Sikh temple project sparks dispute over copying holy sites

June 12, 2009

golden-temple (Photo: Sikhs pray at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, 17 Sept 2001/Rajesh Bhambi)

Are some holy sites so holy or so unique that they shouldn’t be copied? Should monuments like the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican or the Western Wall in Jerusalem have a kind of copyright so nobody can replicate them elsewhere?

Islamic tone, interfaith touch in Obama’s speech to Muslim world

June 4, 2009

obama-speech-baghdadIt started with “assalaamu alaykum” and ended with “may God’s peace be upon you.” Inbetween, President Barack Obama dotted his speech to the Muslim world with Islamic terms and references meant to resonate with his audience. The real substance in the speech were his policy statements and his call for a “new beginning” in U.S. relations with Muslims, as outlined in our trunk news story. But the new tone was also important and it struck a chord with many Muslims who heard the speech, as our Middle East Special Correspondent Alistair Lyon found. Not all, of course — you can find positive and negative reactions here.

from India Insight:

Is caste behind the killing in Vienna and riots in Punjab?

May 26, 2009

Why did the murder of a preacher in a Sikh temple in Vienna spark riots in the faraway Indian state of Punjab, in which thousands took to the streets to torch cars, trains and battle security forces?

An “Indian Bible” or a “Bible for India”?

April 28, 2009

flight-to-egyptAnnotated Bibles come in all shapes, sizes and standpoints. One of the most interesting recent examples is The New Community Bible in India. The novelty is not the text itself but the extensive footnotes comparing and contrasting Christian teachings with those of India’s main religions. Christians make up only 2.3% of India’s 1.1 billion population compared to 80% for Hindus and 13% for Muslims. The illustrations are also clearly Indian — in the drawing for the Flight to Egypt (at right), Mary wears a sari and a bindi on her forehead while Joseph sports a turban.

Religion and politics in “bewilderingly diverse” India

April 27, 2009

asghar-ali-engineer“Bewildingerly diverse” is the way Asghar Ali Engineer describes his native country, India. This 70-year-old Muslim scholar has written dozens of books about Indian politics and society, Islamic reform and interreligious dialogue. As head of the Centre for the Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai, he works to promote peace and understanding among religious and ethnic communities through seminars, workshops, youth camps, research and publications. The centre even organises street plays in the slums of Mumbai to teach the poor about the dangers of communalism.

Holding back the “religion card” in India’s election campaign

April 24, 2009

india-election-ayodhyaHindu nationalism, Muslim “vote banks”, anti-Christian violence, caste rivalry — Indian politics has more than enough interfaith tension to offer populist orators all kinds of “religion cards” to play. Coming only months after Islamist militants killed 166 people in a three-day rampage in Mumbai, the campaign for the general election now being held in stages between April 16 and May 13 could have been over- shadowed by communal demagoguery.

from India Insight:

Will Mayawati’s Brahmin card work this time?

April 21, 2009

Much has been written about Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati's inventive politics that saw her forging an unlikely alliance between Dalits and Brahmins -- from the two ends of the Hindu caste spectrum -- to win an election in Uttar Pradesh in 2007.

from India Insight:

Lalu Prasad’s roller: courting the Muslim vote in Bihar

April 17, 2009

Muslims are seen as a crucial vote bank in several possible swing states in India's general election and many politicians are making the right noises to court the community.

from India Insight:

How thin a line between Church and State?

March 27, 2009

Catholic churchgoers in Kerala will soon receive, in addition to the communion, an appeal to not vote for atheists.

Can academia help Islam’s dialogue with the West?

March 23, 2009

Prince Alwaleed bin TalalSince 9/11, studying the relations between Islam and the West have become a growth field in academia. Among its leading proponents is Saudi Arabian investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, a billionaire who has spent tens of millions of dollars via his Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation creating study centres at leading universities, including Cambridge, Harvard and Georgetown, with the goal of fostering interfaith dialogue and understanding.