On the world stage, men and women leaders are merely players. They have their exits and entrances

by Rashmee

Posted on November 11, 2020


Many are offering a grim roundup of the disappointment being felt by some leaders and governments because Donald Trump won’t have a second term in the White House. (Click here and here for some examples of the type of commentary I’m talking about.) To which the right response is three-pronged and as follows: First, let’s … Continue reading “On the world stage, men and women leaders are merely players. They have their exits and entrances”

Read More

Like Trump, the 7th century Byzantine Empire invoked God

by Rashmee

Posted on October 9, 2020


Somewhat like Donald Trump, who was recently moved to discern the hand of God in Covid-19 therapeutic treatments, the seventh century Byzantine Empire constantly invoked God. Harried by the Arabs from across their shared border, the Byzantines were intensely conscious of the force of divine intercession. This started before the Arab invasions. In the first … Continue reading “Like Trump, the 7th century Byzantine Empire invoked God”

Read More

Donald Trump is doing God. Today’s America is quite like 7th century Byzantium

by Rashmee

Posted on October 8, 2020


On October 7, President Donald Trump said his coronavirus infection was a “blessing from God”, presumably because it enableth him to bring the world news of an unproven antibody cocktail being developed by the drug maker Regeneron. Mr Trump has already released his videotaped musings on Covid-19 therapeutic treatments, describing them as akin to “miracles … Continue reading “Donald Trump is doing God. Today’s America is quite like 7th century Byzantium”

Read More

What was the logic of the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement?

by Rashmee

Posted on September 13, 2020


Why did the second Abbasid Caliph Al Mansur (r.754-775) initiate the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement? He was no scholar but there was a very particular reason to lay claim to the fruits of Hellenic thinking. Al Mansur had an interest in astrology and may have been keen to form a dynastic ideology. This was to be … Continue reading “What was the logic of the Greek-to-Arabic translation movement?”

Read More

The Greek-to-Arabic translation movement: no expense spared

by Rashmee

Posted on September 12, 2020


The 200-year-old Greek-to-Arabic translation movement begun by the Abbasid Caliph Al Mansur (r.754-775) has no equivalent in world history. Never before and never since has one culture tried to import the knowledge of another in so sustained a manner as the Arabs did with Hellenic thought. It was an expensive business too, creating its own … Continue reading “The Greek-to-Arabic translation movement: no expense spared”

Read More

Culture wars and cultural gaps: the Hellenic equation

by Rashmee

Posted on September 11, 2020


The culture wars between the Muslims and the Byzantines had decided effects. Often, they left the Byzantines feeling small and with the sense that they were late-starters. Consider this interesting story recounted by British archaeologist and academic of Late Antiquity Judith Herrin. The Byzantines were trying to brush up on their knowledge of math and … Continue reading “Culture wars and cultural gaps: the Hellenic equation”

Read More

Don’t despair over the culture wars. They’re benign compared to 8th and 9th centuries

by Rashmee

Posted on September 10, 2020


Not too long ago, British sociologist Frank Furedi wrote a piece on the culture wars in the US and UK. He asserted that the culture war was historically “set in motion in Western societies by a powerful impulse to detach the present from the past, which emerged at the turn of the 20th century”. He … Continue reading “Don’t despair over the culture wars. They’re benign compared to 8th and 9th centuries”

Read More

Why Muslim opinion started to tend towards aniconism

by Rashmee

Posted on September 7, 2020


The tendency towards aniconism and the erasure of the secular-religious distinction is a bit of a conundrum. Some scholars posit that it was part of a trend from before the rise of Islam. Indeed, even in the 6th century, before the coming of Islam, there was already starting to be a drift away from representational … Continue reading “Why Muslim opinion started to tend towards aniconism”

Read More

Muslim opinion gradually hardened towards aniconism

by Rashmee

Posted on September 6, 2020


There are many examples of the gradual hardening of Muslim opinion towards aniconism. Aniconism, not iconoclasm. It’s important to note the distinction. Aniconism refers to cults where there is no iconic representation of the deity [anthropomorphic or theriomorphic, which is to say in animal form] to serve as the dominant or central cultic symbol. As … Continue reading “Muslim opinion gradually hardened towards aniconism”

Read More

Early Muslims’ attitude to art in the sacred space

by Rashmee

Posted on September 5, 2020


What’s clear is that early Muslims maintained a separation between art considered appropriate for sacred and secular spaces. In the religious space, the Abbasids, the second Muslim dynasty, followed their predecessor Umayyads. Both employed great restraint in terms of decoration. So the Dome of the Rock, built by the Umayyads, followed Christian techniques of construction … Continue reading “Early Muslims’ attitude to art in the sacred space”

Read More

Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK