Category Archives: Islam

Lecture at U Minnesota about Medieval Islamic Automata, Thu, Nov 8, 2007

 Thursday, November 8, 2007 4:00 PM

Room 125
Nolte Center for Continuing Education
Minneapolis Campus

Free Lecture

“Simulations of Time and Life in al-Jazari’s Automata: Islamic Symbolism, Teleological Mechanisms, and Ontological Difference”: a talk with Ayhan Aytes

Sponsored By:  Institute for Advanced Study
Additional Sponsors:  Center for Medieval Studies

 Ayhan Aytes’s research focuses on a series of examples from al-Jazari’s Book of Ingenious Mechanical Devices written in 1206. By using media archeology, his study addresses the symbolic depiction of the concept of time such as in al-Jazari’s Elephant Clock, as it simulates a unique mechanistic conception of the universe. Because of the highly syncretic nature of the symbolic system to which these machines refer, al-Jazari’s works are also a subject to the discussion of knowledge transmission of medieval technology. Ayhan Aytes is a graduate researcher in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego. This event is also part of the University Symposium on Time.

Thanks to Aurangzeb for the tip.


Laathi Charge!

Laathi Charge

Islamabad vs. Karachi

This picture is from a story in the Daily Times.

Some pictures of the Karachi rally against extremism can be see here. That is a pretty large crowd!

Thanks to the bloggers on Karachi Metroblog for clueing me in to these links.

Religion and the Environment

“Why have religions been so late in responding to environmental issues, and what are the obstacles to their full participation?”

This is the question raised by Mary Tucker and John Grim in a recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Religions, having the strong influence that they do in shaping society, have a role to play in responding to current environmental problems.

Religions definitely define positions on homicide and suicide and should now respond to ecocide and biocide. Tucker and Grim and point out that the environmental crisis has a moral dimension and religious sensibility should be able to respond to that. Furthermore humanity’s joint residence within the ecosystem means that there is an opportunity, indeed a need, for inter-religious dialog to promote a cooperative social response to environmental degradation.

There is activity within the religious community on issues related to the environment. It ranges from community projects dealing with protection of local environmental resources because of motivation by religious principles to publication of scholarly works studying connections between religion and the environment. In some countries such as Iran and Indonesia environmental policies explicitly draw upon religious principles.

Much information about environmental work driven by religious views is available at Harvard University’s Forum on Religion and Ecology. Tucker and Grim are coordinators for this forum and also visiting scholars at Yale University’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies.

Critical Islamic Reflections Conference

Shabana’s blog, Koonj, led me to the conference on Hemeneutics and the Future of Islam in America that is being organized at Yale. (Abstracts are due by January 15, 2007, if you are interested in submitting a paper). This is the 6th conference put together by the Critical Islamic Reflections group which consists of of “graduate and undergraduate students organized to pursue critical academic scholarship on topics regarding Islam and Muslim society” as noted in it’s self-description.

This promises to be an interesting conference as its objective is to investigate the variations in hermeneutic approaches to scripture used by various Muslim groups. Abstract of papers presented at previous conferences in this series are available on the CIR group’s website.

You may also find it interesting to look at Prof. Abdullahi Naim’s Future of Sharia project that is concerned with the institutional separation of sharia and state.