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In the Name of God بسم الله
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What Are You Reading Currently? [OFFICIAL THREAD]

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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.

This is the only thing you have done: Read 'quotes' from those authors in a lone book which you found somewhere. Your assertions and approach toward the academic discipline of history and the lack of any concrete material in your posts speaks for itself. You are basing all your views on a single book, perhaps multiple books, which apparently anthologised all the so called "anti-Islam" Western authors for easy consumption for the likes of you. On close inspection it becomes clear that your total bibliographical repository is limited to a few rebuttals to "anti-Islam" (or so perceived) writers. Wow @ the depth of your reading. :rolleyes:

The fact that you took U-turn on the inclusion of Claude Cahen in your "anti-Islam" list and ascribed it to an error shows without a doubt that you don't know a diddly squat about Cahen's work. The same goes true for most of the writers in your list just as I earlier asserted.

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.

My friend you are projecting your own post on me lol. I don't understand why are you trying so hard.

Now let me end this with a final comment on your personal integrity and move on to reviewing books.

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

I have nothing further to add.

But listen to this carefully because I am not going to keep coming back to this thread for ever.

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.

I have no intentions of re-joining this discussion.

That 'someone' is actually you. I had noticed this earlier but perhaps you think I am stupid.

You declare from one ID that you don't want to engage further with me (there was no need for that declaration in the first place; couldn't we just disagree and move on?) and then come on the next day from another ID to regurgitate the same stuff. I ask you: Why play games?

Did you think posting from two different accounts would give weight to your argument? :lol:

And don't bother to insist that IloveImamHussain and PeaceLoving are two persons. It is obvious to anyone that these IDs belong to the same person.

Note: As I couldn't edit my post after 60 minutes had lapsed, I deleted it and re-posted it with minor changes. I learned this e-trick from a senior SC member. :angel:

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After the needless and unpleasant argument above, I want to get back to talking about books.

I have acquired some interesting titles. Among those I have started on the following:

Al-Ghazali and the Isma`ilis. A Debate on Reason and Authority in Medieval Islam by Farouk Mitha

The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Isma'ilis by Farhad Daftary

Tazkira Shaykh Baha-ud-din Zakariya Multani (An Account of the life of Shaykh...) by Faqir Muhammad Javed Qadri (Urdu book)

The Urdu book is bout a sufi of Suhrawardi order who was the most prominent figure of that order in the Indian Subcontinent. It's a hagiography so I don't expect a critical analysis but it would be good to note how his admirers see him.

The books about Isma`ilis have come out in the tradition of Western/modern scholarship (the same reviled species :dry: ) and both authors are Muslims (Daftary is an Isma`ili though). There is a lesson in this for the reactionaries.

The field in the West for scholarship in Islam is an open one. Muslims need to take advantage of that. Some of us should get ourselves formally educated and take up disciplines of Islamic history and sciences as areas of study and research. This would help produce modern research from the viewpoint of the Muslims. It would be a huge improvement over the monolith and narrow view projected on to history by the old Orientalist scholarship. Some commendable steps have been taken in this direction. Alhamdulillah we now have a significant number of Muslim writers producing works on our history (both works above fall in this category).

Seizing the opportunities provided by Western scholarship (many universities have institutes and departments of Islamic studies), and producing positively oriented works would do more for the cause of Islam and Muslims than writing reactionary rebuttals printed online (worthless) or from obscure publishers down the street (worthless again). Engaging in Islamic studies through modern tools is, in my view, a properly intellectual way to discredit real anti-Islam elements (a small albeit constantly magnified phenomenon), rather than rejecting the Western academia in whole and whining about the 'anti-Islam' West.

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Some of us should get ourselves formally educated and take up disciplines of Islamic history and sciences as areas of study and research.

Seizing the opportunities provided by Western scholarship (many universities have institutes and departments of Islamic studies), and producing positively oriented works would do more for the cause of Islam and Muslims than writing reactionary rebuttals printed online (worthless) or from obscure publishers down the street (worthless again). Engaging in Islamic studies through modern tools is, in my view, a properly intellectual way to discredit real anti-Islam elements

I agree with this. These days it is very easy to get a good education. You can do it from the comfort of your own home.

http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/

http://www.londoninternational.ac.uk/prospective_students/index.shtml

Edited by .InshAllah.

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(salam) Brothers and Sisters,

Has anyone read the book called : THE ASSET OF SUPPLICATE, HOW TO BE A SERVANT OF Allah AND TO PRAISE HIM

By Sheikh Ahmad ibne Fahd Helli

very good book to read.

(wasalam)

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I am about to start "Do You Suppose its the East wind?" Short stories translated from Urdu. Hoping it will be interesting.

http://www.penguinbo...0143063544.aspx

Muskaan: Nice to see you here after such a long time. :)

I have never read Umar Memon's translations of Urdu stories so I am looking forward to an appraisal of the book. Please do come back to tell us about the selection.

I miss our discourse in the thread on South Asian literature in English!

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I have just recently started:

Political Leadership in Liberal Democracies (Comparative Government and Politics)

by Robert Elgie

It discusses the form of political leadeship in several liberal democracies such as, USA, England, Fance, Germany, Japan and Italy. It is somethig i was requited to read during my undergradute course, but never got round to starting it properly, let alone finishing.

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bahauddin.jpg

Tazkira Shaykh Baha-ud-din Zakariya Multani by Faqir Muhammad Javed Qadri

(First published 2009; Language: Urdu)

This is a hagiography, written in the old tradition of tazkira literature, of Shaykh Baha-ud-din Zakariya Multani (c. 1170 - 1267), who was the most prominent Sufi of the newly established Suhrawardi order in the regions of the then Northwestern India.

Given the nature of the book, I did not expect a comprehensive analysis of the belief system of this sufi, but, in addition to excessive praise, I at least expected to get a general view of his thought. In this respect this book has been an utter disappointment. So much so that I embarrassed myself by reading it from cover to cover.

The author sets out with the greatness and piety of the Shaykh, his steadfastness in faith, tireless quest for knowledge, travels to far off lands in search of the Truth (whatever it meant), his numerous miracles and wonders which are identical to the miracles ascribed to the prophets, his ability to read the mind, knowledge of the unseen and much more.

This book, however, contains some factual information about the life of Shaykh Zakariya as well as recounting a few prominent achievements for which he is known.

He left Multan (his birthplace, now in Pakistan) in early youth and set out on a long and perilous journey of Muslim mainlands for higher education in Islamic disciplines. He is reported to have travelled from city to city for almost three decades: Tus, Neshapur, Bukhara, Samarqand, Damascus, Aleppo, Mecca, Madina and finally Baghdad, spending time with the prominent teachers, before he returned to Multan in the latter part of his life.

He was primarily a jurist who, during his stay in Baghdad, got attracted to the teachings of Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi (more about him later). The latter initiated him into the Suhrawardi tariqah and ordered Zakariya to return to his homeland to spread the message of Suhrawardiyah.

Shaykh Zakariya's life and activities back in his native city gets some detailed attention in the book. He belonged to a family of religious judges (qadis), a very wealthy family which enjoyed influence with Muslim overlords. In time he became heir to the family fortune which, according to the book, he spent in the cause of religion. He constructed a huge madrassa in Multan which housed students, travellers, shelterless and teachers imported from Muslim mainlands. His fame and piety won a lot of converts to Islam, which, in turn, he sent over to far off lands for tabligh. Shaykh Zakariya is reported to have sent teams of students to Far East countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and other areas to spread Islam. These tablighis have reported to won multitudes of converts.

Other aspects of his life is schism between him and the governor of Multan Nasir al-Din Qabacha. The latter ruled the province under the authority of the Sultan of Mamluk Dynasty (Slave Dynasty of Delhi), Sultan Shams al-Din Iltutmish. The governor of Multan is reported to have been jealous of the Shaykh and tried to discredit his image among the people. He used many means to achieve his end but, according to the book, failed. So we don't know the nature of the dispute between the Shaykh and the governor, whether it was theological or just political or a mix of both, because the author tends to ascribe all opposition to the Shaykh a result of jealousy and ill-will; a likely explanation a hagiography can offer.

We can attempt a method of association and try to look into the beliefs of his master, Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi, to get an idea of Shaykh Zakariay's views.

According to sources other than the book under review, notably Sayed Hossain Nasr and Mahdi Aminrazavi, Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi (1154 - 1191) is known as the founder of the ishraqi (Illuminationist) school. He was a philosopher in his own right who challenged fundamental views of Ibn-e-Sina's peripatetic philosophy (originally an import from the Greece/Aristotelian thought). Without concerning with his philosophical ideas and their application to Ishraqi sufism, suffice it to say that Suhrawardi's sufi thought depended on his central theory of the Lights. He perceived reality as being divided into Light and Darkness. The immaterial Light of Lights (nur al-anwar) is God through which further flashes of light emanate. These flashes of light have lesser intensity to that of the Light of the Lights. The smaller lights then interact with each other, pass through the intermediary world (alam al-mithal) and give rise to new lights of various intensities. This is Suhrawardi's cosmology in a nutshell which doesn't really make sense without further elaboration but this is beyond the scope of the review.

He also believed that existence per se, of humans and other living beings, is an abstraction of mind and doesn't constitute part of Reality. He denied, in opposition to Ibn-e-Sina, that there is a fundamental form to every material object which could be known through inhering. Interestingly, he had also rejected the theory of vision which was current in those days: Human eyes emit light which falls on the objects which makes the vision possible. He claimed that the light actually emanates from the objects, which links back to the Light of Lights (God) and that the eye, which is a part of darkness, is merely filled with that light.

Suhrawardi's cosmology and Ishraqi (Illuminationist) ideas had big influence on Mullah Sadra who combined his ideas and that of Ibn-e-Sina's peripatetic philosophy to create his own.

Suhrawardi was in Syria when he was declared a heretic. He was executed on the orders of no other than Sultan Salah al-Din Ayyubi himself.

My book rating: 0/5 :dry:

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Muskaan: Nice to see you here after such a long time. :)

I have never read Umar Memon's translations of Urdu stories so I am looking forward to an appraisal of the book. Please do come back to tell us about the selection.

I miss our discourse in the thread on South Asian literature in English!

Thank you Marbles :)

I will do so. You are well aware of my speed in reading, and is actually deteriorated in recent months. But being short stories, well I may just pick it up again.

The intro to the book itself gives a great insight into Urdu literary tradition, "being historically predisposed towards poetry" He notes that "fiction as it is understood in the west did not appear in Urdu until well into the 19th century" although I was wondering how it would compare with other South Asian languages? I'm sure you have a better idea.

I loved that thread. smile.gif Hey you should research on the earliest South Asian fiction and what it has evolved into. With a special emphasis on comparing the south Asian writers living within the sub-continent and those living in the West. You're well qualified wink.gif

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Assalamu aleikum

Interesting thread.

I am currently reading "Bushido, The Soul of Japan" by Inazo Nitobe.

Bushido literally means "Way of the Warrior" and refers to the moral code principals which the samurai in Feudal Japan were required to observe. The code follows seven basic virtues: rectitude, courage, benevolence, respect, veracity, honor and glory, and loyalty. Bushido has been influenced by several Asian religions i.e. Zen Buddhism, Confucianism and Shintoism.

bushido-large.jpg

and I think "The Name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco is my next stop. I bought it yesterday from the local library for only $1. A good catch I know :shifty:

the_name_of_the_rose.jpg

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Thank you Marbles :)

I will do so. You are well aware of my speed in reading, and is actually deteriorated in recent months. But being short stories, well I may just pick it up again.

The intro to the book itself gives a great insight into Urdu literary tradition, "being historically predisposed towards poetry" He notes that "fiction as it is understood in the west did not appear in Urdu until well into the 19th century" although I was wondering how it would compare with other South Asian languages? I'm sure you have a better idea.

I loved that thread. smile.gif Hey you should research on the earliest South Asian fiction and what it has evolved into. With a special emphasis on comparing the south Asian writers living within the sub-continent and those living in the West. You're well qualified wink.gif

Welcome :)

Sounds a good topic to research. There are some studies about the evolution of fiction in South Asian languages but in reference to one or two languages; linguistically it's a very diverse region so it's difficult to take a holistic approach, not least due to the fact that many regional languages haven't yet come out of the old literary tradition, that which the translator of your books calls "historically predisposed towards poetry."

Urdu (as well as Hindi) literary tradition has the distinction of becoming a world class corpus of fiction in a very short time. The Progressive Writers Movement starting in 1930s and its proponents changed the face of the language. Most of them were highly educated people with extraordinary talent. If you have not yet, find the English translations of Qurratulain Hyder, an Indian female Urdu writer, especially her novel "Aag ka Darya" (River of Fire). Its richness is comparable to that of great works by Russian masters.

I relied on you in the South Asian literature thread. So speed up so we can revive it!

Hope to see more of you in this thread.

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ghazali.jpg

Al-Ghazali and the Isma`ilis: A Debate on Reason and Authority in Medieval Islam by Farouk Mitha

(First published 2001)

It is a critical study of a text, its author and their place in the larger context of Muslim intellectual history in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Ghazali wrote a book called Fada`ih al-Batiniyah wa fada`il al-Mustazhiriyah (The Infamies of the Batiniyyah and the Virtues of the Mustazhiriyyah), popularly known as Kitab al-Mustazhiri. He was commissioned to write this text by the Abbasid caliph, al-Mustazhir, before or soon after the latter ascended to the caliphal throne. The Batiniyah here refers to Isma`ilis and Mustazhiriyah to those who supported the Abbasid caliph in particular and believed in the Sunni caliphate in general. Thus, it is a polemical rejection of the theology and doctrines of the Isma`ilis and an affirmation of the Sunni orthodoxy in the form of Abbasid caliphate.

The book starts with sketching out the sociopolitical landscape at the time Ghazali penned down his book. Then it proceeds to deal with questions of form and style of the Kitab al-Mustazhiri. Next comes the evaluation of content and arguments brought forth against Isma`ilis and in favour of Abbasids. Finally, the book provides a summary of the main currents running through Kitab al-Mustazhiri and alternate ways to read that text. It is a complex book and relies a lot on specialised terminology. In that it is not for the starters as the readers should preferably have prior knowledge of the general history of the groups and ideas dealt with in this book to appreciate it fully.

Ghazali wrote Kitab al-Mustazhiri in 1092; a time of confusion and upheaval in Sunni lands. Abbasid caliphate had for long lost its grandeur and power, first at the hands of Shi'i Buyids (or Buwayhid) and later at the hands of Turkic Seljuqs who were in effect the masters of the domains nominally under the Abbasid caliph. A civil was raging among Seljuq princesses for power by the year 1092 and the fate of the caliphate was uncertain. On the other front, Isma`ili Fatimids held sway from their seat in Egypt on North Africa as well as Palestine, Syria and Hijaz. The Fatimids were already in decline but this wasn't yet noticed; the famous Nizari-Must`ali split which pronounced the decline of the Fatimids was, in 1092, just two years away.

The urgency in the polemics of Ghazali reflects the severity of the Ism`aili threat perceived by Sunni Islam. At that time, Ism`ailsm wasn't only popular in Fatimid-controlled lands but was rapidly winning converts in Sunni mainlands notably Persia. This led to the launch of a stream of attacks by the Sunni `ulema to put down Ism`ailism.

Ghazali, while launchiing a full scale attack on Ism`aili theology, particularly focuses on the doctrine of T`alim. This doctrine is basically a systemisation in Ism`aili terms of the general Shi'i doctrine which states that the world cannot ever be without a teacher, an Imam, who is infallible and thus the only person at a given time to which Muslims should turn in all religious matters. By extension, this infallible Imam is the only legitimate ruler of the Muslims. Isma`ilis, in and before 1092, recognised the Fatimid caliphs as those Imams.

Ism`ailis believed that for absolute truth, such as religion seemed to require, decisive authority (an Imam) is needed, for otherwise one man's reasoned opinion is as good as another's and none is better than a guess. They believed that this proposition is in fact all that reason as such can furnish us with. Therefore, the necessity of an infallible teacher in all times is all but evident and cannot be denied. Ghazali takes on this premise with the objection that if the need for an infallible teacher is self-evident by virtue of reasoning, and if all Muslims are capable of realising this self-evident necessity, why, then, most Muslims do not recognise an Infallible Imam or the need for such a figure?, legitimising, as it were, the majority Muslim position who didn't believe in the infallibility of any one after the Prophet.

Later, Ghazali, within the framework of his Shafa`i-Ash`ari though process, spells out the parameters of reasoning in human affairs and in religion, stressing on the role of reason to derive laws by ijtihad al-ray (analogical reasoning?) from the already established sources (Quran, Hadith, Ijma`) rather than succumbing to what he terms false ideology to solve the ikhtalaf (difference) in opinion in fiqh.

Ghazali also contributes to the already established image of the Ism`ailis and their doctrines in the tradition of heresiographies written by his predecessors. Farhad Daftary terms this image as the "Isma`ili Black Legend" created by Sunni authors to discredit Ism`ailism. It basically says that Ism`aili Imams, their da`is and their followers comprise of those with weak minds who are ignorant and stupid enough to believe in anything; those who are seeking vengeance from Islam on behalf of their pre-Islamic Persian ancestors; those with sheer desire for mastery and domination; those who seek to be a part of the elite so as to distinguish themselves from the masses; those who have grown up amongs the Shia and the Rawafid and hence share common interests with them; those godless philosophers and dualists who believe that revealed laws are man made; and much more. In short, it is a grand conspiracy by the deviants to put down Islam; no Ism`aili is genuine in his or her belief and practice.

After listing all the errors of Ism`ailis, Ghazali is now ready for the final showdown. Are Ism`ailis Muslims? Or are they infidels whose blood can be shed? He deals with this question in a very curious way.

He says that the belief of Ism`ailis in the infallibility of Imam Ali, belief in a list of infallible leaders of the Ummah down to their current Imam, belief in the categorical rejection of the first three khulafa al-rashidun as well as their hatred for them does not amount to kufr. On the other hand, he launches a scathing salvo on the Ism`aili method of interpreting the Quran in spiritual and esoteric ways (hence the epithet Batiniyah). He holds that the tendency of Ism`ailis to wrest literal meaning from Quranic verses and to dress them in esoteric terms results in beliefs which are contrary to the main tenets of Islam. Ghazali lists those beliefs before giving his verdict on the Islam or the lack it of Ism`ailis.

i) Isma`ilis believe that al-Qiyamah (Resurrection) doesn't entail a cessation of the world and the process of generation (tawallud) will never finish.

ii) Al-Qiyamah is a reference to the emergence of the seventh Imam in the cyclical process of abrogation and renewal of the law (referring to the Ism`aili view of cyclical history which each circle completing its term on the advent of every seventh Imam in the chain).

iii) The body decomposes after death and is thus not gathered again in the hereafter, so that there is no physical Heaven and Hell.

Ghazali believes that the afore-mentioned esoteric interpretations of the Quran by Ism`ailis amount to calling Prophet Muhammad a liar, who stressed on the reality of Heaven and Hell, of bodily Resurrection and timelessness of Islamic/Quranic law. Therefore, since Batiniyah (Ism`ailis) are guilty of rejecting the word of the Prophet, by holding the afore-mentioned beliefs, they put themselves out of the pale of Islam. Batiniyah (Ism`ailis) are thus infidels and it is permissible to shed their blood.

The narrative of Kitab al-Mustazhiri is interspersed with proving the legitimacy of the Abbasid caliphs in opposition to the Fatimids. This line of argument runs side by side Ghazali's attacks on the Ism`ailis. He bequeaths Abbasid caliph with all the roles and responsibilities claimed by the Fatimid caliph-Imam.

Interestingly, he makes no reference to the de facto power of the Seljuqs who had actually rendered the Abbasid caliph useless and powerless, though Ghazali was clearly aware of the dangers of the de facto vs. de jure. Throughout the book he is also busy in carving out a role for the `ulema as the guardians of the faith. Since this duty actually rests with the caliph, but as he is fallible and doesn't have time or knowledge to fulfill all his roles, it is best for the caliph to surround himself with the company of trustworthy `ulema. By which he meant himself and others like him.

He also doesn't deal with the Imamiyah or Ithna `Ashariyah in this book.

A highly rewarding but complex read. My only criticism is that Farouk Mitha's analysis is a bit muddled and doesn't follow clearly laid out scheme. However, my rating is 4/5.

Get it on AMAZON

Edited by Marbles

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Having indulged a lot in Ism`aili studies, I have now got the following on my bedside. I am feeling a bit slowed down so I guess I would need some time to read them.

The Second Umayyad Caliphate: The Articulation of Caliphal Legitimacy in Al-Andalus by Janina M. Safran

Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid

Night of the Golden Butterfly by Tariq Ali (fiction)

Al-Ghazali and the Isma`ilis. A Debate on Reason and Authority in Medieval Islam by Farouk Mitha

The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Isma'ilis by Farhad Daftary

Tazkira Shaykh Baha-ud-din Zakariya Multani (An Account of the life of Shaykh...) by Faqir Muhammad Javed Qadri (Urdu book)

The books particularly on Ism`ailism have been instructive. I have finished the one authored by Farhad Daftary. I will review it soon inshallah.

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Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid

Ahh yess, I too have this book as yet unread. I will slow down and take time to read and we can have dueling reviews ^_^

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Ahh yess, I too have this book as yet unread. I will slow down and take time to read and we can have dueling reviews ^_^

This is one of the most authoritative books on the 10-year old war and invasion of Afghanistan authored by a journalist who actually knows his stuff, unlike those johnies who come from the US to visit Afghanistan for a couple of months and then think they know it all. If you are double-minded about the US strategy and its disastrous policies in Af-pak, the role Pakistani establishment played in alliance (often in defiance of that alliance) with the US, those many Afghan factors shaping politics on the ground in Afghanistan, and geopolitical importance of India and Central Asian state in this conflict, then, this is the book to read.

Reviews sound good. Let's do them!

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