Muslim Scholars in Japan: Contemplating Islam in a Non-Muslim Society

I suspect most people are not familiar with Islamic history in East Asia, despite the region being home to one of the world’s oldest masjids, built in 7th or 8th century China. More recently, in 20th century Japan, the Kobe Masjid was built and mostly supported by foreign Tatar, Turkish, and South Asian Muslims. (You can see a South Asian influence in its architecture.) Japan has one of the youngest Muslim communities in history, making East Asia home to both the oldest Islamic traditions established by a non-Arab and the youngest. Continue reading Muslim Scholars in Japan: Contemplating Islam in a Non-Muslim Society

Towards An Islamic Theory of Culture Part II: On Islamicates and Third Ways

The modern history of the Balkans region presents a great analogy for the West’s anxieties towards the Islamic world, an uncanny image of an Islamic heritage which the heirs of Christendom wished to forget. From the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the 1920s, through to the rise and fall of Yugoslavia such an image would remain. During the Bosnian civil war of the 1990s, Serbian nationalist propaganda would evoke this Islamic past in order to alienate the Bosnian Muslim population, pejoratively referred to as “Turks,” to illustrate their supposed foreignness and therefore lack of belonging to the region. [5] In this light, Bosnia finds itself in geographical and cultural limbo. Such was the world which Alija Izetbegovic (1925-2003) was born into, and such was the world molded him. Continue reading Towards An Islamic Theory of Culture Part II: On Islamicates and Third Ways

Towards An Islamic Theory of Culture Part I: On Culture & The West

While the term “cultural studies” would not emerge as a distinguished academic discipline until the 1960s (with the establishment of the Centre for Cultural Studies in Birmingham), culture as an aspect of social life was first given serious consideration in the nineteenth century. During this period, many of the thinkers occupying the academic sphere of Europe — and by extension America — observed what they believed to be distinct and radical shifts in the social and intellectual currents of their respective societies. By the early twentieth century, these observations of “culture” were explained as symptoms of a new historical era. Continue reading Towards An Islamic Theory of Culture Part I: On Culture & The West

The Male-Only Panel Fallacy

The issue of male-only panels is a new one. Outrage often seems manufactured: Muslim women are not “represented” in conferences, scholarly circles, panels, public events, speaking engagements, etc. This is considered a big problem, as it clearly serves as evidence of systematic misogyny, and Muslims will never progress unless it is resolved via a quota system of integrated avenues — or so goes traditional wisdom. Continue reading The Male-Only Panel Fallacy

Forgotten History: The Hamidiye Hijaz Railway – A Trans-Ottoman Railway

We always learn lessons from history; it acts as a guiding light whereby we make decisions based on our past mistakes and success. Therefore, it is important to learn history — especially one’s own. The collective amnesia of Islamic history has lead us to a stage where we are looking for answers on social media, lured in by orientalists and academics and believing in false … Continue reading Forgotten History: The Hamidiye Hijaz Railway – A Trans-Ottoman Railway

A Call to Action: Health Education Delivery in Islamic Schools is a Matter of Faith

Muslim youth of today face the worse of times: we are being raised in a culturally imperialistic society and are constantly faced with covert assaults on our iman (faith). This is not just confined to Muslim youth in the West, the monoculture has also seeped into the traditional Muslim world. Though parents who immigrated to the West may lack awareness of the external influences on their children, the fitnah is rampant and unavoidable. Unlawful acts such as smoking, drug use, and drinking are widespread. Continue reading A Call to Action: Health Education Delivery in Islamic Schools is a Matter of Faith

Ms. Marvel and Muslim Representation

This critique is also not intended to be a chastisement of Kamala’s personal religiosity, nor of those who may resonate with her relationship (or lack thereof) with Islam. This is a call upon the western Muslim to think critically about what our goals are when it comes to this venue we are applauding. We need to evaluate whether inherently problematic arenas where power players with problematic agendas control the narrative are worth jumping into. Continue reading Ms. Marvel and Muslim Representation

On Being a Muslim Minority: Introducing Chinese Muslim Intellectual Jīn Tiānzhù

This article presents the introduction section of a book called 清真釈疑 Qīngzhēn shìyí (Eliminating Doubts Against Islam), written by Jīn Tiānzhù (金天柱). This is arguably the first book written about how minority Muslims living in East Asia have confronted misconceptions about Islam. Continue reading On Being a Muslim Minority: Introducing Chinese Muslim Intellectual Jīn Tiānzhù

Reflections and Advice From a Female Scholar

In 2011, I graduated as a female scholar (Alimah) alongside my 12 classmates. After completing the six year program at a traditional Dar-ul-Uloom (school for higher Islamic sciences), we returned to our hometowns, each pursuing our own unique path: some of us began to teach in the communities right away, some furthered their academic studies while others got married and started families, etc.  Continue reading Reflections and Advice From a Female Scholar