You want to be happy, educated and true to the spirit of Islam? Well, good fortune smiles on you: there is no lack of great thinkers eager to walk you through to your destination. The issue of knowledge and education has preoccupied Muslims right from the inception of Islam.
Power is endlessly fascinating. Power is perennially enigmatic. The more complex society becomes the harder it is to define exactly where power resides. How do things happen? Why do things happen the way they do?
If you subscribe to the ‘Foreign Policy’ list, and think that Malala Yousafzai and Aung San Suu Kyi (who is happy to turn a blind eye towards the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar) are ‘global thinkers’, then you are clearly not living on the freethinking planet.
In the pre-revolution days, Syrians were ever ready to list ten of their favourite picnic spots, ten of their much-loved restaurants, or even ten of the sects participating in the imaginary happy mosaic. Today, lists of traumatisation leap to the mind: the ten largest refugee camps, or ten major massacres, or perhaps ten of the numerous new militias.
There is One God, One Prophet and, allegedly, one international Muslim community – the ummah. There are five daily prayers and five pillars of Islam (profession of faith, zakat, prayer, fasting during Ramadan, and pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj, at least once in a lifetime). There are six, for Sunnis, Articles of Faith (belief in One God; the angels of God; the books of God; the prophets of God; the Day of Judgment ; and the supremacy of God’s will), seven circuits around the Kaaba (when you actually get to Mecca) and seven verses in the Fatiha, ‘the Opening’ chapter of the Qur’an, which has 114 Surahs or chapters. The Prophet had twelve wives; and the Shia have twelve Imams.
Morocco, the land of bougainvillea, snow-capped mountains, ochre pise’ walls, water sellers in hats with fuzzy red guy-ropes, sticky black soap, pointy shoes and leather trilbies, is perhaps unique in the Muslim world.
A list of the type of Muslim men you may encounter in a typical gathering anywhere on the planet.
‘Malaysia, truly Asia’, declares the advertisement for the Malaysian airline.
Al-Andalus is not a culture and a period that exists simply in a remote past. Its achievements can be experienced when we visit a restaurant, admit ourselves to hospital, travel around the world, yearn for spiritual enlightenment, argue about religion and science, and struggle for a multicultural society.
Muslims have long played a major role in the Indian film industry. The industry has given us many iconic Muslim figures such as actor Dilip Kumar (Yusuf Khan, seen as the actor’s actor in Hindi cinema), actresses Madhubala (Mumtaz Jehan Dehalvi, for many the greatest beauty to grace Bollywood screens) and Waheeda Rehman (often in roles that cast her as a life- and love-tormented female before she was cast as that most quintessential of all Bollywood characters: the even more long-suffering ‘Ma’).