Art is the proper task of life











{April 29, 2008}   This is what he is

I have wondered what he is? how is he?
He aspired to be a disciple of Rumi
A hundred thousand flaws restrained him
The broken sage fell in love with Galatea

-Aliana

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{February 22, 2008}   Aliana at Crossroads

I was out of the blogsphere for a long time. I am not really sure why. I was asking myself what am I good at? Perhaps telling stories? Perhaps making up stories? At times it feels that even my whole life is made up. Does that even make a difference? In my post-modern meditations I was thinking, “Is it that the content of the things that I say matter or does it matter who I am?” I do not have a clear answer. Just like many other unresolved dilemmas in life perhaps it is best to also leave this dilemma unresolved. I thought about quiting blogging numerous times because I realized that I had lost focused. I did not know what I was doing but now I am back. I have decided to write a series of short stories for this blog.



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There are certain topic within the Muslim and even the wider non-Muslim community that have been beaten to death. Hijab is one such issue. Much has been written for and against it. In theory it is supposed to be a matter of personal choice but in reality it has many things. Depending on the context it can be a matter of control of women’s bodies, a fashion statement, a symbol of expression of teenage angst, a passport to holiness etc. In this confused mess it is heartening to see a book like this. The discussion in the context of North American Muslims. The book is also accompanied by quantitative research amongst Canadian Muslim women regarding veiling practices. Interestingly while many women do refer to the quran as a sanction to their veiling practices only 37 % of them could identify the relevant verses from the quran. One thing that stood out for was the fact that for many people, consciously or unconsciously, hijab is a symbol of identity. Depending upon the context it can be a positive or a negative thing. Here is an excerpt from the H-Net review on this book

On the other hand, Soraya Hajjaji-Jarrah and Lynda Clarke wrote two excellent chapters about the veil and the Qur’an and the hadith respectively. Hajjaji-Jarrah, in a chapter titled “Women’s Modesty in Qur’anic Commentaries,” focuses her attention specifically on the two verses in the Qur’an (v. 53 in chapter 33 and v. 31 in chapter 24) that refer to women’s modesty. She evaluates the verses in terms of the context, the semantics, and the interpretations. She gives a detailed interpretation of the verses by al-Tabari of the tenth century and al-Razi of the thirteenth century explaining how their interpretations were a product of the time that these two learned scholars lived in, namely the height of the Islamic Empire and the institutionalization of the practice of female slaves as sexual and educated companions to Muslim elite men. Hajjaji-Jarrah provides compelling arguments and historical evidence to discuss the lives of some of the early Muslim women believers during and after the time of the prophet. She concludes that even though those commentaries were done in “the spirit of ijtihad,” they have had some largely enduring trajectories and that very few attempts for alternative readings since had been set (Muhammad Shahrur, Fatima Mernissi, and Muhammad Abduh are notable exceptions). Clarke’s discussion of the hadith relating to women’s modesty is a very detailed and informative chapter that is, nonetheless, difficult to follow at times. She argues that the hadith is vast and not easily accessible to the general public or to scholars like “liberals and feminists” who have tended to avoid it, relying solely on the Qur’an and historical texts for their arguments. Nonetheless, the hadith does have salience with the public as it is often used in sermons and by religious councils, thus the need for liberals and feminists to address the hadith. Clarke also claims and through an analysis of selected hadith texts on hijab demonstrates that the vastness of the hadith makes it harder for either the conservative or the liberal interpretations to use it as a sanad (or main reference). Every interpretation of the text will find gaps and will attempt then to “leap over” them as such almost always leaving room for alternative interpretations. Clarke argues that this is a dialogic view of hermeneutics used by feminists but rarely used by current Islamic thinkers, even reformers and modernists, as they aim usually to uncover the truth.

Aliana gives fives thumbs up.



{January 17, 2008}   Back from Spain!

My apologies to everyone for not posting, not replying to comments, not replying to e-mails and not commenting. The last three months have been very rocky. First it was existential despair, then it was Spain, then it was changing schools, then it was New York and then it was Spain and now I am back but in a new place and with a new voice. Stay tuned ………



{October 14, 2007}   Quick Mental Notes #1
  • Having your neighbors celebrate Eid on a different day as you is so very totally uncool.
  • Advice to Muslim boys: Stop using “Islamic” pick up line. It sounds absurd when you do so. To me such “brothers” appear to be frothy.
  • We assume that people are honest until proven otherwise. Lately I have come to know that many people are just duplicitous but I ask myself, do I really have a right to make this statement? I mean pretending to be someone else is not exactly the most honest thing in the world is it. May God have mercy on our souls.
  • Life as a literary experiment. What does it even mean? For Aliana, this question is the meaning of life. Is this one of those things which do not have any meaning?


{October 7, 2007}   Islam in China

A sinophile friend of mine has started the Islam in China blog so naturally he turned towards me to advertise. The kid is new to the blogsphere so I would recommend everyone to stop by Wang’s blog and say hi or salam or whatever. Here ya go:

http://islaminchina.wordpress.com/

Islam and China is something that people often do not associate together. Accoridng to my friend, Muslims have been for like a long time.

P.S: Anyway brother I have posted the link. Just do not forget me when you become famous and all.



Well you must be thinking that Aliana had been complaining that there are not many pictures of smiling Muslims out there in the media and yet day after day she had been putting such pictures on the web. Well guess what I have run out of such pictures and now I need your help in posting such pictures. So please if you know of any such pictures in the media then please either forward them to me to post them on your blog and I would love to link to your posts.

p.s: Aliana’s e-mail: alianamirza [hehe] gmail [haha] com

Replace, hehe and haha with a dots. 😛



et cetera