Reversing Jihad - the literary way
a movement which aims to 'free the spirit of Islam' and bring Muslim women to the forefront. The question put to her was: 'How can religion be rescued from fundamentalism?' That was before 11 September. Her answer was inevitably influenced by world events which has put the spotlight, rightly or wrongly, on her faith and her country.
unresolved historical grievances between believers in the God of Abraham,
Moses, Jesus and Muhammad - peace be upon them - translated into some of the
most chilling images of the 21st century: passenger planes crashing into
America's landmark buildings and the devastation that followed. The world
underwent several evolutions in just a few days.
peoples were jolted by the horrific fact that Islam had become 'actively
visible' as a violent, medieval cult - instead of just being 'perceived' as
one. It is, of course, the last of the three great world religions, but has
suffered over the centuries through being represented by 'man's
interpretation' of the Holy Qur'an instead of by its 'intent' and 'essence'.
today one must look to medieval times in order to reclaim the greatness of
Islamic achievements: Europe was relatively primitive until its contact with
a Muslim civilisation that excelled in science, mathematics, astronomy and
philosophy. But whereas nothing moves backward, not the day, nor the month,
nor the ageing of all things, the wisdom of Islam receded into the tight
limits of a distorted and outdated interpretation of its past.
far back Islam's essence receded is obvious in the internal conditions of
the Muslim world. Famous for depriving its own people, known for cruelty to
its own people, recognised for robbing its own people, shunned for
undermining its own people, condemned for human-rights violations against
its own people and mocked for not educating its own people, the Muslim world
is paying dearly for this legacy of distortion. Yet Muhammad - peace be upon
him - instructed: "To gain knowledge, travel as far as China." And
the Holy Qur'an repeatedly commands that following the path of wisdom and
knowledge is the way of Islam.
the centuries the Muslim world split into two separate unities: the rulers
and guardians of official Islam; and the Muslim peoples, driven into
submission. Enforced religious oppression became established as the meaning
of the Islamic faith. These two identities of the very vocal minority and
the silent majority further divided into myriad different brands of Islam.
Engulfed in ritual and dogma, instead of intent and essence, the entire
Muslim world plunged knife-sharp contradictions into the heart of the
the Muslim family, under the same roof, men moved forward while women moved
back. Two divided genders, one in darkness, one in light; one exposed, one
concealed; one weak, one strong; one with the might of every right, one
hostage to enforced religious, economic and social bondage. Surrounded by
guns, imprisoned in 'man's interpretation', with all their issues branded
'domestic', Muslim women became in many instances the most oppressed sector
no recognition of the Qur'an's deep intention, no concept of its infinite
vision and no scope for movement in its oceanic vastness, not one acceptable
authority emerged among a thousand powerful rulers to unite the Muslim
peoples against official Islam. No leader dared to identify or challenge the
forces that distorted, exploited and violated the word of Allah.
whisper of liberty and tolerance as the intent of Islam; to protest against
unjust sentences of death; to invoke humanitarian Islam as opposed to
militant oppression; to support progress and growth, knowledge and justice,
reformation and freedom, culture and civilisation, evolution and
enlightenment: all of these provoked fatwas against the Muslim people.
activism had captured the forefront. Confrontation unto death was its most
popular slogan. Holy wars were fashionable and Islam's heroes were all
militants. The collective Muslim intellect was imprisoned. Individual
comprehension and choice were forbidden.
the guns that for so long have pointed inward have been turned outward. The
terrorist strike was America's first experience of a prolonged breakdown. It
was also, I believe, the first deadly blow to the fortress of official
Islam. For in the final analysis, 'man's interpretation', and not Islam's
intent and essence, is what will be recognised as having extended its
terrible grip beyond its own people to the wider world. One man and one
government, symbols of 'man's interpretation', became the prime suspects.
attack on America conveyed a powerful message to all of humanity. It has
exposed America's načve foreign policy, its ignorance and arrogance. But
world leaders, the international media, people of all persuasions and
creeds, must understand that the Taliban are not isolated: they reflect
Muslim experience across the planet.
problem lies in the widespread interpretation of the Islamic faith, not in
the Afghani landscape and its people. Bombs cannot kill ideas. Militant
Islam cannot be defeated militarily. The Muslim multitudes are hungry,
angry, unread, directionless and armed. Muslim immigrations are countless
and conversions to Islam are at their peak. The Muslim world can no longer
be fought, it must be transformed - and just as this crisis took decades to
create, it will now take patience, wisdom and vision to defuse it.
message for the Muslim world must be that an era of fear and silence has to
come to an end. It is the duty of every Muslim to defend Islam's intent and
essence against those who have hijacked its meaning. Breaking the silence is
the only solution for moderate Muslims who wish to avoid being tarred with
the same brush as 'perceived Islam'. Moderate rulers, who succumbed to the
dictates of official Islam, will have to transmute this catastrophe and
redirect their nations towards a valid future. Or else a new Muslim
leadership will emerge to mobilise the faithful towards ijtehad: a
reinterpretation of the Holy Qur'an based on the original intention of
Islam, rooted in the tradition of Abraham, inspired by the example of
Prophet Muhammad - peace be upon him - and in keeping with the times.
history progressive movements in similar, oppressive environments have
succeeded in uprooting powerful systems. Monarchies were overthrown, the
Renaissance was possible even without the resources, technology and
assistance that are available to the Muslim people today. And as the power
of the world is channelled against those tutored in the school of official
Islam, a young plant is already breaking through the crust of the earth.
chaos could be the beginning of a brand new world in which ijtehad is no
longer beyond our reach. But it has to evolve within the boundaries of Islam
- by the Muslim people and for the Muslim people. Liberal ideas, progressive
debate and tolerant discourse will create an environment for ijtehad.
Utopian though it may sound today, and whatever the immediate reaction to
the current world events and their aftermath might be, ijtehad is bound to
be the natural outcome of this violent jihad.
before this vision of 'Jihad for Ijtehad' can rise out of the Muslim
quagmire, a war has been unleashed which primarily affects not soldiers and
warriors but innocent people across the world. Though the Muslim leadership
was not directly responsible for the terrorist attacks on the US, it was
fully responsible for not averting the attacks on Afghanistan. Proving their
mediocrity, their inability to lead their nations and serve their faith, the
Muslim leadership hid behind a play-safe policy instead of taking into their
own hands the justice sought by America. In an appalling case of
irresponsibility to the world, they left the US to settle scores with an
enemy that cannot be isolated from the Islamic faith.
Ironically, the Muslim poet most widely read in America, Jelaluddin Rumi, was born in Balkh, Afghanistan, in the 13th century. A veteran of the war of love, Rumi represents the true meaning of Islamic jihad. Transcending all national, cultural and religious boundaries, this shrewdest, most unsentimental and sober teacher of the Muslim world is also the clearest guide to the Islamic Renaissance. May we be emboldened to learn both jihad and ijtehad from him, and in that endeavour may the Muslim peoples remember that 'All the armies of the world cannot stop an idea whose time has come.'
art in fruit and veggies
Indrajith the most exciting moment of his life came when Bawa told him he
was impressed by his works of art. From then on Indrajith used to cycle
daily to Bawa's home where he learned the tricks of the trade or the finer
points in painting.
used to observe nature and draw what I saw around me. I used to paint in
water colours. Bawa used to look at my paintings and tell me where I went
talent ranges from paintings to ice sculptures to fruit and vegetable
carving and butter sculpture. This man is also known to make his own tools
from bicycle spokes and nails. Indrajith was also successful in creating an
elaborate painting executed entirely with an ekel and black Chinese ink.
won the Gold of Excellence and the Most Outstanding Artist of the Year in
1992 while his brother Kumarasinghe won the same award the following year.
Indrajith is presently employed at the Taj Samudra as chef de patie.
by his brother's talent, Kumarasinghe a self taught artist himself,
specialises in chocolate carving, pulled and blown sugar carving, and oil
paintings. He is also the Best Pastry Chef Gold Award among others at the
Food Asia Culinary Challenge competition in 2002 held in Singapore. Dress
the Cake Competition (Gold), Artistic pastry show piece (Silver), Petit
Fours (Bronze) and Vegetable Carving (Bronze) are some of the other awards
won by Kumarasinghe.
all these awards gave Kuma- rasinghe the highest aggregate in the pastry
chef category. This is the first time a Sri Lankan has won a gold as well as
an overall award at the competition. Kumarasinghe is employed at Triton
Hotel as the chief chef.
on the other hand is a kitchen artist. His job is to beautify buffets and
functions by elaborately carving fruits and vegetables. A winner of many
awards himself, Darsha was successful in creating a snapshot of Arabian life
painstakingly rendered on icing sugar that was done within a course of three
the past 12 years Darsha has been experimenting with carvings of all nature.
According to Darsha not everybody can carve out of food. "Everybody can
learn the basics like making a flower out of a melon. But you must have the
talent to carve out more intricate designs" Darsha says.
to Darsha he has done some carvings for the Bahrain Royal family. Darsha
went on to say that pumpkins are the most difficult fruits to carve. Even
though Darsha's ice carvings melt away he says some of his works are
preserved for at least two years by varnishing. Having trained over 60
people to date Darsha still claims that he's not as good as his two
exhibition organised by the Chef Guild of Sri Lanka will display the works
of the trio Indrajith, Kumarasinghe and Darsha. The three brothers have
travelled to India, UK, Germany, France, Australia, Middle East, and
Maldives and have done Sri Lanka proud with the many awards they won.
exhibition will be held at the BMICH from
July 4 to 6.
Lankan author on bestseller list
Wirasinha's books Visu-ally Learn PC and On Your Marks... Net... Set.... Go!
Surviving In An E-World! (Published by Prentice Hall 2002) have been rated
bestsellers in the prestigious India Times bestseller list. (www.indiatimes.com)
be listed amongst the bestselling authors (fiction and non-fiction) together
with the world's best known writers such as the illustrious Harry Potter
author J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien - The Lord Of The Rings and Tom
Peters - In Search Of Excellence is an accomplishment of the highest caliber
in the life of any writer.
two books, Visually Learn PC (a fast selling favourite with a prestigious
Times ranking and one of only 20 books in the 'Computer Basics' category to
be classed bestseller) and On Your Marks.... Net..... Set Go! Surviving In
An E-world (the only bestseller in the 'Internet' category) both published
by Prestice Hall, have gained wide readership and popularity within a
relatively short period of time. The author's unique style of writing has
made her a favourite amongst IT book buyers around the world and a much
loved writer in India.
gain a bestseller title is no easy task, often having to reach sales of over
20,000 withing a week, a spokesman for Prentice Hall said. IT and many
subject teaching books rarely make it to bestseller lists because they face
severe competition from a variety of other publications aiming to teach the
same or similar topics in a more effective manner to capture consumer
preference. Therefore, it is more likely that an IT book series (Microsoft,
Disney's Writers Team) will gain bestseller status than books by individual
authors of technical publications who must produce exceptional works to
capture the book market with a groundbreaking bestseller, a spokesman said.
is the first time a Sri Lankan has made it to the India Times bestseller
list and been ranked as a bestselling author at such an early stage in his
or her career.
Anushka's extraordinary writing powers first came to light in September 2001, when she simultaneously launched 10 books in Colombo and a year later followed on with 10 more titles. A year on, this Sri Lankan born IT author has achieved a status that many only dream of fulfilling at some point in their literary careers.
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