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Books and Documents

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 26: Lessons from History
Ziauddin Sardar

Once again, in this passage (al-Baqura 243-254) we come across the requirement to fight in the cause of God. The use of this term has multiple connotations that are not confined to warfare. Where self-defence in the face of aggression is called for, fighting for one's survival is permitted, though this has to be interpreted according to certain conditions. The end of this passage (verse 254) makes it abundantly clear that the struggle must also be applied to peaceful efforts to build societies...

 

The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals:  On Sufism – 28
Hazrat Inayat Khan

It should be clear that the religion of the Sufi is not separate from the religions of the world. People have fought in vain about the names and lives of their saviours, and have named their religions after the name of their saviour, instead of uniting with each other in the truth that is taught. This truth can be traced in all religions, whether one community calls another pagan or infidel or heathen. Such persons claim that theirs is the only scripture, and their place of worship the only abode of God. Sufism is a name applied to a certain philosophy by those who do not accept the philosophy;…..

 

‘Iraq Invades the United States,’ and Other Headlines from an Upside Down History of the US Military and the World
Eduardo Galeano

This lightning incursion is the only invasion the United States has suffered since its wars to break free from England. In contrast, the United States has invaded practically every country in the entire world.  Since 1947 its Department of War has been called the Department of Defence, and its war budget the defence budget....

 

The document, expose the deep commitment of first Saudi King to the United Kingdom and his assurance to British authorities to give Palestine to the Jews....

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 26: Intoxicating Passions: Part 3
Ziauddin Sardar

There are three verses in this passage (al-Baqura 219-242) that have generated some controversy. What the verse is trying to point out is that sex during menstruation can be painful for some women and it is thus best avoided. But if one were to read the word "cleansed" in a pejorative rather than literal sense, then it probably has a great deal more to do with one's cultural background than anything else....

 

The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses On The Unity Of Religious Ideals:  On the Sufi - 27
Hazrat Inayat Khan

Hence every person can be called a Sufi either as long as he is seeking to understand life, or as soon as he is willing to believe that every other human being will also find and touch the same ideal […] All beliefs are simply degrees of clearness of vision. All are part of one ocean of truth. The more this is realized, the easier is it to see the true relationship between all beliefs, and the wider does the vision of the one great ocean become……

 

The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses On The Unity Of Religious Ideals: On Alif- 26
Hazrat Inayat Khan

Every form seems to be derived from another, all figures being derived from Alif, which is originally derived from a dot and represents zero, nothingness. It is that nothingness which creates the first form Alif. It is natural for everyone when writing to make a dot as soon as the pen touches the paper, and the letters forming the words hide the origin. In like manner, the origin of the One Being is hidden in His manifestation. That is why Allah, whose name comes from Alif, is hidden under His own manifestation….

 

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 25: Intoxicating Passions: Part 2
Ziauddin Sardar

The pre-Islamic Arabs were into binge drinking. Wines were made in most households and drinking was seen as a sign of high culture - drunkenness was valued as a sign of wealth and eminence. Gambling came a close second to drinking. The Qur'an sought to transform Arab society and most of this passage (al-Baqura 219-242) is devoted to elements of social transformation....

 

Excerpt from 'The Brotherhood: America's Next Great Enemy'
Erick Stakelbeck

“I’m the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was a fact and is a fact and which is well known,” Ramadan told me, barely masking his annoyance. “And even when I was invited [to the United States] by the State Department, this is the way they were introducing me. So, this is something which is known. I’m not a member [of the Muslim Brotherhood], I never was a member—so this is something also which is known.”…

 

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 24: Intoxicating Passions: Part 1
Ziauddin Sardar

This long passage (al-Baqura 219-242) deals with a number of seemingly disconnected topics of different moment. Once again, I suggest, we need to think across the disjunctions to find a link. Submitting ourselves to the effort of thinking and questioning is, as I have argued consistently, the essence of reading, and the necessary requirement for understanding....

 

The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses On The Unity Of Religious Ideals: On the Masters – 25
Hazrat Inayat Khan

All the Teachers who came before taught for whatever community or group of people they were born, and prophesied the coming of the next Teacher, foreseeing the possibility and the necessity of the continuation of the Message until its fulfillment….

 

The treasures of world literature include several classic Sufi treatises in the form of stories and anecdotes that embody Islamic wisdom that have a universal appeal, their message not being restricted to Muslims alone. Stressing the spirit of religion, while not ignoring the form in which it is embodied; Sufis have not hesitated to use new methods of conveying the timeless message of God.....

 

At first sight, I tend to agree with Madeleine. Al-Baqura 204-218 is a complex passage and it is not easy to discover what exactly it is about and what it means. But then who said I had to understand everything? Or indeed that anyone had to understand everything when there is always something more to think about in the Qur'an?....

 

The Sufi Message: Excerpts From Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses On The Unity Of Religious Ideals:  On the Meaning of Life – 24
Hazrat Inayat Khan

It is therefore that the Sufi seeks God as his love, lover and beloved, his treasure, his possession, his honor, his joy, his peace; and his attainment in its perfection alone fulfils all demands of life both here and hereafter....

 

The Sufi Message: Excerpts From Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals:  On Ten Principal ‘Sufi Thoughts’ – 23
Hazrat Inayat Khan
The God of the Sufi is the God of every creed, and the God of all. Names make no difference to him. Allah, God, Gott, Dieu, Khuda, Brahma, or Bhagwan, all these names and more are the names of his God; and yet to him God is beyond the limitation of name. He sees his God in the sun, in the fire, in the idol which diverse sects worship; and he recognizes Him in all the forms of the universe, yet knowing Him to be beyond all form; God in all, and all in God, He being the Seen and the Unseen, the Only Being…..

 

 

These verses institute the hajj as the climactic point of Muslim existence. But they also make clear the theme of continuity, an important aspect of the mindset of Islam. The hajj was an ancient rite established in Arabia long before Islam. Evident in the reference to its being "performed during well-know months": these are the Islamic months of Shawwaal, Dhul al-Qidah and Dhul al-Hijjah. The point being made is that they should not be altered. At the time of the prophet Muhammad, it was completely assimilated into Arabian pagan practices....

 

The Unflattering Truth
Irfan Husain

Apart from the old scandal about the Jinnah movie, I think what put me off was his constant use of the title of ‘ambassador’ before his name in all his emails. In the US, retired officials can carry their job titles for life as a courtesy. But as he served as our envoy in London for around six months, I think this is stretching it a bit....

 
Chick-Lit For Muslim Women
Randa Abdel-Fattah

Chick-Lit For Muslim Women
Randa Abdel-Fattah

I always found it odd that the series concentrated on the lives of four white women in the most diverse city in the world. These women were depicted as the ambassadors of "good" feminism, and any woman alienated by these women’s class or lifestyles was assumed to nonetheless buy into their narratives because Carrie and her friends’ search for Mr Right was arguably supposed to cut across such social divides. But what if their experiences don’t resonate?...

 

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 21: The Hajj, A Pillar Of Islam: Part One
Ziauddin Sardar

It is the greatest annual gathering of humanity, when some two million people from all corners of the globe, representing a myriad of nationalities, ethnicities, languages and cultures join in a monumental collective act of religious witness. It is the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, the subject of this passage (al-Baqura 196-203)....

 

The Sufi Message: Excerpts From Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals: God the Infinite – 22
Hazrat Inayat Khan

The infinite God is the Self of God, and all that have been manifested with name and form is the outward aspect of God. When we take all the existing forms and names and put them together, they become one form. In other words, all names are the name, and all forms are the form of God, but as God is one, His form also is one; and that is the sum total of all names and forms; there is no thing or being which is not the Being of God. In order to teach this, the wise have said God is in everything and in every being……

 
Doesn’t Religion Cause Most of the Conflict in the World?
Rachel Woodlock, Antony Loewenstein, Jane Caro, Si

Religion is powerfully motivating and belligerent humans fight over it. Heck, religion has caused conflict even in my diverse and tolerant family. Taking our daughter to visit her Irish-Catholic relatives, I asked my husband to make sure they didn't give her any pork. Like Jews, Muslims steer clear of anything with an oink. My gentle, peaceable mate, wanting to avoid one of those conversations...

 

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 20: Jihad, War and Peace: Part Three
Ziauddin Sardar

When taken out of its specific context, the "sword verse" (9:5) can be used to justify all variety of violence. It is the favourite verse of the terrorists who use it to legitimate their own illegitimate and criminal actions. Osama bin Laden and his associates opened theirdeclaration of jihads against "Jews and Crusaders" announced on 23 February 1998, with this verse. Quoting this verse is not just the domain of real terrorists, however - fictional villains, in such Hollywood films as True LiesExecutive DecisionThe Siege and, going right back to the 60s, Khartoum are fond of it too. In Rules of Engagement, …..

 

The Sufi Message: Excerpts From Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals: Giving Meaning to Life – 21
Hazrat Inayat Khan

An ideal is something to hope for and to hold on to, and in the absence of an ideal hope has nothing to look forward to. It is the lack of idealism which accounts for the present degeneration of humanity in spite of all the progress it has made in other directions. There are many kinds of ideals: principles, virtues, objects of devotion; but the greatest and highest of all ideals is the God-ideal. And when this God-ideal upon which all other ideals are based is lost, then the very notion of ideal is ignored. Man needs many things in life, but his greatest need is an ideal…..

 

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 19: Jihad, War And Peace: Part Two
Ziauddin Sardar

Defensive fighting in the Qur'an is related directly to oppression. Oppression, we are told, is worse than "killing" or "murder". As history shows oppression can lead to unspeakable atrocities, including mass displacement and genocide. It was to prevent just such an occurrence that the Qur'an permitted the Muslims of Medina to stand up and fight against the oppressors of Mecca who were torturing and abusing those Muslims who did not migrate from the city with the prophet, just as they abused and preyed upon Muslims before the migration….

 

The taboo-busting novel tells of Cairo's residents going about their lives and encountering corruption, police brutality, sexism, homophobia and religious extremism – all seething under the surface of then President Hosni Mubarak's sclerotic regime….

 
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