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What Are You Reading Currently? [OFFICIAL THREAD]

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have any of you guys read the alchemist by paulo coelho?

i thought it was a good book, particularly since im reading it at this point in my life where im chasing my dreams and the thing i love most in the world and wanting to give up the security of my job, but i found the whole talking to the wind and sun thing a bit odd. something didnt really click with me. apart from that the book was a great read, i finished it only in a few days. the twist at the end when he reaches the pyramids was pretty great i have to say though :)

i've read it long ago , it is good read ,light and entertaining ,but it may lack the depth that makes the novel words last longer in your working memory

I am starting to reread a book that i've got years ago as well "The Female Brain "

It is about the collection of new data that the XX and XY chromosomes actualy do affect the way men and women think and behave , it explains how the sex hormones play a role in the hard-wiring of the brain in early childhood , that we are born with imprinted character

it is a good read, got reminded of it by someone asking about the reversing of the roles between men and women in modern days , somhow i found it related

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Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree by Tariq Ali

(First published 1991)

This book is the first in the series of five books labelled "Islam Quintet". These books are historical novels which deal with a particular period in the history of Muslim civilisation. I read the book 2 and book 3 before reading others. Now here is a brief review of the book 1. All these books aren't connected to each other.

This is about the dying days of the Muslim Spanish civilisation. The year of 1499, seven years after the reconquista of the last Muslim stronghold in Al-Andalus, forms of the background of this novel. The Christians armies are consolidating their control on the whole of Al-Andalus. It is a time of intense stress for Muslims as they don't know what would be done to them. The Inquisition on a large scale hasn't yet started.

The narrative starts with the massive bonfire instigated by the Christian bishop(?) Cisneros, who wants to remove all symbols of Moors from the face of Andalus. More than one hundred thousand books from all the Muslim libraries of Cordoba burn in this fire as the people - Muslims, Jews as well as knowledgeable Christians - stand there to watch in disgusted silence. The achievements of the rich Andalusian and Moorish civilisation is burnt with those books.

The story revolves around the family of Banu Hudayl who have lived in a small village outside Cordoba for at least 500 years. The head of this family belonged to the nobles of the Cordoba court before falling in the hands of the armies of Isabella and Ferdinand.

This family and others like them has painfully adjusted to the new reality. They hope that the new rulers would let them practice their religion and keep their language and identity. But news coming from different corners of the country suggests otherwise. Some members of this large and influential family have converted to Christianity in order to avoid annihilation and to continue to keep their property and businesses. Even then, they are constantly watched for being 'fake Christians'.

The narrative proceeds with legends of love and hate, rivalry and chivalry, friendship and enmity of the family of Banu Hudayl with other Muslims as well as Christians and Jewish people of Al-Andalus. The holding point of the whole narrative is the air of uncertainty about their future as Christian tighten their grip.

The burning of books en mass is an event which has put all their hopes in doubt and now it is only a matter of time that they will be either annihilated or subsumed into Christianity at the point of sword.

One young member of the family, while a visit to Cordoba and after having suffered humiliation at the hands of Christian soldiers, decides to take up arms. The family finds out and tries to stop his suicidal mission as there is not a thin chance of success. The guy insists and finally leaves home to fight.

Some among victor Christians are not in favour of an Inquisition but rather want to guide the "heathens" to the true path of Jesus Christ through dialogue, just, as they argued, the Moorish had done to them at their turn! But these voices and far and few. They are silenced and the Inquisition ensues.

As the family of Banu Hudayl enjoy the returning home of an old grand-aunt who had been away due to a family dispute, the Christian armies, who had been angered by one of the Banu Hudayl guy who took up arms against them, arrive in the village to take revenge. The palace is surrounded and fighting begins, despite all efforts of the head of the family to engage Christians in negotiations. The result is a massacre of hundreds of people. By the end of the day, there is not a living soul in the village except a small kid and his servant-protector, who manage to hide during the bloodbath.

This is a wonderfully executed story and one that is faithful to history. In that sense, it is not so much fiction but history with fictional embellishments. It portrays the richness of the Spanish Muslim civilisation and depicts its corruption in later decades which led to the humiliating defeat; So much so that the last stronghold was surrendered without 'a shot being fired', to say it colloquially; although obviously there were no fires to shoot back then. The military superiority of Christians led to brutality of unprecedented proportions, that which we would today call ethnic cleansing and a genocide.

"The reason I find this an excellent read is because Ali treats western history with the same thoroughness and brutal honesty, he demolishes the myth that the episode was a victory of one sort or the other of western society, simply by incorporating facts into the narrative. The triumphalism and sheer blood thirstiness of the Christian west is underscored most clearly in "Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree". (this line quoted from the link below)

My rating 4/5.

Find it on AMAZON

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It appears to me that no one on SC reads anything

Some people concentrate on material relevant to their studies or profession and battling perhaps with other chores gives them little time for much else.

Anyway, I gather you are fond of books. So I would like to ask if you also have the urge to write, not necessarily a proven urge - just an urge would do.

In other words, I am not asking if you have written something, but whether you think you can and would like to, if you felt the urge.

There is an urgent need in the modern age for people to read and respond to the spate of anti-Islam books which have gathered pace in the last 30 years.

Any chance of arousing your interest in the subject ?

If there is, then for starters, please go to AMAZON and search for books by Robert Spencer, Karl-Heinz Ohlig and ibn Warraq. There are, of course, many others but that should give you a good head-start.

If you are interested, do please let me know after you have done some of that reading. Once you have read those books, you might share my view that taking on the challenge may require some research of course, but not necessarily of the level of a professional scholar.

I am seriously trying to rally support for a worldwide crusade of writers interested in standing up to the wildfire of anti-Islam sentiment.

Thank you.

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Some people concentrate on material relevant to their studies or profession and battling perhaps with other chores gives them little time for much else.

Anyway, I gather you are fond of books. So I would like to ask if you also have the urge to write, not necessarily a proven urge - just an urge would do.

In other words, I am not asking if you have written something, but whether you think you can and would like to, if you felt the urge.

There is an urgent need in the modern age for people to read and respond to the spate of anti-Islam books which have gathered pace in the last 30 years.

Any chance of arousing your interest in the subject ?

If there is, then for starters, please go to AMAZON and search for books by Robert Spencer, Karl-Heinz Ohlig and ibn Warraq. There are, of course, many others but that should give you a good head-start.

If you are interested, do please let me know after you have done some of that reading. Once you have read those books, you might share my view that taking on the challenge may require some research of course, but not necessarily of the level of a professional scholar.

I am seriously trying to rally support for a worldwide crusade of writers interested in standing up to the wildfire of anti-Islam sentiment.

Thank you.

Thank you for drawing attention to an important issue of our times. I agree that it is imperative to form a response about it. However, I think Muslim need to read the trends in literature about Islam and respond accordingly.

I am not familiar with Karl-Heinz Ohlig but I am acquainted with the works of Ibn Warraq and Robert Spencer. I believe that they belong to the fringe and their impact, at best, is limited to the sections of society already poised to receive their views. The bias of their writings, their inconsistencies and lack of objectivity is apparent to one and all. They are more interested in creating a controversy than to engage in a meaningful and academic critique of Islam, which, being an academically oriented person, I do not reject categorically. Other writers critical of Islam, notably former Muslims like Ayan Hiri Ali, Wafa Sultan, Daniel Ali et al can be bracketed in this group.

The positive work done by non-Muslim academic and experts (Karen Armstrong, John L. Esposito and Edward Said to mention a few) far exceeds hateful anti-Islam polemics of the kind mentioned above. Even though there has been a rise in anti-Islam polemics in print and electronic media, which I ascribe to the war-oriented politics of the Western Right and the rise in Muslim terrorism, there has also been, on the other hand, a great rise in academic works positively dealing with, and trying to understand, Islamic religion, history, philosophy and culture. The need is to popularise such works and take it to the laypeople.

In my view it would be more productive if Muslims concentrated on producing positive, academic oriented works on Islam and related disciplines rather than indulging in religious polemics which usually do not serve much purpose anyway.

I doubt if I have been of much help but you have my best wishes. Good luck in your endeavor.

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have any of you guys read the alchemist by paulo coelho?

i thought it was a good book, particularly since im reading it at this point in my life where im chasing my dreams and the thing i love most in the world and wanting to give up the security of my job, but i found the whole talking to the wind and sun thing a bit odd. something didnt really click with me. apart from that the book was a great read, i finished it only in a few days. the twist at the end when he reaches the pyramids was pretty great i have to say though :)

I love Paulo Coehlo's books, especially the Alchemist. Deinately worth a second read. Another good one by him is The Fifth Mountain.

It appears to me that no one on SC reads anything :Hijabi:

Anyway I have some books to review but I need time and motivation to do that, both of which are in short supply these days.

I am to review, among other books, two biographies which I found interesting. One is titled "Shaykh Ahmed Sirhindi: An Outline of His Thought and a Study of His Image in the Eyes of Posterity" by Yohanan Friedmann; and another is titled "Shaykh Mufid" by Tamima Bayhom-Daou.

Since most members on these boards read within the framework of Western-centric publication and marketing habits, and read usually in English, I am not sure if I should review books, especially in langauges other than English, which I have read recently, and which deal with topics and themes that are of interest to the so called specialised readership, or to people hailing from a particular geopolitical region. These books deal with topics like language studies, literary traditions, folk, poetry as well as general social and historical narratives, from the point of view of non-Western and non-English language scholarship.

Just out of curiosity, are all of these books for your own reading or uni related? Judging by the amount you've read (:mellow:), could you recommend me any good poetry books? I'm finishing up on 1984, slowly but steadily, because I haven't had time to sit down and indulge in a book :dry: Holidays are coming up though so I can use my time wisely now.

Well done btw, I enjoy reading the posts :)

(wasalam)

Edited by Blissful

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Just out of curiosity, are all of these books for your own reading or uni related? Judging by the amount you've read (:mellow:),

All the books I have reviewed, and which I haven't, fall into my range of interests. They aren't uni related.

I am reading extensively in order to learn to write. Some of the reading is done with a purpose in mind; of gaining necessary background in order to undertake a research on the relationship between a strand of Sufism and its impact on the society and politics of a particular geographical region; hitherto a largely unexplored subject in modern scholarship.

could you recommend me any good poetry books? I'm finishing up on 1984, slowly but steadily, because I haven't had time to sit down and indulge in a book :dry: Holidays are coming up though so I can use my time wisely now.

Well done btw, I enjoy reading the posts :)

Can you please narrow down as to which poetry tradition and school you are interested in?

If you are looking for recommendations on contemporary or 20th century English poetry, then I'm not the best person to ask. I haven't delved deep into this area of poetry. I haven't paid much attention to English classics either. However, during my sojourn in Europe I read some of the works of already established and well-known English poets, the most brilliant of them were Philip Larkin and Christopher Middleton.

A big fan of poetry, I mainly read in Urdu and in other languages of Pakistan. I also read Subcontinental poetry in translation so as to compare how our poetry is presented to the world. I have reviewed a few works of this genre on SC. In addition to this, I am fond of reading classical and modern Persian and Arabic poetry in translation. If you ask for recommendations for the afore-mentioned traditions, then I can help. :D

Call it the inherent bias of being who I am, I believe that European languages just can't match Eastern languages like Arabic, Persian and Urdu when it comes to the art and craft of poetry.

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A big fan of poetry, I mainly read in Urdu and in other languages of Pakistan. I also read Subcontinental poetry in translation so as to compare how our poetry is presented to the world. I have reviewed a few works of this genre on SC. In addition to this, I am fond of reading classical and modern Persian and Arabic poetry in translation. If you ask for recommendations for the afore-mentioned traditions, then I can help. :D

Yup that sounds good..I haven't really read any translated urdu/arabic works, apart from a little bit here and there. Interested to see what you come up with ^_^

(wasalam)

Edited by Blissful

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There is an urgent need in the modern age for people to read and respond to the spate of anti-Islam books which have gathered pace in the last 30 years

I agree the need is definitely there.

If we don't respond, the slander will spread. And a reader who is seriously trying to investigate, will find it hard to arrive at the truth and the bad name of Islam will be perpetuated. People cannot escape the negative vibrations.

These books are increasingly adorning the shelves of public and university libraries.

I will mention it to some friends who are good with books.

I agree that it is imperative to form a response

Indeed it is.

I am not familiar with Karl-Heinz Ohlig but I am acquainted with the works of Ibn Warraq and Robert Spencer. I believe that they belong to the fringe and their impact, at best, is limited to the sections of society already poised to receive their views.

No, they do not belong to the fringe.

They are well-respected in academic circles. Some universities with departments in Islamic studies are increasingly being manned by such people. Professor Ohlig and Prof Puin are two that I know of. The others are pretty well-coordinated and effective in helping to mislead the unwary. And they are all in active league with one another.

Other writers critical of Islam, notably former Muslims like Ayan Hiri Ali, Wafa Sultan, Daniel Ali et al can be bracketed in this group.

The word 'critical' is an absolute euphemism. They are after the blood of Islam in a very fierce and subtle way.

The positive work done by non-Muslim academic and experts (Karen Armstrong, John L. Esposito and Edward Said to mention a few) far exceeds hateful anti-Islam polemics of the kind mentioned above.

No, it doesn't exceed the negatives. On the other hand, the negatives far exceed the positives.

The need is to popularize such works and take it to the lay people.

I agree with that part.

In my view it would be more productive if Muslims concentrated on producing positive, academic oriented works on Islam and related disciplines rather than indulging in religious polemics which usually do not serve much purpose anyway.

That may help but it may not fully undo the power of the negatives.

Besides, responding to debunk slander does, by no means, amount to indulgence in polemic.

Let me tell you something. If someone called my father a rapist and a charlatan, I would move heaven and earth to negate those claims.

Relying on the positive words of some, if there are any, will not always be sufficient to counteract a slander.

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Yup that sounds good..I haven't really read any translated urdu/arabic works, apart from a little bit here and there. Interested to see what you come up with ^_^

(wasalam)

Ok. Here is a small list of my recommendations. This is not a selection from the best of poetry-in-translation out there; there must be better poets and collections to read. This is a narrowly selected partial list from the books I have come across, and appreciated. Instead of merely naming the poets and their translators, I'm providing you with the titles of actual books with brief explanations where necessary to give you a better idea of what it contains, just in case it helps.

I have selected both classic and modern poets in Urdu and Farsi and only modern for Arabic. Except a couple of anthologies and poem excerpts in history books, I have not read classical Arabic poetry in translation as to be able to recommend something concrete. Let's start with Urdu.

Urdu

Poems from Iqbal: Renderings in English Verse with Comparative Urdu Text - by Allama Muhammad Iqbal; translator: V.G. Kiernan.

The Rebel's Silhouette: Selected Poems - by Faiz Ahmed Faiz; translator Agha Shahid Ali

(This is bilingual selection. The poems are translated in free verse style, even the metered ghazals, which takes liberty with the form/style of the original poems. But a good read)

Poems from Faiz - By Faiz Ahmed Faiz; translator V.G. Kiernan

(Besides rendering originals into English, literal translations are also done to give a sense of how the poem reads in original. Transliteration is also provided for those who know the language but can't read Urdu script).

Masterpieces of Modern Urdu Poetry - by K.C. Kanda

(I want to avoid recommending anthologies as they don't have a character but this one is just good. Includes major modern Urdu poets).

Arabic

The Butterfly's Burden - by Mahmoud Darwish; translator: Fady Joudah

(This is the Palestinian poet's latter work. Provocative poems)

If I Were Another - by Mahmoud Darwish; translator: Fady Joudah

The Pages of Day and Night - By Adonis; translator Samuel Hazo

(Poems in free verse; highly original stuff with experimentation in style and content)

The Madman - by Khalil Gibran.

The Forerunner - by Khalil Gibran

(Although the two books above were written originally in English and predate all the other Arabic translated collections I referred above, yet they come from the tradition of early modern Arabic poetry. Their importance can be realised only by reading them. Gibran was a Lebanese poet-philosopher, who wrote in his native Arabic and English, and is popular for his insights and sheer brilliance. His two poems "My Countrymen" and "Pity the Nation" are popular among Arabs. The title of the latter poem was borrowed by Robert Fisk for his book on Lebanese civil war).

Farsi

The Essential Rumi - by Jalal al-Din Rumi; translators: Coleman Barks and John Moyne

(Rumi' "Mathnavi" and other works have been translated in full notably by R.A. Nicholson and A.J. Arberry but they are in old English and translations are prosaic in nature. I, therefore, do not recommend them for beginners of Rumi)

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam - translator: Edward FitzGerald

(Complete quatrains, i.e. rubaiyat, beautiful short poems for their style and content. Read them with essential Sufi symbolism in mind).

Secrets of the Self: A Translation of Asrar-i-Khudi - by Allama Muhammad Iqbal [or Eghbal Lahoori as Iranians call him]; translator: R.A. Nicholson

(Deep philosophical poems with Islamic consciousness; reported to be the favourites of Ayatullah Khamenei)

The Lover Is Always Alone - by Sohrab Sepehri; translator: Karim Emami

(Modern Farsi poet and painter writes in free verse)

Sin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad - translator: Alicia Ostriker

(A female poet from pre-revolution Iran. She was much opposed by her contemporaries. Her ideas were also censored, which makes it all the more interesting to read).

Ahmad Shamlu

(I have read his poems in Urdu translation but he has been also translated into English. He is one of the master Iranian modern poets. He takes classical imagery and applies it to his poems composed largely in free verse).

Turkish

Beyond the Walls: Selected Poems - by Nazım Hikmet; translators: Richard McKane, Ruth Christie & Talat Sait Halman

(One of the most important modernist poet in Turkish literary tradition. He is much like Urdu's Faiz Ahmed Faiz in his poetical disposition).

These should keep you going for the holidays!

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]No, it doesn't exceed the negatives. On the other hand, the negatives far exceed the positives.[/ont]

Concentrating too much on the likes of Ibn Warraq and Robert Spencer makes us blindsided toward the largely positive appreciation of Islamic religion and history in contemporary Western academia. A detailed survey of all the works on these subjects coming out of Western academic institutions shows that your assertion is simply wrong, I am afraid. How many negative writers you can count? Hardly a dozen or so. Whereas the scholarship on Islamic disciplines is large and varied.

One shouldn't either look for a wholesale endorsement of Islam and its leaders in the works of Western experts. They aren't going to do that given their vantage point, background, training and a requirement for reading history by employing modern tools.

If you think engaging in polemic and replying to the likes of Spencer is important, then do it by all means. But don't paint a skewed picture of Western work on Islam.

Edited by Marbles

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Ok. Here is a small list of my recommendations. This is not a selection from the best of poetry-in-translation out there; there must be better poets and collections to read. This is a narrowly selected partial list from the books I have come across, and appreciated. Instead of merely naming the poets and their translators, I'm providing you with the titles of actual books with brief explanations where necessary to give you a better idea of what it contains, just in case it helps.

I have selected both classic and modern poets in Urdu and Farsi and only modern for Arabic. Except a couple of anthologies and poem excerpts in history books, I have not read classical Arabic poetry in translation as to be able to recommend something concrete. Let's start with Urdu.

Urdu

Poems from Iqbal: Renderings in English Verse with Comparative Urdu Text - by Allama Muhammad Iqbal; translator: V.G. Kiernan.

The Rebel's Silhouette: Selected Poems - by Faiz Ahmed Faiz; translator Agha Shahid Ali

(This is bilingual selection. The poems are translated in free verse style, even the metered ghazals, which takes liberty with the form/style of the original poems. But a good read)

Poems from Faiz - By Faiz Ahmed Faiz; translator V.G. Kiernan

(Besides rendering originals into English, literal translations are also done to give a sense of how the poem reads in original. Transliteration is also provided for those who know the language but can't read Urdu script).

Masterpieces of Modern Urdu Poetry - by K.C. Kanda

(I want to avoid recommending anthologies as they don't have a character but this one is just good. Includes major modern Urdu poets).

Arabic

The Butterfly's Burden - by Mahmoud Darwish; translator: Fady Joudah

(This is the Palestinian poet's latter work. Provocative poems)

If I Were Another - by Mahmoud Darwish; translator: Fady Joudah

The Pages of Day and Night - By Adonis; translator Samuel Hazo

(Poems in free verse; highly original stuff with experimentation in style and content)

The Madman - by Khalil Gibran.

The Forerunner - by Khalil Gibran

(Although the two books above were written originally in English and predate all the other Arabic translated collections I referred above, yet they come from the tradition of early modern Arabic poetry. Their importance can be realised only by reading them. Gibran was a Lebanese poet-philosopher, who wrote in his native Arabic and English, and is popular for his insights and sheer brilliance. His two poems "My Countrymen" and "Pity the Nation" are popular among Arabs. The title of the latter poem was borrowed by Robert Fisk for his book on Lebanese civil war).

Farsi

The Essential Rumi - by Jalal al-Din Rumi; translators: Coleman Barks and John Moyne

(Rumi' "Mathnavi" and other works have been translated in full notably by R.A. Nicholson and A.J. Arberry but they are in old English and translations are prosaic in nature. I, therefore, do not recommend them for beginners of Rumi)

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam - translator: Edward FitzGerald

(Complete quatrains, i.e. rubaiyat, beautiful short poems for their style and content. Read them with essential Sufi symbolism in mind).

Secrets of the Self: A Translation of Asrar-i-Khudi - by Allama Muhammad Iqbal [or Eghbal Lahoori as Iranians call him]; translator: R.A. Nicholson

(Deep philosophical poems with Islamic consciousness; reported to be the favourites of Ayatullah Khamenei)

The Lover Is Always Alone - by Sohrab Sepehri; translator: Karim Emami

(Modern Farsi poet and painter writes in free verse)

Sin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad - translator: Alicia Ostriker

(A female poet from pre-revolution Iran. She was much opposed by her contemporaries. Her ideas were also censored, which makes it all the more interesting to read).

Ahmad Shamlu

(I have read his poems in Urdu translation but he has been also translated into English. He is one of the master Iranian modern poets. He takes classical imagery and applies it to his poems composed largely in free verse).

Turkish

Beyond the Walls: Selected Poems - by Nazım Hikmet; translators: Richard McKane, Ruth Christie & Talat Sait Halman

(One of the most important modernist poet in Turkish literary tradition. He is much like Urdu's Faiz Ahmed Faiz in his poetical disposition).

These should keep you going for the holidays!

Thanks Marbles! They will definately keep me going. Insha'Allah I'll post my opinions on them here too.

(wasalam)

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Concentrating too much on the likes of Ibn Warraq and Robert Spencer makes us blindsided toward the largely positive appreciation of Islamic religion and history in contemporary Western academia. A detailed survey of all the works on these subjects coming out of Western academic institutions shows that your assertion is simply wrong, I am afraid. How many negative writers you can count? Hardly a dozen or so. Whereas the scholarship on Islamic disciplines is large and varied.

Good to hear that.

One shouldn't either look for a wholesale endorsement of Islam and its leaders in the works of Western experts. They aren't going to do that given their vantage point, background, training and a requirement for reading history by employing modern tools.

Either you have not read my last post carefully or I take it that you will be willing to take it lying down when someone calls your father a rapist and a charlatan.

The choice is yours.

If you think engaging in polemic and replying to the likes of Spencer is important, then do it by all means. But don't paint a skewed picture of Western work on Islam.

Same response as above.

Please don't expect me to engage in further conversation with you.

I have nothing further to add.

Thank you.

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If you think engaging in polemic and replying to the likes of Spencer is important, then do it by all means.

Writing is not an easy thing and I probably could not do it.

But some resistance to slanderers will surely be useful and put brakes on their works.

Otherwise, it is a field day for them on a largely open field.

At least that is what I think.

But then I guess we all have the right to have our own views in the matter.

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How many negative writers you can count? Hardly a dozen or so.

There are definitely far more than a dozen.

And there have been lots more in the past few centuries : Sprenger, Noldeke, Goldziher, Caetani, Lammens, Klimovich, Morozov, Schacht, Blachère, Birkeland, Paret, Hawting, Versteegh, Rodwell, Becker, Casanova, Lüling and many others, most of them negative or very negative.

Current scholars are using them as references.

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Writing is not an easy thing and I probably could not do it.

But some resistance to slanderers will surely be useful and put brakes on their works.

Otherwise, it is a field day for them on a largely open field.

At least that is what I think.

But then I guess we all have the right to have our own views in the matter.

There are definitely far more than a dozen.

And there have been lots more in the past few centuries : Sprenger, Noldeke, Goldziher, Caetani, Lammens, Klimovich, Morozov, Schacht, Blachère, Birkeland, Paret, Hawting, Versteegh, Rodwell, Becker, Casanova, Lüling and many others, most of them negative or very negative.

Current scholars are using them as references.

As I said, if someone wants to engage in polemics, they can do so by all means. I am, however, not convinced of the value of writing rebuttals and refutations in our times. They may serve to be of some use in the short term, and may be popular for dealing with hot issues of controversy, but they will in long term prove to be worthless. On the other hand, the value of positive, genuine, ground breaking work lives on for ages to come. This is what I am interested in.

I was referring to "contemporary Western academia" in my post; I wasn't taking about writers from the old Orientalist mould, i.e., starting from the colonial times and going backwards. Those writers were definitely writing in a partisan framework, usually with a firm Christian viewpoint, were often extremely racist, and had an agenda to elevate Christianity or Christendom at the expense of bringing down Islam. How many of them are known to the world today? Hardly any.

Modern scholarship today in the Western tradition consults primary sources before anything else to interpret history. The bulk of research work that has come out in the last 30/40 years is positively oriented and doesn't endorse the old Orientalist writers unequivocally. The legacy of Edward Said lives on; that of raving haters doesn't.

Edited by Marbles

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Modern scholarship today in the Western tradition consults primary sources before anything else to interpret history.

Unfortunately, the primary sources do not particularly favor Islam. They are contradictory and conflicting and provide ample fodder for those willing to hit out.

They may serve to be of some use in the short term, and may be popular for dealing with hot issues of controversy, but they will in long term prove to be worthless.

That may be your view. However, the proof lies in the pudding. Only time can tell what is useful or not. You are, of course, welcome to your views and I am to mine.

I was referring to "contemporary Western academia" in my post; I wasn't taking about writers from the old Orientalist mould, i.e., starting from the colonial times and going backwards.

"Contemporary Western academia" is full of anti-Islam scholarship. It is a full-blown, indefatigable Mafia.

Heard of these people : C. Rabin, Joshua Blau, Eric Bishop, Marc Philolenko, Meur Bravmann, M.J. Kister, Uri Rubin, C. Heger, Michael Schub, J. Barth, A. Fisher, C. C. Torrey, James Bellamy, Adolf Grohmann. Franz Rosenthal (dies 2003), Claude Cahen (died 1991), and the list goes on. They are all contemporary scholars or from the recent past.

On the other hand, there are no anti-Hinduism, anti-Buddhism, anti-Taoism or anti-Confucianism scholars in the modern world or have been in the past.

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Unfortunately, the primary sources do not particularly favor Islam. They are contradictory and conflicting and provide ample fodder for those willing to hit out.

LOL. I can't believe you actually said that. It clearly shows that you are not acquainted with the methodology employed and tools used for writing history. No set of primary sources about any religion or any period of history is monolith and without contradictions. These are basics of history writing.

This isn't a matter of what 'favours' Islam; interpreting primary sources is the only way to engage with history, with different experts interpreting it differently. The so called secondary sources also rely on primary sources for their conclusions.

What are you going to resort to if not primary sources while writing your rosy view of Islamic history? Where do you think Muslims write history from?

History of Islam is in effect history of Muslims, which is filled with all sorts of contradictions and conflicts and varied beliefs and practices like any religious tradition. What are you going to do about it?

"Contemporary Western academia" is full of anti-Islam scholarship. It is a full-blown, indefatigable Mafia.

Heard of these people : C. Rabin, Joshua Blau, Eric Bishop, Marc Philolenko, Meur Bravmann, M.J. Kister, Uri Rubin, C. Heger, Michael Schub, J. Barth, A. Fisher, C. C. Torrey, James Bellamy, Adolf Grohmann. Franz Rosenthal (dies 2003), Claude Cahen (died 1991), and the list goes on. They are all contemporary scholars or from the recent past.

Then I am not reading the books you are reading and you are not reading what I am reading.

I am obviously not familiar with the works of every scholar you listed above (nor do I believe you are familiar with their works either) but I can judge the value of this list by your inclusion of Claude Cahen. If you are going to put scholars like Claude Cahen in "anti-Islam mafia", who has done genuine work in Muslim medieval history, then I wonder where do you put the likes of Ibn Warraq and Robert Spencer, who are just time wasters.

Cahen, among other things, was the first scholar to include Muslim historiography (primary sources, again) in writing the accounts of Crusades. Before him all history writing about Crusades completely depended on Christian and Western sources. He changed the way many historians of that period, including Bernard Lewis and Karen Armstrong, interpret the history of Crusades.

You have googled the names of scholars belonging to "anti-Islam mafia". Now would you kindly also google a dozen or so scholars who, in your view, do not belong to that 'mafia'?

On the other hand, there are no anti-Hinduism, anti-Buddhism, anti-Taoism or anti-Confucianism scholars in the modern world or have been in the past.

This is, again, your make-belief. That's not reality but you want to believe in it.

To use your categorisation, the same Western scholars are more "anti-Christianity" than "anti-Islam", in that they question the assertions and beliefs held by the believers of that religion and put it to the test of objective, empirical based scholarship. A survey of the abstracts of academic research works published in the last two decades or so would give you a good idea.

There isn't much anti-Buddhism or anti-Taoism because the followers of these religions today have a weak link with their past. The are pretty irrelevant in the scheme of things, especially when compared to the religions of Abrahimic tradition. None the less, there is ample scholarship on these two religious traditions.

Read British historians of the Orientalist mould during the colonial times who dealt with Hindu religion in India and let me know if they were negative or positive about Hinduism.

As for anti-Confucianism, there has been a sudden interest in Confucianism among Western scholars in the context of recent rise of China. A lot of positive and negative stuff has come out of late which, again, in all probability, you are not familiar with. But I am not going to provide a list of scholars to show the wonders of google just as you have done ;)

I am now understanding where you are coming from. Actually I think you and other sharing your view have trouble with any non-Muslim dealing with Islamic history. You prefer ideologically driven, redundant, purified accounts which endorse Islamic religion, history and its leaders unequivocally (And mind you those non-Muslims have mostly corrupted Sunni sects and politics to deal with). This is the reason every Western scholar who so much as criticses an Islamic doctrine or deals with issues of history which contradict widely held belief, is, for you, automatically "negative". I reject this view.

Edited by Marbles

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@ Zareen and other admins: I suggest that the discussion about Islam and Western scholarship be split into a separate thread with an appropriate title such as "Islam and Western scholarship" or "anti-Islam views in Western scholarship" or something appropriate. Doing so would clear this thread from off-topic posts as well as give others opportunity to engage in the discussion. I think this discussion doesn't belong to this thread. Posts #1024, 1025, 1029, 1031, 1032, 1034, 1035, 1036, 1037, 1038, 1039 should make a separate thread in a proper subforum.

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I can't believe you actually said that. It clearly shows that you are not acquainted with the methodology employed and tools used for writing history. No set of primary sources about any religion or any period of history is monolith and without contradictions. These are basis of history.

Western scholars have been playing a double game. They use the primary sources to vilify Islam when they can and they reject those as fabrications when it does not suit them.

On the basis of these primary sources, for example, they claim that our Holy Prophet was a ‘rapist’ and a ‘charlatan’. But when the sources indicate something noble about him, they dump them as fabrications.

As far as Islam is concerned, it is to me the religion preached by the Holy Prophet, not one that can be extrapolated from the so-called history of Muslims.

I am obviously not familiar with the works of every scholar you listed above.

There might be some errors in the source document that I obtained that list from.

Nor do I believe you are familiar with their works either

I have read quotes from almost everyone of those authors in the books that I still have with me. They tell me a lot about them.

I can judge the value of this list by your inclusion of Claude Cahen.

If you wish to judge that list on the basis of one error, it simply shows a lack of rationale in your judgment.

If you are going to put scholars like Claude Cahen in "anti-Islam mafia", who has done genuine work in Muslim medieval history, then I wonder where do you put the likes of Ibn Warraq and Robert Spencer, who are just time wasters.

They are not time-wasters. They have a very clear agenda not particularly noticed by the Muslim world. And they are carrying it through very successfully, as part of a big world-wide team. Members of the team are working together as one. There is extraordinary coordination between them.

You have googled the names of scholars belonging to "anti-Islam mafia".

I guess people judge others within the framework of their own character.

I did not google anything. Next to physics, anti-Islam literature is my favorite subject.

Now would you kindly also google a dozen or so scholars who, in your view, do not belong to that 'mafia'?

It is irrelevant.

I strongly believe that the substance in the works of the detractors is far more effective than that of Islam-friendly scholars.

For those who doubt that statement, I would strongly advise them to investigate for themselves rather than insist on the contrary.

There isn't much anti-Buddhism or anti-Taoism because the followers of these religions today have a weak link with their past

Once again, the reasons are irrelevant.

The fact remains that they have no agenda against other religions that compares with their agenda on Islam.

To use your categoriztion, the same Western scholars are more "anti-Christianity" than "anti-Islam".

Some may be but perhaps only a very few.

There are lots of them who are sworn enemies of Islam. As far as Christianity is concerned, they do not bear the same grudge.

In any case, I am not interested in Christianity. It doesn’t concern me.

Actually I think you and other sharing your view have trouble with any non-Muslim dealing with Islamic history. You prefer ideologically driven, redundant, purified accounts which endorse Islamic religion, history and its leaders unequivocally (And mind you those non-Muslims have mostly corrupted Sunni sects and politics to deal with). This is the reason every Western scholar who so much as criticizes an Islamic doctrine or deals with issues of history which contradict widely held belief, is, for you, automatically "negative".

Nonsense !

You need to read some of their works instead of making gobbledygook assumptions.

I would strongly suggest you try reading some of Father Lammens' works. if you cannot get his books, try reading his articles that have been reproduced in various books. His works are all in French and hard to get. But I have read translated sections of his works in books in my collection. They will turn your head around. I do not have the courage to repeat any of that stuff here. He was so vicious that even the Vatican stopped him from publishing some of his works. Some, though, managed to get through into the press.

This isn't a matter of what 'favors' Islam; interpreting primary sources is the only way to engage with history, with different experts interpreting it differently. The so called secondary sources also rely on primary sources for their conclusions.

When scholars speak of primary sources, they mean the earliest books written by Muslim scholars – Among them are Tabari, ibn Ishaq, ibn Hisham, the six hadeeth books of the Ahl-e-Sunna and some others. I do not know about you but for a Shia like me, much of the stuff in those primary sources is terribly damaging to the reputation and image of Islam.

I will let you have the last say, because I do not particularly enjoy discussions that are characterized by offensive comments such as 'polemics' and 'skewed', as you have chosen to use in your posts and I do not like the making of unsubstantiated assumptions.

But listen to this carefully because I am not going to keep coming back to this thread for ever. These posts are very time-consuming and I don’t have any more time.

Western scholars relate the substance of Islam and the personality of our Holy Prophet to the negative vibrations in these so-called early sources.

I do not know which denomination you belong to or how staunch or lackadaisical you are in your beliefs.

But the primary sources that scholars use are clearly not representative of the Islam that I profess.

On the other hand, they are tarnishing the noble image of Islam with that despicable image.

Worse still, as mentioned, many are showing our Holy Prophet in extremely bad light. Someone in this thread asked you what you would do if your parents were dubbed as rapists and charlatans. I will tell you what I would do. I would do everything possible to destroy that image.

And that is what the other brother had tried to draft you into. And that indeed is what needs to be done so that the truth might prevail.

If you wish to call it ‘polemics’, as you have done several times in your posts, you are welcome to but it just shows a lack of your ability to argue in a pleasant, gentlemanly way.

If you wish to call it a 'skewed' vision of the state of affairs, it again reflects on your debating skills.

As far as I am concerned, that image of Islam which some non-Muslim scholars have actively promoted and continue to, must be destroyed.

I have no intentions of re-joining this discussion. Our frequencies are not in tune. Our platforms are wide apart. There is a wide gulf between our views.

You can have the last say and considering how well-read you are, you can vent yourself out as well as you can. Cheerio, my friend.

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