When writing about India is actually just writing about America

The web magazine Slate posted a piece, Friends From India which I had initially thought was a parody. Its subtitle is: “I grew up watching the show in Mumbai. I worry about the damage its gender stereotypes still do there.”

It’s really bizarre. The author is Indian, and supposedly is making a comment about India. But the piece isn’t about India at all, but the worries and concerns of a liberal person in the West. Friends isn’t that important in driving social views in India, and gender relations and attitudes toward homosexuality in India have little to do with Friends. But, today Friends seems retrograde to many American liberals, because of its attitude toward gender relations and gayness, which were mainstream in the 1990s.

So it seems here that to get another piece on Friends and social justice into Slate, they just commissioned a piece that was officially about India, but quite obviously wasn’t.

This gets to a major dynamic in American society today which worries me somewhat: foreign affairs being filtered through purely American concerns and perceptions. Americans care so little about the rest of the world that they turn the rest of the world into the United States in substance, if not exterior styles.

The problem is that we are living through a great transition in the world. America is no longer as much the center, and economic, social, and political, power will rebalance toward Asia. In such a multipolar world pandering to purely American preoccupations will lead to gross misunderstandings and likely catastrophe.

104 thoughts on “When writing about India is actually just writing about America”

  1. I tend to be among the more educated Indians, but I didn’t even know about Friends until I went to the US in the early 2000’s.

    1. “Friends” is actually a very stupid show. Not that I didn’t watch it in the 1990s. But it is true that it is so weird that a show set in Manhattan would feature not a single major character of color.

      1. I assume you were in the US then, so much more likely to know about the show than me.

        For me it is difficult to decide what is really weird: that people didn’t find it weird then, or that people find it weird that people didn’t find it weird then.

        (I responded to your comment on the other post, but it was gone into moderation, perhaps because it was long with links. I hope I am not troubling the moderators here too much).

        1. I was a child in the 1990s. “Friends” probably entered my consciousness around the mid to late 90’s (so I would have been around 11 or something).

          The 1990s and early 2000s were much less PC than things are now. Even when I was in college (class of 2009), social justice was much less of a thing than it is now. So people probably didn’t wonder why all the major characters on a sitcom were White. But to be honest, it would be pretty weird for a group of friends in 1990s Manhattan to not have even one black member. Unless, maybe real people do live fairly racially segregated lives, which is a pity. As for homosexuality, I think they played with the fact that Joey and Chandler acted like a couple sometimes. But things were really homophobic in the broader culture. When I watch “Will and Grace” now, I don’t understand why I thought it was funny.

          “Big Bang Theory” (another fairly stupid show) has Raj. But I guess, since it is about physicists, there has to be an Indian guy.

          On an unrelated note (sort of unrelated), one of my major issues with the “Desi” community growing up was the narrowness of their vision. All of us were learning Hindustani music but the other kids were clear that they were going to be doctors and computer scientists and that was all that their parents were willing to entertain. The girls would do an Arangetram but then probably never dance Bharat Natyam again. My desire to pursue classical music as a career was understood by no one except my parents (though they are typical Desi economists and doctors). Even Ustad ji was like “Beta, what’s your real job going to be?”

          Indian-Americans (we were one of the few “Muslim” families learning music and one of two Pakistani families) seem to live fairly constrained lives. But again, I’m talking about 10 or 15 years ago. Perhaps things have changed.

          Indian-Americans would make an interesting post on their own. But I’m not the person to write it. (Pakistani-Americans are generally boring and their only concerns were the Masjid and getting ahead in life. ).

          1. Generally South Asian parents put extra pressure on their kids to be academically successful so as to be one of ‘the professions’ like doctor, IT guy, etc.
            Risk taking attitudes, follow your heart , sports , entertainment especially in the western countries’ entertainment area like dance /music are frowned upon.
            In the BBC ‘Strictly Come dancing’ series which I see for many years, one Indian woman (Anita rani) , Mark Ramprakash who lifted the trophy 10 years back (half Indian I guess) that is all . Last year there was an Iranian origin guy in the run who did fairly well.

          2. Yes, they live fairly constrained lives, but in some sense I understand: they grew up under much harsher conditions, and want to ensure financial safety for their children, and may overcompensate in this direction.

            Also, though my parents gave me freedom to pursue whatever I liked, often being criticized by relatives who strongly exhorted them to force me into one of the standard career choices, I sometimes wish they listened to my relatives and forced me. The advantage of being a doctor or a computer scientist is that whatever you talent level is, you can find some comfortable job that suits it. If you try to be a professional musician or artist, on the other hand, you have to be really at the top to earn a good living, and to be at the top needs a lot of luck too.

            The risk profiles are of course different in the US, more conducive to alternative options, but desi parents carry forward judgements of risk profiles from the times of their own growing up.

          3. We had to be academically successful as well. But my parents showed great support for the arts. They paid for Voice lessons in Western Classical vocal, for piano, for sheet music etc. Hindustani music was their thing though and that was where they laid down the law that as long as I was living under their roof I had to study with Ustad ji. Now I appreciate it, but when I was fourteen or fifteen, I did sometimes (ok quite often) think Guru ji was quite annoying.

          4. @froginthewell: If you are not a doctor or computer scientist, what are you? (Don’t answer if you think I’m prying).

            My parents were from fairly financially successful families back in the “old country”. My dada was a civil servant (Railways) and my nana was a criminal lawyer. Not super rich, but certainly “professional class”. I would imagine most Indians who could afford to come to the US in the 70s and 80s probably were from fairly well-off families in India. My dad initially came to the States for higher education and my mom followed him. They then returned to Pakistan to work and have children. Then they moved back to the States.

            For the older generation to be risk-averse is one thing. For their kids born in the US to not see beyond doctor, lawyer, computer scientist, engineer (and later MBA) is a little strange. Though I take your point about the arts being risky, but one can get into academia, which promises some kind of job security. My dad taught economics for a while.

          5. Zack, yes very lucky.

            KJO can do whatever he wants (one of my “friends” calls me Karan, it’s a long story). But I guess he is both “mata” and “pita” to the twins.

          6. Check out Manish Malhotra’s latest insta post – quite scandalous tbh.

            Even in Pak the “fashion scene” is quite out there

          7. I don’t see anything on Manish Malhotra’s insta which is scandalous. Perhaps I’m not seeing the right link (send it to me privately on FB).

          8. Kabir: No I don’t think you’re prying at all, but perhaps I shouldn’t write more about myself on a publicly accessible space. I totally agree with: “For their kids born in the US to not see beyond doctor, lawyer, computer scientist, engineer (and later MBA) is a little strange. “.

            My parents forced me to learn some carnatic music when I was a kid, and that gave me a pretty miserable time.

          9. I think being forced to learn anything is a problem. I don’t know much about Carnatic music (other than that some ragas like Kirvani and Hamsadvani have made their way up North) but I’m sure some people find it beautiful.

            In my own experience, I didn’t like Hindustani Music to start with. Why would you expect a child who has grown up in the US to get Hindustani music? But once I really got into the intricacies of it, I came to appreciate it a lot more. Now, if a day passes without my doing “riyaz” even if it is just 10 minutes with the tanpura app, I start feeling anxious. It’s like going to the gym. If you are used to going and you don’t go, then you start feeling bugged.

            I think Hindustani music and Urdu poetry kept me in touch with my culture (at least theoretically this was the idea). Without them I would have become a generic American kid with a desi name. Not that I’m judging people like that.

          10. To me it’s absolutely believable that many/most white people in the 90s wouldn’t have had any black people in their close social circle, even/especially in Manhattan. The show Girls (also incredibly stupid) is about upper middle class Manhattan millennial women, who you would expect to be among the most woke and pro-diversity groups in the world. But when the creator got called out for not having any major non-white characters, she defended herself by essentially saying that she was just representing the realities of her life, which had no black people in it.

            Self-segregation is still a big thing. A good fraction of East Asians and white people at my high school would only have friends of their own race, despite the school being relatively diverse (I’d guess ~30% non-white), and there being very little or virtually no racism on either side (there was definitely a good deal of racism from the faculty, but not among the student body as far as I could tell). The trend largely continued at college, although white people were less cliquish due to now being only 30% of the population, and not having much history of conscious self-segregation due to most of the work previously being handled by demographic inertia.

          11. Kabir, You’re right that some people do find Carnatic music beautiful, though my personal impression is that its appeal is “less universal” than Hindustani; this is also why Carnatic connoisseurs can appreciate Hindustani more than the other way round, Hindustani simply has broader appeal. Of course Hindustani musicians like Abdul Kareem Khan who adapted Carnatic ragas into Hindustani could obviously appreciate Carnatic – but that is because these are extraordinarily talented legends who can transcend all sorts of boundaries effortlessly, because of some very deep level understanding. Speaking of which, I remember viewing a clip of Nazakat and Salamat Ali Khan where they sang some music from some (I think remote) western region of Pakistan; it looked so different from Hindustani music, I found it hard to follow because it was so different and I didn’t know how to start relating to it, and I was amazed at how these great men integrated elements from such completely different perspectives. I can’t seem to find a link to it now unfortunately.

            I am certainly not as much into (Carnatic) music as you are (into Hindustani): I don’t sing, and the reason I stopped learning music was that it became painfully obvious that I was not suited for it. I simply didn’t have enough feel for music.

          12. Some people are “not suited ” for music and others just don’t like performing. My brother also had to learn from Ustad ji. Initially, he was supposed to play tabla to accompany me as the vocalist. Later, he decided that since the tabla accompanist is never going to be given as much attention as the main performer, he would learn to sing as well. Ustad ji was initially super excited–two Pakistani Muslim boys that he could mold into Nazakat-Salamat. But for the usual reasons of sibling rivalry, this dream died as well.
            The truth is that my brother is by nature a shy and retiring person. He used to paint and he still writes so it is not that he is not artistic. But being made to sing in front of guests was not his thing. On the other hand, I wouldn’t let the guests go until they had heard multiple songs.

            But really the whole point of this exercise was to raise children who would appreciate Hindustani music. In the West, every child has to take choir or orchestra or some kind of art form. Though of course most of these kids are not going to be artists, they at least know who Mozart and Beethoven are. In India/Pakistan (worse in Pakistan), if you ask young people about Tansen or Sadarang you are going to be met with blank stares. As I told my students last week at the end of their semester, not everyone can be Tansen but you can at least be “kaan sens”–a knowledgeable and appreciative audience for the performer.

  2. Indians in America used to be so proud of their culture, the strength and resilience over thousands of year. Now it seem Indians also joined the league of helpless victims of omnipotent white culture. Every group seems now think that the only way to gain power is play powerless victims.

    1. Desis are still proud of their culture (at least some of us are). We used to go to classical music concerts nearly every weekend dressed in our saris and shalwar kurtas. Maybe my family’s social circle was just atypical.

  3. When did Americans really know about or cared about non-US world – especially the Asian part. Part of “Americanization” is to drop any real concerns or knowledge about foreign countries and cultures. Self centeredness is part of american media ethos.

    1. Part of “Americanization” is to drop any real concerns or knowledge about foreign countries and cultures.

      Isnt that true of all cultures,when one considers the avg dude/dudette.

      The commentators here are cosmopolitans, however much they want to retreat into Sudra/Dalit identity or Urdu/Hindustani.

      For most it is about, what can knowledge of English/Chinese benefit me.

      Intellectual exercises in culture/genetics is mainly for those who are at the very least economically (and socially) stable.

      For most of the world, its about putting food on the table and paying the rent.

      Even for most immigrants into the US, it is the same. “Americanization”, is just that dont have time for other issues.

  4. I haven’t known Friends while in India because “the bold and the beautiful” and “Santa Barbara” were are only regular TV shows on Star TV.

    Anyway, while I find annoying that urban folk of India download the US language for MRA, gay rights and race relations* without nuance, there is an effect of gender relations in the US on India.

    Indian women constantly hear about how oppressed they are and how glorious feminist cause is in the West (and Scandinavia). But shows like Friends seem to indicate that things aren’t (weren’t?) as glorious as one is led to believe.

    For certain types of woke liberals in India, this reality forces them to either change their narrative or lose their argument that the West is the best in everything. Perhaps that is the context for writers of these articles.

    * (somebody wrote an article about not having a Dalit museum or Dalit month, like the Black month in the US)

  5. Fraxinicus, I have noticed that Indians and Jews get along great in the US. Why is this?

    Many millions of caucasion and hispanic Americans are deeply associated with eastern linked spiritual communities. This might be a major driver of the high rate of inter-marriage between Asians and caucasion (including hispanics) in the US.

    Anecdotally, there are very few African Americans in non humanities academia, technology, venture capital, consulting, investment banking, medicine, entrepreneurship. But those few who are in these fields socialize quite well with their fellow Asian heritage, hispanic and caucasion peers.

    Do you observe that people socialize based on their interests, fields of study, or business/work associations? If so isn’t this the primary driver of self segregation? What if anything should be done about this?

  6. Razib Khan, thanks for correcting me about Nepal 🙂

    One of my biggest beefs about America and Americans has always been how American ethnocentric Americans are. Not self centered; but unable to understand and see anything except through a very Americanized lens and almost completely unaware of the color of their lens.

    Almost all discussions about foreigners have always been mostly about America and Americans. Foreigners rarely understand this which leads to substantial misunderstandings and challenges with collaboration.

    Several books written by South Vietnamese illustrate this phenomenon. When they visited the US in the 1960s and 1970s, they were treated with great disrespect. Large numbers of young Americans waving North Vietnamese flags and communist symbols would protest them and throw food at them, calling them evil. American members of congress and Americans serving in the executive branch would treat them with a great deal of disrespect. Naturally South Vietnamese would get very angry. This would be covered by the South Vietnamese press and fuel anti Americanism among the South Vietnamese public. Even South Vietnamese that voted for the opposition that lost South Vietnamese elections felt their honor was insulted by American arrogant mistreatment of their imperfect leaders.

    It is fascinating to read each South Vietnamese leader say the exact same thing. They didn’t understand America at all; and most of what they thought they understood about America was completely wrong. But they only learnt this after living many years inside the US.

    Another example is the American discussion about the 1979 Carter backed coup d’état against the Shah. Carter and the US worked through Ayatollah Sayyed Khomeini just as America had worked through Khomeini and the Quom Marjeya in the 1953 coup. No rational holistic American discussion about these two coup d’état was possible. Reagan supporters would blame Carter. Carter supporters would blame Republicans. And very soon the discussion was completely about American politics.

    Another example was Eisenhower’s, the US’s, and CIA’s policy of supporting Nasser. Nasser was always the CIA’s boy. But Nasser understood America better than most. Nasser understood that it was far more dangerous to be America’s friend than America’s enemy; as Kissinger often said. The best way to maximize America’s respect for a foreigner and American help for a foreigner is to publicly criticize America. When the US would get uppity with Nasser or not give Egypt enough foreign aid, Nasser would participate in a very stylized self-indulgent for show “anti Americanism” designed to inflate American ego. America would promptly increase US aid to Egypt and do what Nasser wanted.

    Americans love to be criticized. Maybe this is part of America’s “we are all sinners” complex. Most Americans almost go into a type of organism when criticized or lashed. Most Americans say hit me more, hit me more. America’s version of self lashing during Muharram. But Americans don’t have the dignity and honor to lash themselves. Rather Americans demand that foreigners or oppressed minorities lash them. The Shiites are far more honorable and lash themselves; because they don’t want to hurt anyone else. Americans by contrast demand that others be drawn into their self hate drama and in the process cause a great deal of harm to foreigners and “oppressed minorities”. One reason Americans like this is because Americans have an inflated ego and love to be center of attention and to exaggerate America’s influence and power relative to foreigners and “oppressed minorities”. This very egotistical “we matter” drama queen mania is a bigger cause of global anti-Americanism than all the harm America’s other actions cause foreigners and “oppressed minorities”. It drives foreigners crazy.

    Razib Khan, what is the worst part of this piece?:
    -that Americans (these Indian Americans are American in though process) are self flagellating themselves?
    -that they are using a post modernist lens to understand India rather than using other lenses; for example eastern lenses to understand India?
    -that they might export American drama queen “hit me, hit me” ego to India; causing India to also demand that foreigners and “oppressed minorities” hit them for to inflate Indian ego?

    I think that the third possibility is the most immoral and worrying.

  7. “Many millions of caucasion and hispanic Americans are deeply associated with eastern linked spiritual communities. This might be a major driver of the high rate of inter-marriage between Asians and caucasion (including hispanics) in the US.”

    Eastern linked spiritual communities are not the reason for the high rate of intermarriage between Asians and whites. It is social class and the assimilation of Asian into the majority culture.

    1. All are true. Asians and caucasions marry each other in shared social circles. Same universities. Same professions. Same companies. Same business associations. Same charitable/NGO affiliations. Same interests (such as hiking in nature). Same clubs. Same spiritual/religious circles. And it happens “A lot”. Many scores of examples in my own social circle. Maybe even over a hundred. Can’t even count the number.

      “assimilation of Asian into the majority culture” . . . This happens organically through association, friendships and dating rather than through consciously vocally expressed preferences most of the time. A lot of the assimilation is the caucasion trying to become more oriental and exotic. This is my anecdotal observation.

      Why do you think this happens so much? Many around me speculate because of past life connections.

      1. Indians and Pakistanis want to marry “white people”–to become more American.

        They do not want to marry “blacks” as that is considered marrying down.

        Sorry to say, but “desis” in America are some of the most racist people out there (“model minority” and all that).

        1. “Sorry to say, but “desis” in America are some of the most racist people out there”
          100% agreed on this. But I don’t know how to state this in a way that is not offensive. But without a doubt Desi Americans, Asian Americans and Latino Americans are more racist than caucasion Americans. And even within this rarefied community Desi Americans stand out.

          “May 14, 2018 at 5:33 am
          Indians and Pakistanis want to marry “white people”–to become more American.”
          Maybe this touches too close to home for me since many people close and dear to me married Americans. They didn’t do this to become more American in every case I know. And if anything the American caucasion compromised more than the other way around.

          This is a sensitive topic, but maybe I should lay it out there:
          1) Many more caucasion females are interested in dating Desi men than Desi females (and I mean caucasion females with high goodness, status, health and appearance)
          2)Many more caucasion males of high goodness, status, health and attractiveness are interested in dating Desi females than Desi males (maybe this is a little less true than point 1?)
          3)Many Desi males are “%^&*”, have character flaws, and aren’t exactly the best candidates in the universe.
          4) Desi females tend to be higher class than Desi males
          5) It is easier to find a good caucasian match; especially for Desis who value character, religiosity/spirituality, charitable sacrifice

          I hesitate to openly say these things since these anecdotes might not apply generally. Does anyone else find this to be true? Is this too harsh?

          I don’t know why Desis aren’t more open to marrying African Americans, and yes the answer to this question might be troubling. [Some Deshis close to me have married men of African heritage.] Many Desis marry Latinos. But then most Latinos are caucasions.

          These anecdotes from the dating market don’t apply to semi arranged marriages since spiritual, religious and family leaders suggest the pairings after due diligence. If someone wants to marry a high quality Deshi, this might be a good route.

          What are everyone’s thoughts?

          1. To clarify:
            I have no problem if a “Desi” wants to marry a “white” because he/she is genuinely in love with her/him (not to be heteronormative). I can see how this may work. I grew up in the States and I am interested in Western Classical Music etc. So in my industry (arts and culture broadly), there are many more white people out there. If I am dating within my industry, than I would tend to be attracted to a white person. If I am going to look for desis, they would tend to be doctors and computer scientists and I would be incredibly bored whenever they opened their mouths (no matter how nice they are to look at). Love is love and I think you don’t really love someone if all you see about them is their race or religion. I am not one of those people for whom marrying a “Muslim” is super important.

            My problem is more with those “desis” who think marrying into the majority community is the quickest path to assimilation.

            As for why “desis” don’t marry African-Americans: I think the answer lies in simple racism. Also, Af-Am’s are already marginalized in the US. Why would one minority want to further marginalize themselves by marrying into a stigmatized group? I know of Pakistani-American parents who would accept their child marrying a white person and converting him/her to Islam but not accept their child marrying an African-American Muslim. On the other hand, if the African-American was super high-class like President and Mrs. Obama, maybe the Pakistani parents would be thrilled. Perhaps this is more of a class issue than a race issue (but there is definitely a racial angle).

            My own personal case is slightly more complicated because I deeply value Urdu and Hindustani Music. Any potential partner of mine must be willing to at least understand why I value Urdu. I don’t expect them to start speaking Urdu (though the attempt to learn may be nice). I can speak to them in English, French, Italian whatever. If I married an Italian, I would attempt to improve my very basic Italian to the point that I could speak to my in-laws in their own language. Similarly regarding Hindustani Music. I could never marry someone who thought it was garbage (Lots of Pakistanis are in this category). My spouse doesn’t have to get into all the intricacies of the discipline, but they need to get that it is a discipline.

          2. Kabir
            Well said. Your expectations are realistic.

            This said there is nothing wrong with marrying a good muslim whose theological views and faith are similar to yours and your family’s. [Wives marry a family rather than just a husband.] Finding a spouse that matches your family is usually a good thing. Sharing a love of music is a good thing (music is a gate to the soul, Allah and spirituality). Sharing a love of Allah expressed similarly is also generally a good thing. Finding a wife of strong values and character if possible would greatly aid your life. I would observe the way she treats the least fortunate and the outwardly seemingly lowest among us for a window into her character.

            It is okay to do deep vetting and be very careful about who you select as a life partner. It is usually worse to be married to a negative partner than to never marry at all.

            Of course good spiritual muslims can come from any race or ethnicity. This matters little. Inshallah what is best will happen always.

          3. There is nothing wrong with marrying a “good Muslim” if that is important to you.

            “Wife” is very hetero-normative 🙂

          4. many times , selection of marriage partner/boyfriend /spouse is dictated in the social circles we move in which is again dictated by our professional and hobby interests and ambitions. Mostly it is not dictated by racism if Indo-Asians rarely marry with blacks. If someone is very keen on sports, rapp , boxing , jazz , church matters , etc there is every possibility there is a spouse/friend for them from black communities. Since south Asians don’t have such interests , there is less mixing . i.e. some cultural congruence dictates personal choices

          5. That’s not true tbh / there is a huge colour/race prejudice in the Desi community when it comes to Marital partners.

            I can think of a fair few examples where of immense family pressure on someone who married black.

          6. Folks, a somewhat off-topic question (so feel free to delete etc.). Is there such a thing as a shariah-friendly housing? If so is it a thing in Pakistan?

            I just saw this news item about something like that in India: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/shariah-model-flats-facing-mecca-clocks-in-sync-with-azan/articleshow/64151619.cms

            The article does quote a Muslim scholar saying that the concept doesn’t make sense and is just a gimmick to make money.

          7. Fake news
            There is a lot of hysteria about Muslim minorities; Shlomo Sand made an excellent point that Islamophobia this century is a lot like Judophobia early last century.

            I’m not an apologist; Islam needs a reformation (is Bahai faith that; are we Muslims who love pork?) but it’s just whipping up false panic about Muslims becoming a 5th column

          8. What is there to panic here? Tons of Indian Hindu builders make vastu complaint homes, so this would only be a Muslim analogue of that. And it is all done by private citizens without any Government funds.

            I apologize if you think I wrote this here to spread panic. That wasn’t my intention at all: if anything I was being slightly proud of India possibly innovating the market.

          9. @Zack: Kerala is a different planet altogether from the rest of India, and it is advisable to keep different priors when you interpret news from there. A lot of cultural innovations happen there which might seem like uncanny valley in rest of India.

            Here is for instance a Christian TV channel featuring singing of *carnatic Christian* prayers – Christian devotional songs set to carnatic ragas and very much in the traditional style of carnatic pieces (songs start at 2:00) full with typically carnatic embellishments such as sangatis, madhyama-kAla-sAhityam and all that. Not many people outside Kerala might even know that carnatic christian songs even exist. The songs as well as the anchor’s remarks use quite sanskritized Malayalam.

            Often, Hindutva folks from other parts of India don’t understand these aspects of Kerala and do moronically raise panic. Possibly you interpreted my comment the way those people would. Yes, it is true that Hindutva has more than its fair share of retards (I say this as a Hindutva guy myself), and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those morons raised panic at this news item, as they do with Yeshu sahasranamam.

  8. ‘1979 Carter backed coup d’état against the Shah. ‘

    This is absurd. The Israel lobby and Saudi Arabia pretty much determine American foreign policy on the middle east. Neither israel or Saudi Arabia were pleased with Ayatollah Khomeini and the success of the Iranian Islamic revolution.

    1. Raj, Israel also backed Ayatollah Sayyed Khomeini until 1982. This is widely known inside Iran and among Khomeinists. When Khamenei’s allies tried to discredit Rafsanjani, Khatami, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mohsen Rezaee; they harped on their past negotiations and contacts with Israel. Of course these allegations were true; they were negotiating on behalf of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyed Khomeini.

      Israelis initially thought that Khomeini might be less anti Israeli than the Shah. Israel initially thought the anti Jewish rhetoric was for public consumption and quietly kept backing Khomeini. In the 1980-1988 Iran/Iraq war Israel backed Khomeini against Saddam. If not for substantial Israeli backing it is likely that Saddam would have overrun and occupied Iran. Israel similarly backed Iran’s allies (Lebanese Shiites) in the Lebanese civil war 1975-1982. Israel even invaded Lebanon allied with Amal–which was also supported by Khomeini.

      In retrospect the Israelis misunderstood Khomeini. However I for one am glad that Israel saved Iran 1980-1988. Saddam was a greater threat than Khomeini. The Iranian people, Iraqi people and whole world owe Israel a huge debt of gratitude. If Saddam had overrun Iran, he likely would have created a vast empire that would still dominate the world today. Saddam or his sadistic psychopathic sons would still be in power; maybe killing millions in genocides.

  9. Re marrying out Black or White has not been a big Issue in Sri Lanka, even in the 18th Century. Identity was to a great extent self identification. Had a classmate (part of his surname was Witten (as in white)) who was many shades darker than me. He identified as Eurasian and could prove direct male ancestry from Europe. That enabled him to emigrate to Australia, under the white only rule in the 1970’s. The economy of Sri Lanka had collapsed, and everyone was trying to get out.

    My grandfathers brother was married to an American missionary. Many of my cousins/2nd cousins (male and female) (and there are many) are married to all hues, Caucasian, Chinese and Indonesian. No Black/African American that I know of, we are black enough.

    There was a family in Galle, whose father was from Barbados. He was a Judge in Ceylon. One of the daughters (Estelle Roberts) was my mothers (Peace BeeBee) classmate, see photo link below. The Roberts progeny are quite successful in SL, and some have emigrated.

    Very upper class (the Dias Bandaranaike dynasty, PM’s/Presidents) Gwen Dias Abeysinghe (nee Dias Bandaranaike) is half Trinidadian. Gwen DB’s mother was Esther Ramskoon from Trinidad.

    My sisters have friends (two sisters) who are half African. They too are regular middle class urban Sri Lankans

    One my classmates (passed away) is married to a Somalian. She is now pretty much a socially an upper middle class Sri Lankan .

    When you go to the South, plenty of mixed families with the influx of tourism starting in the 70’s. Do not get the impression of discrimination for the children, some of them who should be in the there mid to late twenties.

    I think this all goes back to a culture/society that is not stratified.


  10. Zack Zavid and froginthewell, Shariah compliant housing sounds to me like a gimmick. I would need to consult Islamic scholars to verify. But I say, watch your wallet! India has far too many gimmicks to separate good people from their wallets.

    Zack Zavid, I would argue that the primary threat to muslims in most nonmuslim majority countries comes from Islamists. In general nonmuslims don’t do nearly enough to protect good muslims from Islamists, and in many cases actually support Islamists against good muslims. Which is why muslims lack freedom of art, thought, intuition and feeling.

    When nonmuslims want to restrict muslim immigration or deport muslim migrants; they know that this will likely result in the oppression of said muslims by Islamists. This too is a form of backing Islamists against muslims.

    Having said this, every country has the right to carefully vet all immigrants and visitors and prevent criminals from entering their country.

    Judophobia is still alive and well around the world, including in America.

    1. This was about legal Muslim citizens of the country using their private money in a completely non-obtrusive way (and possibly benefiting the business of Hindu and Christian home developers in the process!). There is a possible angle of the faithful being sold snake oil as you say – perhaps experts are needed to clarify this aspect – but refugee-vetting etc. are completely different issues.

    2. I have not heard of sharia compliant housing from any Muslim countries . But if it is marketing gimmick , so be it. What matters is if a housing estate discriminates against people on the basis of religion, race, language , etc – i.e. for purchase/sale it is available to citizens.
      In India , a strong preference in housing condition comes from vegetarians who would like to be keep away meat or smell of it .

      About Christianity and traditional Indian music, it is prevalent in Tamilnadu also . Actually , Christian poems and songs have been written in traditional Tamil poetic meters and set to carnatic ragas/talas. Christians have closely shadowed the bigger society in cultural forms. Many churches have also ‘dwaja stambham’ like Hindu temples or even have temple elephants

      1. In Pakistan, Punjabi Christians sing Christmas carols in Punjabi. The tune may be that of “Silent Night, Holy Night” but the words are most definitely not English.

    3. Zack,
      I liked the article in the Guardian that Islamophobia is the new antisemitism. Sand made the point that the Charlie Hebdo picture of The Prophet of God (peace be upon him) relied upon the same caricature (the big nose etc) that was used in anti-Jewish cartoons of the last century. As they say in La Belle France: Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose (those who don’t speak French, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”)

      I think I posted the article on my Facebook. But the article is actually about the death of the French intellectual class. The antisemitism/ Islamophobia thing is a kind of throw away comment at the end.

        1. LOL, it’s not my article. I saw the link on Arts and Letters Daily. Anyone who reads “The Guardian” can discuss it 🙂

      1. The leftists represented by the Guardian have got a strategic partnership with Islamists and leftists will come out losers. That strategic alliance is a new unspoken, unacknowledged phenomenon of the past decade. This is the kind of alliance which downgrades ‘Islamic atheists’ , freethinkers like Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen and apostates and in the process are losing the support of majority of ordinary people.
        It will also make sure politicians like Trump can get votes, and people like Jeremy Corbyn will never be elected to power.

        1. V.C.Vijayaraghavan it is much worse than that. UK nonmuslims frequently back Islamists against UK muslims. UK muslims don’t have freedom of art, speech and thought.

          1. AnAn , , you have to be more specific than UK nonMulsims, which is 97-98% of the population. It is a combination of political elite, media elite . If you are an English nationalist who says English culture must be followed by all immigrants, you can be sent to jail. If you are shilling for Sharia must be imposed all over the world, you can do so under freedom of expression. Ordinary people are not fools to miss the irony. There is a big gulf between western elites and people and it will show up sooner or later in the kind of leaders who emerge.

        2. “The Guardian” is an extremely respected newspaper. Sorry you don’t like it.

          Shlomo Sand is an Israeli professor who lives in Tel Aviv. Hardly some lover of Muslims. But he has good points to make about the crisis of the French intellectual class.

          1. “Extremely respected” does not mean anything. Respectability is no guide to common sense. Yes, they have an image of pro-social justice due to their views and reportage in the past. As the stock market saying goes Past is no guide to future. They have driven themselves into a corner by not standing up for values like freedom of expression or gender equality or even Englishness when it comes to British Muslims, while vociferously demanding the same from the rest of the society.
            The increase in antisemitism in the west is driven by increase in the Muslim immigration; that does not not prevent the opportunism in hiding behind Jews in assuming a faux victim posture.

          2. We get it. You don’t like “The Guardian”. More of a “Daily Mail” fan mate?

            Shlomo Sand is not a Muslim but a Jewish Israeli. Your views on Islam are frankly quite bigoted. This is getting to the level of the ridiculous now.

      2. Kabir, did you see the Charlie Hebdo pictures on the Prophet pbuh and compare them to their other cartoons (for example on Jesus and Mary)? They are atheists and disrespect all spiritual and religious figures from every religion. If anything they treated Mohammed pbuh much nicer than they usually do. Their point, I believe, was to defy the ban on the depiction of the prophet Mohammed.

        I don’t regard the cartoons as anti muslim.

        Many Sufis and Shia have been slaughtered for 14 centuries because their art depicted light, color, dancing, great masters and joy; and this was regarded by extremist Sunnis (not you) as Haram. Unless nonmuslims are free to discuss Islam how can muslims be free to discuss Islam? Unless muslims are free to discuss Islam how can dialogue happen? Unless dialogue happens how can the civil war end?

        Many muslims can make a Koranic case for allowing Mohammed pbuh art but hesitate to do so out of fear. I am afraid to make such a case too.
        Christians in India are often very Indianized. Many Indians believe that Jesus visited India during his teenage years and twenties. Many Indians also believe Jesus returned to India after the crucifixion. St Thomas is thought to have gone to India around the time of Jesus. This is another reason St Thomas Christians are often very Indianized and use Carnatic ragas.

        Many of my close friends are Kerela Christians. I love Kerela Christians. I could make some observations about Kerela but will leave that for another time.

        1. No one should ever depict the Prophet of God (peace be upon him). This is not done. All Muslims, from what you are calling “extremist Sunnis” to “good Muslims” (who gave you the right to decide who is a good Muslim?) are fully agreed on this. Depicting Rasul-e-Akram in any fashion is not done. He is our Prophet, not some dude. Even those of us who are not particularly religious understand that this taboo is not to be violated.

          I trust Shlomo Sand that the depiction of the Arab is similar to that of the Jew and that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons were racist. Not that anyone deserved to die for them, but they can still be called racist. I have no time for racist and Islamophobic magazines.

          1. This is a very healthy attitude. I wish more Hindus had the Hindu-analogs of such beliefs.

          2. “No one should ever depict the Prophet of God (peace be upon him). This is not done”- Is this Kabir guy kept in Brown Pundits as an specimen of over-educated Islamist? See how unbending his vews are and he wants to impose it on everybody? “this taboo is not to be violated.” And this guy wonders why Pakistan is such a hellhole? This guy is the direct answer why.

            Just contrast this naked Islamist with the Hindu nationalist here. Those guys are also hurt with news and views that directly undermine their deeply held beliefs (yes ridiculous views). But they are not firebreathing fatwas of intolerance. Do anyone doubt that this Kabir guy condones massacre of more than a dozen for drawing those cartoons? nd they say Islamophobia is irrational!

          3. Since this is Razib’s post I won’t moderate your comment but I don’t appreciate slandering K as an Islamist.

            Kabir is simply expressing his views; one doesn’t have to agree with them but it’s also absurd to be so nasty about them by name calling etc..

            Pakistan is a hellhole because of snarks like yourself mate who can only criticise but never contribute..

          4. Shafiq,
            I very clearly said “No one deserved to die for [the cartoons]”. If you had read the whole comment instead of just cherry-picking the bits you don’t like, you would have presumably read that line as well.

            I am not an “Islamist”. That is a smear and I deeply resent it. How many times do I have to say that I am a cultural Muslim?

            Presumably, as someone who is using a Muslim name on this forum, you understand that there are huge cultural taboos against any depiction of human beings but certainly against depictions of Rasul-e-Akram (pbuh). Even the movie made on his life “The Messenger” never showed his face. There is nothing wrong with respecting cultural norms, whether or not we personally believe in them. I believe this is known among decent people as civility.

          5. Kabir is pretty clear that he doesn’t endorse violence. Reading between the lines is a slippery slope.

            Kabir and Zack are ideals for card-carrying Hindus to look upwards to. Zack’s immediate and spontaneous response above to the news link I posted came from misinterpreting my intention (understandable since context is subjective and priors will usually not align well), but it came from a healthy attitude to defend his heritage.

            Edit: P.S.: This disagreement apart, I think Shafiq’s other comments here have been quite insightful. Super intelligent fellow.

          6. I don’t think my heritage includes the Muslims of Kerala haha.

            My contention is that there is far too much scaremongering when It comes to Islam & Muslims to the point now that we are normalising “Islamophobia.”

            As long as I’ve been on the internet; I’ve been convinced Islam needs an urgent reformation. How it will reform and evolution is the trillion dollar question.

            For instance I don’t agree with the hijab, azaan (Friday afternoon is enough, Islamic dress (especially those who aren’t well-groomed) but a lot of my disagreement with Muslim culture probably have to do with class.

            A lot of the “norms” we see are lower or middle class; id like to think the Muslim upper classes are more forward thinking..

          7. Zack ,it is the Quran-e-Pak which outlines that there will be 5 daily prayers and (I believe) that the azaan will call the faithful to prayer. The azaan is not going anywhere. But if you live in a non-Muslim country why should it bother you? There are no loud azaans in the US. I would presume the UK is similar.

            I do agree that loud and off-pitch azaans are not pleasant. Try living in Pakistan where there are multiple mosques per square mile and all of them have loudspeakers. Calling the faithful to prayer requires “musical” training (though calling the azaan “music” could get me in enough trouble with the super-religious).

          8. But if you live in a non-Muslim country why should it bother you?

            In the village I live Muslims are about 30%. National avg is 9% as I recall.
            3 mosques, and they all got new loudspeakers, courtesy Saudi Arabia. So prayers 5 times a day, 3 mosques are not in sync and most often horrible voices.

            Its not just the Muslims, its the Catholics (not so much Protestant), Hindus and Buddhist. Some seems to have sent a memo that the Louder prayers and music God will hear it better.

            When I visit my sister in Negombo, 5 fucking a clock in the morning they have hymns or something like that, very loud at the 3rd floor level of sisters Apt.

            I say ban the lot. If the noise can be heard beyond the church/temple premises whatever it is too loud.

          9. Yes, noise should be regulated and that is the responsibility of the national or local government.

            My point was that it is not azaan specific. Zach was complaining about the azaan.

  11. I am not a Pakistani, I am a Bangladeshi. I have plenty of things to say about Pakistan and Islam. Hopefully contribute in near future.

    1. I had a Bangladeshi-American friend named Shafiq. We learned music from the same Ustad.

      I hope you are not him, LOL

    2. Agree with froginthewell that Shafiq is super smart.

      Shafiq, I would love to ask you questions on Bangladesh on another thread.

      1. I am basically a far less intelligent and informed version of Razib with more centrist leanings. I dislike nationalists and religious-supremacists of all hue but I am willing to listen and engage with them because the understanding is vital. However people who simply want to shut down views or expressions they don’t like incense me. My university friend from same department same class was hacked to death in Bangladesh because of his atheism and promotion of science. However, I have been very allergic to the intolerant far before that incident. I think I have a clear understanding of minds of Islamists of all hue.

        The cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo were not Muslims. Europe and America have been making the most outrageous blasphemy about Jesus, the God in flesh, for such a long time. These Islamists think that their own medieval cultural value should overtrump the hardwon cultural evolution in the west.

        1. Charlie Hebdo have a reputation for pushing the edges; I don’t agree with what they did but of course I’ll defend their right to do.

          “Nothing is sacred” is a very good motto

          1. Charlie Hebdo had the “right” to do whatever they did. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was deeply disrespectful. Some things are indeed sacred. By definition, God is one of them.

            You would presumably not like it if I started mocking the founders of the Bahai faith. Anan would not like it if I started mocking Lord Ram or Lord Shiva.

            Similarly, disrespectful treatment of the Prophet of God (peace be upon him) is not on. Though, since apparently the obvious has to be repeated for some people, no one should die for a cartoon. French Muslims should have boycotted the magazine and moved on with their lives.

          2. Zack,

            I guess the difference between you and most Muslims is that we do care very very deeply about the Prophet of God (pbuh).

          3. One should always have a healthy agnosticism towards any idea in general even if one believes in it..

            I find as a corollary that the West has an extraordinary number of taboos especially in the growing areas of trans-rights etc.. sometimes when people pull down the old gods they put false gods in their place..

        2. People don’t understand the French Laïcité i.e. French secularism. This is the country which murdered in cold blood thousands of Catholic clergy during the French Revolution and secularists have made determined efforts to make sure religion will have no influence on the working of the government or the legal system. Combined with biting satire, you have no holds barred satire in Hebdo which had lampooned all religious and political figures without exception. For Muslims to demand an exception from the laws and mores and culture of the culture will invite even more satire – especially it was Muslims who wanted to get to France by hook or crook and have no compunctions in living off the social security system. French secularism is deeply entrenched much more deeply than any other western country.

          1. I have studied French Literature. I am very familiar with La France and all the country’s history. I took French from seventh grade until my B.A. degree.

            However, Laicite has its own problems. Burqas are banned but small crosses are allowed. Double standard no? The majority of the population is still nominally Catholic and so some lip service is paid to Catholicism.

            French Muslims live in les banlieues and are quite stigmatized. So it is natural for a minority to feel persecuted when their revered figures are mocked. Especially with Marine Le Pen type people around to “otherize” Muslims and blame them for the problems of La France.

          2. ” So it is natural for a minority to feel persecuted when their revered figures are mocked. ”

            When the French have no reverence for Jesus Christ or Pope , why should they have any reverence for Prophet Mohammed . France did not invite any foreign populations to live in France with promises of special treatment , not available to natives.

            You are programming yourself for permanent victimization if you demand to go to other societies and expect they should give you special treatment , treatments which is not given to any minorities in any Muslim countries , even when the minorities are sons of soil.

          3. Vijay,
            Agree re the French and secular.

            The nobility and the Church were the land owners and oppressors (for lack of better word) of the peasants. The French revolution was to some extent inspired by the the American/US revolution. Of course the level of oppression by the French nobles and Church was far more greater than George (?) on Americans.

            I cant say the French were the better colonialists. Stockholm Syndrome, a term never used for natives who became westernized by the Brit/French/US colonialism.

            The French however seemed more accepting of mixed breed colonials. The most famous example being Alexander Dumas, the author of Three Musketeers (a little aside on that below). Alexander Dumas was part Haitian, with a big Afro (see link below). Cant think of an equivalent accepted in English/Brit history.

            The aside
            My father bought be a brand new, Three Musketeers and Black Tulip for one of my birthdays (10 to 12 I think). Normally I would get second hand book. I think at that time I would have preferred Dinky Toys or a Train Set. My father could not afford such. Anyway no TV, so I read the damn book. He had most of rest of the d’Artagnan series and Count of Monte Cristo. What could a bored kid do, read those too. Then moved onto Walter Scott, Thomas Hardy, Tolstoy etc. Never finished Russian books, the same person had different name, too hard to keep track.

            One of these days the link to Gypsies and Damascus Swords in books by Walter Scott novels.


          4. There are lots of Muslims who are actually French citizens and not immigrants. You seem to be forgetting that Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco were French colonies.

          5. Hi Sereno
            French were bad colonials . How can there be a good colonial – that apart they were really bad. They wanted hold onto their colonial possessions by military means – in North Africa , Algeria and Libya , the anti-colonial wars cost 2 million lives. In Southeast Asia, they were once again bad , inn Vietnam there atrocities equaled that in North Africa . Till they were squared defeated in Dien Bien Phu, their grim colonialism continued. Even in the Middle-east they had occupied Syria and Lebanon . Even though they were defeated and occupied by Nazis, still they wanted militarily occupy Syria. In Lebanon, they had some more success as the Maronites aligned with them since they thought themselves as descendants of Crusaders. Even in Syria, the French occupation churned the society upside down with the result Alawites got into military in a big way , the results of which we are still seeing in Syria.. The anti-colonial military struggles of the 1950s and 60s finally ended their ambitions.
            Actually, French colonialism was different than British, as the French wanted to make their colonies as part of France i.e. Metropolitan and they did not follow the British model – exploit and run. Even though their main colonial possessions are gone, smaller places like Reunion are part of France i.e. you will get French butter, bread, cheese , postage and what else. That is their policy even in far flung pacific regions even their territory is just few square miles.

            So, the immigrants from Arab countries were first those who sided with France and became targets of Liberation armies. In fact thousands of French had settled in those countries like writer Albert Camus.

            Sometime back, in French TV I was watching a program on French colonial days – it was overwhelmingly positive towards France for bringing railways, roads and other modern conveniences to those benighted countries. No colonial shame or guilt for atrocities and wars .

            Yes, French ‘action novels’ like Alexander Dumas were far better in the 19th century. French invented the modern novel so to say.

          6. Vijay,

            Was trying to make three points.

            a) Brit Colonialism is good according to some South Asian. The word Stockholm syndrome is never used in this context.

            b) French Colonialism is portrayed as bad in most Engliss books

            c) The French integrated the mixed colonized into French society. The English did not do that. (correct me if I am wrong).

            The rest of post was example and stories to support above.

          7. “c) The French integrated the mixed colonized into French society. The English did not do that. (correct me if I am wrong).”

            True. French has more immigrant pop than Britain. Probably 8-10% of the pop is Arab. French have been far more successful in integrating – or Frenchifying if you prefer – it’s immigrants. Because from the time the Arab immigrants came , they knew what to expect , Lacite. Learn French. In contrast Britain, with it’s theocracy , was quite tolerant towards religious symbols and practices – obviously upto a point, in unstated British ways. The protests against Salman Rushdie in 1989 which was a symptom and starting point of present day religious fundamentalism could never have started in France. Even though south Asian Muslims were only about 2% of the population in 1989 , they went about publicly burning Rushdie’s books and thousands went on the streets demanding Rushdie’s death, even Repeal of Free Speech.

            On a personal note, when I first went to France and trying to get a train in the Charles De Gaul airport, I obviously looked a one who has lost his way. One guy came forward and asked if I am Tamil. He said he was also tamil and his family had migrated from Vietnam in the 1950s . There was a Tamil trading community in French Indo-China also. They all packed up with the collapse of French rule.

            One good thing was that French while leaving their colonies in a peaceful way , like Pondicherry , offered the local people French citizenship and some from Pondicherry did take the offer. You can see immigrants in France from Madagaskar or far flung flung places where the French had a footprint.

            The French are so committed to Secularism that in Census reports, a person’s religion or race or mother-tongue or ethnicity is not asked for since they say it is not Government’s business to see what is the background of a person. That is why official statistics about immigrant pops are absent. It is always guesswork- perhaps it is about 12% if you add first generation immigrants and their families

          8. Albert Camus did not “settle” in Algeria. He was born in Algeria. There was an entire population known as the “pieds noirs” who sided with France in Algeria’s anti-colonial struggle. Most of them moved to France.

  12. Shafiq, what is the point of having a blog where everyone agrees? I would love for multiple soft Islamists leave comments so that I can dialogue with and understand them.

  13. Zack,

    I believe bells still ring every hour in most European Churches. Do correct me if I’m wrong. If you’re fine with this, what precisely is the problem with the azaan?

    I concede noise pollution is annoying but this is not a Muslim-specific issue. Good luck trying to get us to rewrite Divine Law.

    1. Cambridge has at least 20-40 churches in a very small radius. The church bells do not toll hourly but periodically in a civilised fashion.

      Contrast that to Pakistan where in any one vicinity 5 Azaans blare at the same time. There is no standardisation or even an idea that less is more.

      Instead of constant Azaan let the mosque just send out a text message. Aesthetics is a really important part of civilisation; Pakistan has no sense or stress on that unfortunately.

      1. Pakistan is an Islamic Republic. 97% of the population is Muslim. Azaaan is not going anywhere. That is how Allah decreed that people are to be called to prayer (if you believe that every word of the Quran comes directly from Allah). Those of us who live in Pakistan need to learn to live with it and we frankly have bigger problems (Etheram-Ramzan ordinance anyone?)

        But you don’t live in Pakistan so why does it bother you so much?

        1. I don’t want to be associated with such a regressive country in that case. India is an 80% Hindu country therefore it should be allowed to do whatever it wants in accordance with the laws of Manu or Israel 80% Jewish and the Talmud/Torah.

          I don’t give Pakistan a pass simply because it is overwhelming Muslim (and that is frankly by design; the region of Indus + East Bengal would have probably been 80% Muslim or so turn of last century).

          If my Deity told me to do something wrong I wouldn’t do it; I think that’s a very important part of free thought.

          1. What makes countries like Pakistan (or to a lesser extent, India) different from the UK is really just the Rule of Law.

            South Asian cultures (barring a few remote corners like Sikkim/Bhutan etc) have little time or patience with due process. The locals will be able to negotiate around their own and others’ religions far better if they just followed some standardized legal procedure. The sheer haphazard nature and shoddy implementation of laws fucks it up for everyone…

            But what do I know, I’m only a shitty janitor :/

            (WHATTT!! The break’s over already?? Barely had my lunch FFS…)

          2. India is a secular state on paper. Pakistan is an “Islamic Republic” where the Objectives Resolution states “All laws must be in consonance with Quran and Sunnah”. That is a very important difference.
            If you don’t want to associate with Pakistan, don’t. No one is forcing you to.
            What exactly is “wrong” with Azaan? At most it is annoying in the pre-dawn hours or when badly recited periodically.
            We who live here hardly notice the Azaan anymore. Frankly, the Etheram-e-Ramzan ordinance (which is not based on the Quran and was a thing instituted by General Zia) is a much bigger deal. It basically makes buying or serving food during fasting hours illegal. This goes against the Quran which states that the old, the sick, pregnant women, and children are not supposed to fast. That is asides from the non-Muslim citizens who have no reason to fast just because Muslims are fasting. It is quite a ridiculous law actually.

            When the state is imposing a certain narrow-minded version of Islam on its citizens, the call to prayer is really the least of anyone’s worries.

        2. Bahá’ís must be buried under Bahá’í law but in Hong Kong burial plots are more expensive than properties so the Chinese Bahá’ís adhere to local traditions.

          For me the Bahai laws on burial smacks of Abrahamic/Islamic bias and we should localise the faith. So there is no need to fanatically apply the law.

          I would frankly prefer for my corpse to be eaten by vultures (environmentally harmonious) and Vidhi (who is not a Bahai) wants to be cremated. I wouldn’t follow Bahai law to the letter; only when it makes sense

          1. There are lots of Muslims who don’t follow Islamic law to the letter.

            But obviously countries that call themselves “Islamic Republics” are kind of serious about Sharia.

  14. sbarrkum, I agree with your comments about the French.

    This said, can I offer devil’s advocate? Some would say that former English imperial subjects and their heirs and descendants idolize France and French colonialism because they opposed the English. What would your response be?

    From an Indian perspective, the French aided Tipu Sultan. Tipu Sultan engaged in terrible atrocities against moderate muslims (Shia), Hindus and Christians. A prominent French military advisor to Tipu Sultan wrote about this in disgust.

    Tipu Sultan’s war’s of aggression and expansion against the Marathas and Nizam were similarly backed by France. These wars were morally dubious from a certain point of view.

    Personally I love the French. Again this is devil’s advocate. 🙂

  15. V.C.Vijayaraghavan,

    I have responded to you. Please see the articles summarized here:
    In particular please see my last comment. What do you think about Mufassil Islam and Boba? Why have nonmuslim English people so mistreated Boba and Mufassil? I don’t fully agree with them on the Koran and prophet Mohammed pbuh; but they are not haters and not anti muslim. They are good, loving and honorable people; and deserve the full compassion, help and protection of nonmuslim English people.

    1. AnAn, I don’t want to make any social discourse centered around Muslims. Each society has it’s national and cultural traditions, laws and more, which they have arrived at after centuries of trial and error. As long as the political elite make clear their values to immigrants Hindu, Muslim or any ethnicity , that should be fine. The multi-cultural policy pushed to the limits is not productive as there is a mismatch of expectations which leads to social tensions No part of society , immigrants included , should have to feel they are somehow being targeted . Many Muslims including traditional ones , are role models for immigrants and their success . Perhaps western liberal , left elite think that people of any background can be integrated, without undue pressure ,over few generations. Perhaps they are right, we will see.

      1. I think we agree and you misunderstood my point. The English have a de facto policy of not protecting their muslim British nationals from Islamist threats of violence. They protect muslimish people on English soil less than they protect nonmuslim people on English soil from Islamist threats. The referenced articles describe how.

        This violates equal treatment under the law and is immoral.

  16. I enjoy the sound of the Azaan. Is it too much to ask that all the Azaans be high quality (high quality speakers, high quality music, and high quality Arabic recitation); and that the various different Azzans from different mosques in earshot be better synchronized together? In some cases the volume of some but not all Azaans can be lowered.

    This way we can enjoy five beautiful symphonies a day. I dare say Kabirji agrees with me on this. 🙂

      1. Ideally, yes. The muezzins should be given some training so that they are giving the azaaan on pitch.

        However, given the rest of Pakistan’s issues, this is a very low priority. I think the fact that people are basically being forced to fast is much more worrying. You can eat inside your own home but if you go outside and try to buy something from a store, you’re not going to be able to.

  17. @Razib:

    Have you found that Indian Muslims in specific regions have a breakdown in structure. Such as long homogeneous runs that are starting to be broken up, due to the rise of Islam? I’m assuming that it has not been long enough to show more homogeneity in their admixture, but if people from different caste converted to Islam and then afterward intermarried then I would expect a breakdown…

    The reasons for this question are, 1) Were only certain castes driven to convert to Islam, such as lower castes? 2) If #1 is not true, then did people still maintain ancient caste based marriage traditions despite converting to Islam?

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