Religious Difference in a Secular Age

A fascinating interview of Saba Mahmood on religious minorities in the Middle East

The issue of minority rights in Muslim societies is often in the news these days. Plight of minorities sometimes show up on Irtiqa, as that is one of the countries that I am most familiar with. The state sanctioned persecution of Ahmadis, in particular, is hard to ignore. A new book by anthropologist Saba Mahmood, Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report, looks at minority rights in the middle east – with a focus on Egypt – and challenges some of the conventional thinking about secularism. Read More→

Mauna Kea, Thirty Meter Telescope

Construction permit rescinded for the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea

This is quite astonishing! The battle over the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope has been going on for years and I did not think that the opponents of the telescope had much chance of victory. But earlier this year, protestors blocked the road to Mauna Kea summit, thus halting the start of TMT construction. This resulted in arrests and it seemed like it was only a momentary delay. Read More→

ISIS compared to Ku Klux Klan

Pew poll on Muslim views on ISIS

After the Paris attacks, the nonsensical chorus of “why don’t Muslims condemn ISIS” has grown even louder. To make things worse, even when there is a report on such opposing voices, the story is framed in a way to further aggravate the problem. This was the NYT story with the headline From Indonesia, a Muslim Challenge to the Ideology of the Islamic State and the story almost gives the impression that “finally” someone in the Muslim world (yes – all that “monolithic” entity!) is standing up to ISIS. Read More→

The orange trees of Marrakesh

A new intellectual biography of Ibn Khaldun

As with many medieval Muslim thinkers, either Ibn Khaldun is ignored or his words are over-interpreted. If you are interested, there is a new book out called The Orange Trees of Marrakesh: Ibn Khaldun and the Science of Man by Stephen Frederic Dale. Read More→

China takes the lead

Nature’s map of Chinese Science Collaborations

In terms of scientific research output, China is now just behind the US (in terms of “high-quality science” as defined by the journal Nature and that takes into account articles from 68 natural science journals). Just this past week, Nature Index published a fascinating map of Chinese science collaborations, and it is clear from it that it is becoming a global science superpower. Read More→

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