ali.ahmad

Ahmad Ali

A medical student and freelance writer who tweets @AhmadAliKhalid

Batman’s Greek tragedy

Christopher Nolan has directed films that have come to define Hollywood’s cinematic culture – the cool, chic and cerebral thriller, Inception, was brilliant. But his brooding and dark Batman series, which draws to an end with The Dark Knight Rises, are all films that pose big questions (though if you ask Batman purists who’ve read the comics, Nolan was really just translating the mood on the big screen).  Inception was all about the metaphysical; philosophy posing questions about ‘’dream-worlds’’ and our consciousness whilst Batman to many pundits is really a commentary on the American culture. That’s ...

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Are we in spiritual crisis?

In a world where there is so much profanity, we are losing our sense of spirituality. Even in our art and poetry, the animating themes of spiritual experience are undergoing a sort of transcendent ecstasy and are giving way to the darker expressions of the human psyche. Introspective poetry tends to border on the nihilistic and pessimistic; reflections on a broken world that seems beyond deliverance. Probing the side of human nature that is all too often splashed across our television screens – tragedy has become a form of art in the modern world. This exploration is critical, but we ...

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There is a Muslim in evolution class

Protest is becoming a fanatical obsession within Islamic discourse. In recent news, British Muslim students have been walking out and boycotting biology lectures that focus on the theory of evolution. Before we revert to citing the phenomenon of religious fundamentalism let us remind ourselves these are students that are clearly intelligent enough to study medicine in one of the most competitive universities within the country. Clearly, we must move beyond stereotypical divisions of ‘faith vs. reason’. This is a complex issue because the issue here is clearly not about intelligence, scientific curiosity, hard work or open enquiry. These British Muslim students have enrolled ...

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Karachi and the failure of Pakistan’s multi-culturalism

The martial tradition of the Pakistani Army failed and the ‘’Islamization’’ drive of Zia which was the martial tradition merging with clerical power also failed . What did these processes fail at? They failed at creating some coherent narrative of Pakistani citizenship that was pluralistic and open enough to absorb the different ethnic, linguistic and indeed tribal affiliations of the Pakistani citizenry. State sponsored Islam (which in itself is quite unprecedented within the body of Islamic history and literature) has not created any form of universal Pakistani citizenship. The Karachi conflict is the result of decades long alienation, mistrust and hatred towards different ...

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Will the real America please stand up?

Here’s an amusing little nugget: “Now a final note: The left blogosphere seems to have wigged out over the suggestion that George W Bush and the successful emergence of a secular, democratic Iraq has anything to do with all this. For starters, it is amusing to see that those voices, fresh from the smear on conservatives regarding the Arizona shooting, are now all about “causation.” But more seriously, had democracy failed in Iraq, had the country descended into chaos, and had Iraqis labouring for a secular, democratic Muslim country been killed and exiled, do we imagine this would have been ...

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What we can learn from Tunisia

Events in Tunisia have confirmed a simple but brutal fact about political power: no matter what ideology you hold, if you cannot feed your people, keep prices low, provide jobs and provide reason to be hopeful about future economic growth you will lose power and be kicked out by the power of popular protest. Ben Ali was a secularist but he was a brutal autocrat and quashed civil liberties and human rights with a vengeance. The Tunisian story has some grave lessons for the Arab world but also for the wider Islamic world. Of course, Tunisia and Pakistan are two ...

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It doesn’t matter if you’re ‘left’ or ‘right’

I have always wondered whether the characterisation of ‘’secular’’ versus ‘’religious’’ (with ‘’secular’’ equated with liberalism and ‘’religious’’ synonymous with at best, a quaint traditionalism and at worst, a form of barbarity) is an accurate framework for civic discussion. In his work titled Public Philosophy – Essays on Morality in Politics, Michael Sandel, the Harvard political philosopher, argues that all citizens should come to the public sphere and be allowed to use religious/moral and metaphysical arguments in public discussion as it has done much to tear down these simplistic dichotomies. The civil rights movement in the US was primarily a ...

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Fight corruption with civic education

It can be said that one of the great pillars of the liberal democratic project is civic education. This project requires the cultivation of certain virtues in the hearts and minds of citizens, in order to foster a democratic culture. These virtues include respect, tolerance and generally revolve around the concept of citizenship. Without these civic and moral resources, the democratic state cannot survive. Indeed, one of the failings of Pakistani democracy is the absence of a universal, coherent and robust concept of citizenship. What does it mean to be Pakistani? Pakistan is a country with a huge youth population, experiencing a ...

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The significance of the Karbala story

The Islamic New Year has arrived, but instead of the celebration that we see in other religious traditions, there is mourning and reflection because of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (RA). There is an exhaustive amount of literature on the history of this tragic event in the canons of Islamic thought across all the schools of thought, but it is not the historicity of the event itself which is of concern but the existential significance of it. Religious literalism can be best described as grasping for excruciating detail of the event, usually steeped in antiquity, whilst forgetting to draw from these ...

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WikiLeaks: Democracy undressed

WikiLeaks has now been added to our burgeoning dictionary of new labels of social media but undoubtedly, it is one of the most controversial. The proliferation of different types of social media from Facebook to YouTube is raising deep questions about public discussion, and the workings of democracy itself. It is not so much the content that is released by WikiLeaks that is of concern or indeed of any great surprise, since they merely confirmed what many suspected. Democracy looks like a sham The great concern is how foreign policy is being conducted behind closed doors, in secret corridors of power where only an elite ...

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