Buddhism, Science And The Western World


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Let’s start the weekend with two foundations of the world- religion and science. This needull explores whether Buddhism is more in tune with the modern world.

Part of the problem for Sharf and others is that by focusing only on the domains of inner experience (i.e. mindfulness via contemplative practice), Buddhist Modernism loses aspects of its function that were central to its history. “Look at how suspicious many Western Buddhists are of religious ritual,” he says in the Tricycle interview, “… when we downplay ritual, we risk weakening our bonds to community and tradition. That’s a pretty major loss.”

The complete article

Adam Frank — NPR

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The Call of Jihad


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Why do young people, who are well-educated and doing good for themselves and their family decide to leave all behind and join ISIS? Today’s needull looks at a small village in Kerala in India and tries to find out what is happening on the ground. An eye opener on the harsh realities today.

As a family, Hafisuddin’s has been well exposed to cosmopolitan life. His grandfather was among the early residents of Padanna to open a hotel in Bombay. “He was the first man to own cars in our village. He also owned a flat in Mumbai,” says Rahman. “You have to see the irony in it. The grandfather was a man who was urbanised in the 1960s, but the grandson [fifty years later] went back to conservative values and wanted the life of a jihadi.”

Radicalisation, however, may have little to do with such exposure. Or even geography. “It is certain that the seeds of extremism are sowed somewhere else, and not in Kerala. I think they got their wrong understanding of Islam from the internet,” says Rahman, “They are educated and exposed to foreign countries.”

The complete article

Shahina KK — OPEN

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Rare Needull – A journey to the center of the world


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This needull marks a new beginning for the Rare Needull series. We have mostly been recommending interesting articles from well known journals and magazines. Rare Needull will pick gems from the lesser known publications. Needull will try to provide these amazing written pieces the much needed visibility they deserve.

This is the story of a journey to one of the most restricted places for travel – Mecca. I am not sure if it is fact or fiction or a mixture of both. Reading this story, you will feel a sense of dread, anxiety and sometimes relief. In my view, this piece is a NewYorker quality story.

The first problem, and the realization that this could go really wrong, stuck at the first checkpoint, 15 miles from Mecca city. While I was in the queue, non-chalantly waiting for my turn, the call for prayer echoed through the complex. The devout Muslims, which most people there were, got on their knees like a remote control button. It took me seconds, which seemed like hours to me, to realize that I was about to do my first prayer in public. The next 15 minutes of standing, kneeling, prostrating were the most nervous 15 minutes of my life. I was clumsy all throughout but I guess, everyone was so engrossed in prayer that they didn’t notice my awkwardness. I sailed through this test, one of the many to come over the next 12 hours.

The complete article

Taboo-Naut

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In Search of Islam


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“Among the Believers” was written by Naipaul in 1981. Today’s needull is a a review of the book. Many do not agree with Naipaul’s views but almost all agree that he is a great writer.

All four of them, like so many others they stand for, bring to their religion and tradition modern demands and anxieties. This creates pressures, for today’s needs are great. The outside world at once tempts and threatens Moslems. Many of them enter that world, but they can enter it only partly. When they fail to deal with it, they retreat into their shell. When they surrender to it, guilt seizes them. In Naipaul’s words: ”In the fundamentalist scheme the world constantly decays and has constantly to be re-created. The only function of intellect is to assist that re-creation. It reinterprets the texts; it re-establishes divine precedent. So history has to serve theology, law is separated from the idea of equity. …”

This theme comes close to being Naipaul’s central theme, and in dealing with it he lets his personal feelings get in the way of his presentation. He chides Moslems for being ”made” by the Western world they reject. Instead of trying to understand these people, Naipaul is ready to judge them. In his desire to discover their hidden vulnerabilities and point out their contradictions, their need for outside goods and outside approval, he tends to miss the drama and the real meaning of their situation. He forgets that it is part of the painful process of history that people are always made by the world they reject and that the rage at it they express is in large measure rage at themselves.

The complete article

Fouad Ajami — The New York Times

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The Ideological Threat to Islam


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Ayaan Hirsi Ali was a refugee from Somalia. Through sheer grit she has transformed herself into a forceful critic of what is wrong with Islam.

In her latest book, Hirsi Ali urges the governments of the West—and the Trump Administration in particular—to take sides in this battle for the soul of Islam. She wants Washington to develop, with some urgency, an ‘anti-dawa strategy’ that will ‘tackle the menace of dawa’. Since the ultimate goal of dawa is ‘to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with sharia’, should we not, she asks, neutralise the dawa activists first? She invokes Karl Popper, the philosopher, who wrote in 1945: ‘If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.’ America has the right, she says, to be intolerant of the intolerant in order to safeguard its primordial tolerance.

The complete article

Tunku Varadarajan — OPEN

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The Millennials’ God


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Are millenials more religious or less compared to previous generations. There are conflicting points of view on this.

Thus, what Millennials say about their bonds with God in part subverts the narrative about them being highly individualistic or secularized. We see lots of similarity in their responses, suggesting their faith might not be as “individualized” as suspected; and we see lots of positive experiences of God, suggesting they are far from fully secularized. It remains to be seen whether these bonds with God will result in greater interest in organized religion down the road. Nevertheless it is clear that God matters to today’s Millennials, and their God is a distinctly personal one.

The complete article

Nicolette Manglos-Weber — OUPblog

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Religious Freedom in the Muslim World: A Nuanced Appraisal


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What is the status of religious freedom in Islam, and what are its prospects? An answer to this question must begin with a nuanced appraisal of the political theologies that govern different Muslim nations. The first in a two-part series.

Many scholars have proposed democracy as the most proper criterion for assessing Islam. Yet democracy’s elections and popular rule often coexist with intolerance toward religious minorities and dissenters—the tyranny of the majority. Religious freedom adds respect for human rights to rule by the demos. It is principled and permanent: a universally valid principle that manifests human dignity. In this essay, I consider the state of religious freedom in the Muslim world—in particular, in Muslim-majority countries. Muslims, of course, are scattered throughout the world, but such states valuably reveal how Muslims treat dissenters and religious minorities when political power is at their disposal.

The complete article

Daniel Philpott — Public Discourse

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