Thursday, September 23, 2010

Honors Thesis Topic Finalized at Last!

Hurray for me! I FINALLY (no, really -- I MEAN finally!) settled on a topic that not only interests and fascinates me but is also extremely relevant to modern affairs among Muslims, especially South Asian Muslims. I'm still gonna continue my digging for works on honor and Pashtun women, but that'll have to wait until I am working on my PhD dissertation! If, when the time comes, I realize that I wanna deal with gender in Islamic law and hermeneutics and Islam and feminism or something else, then no biggie at all: I'll just do my fieldwork in Swat/Pashtunkhwa whenever my future allows me, ka khair wee.

What's my topic, you ask? Ahhh, what but the notion of authority in Islam and the great and highly revered Zakir Naik, beloved friends! Now, any thesis adviser will tell you that that's just not specific enough, that it needs to be narrowed down. Sure thing - not to worry: I will deal with Zakir Naik and women's rights and his views on women in other religion, or in the west. (You know how he's always attacking the west for its representation of women. He lives in this ideal world in which women are treated with so much respect and love, and they're so appreciated for EVERYTHING that they do for the world. And the west, this infidel west, is nothing but a bad, bad, bad place for women. He's also always attacking other religions, appearing like an authority on other religious scriptures when anyone who just thinks about what he's really saying about those religions can figure out the wrong things he's teaching about those religions! It's truly a crisis. Muslims listen to them with the idea that "as Muslims, we're the only ones right. Everyone else is wrong. Let's just wait for Zakir Naik to tell us how they're wrong." Dude! Come ON! Read yourself! Study yourself!...k, yeah.) And, so, I think it's important and needs to be discussed in the academic world.

Last year, my "Islam in South Asia" professor asked me what suggestions, if any, I might have for him to make the course not only more appealing but wider in scope as well. Well, the first thing I said was: Academic scholars, especially those educated in western or other secular institutions, have little to no influence on Muslims' lives and belief systems; it is preachers like Zakir Naik, Ahmad Deedat, Yusuf Estes, etc. who have more power, more authority, and more influence. When we discuss Islam in South Asia, we NEED to talk about these figures because, although we strongly disagree with them and are aware of their lack of deep knowledge of Islam, it is THEY who everyone listens to. And so I suggested to my professor that he either write something on this himself or then search for some. You shouldn't graduate with an Islamic Studies badge unless you understand what power preachers like the above-mentioned ones have over Muslims and why Muslims look up to them to begin with.

More about my thesis will be discussed in the academic blog I'm creating right now (it's taking time 'cause it has to have the PERFECT name, PERFECT literature, PERFECT style, PERFECT look -- everything perfect. You understand.), but this was just to say: I am happy and relieved that all worked out well after all :D Hey, now I know how to guide someone who might be in the position I was in these last few weeks!

Peace be upon the world!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Waiting for ... What?

Some weeks ago, friends and I gathered to talk about something very important and relevant in today's busy world: Why are we always busy, and why are we always waiting for the next break?

I meant to share this message a long time ago but forgot in the mean time and was reminded about it today by my sister who is taking a yoga class (which I recommend for every single human to try out if possible!!), and her coach is one of those people who starts off the class with the message to "Leave ALL your worries behind the door, and enter this room with the desire to be happy, to FEEL happy, to relax." Forget lessons on happiness; everyone defines it differently, but the one thing we NEED to agree on is to stop waiting for happiness to come to us and instead go to happiness ourselves.

Now, why're we always waiting for a break? Come Christmas Break, you can't enjoy, you can't relax because you have a lot of homework to do, a GRE/MCAT/GMAT/etc. to study for, a thesis to write, several books to read for academic purposes, and so on. The moment you TRY to relax, you can't enjoy it because you feel guilty that you're doing something fun when you should be, say, studying. But why? And, more importantly, DO you actually end up using every single minute of your life studying? No, of course not. That's humanly impossible, and even the most nerdest people among us can't and don't do it.

Then, once Christmas Break is over, first day of class/work and we're counting days till the next break visits us! Heck, stop waiting for breaks to visit you and go right up and visit those breaks!

So, relax and stop waiting for the next break. Dedicate a good amount of time of your life to taking rest, to relaxing, to doing something that you ENJOY -- be it what I do at times: Reflecting on the day's or week's events, my feelings, what good I've done, what bad I've done, what I've accomplished, what needs to be done. Believe it or not, just sitting alone with yourself and reflecting on your own life every now and then helps relaxes your mind quite a lot.

It's good to plan for the future, for the next moment, yes, but it's unwise to plan the tomorrow so much that you forget to live in the present.

Peace to all!

Back to Blogging :D

Hello, world!

So I decided to get back to blogging again. The main reason is that I'm really busy. Odd, I know. But what I mean is that because I'm busy with my academic life, I need something to do for pleasure as well, something that benefits not only me but others as well. I mean, reading is the most exciting thing to do -- okay, ranking after the most beautiful baby girl in the world (that'd be my niece, yes) -- but that's just for myself. My blogging, however, has benefits for my readers as well, yeah? Writing blog posts could be way of taking a break from the serious moments in my life -- serious like choosing which freaking grad schools to apply to, who my advisers should be, and so on. They give me a headache just thinking about them, you see.

Bottom line: Blogging's the best. don't understand why more people don't turn to blogging. Really, it's such a great medicine for the mind and soul!

Okay, so I have some ideas, and I'm gonna try to share them here.

1. The "really important" things are at last done with: The professional blog, owned by my summer research adviser, that I was monitoring is still running, but since I'm not involved in the research this semester and will be getting back to it either during the Winter Break, ka khairee, I don't have to post in it until then.

2. I need to have an academic blog that'll aid the studies and research of students of Islamic Studies, Gender/Women/Queer Studies, and Religious Studies as well as (Muslim and/or Pashtun) women and other interested individuals. In this blog, the tone of which must be as professional as it can get, I will discuss the books, articles, and other literature that I find important and worth reading and provide PDF links to them (technology: the best thing humans have come up with as of yet! Every time I read a book or something I love, I immediately contact the author. Some of them are kind and generous enough to send me PDF files of their other works! How beautiful that be?!). I also have a gazillion and a quarter ideas for research on Pashtuns, especially Pashtun women, as well as on Muslims in general, and since I may not live long enough to accomplish the goals I have set for myself, someone else needs to hear those ideas so that they may be enforced if/when possible.

3. Coming up with a topic for an honors thesis is one of the most torturous moments of a student's life! Those of you who have been through it share the sentiment. Oh geez, I spent the entire summer reading books to include in my thesis, or to compile a good enough bibliography for the thesis, but it turns out ... I'm not satisfied with that! I need something more intellectually stimulating than what I'd chosen. Khair, I will discuss this in the next blog post -- my honors thesis dilemma and all. But, needless to say, I refuse to quit here and am going to have a highest honors by the end of April 2011, ka khairee.

4. Zakir Naik!!!!! Maaan!! I can't WAIT to write something on this guy! It turns out, my honors thesis MIGHT be on this guy's influence on (South Asian) Muslims! I haven't shared this possibility with my adviser, so it's possible that he disagree with it, but we'll see. (The reason he might disagree is that we have discuss Islamic Feminism and Islamic law extensively, and we had initially hoped to have the thesis on that. More about this later.)

All right, now. So the summary is:

- Blogging is good for the mind!
- I will be creating a new blog that will be for academic purposes only. This one will remain my space for ranting :D
- I need ideas for an honors thesis topic, and I'm still listening to whatever anyone has to suggest.

Peace! I'll be back later.

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