Books and Documents
Books and Documents

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 55: Gender and the Veil: Part 1
Ziauddin Sardar

It is clear that verse 33:53 takes a general principle we have already considered and applies it to a very particular context: the special status of the Prophet Muhammad within the community, and by extension that of his wives. Obviously, the prophet was a person with whom everybody wished to spend time. But, the meaning of the verse is that even prophets need privacy and time to themselves. The case of the prophet's wives is rather different…..


The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals: 55 - On Mental Purification
Hazrat Inayat Khan

In as much as it is necessary to cleanse and purify the body, so necessary, or perhaps even more necessary, is it that the mind be cleansed and purified. All impurity causes diseases as well as irregularity in the working of the physical system. The same applies to the mind. There are impurities belonging to the mind, which may cause different diseases, and by cleansing the mind one helps to create health both in body and mind. By health I mean the natural condition. And what is spirituality but to be natural?...


Why Islamic Feminism Is Not a Contradiction
Asghar Ali Engineer

Engineer did commendable work in separating the grain from the chaff to advocate the rights of the modern Muslim women lost in the nebulous labyrinth of religious doctrine. His brand of feminism was intertwined with other peoples’ struggle for peace, justice and dignity. For champions of women’s rights as well as world peace his presence and energy will be sorely missed…..

A Lucid Translation of the Quran
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

A Lucid Translation of the Quran
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

The Maulana cites some examples to illustrate this difference between his and that of some other translations. For instance, he points out that the widely-read Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation renders a Quranic verse (2:129) as ‘Our Lord! send amongst them a messenger of their own, who shall rehearse Your signs to them and instruct them in Scripture and wisdom, and sanctify them’, while the Maulana’s rendering, which is in more contemporary language, is as follows: ‘Our Lord, send forth to them a messenger of their own to recite your revelations to them, to teach them the Scripture and wisdom, and purify them.’....

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 54: Homosexuality: Part 2
Ziauddin Sardar

If we read Lot's story (scattered as it is throughout the Qur'an) thematically, Kugle suggests, we discover that it is not so much about homosexuality but a string of gross sexual transgressions, including widespread promiscuity, paedophilia, bestiality, the use of rape as a weapon of intimidation and power, and the sexual denigration and abuse of guests. Lot's lot were exceptionally stingy, greedy, covetous, and wallowed in filth; they robbed travellers, humiliated strangers, and exploited the needy. In7:81, it is not just any men that Lot's people lust after. They lust after male guests in order to humiliate and intimidate them...


Georges Corm on the Conflicts in the Arab World: Forget Religion!
Kersten Knipp

Sunni extremists threaten to torpedo the credibility of the entire opposition to Assad; in Libya, Islamists in Benghazi are fighting government troops in the name of Sharia and al-Qaeda; in Tunisia, an extremist mob harasses all those who think differently; and in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has been driven underground after President Morsi's removal from office, prepared to defend the deposed government to the bitter end....


The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals: On the Law of Renunciation - 54
Hazrat Inayat Khan

'In Him we live, and move, and have our being.' This teaching of the Bible describes the nature of God: that God is the ocean, the waves of which are all its activities, small or great. The Quran says in support of this that not a single atom moves, groups, or scatters without the command of God. Rumi explains it still more plainly: 'Air, earth, water and fire are God's servants; to us they seem lifeless, but to God living.' In those who are conscious of this knowledge, and to the extent of their realization of this truth, there arises the spirit of renunciation which may be called the spirit of God…..

The Jewish Obsession
Fahad Hashmi, New Age Islam

The Jewish Obsession
Fahad Hashmi, New Age Islam

The Semitic religions include Judaism, Christianity and Islam. However, anti-Semitism in common parlance covers a particular attitude towards Jews. History has it that Muslim regimes have relatively been at peace with Jews. Maimonides, a Jewish scholar, was given a high designation in Egypt by Saladin. The expulsion of Muslims from Spain was accompanied with the eviction of Jews from there. It appears a conundrum when people of one Semitic religion construct the other as ‘enemy’ declaring the other an evil and a monster....


The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals: On Values for Living – 53
Hazrat Inayat Khan

The best way of working in all ways of life, at home or outside, is noiseless working, a thing which is so little thought of by many and which is so necessary in creating order, harmony, and peace in life. Very often a person does little and speaks much about it. In doing every little thing he makes a noise, and thereby very often, instead of finishing something successfully, he attracts difficulties….


Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 53: Homosexuality: Part 1
Ziauddin Sardar

I have also argued that individual verses of the Qur'an should not be lifted and interpreted on their own as "absolute truths" but seen in connection with other verses of the Qur'an, elsewhere in the text. The whole purpose of looking at themes is to show how a particular concept, image, metaphor, or person makes multiple appearances in the Qur'an, some of which may even look contradictory, to illuminate a theme from different perspectives…..


In Search of Prophetic Islam
Asghar Ali Engineer

In short, it is the argument of Engineer that unless Muslims revive the spirit of Islam found in the Universalist message of Prophet Muhammad, their future is bleak….

New Book Sheds Light on Prophet Muhammad’s Interfaith Views
Craig Considine

No other leader in world history has been more scrutinised and ridiculed than Prophet Muhammad. Since the founding of Islam in 632 AD, Christians and Jews have described the Prophet of Allah as a blasphemer, bigot, terrorist, and pedophile, among other slurs. However, according to a new book The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World (published by Angelico Press, 2013), these accusations are found to be dishonest, prejudiced, and not based on sound scholarship……

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 52: Evolution
Ziauddin Sardar

The entire debate about faith and evolution has been constructed using the history and concepts of Christian thought. The creationists' arguments, including the idea of intelligent design, are shaped by a literalist reading of the Bible. We should be careful not to import attitudes and ideas from this debate into the very different context of the Qur'an. The Qur'an refers, as we have already seen, to narratives familiar from the Bible - including creation and Prophet Nuh (Noah) and the flood - but it does so in its own distinctive ways. But these are not meant to be "creation myths" but allegories…..

The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals: On the Law of Beneficence – 52
Hazrat Inayat Khan

Friendship as the average person understands it is perhaps little more than acquaintance; but in reality it is more sacred than any other connection in the world. To a sincere person, entering into friendship is like entering the gates of heaven; and a visit to his friend is a pilgrimage to a true loving friend……


Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 51: Sharia
Ziauddin Sardar

The word itself occurs, in variations, twice in the Qur'an. In 45:45, we read: "We have sent you, O Muhammad, on a clear religious path". The path referred to here is clearly the path of the Qur'an and the guidance that it provides. In 5:48 we are told: "We have assigned a law and a path to each of you". The reference here is to guidance that God has provided to all nations and communities through his prophets, according to the time and condition of each community.....


The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals:  On Silence and Subtlety - 51
Hazrat Inayat Khan

Then where is that truth which is peace-giving, which is healing, which is comforting to every heart and soul, that truth which uplifts the soul, which is creative of harmony and beauty, where is that truth born? That truth is born in subtlety of intelligence in thought, speech, and action, of fineness which brings pleasure, comfort, beauty, harmony, and peace…….

‘Waziristan’: Done in by Fatima Bhutto
Faiza Rahman

No, Miss Bhutto, the Pakistani woman is not always a helpless, sobbing victim. Unlike what you think, women here can easily wade through the Karachi streets, sit in the legislatures and fight battles. A million voices have been raised in your country against the very ordinance you have been generously citing to smear your country’s already-tainted image with. All of which you are doing “out of love”, we understand......

Muslim Superhero Kamala Khan Is No Match for Real-Life Islamophobia
Faiza Patel

Nor should courageous Muslim characters — both real and imagined — be a reason to let ourselves and our leaders off the hook for the pervasive discrimination ordinary Muslims face. It is ironic that Khan’s superpower is that she is a “shape shifter” who can transform her body into any size or shape. Islamophobia, too, takes different shapes…….


Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 50: Pause for Thought
Ziauddin Sardar

Reading the Qur'an thematically has enabled us to connect various verses in different parts of the Qur'an and see the text in much more holistic terms as interconnected. I would not suggest the connections to each theme were exhaustive, but most certainly they allowed us to draw more general conclusions when compared with verse-by-verse analysis. Moreover, a thematic reading also allowed us to use tools of critical analysis ranging from semantics, hermeneutics, and cultural theory to contextual analysis and old fashioned intellectual questioning.....

The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals: On Refining the Personality – 50
Hazrat Inayat Khan

There is one thing: to be a man; and there is another thing: to be a person, a man, by completing the individuality in which is hidden the purpose of man's coming to earth. Angels were made to sing the praise of the Lord, jinns to imagine, to dream, to meditate; but man is created to show humanity in character. It is this which makes him a person. There are many difficult things in life, but the most difficult of all is to learn and know and to practice the art of personality…..


A Teenager As Tall As the Sky

At home, Ziauddin taught his daughter: “You must speak the truth. The truth will abolish fear”. Malala liked what she heard. “If one Fazlullah can destroy everything, why can’t a girl change it?” she asked herself and prayed to Allah for strength…..


The Literary Renegade: Ayesha Jalal’s New Book About Her Granduncle Saadat Hasan Manto Attempts To Explain His Revolt Against The Narrative That Divided India
Khaled Ahmed

Saadat Hasan Manto was arguably the best Urdu short story writer and the best writer of “realistic prose” in South Asia. He was also a maverick in a society prickly about “obscenity” in literature, a problem that an ideological Pakistan is still struggling with. But today, his cardinal sin is the implied non-acceptance in his works of the 1947 Partition of India, which passed muster in his day, but in 2013 would have attracted the mischief of Section 123-A of the Penal Code of Pakistan, landing him in prison for 10 years….

One of the disheartening features of our modern, or for some our postmodern condition, is that it encourages us to live lives of isolation, oftentimes divorced from even the crowds that might surround us in our bustling cities. We have friends and acquaintances, but many times these relationships do little more than disguise our fundamental state of alienation. One of the disastrous consequences of our state is that sometimes we become isolated from even our true selves and from our Lord…..


A Book Helps Us Navigate the Syria Mess
Rami G. Khouri

This soon was overwhelmed by the many other antagonisms of the modern Middle East, such as Arab vs. Iranian, Arab vs. Israeli, Kurdish vs. Arab, Sunni vs. Shiite, Islamist vs. secularist, Arab conservative monarchies vs. Arab nationalist republics, Arab and Iranian revolutionary Islamists vs. conservative Arab monarchies, pro-American vs. pro-Russian and, most recently, Al-Qaeda-like Arab and foreign Salafist militants vs. virtually everyone else…..


Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 49: Reading and Writing
Ziauddin Sardar

When so many Muslims around the world are not native Arabic speakers, being able to recite the Qur'an is no qualification for fulfilling the Qur'an's emphasis on reading and writing in one's own language. Then there is the veneration for rote learning and memorisation which began with the Qur'an and has remained the basis of religious education up to and including today. These techniques may have been valid once upon a time, but today they block the entire realm of critical consciousness, which the Qur'an itself insists is what reading is for……

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