Books and Documents

Islamic Culture

Honestly, I did not think a Muslim runway show could exist and my feelings towards this new event are mixed. My first reaction is: how can you want to hide women, their hair, their body, their curves and still be a fashion designer? In my eyes, fashion is not first here to conceal but to reveal, to enhance, to make more beautiful, and in some Muslim sensitivities at least, it seems that the garment is here to erase the body, to hide the personality, to reserve its beauty to a very private sexual usage only, says fashion writer Jean Paul Cauvin

Shafqat Amanat Ali, born in 1965, is the son of Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, making him part of the 9 generation old Patiala Gharana. He has been a student of Hindustani classical music since age four, his grandmother being his first teacher.


Hyderabad: They are almost synonymous. Hyderabad and shayari. Nothing sways the ‘ahl-e-zoukh’ here more than poetry. And if it is the bard of the East, the effect is simply heady. The city has just crossed a literary milestone by hosting lyrical sittings of Mohammed Iqbal, the poet-philosopher, for 11 long years. This speaks volumes about the poetic passion of Hyderabadis as also the enduring appeal of Iqbal.


Amit Chaudhuri bemoans the neglect of a secularism that is an experiencing of the modern world through shared cultural artefacts...This secularism, crucially, has room within it for the "spiritual" hungers—the existential bewilderment, the unassuaged longing for something beyond the prison of the self—that, far from being addressed, are unwelcome in official secularism. Despite all the constitutional bulwarks, this is a significant default.

Book REVIEW: By Alok Rai


IN order to introduce Western audiences to a more positive vision of Islam than the one depicted in mainstream media, Badr International produced the long awaited first animated feature film about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), entitled “Muhammad: The Last Prophet,” which has proven to be a heart-rending rendering of a significant portion of the Prophet’s (pbuh) life and the birth of Islam.


Faraz’s burning poetry pitted itself against the injustices of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes — and certainly, Pakistan has provided plenty. His work will command a following so long as love itself lives, and the Muse finds a voice through a poignant Urdu ghazal, writes Lahore-based commentator F. S. Aijazuddin.


SUKHAN dard ka ab kaha jaaye na (of pain cannot be spoken anymore), wrote Ahmad Faraz, the greatest Urdu poet since Faiz. His departure leaves Urdu poorer, and at a loss for words which he so elegantly wove into its ghazal and nazm for over half a century. If ghazal was all about talking to women, Faraz lived as its Casanova; if it was a medium for romance, he was its reigning deity for the young and old alike, says an editoril tribute in Dawn, Karachi.


My late grandfather (our families hailed from the Dumraon princely estate, now in Bihar) used to tell me how Khan gave his first public performances, as a singer, at the age of five. His father Paighambar and grandfather Rasool Bux were both employees of the Dumraon raj. Each time Khan sang the Bhojpuri chaita, Ehi matiya me bhulail hamar motiya he rama (It’s at this spot that I lost my pearl), at the behest of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh, audiences were mesmerised, writes Darpan Singh.


A MILLION-DOLLAR Unesco project for mapping cultural and heritage assets in seven districts of the NWFP was recently launched in Peshawar. This is good news as the promotion of culture and heritage can lead to healthy economic opportunities for Pakistan’s violence-prone province — once the centre of the golden Gandhara era. An article by  Adil Zareef


It is the wetness of water, the lilt in a melody, or the hue that radiates with the play of light on colour. Like the meaning of the word ‘Krishna’ — ‘an inner element which attracts’ — the concept of rasa in Hindustani culture and music helps transmit an elusive but profound tattva or principle of life.


New Delhi: Thirty girl students pour into a classroom, opening up textbooks in preparation for their lesson. It’s not the sight of their teacher they are waiting for, but the sound of his voice — streaming through inbuilt speakers, the lesson is delivered from the other side of the school.

Sitting cross-legged in a small cubicle downstairs, schoolteacher Mufti Farooque speaks into a microphone the words from Hadith, reports about the Prophet. The girls are studying in one of Delhi’s few female madrasas: Jamiat-Ul-Banat Al Islamia (JBI) in Okhla, where purdah (here simply defined as physical segregation of males and females) is strictly upheld. Preeti Jha of Indian Express reports.


KOCHI- PTI - An 'Indianised' Bible with references to the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Manusmriti and drawings of a turbaned Joseph and sari clad Mother Mary with baby Jesus in her arms, is making waves in Kerala. This is an unprecedented venture as Indian scriptures Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Mausmriti have been used in a Bible by way of interpretations to biblical passages for the first time, says Catholic church spokesperson Father Paul Thelekat. This is an attempt to make contextual reading and understanding.


JADDAH, Saudi Arabia -- A Turkish soap opera featuring an independent fashion designer and her amazingly supportive and attractive husband is emptying the streets whenever it's on and has more than doubled the number of Saudis visiting Turkey this summer. A report by Faiza Saleh Ambah, Washington Post Foreign Service.


Mehreen Jabbar, 37, is a Pakistani director of feature films and television serials. She spoke with Avijit Ghosh about her latest film, 'Ramchand Pakistani', and the state of films in her country:


Reviving the spirit and flavour of the ancient Nalanda University might seem an elusive goal, but that’s precisely what a group of intellectuals, political leaders and bureaucrats are seeking to do with international collaboration. N K Singh, member, Nalanda Mentor Group, talks to Narayani Ganesh:


According to the New York Times, Khuda Ke Liye, the first Pakistani movie to be released in India in forty three years, produced unexpected reactions among cinema goers. It was not the film’s interpretation of Islam as a tolerant religion but the quality of middle class houses in Lahore that flummoxed them. “We didn’t know Pakistanis had such good houses,” confessed Indian viewers. Apparently the existence of taxis in Lahore also came as a revelation. As did the information that Pakistani women went to university and drove cars, writes Moni Mohsin, a Pakistani novelist.


To enter the sanctum of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti to offer the customary ‘chadar’, the ornamental spread, is to touch the core of the Sufi, the one for who the heart is the true shrine of God. You enter a sacred space where all distinctions dissolve, where the “power of now”, as Eckhart Tolle puts it, seems to draw into its vortex all other outer preoccupations of the mind. Such is the magnetic call of the heart of the Khwaja that seekers and pilgrims alike have sought inspiration and blessings from Ajmer Sharif through centuries, writes Pranav Khullar.

It is not often that an individual judge in our country wins the plaudits of the artistic and creative community. But that is what Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the Delhi High Court has just done. His landmark judgement of May 8, upholding a number of petitions submitted by the great Indian painter Maqbool Fida (M F) Husain, not only ensures that justice has been done to an authentic national icon, but contains observations that are both refreshing and true about the role of art in our society — observations which i hope will guide our national discourse on this vexed subject in the future, writes author and former diplomat Shashi Tharoor in his column in the Sunday Times of India.


Anyone who believes that M.F. Husain can now return to India in view of the judicial verdict in his favour doesn't know the saffron crowd and the pusillanimous “secular” politicians. That legal stipulations mean nothing to the Hindutva fundamentalists was clear during the Ramjanambhoomi agitation when the Sangh Parivar maintained that a court of law could not interfere in a matter of faith, writes veteran analyst Amulya Ganguli.

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