FUCK YEAH SOUTH ASIA is devoted to anything and everything about India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives. This includes (but is not limited to) natural beauty, music, film, history, literature, news and politics, food, discussion of the diaspora, language lessons and much more. We feel that the view of South Asia that is often presented is very flat and one-dimensional and we hope to do our small bit to change that.

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Posts tagged "Islam"

It is said that Muslims believe in female genital mutilation, the surgical removal of all or part of a girl’s clitoris. Yet I have never, in my 41 years, had a conversation with someone who described themselves as Muslim and believed this practice to be anything other than a despicably inhuman abomination. Until I first read about it in a newspaper, probably in my 20s, I would have thought it impossible that such a ritual could even exist.

Similarly, many millions of Muslims apparently believe that women should have no role in politics. But many millions more have had no qualms electing women prime ministers in Muslim-majority countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh. Indeed, this month’s Pakistani elections witnessed a record 448 women running for seats in the national and provincial assemblies.

Two of my great-grandparents sent all of their daughters to university. One of them, my grandmother, was the chairperson of the All Pakistan Women’s Association and dedicated her life to the advancement of women’s rights in the country. But among those descended from the same line are women who do not work and who refuse to meet men who are not their blood relatives. I have female relatives my age who cover their heads, others who wear mini-skirts, some who are university professors or run businesses, others who choose rarely to leave their homes. I suspect if you were to ask them their religion, all would say “Islam”. But if you were to use that term to define their politics, careers, or social values, you would struggle to come up with a coherent, unified view.

It’s time for India to update its national conversation about Islam. This month alone saw the arrest of an Indian-born bomb maker for the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, and moves by India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, to earmark a fifth of welfare spending for Muslims.

But the bland secularist pieties of the ruling Congress Party and assorted regional administrations do little to suggest that they’ve understood the problem. If anything, by encouraging a culture of grievance and deepening a sense of separateness among India’s 176 million Muslims, they may end up doing more harm than good.

The Hindu nationalists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) typically fare little better in advancing the debate over Islam’s future in India. The party claims it wants to reach out to Muslim voters. But to do so, India’s right wing needs a new way to speak about Islam.

In line with our brethrens in Quetta who are with the bodies of their loved ones in this freezing weather waiting for the State to act, we here in Karachi and people across the country are staging such sit-ins.

In one voice, Pakistani Shias and Sunnis condemn Quetta killings.

Solidarity. Pakistanis are out on the streets showing support for each other. I’m (not) surprised about the lack of local and international media coverage these protests in Pakistan are receiving. Maybe it’s because we haven’t done anything “angry Mozlem!” for them to go insane over.

(via mehreenkasana)

Four of my favorite links on South Asian history, issues and debates



I often receive questions from you lovely folks about how should one start reading up on issues and intellectual discourse related to South Asian affairs of all sorts including our history, politics, ideology(s), economy, rift(s) and a lot more. Since it’s an extremely rich history, it can get (quite naturally) tough to know where to start from. You don’t need to worry for now because I’ve brought four of my personal favorite South Asian history/information links. Let’s see what we got:

  • Columbia’s archive of South Asian history under the title of Indian Routes consists of a timeline of events throughout the region with interesting commentary and analysis. Just ignore the horrible font chosen: Comic Sans.
  • Another great link is offered by Berkeley under the title of Colonial India. This is one aspect of South Asian history that is constantly discussed by those attempting to instill stability in a post-colonial region. Offered in the form of extensive chapters, this website has been a great source of knowledge for me and the students I’ve taught. Best part? It’s not in Comic Sans.
  • Then we have - oh, this is a great treat for righteously angry brown discourse - Sepia Mutiny. Recently ended, SM still maintains an active Twitter account where you can send questions and comments regarding contemporary South Asian political, cultural, social debates. Sepia Mutiny offers one of the best slam downs on racism, discrimination, immigrant issues among other important issues.
  • Last but certainly not the least, Chapati Mystery. Maintained by Manan Ahmed (whom I’ve met off Twitter and become friends with - thanks for the book by Frantz Fanon, Manan!) who “holds a Ph.D in the history of Islam in South Asia from the University of Chicago, blogs under the sobriquet sepoy. He can also be found hanging out at Juan Cole’s Informed Comment: Global Affairs.” Chapati Mystery tackles the subjects of neo-orientalism, Islamophobia, political ideologies in South Asian history, Jinnah and Gandhi’s swag, Pakistan’s terribly brutal history with Bangladesh and much more. It’s one of the many e-libraries I love spending hours in.

That’s one, two, three and four. Four links on South Asian history, political dynamics, various religions and modern day issues for you to browse through. I’ll share more next time. Till then, happy uncolonized learning!

Adding SAMAJ to this list: “The South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (SAMAJ) is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to social science research on South Asia. It specializes in the publication of comparative thematic issues as well as individual research articles, review essays, and book reviews. Committed to disseminating rigorous scientific research to the widest possible audience, SAMAJ is fully and freely accessible online.”

(via )


Sunni protesters in Lahore, Pakistan show their support for the persecuted Shia minority. Urdu sign says: “We severely condemn the murders of our Shia brothers and sisters.”
This is a bold, brave statement. Bravo.



Sunni protesters in Lahore, Pakistan show their support for the persecuted Shia minority. Urdu sign says: “We severely condemn the murders of our Shia brothers and sisters.”


This is a bold, brave statement. Bravo.




Pakistan Youth Alliance protest against Shia killings in Pakistan.

“We, Pakistani Muslims, do not support these killings. Those of us in Pakistan who think all innocent Shias are wajibul katl (worthy of being killed) need to go over the Quran and point out to me what Ayat supports this nuisance.” 


Without recognising the colonial function of the use of torture, we miss the point that structurally the [‘War on Terror’] is a war against racialised peoples for the retention of ‘first world’ domination.

Elizabeth Philipose quoted in Nathaniel Mehr’s smart review of Feminism and war: Confronting US Imperialism.

All the values of feminism are contradicted - if not rendered impossible to achieve - by the realities of war and the machinery of war-making.

- Leslie Cagan


Berta Joubert-Ceci reminds us that US wars are being paid for by large cuts in social welfare, with poor working class families bearing the brunt. The overarching class dimension of the analysis is encapsulated by Leilani Dowell: ‘It is the policies of the ruling class - including policies that institutionalise sexism and racism in society; policies that fuel war and aggression and take money away from jobs programmes, education programmes, healthcare; policies that create poverty - which promote and perpetuate this violence.’ 

You might want to read this.

(via mehreenkasana)

In Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, Deepa Kumar, an Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University in the US, identifies a cluster of such myths: that Islam is a uniquely sexist religion, that Muslims are irrational, that Islam is inherently violent and that Muslims are incapable of democracy and self-rule. Underlying each of these, she argues, is the view of Islam as a monolithic religion. This, according to Kumar, is the original sin from which all other Orientalist fallacies flow, for it is only by ignoring the conspicuous diversity and historical contingency of Middle Eastern societies that generalisations about ‘Muslim culture’, ‘Islamic civilisation’ or the ‘Muslim mind’ can gain any intellectual credibility.

Racism at the Heart of Empire. Tom Mills reviews Deepa Kumar’s book Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire.

Her book is rooted in the basic, but crucial, understanding that racism is not born simply out of ignorance, but is intimately linked to questions of power and equality. Kumar therefore does not concern herself with sketching the ideological contours of anti-Muslim racism, but attempts to detail the complex historical interplay between power and ideas, placing racism at the very centre of modern imperialism. […] Kumar notes:

“During the Cold War and up until the Iranian revolution of 1979, the United States enthusiastically supported forces that could Islamize the Middle East and serve as a counter to those that posed a challenge to its domination—secular nationalists and the left. In the period after the 1970s, policy makers forged alliances with those Islamists who were on the side of US imperialism and militated against those who refused to play this role.”

Deepa Kumar’s book is superb; She analyzes US and European imperialism and Islamophobia with astute detail. This book is a great reminder for everyone who assumes USA and Europe “got nothing to do with the religious rage in Muslim countries.” Don’t forget the then-American president Reagan and Pakistani dictator Zia’s tight friendship. Pakistan still suffers because of it - even after their deaths. Dozens of other instances where the Empire bolstered oppressive regimes in the Middle East and South Asia. Only to deny all responsibility later on.

(via mehreenkasana)