Lovely video – I notice though that Kathak (this was Kathak right) has fallen out of favour in India for bharatnatyam. The irony Islamicate culture suffers for being “Islamic” in india and not Islamic enough in a Pakistan..
Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on Libsyn, iTunes and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above.
You can also support the podcast as a patron (the primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else…). Would appreciate more positive reviews.
Today we talk to Ajay Verghese; Ajay is an assistant professor of political science at UC Riverside and has written extensively about ethnic and religious conflicts in pre-colonial, colonial (i.e. British Colonial, not earlier Turko-Mughal colonists) and independent India. We talk about Hindus, Muslims, religious conversion, conflicts, and other fun stuff.
I was trying to reach out to RajMohan Gandhi for a podcast on his new book on South India. As an aside I’m trying to find people to interview for the podcasts since I want to plan out my schedule where I can.
The bare bones of a settlement are not hard to identify. One, the Hindu side admits the error in demolishing the mosque. Two, the Indian state admits its failure to prevent the demolition. Three, the Muslim side acknowledges the Hindu community’s wish to see a Ram temple rise on the site as also the Hindu community’s belief that a temple had once stood where the Babri Masjid was built. Four, not far from the site, and yet not too close to it, space for a new mosque is made available by the Hindu side and the Indian state. If necessary, the four steps can be simultaneous. In this dream-like scenario, acknowledgment of wrongdoing and restitution leads to justice as well as reconciliation.
I googled to see the state of the “ruins” of Babri Masjid at the moment and this is what I found:
Below is the original, which if I say so myself is a rather majestic piece of architecture. Simple and striking.
Some years ago in Tehran a 90 something gentleman got up to greet someone half his age since he said those are the manners he was taught as a young lad. I instagrammed it as “amazing ta’arof” and my Persian friends immediately corrected me that was not ta’arof but genuine.
So Ta’arof is not always a positive force since it’s mixed in with traces of deception. This article below was a very old post in my blog and thought I would share it since it’s so well-written.
One of the most complicated aspects of Persian culture — and language — is the untranslatable ta’arof. Depending on the circumstance, it can mean any number of things: To offer, to compliment and/or exchange pleasantries. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. I doubt if any study can lead to a full understanding of Ta’arof. A born and raised Persian, even I find myself losing my grasp on it from time to time.
Our Brown Pundit Zachary Latif will hopefully share his perspectives on Pakistani Psychosis soon. Tarek Fatah gives a good synopsis of Pakistani Psychosis and Islamism in the above video. I am not an expert on Pakistani Pysochosis, and cannot validate many of Tarek Fatah’s perspectives on Pakistan. However, with respect to Islam, many muslims (including prominent religious leaders) privately share many of Tarek’s views, but the vast majority are too afraid to share their views publicly. Tarek Fatah is very knowledgeable about Arabic, Islamic scripture and Islamic law. If you have the time, please watch the entire video.
What is Pakistani psychosis? I am not completely certain and look forward to evolving my views with new information. To oversimplify, it is the combination of several things:
The video of ISNA’srecently held meeting in Houston interviews many muslims supportive of, respectful of or interested in dialogue with atheist muslims and ex muslims. An accelerating trend among muslims who live in North America, India, South East Asia and Australasia.
Sadly many nonmuslims [anecdotally almost all caucasian] are interviewed who are deeply hostile to atheist muslims and ex muslims. The ex muslims are kicked out of Starbucks. The extent of hostility on the part of nonmuslims is hard to understand. Sadly this attitude of backing extremist Islamist or Jihadi muslims against reasonable muslims and reasonable people of muslim heritage is a serious “THING” among the world’s 6 billion nonmuslims. In this next clip Armin–protector of the Arya peoples–tries to engage in dialogue with many different hostile nonmuslims. Mostly unsuccessfully. Even atheist nonmuslims engage in xenophobic personal attacks against ex muslims and atheist muslims:
Nonmuslims are also demonizing a moderate muslim, the fabulous Wajahat Ali:
Mr. Subramanian Swamy is one of the few prominent global nonmuslims who publicly acknowledges that moderate muslims are afraid of getting killed if they publicly critique extremists. Nonmuslims need to stand by moderate muslims and protect them from extremist muslims. So far Hindus (including Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs), Taoists, Christians, Jews, atheists and post modernists have been during a terrible job at it.
ISNArecently had a meeting in Houston. Many of the “muslim” attendees were closet atheist ex muslims, atheist muslims, liberal muslims and minority muslims. Most of them treated ex muslim atheists respectfully and warmly. The extent to which even ISNA–which until recently was a conservative muslim organization–has moved on LBGTQ, atheism, European enlightenment liberalism, human rights, shariah, Islamism, Jihad, feminism is remarkable. Now in America, Canada, India even conservative mosques have meetings where they discuss how to interact with atheist ex muslims. Part of the reasons suggested in the panel discussion is because muslim Americans in particular socio-economically outperform caucasian Americans. But whatever the reason might be, atheist ex-muslims have received less push back from muslims than expected. And this is good.
However nonmuslims have treated atheist ex muslims with great anger, racism, bigotry, prejudice and sectarianism. For example Starbucks asked atheist ex muslims to leave their coffee shop. The extent of anger is so intense, that even ex muslims’ historic allies and friends–prominent global atheist organizations–have asked the atheist ex muslims to get out. Atheists are too afraid of backlash from xenophobic nonmuslims. Some of the reasons the three wise one (Ali, Armin and Muhammed Syed) speculated for why include:
Racism of low expectations. Authentic darkies can only support Islamists because they are not advanced enough or mature enough to support moderates, liberals or atheists. So nonmuslims need to back Islamists against moderates.
Only accept Islamists as “real muslims” or muslim leaders. Moderate muslims are not “real muslims” and are not muslim leaders.
“white guilt” which can only be assuaged by backing Islamists against moderate muslims
Only “white people” and non muslim Asians are powerful enough to influence or cause anything in the world. Everyone else is not powerful, intelligent or wise
Syed said that only “white people” matter
Ali says “America is not the only country in the world”
Only condemn white imperialism or non muslim Asian imperialism [I have seen young idealistic do gooder caucasian females condemn Japanese imperialism or Hinduism/Buddhism imperialism or the Chinese “rape” of Africa]
Islamist imperialism and empire is celebrated and fetished by many nonmuslims
Antifa, Black Panthers and Communists attacked the ex muslim atheists and were chanting the muslim azaan in a horrendous accent.
Muslim ISNA participants were horrified and scared by the crazies; and couldn’t believe they were on the side of muslims
A new video with footage about the Houston crazies is about to come out.
On my other weblog I have a post, On The Instrumental Uses Of Arabic Science, which reflects on the role that the idea of science, the Islamic world, and cultural myopia, play in our deployment of particular historical facts and dynamics. That is, an idea, a concept, does not exist on an island but is embedded in a cultural environment. Several different contexts.
My father is a professional scientist, and a Muslim who lives in the West. In our house there was always a copy of The Bible, the Qu’ran and Science: The Holy Scriptures Examined in the Light of Modern Knowledge. To those not convinced about the beliefs of Islam, as I never was, it was not a convincing book. But it played a particular role in my father’s life of the mind as both a Muslim and a scientist. Its arguments were less important in their detail than that a French scientist had written a book showing that Islam and science were compatible and that in fact, the Koran had prefigured scientific truths.
The intellectual achievements of medieval Islam, particularly the phase focused around the House of Wisdom, are a real thing in and of themselves. But more often they exist as tools for the implicit or explicit agendas of particular peoples with ends which are separate and distinct from an understanding of the past on its own terms.
For many Muslims, this period defines what Islam could have been. Should have been. More traditionalist Muslims will have a relatively understated take, and perhaps attribute the passing of this period due to external forces (e.g., the collapse of central authority by the end of the 9th century). More progressive Muslims will make a bolder claim, that Islam, that Muslims, made the wrong decisions internally (al-Ghazali often emerges as a villain).
A modernist, perhaps Whiggish, take would be that the 9th century of Islam was a “false dawn.” Illustrative of the acidic power of rationality, but an instance when it receded in the face of faith (the Mutazilites often become heroes in these tales). A more multiculturalist and contemporary progressive Western take would likely emphasize that Islamic cultural production was just as ingenious as that of the West, and its diminishment was due to the suffocating effect of colonialism.
But there are even more exotic takes one could propose. The shift from the Umayyads in Damascus to the Abbasids in Baghdad was a shift of the Islamic world from the west to the east. The prominence of Iranian culture during the latter period was palpable. The Caliph al-Mamun was half Iranian, and almost moved the capital of the Abbasids to Merv in Khorasan. The Barmakid family were ethnically Iranian, but also originally hereditary Buddhists. The historian of Central Asia, Christopher Beckwith, has alluded to an “Indian period” of Islamic civilization when the influence from Dharmic religion and Indian culture was strong. For example, Beckwith and others have argued that the madrassa system derives from that of Central Asian viharas.
But ultimately this post and this blog is not about Classical Islamic civilization and history. Rather, I want to pivot to the discussion of Islam and India.
This blog now gets in the range of the same amount of traffic as my other weblog. But a major difference is the source of traffic. About two times as many visitors to this weblog come from the USA as India. So Americans are dominant. But, on my other weblog, 15 times as many visitors come from the USA as India. Additionally, since this is a group weblog, I’m pretty liberal about comments, and so this weblog receives between 10 to 100 times as many comments as my other weblog. Obviously, since most people in the world are stupid, many of the comments are stupid. I try to ignore that.
Rather, let me focus on the “hot-button” issue of Islam and India, and how it impacts people here. In the comments of this weblog. Let’s divide the comment(ers) into two stylized camps. Or actually, one person and another camp. The person is commenter Kabir, who has taken it upon himself to defend the honor of Indo-Islamic civilization. On the face of it, that’s not a major problem, but he tends to take extreme offense and demand linguistic and topical policing that’s frankly rather obnoxious (this tendency extends beyond Islam, as he is a living personification of Syme). He’s a bully without the whip. Kabir is somewhat annoying, but I can honestly always just delete his comments. He’s one person.
A translation (by Ruchira Paul) of Pakistani Feminist poet Fahmida Riaz’s poem Aqlima (daughter of Adam and Eve)
Audio in the poet’s own voice. (mislabeled as another poem).
Aklima jo Habil aur Kabil ki maa jaani hai maa jaani, magar muqtalif muqtalif beech raano ke aur pistanon ki ubhaar mein aur apne pait ke andar aur kokh mein is sab ki kismet kyun hai ek farba bher ke bachche ki qurbani woh apne badan ki qaidi taptee hui dhoop mein jalte teele par khadi hui hai patthar par naksh banee hai us naksh ko ghaur se dekho lambee raano se upar ubharte pistanon se upar paicheeda kokh se upar Aklima ka sar bhi hai Allah kabhi Aklima se qalam karain aur kuchh puchhain.
(Translation) Aqlima.. Born of the same mother as Abel and Cain Born of the same mother but different Different between her thighs Different in the swell of her breasts Different inside her stomach And her womb too Why is the fate of her body Like that of a well fed sacrificial lamb She, a prisoner of that body See her standing in the scorching sun on a smoldering hill Casting a shadow that burns itself into the stones Look at that shadow closely Above the long thighs Above the swelling breasts Above the coils in her womb Aklima also has a head Let Allah have a conversation with Aklima And ask her a few questions. (Aklima was the lesser known offspring of Adam and Eve, the sister or Cain and Abel)