Sunday, September 30, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The martyrdom of Imam Hussein and the majority of his companions on the barren desert plain of Karbala in 680 C.E. is the seminal historical event for tens of millions of Shi‘ī Muslims worldwide. However, Syed Akbar Hyder shows that the importance of the Karbala narrative and the symbolism of Imam Hussein’s death in a struggle for justice has also profoundly influenced non-Shi‘ī intellectuals throughout South Asia from Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Iqbal to a Sufi poets and Marxists. The first half of the book combines in-depth discussions of the role of the ‘Ashura communal gatherings commemorating Karbala (majālis) with an overview of the specific segments common to these gatherings with an historical primer of how the battle has been portrayed in South Asian Islamic religious literature. The adaptation of the Karbala mourning rituals by South Asian immigrants to the United States, particularly those from the Indian city of Hyderabad. The second half of the book provides both incisive literary analysis South Asian Sufī literature, particularly lyrical poetry, and written interpretations of the Karbala events by Sunni, secular, and non-Muslim South Asian writers and intellectuals including Muhammad Iqbal and Mahatma Gandhi. The book, which makes meticulous use of Urdu primary sources, is a valuable addition to the slim collection of works in English concerning the Karbala events. Geared toward an academic audience it is well suited to being used in upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses on Islamic religious literature, South Asian literature, and Shi‘ism.
Indiana University, Bloomington
[Critical Review Note to be published in a future issue of Religious Studies Review]
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
They have been joined by large numbers of students and supporters who until Monday had stood on the sidelines cheering the monks.
Along with Buddhist flags, some marchers carried flags bearing the image of a fighting peacock, which was used by students in the 1988 pro-democracy uprising. The protesters took to the streets again today even though the junta warned it would "take action" after some 100,000 people marched on Monday. The international community fear a repeat of 1988, when government troops brutally suppressed a popular uprising, killing some 3,000 people.
Monday, September 24, 2007
The Power of Sovereignty: The Political and Ideological Philosophy of Sayyid Qutb. By Sayed Khatab. New York: Routledge 2006. Pp. 298. ISBN 041537250 (HB).
Basic Principles of the Islamic Worldview. By Sayyid Qutb. Translated by Rami David. North Haledon, NJ: Islamic Publications International 2006. Pp. 230.
ISBN 1889999342 (PB).
Egyptian Muslim intellectual Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) has had a profound impact on the development of a myriad of different Islamic movements which represent a wide array of ideological views. His argument for a political and social revival of Islam in order to reform a corrupt society has influenced the ideological platforms of groups ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood, which in Egypt came to eschew violence, to militant jihadī groups. Qutb was imprisoned numerous times and finally executed in 1966 because he was deemed to be a significant threat to the government of pan-Arabist champion Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasir, the head of the revolutionary Free Officers movement which overthrew Egypt’s King Faruq in 1952. Although his life was cut short prematurely Qutb left behind reams of writings which continue to play an influential role throughout the Muslim world.
Sayed Khatab, a researcher in the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University, has produced a substantial analysis of Qutb’s theory of hakimiyyah (sovereignty) suitable for graduate students and how it interacted with other aspects of his religious and political thought. At its heart, the concept of hakimiyyah in Qutb’s thought revolves around the ultimate sovereignty of God which Qutb believed should be implemented through a constitutional government that would implement Shari‘ah. It is the duty of all humankind to submit (‘ubudiyyah) to God’s sovereignty. According to Qutb, Islam is both a religious and political system. The religion is also comprehensive in scope and is not limited to a specific historical period, region, or society.
Qutb believed that a true Islamic governmental system is the only such system which would be free from the influences of “human desires, weaknesses, and self-interests” (p. 171.). In an Islamic system, God would be the ultimate sovereign and lawgiver through the revelations in the Qur’an. An Islamic government would derive its legitimacy from the implementation of Shari‘ah, God’s law. Qutb believed that the inherent problem with democracy was that unlike an Islamic system it was manmade and thusly inferior.
Many of Qutb’s most influential publications have been translated into English including his Qur’anic exegesis In the Shade of the Qur’an, Milestones, and Social Justice in Islam. University of California, Berkeley professor of Persian and Islamic studies Hamid Algar, who substantially edited a translation of the latter, has also supervised latest translation of Qutb’s work, Basic Principles of the Islamic Worldview, which is a welcome addition to the translated corpus. His introduction to the text frames Qutb’s religious worldview and briefly addresses the targeting of him by journalists and scholars alike as the “godfather” of terrorism.
Basic Principles, which is based on the ninth official Arabic edition of Qutb’s Khasa’is al-Tasawwur al-Islamī wa Muqawwimatuhu, provides a useful and comprehensive overview of Qutb’s religious thought. Framing the essentials of Islam as he saw them, such as the comprehensive, stabilizing authority of the one undivided God and the problems inherent with other religious traditions such as Christianity and Judaism Basic Principles provides readers with an essential primer of Qutb’s theological arguments. This in turn illuminates concepts and themes which appear frequently in Qutb’s better-known publications including Milestones and Social Justice in Islam and is thus a useful companion to these works.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
The monks' protests have not chanted anti-government slogans or carried anti-government banners, but the symbolism of their marches has gained widespread support. Monks are universally revered by Myanmar's majority Buddhist population, and their involvement in anti-government protests poses a major challenge to the military rulers.
Witnesses say crowds of onlookers have formed human chains to prevent authorities from disrupting the monks' marches. Many monks have said they will refuse to accept alms from members of the military of their families – a move considered a major snub in [Burmese] Buddhist culture.
CAPTION TEXT, EDITED SLIGHTLY, TAKEN FROM AL-JAZEERA ENGLISH INTERACTIVE
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Greenspan clarified his remarks in an interview with The Washington Post: "I was not saying that that's the administration's motive. I'm just saying that if somebody asked me, 'Are we fortunate in taking out Saddam?,' I would say it was essential....I have never heard them basically say, 'We've got to protect the oil supplies of the world,' but that would have been my motive."
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Born in Jerusalem and raised in Cairo the late Palestinian-Christian Professor Edward W. Said was one of the most influential public intellectuals of the 20th century. A tireless advocate for the Palestinian people he was critical of U.S., Israeli, Arab, and Palestinian National Authority policies. Considered a founder of the new field of post-colonial theory and studies Said remains a seminal figure within the academe and Middle Eastern studies.
He died at age 67 of cancer. He will be sorely missed.
"...One could commence by saying quite simply that if Edward's personality had been the human and moral pattern or example, there would be no "Middle East" problem to begin with...
"His feeling for the injustice done to Palestine was, in the best sense of this overused term, a visceral one. He simply could not reconcile himself to the dispossession of a people or to the lies and evasions that were used to cover up this offense. He was by no means simple-minded or one-sided about this: In a public dialogue with Salman Rushdie 15 years ago, he described the Palestinians as 'victims of the victims,' an ironic formulation that hasn't been improved upon."
-Christopher Hitchens in Slate (September 26, 2003)
"Memory, Inequality, and Power: Palestine and the Universality of Human Rights" (February 19, 2003 @ Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of California-Berkeley)
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Cityscape of Bayt al-Faqih, once a center of Medieval Islamic religious and scientific scholarship.
Mosque in Zabid.
Inside the fortress in Bayt al-Faqih near Zabid.
A remnant of Zabid's Arab Jewish history.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
PHOTOGRAPHS COPYRIGHT BY CHRISTOPHER ANZALONE
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Yemeni straw hats
Friday, September 07, 2007
Rightly or wrongly Saddam has become a symbol of resistance to U.S. government policies in the Middle East and against the Iraqi government which is seem by many Yemenis and Arabs to be a puppet of the U.S. government. The ineptness of the Iraqi government has not helped matters.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
The physical restoration of the building has now been completed, its infrastructure services have been upgraded, a site museum has been installed on the ground floor, the carved stucco decoration in the prayer hall has been cleaned, and the mural paintings inside the prayer hall's six domes have been conserved by the Italian firm CCA.....During the restoration work it was decided that the Amiriya was probably founded as a palace, be it one with a very large and ornate prayer hall. Subsequently used, after a period of abandonment, as madrasa, the restored Amiriya now takes its place in Yemen's cultural patrimony as a palace-museum.
Funding for the restoration stage of the project came from the the Dutch and Yemeni governments, the latter through the General Organization for Antiquities and Museums.