An old review I happened to revisit today. It was written for the Pakistani news-magazine Herald in 2002, you can see a reference to “colonization of the Middle East” which indicates it was a different era and a different me 😉
The Koran (in the OUP “Very Short Introductions” series,) Oxford 2000.
Pious Muslims may feel that in the presence of the text and its commentaries, they do not need Professor Michael Cook’s “very short introduction” to the Koran. The pious may also wish to stay away because Professor Cook was once associated with the notorious “Hagarene hypothesis” (put forth in the 1977 book: Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World by Patricia Crone and Michael Cook) though he has since backed away from some of the more extreme claims of that book. But “The Koran, a very short introduction” turns out to be a very witty and interesting book, full of insights that the most pious Muslim will find informative and stimulating. Continue reading “The Koran; a very short introduction”
Decided to start reading India in the Persianate Age: 1000–1765. It’s a fast and easy read (and, it’s an affordable book for a nonspecialist like me who only spends $100 or more on genetics texts). I jumped ahead in a few passages, which seem to be adaptations from papers I’ve read from the author before.
In relation to discussions on this weblog and comments I’ve made:
1) The author describes islands and pockets of wholly Muslim peasants in eastern Bengal observed by the Mughals in the 16th century. These Mughals indicate that these people are not truly Hindu or Muslim, at least initially. This is line the common thesis that Islamicization is a function of the weak to nonexistent integration of these frontier peasants into Indian culture. Mughal observers also note the physical appearance of these people: small, dark-skinned, and beardless. This seems entirely accurate (I cannot grow a beard!).
The author observes that tax receipts over several decades in Bengal exhibited a pattern that is suggestive of a massive population increase in the east and stability in the west. In fact, there were two-fold increases in the east at the same time that districts in the west declined by 10%.
The thesis by the author, which seems broadly creditable, though not proven, is that the transition to high-intensity rice agriculture in the plains of the eastern delta, and in particular east of the Padma, arrived after the Mughal expansion into the reason. As such, the transition to a “higher religion” occurred under Islam, and therefore these people became Muslim (at least nominally). The analogy that is obvious here would be the Christianization of the Montagnards and other Southeast Asian “hill people” during the colonial period, as they had been detached from Theravada Buddhist civilization.
2) The author deploys a similar model, with modifications, for western Punjab. The model here is that Jat who moved up from Sindh abandoned obligate pastoralism and engaged in agriculture, and fixated upon the tombs and shrines of Islamic eminences. Due to the emphasis on paternal lineage, the author observes that the Islamicization of names occurred quantitatively over 300 years, from the 15th to the 18th century (initiation to completion).
The main qualm I have with this model is this: the Jats/people of Punjab do not look to be from Sindh if modern Sindhis are representative of ancient Sindhis. In the language familiar to readers of this weblog Sindhis are enriched for “Iranian-related ancestry” vis-a-vis Punjabis, who are enriched for “steppe.” The Jats in particular are highly enriched for “steppe” ancestry. Going by genetics alone this model is difficult to accept, though as noted in this space it does seem that caste-like stratification has ancient roots in this region, and so that may serve as some explanation.
Note: The model in Bengal implies that Islamicization and Hinduicization occurred in East Bengal simultaneously. That is, most of the sponsors of agricultural reform and intensification happened to be Muslim, but some were Hindu, and in the case of Hindu sponsored developments the regions became Hindu. Further investigation though would be warranted for Bengali Brahmins in the eastern regions, who would then presumably be migrants from the western zone, because it is hard to credit animistic tribes needing the services of literate priestly elites.
Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on Libsyn, Apple, Spotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to 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. This website isn’t about shaking the cup, but I have noticed that the number of patrons plateaued a long time ago.
In this episode we talk to Professor Ahmet Kuru. Professor Kuru teaches at San Diego State and is the author of (among others) “Islam, Authoritarianism and Underdevelopment”. We discuss his book and the causes of the (relative) decline of the Islamicate world in the last 800 or so years.
Would like to propose expanding CAA to include the following groups of muslims to:
get everyone’s feedback on what can practically pass the Indian Lokh Sabha quickly
see if several major Indian leaders will publicly endorse this
The following text will be continually edited based on feedback.
Proposing to expand CAA to include the following “AND ONLY THE FOLLOWING” groups of muslims IF AND ONLY IF they can prove persecution inside Bangladesh, Pakistan or Afghanistan:
13 classes AND ONLY 13 CLASSES of Muraqabah Sufi muslims:
3 classes of Muraqabah Irfan Sufi Shia muslims
Sixer Ishmaeli Muraqabah Irfan Sufi Shia muslims
Dawoodi Bohra Sixer Ishmaeli Muraqabah Irfan Sufi Shia muslims
Twelver Jafari Muraqabah Irfan Sufi Shia muslims
10 other classes of Muraqabah Sufi muslims
Chisti Muraqabah Sufi muslims
Qadiri Muraqabah Sufi muslims
Pir Nund Rishi Muraqabah Sufi muslims
Pir Shirdi Sai Nath Muraqabah Sufi muslims
Pir Kabir Muraqabah Sufi muslims
Pir Janardhan Swami Muraqabah Sufi muslims
Pir Hazrat Babajan Muraqabah Sufi muslims
Pir Syed Mohammed Baba Tajuddin Muraqabah Sufi muslims
Pir Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar Muraqabah Sufi muslims
Pir Baba Budan Muraqabah Sufi muslims
Agnostic, Atheist and Ex muslims
LBGTQ plus muslims
Female femnist muslims
Any and all Muraqabah Sufi muslims admitted under CAA need to be certified and verified as Muraqabah Sufi muslims by a council of Muraqabah Sufi muslims chaired by Pir Diwan Sahib Syed Zainul Abedin. Pir Diwan Sahib Syed Zainul Abedin will appoint a committee of Muraqabah Sufi muslims at his own discretion to assist him in this task.
Any and all Agnostic, Atheist and Ex muslims, LBGTQ plus muslims and female femnist muslims admitted under CAA need to be certified and verified by a council of muslims chaired by Tarek Fatah . Tarek Fatah will appoint a committee of muslims at his own discretion to assist him in this task.
In addition to approval by above councils of muslims, any and all muslim CAA applicants are subject to extensive deep background security checks and can be vetoed by the Indian government for any reason.
NO OTHER MUSLIMS will be permitted to apply for CAA. No other aspect of CAA will be affected.
Please provide your suggestions about how to improve the above draft.
It wasn’t emphasized in the piece, but I will make it clear here: the development of Sunni Islam as we understand it was strongly conditioned on the cultural influences from the matrix of Iranian-Indian religious and social thought which matured in Turan. In fact, one of the early Abbasids, the son of an Iranian mother, even considered moving the capital of the Caliphate to Central Asia, in particular, the city of Merv.
The aspects of Islamic thought most clearly a product of this period and place? I believe that this is the hadith culture embedded within the institutions of the madrassa. Many argue the madrassa is a modification of the Central Asia vihara, and the analysis of proper practice due to religious law was a major function of the religious within these viharas.
It appears that Jews, Indian and African Britons abandoned Labour in droves and voted for other political parties. Would be curious to learn who they voted for. Suspect many voted for the Liberal Democrats.
Are there any English exit polls? [Updated with this exit poll hat trip Ali Choudhury.] Do we know how Pakistani Britons, Bangladeshi Britons, Indian musiim Britons, muslim Britons in general voted?
In the above conversation it was implied that minorities and people of color in USA vote Democrat. My response is that in America Asian Americans and Latino Americans are “swing voters” not wedded to either party. Black African Americans vote overwhelmingly Democrat. However, I think President Trump will likely do a lot better with the Black African American vote in 2020 than he did in 2016.
Labour lost only nine percentage points of the BAME vote
Conservative Tories gained only one percentage point in additional BAME voters
Liberal Democrats gained only six percentage point in additional BAME voters
Other political parties gained two percentage points of additional BAME voters
Labour–if these exit polls are not contradicted by other exit polls–did FAR better in 2019 among BAME voters than I thought (and that many political commentators thought). To my surprise the Liberal Democrats only gained six percentage points of BAME voters (for 12% total) and the Conservative Tories only gained one percentage point in additional BAME voters.
My new question is why did the overwhelming vast majority of BAME Britons vote for Jeremy Corbyn? Why did so few BAME Britons vote Liberal Democrat?
Did the moderate muslim Britons almost universally vote for Jeremy Corbyn? If so, why? Would love to hear from Veedu Vidz and Rakib Ehsan.
Rishabh Gulat–who I respect greatly has a different take on Datuk Mahathir Mohamad, Hero of Asia, than I do. Some argue that Datuk Mahathir has recently shifted his policy and allied with conservative Wahhabi (subset of Salafi, subset of Sunni) muslims, MBS, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan against India. Mr. Gulat implies that Datuk Mahathir is backing Brown Pundit favorite Dr. Zakir Naik against India:
Please watch Mr. Gulat and come to your own conclusions.
The Indian Malays (7% of the population, 15% of the professional workforce, 40% of all Malaysian doctors, economic engine that moves Malaysia) are rallying the opposition to Datuk Mahatir. Mr. Gulat thinks the global Indian diaspora and global Eastern philosophy diaspora (presumably inclusive of Confucians, Toaists and Chinese) should back the Indian Malays in this.
I need to do a lot more research before proposing an alternative course of action. But here is a question. Can the Indian Malays, global Indian diaspora, global Eastern Philosophy, global Muraqabah tilted Sunnis and Shia and global liberal muslims unite and offer Datuk Mahathir Mohammed an offer he can’t refuse?:
There are many great and powerful Indian and Indonesian muslims–friends of PM Modi–who can make the offer.
As an aside, many Brown Pundits readers know Dr. Zakir Naik fanboy and heart throb Veedu Vidz. Please ask him to come on the Brown Pundits Podcast!
Mr. Rishabh Gulat is a great thought leader and expert on Indonesia, Malaysia and South East Asia more generally. He says that India and Indonesia should make a civilizational, cultural, economic and geopolitical alliance. Is there an interest in the Brown Pundits Podcast interviewing Mr. Rishabh Gulat?
Over the past generation or so there has been a meme, “Africa Is Not a Country”, which reflects the reality that many well-meaning people don’t know much about Africa, to the point where they confuse a diverse continent for a country.
There is a similar reflex though which to me is redolent of the same intuitions and confusions: making Islam into a racial identity. This is particularly common among two groups:
– the type of people who have Greek statue images in their Twitter profiles
– the type of people who have pink-hair avatars and rainbows flags in their Twitter profiles
I won’t say much about the former.
But the latter is interesting and curious to me personally. Many in my immediate family are Muslims (e.g, parents, the vast majority of my cousins). I come from a line of ulems and Sufi mystics. The law of the Hanafi tradition is deeply embedded in my family’s culture. Though never a big believer myself in the religion, I had a vaguely Muslim identity until my tweens, and know a bit about the religion intellectually.
In other words, engaging in blasphemy against Islam is racism to him (which is blasphemy to a progressive).
It has gotten to the point where progressives have accused me of being an anti-Muslim racist when I suggest that many Muslims are Creationists. Progressives are of course being stupid but note these progressives are often white secular types who in their lives don’t encounter believing Muslims. They have the idea of what Muslims represent to them. It’s about them, not Muslims.
Perhaps others have different experiences, but the way I was raised as a Muslim, the idea that Muslims are a race would be deeply offensive since Islam was presented as the most antiracist and egalitarian of religions. Believing Muslims assert they have a deep connection to the Ground of all Being, not that they are a corporeal identity-group. In contrast, many secular progressives are taking the far-right racialization of Muslims and enshrining it into their understanding of the religion, so that Islam, the belief-system, becomes a “protected class.”
Of course, the reality of what Muslims believe and how they live their life might not comport with progressive expectations, which seem to involve someone just like them, but with a headscarf on. From the perspective of an Islam-skeptic person though the lesson is clear: Islam is now the progressive party at prayer. Though real Muslims often have major issues with progressives and their modern cultural projects, progressives have embraced their idea of Islam and Muslims in the fight against the Greek statue profiles.
We live in a really strange world.
Addendum: As an atheist from a Muslim background I have looked dimly upon Muslims and the Islamic project for much of my life. But progressive revolutionary rhetoric and action have softened my heart toward the religion and the people. It turns out that religion is not the root of all evil.
[Author’s note: With the celebrations of Guru Nanak’s 550th Anniversary and the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor being in the news, this is an opportunity for discussing the importance of the Sikh message, not just from a religious perspective – for Sikhs – but for Indian history. This article places the founding of Kartarpur, and Guru Nanak’s message, in a historical context – juxtaposing it with Babur’s founding of the Mughal Empire.]
I. Turning of the Wheel: Baba Nanak and Babur
In 1519, Babur invaded India – ‘ever since coming to Kabul we had been thinking of a Hindustan campaign, but for one reason or another it had not been possible,’ he writes in the Baburnama (translated by William Thackston, see pp 270-280). For some time his armies had been campaigning on the frontiers of the Hindu Kush, but these campaigns had yielded ‘nothing of consequence to the soldiers’. So, he turned to Hindustan. In the next few months, despite dogged resistance by the Afghans, Gujjars and Jats of the upper reaches of the Jhelum and Chenab, northern Punjab was subjugated, and plundered, by Babur’s armies. Babur himself spent most of his days inebriated, contemplating the legacy of Timur and setting poems to rhythmic metres. While his next great invasion of Punjab would come few years from then, in this interregnum, Punjab burned.
Among the towns and villages devastated was the settlement of Sayyidpur.