Quranic Soundscapes: Bonding Beyond the Meanings

God has arranged the human heart like a fiery stone: its warmth inspires the soul to a new state. Its aesthetic world of sublime inner echoes is called the world of consciousness. The recitation of the Holy Qur’an touches the hearts of its readers in this way. The wonderful supernatural power of the Qur’an is that it removes the worries of the mind and gives comfort to the soul. The Qur’an affects human life through more than its textual meanings. In this article, I refute arguments that discourage reciting the Quran without knowing its meaning. Continue reading Quranic Soundscapes: Bonding Beyond the Meanings

Reclaiming the Question

You wake up one day to find yourself in an ornate and decorated room. You have no recollection of who you are or how you got there. From the moment you are conscious, you are beset by a relentless curiosity: Who am I? Why am I here? You are attempting to make sense of the situation that you find yourself in. The aim of this metaphor is to illustrate an elemental fact: as humans, we find ourselves in an existential situation. We find ourselves participating in a reality – the cosmos – that is not our own making. We are, as Martin Heidegger put it, thrown into the world. As such, we are essentially constituted by a dynamic consciousness that is driven towards meaning in order to obtain insight into reality and its ultimate grounds. The search for ultimate grounds emerges because as humans, although we have a number of concerns (e.g., familial, financial, political, etc.), our ultimate concern is, and ought-to be, our existential situation that is embodied in two questions: where-from? And, where-to? Continue reading Reclaiming the Question

Logic as a Tool for Adab

There is something quite bizarre about walking into an Islamic studies lecture to hear figures of the past defined in modern terms. With ease, the figure of Rābi’ah al-’Adawiyyah is described not just as a Ṣūfī but someone who “emphasise[s] the autonomy and capacity to remain free of any male authority”; this definition is then over time translated to “a brave woman who fought against patriarchy and oppression from institutionalised orthodoxy” (a phrase I heard in a Harvard class). [1] Intuitively, one might feel a discomfort at hearing the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ described as a “feminist” simply because Islām’s denouncement of Jahili practices came to raise the status of women. Continue reading Logic as a Tool for Adab

Ramadan: Beyond the Nafs, Towards the Lord

The reduction of Islamic practices to an incentive of material or individualist well-being is in effect a liberal remaking of Islam. In essence fasting cultivates a self that is conscious of the truth: that we do not have the right to food, water, and sex when Allah decrees such. The feeling of hunger and thirst, and the inability to do away with them despite having the means to, is meant to reinforce within our souls the recognition of Allah’s ultimate power. Continue reading Ramadan: Beyond the Nafs, Towards the Lord

Macauley ke Bache: On Our Relationship to Urdu

The list of dead, white British men who lorded over the Subcontinent is long, but Thomas Macauley holds a special place among them. The archetypal British colonial administrator, Macauley was best known for his instrumental role in entrenching English into the cultural and epistemic life of the Subcontinent. In decreeing the supremacy of English as the language of power, and the displacement of traditional sciences and knowledges, Macaulay famously said: “We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, — a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”  Continue reading Macauley ke Bache: On Our Relationship to Urdu

Islamicate Literature — a Tool to Tackle Islamophobia

 Islamophobia is a long standing, deeply entrenched, global issue. Growing bodies of research point to the proliferation of Islamophobia cases across the globe in recent years. It disrupts civil society at many levels, from anti-Muslim policies to heightened tensions and hate crimes, including the increased bullying of Muslim children. One of the core causes of Islamophobia is ignorance, which is often fueled by stereotyped and negative portrayals of Muslims in media and popular culture.   Continue reading Islamicate Literature — a Tool to Tackle Islamophobia

Andy Weir’s Artemis: Muslims in Science Fiction

A number of movies in recent years like Dune, Interstellar, and The Martian thrust science fiction back into the media-consumer American consciousness. Andy Weir, the author of The Martian (which the movie was based on) has become a household name for more ardent fans, and duly so. The Martian and his recent Project Hail Mary are excellent science fiction stories of a man’s last efforts to survive against all odds. Both feature a tight plotline epitomizing the struggle against the forces of nature and humorous narrators. He writes with wit and weaves these tales with remarkable fluidity by contrasting humor with impending doom, and the vast swathes of space and nature with man’s frailty against a backdrop of highly technical ingenuity. In comparison, his 2017 novel Artemis fell short. However, the addition of a Muslim character warrants further analysis and the potential of Muslim science-fiction. Continue reading Andy Weir’s Artemis: Muslims in Science Fiction

Selective Sympathy and the Clear Racism of the West

Russian aggression in Ukraine has rightly been met with international condemnation. Putin’s aggressive attack on an independent nation is unacceptable and puts the lives of millions in grave danger. However, the response by different governments and the dangerously contradictory narrative has exposed an embarrassing level of hypocrisy. For most, this is not unexpected, but for media that claims to be independent and for governments who are ”leaders” of human rights, the events in Ukraine have exposed their belief in Western supremacy. Continue reading Selective Sympathy and the Clear Racism of the West

‘Trojan Horse’ or a British Tradition?

Birmingham, Britain, 2014 — a scandal hit the headlines. A letter was leaked to the press which had been sent to the City Council detailing “Operation Trojan Horse,” a plot by a cabal of Muslim teachers and governors to take over and Islamicize state schools in Birmingham. A national outcry followed, and the government swept into action: the former head of Counter Terrorism Command led an investigation, and several people were banned from teaching. Continue reading ‘Trojan Horse’ or a British Tradition?