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In recent years, the number of Islamic butchers has been growing at an increasing rate. This brings a few problems with it. Not only are there Dutch regulations for butchers, Muslims also have their own requirements for the meat that they buy.
The Japanese Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture commissioned this area study entitled Islamic Area Studies to collect information and create a computerized information system in order to better our understanding of the Islamic world. Beginning in April 1997, it will continue for five years, until the spring of 2002. Herein, I would like to explain the aims, content and basic plan of action of the project and express my hope that many people will participate actively in it.
Modesty is fashionable. Long black gowns called abayas over many women from head to toe, and the hijab or scarf covers the head and is draped over the shoulders. Since it is generally difficult to say whether religion or culture dictates this sartorial choice, it remains a debated issue, both within and outside academia. Contests about the position and place of women are a continuing feature of Muslim (and perhaps all) societies. Critiques about the 'Western style' of modernization have increasingly become centred around the question of women's chastity, modesty and sexuality. As is almost always the case, it is on the figure of the woman that the responsibility of maintaining tradition and upholding family values becomes centred.
Indonesia, with a population of more than 200 million, of which perhaps 80 percent is Muslim, is frequently portrayed in popular presses as 'the world's largest Islamic nation.' Typically, this statement is then immediately qualified. But, portrayals often continue, 'the' Islam practised by Indonesians is different than that practised in the countries of the Middle and Near East. It is more tempered or syncretic, less dogmatic, doctrinal, or fundamentalist. If proof of this more 'relaxed' attitude to the strict observance of Islam is offered, more often than not it is not through what Indonesian scholars of Islamic law have written (which tends to be rather conservative) nor by attendance figures at Friday mosque services or the number of women who are wearing jilbab head covers (both of which are escalating at remarkable rates). Rathe...
This initiative stems from a series of individual meetings held in 1995-96 between the Director of the Humanities Research Institute (HRI), Dr Patricia O'Brien, and members of the humanities and social sciences faculties of the nine universities of the University of California system. Professors in different departments often expressed the need for time in which to examine issues that have risen out of movements associated with Islam and with Muslim communities which have taken place during the twentieth century, especially in recent decades. Faculty acknowledged the large body of work that has been done on these topics, but stressed the need for specialists in the different fields intersecting them to examine the given issues together, in a research setting, for an extended period.
One of the customs of the Ismailis of Tajik Badakhshan is the performance of a specific genre of religious poetry, called madah. In madah, literally meaning praise, the veneration of 'Ali, the holy family of the Prophet Muhammad, the Ismaili imams, and the 11th century Ismaili poet-philosopher, Nasir-i Khusraw, is expressed in combination with mystical ideas common in Sufi poetry.
It is a mass-produced plastic model of the octagonal Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem. Two circular strips of paper glued round it depict the ceramic-faced outer walls. There is a slot for coins to be inserted in the roof, and the dome slides off so that coins can be taken out. Mudar, the organiser of the Islamic Zakat Supporting Committee for the Palestinian People, gave me this collecting mosque in Amman, Jordan. I was there conducting a research project to study Islamic philanthropy and obligatory alms (z a k a t). Well, souvenir models of Christian churches are two a penny all over the world, and it would be incredible if some with slots for coins had not been made somewhere; but I do not remember seeing one. Could it be that my gift from Mudar has something to say about a difference between the two religions?
Presently, more than one third of the world's Muslims are living as minorities in non-Muslim countries, a fact which has posed challenges not only for the host countries but also for the Muslims themselves. Most Muslims perceive Muslim minorities as an integral part of the larger Muslim community, umma. Many insist that Muslims must be governed by Islamic law, often that of the country of origin. Home countries are expected to offer human, political, and financial resources in order for the minorities to live Islamically. This perception is quite problematic: on the one hand, it implies that while the Muslims have been living in these countries for three generations, their presence is seen as transitory - it cannot conceive of Muslims living permanently under non-Muslim rule; while on the other hand, this perception tends to imagine Mu...
The appearance of a small number of students wearing the face-veil or niqab at two unrelated universities, The American University in Cairo and Leiden University, led to official bans on face covering. The bans were justified on remarkably similar grounds, at the core of which were arguments that face covering is inherently incompatible with principles and practices of liberal education. Yet the prohibition of face veiling speaks t o issues far larger than pedagogy in liberal educational settings; it gets to the core of critical issues relating to integration, liberalism and the possibly uneasy place of Islam in it all.
Edward Said was thoroughly secular; his secularism was not anti-religious as much as a-religious. His interest in Vico is indicative of his own position. Giambattista Vico, in his New Science (1725), separated the domain of the divine from the domain of the human, concentrating on the latter in his analysis and using the terminology and concepts of his time. He was interested in the history of the gentiles, a history made by people and not the history ordained by God. Likewise Said was interested in human endeavor and history, in all that was made by human beings, not by supernatural forces, and thus in what can be changed by human beings. For Said, it is futile to discuss God's ways partly because he had no taste for it, and partly because what can anyone say to someone who tells you God is on his side? How can one have dialogue and e...
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