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Books and Documents

Islamic Culture

Such a speaker is like the Quran, which is seven-fold in meaning and in which there is food for the elect and for the vulgar. ....

 

It is as if a religious leader had realised that such figurative images had no place alongside words from the Quran as the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) had decreed when he banned images of humans and animals on religious and official texts. He feared they would be a distraction to prayer. Interestingly, when he took Makkah in 630 AD and founded the Islamic state he destroyed all the idols but kept an image of the Virgin Mary and Jesus because they were not an object of worship....

 

In ancient times, Yemen was home to several flourishing civilisations. At least six kingdoms developed here from the 12th century BC onwards, based in Ma'in, Qataban, Hadramaut, Ausan, Saba and Himyar. The most prominent was the Sabaean kingdom, which lasted for 11 centuries and was one of the most important in the Near East.  Popular legend identifies it with the Queen of Sheba, and the kingdom of Saba is mentioned in the Quran....

 

With the Aqsa compound only a few hundred metres away, there were needy Palestinian elderly, women and children, after every other footstep just sitting alongside the wall. My advice for those who are preparing their trip to Palestine is to collect Sadaqah from your family and friends with the sole intention of giving it to the Palestinians. Unfortunately, we fail to realise the disparity between our lavish lifestyles in the west in comparison to others....

 

Islam calls for intellectual freedom and breaks any restrictions that stand in its way. So arts must go out to the horizons of freedom so that an artist will be able to perform with greater creativity. When will we have institutes and colleges that teach fine arts? And when will we teach music at public schools? These are two ways for arts to get out of its cage in our society....

 

Commissioned by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj once had a pearly white exterior. This has changed, in part if not in whole, to various shades of yellow, brownish-black and green. India’s Supreme Court, which has previously offered opinions about the ownership of the Taj and who can pray there, has now ordered the government of Uttar Pradesh to “shut down the Taj or demolish it or...restore it”. ....

In ancient times, it was more than a cultural and trade fair, serving as a point of social and political gatherings for the people of the region. The ancient souk was also a cultural platform where Shaikhs met their tribes, initiated agreements and exchanged prisoners. It provided opportunities for reconciliation, declaration of alliances and ending of hostilities....

 

While Areeny holds the cultural meetings in historical places, writer Yousri al-Ghoul has chosen to hold his own cultural salon at a cafe in southern Gaza City. Writers, poets and artists gather there as music plays in the background. The scene brings back memories of cultural salons in the 1960s in the Arab world and Palestine, which encouraged liberation movements to organize against the colonization at the time....

 

The Gaza Strip, with an area of some 140 square miles, is something of an archaeological gem, with more than 15 archaeological sites, 20 ancient mosques and three ancient churches. Yet much of this is crumbling due to government neglect. Zraiee says he wants to exploit social media to create awareness and encourage visits to what remains of Gaza's heritage....

 

Until the end of 1979, the Saudi television aired songs for the Star of the East Umm Kulthoum and other singers like Fayza Ahmad, Samira Toufic, Najat al-Saghira and Farid al-Atrach. It also aired Samira Saeed’s songs when she first started singing during concerts in the 1970’s and when she appeared wearing the Moroccan outfit. This is in addition to the airing of songs for Saudi folk bands and Saudi female singers like Toha and Ibtisam Lutfi…

 

Josh’s clear-headed, secular thinking was not shared by most Indians, Muslim or Hindu. Religious reasons competed with secular ones for fighting the British. The “Sepoy Mutiny” of 1857 was triggered when the British introduced new rifle cartridges rumoured to be greased with oil made from the fat of animals. The fat of cows was taboo to Hindus while Muslims protested the pig fat. Although Muslims had suffered more than Hindus, they tended to oppose the British for religious reasons more than Hindus....

 

For Josh as a libertarian, what one eats, drinks, wears, or does in private is a matter of personal freedom and not for any state or society to decide or regulate. This is opposite to how our world actually works: heinous crimes frequently go unpunished but an individual may be pillorized, publicly humiliated, and stripped of dignity for actions that have harmed no other....

 

The Hui Muslims came from this lineage, a unification of Arabia and China to form this unique position of authentic Chinese culture, infused with the Islamic tradition, the likes of which can still be seen to this day in various parts of the country, though mostly concentrated in the north-western parts of China. The practise of martial arts still takes place in various Masajid (mosques) around the country, with Islamic sciences being taught at the same time...

The women and men celebrating Valentine’s Day tend to blur its origins, insisting on the universality and beauty of love. None of my interviewees evoked religion as linked to the holiday, either positively or negatively. “If a holiday is beautiful, it doesn’t matter to me if it is of Indian, Chinese, or Western origin,” stated a woman wearing a headscarf in her forties from a rich southern Cairo family....

 

Today, what I call “love modernism,” the linking of love marriage with imaginations of progress,[iii] is still a living ideal in Egypt. Egalitarian ideals, however, are no longer part of state ideology. Two wars and four decades of economic reform dislocated the remains of Nasserite socialism. Consequently, economic constraints often jeopardize marriage plans.

In the mid-2000s, for instance, Muslim Brotherhood students tried to organize a holiday of love of God (‘id al-Hubb fi Allah) and later a Muhammad Day [xxvi] on 14 February....

 

But there is one major, if not widely heralded, Obama Administration achievement which relates to Syria and the Middle East that has not gained much public recognition but for which the Obama Administration deserves great credit. That subject is Obama’s leadership and achievements, working with a divided Congress, in taking new and concrete measures with respect to Protecting and Preserving Syria’s Endangered Heritage which we all share as our common cradle of Civilization....

 
What’s Missing in the Teaching of Islam
Kishwar Rizvi
What’s Missing in the Teaching of Islam
Kishwar Rizvi

Such narrow focus misses out on the cultural exchanges during this period. For example, in medieval Spain, the Troubadour poets borrowed their lyrical beauty from Arabic. Arabic was the courtly language of southern Spain until the 15th century. Similarly, the 12th-century Palatine Chapel in Sicily was painted and gilded in the imperial style of the Fatimids, the rulers of Egypt between the 10th and 12th centuries....

In my first class, on Islam’s holiest site, the Kaaba in Mecca, I couldn’t avoid showing images of the sacred monument overshadowed by towering hotels. Old photographs and verbal descriptions have to stand in for the hundreds of Ottoman and early Islamic sites destroyed by the Saudi government to make way for ambitious commercial ventures....

 
When Muslims Ruled the Civilised World
Hamid Dabashi
When Muslims Ruled the Civilised World
Hamid Dabashi

Generations and centuries have passed since the time Khaqani visited Taq-e Kisra and composed his unforgettable poem. Today those ruins are either viciously destroyed as the ISIL did in Palmyra or else carefully or competently curated in museums like this one....

 

Yazid had declared himself the head of the Islamic caliphate and ordered Imam Hussain to give allegiance to him. Imam Hussain fought with just 72 companions against a huge well-equipped army. After they were martyred, the Prophet’s beloved grandson stood alone, suffering a volley of arrows but fighting bravely till his head was severed from his body, while he prostrated in prayer. Imam Hussain preferred to die, rather than legitimise oppression and injustice in the name of Islam. His sacrifice and courage against the face of evil, is what continues to inspire the Iraqis to fight the ISIS.....

 

For centuries Lahore was the heart of Mughal Hindustan, known to visitors as the City of Gardens. Today it has a greater profusion of treasures from the Mughal period (the peak of which was in the 17th century) than India’s Delhi or Agra, even if Lahore’s are less photographed. The walled old city is anchored at one end by the red sandstone and white marble bulbs of the huge Badshahi mosque, and fixed at the centre by the polychrome mosque....

 
The Ottoman Legacy in Palestine
Aziza Nofal
The Ottoman Legacy in Palestine
Aziza Nofal

According to Riwaq, 50,320 historical buildings were identified in 1994 in Palestine. Bechara said that only a few of those were built before the Ottoman era. This is because Palestine was rebuilt in the last 500 years according to Ottoman architecture based on the existing infrastructure from previous eras. For instance, the architecture in the Old City of Nablus was mostly Byzantine, but the buildings were destroyed due to the 1927 earthquake and rebuilt with an Ottoman character....

 

Drawing the human form from live models was long considered a rite of passage — and an academic requirement — for aspiring artists in the West, but Turkish artists under Ottoman rule had to do so clandestinely, Ms. Antmen said, under threat from the authorities or conservative groups.

 

In a country wary of Islam — the Chinese government has a fractious relationship with its ethnic Uighur minority in the western province of Xinjiang — Ms. Amzah’s popularity, which verges on superstardom, is remarkable. ...

 

The vast majority of the Mali manuscripts are Korans, Hadiths, and studies on grammar and rhetoric. But the scanners capture everything, including those dealing with human rights, health and law. Paper was precious, so rare glimpses of daily life were jotted in the margins, before Europeans ever set eyes on Saharan cities. There they remained for centuries, preserved by the desert’s dryness.

 
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