Tag Archives: Modernity

Nationalist Mythologies And Nuances Of History

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

In response to my article in Daily Times where I spoke about the menace of Maududism and its sordid history in Pakistan, several sections in India took umbrage to that part of the article in which I wrote about Mahatma Gandhi’s role in bringing Islamic religious clerics into the forefront of political struggle in South Asia.   This is the same section that would rather I had drawn a line linking Islamic extremism to Pakistan’s creation.  I would have done so gladly but that would be tantamount to denying history.

The problem with nationalist histiography is that it is unable to fully grasp or articulate nuanced realities that don’t fit in with the binary of good v. evil.   Indian nationalist mythology is no different.   The naive view amongst those Indian authors taking only a very superficial view of history is that Indian partition was brought about by Muslim religious fanatics and those who opposed it were somehow secular and moderate.  This binary then affects their entire view of history where they seek – quite unconvincingly- to imagine an unbroken link from Akbar to Darashikoh to Maulana Azad as a strand in South Asian Islam committed to Hindu Muslim Unity.    This again bears no semblance to actual history.  Continue reading

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Filed under India, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Pakistan

Islam’s Nowhere Men

Unlike third rate commentators such as Fareed Zakaria and Sassanad Dhume – inspired more by their national bias (both are fanatically anti-Pakistan Indian ultra-nationalists) to pin Pakistan down than any real objective analysis-  Fouad Ajami is a true academic.  His article in the Wall Street Journal hits the nail on the head.  Americans are well advised to read Ajami’s analysis carefuly and realize that the problem facing Pakistanis and Americans is the same.  However even Mr. Ajami hasn’t made the real connection i.e.  connection with Islamic extremist organizations operating on US Campuses. -YLH

By Fouad Ajami (Courtesy Wall Street Journal)

‘A Muslim has no nationality except his belief,” the intellectual godfather of the Islamists, Egyptian Sayyid Qutb, wrote decades ago. Qutb’s “children” are everywhere now; they carry the nationalities of foreign lands and plot against them. The Pakistani born Faisal Shahzad is a devotee of Sayyid Qutb’s doctrine, and Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, was another.

Qutb was executed by the secular dictatorship of Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966. But his thoughts and legacy endure. Globalization, the shaking up of continents, the ease of travel, and the doors for immigration flung wide open by Western liberal societies have given Qutb’s worldview greater power and relevance. What can we make of a young man like Shahzad working for Elizabeth Arden, receiving that all-American degree, the MBA, jogging in the evening in Bridgeport, then plotting mass mayhem in Times Square?

The Islamists are now within the gates. They fled the fires and the failures of the Islamic world but brought the ruin with them. They mock national borders and identities. A parliamentary report issued by Britain’s House of Commons on the London Underground bombings of July 7, 2005 lays bare this menace and the challenge it poses to a system of open borders and modern citizenship. Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan, Terrorism, War On Terror

Fashionistas Not Revolutionaries

Lahore Fashion Week has brought Pakistan Fashion Debate back in international media.  

The first piece is from  CNN:

Lahore, Pakistan (CNN) — Bare backs, plunging necklines and high-cut hems. Western media recently reported that the bold statements made by Pakistan’s fashionistas at Lahore Fashion Week demonstrated how designers were rejecting conservative dress in the South Asian nation.

But the country’s top designers and models say that last week’s four-day fashion extravaganza wasn’t about defying extremism.

“I won’t go as far as to say that this was defiance of anything,” designer Kamiar Rokni told CNN backstage after his collection was shown. “That’s what the Western world sees because that’s what is news. But we’re making fashion news.”

Karachi may have stolen Lahore’s thunder by launching the country’s first fashion week last November but Lahore is considered Pakistan’s cultural capital and is home to the Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design. It meant that Lahore Fashion Week became a sort of homecoming for many of the country’s premier designers who started in the city.

“It’s an extremely important, momentous show, not just for myself, but for everybody,” said Rokni, “because the Pakistan Fashion Design Council has been at it for five years and we’ve finally had our first fashion week.”

Vazeena Ahmed, who at age 37 is one of Pakistan’s oldest and most sought after models, said Pakistan had “trained designers now. Before there were just bored housewives with nothing else to do.” Continue reading

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Filed under Fashion, Pakistan

Islam’s Darwin Problem

By Drake Bennett in the Boston Globe

Three weeks ago, with much fanfare, a team of scientists unveiled the fossil skeleton of Ardi, a 4-foot-tall female primate who lived and died 4.4 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia. According to her discoverers, Ardi – short for Ardipithecus ramidus, her species – is our oldest known ancestor. She predated Lucy, the fossilized Australopithecus afarensis that previously had claimed the title, by 1.2 million years. The papers announcing the find described a transitional specimen, with the long arms and short legs of an ape and strong, grasping big toes suited to life in the trees, but also a pelvis whose shape allowed her to walk upright on the ground below. Continue reading

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Filed under Islam, Science

Post Colonial Pakistan And The Distortion Of History

By Yasser Latif Hamdani
An impartial history of the Pakistan Movement and the rise of the Muslim Nationalism in South Asia shows that the main engine behind it – the Muslim Bourgeoisie – was entirely drawn from the modernist educational tradition of Aligarh and other Muslim educational institutions founded and run by pro-west Muslim reformers like Sindh Medressah (which was a school modelled after British tradition, name notwithstanding), Anjuman-e-Himayat-e-Islam schools and colleges as well entirely secular institutions like the Government College, Punjab University and Peshawar University. In comparison the religious and scholarly class – i.e. Ulema- largely stood either aloof or in opposition to the the Pakistan Movement. Darul Uloom Deoband, the most important Islamic seminary in all of India, was as much an arsenal of pro-Congress Muslim Ulema after the Khilafat Movement as Aligarh was that of Muslim Nationalism. As the independence movement progressed, the pro-Western Aligarh Muslim University came to be associated more with Muslim minority’s cause and was denounced as “reactionary” by Congress as a whole. Pro-Congress Muslims created their own parallel Jamia Milli in Aligarh which was alter shifted to Delhi. Today it is the premiere Muslim institution in India, whereas Aligarh has been decaying. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, History, minorities, Pakistan

Next Generation Arranged Marriage

By Ali Eteraz

For the most part Muslims in the West do not engage in arranged marriages and generally consider them coercive. However, Fatema Yasmine, a London and San Francisco based socialite, noticed that a distant relative to arranged marriages called “assisted marriages” — where couples met through the efforts of family and friends — were still very popular, if not the norm. This gave the self-proclaimed “Asian Cupid” the idea to launch Yasmine Connect, a match-making service designed to connect people of Asian and Muslim backgrounds. Her aim is to bring professionalism and sophistication to an important but undervalued part of Muslim social life. Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan

Maududi’s Children

The intellectual debate on Islam in Pakistan has gone through a cycle. While traditional Islam saw pitchforked battles between Barelvis and Deobandis,  so did those who rejected traditional Islam. From 1947-1970,  Islamic Modernists  (or what Fazalurrahman called Aligarh Westernists who had been the intellectual force behind the creation of Pakistan) and as well as rationalists/Quranists such as Allama Pervez were ascendent. From 1970 onwards, with closer ties between Jamaat-e-Islami and the Army in Bangladesh, Maududian revivalists became strong as arbiters of Islamic questions in Pakistan.   Now some of that has been reversed.   This article below does an extraordinary job in tracing the history of Islam’s intellectual debate in Pakistan.    However NFP fails to mention that the very progressive Muslim scholar Ghamidi has also emerged from the Maududian tradition and that just like Hassan Al Banna’s family today is in the frontline of the intellectual movement against Taliban-style Islamism,  Maududi’s  own family (not the Jamaat-e-Islami which is essentially an Islam0-fascist organization) have also evolved to a more liberal point of view,  showing that unlike Traditional Islam where positions are fixed as dogma dictates,   the reform movement in Islam, even when it goes sour in the case of Maududi or Syed Qutb, is much less rigid.  This has major implications when considered in light of the elections in Iran. I have always felt that even a rigid and fanatical non-reformist non-cleric like Ahmadinejad is better than most palatable cleric from Qom in the long run because the latter is confined by Dogma by training -YLH

By Nadeem Farooq Paracha from Dawn Blogs

In Pakistan even the traditional Muslim practice of reasoning in matters of religion – originally introduced by the 9th century Mutazilites – is at times treated like some kind of an abomination to be feared, discouraged and repressed. It is easy to accuse the proverbial mullah for this. And it is equally easy to blame him for being anti-intellectual and regressive. Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan