Saturday, March 28, 2009


Tengah hari tadi aku bergegas ke Pavilion setelah menyiapkan kerja-kerjaku di universiti. Tujuan aku berkunjung ke sana adalah untuk menemui teman-temanku. Tiada agenda yang spesifik, hanya sekadar untuk minum-minum ataupun dalam bahasa hari ini ‘yam char.’

Ketika kami berbual-bual, secara tiba-tiba salah seorang diantara kami melontarkan persoalan yang mana kami sudah agak lama tidak mengadakan diskusi ‘ilmu – suatu perkara yang lazimnya akan kami lakukan sekali dalam sebulan. Menyedari hakikat itu, lantas kami bergegas ke Times Bookstore untuk mencari koleksi buku yang ingin kami perdebatkan. Dan kesudahannya kami membeli buku-buku ini:

Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity: The Search for Saladin
Every generation needs to reinterpret its great men of the past. Akbar Ahmed, by revealing Jinnah’s human face alongside his heroic achievement, both makes this statesman accessible to the current age and renders his greatness even clearer than before.

Four men shaped the end of British rule in India: Nehru, Gandhi, Mountbatten and Jinnah. We know a great deal about the first three, but Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, has mostly either been ignored or, in the case of Richard Attenborough’s hugely successful film about Gandhi, portrayed as a cold megalomaniac, bent on the bloody partition of India. Akbar Ahmed’s major study redresses the balance.

Drawing on history, semiotics and cultural anthropology as well as more conventional biographical techniques, Akbar S. Ahmad presents a rounded picture of the man and shows his relevance as contemporary Islam debates alternative forms of political leadership in a world dominated (at least in the Western media) by figures like Colonel Gadaffi and Saddam Hussein.

Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization
Globalization, the war on terror, and Islamic fundamentalis, followed closely by a rise in Islamophobia, has escalated tensions between Western nations and the Muslim world. Yet internationally renowned Islamic scholar Akbar Ahmed believes that through dialogue and understanding, these cultures can coexist peacefully and respectfully. That hope and belief result in an extraordinary journey. To learn what Muslims think and how they really view America, Ahmed traveled to the three major regions of the Muslim world - the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia.

Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization is the riveting story of his search for common ground. His absorbing narrative and personal photos bring the reader on a tour of Islam and its peoples. Ahmed sought to understand the experiences and perceptions of ordinary Muslims. Visiting mosques, madrassahs, and universities, he met with people ranging from Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to prime ministers, princes, sheikhs, professors, and students. He observed, listened, and asked them questions. For example, who inspires them? What are they reading? How do the Internet and international media impact their lives? How do they view America, the West, and changes in society? Ahmed’s anthropological expedition enjoyed extensive access to women and youths, revealing unique information on large yet often misunderstood populations. Lamentably, he found high levels of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism and a widespread perception that Islam is under attack from the West. But he also brought back reason for hope. He returned from his groundbreaking travels both impressed with the concerned, kind nature of the individuals he encountered and invigorated with the vitality and passion they displayed. Journey into Islam makes a powerful plea for forming friendships across religion, race, and tradition to create lasting peace between Islam and the West.

Social Justice in Islam
Social Justice in Islam is perhaps the best known work of Sayyid Qutb, a leading figure in the Muslim Brethren of Egypt who was executed by the regime of Abd al-Nasir in 1966. Despite the years that have passed since Sayyid Qutb’s death, the imprint of his thought on the contemporary Islamic movements of the Arab world remains profound. The Arabic original of “Social Justice in Islam” was first published in 1949, but this book in particular retains its relevance in many respects: the persistence of gross socio-economic inequality in most Muslim societies; the need for viewing Islam as a totality, imperatively demanding comprehensive implementation; and the depiction of the West as a neo-Crusading force.

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