Classical Islam: A Sourcebook of Religious Literature

Classical Islam: A Sourcebook of Religious Literature. Edited and translated by NORMAN CALDER, JAWID MOJADDEDI, and ANDREW RIPPIN. London: ROUTLEDGE, 2003. Pp. x + 275. $110 (cloth); $34.95 (paper).

As the subtitle suggests, this new work is intended for introductory-level students. To succeed, any such work needs to resolve three problems: the identification of representative texts, of appropriate length, and which cohere in some fashion, so as to illustrate properly the themes and development of a given genre (e.g., Sira, Tafsir); the translation of often formal texts in a language suited to the audience (one with little patience with lexical puzzles and strings of transliterated terms); and a level of annotation that throws sufficient light on the texts without giving the game away. The uneven quality of most previous collections of (classical) Islamic texts suggests impatience with one or more of these steps. On all counts, the present volume works very well. It is strongly recommended, particularly for junior instructors of Islamic studies. More established colleagues may find it difficult to part with their own, oft-tried, readings. Should they cast caution to the wind, however, they will likely find this collection a worthy substitute.

Orientalism and Arab-Islamic history: an inquiry into the orientalists' motives and compulsions

"They cannot represent themselves; they must be represented" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

"Soldiers, from the top of the pyramids, forty centuries look down on you!" Napoleon Bonaparte

As the intellectual outcome of the European affiliation of power with knowledge, Orientalism is a Western cultural phenomenon which is particularly related to the colonial and post-colonial reception of the Orient, its people and history. Orientalism, states Edward W. Said, is "a political vision of reality whose structure promoted the difference between the familiar (Europe, the West, 'us') and the strange (the orient, the East, 'them')."(1) As the "strong" and the "familiar" entity, the West finds it automatic and, at times, imperative that "the Oriental is contained and represented by dominating frameworks."(2) The frameworks of containment and representation take various forms and apply different techniques. Among the major frameworks are historical presentations and re-presentations. Eric Meyer has very recently reduced Said's argument into the compact structure of a sentence. "Considered as a single metagrammatical sentence," states Meyer, "the ideological syntax of the narrative of Romantic Orientalism might be reduced to the structure of Hegel's Philosophy of History, in which the west as subject defeats the East as object in the battle for world-historical ascendancy."(3) According to this logic, the Orientalist historiography of Eastern civilizations expresses an imperial desire: to subject the "other" and the "other's" past to the imperial will, and to come out with a new "world history" in which the Western power becomes the historical necessity in a "new world order."

Edward Said's "Orientalism" revisited

Early in 1998, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney staged an exhibition entitled "Orientalism: From Delacroix to Klee." It contained 124 paintings and 50 photographs, most of which were produced by European artists in the nineteenth century on subjects in North Africa and the Levant. In the notes published in the exhibition catalogue, the aesthetic authority whose name is mentioned most frequently is not, as one might expect, an art critic, but the literary critic Edward Said. What the paintings confirmed, patrons were told, was Said's thesis about the "subtle and persistent Eurocentric prejudice against Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture" and "the aggressiveness necessitated by the colonial expansion of the European powers." This endorsement was strong enough to create a queue of buyers at the gallery bookshop, all eager to procure the prominently displayed, recently revised Penguin edition of Said's celebrated work, Orientalism.(1)

Curriculum Reform Series : Islamization of Knowledge -- Language and Literature

  1. Introduction

Islam emphasizes right behavior for good life in this world and happiness in life hereafter. The education system supported by Islam should serve to achieve Islam as a complete code of life for its followers individually and collectively. So Islamic education system does not admit of any dualism, secular versus spiritual, where as the western system of education does not recognize spiritual at all. Islamization of knowledge is indispensable for removing dualism in the educational system. Before Muslims went into decline, they had developed the disciplines and had established and clarified the relevance of Islam and its comprehensive world view and values to each disciplines. They successfully integrated the disciplines into main corpus of Islamic knowledge. They contributed greatly in all fields and they utilized the new knowledge efficiently to their advantage. But today, non-Muslims are the masters of all the disciplines. In the universities of the Muslim world, non-Muslim books, achievements, world-view, problems and ideals are currently being taught to Muslim youths. So the vision of Islam is needed to defend the whole people against alien ideologies invading their consciousness. And to do it we need an education system in which the curriculum of every department is based upon Islamic values, principles and objectives.

Islamization of Literature: Origin, Present Context and Some Proposals

Paper presented at a workshop on Islamic Epistemology & Curriculum Reform
2-3 May, 2008, Islamic University Kustia

In and out of the globe, Islam, as a complete code of life, does not leave any issue out of its scope. So very naturally, it takes a special interest in literature because literature, in the most popular definition, is an artistic expression of life. Islam, like literature, deals with all aspects of life, and therefore, as a significant human concern, literature has been duly treated in Islam from its very beginning. It is known that the ancient Arabs, who were of incredible poetic sense, questioned the authenticity of the holy Quran because of its charming language and artistic expression of its themes and style. The Quranic verse was the most significant the language of the holy Quran penetrated the stone like hearts of the unbelievers and made them feel the truth and peace of Islam. They got alarmed and threw an open challenge of debate to the Prophet. As a result an idealistic and aesthetic debate took place on the supremacy of Islam and other contemporary beliefs. It is notable in this regard.that our prophet (sm) encouraged Hassan bin Thabit (R), a famous contemporary poet, to use poetry in order to highlight and defend Islam and the Muslims amid the turmoil of poetic crossfire. In fact, our beloved prophet(sm) was the mastermind who used to supply his poets with necessary thematic and factual information and tips to win the contests.

Islamization of English Discipline at the Tertiary Level: An Overview

Paper presented at a workshop on Islamic Epistemology & Curriculum Reform 
2-3 May, 2008 at Islamic University Kustia
As Muslims, our prime duty is to lead our life solely for the cause of Allah. But in Bangladesh, we witness that a secular educational system has prevailed over our religious faith and culture. A big gap has been created between what we believe and what we learn. As a result, we are deviated far away from religious path and beliefs. This, in reality, is nothing but a reflection of the world order of the present day. With the legacy of the crusaders and imperialist hegemony, the Westerners consider Islam and the Muslims as a threat to their modern civilization. Consequently, they have been launching a campaign against the mindset and practices of the Muslims and have become successful in engraving the idea in the Muslim psyche that their mental structure, heritage and culture is incapable of keeping pace with the modern civilization. They have employed a number of scholars, researchers and their disciples even among the Muslims to realize some breakthrough in the Muslim world which resulted, ultimately, in inventing the idea of the 'Clash of Civilization'. But the Muslims living in the labyrinth of the Western propaganda are failing to resume their own beliefs and cultural identity and going astray from the path of Allah. They have become helpless target of the intellectual and cultural aggression of the Western world. At the other extreme of this reality, the Western world bored with earthly pleasure and luxury on the one hand, and with the ideas of Freudism, Existentialism and Liberalism on the other, are failing to find out meaning of life. This, according to Taha Jabir Al-'Alwani (2005), is the outcome of their decadent thought which caused intellectual and epistemological deconstructionism. To him, if the modernist thought had already deconstructed religion and the universe, the post-modernist thought had, in fact, deconstructed 'Man'! And the deconstruction is still ongoing, which shows the depth and enormity of the modern era's crisis of meaning and the dire necessity of exploring a transcendental systematic alternative outlook so as to help Man reconstruct the deconstructed . Only the divine writ of the Holy Qur'an 'as the ultimate source of transcendental systematic wisdom'  can show the way to emerge from this spiritual wasteland. Therefore, reintroduction of the Holy Qur'anic teachings is a dire necessity in the present world to save not only the Muslims from their underdevelopment but also the whole mankind.

The curriculum reform of B.A honours and M.A Syllabus of Bengali Literature of Islamic University, Kushtia. Bangladesh.

Paper presented at a workshop on Islamic Epistemology & Curriculum Reform
2-3 May, 2008, Islamic University Kustia

We believe in reforming the curriculum in Islamic approach. Islam means peace. It also means self-surrender to the world’s creator. There are two kinds of deeds in this universe, one is god and another is bad, i.e. abusive and bad instinctive. We must maintain our sex-life formally and ethically with having a marriage. This claims now bitterly in western civilization. We have a life here and hereafter. We should admit that all good knowledge is the knowledge of the creator. We should defeat the satanic knowledge. All ethical knowledge is not only Islamic but for the welfare of all religions.

Designing a Syllabus on Islamic Literature

(For Departments of English at the University Level)
Kamiz Alam 
Assistant Professor, Dept of English
Northern University Bangladesh

Paper presented at a Follow-up Workshop on Curriculum Reform
9 November, 2008, Dhaka University

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