Category: Christianity

  • Music and the Mullahs – can the twain meet?

    The debates about the use of music in Islamic practices specifically and music as entertainment are perhaps as old as Islam itself. These debates are not new reminds a scholar of Amnan Shiloah (1997). In the absence of clear injunctions about music in the Qur’an, secondary texts such as Hadith and other texts written by…

  • What is missing in Brunei’s Shari’ah adoption story

    “Our school is correct, but it may be wrong; the school of those who disagree with us is wrong, but it may be right.” – Islamic Juristic aphorism (quoted in The Story of the Qur’an by Ingrid Mattson. P.207). The quote above captures the general attitude among Islamic legal scholars, when it comes to legal…

  • What can Wall Street learn from Islamic banks?

    Over the past two weeks ago, I attended the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Tampa, FL and  also presented at the Global Donors Forum, organized by the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists in Washington D.C. While these two events brought together very different groups of scholars and practitioners, the panels on…

  • What the Religious Right in America can teach us about Pluralism

    Religion in the public sphere has not always been problematic, as American history demonstrates. Clergy have taken both the ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ positions when it comes to issues such as civil rights, anti-war protests etc. This is seen as in the 1960s, when the clergy lead demonstrations for civil rights while in the 1980s they…

  • Should We Get Rid Of The ‘Southern Mystique’?

    There’s an old joke I heard in India, that the Southerners tell about the Northerners (I am a Southerner, from the city of Bangalore) and it goes: The only culture up North is ‘Agri’ culture. While seemingly innocuous and said as light-hearted banter, it does capture the stereotypes South Indians have about the Northerners. The…

  • What a 19th century French Aristocrat can teach us about America

      This is perhaps the most cited book in the world. I have seen it cited even when there is no need to do so, because the aura of quoting Tocqueville, the 19th century French aristocrat is irresistible. With his magnum opus Democracy in America, written after his visit to America in the 1830s’, Tocqueville…

  • Is Philanthropy losing its ‘meaning’?

    There are various conceptions of philanthropy in American society. While some view philanthropy as a religious obligation, giving their time, treasure and talent to the Church or religious institution, others view it as a ‘social relation’, one that binds people to one another says Paul Schervish, in his paper  Philanthropy as a Social Relation. Increasingly,…

  • Beyond the Melting Pot?

    Beyond the Melting Pot?

    The recent Coca Cola ad during the Super Bowl stirred up quite a controversy. While most of the negative reaction to the ad was misplaced racism, the ad did bring up an important question that for the most part, went un-examined: that of the myth of America as the land of opportunities and a place…

  • Is “God Bless America” problematic ?

    “We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom-symbolizing an end as well as a beginning-signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.” – John F Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January…

  • Ibn Battuta, Malcolm X and the tradition of student travelers in Islam

    Rihla, or traveling to seek knowledge is an Islamic tradition, whose roots extend as far as the Prophet Muhammad himself, who prioritized learning and knowledge. His famous Hadith “Learning is from the cradle to grave” has inspired billions of people to travel, seek knowledge, over the last 1400 years of Islamic history. This tradition of…

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