Body politic: Women in the cinema of Partition – Feryal Ali Gauhar

Jimi Mistry and Kristin Kreuk in *Partition* (2007) | IMDb
Jimi Mistry and Kristin Kreuk in Partition (2007) | IMDb

The cinematic experience is a gratifying hoax, predicated on a suspension of disbelief. We are convinced that all the disparate elements contributing to the production of a filmic experience – such as the transition of time and space, sometimes expanded, oftentimes contracted, the sequencing of scenes, the staging of action, the movement or stillness of camera, the scripted, memorised, rehearsed, measured, timed and delivered dialogue, the birth and nurturing of characters, the orchestration of light, the composition of music – are not crafted but, combined with each other, represent a well-spliced, invisibly strung-together reality.

Cinema’s power lies in the illusion it creates, in making us believe that the constructed image, carefully (or carelessly) crafted and structured, is a reality that we are privileged to watch from a safe distance.

The act of watching a film, of being in a darkened space, alone yet surrounded by others who are also alone, is like allowing oneself to enter spaces not visible in the stark light of the day. These are constructed spaces, made to seem alive, throbbing with possibility, enabling the human heart to feel things we would otherwise be guarded about.

Film theorists in the 1970s held that cinema provides its viewers a separation from their own egos or perceptions of reality while at the same time reinforcing those egos and perceptions. Perhaps the power of cinema lies in inducing us to subject our ‘self’ to a momentary and perceived loss of control, sort of like a free-fall experience from a twin-engine plane. Continue reading

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It doesn’t matter that an Arab will play Aladdin

Casting an Arab in the role of Aladdin will not correct the film’s inherent racism.

Controversy ensued immediately after Disney announced that it would remake Aladdin, the cartoon fantasy film released in 1992. The outcry centred largely on the casting for the film, and specifically, who would play the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine.

For Disney, Aladdin is far more than just a film. It is a multimillion-dollar franchise – one that encompasses television and film spin-offs, rollercoaster rides, Halloween costumes, and scores of trademarked toys, gadgets and other products that generate considerable revenue for the mass media and entertainment conglomerate. The live action remake, to be directed by British director Guy Ritchie and slated for release in theatres in 2018, will be the latest instalment of Disney’s Aladdin franchise. Continue reading

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U.S. Misreads Pakistan’s Antifragility by L. ALI KHAN

Pakistan thrives on disorder and adversity, pursuing Nassim Taleb’s notion of antifragility. In India, Pakistan is bemoaned as a failed terrorist state. In Washington D.C., Pakistan is smeared as a duplicitous state, a posturing friend in the guise of a surreptitious foe. In Europe, Pakistan is hailed as one of the smartest countries in the world. In the Muslim world, Pakistan is acclaimed as a protective nuclear-state that would safeguard the holy cities of Makkah and Medina. Despite chronic energy shortage, Pakistan’s stock market is a top performer in the world. Pakistan’s cricket team has risen from slimy rigging scandals to win the 2017 international championship.

Pakistan, this land of Osama bin Laden and Malala Yousafzai, harbors both predators and preys with open hearts and clear conscience, baffling rectilinear moralists, orthodox policymakers, and nations as strong as the United States. Continue reading

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Did You Know that Jihad is in the Bible?

Did You Know that Jihad is in the Bible?

This may be shocking to some readers, but the Bible has been translated into Arabic. In fact, if you open your Bible right now and peruse through all of the translations of John 3:16, “Allah” is the word used to refer to God in the Arabic version right at the top of your page. Therein lies the problem with the clash of civilizations that extremists of all sorts seek: There are many elements in the opposing civilization that are also part of yours. The hate machine, however, depends on making people and concepts as foreign as possible for the sake of demonizing them. This brings us to the discussion of the big scary J word. At a lecture at Tulane University a decade ago, I asked the audience what they thought jihad means. One woman shouted out at the top of her lungs, “Death And Destruction!” Her answer might be what many Americans have been led to believe about this word.<more>

Muslim Americans often find themselves in an impossible place. Islamophobes define and impose their definitions of Islamic terms, such as jihad, in ways that are inauthentic and violent, and then demand that Muslims reject the terms and texts as they have portrayed them, or risk being deemed extremists for clarifying their meanings. The latest example of this is the controversy surrounding Linda Sarsour’s usage of the word to define opposition to Donald Trump in accordance with the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “The greatest jihad is a word of truth spoken in the face of a tyrant.” Of course right wing pundits quickly pounced on the opportunity to not only demonize Linda, but the forbidden word that she dared to invoke. It’s too late to rescue the true meaning of the word now, they insist. But if we’re going to ask Muslims to remove jihad from their dictionary, what about Arab Christians who read the Bible in Arabic?

In 1 Peter 4:18, the word jahada, the root of jihad, is used to describe one’s internal struggle. It reads, “If it is a jihad (struggle) for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

???? ????? ????????? ??????????? ????????? ???????????? ???????????? ?????? ????????????” (????? ???? ?????? ?????? 4: 18)

In both I Timothy and II Timothy, we find two references to jihad in the Arabic Bible: “I have fought the good jihad (fight), I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (II Timothy 4:7)

????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ???????? ??????????? ?????????? ???? ?????? ??? ????????? ????????? ??????? ???????? ??? ??? ????? ?????????? ???????? ??????????? ??????????? ???????? ??? ??????? ????????????? ????????? ?????????? ????????? ???????” (????? ???? ?????? ??????? ??? ???????? 4: 7? 7)

“Fight the good jihad (fight) of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (I Timothy 6:12)

??????? ??????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ???????????? ????????????? ??????? ????????? ??????? ???????? ????????????? ???????????? ????????? ??????? ??????? ??????????” (????? ???? ?????? ?????? ??????????? 6: 12)

Crusade and Jihad

The fact of the matter is that Muslims use the term jihad similarly to how Christians use the term crusade. The Christian term can mean anything from a spiritual mission to evangelism to politics to military action, depending on context and the individual understanding of the person who uses it. Cru, or Campus Crusade for Christ, was founded in 1951 on the UCLA campus to “launch spiritual movements.” The evangelist Billy Graham led over 400 “crusades” throughout the world, by which he meant non-violent missionary activities. (Unlike his wayward son, Franklin, Billy Graham had a softer position vis-à-vis Muslims.) The late right-wing Congressman Alan Nunnelee characterized his political activities as “a crusade to save America.” And last but not least, President George W. Bush clearly used the term militarily when he referred to his war on Iraq. To characterize Sarsour’s clear use of the word jihad in a political context as a call to violence would be as misleading as saying all Christian uses of the term crusade are about violence.

In normal everyday usage, a jihad doesn’t mean killing Christians and a crusade doesn’t mean killing Muslims, even though extremists in our respective traditions may twist those terms that way for their own selfish ends.

Do terrorists and war mongers have scriptural justification for their actions in the Quran or the Bible? Either book could be read and interpreted in a way that justifies violence, but that’s true for pretty much any sacred book, religion, or philosophy. Violent interpretations say more about the reader than they do about the text itself. A violent person will find violence no matter what the words really intend, like one who “by peace shall destroy many.” But is the Quran a particularly violent scripture? This study here actually shows the Quran contains fewer verses of violence than both the Old and New Testaments.

It would be far more helpful to focus on the sociological root causes of terror and violence, rather than let the extremists find validation in their unholy interpretations of scripture by affirming their ownership of terms like jihad.


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The man who brought peace between the Bloods and the Crips in his California mosque.

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London acid attacks: Men on mopeds hurl substance at five victims in 90-minute rampage, say police

Two men on a mopeds carried out five acids attacks during a spree across London which lasted less than 90 minutes, police said.

The Metropolitan Police said one victim had been left with “life-changing” injuries after being doused on Thursday night in the east of the capital.

The assaults appeared to be linked and two involved victims having their mopeds stolen, they added. Continue reading

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Islamophobia in Australia

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