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Shi'a Pundit

Devoted to the viewpoint of Islam of Muhammad SAW and Amir ul-Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib SA, in the Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili Dawoodi Bohra tradition.

October 23, 2002

Modern Islam.

This post is unlike most of mine, in that it really is a colection of links rather than an analysis of an issue. But there are a range of resources Iwhose existence I want to document here.

Previously, I blogged about Ismail Royer (whose essay on Victimhood is absolutely brilliant) - though I've become somewhat disenchanted with him subsequently, since his personal interpretation of Islam compels him to make acid comments about the validity of others' marriages, and make a curious denial of the existence of Wahabism. Read the comments section on this post for details. I've also recently noted the alt.muslim site, which is so good that I'm going to add an XML feed to Shia Pundit from it. The editor, Shahed, has graciously invited me to submt content for alt.muslim, so I willdo my best not to disappoint him.

But apart from luck, it is quite hard to find other Islamic sites, especially ones that link to me. I rely heavily on the statistics pages at Ecosystem websites like Myelin and Organica to find new refers. That's how I came across Bin Gregory, a Muslim blogger who immediately captured my attention with his post on the beauty of Qasida, which are elegies of faith, haunting and powerful, taking the elegance of the written Arabic to an entirely different level.

Also, Bin Gregory reminded me of the following link, to the Zaytuna Institute, which was founded by Shaikh Hamza Yusuf, a staunch proponent of Modern Islam and its role in the world as a beacon of reason. Yusuf is a true intellectual and has an extensive portfolio of speeches and essays that are mandatory reading if you want to understand the true Islam of the ages as opposed to the pseudo-Islam of the media and the tribal idiots. Some of these speeches are Islam's Progressive Tradition, and America's Tragedy (an essay about 9-11). The Zaytuna Institute also runs an Academy, which is an Islamic school run according to modern and rational philosophies in stark contrast to the ignorance of the madrassahs in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. Their explanation of their mission rejeuvenates the original spirit of the word madrassah, in my opinion:

Zaytuna Institute and Academy is a non-profit, educational institute and school founded and run by people committed to reviving time-tested methods of educating and transforming human beings. It is our belief that Islam offers a cohesive understanding of the world and a praxis for it that is able to cut through the illusion of contemporary nihilism and materialism.

We recognize ignorance as the greatest weapon of the dark forces working in the world and believe that the light of true knowledge is the only weapon to dispel that darkness. This is our struggle, and our efforts are directed at spreading the light and wisdom of prophetic truths everywhere and to all peoples. Our aim is to teach the tools individuals need in order to live lives of guidance and adherence to sacred order and to restore broad-based pluralistic and true scholarship to its proper place as a first priority of Muslims.

We believe the problems facing this generation are those very problems mentioned in our Prophet's final sermon, upon him be prayers and peace: economic injustice, racism, the oppression of women, and the manipulation of natural order. We believe these human illnesses can only be treated through healing the hearts of humanity with spiritual truths of the impermanence of the world and the need to understand our purpose while we are here and act accordingly. This can only be done with sound and true knowledge. It is our goal to acquire and disseminate that knowledge.

There are two other great modern Islamic writers I want to mention as well. First is Irshaad Hussain, a relative unknown, but whose discussion of The Place of Intellect in Islam remains one of my favorite essays of all time. Second, is Seyyed Hossein Nasr, whose essay Science and Civilization is a powerful refutation of Huntington's flawed Clash of Civilizations thesis. Links to these many other essays on the nature of Science and Islam can be found at my friend Murtaza Gulamali's website, The Interface.

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About Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit was launched in 2002 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The blog focuses on issues pertaining to Shi'a Islam in the west and in the Islamic world. The author is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

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