Vol. 13    Issue 11   01 - 15 February 2019
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Review Essay

Contemplation and Meditation in Islamic Perspective

Professor A. R. MOMIN

Contemplation: An Islamic Psychospiritual Study. By Malik Badri. 136pp. International Institute of Islamic Thought, Herndon, USA, 2010

Humans are differentiated from animals on account of certain distinctive or species-specific biological, neurophysiological, social, cultural and psychological features and characteristics. Certain areas of the human brain such as speech, control of hands, foresight and planning are highly complex and developed. Man’s capacity for symbolic communication or speech is located in the left hemisphere of the brain, in two connected areas: one area is close to the hearing centre, and the other lies forward and higher, in the frontal lobes. The human brain is wired to learn language. Only man can oppose his thumb precisely to the forefinger, which is a unique human ability. This ability has greatly facilitated writing, tool making and the development of arts and crafts. The organization of experience is very far-sighted in man, which is located in the frontal lobes and the prefrontal lobes. The frontal lobes enable us to think of actions in the future and wait for a reward. The ability to plan actions for which the reward is a long way off is a central gift that the human brain has and to which there is no match in animal brains. Self-awareness and self-reflection are among the most distinctive characteristics of man, which differentiate humans from all species of animals. Some species of animals may possess a rudimentary awareness of themselves, but man’s self-consciousness has an altogether different character, is highly differentiated and has no parallel in animals. Self-consciousness enables man to transcend the physical environment of which he is a part. It makes possible the creation of a richly textured world of symbols, meaning and ideals, which overrides man’s biological needs. Man has been endowed with a capacity for reason, imagination and moral choice, which sets him apart from the rest of nature. In 2014 scientists identified an area of the human brain, unique to Homo sapiens, which is located in the Ventrolateral Frontal Cortex. This area is involved in some of the highest forms of cognition, language and conscience.   Read more


Mawlana Muhammad Khwaja Sharif

Professor A. R. MOMIN

Over the past several centuries, Muslim scholars of the Indian subcontinent have made outstanding and wide-ranging contributions to Islamic disciplines, especially to Hadith literature. Their contribution to Hadith literature encompasses editing and publication of dozens of rare manuscripts of Hadith, critical annotations and commentaries on Hadith works, narration, transmission and preservation of Hadith, and teaching of Hadith texts. Rabi’ ibn Sabih al-Basri (d. 160 AH), who lies buried in Bharuch (Gujarat), was one of the early pioneers in the compilation of Hadith. Another eminent scholar of Hadith of Indian origin, who was a contemporary of Rabi’ ibn Sabih, was Abu Ma’shar Sindhi (d. 170 AH). Notable contributions to the study of Hadith literature in subsequent years were made by Raja Sindhi (d. 321 AH), Radi al-Din Hasan Saghani (d. 650 AH), ‘Ali Muttaqi (d. 975 AH), ‘Abd al-Wahhab Muttaqi (d. 1001 AH), Tahir Patni (d. 986 AH), Abu Hasan Sindhi (d. 1139), ‘Abd al-Haq Dehlavi (d. 1239 AH), Shah Waliullah Dehlavi (d. 1762), Shah ‘Abd al-Aziz Dehlavi (d. 1239), ‘Abd al-Hayy Firangimahli (d. 1304 AH), Mawlana Anwar Shah Kashmiri (d. 1352 AH) and Mawlana Habib al-Rahman al-Azami (d. 1992), among many others.   Read more


Multiple Benefits and Blessings of Islamic Prayers

Professor A. R. MOMIN

This article seeks to focus on the spiritual, moral, social, psychological and behavioural, and health dimensions of Islamic prayers, particularly the five-time daily prayers, and on their multiple benefits for the individual as well as the wider community.

Muslim societies around the world exhibit evident diversities. These diversities are observable in the composition of population, social organization, family and kinship systems, languages, ethnicity, sectarian and denominational distinctions, form of government, modes of livelihood and occupational structure, social stratification, settlement patterns, levels of economic development, customary laws, status of women and gender relations, customs and traditions and folklore. Ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity is a conspicuous feature of Muslim societies not only globally but also within nations, regions and groups.   Read more

‘Reeducating’ Xinjiang’s Muslims

James Millward

In a courtroom in Zharkent, Kazakhstan, in July 2018, a former kindergarten principal named Sayragul Sauytbay calmly described what Chinese officials continue to deny: a vast new gulag of “de-extremification training centers” has been created for Turkic Muslim inhabitants of Xinjiang, the Alaska-sized region in western China. Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh, had fled Xinjiang and was seeking asylum in Kazakhstan, where her husband and son are citizens. She told the court how she had been transferred the previous November from her school to a new job teaching Kazakh detainees in a supposed “training center.” “They call it a ‘political camp’…but in reality it’s a prison in the mountains,” she said. There were 2,500 inmates in the facility where she had worked for four months, and she knew of others. There may now be as many as 1,200 such camps in Xinjiang, imprisoning up to a million people, including Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and especially Uighurs, who make up around 46 percent of Xinjiang’s population.   Read more

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