Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Words for the Wise: Poetry and politics in Medieval Islamic Iran



Tuesday 28th May 2019, 1-2pm
Words for the Wise: Poetry and politics in Medieval Islamic Iran
Glucksman Museum - University College Cork

The Timurid prince Baysunghur (1397-1433) is celebrated as an enlightened bibliophile and art patron, a reputation memorialised in Islamic art historiography. Moya Carey, Curator of Islamic Collections at the Chester Beatty Library, will examine these various texts as works of princely instruction, guiding Baysunghur in the values of political intelligence and good government.

Keikavus, the Ziyarid ruler of parts of Tabaristan wrote the Qabus Nameh and dedicated it to his son Gilanshah (1080). Lloyd Ridgeon, Reader in Islamic Studies at Glasgow University, will examine its political and worldly wisdom and how alternative models of behaviour were employed along traditional understandings of Islam to make wider the parameters of acceptable conduct in society.

Monday, 8 April 2019

LGBTQ issues and rights in Birmingham and Brunei


BBC Radio Scotland
Thought for the Day
Monday 8th April 2019
Dr. Amanullah De Sondy
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam
University College Cork, Ireland

Muslims are dealing more publicly with issues of sexuality like never before. There have been public protests outside a Birmingham school over the No Outsiders programme being taught, which teaches about diversity and equality, including discussions about same sex relationships.

And calls are being made to remove Brunei from the commonwealth after it implemented a stricter view of Islamic law on the LGBT community.  It would be easy to then say that Muslims, or even Islam, is backward and unaccepting.  Yet in amongst this furore we have heard from many brave LGBT Muslims here in the UK and also from Brunei highlighting a different voice of Islam.

It would be so much simpler to give a single view of a religion. Neatly boxed away.  There’s probably comfort in boxes. I often get bored of the Scottish stereotypes presented to me after I tell folks I’m from Glasgow. If only life was just kilts and haggis. On the other hand, when I tell folks my parents are from Pakistan, the response is not as jovial. Isn’t it interesting how we add values and judgments on entire countries and its people?  These single stories might have been possible in the past but in times of twitter and instagram, it’s just not possible. 

This is challenging to many who want to hold strongly to their ideal or traditional view. There is no easy answer to sexuality in terms of historical religious traditions.  In my view, they were written at a time where ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was not only the Islamic view on gender and sexuality but the lived reality.  

Times have changed. People are now showing their vibrant colours and each is claiming their authority on traditional views. From proud gay Muslims to non-kilt wearing Scots.  We live at a time where social media gives us the ability to tell our story, differently.  If we allow our fears to be broken down, there is hope in the humility to believe and possibly accept that our life, or one view, isn’t the center of the world.  


Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Monday, 18 February 2019

In loving memory of my Dad, Inayat Ullah. Passed away February 18th 2010, a few months after my PhD graduation, June 25th 2009 at the University of Glasgow, with my beautiful Mum, Nasim Akhtar. Always in our thoughts, rest in peace. Painted by Gearóid Hally of Clonmel. Marcus Framing, Cork.‬

Tuesday, 5 February 2019


BBC Radio Scotland – Thought for the Day
Monday 4th February 2019
Dr. Amanullah De Sondy
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam
University College Cork, Ireland

The Pope began an historic visit to the United Arab Emirates yesterday where he will take part in an interfaith conference and lead mass to over 120,000 of the faithful. The visit comes against the backdrop of ongoing war in Yemen which the UAE supports Saudi Arabia with.  A new foundation will also be laid for a Mosque and Church to signify “peace, fraternity and mutual respect on behalf of their billions of followers around the world”.

The Pope’s visit left me thinking about how simple yet complex peace is.  It’s an ideal and an objective that needs to be stated over and over again. 

I started teaching a new course on One God this semester.  The other day, I tried to highlight the similarities and differences between Jewish, Christian and Muslim scripture.  We quickly saw a pattern – the rhythm between the human condition of forgetting and making mistakes which leads to chaos and then some kind of a reminder which leads back to peace.  It is not only sacred scripture which bear these realities of life but many of our every day tales and traditions do too.  Good overcomes evil – a running theme even in Harry Potter.  “So why aren’t we getting this right?”, asked one of my students. 

Peace, for me, is this constant tension because we are all so different and we all understand peace differently.

Leaders of faith carrying out grand interfaith activities are important reminders at various levels.  That our communities are diverse, spread across the world and that in our current world of uncertainty we must keep talking and acting. 

Just as I’m sure the Pope will need to carefully find words of peace amongst war, we at our own local level must listen to opinions and questions, which challenge and support ideas of peace, in the hope that they lead to us coming that little bit closer to one another.