A picture of greatness

This picture arrived in my inbox few days ago. Amazing to see some of the biggest names of literature and intellectuals all in one group picture. I didn’t have the chance to find out where and when this picture was taken and the occasion that brought all these great personalities together.

how many can you identify? how many do you know about?

Ramadan series: iftar

There are many ways to describe but none can truly capture the spirit of this month. So I have decided to do a daily post for each of the day of the month hoping to capture different aspects of the months that go unnoticed or unappreciated. I will especially try to capture some traditions, new trends, and if possible culture of the month.



First iftar of Ramadan 1423: dates, pineapple, rice & ghoogni, and pakoris

Lot of attention is given to iftars and rightly so. One of my earliest memory of Ramadan revolves around iftar, waiting for the azan and then devouring the delicious goodies. Iftar is also where you see lot of local preferences manifested in this culinary art. Hadiths suggest opening of the fast with dates so that is common in all iftars, wherever it is available but other than that there is no set dishes that need to be part of this important meal.

Among Bihari Muslims, ghoogni (cooked chickpea) is an important part of iftar, some fruits and pakoris are also a must. I found pakoris to be present in iftars in Uttar Pradesh but just today I learned from a good friend that there are no pakoras in iftar in Assam. typical assamese iftar: dates, fruits, puri-sabzi, and chana.

Share your iftar items in the comments section below:

Muslims of Manipur

Recently launched book “Manipuri Muslims: Historical Perspectives 615-2000 CE” authored by Farooque Ahmed, claims that Islam came to Manipur as early as 615 CE. If this is true, then this will place this region at par with Malabar, Sindh, and Gujarat as first places to receive the message of Islam in Indian sub-continent.

According to the report of the book release, Historian Farooque Ahmed writes in the book that a Muslim clan “sagei” traces its ancestory to Amir Hamza and Saad ibn abi Waqqas, both happen to be Companions and uncles of Prophet Mohammad (sallallaho alaihe wasallam). I have not read the book so I am not sure what evidence author has produced to support his claim. But if the story of Amir Hamza’s coming to India is correct then the premise of the story of Tilism-e-Hoshruba appear to be not that far-fetched.

Where is Manipur?

Muslims, who are also known as Pangals or Pangans in Manipur, are 7% of the population of the state. According to a report by the All-Manipur Muslim United Coordinating Committee (AMMUCOC), the literacy rate among Muslims is 58.6 percent (male 75 percent and female 41.6 percent) much below the state’s average of 70.5 percent (male 80.3 percent and female 60.5 percent). Muslims socio-economic condition is worse than rest of the state. There have been few clashes between Muslims and the youths of the Meitei community. And since 1993 a few armed Muslim groups have sprung up to take up the cudgels on behalf of the Muslims. This has given an excuse to armed forces to arrest and kill Muslim youth with impunity.

Here is an interview with Sitara Begum, an activist who is working on the ground among the Muslims.
Last year, TwoCircles.net North-East reporter Anjuman Ara Begum went on a trip to Manipur. I told her to bring pictures of some of the local mosques.


Sadar Bazar Jama masjid, Imphal


Hatta Masjid, Imphal


Ukhrul town masjid

The last picture was most beautiful and I especially marked it for later use. I was surprised to see the same picture on the cover of the book that prompted this blog post. It is a shame that publisher of the book has used this picture without asking our permission to use it.

Anyway, here is the same masjid from a less glamorous angle:

Soccer girls

By Kashif-ul-Huda, TwoCircles.net

When FIFA World Cup Soccer Final match is played on Sunday, there will be at least a billion people will be watching it around the world. Going by the two pictures that I will present to you, some of these fans will be young Muslim girls of India.

First picture is from Indian state of Kerala. Soccer is huge in Kerala and not only boys but also girls get worked up for their teams. Brazil and Argentina are two most-favorite teams in Kerala. The picture is taken by Photographer Rahmath of Areekode in Kerala.

He took this picture in May of this year and appears to be two young boys’ teams dressed in Brazil and Argentina and fighting it out. Many girls in hijab are in attendance and watching the match with full attention. The ball is near the goal post and one can clearly see two girls with their arms fully extended in excitement. Few more girls are in the process of raising their arms in anticipation of their teams scoring a goal.

Second picture is by Amit Dave of Reuters and published in the Delhi edition of the Hindustan Times on June 25th. Photo taken in Ahmedabad, Gujarat is of students of a Muslim girls school Anjuman-e-Islam High School. If the previous picture was beautiful, this is priceless.

You can differentiate between two teams by the color of hijab that these girls are wearing. All the excitement of this game is in the foreground of the picture. It seems that a girl from the yellow team just wrested control of the ball from a player of the blue team. She is in full control of the ball now and her hands and face show this happy expression while feet firmly in control of the ball. The girl from the blue team is completely beaten but still hoping to get the ball back. But her attempt will be thwarted by the third girl, who is from yellow team and not afraid to play a bit rough. You can read mischief and happiness on her face as she tries to elbow out the girl from the blue team.

Most images of Muslims and especially Muslim girls that appear in media are in fairly stereotypical role and environment therefore it was a delight to see these picture which present Muslim girls in a very different light.

Photo Essay: Girls Madrasa, Hyderabad

Lakshmi Prabhala

Lakshmi Prabhala is a talented young photographer from the city of Hyderabad. She specialized in portraits and capturing the everyday life of the city. Over a dozen of her works have been published and she was recently featured in the Mumbai edition of Hindustan Times.

In this photo-essay she captures some frames at a Girls Madrasa in the city of Hyderabad.

[nggallery id=5]

Kashmir Protests In Pictures

Kashmiri leaders Yasin Malik, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Shabir Shah addressing Kashmiri protestors in Srinagar on Aug 18, 2008.
Kashmiri leaders Yasin Malik, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Shabir Shah addressing Kashmiri protestors in Srinagar on Aug 18, 2008.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani addressing thousands of protestors in Srinagar on 18th August 2008.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani addressing thousands of protestors in Srinagar on 18th August 2008.
Kashmiris participating in a mass rally to protest recent events in the state.
Kashmiris participating in a mass rally to protest recent events in the state.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, leader of APHC arrives in the mass rally in Srinagar.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, leader of APHC arrives in the mass rally in Srinagar.
Kashmiri Muslims on bikes shout pro-freedom slogans during a march in Srinagar Aug 18, 2008.
Kashmiri Muslims on bikes shout pro-freedom slogans during a march in Srinagar.
Kashmiri youths shout pro-freedom slogans during a march in Srinagar Aug 18, 2008.
Kashmiri youths shout pro-freedom slogans during a march in Srinagar Aug 18, 2008.

All pictures by Abid Bhat. Check out his Flickr gallery for more Kashmir photos.

Ganesha On Indonesian Currency

Ganesha Indonesian Currency

Earlier, during my unsatisfactory interview with the chief minister, Narendra Modi had said: “In Indonesia, which is a Muslim country, they have a picture of Ganesh on one of their currency notes. Why can’t India’s Muslims be more like that?” At the time I did not answer. But it struck me later that Hindus are a minority in Indonesia, just as Muslims are in India. If you were to follow Modi’s line of thinking, the accurate parallel would be for India to put an Islamic symbol on one of its notes. [Edward Luce, In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India, page 256]

Image Source: BankNotes.com

Indian Refreshment Room!

I am attaching an archival photo of the Allahabad railway station platform dating back to the British period (roughly 1920s) that I found on an archive on Minnesota university library (Ames) website.

Its a photo of a newly opened “Indian Refreshment Room” at the station – the most striking thing to notice is the separate rooms or doors for Hindus and Muslims! Some doors which say Mohammadans or Ahle-Islam (in Urdu), while others say “Hindu yatrion ke liye” (in Hindi). There’s one door for “General” too, I guess for others. There maybe something for British officers which is not seen here. (Click below to view the photograph) Continue reading Indian Refreshment Room!