Is God a White Racist?

Since Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, there has been a renewed national conversation about race in America. While most thoughtful analysts agree that there is a wide racial divide in the country, no one has come up with a definitive answer as to how to solve it. Despite decades of government, non-government and civil society… Continue reading Is God a White Racist?

Why you should be Skeptical of Media Pundits’ Commentary

Are the pundits (or experts) on TV actually making us more ignorant? I am starting to wonder if all this explosion of ‘experts’ around us is really helping us understand the complex issues in front of us, or are they ‘dumbing down’ things, in order to reach us, and in essence not really helping us… Continue reading Why you should be Skeptical of Media Pundits’ Commentary

What can Islam offer to the World? Part 1

Most often, when journalists write about Islam, it is in connection with something negative. As Edward Said argued, many years ago in Orientalism, there is a tendency in the Western academia and media to focus on the stereotypes of Islam and the Muslim world, at the expense of the ‘reality’ that exists in the Muslim… Continue reading What can Islam offer to the World? Part 1

Lessons in Foreign Policy from Food Cart Vendors

“Cairo, very good city. You go there?” queried the young Egyptian juice vendor, as I was attempting to buy a mixed berry juice, while waiting for my turn to enter the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Another food cart vendor, who was a Syrian pointed out the similarities in spices in India and the Arab… Continue reading Lessons in Foreign Policy from Food Cart Vendors

Can democracy take root in the Arab world?

As Syria burns, Iraq implodes and Tunisia and Libya struggle to democratize, one question remains central to framing discussions of participatory governance – Is democracy possible in the ‘Muslim world’? Is democracy an ‘internal wound,’ that has been left to fester for too long, within the Arab/Muslim world, as Moroccan scholar Fatima Mernissi argues? She… Continue reading Can democracy take root in the Arab world?

Can the ‘Golden Age of Philanthropy’ Transform America?

As I visited Indianapolis last week to attend the ARNOVA Young Leaders Forum, I met some of the people from Lilly School of Philanthropy, the world’s first school of philanthropy. While the two day meeting was meant as a professional development opportunity, it also served as a way for the young leaders – most of… Continue reading Can the ‘Golden Age of Philanthropy’ Transform America?

How can Zakat help Syrian Refugees?

The ongoing Syrian Civil War is pegged to be the largest humanitarian disaster since the Cold War. A recent New York Times article quoted United Nations Organizations officials making an appeal for an unprecedented $5bn towards relief and rehabilitation, even as the fighting goes on. Given that most of the victims of the crisis are… Continue reading How can Zakat help Syrian Refugees?

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… Continue reading Should We Get Rid Of The ‘Southern Mystique’?

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… Continue reading Is “God Bless America” problematic ?

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… Continue reading Ibn Battuta, Malcolm X and the tradition of student travelers in Islam