BĪRŪNĪ, ABŪ RAYḤĀN MOḤAMMAD b. Aḥmad (362/973- after 442/1050), scholar and polymath of the period of the late Samanids and early Ghaznavids and one of the two greatest intellectual figures of his time in the eastern lands of the Muslim world, the other being Ebn Sīnā.
Few modern artists so consistently embodied a fuzzy logic of their own as did the Indian painter Maqbool Fida Husain (1915 – 2011). His critics tried to define him as a reckless defamer of Hindu values, but another way to define him is as a dutiful devotee of a vision that was inclusive, rather than exclusive, and that understood all boundaries and identities as fluid or blurry, rather than as fixed and immutable. Or one might say that Husain strove to (...) project what Ashis Nandy has called “Indian-style secularism,” celebrating creation, humanity, and beauty in the multiple religious forms of the subcontinent. Having lived and painted in India all his life, he was forced into exile in his nineties by right-wing Hindu politicians. In London, he continued to work on a new interpretation of Indian civilization as universally relevant, in a sequence of paintings with themes from the Mahabharata, while, in Doha, a royal patron commissioned him to paint a series relating Islamic and Christian civilization. The two series are shown, in this essay, to best exhibit Husain's view of “all distinctions” as “political, artificial.”. (shrink)
Islamic fundamentalism (Islamic neo-traditionalism) is an important component of Islamic identity struggles in the three South Asian nations of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The contested role, status, and legal rights of women provide a focus for comparative study, and the treatment of women in the courts showcases the problematic relation of religious and civil law. The cases of Shah Bano in India and Safia Bibi in Pakistan display (1) the radically different ways fundamentalism influences judicial processes; (2) the varying challenges (...) that confront Muslims in different polities (in India, the maintenance of Islamic identity; in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the evolution of a just and democratic Islamic state); and (3) the fact that the single gravest problem confronting Muslims regardless of political frontiers and varying structures of civil government is whether piety requires that religious law formulated in premodern cultures be regarded as fixed and binding today. (shrink)