How to make academic work relevant?

It costs about a million dollars to produce a Ph.D, in the U.S. One of my mentors shared this interesting fact, as I was about to finish my doctoral education. While I was trying to finish a decently-written dissertation, this fact kept nagging me. I had to justify that million dollar investment made on me… Continue reading How to make academic work relevant?

The problem with the question : ‘Is Islam a Violent Religion’

As a young scholar, I am amazed at how easily such a question can be posed towards Islam and  Muslims, without second thought – as if it is the most normal and banal question that one can ask – indeed, many of my close friends and associates have asked me this question, in the past.… Continue reading The problem with the question : ‘Is Islam a Violent Religion’

Is religious nationalism relevant today?

Is Zionism relevant today? Or for that matter Hindutva or Islamism?  Whether it is India, with its ruling party – the BJP, which has a strong Hindu revivalist motif or Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted from power, after a debacle of sorts, religion and religious parties continue to challenge our understanding of politics… Continue reading Is religious nationalism relevant today?

Why focus on praxis, rather than on thought?

In the study of religion, is ‘thought’  more important than the everyday reality of those who practice religion? By ‘thought’ I include all the teachings, conceptions of ‘ideal society’ and life that every religion teaches.  This is a hard question to answer, as ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘orthopraxy’ are two sides of the same coin, but in… Continue reading Why focus on praxis, rather than on thought?

Top ten books I read this year

I read a lot of books this year. Like a LOT. Part of the reason is that I am preparing for my prelim exams (part of the PhD process) where you prove to your committee that you know your stuff. Additionally, I presented a few papers at a few conferences, many of them outside my… Continue reading Top ten books I read this year

How to write about Islam?

Amidst all the noise about the end of the world scenarios being portrayed as a result of ISIS conquest of parts of Iraq and Syria and equally banal assertions that Islam is somehow inherently violent, and needs ‘reformation’, the common man out there is left confused. As someone studying Islam in America, I am at… Continue reading How to write about Islam?

Is there a ‘God Problem’ in the West?

Is there a ‘God Problem’ in Western societies? Given the rise of the atheist movement, best exemplified by people such as Christopher Hitchens, Daniel C. Dennett, Richard Dawkins and other famous celebrities who make a living dissing religion; the question is: Do they have a point when they say that religion makes no sense and… Continue reading Is there a ‘God Problem’ in the West?

A New Year Wish – Charity and Justice for all

It is that time of the year when everyone is reaching out to everyone else, to seek support for their causes. Financial support, in-kind support, volunteer time, all of it is kosher. If you work in the nonprofit sector, you’d know. There are many things that are wrong with our world and activists, religious leaders,… Continue reading A New Year Wish – Charity and Justice for all

Do we really need nonprofits in America? : Five arguments for the sector’s existence

  Are nonprofit organizations redundant? Can the for-profit sector solve all our problems and usher in a world where poverty, disease and deprivation are things of the past? I read an article on the Forbes website yesterday that argued for dismantling of the nonprofit sector. This piece by Mr. Freedman sought to show, using two… Continue reading Do we really need nonprofits in America? : Five arguments for the sector’s existence

Is American Philanthropy exceptional?

Is American philanthropy exceptional? As the most generous country in the world (by some counts) is the U.S. unique in the way that it advocates and practices charity? While the U.S. remains one of the most creative, dynamic, and trendsetting countries when it comes to charitable giving, is it true that unique? On the surface,… Continue reading Is American Philanthropy exceptional?