Islam, travel

The simplicity of Zagreb’s Mosque.

I went to visit Zagreb’s mosque and Islamic cultural centre this weekend. I’ve been living in Zagreb for six years, but I never went there before, so – it was about time to visit it! Zagreb Mosque is the biggest in Croatia, its construction began in 1981, and had finished in 1987.  I like that it is very simple, and manages to escape the kitsch so often found in religious places.

I took some photos, of course, so – feel free to have a peek!

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IMG_1751all photos © Ivana Perić/Middle East Revised

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art of resistance, Islam

Centuries old Oriental manuscripts revealed.

This May, the Croatian Academy of Science and Arts hosts an exhibition Riječ, pismo, slika (Text, Calligraphy, Painting) , presenting its biggest Oriental archive of manuscripts, collected for a long time and carefully preserved – from the transcripts of Qur’an to law books and poetry.

Many of these books are from 15th or 16th century, and some go back to 12th century. Beautiful calligraphy, illuminations and miniatures –  the main features of the oriental-islamic manuscripts are all present in these pieces.

I went to see this lovely exhibition, and – took some photos, of course. Enjoy.

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IMG_1713all photos © Ivana Perić/Middle East Revised

 

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art of resistance, Islam, Pakistan

Allama Iqbal, The Great Mind of Pakistan.

Muhammad Iqbal, also known as Allama Iqbal, was a philosopher, poet, politician in British India. He is widely regarded as having inspired the Pakistan Movement and he is still, although he died almost 80 years ago (1938.), one of the most important and relevant figures in Urdu literature, with literary work both in Urdu and Persian language.

Though Iqbal is best known as an eminent poet, he is also a highly acclaimed Muslim philosophical thinker of modern times. Along with his Urdu and Persian poetry, his various Urdu and English lectures and letters have been very influential in cultural, social, religious and political disputes over the years. 

Allama-Iqbal-640x480Allama Iqbal

 Iqbal’s thoughts in his work primarily focus on the spiritual direction and development of human society, centered around experiences from his travels and stays in Western Europe and the Middle East. He was profoundly influenced by  philosophers such as Friedrich NietzscheHenri Bergson and Goethe. The poetry and philosophy of Mawlana Rumi bore the deepest influence on Iqbal’s mind. Deeply grounded in religion since childhood, Iqbal began intensely concentrating on the study of Islam, the culture and history of Islamic civilization and its political future, while embracing Rumi as “his guide”.

Iqbal’s six English lectures were published first from Lahore in 1930 and then by Oxford University press in 1934 in a book titled The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in IslamThe lectures dwell on the role of Islam as a religion as well as a political and legal philosophy in the modern age. In these lectures Iqbal firmly rejects the political attitudes and conduct of Muslim politicians, whom he saw as morally misguided, attached to power and without any standing with Muslim masses.

He is commemorated widely in Pakistan, where he is regarded as the ideological founder of the state. His Tarana-e-Hind is a song that is widely used in India as a patriotic song speaking of communal harmony.

Personally, I admire all of his work and his efforts, but I always had a soft spot for poetry. So – to end this post, enjoy reading Iqbal’s verses dedicated to his mother.

Who would wait for me anxiously in my native place?

Who would display restlessness if my letter fails to arrive?

I will visit thy grave with this complaint:

Who will now think of me in midnight prayers?

All thy life thy love served me with devotion—

When I became fit to serve thee, thou hast departed.

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art of resistance, Islam

Female genital mutilation: Not in religion’s name, not in our name!

Author: Farooq Aftab/Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association

Two weeks ago, thousands of British Muslim men that make up the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, the UK’s largest and oldest Muslim youth association, issued a single statement denouncing female genital mutilation (FGM). The statement, published on the website ‘Muslims for Humanity‘, read:

“FGM is an oppressive cultural practice that has no place in the civilised world. It is very worrying that since 2009 at least 4,000 women have been treated in the UK as a result of having been forced to endure this type of mutilation. As an Islamic organisation representing thousands of British Muslim men, we are particularly concerned that extremist and ignorant religious preachers are using Islam as a justification for this terrible practice. FGM runs contrary to the teachings of Islam and we will continue to welcome any and every opportunity to raise our voices and to campaign against this vile practice.”

Within any context, FGM is a vile and inhumane practice. For God-fearing Muslims it strikes a particularly painful cord, given that some ignorant religious clerics and their ill-guided flocks manipulate the peaceful teachings of Islam to socially, morally and even physically force women to undergo this harmful procedure.

Culture vs. Religion

The eradication of FGM – certainly a goal common to all civilised human beings – is an issue that demands our united and unyielding stand. Unfortunately in the modern world, issues that can be linked to religion, particularly to Islam and Muslims, attract the attention of right-wing pseudo intellectuals who are ready to use any issue as a conduit for attacking ‘the other’. This selfish approach only deflects attention away from the real task at hand; the eradication of FGM.

“FGM is an oppressive cultural practice that has no place in the civilised world”  Writing in the Huffington Post, Leyla Hussein, the prominent anti-FGM campaigner who brought us the eye-opening documentary ‘The Cruel Cut’, highlighted some common myths about the religious demographic of FGM. For example:

– FGM is practised by Jews, Christians, Muslims, animists, and non-believers.

– 80% of the Muslim world do not practice FGM.

– FGM pre-dates all of the major world faiths and was prevalent during Pharaonic Egypt.

– FGM often reflects the practices of specific communities. For example, 55% of Niger’s Christian population practices FGM, as compared to 2% of the Muslim population.

Islam

Muslim scholars have traditionally relied upon two historical sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad in support of female circumcision. The reports infer that the Prophet stated that female circumcision is an honour for women and that the procedure should be minimal. Blind acceptance of these sayings by scholars, or their strong desire to reconcile them with wider Islamic tradition forms part of a much wider problem facing today’s Muslim’s world.

There are a number of serious issues with the sayings that clerics rely upon when justifying female circumcision. For example, the historical authenticity and strength of these hadiths have been called into question and are thus not relied upon by most Muslims. Furthermore, the practice of female circumcision is known to harm women and both the Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad state in numerous places that to harm others is forbidden. In a sound hadith, the Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said: ”Do not harm (others) and do not be the cause of harm.’‘ It is also quite telling that there is no record of the Prophet Muhammad ever asking his wives, daughters or a single woman in his community to practice female circumcision.

There are numerous obstacles that stand between FGM and its eradication. It is sincerely hoped that the united voice of thousands of Ahmadi Muslims against this practice will help to combat some of those obstacles. Islam teaches that all of God’s creation should be treated with kindness, compassion and without prejudice; this is the religion for which I am an adherent and so it is with great conviction that I say: Not in Islam’s name, not in my name.

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