Wednesday, January 24, 2018

[New book] Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi Tharoor

In the eighteenth century, India’s share of the world economy was as large as Europe’s. By 1947, after two centuries of British rule, it had decreased six-fold. Beyond conquest and deception, the Empire blew rebels from cannon, massacred unarmed protesters, entrenched institutionalised racism, and caused millions to die from starvation. 
British imperialism justified itself as enlightened despotism for the benefit of the governed, but Shashi Tharoor takes on and demolishes this position, demonstrating how every supposed imperial ‘gift’ – from the railways to the rule of law – was designed in Britain’s interests alone. He goes on to show how Britain’s Industrial Revolution was founded on India’s deindustrialisation, and the destruction of its textile industry. 
In this bold and incisive reassessment of colonialism, Tharoor exposes to devastating effect the inglorious reality of Britain’s stained Indian legacy. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

New Book by Faiz Ahmed: Afghanistan Rising Islamic Law and Statecraft between the Ottoman and British Empires

Debunking conventional narratives of Afghanistan as a perennial war zone and the rule of law as a secular-liberal monopoly, Faiz Ahmed presents a vibrant account of the first Muslim-majority country to gain independence, codify its own laws, and ratify a constitution after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. 
 Afghanistan Rising illustrates how turn-of-the-twentieth-century Kabul—far from being a landlocked wilderness or remote frontier—became a magnet for itinerant scholars and statesmen shuttling between Ottoman and British imperial domains. Tracing the country’s longstanding but often ignored scholarly and educational ties to Baghdad, Damascus, and Istanbul as well as greater Delhi and Lahore, Ahmed explains how the court of Kabul attracted thinkers eager to craft a modern state within the interpretive traditions of Islamic law and ethics, or shariʿa, and international norms of legality. From Turkish lawyers and Arab officers to Pashtun clerics and Indian bureaucrats, this rich narrative focuses on encounters between divergent streams of modern Muslim thought and politics, beginning with the Sublime Porte’s first mission to Afghanistan in 1877 and concluding with the collapse of Ottoman rule after World War I.  
By unearthing a lost history behind Afghanistan’s founding national charter, Ahmed shows how debates today on Islam, governance, and the rule of law have deep roots in a beleaguered land. Based on archival research in six countries and as many languages, Afghanistan Rising rediscovers a time when Kabul stood proudly as a center of constitutional politics, Muslim cosmopolitanism, and contested visions of reform in the greater Islamicate world.
Faiz Ahmed is Assistant Professor of History at Brown University.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Islam and Islamism in Turkey: A Conversation with İsmail Kara
Ismail Kara is arguably the foremost academic expert on Turkish Islamism. Although he is a prolific writer and a public intellectual, his work is little known among non-Turkish speaking audiences.The following interview with Kara aims to close this gap. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017



existence originating from and having no source other than itself.

Tim Winter's translation for al-wujūb al-dhātī 

 Winter, Tim, "Ibn Kemāl (d.940/1535) on Ibn 'Arabī's Hagiology" in Sufism and Theology. ed. Ayman Shihadeh, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), pg. 147.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

"God has been so good to us!

We were idolaters, and if the Messenger of God had come with this entire religion all at once, and with the Quran all at once, the responsibilities would have weighed heavily upon us, and we would not have entered Islam. Rather, he called us to a single word, and when we accepted it and tasted the sweetness of faith, we accepted what came after it, word upon word, in a gentle way, until the religion was completed and the law was perfected.
-Imām 'Alī, quoted in The Study Qur'an, p. 174, commentary on Q3:159.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"What they strove to achieve

was a continuous state of recollection (dawām al-dhikr) or, in another formulation, the transformation of the dhikr into a natural disposition (malaka) that even the reciter's heart would cease to sense, so as to become oblivious of anything that was not God, including the very act of remembrance.
-Dina Le Gall, A Culture of Sufism: Naqshbandīs in the Ottoman World, 1450-1700. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005), p. 114.