Panegyric Poetry and the Poetics of Panache: Exploring the Rich Heritage of Mappila Songs

The word Mappila (sometimes pronounced as Moplah) comes from the ancient Dravidian language, meaning “great child” (maha, “great” and pilla, “child”). The Mappilas today are for the most part descendants of foreign traders from the Middle East who visited the southwestern coast of India, known as the Malabar Coast, through Indian Ocean trade routes.  Continue reading Panegyric Poetry and the Poetics of Panache: Exploring the Rich Heritage of Mappila Songs

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’

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

7 Modern Deadly Sins and Misunderstandings: Inequality

In any given society, there are certain common sense moralisms ingrained within that culture. Certain aspects of ethical life and sentiments may be universal in nature and span multiple countries and continents, as part of a generalized weltanschauung. Yet, the particular way in which that ethic is practiced is always subject to cultural conditions and specifics. The key part to this common-sense morality is that you do not think much about these things: they are simply the immediate ethical context one engages with and considers as obvious. As a result, one of the main arenas where we see a stark shift from pre-modern to modern societies, and from religious to liberal societies, is in ethical sentiments and “common sense.” Continue reading 7 Modern Deadly Sins and Misunderstandings: Inequality

Ramadan Traditions in Constantine

We should take note of Constantinian heritage not only because it is worth basking in its splendor, but because it serves a sentimental purpose. With Christmas being completely commodified, many of us may feel pressured to compete by curating a Ramadan ambiance through the same capitalist means. One cannot stress enough the importance of aesthetics in Islam, but we should not forget that we can create beauty out of time spent cooking traditional foods with our families, listening to melodies in praise of God and His beloved Messenger, and giving charity. Continue reading Ramadan Traditions in Constantine

Christmas and Why the ‘Petty’ is Powerful

celebrating Christmas in different capacities. While this may be more understandable for those new to the faith, or for those who have non-Muslim family members with whom participating in this holiday may be tricky to navigate, there are also an increasing number of Muslims who have jumped on the bandwagon of celebrating Christmas with really no compelling reason to do so – putting up decorations in their homes, Christmas trees, giving Christmas presents to their children, etc.  Continue reading Christmas and Why the ‘Petty’ is Powerful

To Arrakis and Back: Frank Herbert’s Dune in Retrospect

It’s not uncommon to hear Herbert’s name alongside other pioneers in modern genre fiction, the likes of J.R.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis. The book, however, is not lauded on all fronts. It has its critics as well as its fans and even so, much of what people tend to enjoy about the novel has to do with the wider project of Herbert’s literary Universe and the depth of craft in his worldbuilding, as opposed to the narrative alone.  Continue reading To Arrakis and Back: Frank Herbert’s Dune in Retrospect

Islam in a Post-Secular Age

Post-secular theory counters the secularization thesis, which taught that religion would wither away as modernity gets older. A post-secular awareness acknowledges the perseverance of religion in modernity. The post-secular refers to a change in consciousness attributed primarily to three phenomena: citizens’ awareness of their secularity within the global horizon, an awareness of religious influences both globally and locally, and proximity to religious people immigrating from religiously-oriented countries. [1] Continue reading Islam in a Post-Secular Age