Saturday, May 4, 2013

On Nostalgia

Nostalgia is one of baseball's defining attributes. The game's past shadows its present--always there to be conjured for instruction, to prod memories, and to revive dormant emotions. Nostalgia is the tribute the present pays to the past.
-John Sexton, Baseball as a Road to God, p. 198. 

Introduction to The Ulama in Contemporary Islam

It has often been assumed that in the face of massive and unrelenting changes in the modern world, the traditionally educated Muslim religious scholars, the 'ulama (singular: 'alim), have become utterly redundant, a mere relic of the past, as it were, and therefore of little interest to anyone seriously interested in understanding contemporary Muslim societies. [...] The religiopolitical activism of the college- and university-educated, the professionals and the urban bourgeoisie--the "Islamists," as they are often called--has now come to receive extensive attention; and thanks to their leadership of the Iranian revolution of 1979, so have the Shi'i ulama. But old assumptions have remained rather more entrenched in the case of the 'ulama of the Sunni Muslim world. The "new religious intellectuals" emerging in the Muslim public sphere undoubtedly merit close attention, and the contemporary Islamist movements continue to be in need of sober analyses. The emphasis on relatively new and emerging intellectuals and activists should not, however, obscure the significance of a community of religious scholars that has existed in Muslim societies for more than a thousand years and, in recent decades, has also witnessed a resurgence of great moment. As increasingly prominent actors on the contemporary scene in Muslim societies, the 'ulama--their transformations, their discourses, and their religiopolitical activism--can, indeed, only be neglected at the cost of ignoring or misunderstanding crucial facets of contemporary Islam and Muslim politics.
-Muhammad Qasim Zaman, The Ulama in Contemporary Islam, 3. (Faiz's favorite book :))

College and 'how to enjoy life'

What he meant was that college had opened his senses as well as his mind to experiences that would otherwise be foreclosed for him. Not only his capacity to read demanding works of literature and to grasp fundamental political ideas, but also his alertness to color and form, melody and harmony, had been heightened and deepened -- and now, in the late years of his life, he was grateful. Such an education is a hedge against utilitarian values. It has no room for dogma -- only for debate about the meaning, or meanings, of truth. It slakes the human craving for contact with works of art that somehow register one's own longings and yet exceed what one has been able to articulate by and for oneself. As the gentlemen reminded me, it is among the invaluable experiences of the fulfilled life, and surely our colleges have an obligation to coax and prod students toward it. 
-Andrew Delbanco, College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, p. 32. (Recommended by John)

Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad:

More of Du Bois on his 'spiritual father' - Alexander Crummell

You will not wonder at his weird pilgrimage, - you who in the swift whirl of living, amid its cold paradox and marvelous vision, have fronted life and asked its riddle face to face. And if you find that riddle hard to read, remember that yonder black boy finds it just a little harder; if it is difficult for you to find and face your duty, it is a shade more difficult for him; if your heart sickens in the blood and dust of battle, remember that to him the dust is thicker and the battle fiercer. No wonder the wanderers fall! No wonder we point to thief and murderer, and haunting prostitute, and the never-ending throng of unhearsed dead! The Valley of the Shadow of Death gives few of its pilgrims back to the world.
But Alexander Crummell it gave back. Out of the temptation of Hate, and burned by the fire of Despair, triumphant over Doubt, and steeled by Sacrifice against Humiliation, he turned at last home across the waters, humble and strong, gentle and determined. He bent to all the gibes and prejudices, to all hatred and discrimination, with that rare courtesy which is the armor of pure souls. He fought among his own, the low, the grasping, and the wicked, with that unbending righteousness which is the sword of the just. He never faltered, he seldom complained; he simply worked, inspiring the young, rebuking the old, helping the weak, guiding the strong.
So he grew, and brought within his wide influence all that was best of those who walk within the Veil. They who live without knew not nor dreamed of that full power within, that mighty inspiration which the dull gauze of caste decreed that most men should not know.
-W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 139.

How to Influence People with Your Ideas - John Butman - Harvard Business Review

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Q&A with Scott Korb, author of new book about Zaytuna College | Inside Higher Ed

Florida Anti Muslim bill


"So the man groped for light;

all this was not Life, -- it was the world-wandering of a soul in search of itself, the striving of one who vainly sought his place in the world, ever haunted by the shadow of a death that is more than death, -- the passing of a soul that has missed its duty. Twenty years he wandered, --twenty years and more; and yet the hard rasping question kept gnawing within him, "What, in God's name, am I on earth for?"
-W.E.B. Du Bois, "Of Alexander Crummell." The Souls of Black Folk, p. 138. 

"So he thought and puzzled along for himself

pausing perplexed where others skipped merrily, and walking steadily through the difficulties where the rest stopped and surrendered.
Thus he grew in body and soul, and with him his clothes seemed to grow and arrange themselves; coat sleeves got longer, cuffs appeared, and collars got less soiled. Now and then his boots shone, and a new dignity crept into his walk. And we who saw daily a new thoughtfulness growing in his eyes began to expect something of this plodding boy. Thus he passed out of the preparatory school into college, and we who watched him felt four more years of change, which almost transformed the tall, grave man who bowed to us commencement morning. He had left his queer thought-world and come back to a world of motion and of men. He looked now for the first time sharply about him, and wondered he had seen so little before. He grew slowly to feel almost for the first the Veil that lay between him and the white world; he first noticed now the oppression that had not seemed oppression before, differences that erstwhile seemed natural, restraints and slights that in his boyhood days had gone unnoticed or been greeted with a laugh.
-W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, p. 144.