Faith and Fantasy: Is Islamic Fiction Viable?

A Book Review of The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty 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 … 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

A Book Review of My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk 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 … 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

The Role of Indigenous Knowledge in American Islam

We often limit “Muslim history” to the periods and regions in which caliphates and dynasties were established following the spread of Islam. While this history is important, the history of Muslims is not merely the Umayyads, the Ottoman Empire, or Andalusia. The history of Muslims transcends these borders and valuing its existing traditions in other parts of the world can break down the barrier that … Continue reading The Role of Indigenous Knowledge in American Islam

The Devil You Know, Or Thought You Knew

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. — The Usual Suspects With Halloween finally behind us (at least for another eleven months), I am reminded of the one article regarding this festival that stood out most to me in the slurry of bickering over its status in the shari’ah. Rather than delving straight into the matter of its … Continue reading The Devil You Know, Or Thought You Knew