Thursday, June 29, 2006

Great Inventions, Muslims and Re-Inventing Great Muslims.

Just got another of those "20 Greatest Inventions by Muslim Scientists" mails. From the windmill to the fountain pen to rockets and torpedos. Oh, well, at least this time it wasn't titled "Great Inventions by Islamic Scientists".

Here's what I sent in reply:

The problem is that, today, we start with no knowledge of this kind of thing and end with finding out about it and feeling good. Sad.

What should be happening is that we grow up knowing about this and start there, and then move to being inspired and moved to engaged with the sciences, both the physical sciences like physics, chemistry, etc. and, in my opinion, more importantly, the social sciences like anthropology, sociology, and so on to help Allah's earth be a better place for humans to live on. Just learning a trade like engineering or tech writing and using it to make more and more money and more and more things that exploit the earth and humanity is very, very antithetical to Islam as I understand it.

[Postscript: One of my favorites is the gentleman on the left. Google "Al Farabi"]

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Power and The People, Pakistan Edition

The photograph is from The Daily Times of today (29th June, 2006), and the place is the very interestingly named "Pak Colony" in Pakistan's largest city.

Do I really need to say more? Click on the picture and go to the newspaper's page, if you want the full context.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The American Muslim Experience and a new Literature for the 21st Century

A version of this post appeared on Pakistaniat: All Things Pakistan on July 2, 2006
A friend of mine sent me the following:
proudly presents
a staged reading of:

The Good Muslim

A new play by Rehana Mirza
Directed by Abigail Marateck

354 WEST 45th STREET

Jessica Bhargava
Tamar Verizian

The Good Muslim explores the unlikely friendship that blossoms between
Nora, a 25 year old club-hopping atheist, and Farzana, a sheltered 19
year old Muslim girl. The result is a humorous new take on cultural
domination in the modern world.

This play is presented as part of the Ma-Yi Labfest, featuring nine new
full-length plays. FREE admission for all plays but please make
reservations by emailing or calling 212-971-4862. For
more info on this event and each of the plays, please visit
I am not familiar with that play, and would appreciate it if any readers in the New York area would write back to provide input.

But there are two other pieces of theater I am familar with and never tire of talking about:

One of the blurbs I have read on the former mentioned it as this era's "Fiddler on the Roof". There's a lot in that comment that one could unpack--the experience of this generation's most newsworthy immigrant community, the playing out of a religious community's interaction with "modernity", timeless and ageless family could go on and on. And given all the other news and issues we deal with every day, if Wajahat, the impossibly young second generation Pakistani-American playwright, could get the funding and support the play deserves, I would list it under mandatory viewing for anyone who claims they want to understand the middle class Muslim experience in this country or any Western country, really. And if you threw in a viewing of Kalapul (literally "Black Bridge", named for a bridge leading one of Karachi's poshest localities), you could get a pretty thorough education on Muslims anywhere, and what they are going through.

As an afterthought, something I have been mulling over for a while: together, these plays are the answer, really, to VS Naipaul's contention that "The novel's time is over. Only nonfiction can capture the complexities of today's world." (See here and here. I can't seem to find his original essay in The New York Review of Books right now.) Taken with "The Kite Runner" and even Updike's "The Terrorist" (more on that one later), it makes one wonder whether, maybe, we need to turn to a different class and generation of writers, instead of turning repeatedly to the traditional staples of Sir Vidyadhar and Salman Rushdie, et al.

And as an after thought, I really need to finish those three short stories in my own "Drafts" folder.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Meeting up with old friends

I am on the East Coast catching up with folks--and meeting some really old friends--more on that later.

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Trial Commentary VodCast for Wadiwallah

I am starting a regular commentary segment on WBT-TV, a Business and Technology program on Comcast Channel 15 in San Jose, California. This is the pilot edition and will be reposted in final form next week on Wadiwallah, my blog about Life, Technology and Getting By in Silicon Valley..

The online home for this commetary is on my own website at Please drop by there and engage in the discussion—or leave comments below.

The WBT-TV website is at

The media file for this segment is available directly at:

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