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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……

The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals: On Reciprocity and Relating with Others – 49
Hazrat Inayat Khan

In dealing with another we ought first to consider in what relation we stand to him, and then to consider what manner of dealing would please us on the part of another who is related to us in the same way as we are to him. In all favorable actions we ought to do more than we should expect another to do for us; and in unfavorable actions we ought to do less than what we should expect on the part of another…..

 

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 48: Ethics and Morality: Part 2
Ziauddin Sardar

Moderation has two elements. First, moderation requires restraint in all that we do. In all the good things we do, from service to others to charity, we need to follow the middle path: "Do not be tight-fisted, nor so open-handed that you end up blamed and overwhelmed with regret" (17:29)….

 

The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals: On Mira Bai – 48
Hazrat Inayat Khan

The beauty of her hymns of praise, the music of the poetry that she composed and sang in her worship of the Divine became gradually famed throughout the kingdom of Udaipur. And on account of her great piety and learning many were drawn to the temple where she dwelt. At length her fame reached the court of the Emperor Akbar. And he, entirely won by the thoughts and the sweet verses of her songs that were repeated to him, decided that he himself would make a pilgrimage to see her….

 

A Mad Journey (Safar) with a Mad Woman
Nighat M. Gandhi

And since her marriage to a Raj Gandhi from Ahmedabad, India has been her home. “I am a Muslim and a Buddhist, married to a Hindu, and wavering in the shadowy no-religion land called agnosticism since I was 15,” she writes. If all this is a bit confusing, so is her proclaimed allegiance to a plural tradition — Gandhi insists she is a “South Asian”, and not a Bangladeshi, Pakistani or Indian…..

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 47: Ethics and Morality: Part 1
Ziauddin Sardar

But scriptural moral guidance has meaning for only those who believe; or are perceptive enough to understand the "signs" of the grace of God and appreciate that the universe has a moral purpose. It is of little consequence to those who see without insight, who do not follow "the ways of peace" and "what pleases him" (5:16). Hence, the Qur'an's moral exhortations are couched, in the words of Bishop Kenneth Cragg, in "the perpetual perhaps"…..

 

The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals: On Inter-Personal Relations – 47
Hazrat Inayat Khan

A very important thing in character-building is to become conscious of one's relationship, obligation, and duty to each person in the world […] One must consider that everything that is entrusted to one by any person in life is one's trust, and one must know that to prove true to the confidence of any person in the world is one's sacred obligation. In this manner a harmonious connection is established with everyone; and it is this harmony which attunes the soul to the infinite…..

 

Perpetual War: How Does the Global War on Terror Ever End?
Jeremy Scahill

Obama employed the rhetoric of internationalism. “We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully -- not because we are naive about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear,” the president declared. “America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.”…….

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 46: Nature and Environment: Part 2
Ziauddin Sardar

What the Qur'an teaches is that in the face of risk the right action is to ensure the danger is shared as equitably as possible and that we must accept the responsibility and duty of care for those overtaken by disaster and the troubles it brings. This is not a counsel of "just sit back and take it", nor the uncaring vengeance of a wilful, cruel God. It is the corollary, not always easy to accept, of being created with free will and given the liberty to exist and make our own way in an ordered universe of awesome power...

 

The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals: On Cheerfulness and Spirituality – 46
Hazrat Inayat Khan

Do not imagine that this is a character rarely to be found in the world. It is a character you frequently meet with, and certainly the one who has this attitude is his own worst enemy. The person with a right attitude of mind tries to make even wrong right, but the one with a wrong attitude of mind will turn even right into wrong. Besides, magnetism is the need of every soul; the lack of it makes life burdensome. The tendency of seeing wrong in everything robs one to a great extent of that magnetism which is needed very much in life……

 

The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals:  On the Annihilation of the False Self – 45
Hazrat Inayat Khan

So, what a person knows of himself, as the first thing, is his body. He calls himself his body, he identifies himself with his body. For instance, if one asks a child, 'Where is the boy?' he will point to his body. That is what he can see or can imagine of himself. This forms a conception in the soul. The soul conceives this deeply, so that after this conception, all other objects, persons or beings, color or line, are called by different names….

 

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 45: Nature and Environment: Part 1
Ziauddin Sardar

Brian raises two questions. The first is in reference to 6:165, where we are told that God "has exalted some of you in rank above others". This, as those who have been following this blog will recognise immediately, is not about, to use the words in Brian's Christian hymn, the hierarchy of "the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate"…..

 

Blogging the Qur'an by Ziauddin Sardar- Part 44: Rights and Duties
Ziauddin Sardar

In the Qur'an, as you rightly note, there is no "middle management" - every individual has a direct relationship to God and is ultimately responsible for his or her actions. It is a basic principle of the Qur'an that "each soul is responsible for its own action; no soul will bear the burden of another" (6:164). However, given God's infinite mercy and benevolence, we can always pray for others to be forgiven. As you can see from these verses, human rights in the Qur'an are firmly based on the notion of human dignity....

 

The Sufi Message: Excerpts from Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Discourses on the Unity of Religious Ideals: On Reason, Earthly and Heavenly – 44
Hazrat Inayat Khan

When we analyse the word 'reason' it opens before us a vast field of thought. In the first place, every doer of good and every evil-doer has a reason to support his doing. When two persons quarrel, each says he is in the right because each has a reason. To a third person perhaps the reason of the one may appear to be more reasonable than that of the other…..

 

Malala Yousafzai: 'It's Hard To Kill. Maybe That's Why His Hand Was Shaking'
Kamila Shamsie

Malala Yousafzai says she's lost herself. "In Swat [district], I studied in the same school for 10 years and there I was just considered to be Malala. Here I'm famous, here people think of me as the girl who was shot by the Taliban. The real Malala is gone somewhere, and I can't find her."….

 
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