A Book Review of ‘Infamies of the Soul and Their Treatments’

Matters of the body are relatively straightforward: if an organ or limb or tissue is afflicted, medical expertise is sought, and then one hopes for an effective treatment, perhaps in the form of a pill or medical procedure. Humans understand the consequences and pain of neglecting a physical ailment. We intuitively recognize the necessity of preserving physical health to better experience life (and worship Allah), pouring millions of dollars into understanding the mechanisms underlying diseases. The acute awareness of our fleeting mortality only fuels fastidious research. But in matters of the soul and their ailments, popular prescriptions seem to float in the realm of self-care books and gimmicks or models of mental health care that reject the role of spirituality altogether, unable to combat increasing spiritual deterioration. Continue reading A Book Review of ‘Infamies of the Soul and Their Treatments’

Halal Consumption and Our Spiritual Health

We must be scrupulous in what we eat because the rest of human civilization depends on us. The actions of non-Muslims are not as important as the actions of Muslims — it is the actions of Muslims that govern the welfare of the entire planet. We are responsible for what happens in the world. Our good deeds have a good impact and our bad deeds have a bad impact — not only on the physical environment but on people. Continue reading Halal Consumption and Our Spiritual Health

رمضان: شهر مناهضة الإمبريالية

لقد عتاد المسلمون على العيش في حالة دفاع دائمة كثمن لوجودهم، ونشروا بسهولة تفسيرات لممارساتهم الدينية والثقافية. قد تكون هذه صفقة مقبولة وحتى مستحسنة للحفاظ على السلام في المجتمعات الحديثة المتنوعة، ولكن مع حلول شهر رمضان المبارك، لا يمكن للمرء أن يتجاهل الصبغات الحديثة المميزة في التفسيرات المتداولة لفوائدها العديدة. يتجاهل الخطاب المعاصر حول هذه الفوائد بشكل متزايد جوهرها الأخلاقي والميتافيزيقي، ويقدم تفسيرات مادية بدلاً … Continue reading رمضان: شهر مناهضة الإمبريالية

Mustafa Briggs’ Beyond Bilal

A Book Review of Beyond Bilal by Mustafa Briggs How did the Yoruba, an ethnic group of southwestern Nigeria, become Muslim? How did Islam gain such widespread prominence throughout Black Africa? Growing up as a Muslim Nigerian-American, these were questions I had from a very young age. In masajid halaqat (spiritual gatherings in mosques to discuss the Qur’an and Sunnah), Islamic elementary and middle schools, … Continue reading Mustafa Briggs’ Beyond Bilal

Soetsu Yanagi: ‘The Beauty of Everyday Things’

“The Beauty of Everyday Things,” is a compilation of writings by Soetsu Yanagi (1889 – 1961), an art historian and philosopher of religion, who founded the Mingei (民芸) movement of Japanese folk art, inspired by the beautifully hand-crafted objects created by ordinary and often unknown artisans for everyday use. [1] Influenced by John Ruskin and William Morris, his writings on Mingei integrate aesthetics, metaphysics, nationalism and material production. Alongside supporting the efforts of artisans to preserve traditional techniques, Yanagi also founded the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in 1936, which is still open and active today. Continue reading Soetsu Yanagi: ‘The Beauty of Everyday Things’

Syria’s Conflict, Islamic Legitimacy, and ‘Order versus Anarchy’

The cataclysmic earthquakes that have struck Syria and Turkey this month have ignited debate about effective aid measures and, by extension, the politics of the Syrian conflict. The Syrian government has taken no small pleasure in an opportunity to ease its official diplomatic freeze in much of the world, blaming Western sanctions for the difficulty in aid and in turn bringing into question the politics of the conflict. Unfortunately, to claim that sanctions are in themselves to blame for aid difficulty ignores the fact that the vast majority of the devastation has hit areas outside government control and under the control of the Syrian opposition, which were already subjected to a crippling, Gaza-style siege by the very same government. It is a further mistake, not in theoretical but in purely factual terms, to compare Syria with other Muslim countries — such as Afghanistan, Iran, or formerly Iraq — that are under sanctions, because in everything but name the Syrian government has been the major beneficiary of the status quo. Continue reading Syria’s Conflict, Islamic Legitimacy, and ‘Order versus Anarchy’