Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer this world has ever known, is no more. The fact that he is gone is difficult to swallow. For years, Ali was renowned as a larger than life figure, “the greatest” as he would call himself, and the demise of a man of such high stature is surely a void that can never be filled.
In the world of sports, Muhammad Ali will forever be known as the boxing legend who won 56 bouts during his 21-year career. In popular culture, he will be remembered as the man who was not afraid when it came to speaking his mind — someone who was not shy of talking about things unrelated to boxing, and would always take the right stand when needed.
But that is not the only reason why this world will miss Muhammad Ali. Continue Reading
While both sane and insane voices exist in every society, it is common knowledge by now that Islamophobes are pretty loud in the West, especially in USA. The story of Ahmed, the kid who brought a self-made clock to school, is a case in point. Of course, Islamophobia is not the dominant ideology in USA, as can be seen in the efforts of several good-willed Americans who seek nothing but peace. After all, Ahmed did get support and appreciation from all corners, didn’t he?
However, what happens when such Islamophobic paranoia, even though it might be in the minority, spills out and makes itself visible in stuff that is otherwise not a monopoly of Islam? What happens when one’s bigotry makes him/her feel scared of a language?
Apparently, some Islamophobes in USA seem to have an irrational fear of the Arabic language. Continue Reading
At University of Birmingham, scientists recently dated an old Quranic manuscript with the help of radiocarbon analysis. As it turns out, this particular manuscript is one of the oldest ones ever! Written on a parchment, it dates back to sometime between 568 and 645 CE.
Since Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself lived from 570 to 632 CE, it means this Quranic manuscript belongs to the Prophet’s lifetime. It is, as such, quite possible that Quranic verses were written on the parchment by a Companion of the Prophet, or maybe by a student of one such companion. The calligraphy and lettering on the parchment is in excellent condition, thereby proving it to be the work of an experienced hand.
So, what does this “newly discovered” old Quranic manuscript tell us? Continue Reading
Of late, checking the news has become monotonous. Every other day, in virtually all publications and verticals of repute, there is some “expert” or the other busy discussing ways in which Islam is in conflict with the rest of world, or how Islam is having trouble dealing with itself, etc.
None of these so-called “insights” are original, nor do they add any merit to the news in general. Yet, such opinions continue to remain in vogue, and are preferred by the common populace. You know, when you segregate people and talk about ‘us’ versus ‘them’, people enjoy taking sides.
So, I decided to dig deeper, and reflect on what exactly such viewpoints are trying to convey. Is Islam really at war with everyone? Or is Islam having a crisis within itself? Do Muslims need to react? Continue Reading
On March 18, a student in Pine Bush High School near New York City recited the American Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. This was done as part of the school’s Foreign Language Week, which was conducted to celebrate the “many races, cultures and religions that make up [the US and the Pine Bush] School District.”
One would expect the multicultural and cosmopolitan American society to appreciate such gestures. However, reactions to the recitation of the Pledge in Arabic spoke otherwise: the language in itself was described to be meant for terrorists! Such bigotry once again highlighted everything that is wrong with USA nowadays: xenophobia, racism, ignorance, violence and above all, Islamophobia. Continue Reading
Every year in December, Christians all around the world celebrate Christmas, marking the birth of Jesus Christ. In fact, when it comes to venerating Christ, most Christians tend to go out-of-the-way and claim ownership of Christ. In Christianity, Jesus is viewed as the Son of God, or God Incarnate.
However, there is another religion that pays equal, if not greater, respect to Jesus, albeit in a slightly different manner.
Unlike Christianity that began respecting Christ only after he had left this world, Islamic veneration of Jesus began during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad himself.
Islam views Jesus as a Prophet of God, rather than Son of God. Jesus, or Isa as he is called in Arabic, is referred to by name in nearly 25 different verses of The Quran, with titles such as Messenger, Prophet, and even Messiah. In fact, all Muslim theologians view Jesus as a precursor to Prophet Muhammad.
So, is the fact that both Christianity and Islam respect Jesus enough to build bridges between the two religions? Or are the different versions a source of perennial tension between adherents of the two faiths? Continue Reading
So Malala Yousafzai recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, and everyone all over the world is singing her praises. Rightfully so.
In fact, Malala’s case is probably the only one wherein all media verticals seem to be in absolute agreement, be it Al Jazeera, or Press TV or even Fox News. That girl deserves praise for her efforts.
However, whilst Ms Yousafzai was receiving her Nobel Prize, my attention was drawn towards the case of another young girl from Pakistan: Nabeela Rahman. Much like Malala, Nabeela too recently travelled to the Western part of the world, albeit the latter went to Washington instead of Oslo, and had an altogether different purpose in mind. Continue Reading
First up: Robin Williams was a fine actor by all means. His death is an unfortunate and tragic incident.
As soon as word got out about Williams’ death, the internet mourned the loss of a very talented actor. Rightfully so. Social media, online publications, blogs and everything else was filled with “RIP Robin” messages, and people talked at length about the life and story of Robin Williams.
However, while social media did praise the works and accomplishments of Robin Williams shortly after his death, there was also a time when hardly anyone on Facebook or Twitter considered Williams to be the voice of several generations. That time was barely a week ago. Continue Reading
So Iraq is in turmoil, and a full-fledged sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites looks imminent. Probably, USA will need to interfere yet again (there’s oil at stake, after all), and the inefficiency of Nouri al-Maliki’s rule has been exposed.
However, beyond all that, something else is worth discussing here. The message and motives of ISIS have clearly shown that they intend to restore the Caliphate, like it or not. This has sent the alarm bells ringing: Caliphate poses a threat to both Western hegemony in the region as well as the misrule of regional despots. Quite obviously, everyone is alarmed at the success of ISIS.
The fact that ISIS have shown a visible dislike for Shiite rule in Iraq further adds a new dimension to the age-old question: Sunni Caliphate or Shiite Imamate? Which one is better as a self-rule option for Muslims, and more importantly, for preserving the peace of the entire region? Continue Reading
Seek knowledge, even if you have to go all the way to China!
The above is one of the most well known and oft-quoted statements of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Even though its origins are questionable and not entirely verifiable, it has served as an inspiration for scientific thought and rational ideas in the Islamic world for centuries.
Sadly, the present-day Muslims seem to be detached from that very rational and scientific learning that once was a hallmark of the Islamic world. According to Science Watch, out of the top 20 countries in terms of overall scientific output, Turkey is the only Muslim representative, with a modest rank of 19.
A civilization that had a humble beginning but soon reached the pinnacle of scientific and social learning seems to have come full circle. What exactly has gone wrong? Continue Reading