Slavery not mentioned in Texas textbooks

Texas Textbooks Caught Glossing Over The Horrors Of Slavery

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Shahab Ahmed, d. 2015

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Nabil Al-Tikriti Discusses Recent Iraqi Developments, Military-NGO Relations

Nabil Al-Tikriti Discusses Recent Iraqi Developments, Military-NGO Relations

Associate Professor of History and American Studies Nabil Al-Tikriti appeared on Los Angeles based KPFK’s “Radio Uprising” program on Wednesday, April 15, to discuss the latest developments in Iraq and the region. Al-Tikriti has now appeared on this program, hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar, at least three times in the past two years.

The segment lasted just over five minutes, and can be screened via this podcast link. In the course of this discussion, Al-Tikriti compared the current Iraqi Prime Minister to the previous officeholder, and commented on the state of the Iraqi military, as well as American media coverage of Iraq in general.

On Monday, April, 20, in his capacity as a member of the Board of Directors for MSF / Doctors Without Borders USA, Al-Tikriti represented MSF on a joint panel addressing military-humanitarian cooperation. The panel was part of the Marine Corps University’s “Nine Innings” exercise on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief at Quantico, Virginia. In the course of this panel, Al-Tikriti joined representatives from ICRC, IMC, OCHA and Islamic Relief to provide institutional perspectives on these and related concerns.

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Nabil Al-Tikriti Presents Paper on Ottoman Scholar Kâtip Çelebi

Nabil Al-Tikriti Presents Paper on Ottoman Scholar Kâtip Çelebi

Nabil Al-Tikriti, associate professor of history and American studies,  delivered a paper, “An Ottoman View of World History: Kâtip Çelebi’s Takvîmü’t-Tevârîh,” to the 1st International Kâtip Çelebi Research Symposium on  Friday, March 28. This symposium was organized by Izmir Kâtip Çelebi University (established 2010) in Izmir, Turkey. This was an invited presentation.

Nabil Al-Tikriti Explains Takvîmü't-Tevârîh TextIn this paper,  Al-Tikriti provided historical context and analysis of Kâtip Çelebi’s Takvîmü’t-Tevârîh, a chronology, summary, and attempted reconciliation of ancient and Islamic history completed in 1649 C.E. Kâtip Çelebi (d. 1657), the namesake for this recently established Turkish state university off the Aegean coast, was a prominent 17th century Ottoman scholar who is widely considered the foremost representative of “secular” scholarship in his era. In addition to this work, Kâtip Çelebi is renowned for completing the most detailed encyclopedic catalogue of Islamicate manuscripts prior to the 20th century, the most advanced Ottoman world geography text of its time, and roughly 20 other historical, geographical, and political texts.

The work Al-Tikriti presented, Takvîmü’t-Tevârîh, was a very popular text, with at least five translations (Latin, Italian, French, Arabic, Persian), 45 known manuscript copies, and three continuations. In 1733 the first Ottoman publisher, the Müteferrika press, published over 250 copies of this text for sale throughout the empire. 

With this text, Kâtip Çelebi appears to have set out to reconcile all known calendars of the ancient world, offering a chart of five prominent calendar systems and comparing their respective dating systems. He also chronicled what he considered the most important events of the pre-Islamic world, and provided an annual calendar of events in the post-Islamic world up to his own day. After providing charts of Ottoman sultans, grand viziers, judges, prominent elites, and other figures, Kâtip Çelebi closed with his own theory of history and dynastic continuity, which bears some resemblance to the theories of the prominent pre-modern historian and sociologist, Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406).

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Nabil Al-Tikriti Facilitates Debate on Forced Migration

Nabil Al-Tikriti Facilitates Debate on Forced Migration

Nabil Al-Tikriti, associate professor of history and American studies, participated in the annual Field Associative Debate (FAD) for MSF staff serving in Athens, Greece, on March 7. Al-Tikriti is board member of the United States section of  MSF/Doctors Without Borders.

Children in Evros Detention Center Near Greek-Turkish, With Numbered ArmsThe Athens team debated on issues connected to forced migration in the Mediterranean and Balkans regions — their primary programmatic focus. In the course of these debates, participants addressed questions concerning the importance of “people on the move” consisting of refugees, economic migrants, or mixed groups; the propriety of MSF providing general humanitarian relief as opposed to narrow medical assistance; the possibility of MSF providing relief in detention centers without becoming instrumentalized as part of state policy; and other issues connected to providing medical humanitarian relief to vulnerable populations on the move in the Mediterranean and Balkan regions.

Prior to this year’s FAD, Al-Tikriti went on a brief field visit to an MSF urban referral clinic in Athens, and upon his return helped the team start a FAD report, and completed a brief memo on regional operations for internal review.

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Indian Manuscript Microfilm Collection

Noor Microfilm Collection

This is a very promising manuscript collection for Moghul history manuscripts…

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Nihal Awad Disagrees with Atlantic Article

Nihad Awad Disagrees with Atlantic Article

n September, Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), held a press conference in Washington and, flanked by other Muslim figures, announced that 120 Muslim scholars had produced an 18-page open letter, written in Arabic, to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

An English translation of the document is a tough slog. As Awad said at the time, “This letter is not meant for a liberal audience.” He even admitted that mainstream Muslims might find it difficult to read.

The letter is an extended exegesis, heavily salted with quotes from the Koran and the Hadith, arguing point by point about the nature of jihad, the slaughtering of innocents, the taking of slaves, and other not-so-savory elements of the distant past — and in the past they should remain, the text argues. It makes the case not only that ISIS was wrong to commit horrific acts of violence in modern times, but that it was interpreting Islamic law incorrectly to justify such acts….

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What ISIS Really Wants

This Atlantic article has prompted quite a bit of discussion this week, for good reason.  It’s long, but definitely worth a read:

What ISIS Really Wants

What is the Islamic State?

Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors….

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Ozgecan Turkey Rape / Murder Victim

Murder/Rape Victim Funeral in Turkey


On Feb 11th, Ozgecan Aslan, a 20-year-old university student, caught a bus from Adana to Mersin as was her routine from school to home. As the last passenger gets off the bus, she’s left alone with the driver, his father and his friend. Two days later, three suspects were captured and Özgecan’s body was found. Initial autopsy report shows young woman was stabbed to death after she was raped, and then her body was burnt.

Women all over Turkey are organizing protests today, claiming this is not “just another criminal incident”, but a result of a systematic misogynist state policy. Recent declarations by government officials against women’s employment, abortion, and similar statements to restrict women’s rights including even “when to go out and what to wear” have been responded to with public outrage. Also, perpetrators of rape and murder of women get the minimum sentence due to “incitement” or “consent” by the victim or “no psychological damage observed” on the victim. The extent of femicide in Turkey has once again been revealed by the murder of Ozgecan Aslan, while according to official figures murders of women have increased 1,400% during the period of AKP rule.

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Moghul Ruler Aurangzab Falls in Love

Aurangzeb Falls in Love

How the heartless emperor Aurangzeb fell in love at first sight
The Mughal ruler is usually portrayed as a calculating, warring ruler. But that is just part of the story.

Yesterday · 08:03 am

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
This story is not an average Valentine’s Day tale. It is about a love affair of a different kind, of a prince known today only as strong-willed, calculating and devoid of a loving bone in his body. It is about Aurangzeb falling in love at first sight.

In 1636, Aurangzeb was a prince and the Governor of Deccan. En route to Aurangabad, he stopped at Burhanpur to pay his respects to his maternal aunt, who was married to Saif Khan, the Governor of Burhanpur. What followed varies in detail in different tellings. But all of them agree that the austere prince fell in love at first sight with one of the women in his uncle’s harem. Her name was Hirabai.

Ma’asir al-Umara, written by Nawab Shams ud Daula Shah Nawaz Khan and his son Abdul Hai Khan, in the 18th century provides a detailed description of the episode:

“One day the prince went with the ladies of his harem to the garden of Zainabad Burhanpur, named Ahu-khanah [Deer Park], and began to stroll with his chosen beloved ones. Zainabadi, whose musical skill ravished the senses, and who was unique in blandishments, having come in the train of Khan-i-Zaman’s wife (the prince’s maternal aunt), on seeing a fruit-laden mango tree, in mirth and amorous play advanced, leaped up and plucked a fruit, without paying due respect to the prince’s presence. This move of hers robbed the prince of his senses and self-control.”

Despite his extremely religious bent, Aurangzeb was a connoisseur of music and a proficient Veena player. Hirabai’s looks, combined with her musical accomplishments, proved irresistible for the prince. He is said to have been so infatuated with her that he gave in to her demand that he taste wine. But before he could, Hirabai revealed that she was just testing his love for her.

A religious prince ready to taste wine, that shows the extent of his feelings for her.

Akbar, in his bid to regulate the harem, had ordered that all concubines should be named after the place they belonged to. So once Hirabai entered Aurangzeb’s harem she was called Zainabadi.

Grieving in solitude

In Ahkam e Aurangzeb, written in 1640, Aurangzeb’s biographer Hamiduddin Khan Nimchah recounts the Burhanpur encounter differently. According to him, the meeting took place when the prince entered the harem unannounced. He fell into a swoon and, on being asked by his aunt, described the reason for the malady and asked for a remedy. He was given Hirabai in exchange for one of his concubines.

The ensuing passion and infatuation is described the same way in Nimchah’s account.

It is said in Ma’asir al-Umara that Aurangzeb’s love affair proceeded to such lengths as to reach Shah Jahan’s ears. Dara Shikoh, who had no love lost for his brother Aurangzeb, is said to have remarked to their father Shah Jahan, “See the piety and abstinence of this hypocritical knave! He has gone to the dogs for the sake of a wench of his aunt’s household.”

But as destiny would have it, Hirabai did not live for long. Her death affected the prince greatly. She is buried in Aurangabad.

Ma’asir al-Umara records that Aurangzeb was so upset by the death of his beloved that he left the palace to go on a hunt. When reproved by the poet Mir Askari (Aqil Khan) for risking his life in that agitated state, the prince replied:

“‘Lamentation in the house cannot relieve the heart,

In solitude alone you can cry to your heart’s content.”

Aqil Khan then recited this couplet of his own composition:

“How easy did love appear, but alas how hard it is!

How hard was separation, but what repose it gave to the beloved!”

The prince could not check his tears. He committed the verses to memory after vainly trying to learn the modest poet’s name.

Incomplete portraiture

Niccolao Manucci, the Italian traveller and writer (1639–1717), too describes this period in Aurangzeb’s life:

“Aurangzib grew very fond of one of the dancing-women in his harem, and through the great love he bore to her he neglected for some time his prayers and his austerities, filling up his days with music and dances; and going even farther, he enlivened himself with wine, which he drank at the instance of the said dancing-girl. The dancer died, and Aurangzib made a vow never to drink wine again nor to listen to music. In after-days he was accustomed to say that God had been very gracious to him by putting an end to that dancing-girl’s life, by reason of whom he had committed so many iniquities, and had run the risk of never reigning through being occupied in vicious practices.”

On this Valentine’s Day, remember that Aurangzeb’s portraits may depict an austere man reading the Quran, but there once lurked in him a passionate young man who had considered the “world well lost” for the love of his life.

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