The Fall Of Adonis

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This was a shockingly bizarre set of responses from a man considered to be one of the great Arab intellectuals of our time. I have read Adonis extensively, and I am frankly really surprised to see him argue that:

“If we do not distinguish between what is religious and what is political, cultural, and social, nothing will change and the decline of the Arabs will worsen. Religion is not the answer to problems anymore. Religion is the cause of problems. That is why it needs to be separated. Every free human believes in what he wants, and we should respect that. But for religion to be the foundation of society? No.”

This statement reflects a profound and fundamental misunderstanding about the travails of our times. And the imaginary history of Europe that he is obviously repeating. It is as if he has never bothered to read people of his own generation: Wael Hallaq, Talal Asad, Akeel Bilgrami, Saba Mahmood, Edward Said, Amir Amin, Joseph Massad, Partha Chatterjee, Arun Appadurai, and so many others, who have taken so much time, so much research, so much effort, so much eloquence and insight, to peal apart the false construction of ‘state’ and ‘religion’ that underpins the very idea of ‘Europe’ in the post-Enlightenment period. Talal Asad alone has dissecting the ontology, epistemology, theory, and lineage of the creation of the ‘secular’ over a period of decades, dozens of articles and a few very critical books. What about Shahab Ahmed’s What Is Islam: The Importance Of Being Islamic?  I could go on. I was simply flabbergasted to read Adonis speaking as if he has read nothing really related to the very subjects he wishes to pontificate on. And if he had gone a step further, he would have remembered to at least understand the reality and existence of colonialism, imperialism and global capitalism, that has something – I dare say something large – to do with the violent state of affairs we now find ourselves in. By what incredible imagination and feat of forgetfulness would anyone claim that Syria, and the chaos unfolding there – or in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia or Pakistan, has anything to do with the Western concept of religion?
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Nayyirah Waheed #44


The Idea Of India Project Update: 4th March 2011: Reading Rumi In Ahmedabad

Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.

Friends are enemies sometimes, and enemies friends.

I was a tiny bug. Now a mountain. I was left behind. Now honored at the head. You healed my wounded hunger and anger, and made me a poet who sings about joy.

If your guidance is your ego, don’t rely on luck for help. you sleep during the day and the nights are short. By the time you wake up your life may be over. Details »

Before The Death Of Body And Tongue…

Speak, your lips are free.
Speak, it is your own tongue.
Speak, it is your own body.
Speak, your life is still yours.

See how in the blacksmith’s shop
The flame burns wild, the iron glows red;
The locks open their jaws,
And every chain begins to break.

Speak, this brief hour is long enough
Before the death of body and tongue:
Speak, ’cause the truth is not dead yet,
Speak, speak, whatever you must speak.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

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Suheir Hammad…Need I Say More

Thanks to PULSE. Details »

The Centenary Of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Birth

It is the centenary of a man who can be described as perhaps the single most important, influential and courageous poet South Asia has ever produced. Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s words have become the life and soul of millions, and given solace and determination to all who have, and continue to, fight for justice and humanity in South Asia. Details »

Saying Dangerous Things In Dangerous Times: Roy, Just To Jog Our Memory

I went back to this talk by Arundhati Roy, as I have done many times since it was first given back in 2002. Arundhati Roy is once again in the cross-hairs of the cheerleaders of our modernity, accused of being a narcissist and a seditious traitor. What she has retained is her consistency of principals, her clear sighted commitment to the idea of humanity and arguing for an equal humanity. This talk is from 2002, but listening to it again I am reminded of her intellectual trajectory and the consistency with which she has applied it to the many issues and causes she has spoken out against.

In these dark and dangerous times, a welcome reminder of what it is that we are arguing for in the first place.


Four Minutes And Thirty-Three Seconds…The Orchestral Performance

Though some prefer the piano version

If You Are In Chicago…


…then this may be worth stopping by for a listen:

The Limits of Photojournalism And Things More Worthwhile

It is perhaps the most interesting, creative and compelling book of photography I have ever read. I have looked and read it over a dozen times in the last 8 years.  Edward Said & Jean Mohr’s ‘After The Last Sky: Palestinian Lives’ is perhaps the only example that I know of of a brilliant writer and a sensitive photographer collaborating to produce something remarkably insightful, intelligent and provocative at the same time. Details »