Art as a Reflection of Civilization

“Islamic art” is broadly understood as all the arts that have been produced in the Muslim world. However, it does not simply denote the crafts of Muslim patrons. “Islamic art” is qualified as “Islamic” because of its contents often refer explicitly or implicitly not just to scripture but religious values as a whole. Orientalist art historians in the 19th century began to treat “Islamic art” … Continue reading Art as a Reflection of Civilization

The Spiritual Crisis of Man and Nature

It is often said that the first step to quitting a personal addiction is to acknowledge that one has an addiction. The corporations in charge of our carbon-based global economy are fixated on drilling and guzzling away the Earth’s natural resources in direct defiance to the Quranic verse “And the servants of Ar-Rahmaan are those who tread upon the earth lightly.”[1] Despite this, the United … Continue reading The Spiritual Crisis of Man and Nature

Faith and Fantasy: Is Islamic Fiction Viable?

A Review of S. A. Chakraborty’s The City of Brass One of the factors that has distinguished the literary tradition in the Muslim world from that of the cultural West for much of the past millennium is the modality adopted by popular literature. Poetry was very much a staple of literary expression throughout Islamic civilization, whereas fictional prose did not enjoy the same status that … Continue reading Faith and Fantasy: Is Islamic Fiction Viable?

Enoch Powell and the British Muslim

Continued from last week’s article For the Love of Country “The evil that men do lives after them / the good is oft interred with their bones.” Few today will remember Enoch Powell for his heartfelt attack on the colonial brutality inflicted in the Mau Mau Rebellion, many more will recall his fierce opposition towards Commonwealth immigration into Britain. The two sides of Powell, on … Continue reading Enoch Powell and the British Muslim

Powellism and Western Islam

This is part one of a two-part series. You can read part two here. “Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependants, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant-descended population. It is like watching a … Continue reading Powellism and Western Islam

Mughal India: The Role of Law in Life

The Shari’ah is best distinguished from Islamic law. Islamic law, usul-al-fiqh, consists of four separate sources: the Qur’an, Hadith, the consensus of the Islamic community and analogical reasoning. The Arabic linguistic definition of Shari’ah is the “path” to water. Shari’ah is the immutable divine will of God and a comprehensive metaphysical philosophy to Muslims, while fiqh is a tool that Islamic jurists have utilised to … Continue reading Mughal India: The Role of Law in Life

Parallelizing the Past to the Present

In his book My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk tells a story of miniaturists in sixteenth century Istanbul that provokes reflection on contemporary events in the world.[1] While the connection between the ideologies in the 16th and 20th/21st centuries are implicit, Pamuk’s book offers a metaphoric reading on political, cultural, social, and religious interactions and ideologies of modern-day Turkey.  In My Name is Red, Pamuk … Continue reading Parallelizing the Past to the Present

Fitrah in the Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Monty Python is hardly the place for great philosophical epiphanies, but sometimes inspiration can be found in the strangest of places. In a particularly humorous sketch of Michael Palin’s character, a spectacled and rather drab accountant comes to ask John Cleese’s character for career advice. Palin’s character is told, after a careful analysis of his personality based on an aptitude test, that the best career … Continue reading Fitrah in the Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Reviving Writing

This article is a follow-up to the previous week’s piece “The Lost Art of Writing”. The Print Culture and Dar al Islam A brief gloss on print culture would be instructive in understanding the historical relationship between oral cultures and the written word. The Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s  (1911 – 1980) The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962)—a study of “print culture” in pre-modern Europe through Gutenberg’s innovations— … Continue reading Reviving Writing

The Lost Art of Writing

Read, O Prophet, in the Name of your Lord Who created— created humans from a clinging clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who taught by the pen— taught humanity what they knew not. Qur’an 96:1-5 [Dr. Mustafa Khattab translation] The qualitative weightiness of the pen (qalam) is measured by the fact that it has been worded in the first verses revealed to … Continue reading The Lost Art of Writing