Akbar (who was an eminent Alim) and secular education in Delhi College, which he joined in 1825. Later he became a Persian language teacher at Delhi College....

The Belcha also had a special religious significance for Muslims. The Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) had used the tool in trying situations (for example, the Battle of Trench). Taking inspiration from the Prophet, Mashriqi used the Belcha as a symbol for awakening the nation from its slumber to rise up against British rule....

 

The Pan-Islamic alternative managed to elicit a popular response from a new generation of urban bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie. Its proliferation was also bankrolled by oil-rich Arab monarchies which had always conceived modernist Muslim nationalism as an opponent.....

“Allah is the Qibla (direction of Muslim prayer) of intention, intention is the Qibla of the heart, the heart is the Qibla of the body, the body is the Qibla of the limbs and the limbs are the Qibla of the world.”...

 
“Dialogue-Plus” with Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
“Dialogue-Plus” with Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Sophia Schäfer

By understanding the spiritual character of things, we see things and people who are with us as gifts from God. God nourishes us, makes our environment and life beautiful, gives us love and wisdom, which we cannot produce out of ourselves. ...

 

The words inscribed above the giant entrance sets the tone for the world inside: ‘Kaumi Ekta Dwar’. The portal of harmony bears testimony to the vision of the Haji who preached ‘Jo Rab Hai Wahi Ram Hai’. They do not ask your religion...

 

His journey – from Nobel Prize nominee to founder of India’s largest private army to liberating the country from foreign rule and offering prescient warnings about the dangers of partition – provides a riveting narrative...

One of the fervent advocates of nationalism, secularism, religious diversity and dialogue, among the Indian ulema and Islamic thinkers, was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. This celebrated freedom-fighter and the first education minister of independent India was also an Islamic mystic or Sufi in his thought and practice.  … In Tarjuman al-Quran, for instance, Maulana Azad writes in his explanation of the famous Qur’anic verses 45:27-29: “Despite the theological positions diametrically different from Islam, the Qur'an does suggest that there is hope for the salvation of Jews and Christians on the Last Day. Distinct communities will be judged according to "their own book" [Qur'an 45:27-29] and: "Those who believe [in the Qur'an], and those who follow the Jewish, and the Christians, and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve" (Qur'an 2:62).

 
Ali and the Illusion of Immortality
Nirmal Shekar
Ali and the Illusion of Immortality
Nirmal Shekar

From the poverty-stricken villages of sub-Saharan Africa to the glitzy tree-lined avenues of Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, from the over-crowded, narrow, cobbled lanes of Kolkata to the steamy sweat-stained inner-city gyms in Chicago, Manhattan and London, Muhammad Ali is a name that is instantly recognised.....

 
Life Lessons from Muhammad Ali
Saif Shahin
Life Lessons from Muhammad Ali
Saif Shahin

What does Ali’s life mean for Muslims? This is a difficult question to answer — not least because there are so many kinds of Muslims, in the U.S. and around the world, and they may all interpret his life differently. And yet, to the extent that they do identify with Ali as a Muslim, and a Muslim by choice rather than accident of birth....

America must never forget that when a cop and an inner-city kid talk to each other, then miracles can happen. Some years ago during his long struggle with Parkinson’s in a meeting that included his closest advisers, Muhammad indicated that when the end came for him, he wanted us to use his life and his death as a teaching moment for young people, for his country and for the world..... Muhammad wants young people of every background to see his life as proof that adversity can make you stronger. It cannot rob you of the power to dream and to reach your dreams....

 

This film would be a perfect opportunity to re-centre Rumi as the Muslim poet that he was. To the average westerner, Rumi is an abstract, the orientalist ideal of non-European poetry. For those in the West who are familiar with his work, most are probably not aware of the profound influence that Islam had on his writing and his teachings. There truly is no way to divorce the historical person of Rumi from his Islamic grounding.....

Dr. Abdus Salaam: Islam and Value of Education in Pakistan
Asif Merchant, New Age Islam
Dr. Abdus Salaam: Islam and Value of Education in Pakistan
Asif Merchant, New Age Islam

Dr. Salaam is the only Nobel Laureate in Physics from Pakistan. That he had to leave his country and stay in exile indicates the value placed by the Pakistanis on education. The emphasis placed on education in the Quran, the Holy Prophet’s own exhortation to go to the ends of the earth in the pursuit of knowledge, have all come to naught before the sort of religious values the current lot of Pakistanis are learning….

Akbar Was Truly Great, Pratap Only A Great Warrior
Manimugdha S Sharma
Akbar Was Truly Great, Pratap Only A Great Warrior
Manimugdha S Sharma

As Man Singh left in utter humiliation, Pratap and his courtiers deemed the ground on which the feast was spread impure. The ground was broken up and “purified” with Ganges water. Then everyone bathed and discarded their clothes as they had been “polluted by Man Singh’s presence”. The above incident shows that Pratap was a man who swore by the narrow social codes of his time, unlike Akbar who established new norms and rose above the narrow definitions of faith, caste and creed. ..

 
Allama Iqbal: Poet of the East
Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal
Allama Iqbal: Poet of the East
Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi

While a child, Iqbal was reading the Holy Qur’an, and at that time his father asked him: What are you doing? His reply was that he was reading the Holy Qur’an. His father kept asking the same question on several similar occasions for about three years. Then, Iqbal asked his father what prompted him to ask the same question? The father replied. “I wanted to explain to you about this. You should read the Holy Qur’an as if you were listening to it from Almighty Allah.” From that time, Iqbal started learning the holy book with deep understanding and reflections of its meaning and implications....  

 
Birth of a Mystic, Maula-i-Rum
Rumi, Maula-i-Rum
Birth of a Mystic, Maula-i-Rum
Ahmad Raza

Rumi prescribed ‘Love’ as the panacea for social suffering and moral infirmities of his times. Love has the capacity to transcend boundaries and territories. It has no Achilles’ heel. It can cure the incurable hearts and minds. The moral diseases of self-conceit and pride can be cured by love only. Love can also heal status and power-hungry egos.....

 
Shah Farhad: The Master of Jinns
Sadia Dehlvi
Shah Farhad: The Master of Jinns
Sadia Dehlvi

“You desire that your son stands with folded hands in front of kings, but Allah desires that kings should stand with folded hands in front of your son.” The father resigned himself to God’s will and entrusted the child to the mystic. Hazrat Dost Muhammad initiated Shah Farhad in the Abul Ulai order, an offshoot of the Chishti and Naqshbandi orders....

 
Hasan al-Turabi and Contemporary Islam
Dr. Hasan al-Turabi
Hasan al-Turabi and Contemporary Islam
John Voll

The starting point for Turabi’s conceptual activism is his belief in the necessity of renewal of faith and thought (Tajdeed). His early writings on the necessity of renewal, as in his Tajdid al-Fikr al-Islami (“Renewal of Islamic Thought”), argued that historic change is inevitable in human societies. As a result, humans are required constantly to renew their faith and religious institutions in order to be able to be truly Muslim in constantly changing contexts. This emphasis on renewal was part of the broad Islamic modernism that rejected insistence on following precedents (Taqlid)....

The great woman mystic, saint and Qalandar of Islam had overcome herself (Nafs) through devotion, meditation, contemplation, patience as well as trust in God (Tawakkul). Rabia was constantly absorbed in the thought of God and had reached the pinnacle of mystic path --Fina-Fillah. More interesting than her asceticism, however, is the actual concept of Divine love that Hazrat Rabia reaffirmed. She was the first to introduce the idea that God should be loved for God’s own sake, not out of fear.....

 

He said following the Prophet was loving Allah, the most forgiving and merciful. He said one of the titles of the Prophet was Habibullah, the beloved of God. He said in Rumi the love of the Prophet was a large concept. He gave many examples in which Rumi had praised the Prophet using beautiful metaphors, one of which was the incomparable pearl. He said according to Rumi, we had idols in our hearts; if we loved the Prophet, we would be able to free our hearts of all the idols.....

The Prophet Mohammed’s Military Genius
Mohamed Elmenshawy
The Prophet Mohammed’s Military Genius
Mohamed Elmenshawy

And thus, he was able to create the first regular Arab army based on faith with an integrated ideological doctrine, namely “Islam.” He was the first to introduce and use such concepts as “holy war,” “jihad,” and “martyrdom” for religion. The Christian world borrowed the “negative” concept of holy war from Muslims and used it later to launch the Crusades against Muslims themselves.....

Of an angel were to descend from the heavens and proclaim from the heights of Qutub Minar: Discard Hindu-Muslim unity and within 24 hours Swaraj is yours, I will refuse the preferred Swaraj but shall not budge an inch from my stand. The refusal of Swaraj will affect only India while the end of our unity will be the loss of our entire human world”.,,,,

 
Prophet Joseph: A Prophet against Odds
Sadia Dehlvi
Prophet Joseph: A Prophet against Odds
Sadia Dehlvi

My favourite story in the Quran is the most detailed one, that of Prophet Joseph. I particularly read it when I feel low. It’s a story about love, wealth, family, betrayal, tribulations, hope, failure, strategy, success and, above all, complete trust in God.....

 
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