Paranoia of Islam in Literary Orientalism

As Islamophobia pervades the world, invading minds and infecting intellect, Muslims have arisen as a target for collective crucifixion and condemnation. It’s a tradition of hate with a hoary past, the complexities of which can be navigated through a sustained investment in critical thinking. Amidst the tumult of the Lebanese Civil War and the Iranian Revolution, the Islamist uprising in Syria, and the Arab-Israeli conflict, emerged Edward Said’s groundbreaking work: Orientalism. The book unmasks how Western literature and scholarship have created a civilizational binary through the presentation of the Orient (the East) as the cultural antonym of the glorious West. Continue reading Paranoia of Islam in Literary Orientalism

The Secularization of Christmas

I have a vivid memory from a time in middle school when I begged my parents to let me partake in our school’s annual Christmas celebrations. Every year, classes were canceled on the last Friday before winter break and all the students would be ushered to the school gymnasium to listen to Christmas music, have some snacks, and watch the drama students from the nearby … Continue reading The Secularization of Christmas

Reimagining Politics Amidst the Global Pandemic

As someone allergic to what government authorities have to say, I felt an unexpected change of heart during my three dedicated years of life in studying Public Policy and Management at university. Much to my surprise, I found widespread apolitical behavior in the presumably political environment of the faculty of Social and Political Sciences at my university. Although I saw tragic events like racially-charged police shootings bring about the rise of political expression on social media, political disengagement among the youth is the norm in our everyday lives. What could be the driving force? Continue reading Reimagining Politics Amidst the Global Pandemic

Horoscopes, Manifestation and Secular Religion

Manifestation ignores the will of God and reducing the human spirit to “energies” tells us enough about the extent to which we can reconcile these concepts with Islam. Some Muslims have tried to co-opt the essence of manifestation by adding in sha Allah to their self-affirmations. It is argued that, by adopting this oral practice, the remembrance of Allah as the ultimate bearer of fate is simply underlined with an extra source of motivation. In other words, “speaking things into existence” is a virtue that can be embodied with the help of God. The issue here is that God becomes secondary. Continue reading Horoscopes, Manifestation and Secular Religion

Merombak Perbahasan ‘Mukjizat Al-Quran’

“Keajaiban Saintifik Al-Quran”; tajuk yang lazim kita dengar dan tersebar di serata tempat, risalah di Masjid dan Surau, kempen Dakwah kepada Non-Muslim, dan paling memimbangkan artikel dari laman sesawang ‘Islamik’ dikongsi ribuan pengguna media sosial.  Bahan atau kandungan tulisan sebegini sering digunakan oleh pendakwah untuk membuktikan kebenaran Islam. Peliknya kandungan tulisan seperti ini tetap disebarkan setelah terbukti percanggahan yang berlaku dengan kaedah pendekatan yang digunakan. … Continue reading Merombak Perbahasan ‘Mukjizat Al-Quran’

Reflections on Dualism in Blade Runner 2049

Is it possible to know what it is like to want to be desired or loved, without a soul? This thought-provoking question is grappled with throughout the film Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017). The protagonist Officer K (Ryan Gosling) is a Nexus-9 replicant who works for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and secretly yearns for real humanity, at least within his programmed limits. His love interest (Ana de Armas as Joi) is but a hologram, yet in her final moments, she attempts to utter the words “I love you.” Before she can finish, her virtual presence is wiped from existence, her data permanently destroyed. Continue reading Reflections on Dualism in Blade Runner 2049

Reclaiming Empathy: A Film Review of “Grave of the Fireflies”

One of the blessings in art – one that appears to be lost in the spirit of the Western Muslim – is that it allows us to find new ways to question and reflect upon our personal states. With respect to cinema, despite the countless films and genres that appear to celebrate all manners of excess including senseless violence and gore, there are those that utilize these motifs to invite reflection from the audience. One such film is the Japanese animation Grave of the Fireflies. Continue reading Reclaiming Empathy: A Film Review of “Grave of the Fireflies”

Science, History, and Atheism: Q&A with Asadullah Ali

…the Islamic scientific tradition began to decline once we began to borrow from the West in order to compete with the West (ironically, considering they were then rejecting their own past tradition), and it replaced our former tradition of ingenuity, forcing us into a position where now all we can do is borrow. This, combined with numerous external factors and contemporary issues, is why the Muslim world is where it is today, and it won’t see another Golden Age until it stops relying on traditions outside its own. Continue reading Science, History, and Atheism: Q&A with Asadullah Ali

Mukbangs and a Culture of Gluttony

Watching someone succumb to their food cravings in grotesque fashion has provoked different reactions; some are hypnotized by the concept, some are repulsed, and some are simply confused. But overall, eating shows have become more or less normalized. What does this say about a new global culture, where a trend in one part of the world can be catapulted worldwide by the strength of American content creation? What are the consequences? What does our Islamic tradition have to say about eating shows? Continue reading Mukbangs and a Culture of Gluttony