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In the Name of God بسم الله


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About Banda-e-Khuda

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  1. Salaam , Bohat shukriya in khobsorat alfaaz ka. Aap ka sha'ri zoq khoob hai. Isi tarah contribute karte rahiye ga. Duaoon ka talib, Banda-e-Khuda
  2. Also check out the Society for Islamic Awareness (SIA), a vibrant student organization at UT Austin: SIA Website http://studentorgs.utexas.edu/sia/ SIA on FB http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2202580308
  3. my immediate impression after looking at the trailer: when you make a culture exotic and unexplainable but at the same time responsible for things happening over there, it takes the role of politics and external forces out of the picture. comes in handy to explain the failures. you may find the following insightful: http://w.lse.ac.uk/collections/LSEPublicLe...useMemorial.pdf
  4. I met him in 2007. He was teaching at AKU (Karachi) in the faculty of social sciences at that time. Haven't talked to him since. No contact information on hand. The AKU website might have it.
  5. salam agha ,salawat bar

    Mohammad wa Aalay Mohammad

    may Allah bless you on your birthday

  6. Very interesting book. In many ways, it is a useful description of the Iranian modern history. The author, however, seems to give too much credit to Jalal Ahmed - who undoubtly made good contribution to the movement (indirectly/directly) - and other 'liberal' intelligentsia. In contrast, he does not place adequate weight to Imam Khomeini, Shaheed Mutahhari, and Dr. Shariati's intellectual and activist contributions, as well as the the role of the clergy in general. I also wanted to see the the context of neo-colonial politics and the emergence of (partly as a reaction to the colonial and neo-colonial foreign influences) international Islamic movements in Iran and elsewhere. The author traces Imam Khomeini's involvement in politics after Aya. Bourojerdi death (1960s) that is not historically accurate. Imam Khomeini wrote his book Kashful Asrar (if I remember the title correctly, in which he not only criticized Shah but also the lethargic among the Ulema class) around 1942. All in all this is a good read.
  7. Salaam Friends, Last Sunday, I finally had the chance to watch Presepolis. Wanted to share a few quick impressions, although I have not fully formulated them yet. Feel free to share your thoughts. The film is superbly made, in terms of visual, direction, sequence, and intelligent argument. I can probably agree with a number of observations made in the movie (like, once you are divorced, that is, you are no longer a ‘virgin’, you may be approached by all kinds of men for quick muta stands). But there are many problems too. I am especially concerned about the ‘political utility’ of this movie, following the line of argument that Hamid Dabashi uses to criticize “Reading Lolita in Tehran” and the movie “300” (see his al-Ahram reviews online, here and here, respectively. You don't have to agree with all what Dabashi has to say in these two pieces). Seeing history from an individual’s experience, especially from a 10 year old kid’s perspective, also allows room for over simplifications, like the focus on the “regime” as the root of all her problems (see below). One cannot ignore the fact that the focus on the “regime” in this film is very political and has political consequences. And that I believe is a major reason for this film's popularity. Underlying premises: A) Basically the liberal focus on individual freedom (you don't hear about paying back to society and social responsibility), and the right for self-actualization toward whatever end one may like, good or bad, no one can judge that, no one can decide that, not even God or the guidelines of His religion, but the individual him/herself ('as long as I don’t harm you, I should be free to do whatever I do'. However, scholars have long argued that personal cannot be detached from political. An individual's actions have direct relevance on society). Personal freedom is thus seen in an almost absolute terms - a sacred entity above all others. And social order is perceived as a restriction, which must be avoided or minimized (think about the liberal/enlightenment idea that government is a "necessary evil" as proposed in "social contract" theories). B) Nothing is sacred, no matter how other people's feelings might be attached to them. The right to insult and desacralize the sacred, or “irrational”, is necessary for the growth of an enlightened, secular mind. Observations: 1. Iranian “regime” was confined to 1979 time. You see the same two guards at the beginning of the revolution, later in 80s, and in 90s. Same faces, same ‘draconian’ attitudes. One, the representation itself is over simplification, if not totally inaccurate. Two, even if we assume that initially it was very bad, the film does not talk about the changes in the Iranian society since then. What about the situation after the war, when the tension ('fear from outside') on the society was relaxed. What about the time under Rafsanjani and Khatami? What about the activism and success of women activists (like Zahra Rahnavard)? 2. A consistent logic/argument of tracing all of her misfortune to the Iranian “regime” was very evident. For example, her rush to get married to the guy in Iran, because she could not go out with him in public. One, the blame on the regime (indirectly though) is still very simplistic. Two, this belies the ground realities. I have a very different impression of the possibilities of male-female interaction in Tehran, especially after the arrival of internet, cell phone, and bluetooth technologies. Granted, this possibility is still not as “liberal” and “open” as in France or America. 3. With a clear communist/liberal bias, and from the standpoint of her own over-privileged class background, the author fails to portray the human side of the Iranian majority (principlist/reformist/others) that still supports the revolution and believes in Islam and social responsibility. Consider this: Before the revolution, when protests were happening, the protestors were only shown in shadows in the film, and there was a trace of ‘mob behavior’ kind of logic to that. That ‘irrational’ mob logic transitioned very smoothly to the “draconian” iron-hand after the revolution that the “regime” supposedly adopts to suppress freedom and hunt the communist. (remember “one law: blood!”). That's cunning. Of course, there was no mention of militant tactics and use of violence by the communist parties (and other dissident groups) before and after the revolution. 4. The duration of the long war, as well as, all other “faults” of the “regime” were traced to an internal causal logic: The regime - its ‘irrationality’ (read: religion) and its power - is responsible for all the misfortunes of the Iranian society. Outside factors, like the American support to Iraq for attacking Iran, the sanctions, the legitimate concerns of “westoxication” (as articulated by Jalal al-e Ahmed and Ali Shariati, among others) were either muted or misrepresented. Especially, it was very rude of the author to insult the sacrifices of the martyrs. (Two scenes: One, when Marjane’s mother stops a friend’s kid from going to war for the country. Two, when the film makes fun of the paintings on billboards and walls honoring the sacrifices of the martyrs). 5. At one point in the film, it was said that ‘they won’t kill virgins, instead they force them to marry you’ (or something on that line). I did not get the point and the context. I am not sure how true it is. Where did the author get this from? 6. Finally, the implicit suggestion that although the French (read: western) society is not great either, but it is still better than the current Iranian society. And that (France) is where Marjane returns, although very skeptically. It was a very realistic portrayal though. I can see how many Iranian immigrants could relate to that experience, being torn between different identities and spaces. (Justified or not, who is at fault, these are complex questions. The author, however, simplifies them too much, as I argued above). 'West as a refuge', nonetheless, has a self-aggrandizing effect on the Western audience. Think about the underlying message: It is them (West) who should protect those behind them in the “progress” of history. The colonials called this feeling of “responsibility” the “white man’s burden”, today it is presented in the name of “democracy” and “human rights” for the political and economic interests of new imperialistic forces. (See Lila Abu-Lughod’s excellent piece “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?” on how this rhetoric was employed to justify the US invasion on Afghanistan).
  8. Thank you Abba and AliKazmi. The closest I have been able to locate is more than 70 miles away from Santa Barbara. So visiting a mosque is out of question in this trip. But I appreciate your responses.
  9. I will be there to attend a conference in April. Wondering if there are any Shia mosques/centers in the area? Your response would be much appreciated.
  10. ^ inshallah, please also pray that Allah (swt) give me the taufeeq to materialize the above thought into reality.
  11. I think that it is too selfish to feel and care for your own blood (children) and not for many poor orphans out there longing for the same warmth and love. We should really encouage adoptions in our communities. May be a middle ground would be to have 2 children of your own and one or two from adoption.
  12. I think kids (of certain age) should be taught to keep quiet, listen, and participate on the day of 'Ashura. That day is supposed to be different from the routine, and a reminder of the great sacrifice. Yet, I also feel that we should have commemoration activities designed specifically for the kids. Using language, symbols, traditions that kids can relate with and that can effectively inspire their hearts and minds. Sometimes our main programs are too dense for the younger crowd. To give you some examples, we have been doing candle light vigil in our community for the last three years. These are the pictures from the last year's: http://www.iaba-austin.org/hbscripts/pictu...tvigil2007.aspx This year we did it on shabe ashura (the night preceding the 10th muharram). We also do youth majalis every year (youth organize them, do speeches and nohas, all in english, and the whole community participates). I highly encourage all youth activists to organize similar activities in their communities. Let me know if you need any details and content related info. PS. And here is a presentation that was shown in the main majalis program (before marsiya/poetry) on the first saturday of Muharram. It uses a universal vocabulary, and strives to appeal to emotions and intellect in a way that everyone could understand and relate with:
  13. You can find a good selection of Urdu lectures on various contemporary topics at the below link. As for the ideological orientation of the content delivered by this particular scholar and other scholars' lectures on this site, they are in line with Aya. Misbah Yazdi and Aya. Jawadi Amuli's thoughts. http://www.islamicideology.org/index.php?o...emid=94Analysis
  14. Salaam, I copy below excerpts from my reaction to Vali Nasr's book "The Shia Revival" that I shared with a few friends last year. The selection of these excerpts may have created some gaps. Hope you find it useful nonetheless. -- I should mention that I enjoyed this book very much and have recommended it to many friends, albeit with suggesting them to take its arguments with a grain of salt. Nasr has produced many fine works in the past, but this book, as I read it, is more a policy study than an academic scholarship. Nasr himself admits that at the very beginning of this book that this study is "not a work of historical scholarship"; rather, he is writing to advance certain “new ideas and arguments”. Hence, like with any policy study, this book has an underlying agenda of influencing and shaping power and policy in a certain direction. Nasr's presentation is sympathetic to the shia cause but his argument is shaped by the 'identity politics' paradigm, which is a two-edged sword (examples can be drawn from Iraq about its pros and cons). This book is a commentary on 'history in the making', but, more than that, given Nasr's access to inner circles of Washington's power/knowledge production centers and the huge popularity of this book, it is making history itself and suggesting a particular modality of shia politics in future. However, at the same time, I find this 'identity politics' framework to be the most interesting contribution of this work. This framework is something that Shia thinkers need to engage with very seriously. By engaging I do not mean, you agree with all of it or reject all of it, but to evaluate its merits and problems, so as to study the history of shia plight and formulate strategies for their future actions. -- (The problems with how Nasr treats Imam Khomeini's personality and his politics has already been outlined in the first post of this thread. I mostly agree with that evaluation.) -- The crux of the problem in this book is 'Identity Politics': Is that the best strategy for ending the plight of the Shia people (the question of ‘should’)? Is that the future of Shia politics (the question of ‘is’)? Nasr's policy focus probably explains, why the important explanatory variable of the 'foreign hand' is conspicuously missing from his analysis, and why he focuses only on the ‘internal conflict’ (see the subtitle of this book). I am referring to the same 'foreign hand' that exists in the imaginations of the masses since the colonial time that always conspires to divide them to be able to rule them. Where is a discussion of colonial construction of sectarianism, for example, in South Asia ? (See Gyan Pandey 1991) The absence of this crucial factor suggests a ahistorical and essentialized ‘continuity’ of sectarianism unhampered by geographical differences and variations in cultural experiences. Further, later in history, where does he address the possible involvement of actors beyond the status quo regimes of the middle east to the more powerful actors that protect these regimes from their own subjects and that find in augmenting sectarian divisions an effective means to curb the Iranian revolution and the resistance in Palestine , Lebanon , and Iraq ? The failure to consider the proportional weight of these other factors and a focus primarily set on a centuries-old continuity of the ‘internal conflict within Islam’ have important implications for Nasr’s analysis, in terms of undermining the causal value of power, politics, and personal interests in shaping and changing the internal dynamics of Sunni-Shia politics. And it has same implications for our understanding too, of what could be done to confront the sectarian conflict. .. An important ingredient of that alternative thinking (alternative to the 'identity politics' paradigm) would be to unlearn ‘essentializations’ about the different sects. For we have many examples - notwithstanding the weakness in their voices - that suggest contrary to these essentializations. I can think of a couple of anecdotal examples here from a well known speaker of subcontinent renowned for his pro-muslim-unity efforts in which he was approached by Deobandi and Barelvi leaders extending hands for creating sectarian harmony. In one case, they (I believe Barelvi) asked his majalis organizers to hang loudspeaker on their masjid for better listening in Muharram near Khaliqdina Hall in Karachi. The reaction to Hezbollah's victory last summer in the Muslim world (including Pakistan ) is also a telling example. I am sure you have heard about the dates people named after Nasrallah in Egypt in last Ramadhan. Similarly, we need to rethink Ayatullah Sistani’s strategy in these alternative terms that, as I understand, has been to play a more impartial and broader leadership role. Instead of siding with any one group, and for that matter, any sect, he wishes to side with the interests of all of the Iraqi people. You may not agree with this statement because of the apparent consequences of his call for general elections (and the obvious victory of the Shias, as has been charged by some commentators), I still believe that his strategy consistently has been about playing above the identity politics (for example, his instructions on protecting the rights of all sects when the Iraqi leaders were making the constitution). By citing all these examples, I am suggesting possible avenues where we may recuperate these alternative possibilities, the alternative modalities of politics, that are already in effect on the ground, but that Nasr does not give their due weight. This alternative politics may not be as detrimental to the future of Muslim Ummah as the belligerent version of Identity Politics has been and this alternative politics may keep us from playing into the hands of enemies, who wish to see the Sunni and Shia divided. -- Let me come back to Nasr's contention that is summarized succinctly in the subtitle of his book: “how conflicts within Islam will shape the future”. Although he presents a much nuanced analysis inside, he still, as I see, fails to give due weight to politics, policy, and interests in shaping sectarian identities and politics. I contend that the political outcome of the current turmoil in the middle east would have as much impact on the future of sectarian conflicts as the historical conflict and division between the two sects might have on the political outcomes. And, therefore, the future of sectarian relationships remains cloudy and the modality of future sectarian politics remains uncertain as such.
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