Wednesday, May 24, 2017

MacIntyre on Teaching and Enquiry & Respect for Truth

Aquinas's refutation of the Averroist view was important not only for the future history of philosophy, but also for the future history of universities. The schools that were the predecessors of universities had been primarily places of teaching and only secondarily, and, on occasion, places of enquiry. But even in them it had been becoming clear that teaching, which is to succeed in making the resources of past learning available in the present, is inseparable from ongoing enquiry, from reformulating old questions, testing established beliefs, asking new questions, and so providing new resources for teaching. With the establishment of universities this relationship between teaching and enquiry becomes institutionalized. [...]
Every one of us, in our everyday lives, needs in a variety of ways to learn and to understand. The ability of those outside universities to learn and to understand what they need to learn can be helped or hindered by the good or bad effects on their intellectual formation and their thinking of those who have been educated in universities, by the good or bad influence, that is, not only of parents, but also of school teachers, pastors, and others. One condition for that influence being good rather than bad is that what is communicated to and shared by the whole community of teachers and learners is a respect for truth and a grasp of truths that presupposes, even if it is never or rarely explicitly spelled out, an adequate conception of truth. One of our debts to Aquinas is that he, both in his own account of truth and in his disputes with the Averroists, taught us to appreciate this.
-Alasdair MacIntyre, God, Philosophy, Universities: A Selective History of the Catholic Philosophical Tradition (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), pgs. 68-9.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

NYT: U.S. budget’s winners and losers

President Trump plans to unveil a $4.1 trillion budget today that would increase spending on the military and border security but cut deeply into programs for the poor.
The proposal includes huge tax cuts but does not change Social Security and Medicare. Here’s who would get what.
Our reporters say the plan is based on wishful thinking; it assumes an economic growth rate of 3 percent, when the post-recession average is 2 percent. 

Friedrich Engels mentioned Hafez in an 1853 letter to Karl Marx

It is, by the way, rather pleasing to read dissolute old Hafiz in the original language, which sounds quite passable and, in his grammar, old Sir William Jones likes to cite as examples dubious Persian jokes, subsequently translated into Greek verse in his Commentariis poeseos asiaticae, because even in Latin they seem to him too obscene. These commentaries, Jones’ Works, Vol. II, De Poesi erotica, will amuse you. Persian prose, on the other hand, is deadly dull. E.g. the Rauzât-us-safâ by the noble Mirkhond, who recounts the Persian epic in very flowery but vacuous language. Of Alexander the Great, he says that the name Iskander, in the Ionian language, is Akshid Rus (like Iskander, a corrupt version of Alexandros); it means much the same as filusuf, which derives from fila, love, and sufa, wisdom, ‘Iskander’ thus being synonymous with ‘friend of wisdom’.[16]
16: "Letters: Marx-Engels correspondence". Retrieved 15 January 2012. 

"The leaven of the ancients : Suhrawardī and the heritage of the Greeks" by John Walbridge (2000)

"The twelfth-century Persian philosopher Suhrawardi was the key figure in the transition of Islamic philosophy from the neo-Aristotelianism of Avicenna to the mystically oriented Islamic philosophy of later centuries. Suhrawardi's "Illuminationist" philosophy was a vigorous reassertion of Neoplatonism at a time when Sufism was becoming a major presence in Islamic thought and society."--BOOK JACKET. 

The transformation of Muslim mystical thought in the Ottoman Empire: the rise of the Halveti order, 1350-1650

"One of more poorly understood aspects of the Ottoman Empire has been the flourishing of Sufi mysticism under its auspices. This study tracks the evolution of the Halvetî order from its modest origins in medieval Azerbaijan to the emergence of the influential Sabaniyye, whose range once extended throughout the Empire. By carefully reconstructing the lives of formerly obscure figures in the history of the order, a complex picture emerges of the connections among Halvetî groups, the state, and society. Even more important, since the Sa'baniyye grew out of the towns and villages of the northern Anatolian mountains rather than the major urban centres, this work brings a unique perspective to the lives, work, and worship of Ottoman subjects outside of the major urban centres of the Empire. Along the way, the study sheds light on less-visible actors, such as women and artisans, and challenges generalizations about the activities and strategies of Ottoman mystics." -- Book jacket. 

"Sufism and society : arrangements of the mystical in the Muslim world, 1200-1800" (2012)

In recent years, many historians of Islamic mysticism have been grappling in sophisticated ways with the difficulties of essentialism. Reconceptualising the study of Islamic mysticism during an under-researched period of its history, this book examines the relationship between Sufism and society in the Muslim world, from the fall of the Abbasid caliphate to the heyday of the great Ottoman, Mughal and Safavid empires.
Treating a heretofore under-researched period in the history of Sufism, this work establishes previously unimagined trajectories for the study of mystical movements as social actors of real historical consequence. Thematically organized, the book includes case studies drawn from the Middle Eastern, Turkic, Persian and South Asian regions by a group of scholars whose collective expertise ranges widely across different historical, geographical, and linguistic landscapes. Chapters theorise why, how, and to what ends we might reconceptualise some of the basic methodologies, assumptions, categories of thought, and interpretative paradigms which have heretofore shaped treatments of Islamic mysticism and its role in the social, cultural and political history of pre-modern Muslim societies.
Proposing novel and revisionist treatments of the subject based on the examination of many under-utilized sources, the book draws on a number of disciplinary perspectives and methodological approaches, from art history to religious studies. As such, it will appeal to students and scholars of Middle East studies, religious history, Islamic studies and Sufism. 

"Guardians of Faith in Modern Times: ʿUlamaʾ in the Middle East" (2009): Table of Contents

The "heirs of the prophets" in Islamic history. 'Ulama' between the state and the society in pre-modern Sunni Islam / Michael Winter ; 
Al-Jabarti's attitude towards the 'ulama' of his time / Shmuel Moreh
Confronting a changing world : modernization, reform and national discourse. 'Ulama' and political activism in the late Ottoman empire : the political career of Şeyhülislâm Mustafa Sabri Efendi (1869-1954) / Amit Bein ; 
Italian colonial rule and the Muslim elites in Libya : a relationship of antagonism and collaboration / Anna Baldinetti ; 
Education, politics, and the struggle for intellectual leadership : al-Azhar between 1927 and 1945 / Rainer Brunner ; 
The Iraqi Afghanis and 'Abduhs : debate over reform among Shiʻite and Sunni 'ulama' in interwar Iraq / Orit Bashkin ; 
Western scholars on the role of the 'ulama' in adapting the Shariʻa to modernity : a critical review / Ron Shaham
Guardians of the faith in semi-tribal societies. 'Ulama, ' tribalism and the national struggle in Morocco, 1944-1956 / Daniel Zisenwine ; 
Reconciling tribalism and Islam in the writings of contemporary 'ulama' in Saudi Arabia / Muhammad al-Atawneh
Ideological rivals. Wahhabis, Sufis and Salafis in early twentieth century Damascus / David Commins ; 
The clerics' betrayal? : Islamists, 'ulama' and the polity / Meir Hatina ; 
Liberal critics, 'ulama' and the debate on Islam in the contemporary Arab world / Muhammad Abu Samra ; 
In defense of Muhammad : 'ulama', Daʻiya and the new Islamic internationalism / Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen 

"Scholars and Sultans in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire" (2016) by Abdurrahman Atçıl

During the early Ottoman period (1300–1453), scholars in the empire carefully kept their distance from the ruling class. This changed with the capture of Constantinople. From 1453 onwards, the Ottoman government co-opted large groups of scholars, usually over a thousand at a time, and employed them in a hierarchical bureaucracy to fulfill educational, legal and administrative tasks. Abdurrahman Atçıl explores the factors that brought about this gradual transformation of scholars into scholar-bureaucrats, including the deliberate legal, bureaucratic and architectural actions of the Ottoman sultans and their representatives, scholars' own participation in shaping the rules governing their status and careers, and domestic and international events beyond the control of either group. 

"Dreams and Lives in Ottoman Istanbul: A Seventeenth-Century Biographer's Perspective" (2017) by Asli Niyazioglu

Dreams and Lives in Ottoman Istanbul explores biography writing and dream narratives in seventeenth-century Istanbul. It focuses on the prominent biographer ‘Aṭā’ī (d. 1637) and with his help shows how learned circles narrated dreams to assess their position in the Ottoman enterprise. This book demonstrates that dreams provided biographers not only with a means to form learned communities in a politically fragile landscape but also with a medium to debate the correct career paths and social networks in late sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Istanbul.
By adopting a comparative approach, this book engages with current scholarly dialogues about life-writing, dreams, and practices of remembrance in Habsburg Spain, Safavid Iran, Mughal India and Ming China. Recent studies have shown the shared rhythms between these contemporaneous dynasties and the Ottomans, and there is now a strong interest in comparative approaches to examining cultural life. This first English-language monograph on Ottoman dreamscapes addresses this interest and introduces a world where dreams changed lives, the dead appeared in broad daylight, and biographers invited their readers to the gardens of remembrance. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

"This book

takes a very different view of a universal crisis, shifting the preposterously heavy burden of explanation from Islam and religious extremism. It argues that the unprecedented political, economic and social disorder that accompanied the rise of the industrial capitalist economy in nineteenth-century Europe, and led to world wars, totalitarian regimes and genocide in the first half of the twentieth century, is now infecting much vaster regions and bigger populations: that, first exposed to modernity through European imperialism, large parts of Asia and Africa are now plunging deeper into the West's own fateful experience of that modernity.
-Pankaj Mishra, Age of Anger: A History of the Present (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017), p. 10.


people are awaiting a messiah, and the air is laden with the promises of large and small prophets...we all share the same fate: we carry within us more love, and above all more longing that today's society is able to satisfy. We have all ripened for something, and there is no one to harvest the fruit...
Karl Mannheim (1922)

-Pankaj Mishra, Age of Anger: A History of the Present (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017), p. 1.

Just completed reading the book cover to cover today, alhamdullilah!

John Gray: From Rationalism to Ressentiment: Review of Age of Anger: A History of the Present By Pankaj Mishra

Michael A. Newton, Vanderbilt University Law School Professor: An Assessment of the Legality of Arms Sales to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Context of the Conflict in Yemen
Vanderbilt Law Research Paper No. 17-26
24 Pages Posted: 19 May 2017  
Date Written: May 19, 2017
This White Paper analyzes U.S. statutory obligations regarding arms sales and military assistance to Saudi Arabia in the context of the ongoing conflict in Yemen. The United States has provided significant support for Saudi Arabia, including over $115 billion in arms sales over the last eight years. During the course of hostilities conducted by a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen over the last two years, the United States has provided billions of dollars of equipment for use in Yemen and provided in-flight re-fueling to support bombing operations. In light of credible allegations of widespread violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict resulting in significant civilian casualties over the last two years, concerns have been raised about the legality of further arms sales under U.S. law. In the face of persistent reports of wrongdoing, Saudi Arabia has failed to rebut allegations or provide detailed evidence of compliance with binding obligations arising from international humanitarian law. In the context of multiple credible reports of recurring and highly questionable strikes, even after Saudi units received training and equipment to reduce civilian casualties, the United States cannot continue to rely on Saudi assurances that it will comply with international law and agreements concerning the use of U.S.-origin equipment. Under these circumstances, further sales under both the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act are prohibited until the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia takes effective measures to ensure compliance with international law and the President submits relevant certifications to the Congress. Congress should utilize the expedited review procedures of both Acts to ensure compliance with the law.
Keywords: assessment, legality, arms sales, Saudi Arabia. Yemen
Suggested Citation:
Newton, Michael A., An Assessment of the Legality of Arms Sales to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Context of the Conflict in Yemen (May 19, 2017). Vanderbilt Law Research Paper No. 17-26. Available at SSRN:

Sahar Ullah is the 2016 Literature Humanities Core Preceptor Teaching Award Recipient

May 2016
After reviewing course evaluations and visiting several excellent classes, the Core Curriculum Deans office has selected MESAAS PhD candidate Sahar Ullah for the Graduate Student Core Preceptor Award for excellency in teaching Literature Humanities.
The announcement noted that "Professor Ullah prepares extensively before her classes, and she combined brilliance with professionalism. We appreciated her use of elements such as schematic drawings and close readings with discussions that were intertextual and related to current events. Her students consistently described her in their evaluations as 'incredible' and 'phenomenal'. If there were an archetypal Literature Humanities course, it would be Sahar’s course."
Sahar Ullah is currently working on her dissertation entitled "The Role of the Amatory Prelude in Post-Classical Arabic-Islamic Poetics." 

حديث الذكريات مع الشيخ محمد عوامة