Nintendo potential, tenacious d, hajj and Bangladeshi politics!

few warblings today. mostly useless.

i wish somebody somewhere would exploit the nintendo ds and wii capabilities to teach the handwriting and calligraphy of unusual scripts (arabic, chinese, japanese, bengali...) and create 3d art. come on folks, someone out there must have headspace, im sure its not too geeky.

the wii controlers use these funky accelorometers and some crazy IR jive to translate live 3d movement into 3d control

Do not watch borat, i almost laughed my way to hell. its a dehumanising experience.
However, 'Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny' is a fine pice of entertainment.
BattleStar Gallactica is a fine series, though its sad how decent galactic-political sci-fi has cranked up the randiness in recent years.

Lots of would be hajis got messed around this year. visa and flight procurement. it is a real 'sabr' (patience) workout for those involved. Anyway, im not a haji, so am i free to go nuts and distribute an adequate supply of slaps to the fools who buggered up? I'm wondering how blameworthy and sincere a 'im not going on hajj until the saudi occupiers sod off' attitude would be. I mean, its the fifth pillar, a major conference, the performance of ancient and soulfully powerful acts of ritual worship in the sacred geography and history of islam, its the real deal.

The Awami League party in bangladesh has got itself in a pickle by signing an MoU with an Islamic party Bangladesh Khelafatul Majlish (BKM). BKM is actually a sub splinter of the Khelafatul Majlis party which is still in the BNP led coalition. Abdul jalil, the gensec of the Awami league, famous for repeatedly threatening to 'pull down the government in 30 days' and wearing a rather dangerous looking moustache, met with the hadith scholar Allama Azizul Huq and soon after was being hung drawn and quartered by his other political pals.

The content is quite blindingly obvious (dont legistate against quran, sunnah and shariat, dignifying madrassa teachers and students, insulting the prophets of god isnt a good idea, Muhammad (pbuh) was the last messenger etc.) but the predictable hoohaa was stirred amongst the usual suspects amongst the ultras (self confessed civil society, 'progressive', right thinking individuals, human rightists and my favourite... 'intellectuals).

Society is too polarised. effing democracy accentuates and creates these fissures.

I think this occurance is interesting because in recent decades bangladesh's people and institutions have been steadily deislamised. It is so bad in places that it is impossible to have informed knowledge seeking public debate about concepts and institutions like... shariah, madrassa, fatwa and alim with many bangladeshis, especially the ones with anti islamic ideals plinging around their skulls. They can get quite agro, hateful and presumptive. Its like an angry wasps nest, fueled by DFID, USAID, the UN and all elements of the 'development industry'.

I remember challenging a dhaka uni prof who was spouting some inteligent sounding crap about madrassas to 'flipin come with me and empirically study the people and the institutions with a supportive mindset, you do the girly ones ill do the boys'. She was not interested in anything more than being demonisingly unhelpful.

Maybe this is a sign of the pendulum swinging the other way? Away from the secular end and towards the spiritual end. Maybe its just election weirdoness. The Awami League are always changing their minds about things. Its a high stakes game, however loses the election next month will find themselves under physical attack, vulnerable leaders and students will die.

Democratic tradition.

Many would say that the Awami-khelafat relationship is a temporary marriage. like muta! I see it as more of a sign of where the culture is heading sourcing its moral, ethical framework. Thats probably what id like to see!

So lets also get real. The electoral tactition from the awami view wants to assure the public that a vote for them is not against islamic principles, so it needs to cover its arse. I wonder if it will work. so much of the election result will depend on local personality cults, thug networks and whatnot, i doubt that fundamental paradigmatic differences mean a thing.

'vote for this guy, he is your uncles son inlaws buffallo keepers second owners grandfather, he protected our arses the other day, from the raging buggalo theives'

Personally I find bangladeshis of my generation(in desh and abroad) more and more interested in mentally and spiritually engaging with their islamic identity. The book stores are better stocked, the cultural invasion is being modulated, the institutions are becoming more rubust and accustomed to religious practice. Cultural J is a slow and a fast process, but i feel its well underway. Elections cant really stop it. no matter how worker up we get by the temporary change in the fleecers political outlook.

a few posts ago i mentioned 'Probe News' an english weekly from dhaka. Well i found the link. www.probenewsmagazine.com

its really fab. kooky fresh, thoughtful and a pleasant suprise.


Political Situation in Bangladesh 101

Something a little regional but timely. You may have heard that things are going a little more ape than usual in Bangladesh, please remember the whole society in your duas.

Some people feel that all the parties are the same in Bangladesh. I wrote this for those people but hope you like it, and will be better informed about the contemporary politics in the lands of my ancestors, International relations, Development and 'civil society.

I think the best way of knowing what somebody is like it to look at what they do and find out how they deal with problems. Studying natural disasters is one of these ways. Extrapolating stuff onto a ridiculous scenario is another. Its a bit like the 'you have two cows' email.

Imagine a huge swarm of carnivorous locusts the size of Jackfruit (see image ) land in a packed Dhaka Stadium and start making a meal of Mohammeddan and Abohani(two famous sporting clubs) as well as the spectators.

What do our various social forces think and do?

BNP: Blame RAW(Indian intelligence). Faff around until figuring that it is in their interests to actually do something. Deploy the military (minus any important people), sit on the political 'credit' for decades. If that doesn't work, because the army is busy making startup capital in Africa as UN peace keeper, induce some Afghan jihad veterans to have a go.

Jatiya Party: Something very crafty indeed, I'm too young to know anything other than FAP (Flood Action Plan - big money investment after nasty floods of 87/88) and cant extrapolate. Suggestions are welcome.

Awami League: Invoke the spirit of liberation, electronically hack into the commentators box and lead the spectators in an earthshaking rendition of Amar Sonar Bangla (national anthem), from Singapore of course. kinda like on the Titanic.

Communist Party of Bangladesh: Declare Mohamedan Sporting a class enemy and the others some kind of collateral damage. Make any other initiative difficult.

Centre for Policy Dialogue (rubbish thinktank): Write an agreeable sounding technocratic proposal to the queen of the locusts praising her population control methodology but urging a little more of a participatory approach. Because Bangladesh is the next Switzerland ( a claim one of their founders made around the time of the creation of the country).

Susheel Samaj(NGOs and civil society): Run away from dhaka, in planes and neat cars.

Tablighi Jamaat: Try to improve the character of the players and the spectators while their own limbs are being fiendishly nibbled at.

50% of ricksha walahs, CNGs and cabbies: Make a killing on getting people out of there.

JamaateIslami: Think "Lets turn dhaka stadium into an Islamic State!(don't ask what that means, its what we do!)" Deploy a weary but willing shibir (student wing) to kick some arse.

US: Send a multidisciplinary team of hot scientists to study and learn from the behavior gnawing insects. Create a climate of panic with an exaggerated sob-story account of one of their citizens that got eaten to further manipulate International institutions and geopolitics in their unipolar favour.

UK: Urge UK citizens not to travel to Bangladesh and mumble something to whatever victors of the conflict to act with restraint, protect democratic institutions and uphold the rule of law. Threaten to stop funding shushil samaj.

China: Probably contribute something very useful like, 'We faced this problem 100000 years ago, try this out'. We try to apply it, but can't read the instructions.

Japan: Send in JICA(their foreign technical assistance outfit), who conclude that we aren't disciplined enough to make any of their plans work.

India : "I guess you wont be needing this water then."

Greenpeace: This is further evidence of the biological mutations enabled by climate change. whoopee!

Christian Science Monitor (News agency): "Political scenario in Bangladesh might favour the Islamists." "Bangladesh's minorities fear persecution."

Half of Malaysia : Send us their peace corps.

The other Half: Wonder how they are going to get rid of these foreign workers.

My fellow Sylatians in the UK: Fund the expansion of Osmani Airport in Sylhet.


Remembering Prof Aftab Ahmad

It is sad when gifted people are taken away from us.

Professor Aftab Ahmad died in the morning of the 26th, he had been attacked and shot a few days in his University residence. He was one of those brave and forward thinking intellectuals, proud and knowledgeable of his religion, and not, as is too often the case in this country, afraid to think with it. He was the ex VC of the National University and a professor of Political Science at Dhaka Uni. He was an illustrious son of Noakhali. May Allah accept his good works and sacrifice, forgive him for his mistakes and raise him in the akhira. May Allah continue the works he was involved with and grant his servants in this region a little more clarity of thought, unity and efficacy.

Coining very catchy slogans like "Joi bangla" and "Amader Thikhana, Padma, Meghna, Jamuna", he was an active physical and intellectual freedom fighter in '71, sustaining a gunshot wound for his efforts. After the war was over, he opposed more and more of what he saw going on, starting a newspaper going to jail, yknow ... the usual! In 1983, he wrote a doctorate thesis at the University of London on 'The Mujib Era', when i get home i dearly want to check it out. People of most political leanings will have heard of him or worked with or against him at some stage in Bangladesh, as he was into the lefty thing as a student leader, which was a rite of passage here.

For his time as VC of the National University, he was in the favour of the present government. The falling out, about which my knowledge is sketchy and secondary at the mo is important to investigate. Generally the group in power are stubborn, ignorant and understand only money, especially the 'younger section'.

So Who-dunnit? and Why? Between the complete ballsup concerning treatment at the military hospital, the profs spinefulness and orientation of thought theres enough to sustain a healthy speculation. Prof had no doubt made some enemies amongst the ultra nationalist block over the years with his ability to penetrate nationalist taboos, but its hard to identify who carried out this act of jahiliya, and on who's instruction. This is not an 'Islamist' alleged operation either, so i would not expect any hue and cry in the overseas press. What chance have the small people of this country got of being 'tolerant', when the high ups are so senile?

The last time i saw him in the flesh was before leaving dhaka for a bit last month, he said to fetch him something by ibn miskaweh (on political ethics) from a library. I fished it out but didnt have the chance to reach it to him in person, in fact i was going to see him before my recent trip to a ganj in the north, but his wife said he had gone out and i needed to catch my bus. Later i find out that he had received it. I did however catch him on the TV, on the very night he was shot on ATN Bangla (prerecorded slot on the election commission controversty). He was on good form.
The Muslim Ummah really needs to nurture its brains in the current era, this week however, Bangladesh shot itself in the head, again. There are plenty more bullets where that came from, but maybe not so many targets.

His janaza was held at Dhaka University Central Mosque, amid all sorts of posthumous respect (too little too late i reckon) from all the usual suspects (government kitchen cabinet, Dhaka Teachers, vc of dhaka uni ...).

Riding through the Uni campus later that day, I notices that the Liberation War statues were wearing black blindfolds. Later I inquire as to what this symbolises...This was apparently to symbolise the blindness of those in power.

The impression of Dhaka Uni teachers amongst the ordinary citizenry has been defined of late by the late Dr Humayun Azad (Bangla department). He recieved (nonfatal) , severe injury near his uni residence ~18months ago, in apparent retribution for his anti-islamic, pro-atheist stance (Danish cartoons are nothing on what used to allegedly come out of his mouth concerning the prophets). I cant be bothered to recount the chap's history. If you like, read his own contribution on his own terms in the universe of this very bitter nutjob bangladeshi 'freethinkers' forum and see for yourself.

I bring this up because, in a conversation with a random, i heard something along the lines of 'Bhalo hoise, tara shob nasthik' (a good thing happened, they are all atheists).

Bit of a bummer approach to things, but it gives us an idea of how different the values of this portion of the Mukti group are to the identity of local people. Its a bit like the Taliban i guess, winning an independence war against a formibable foe with outside help and then falsely imagining they could run a country and failing, bringing ruin upon the society.

Anyway, Prof Aftab's assassination sets a further precedent of assassins going into a teachers home and shooting them.

It s political showdown time in Bangladesh, anything is possible, chances are that he was removed as a precursor of what might come to be.

Anyway what a time to check out of here, Ramadhan.


jai Gaibandha (i'm off)

Armed with my maps (ooooh that was a time consuming aquisition) and a gps, I spent the past ~7 days in Gaibandha, 'ganj-tripping'. Covered the required ground, albeit on very slow forms of transport and in the wet. this area isnt so affected by the main branch of the jamuna, it tends to get the smaller threads(ulnike further south), which you'd expect would make it easier to control. NOT REALLY. next time im there it will get juicy as I get my self up the noses of the engineers and politicians.

I went to Juma in the field yesterday, a small tin shed of a mosq on an alluvial island, that had been moved several times over the past five years. These folks were not as isolated from the riverbank as most, because the government had built an embankment-cum-road connecting it to the mainland

The flood was mud with sack covering, and soft to kneel on, very kneelable indeed. There was a line from the khutbah that struck me particularly,as the gale outside squeesed through the holes in the corrugated tin. It went along the lines of 'Every day we are getting closer to Allah'.

Ive learnt heaps from all the schools, mosques and madrassas ive seen over the passed months (100+), about community, relocation, cultural reproduction and the general islamic flavourings of communities in desh. This might sound very unlike me, but...I can't wait to analyse this data and get onto the second stage.

Establishing madrassas(READ EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION) is a part of the natural philanthopic urge of Muslim societies. A family with a the resourecs and status willset up a mosque, plan for a madrassa (ebtedai (that is hybrid), or hafizia(learning the whole quran), plan for an etimkhana (orphanage). How far they get on this plan depends on how well they do monetarily their organisiational and intellectual ability.

Yes, i just used the 'i' word to give a sense of the partiallysighted leading the not-yet-even-partially-sighted.

The 'alarming growth' of madrassas that bingos harp on about, is probably more to do with the improvement of peoples wellfare to the point where they can organise their own institutions, with their own valued character. If they cant get further than a mosque, they make do with a maktab arrangement in the mornings after fajr to impart the basics of religion to their kids. Also, a lot of these institutions probably already existed but were not registered with government.

Ok, its not islamic renaissance, in the 16th Century AH ummahtic detonation wavefunction sense (the madrassa detractors im on about arent interested in that anyway), but there are quality mutlifunctional people with an islamic world view emerging from these places. Its in the alignment of the well resourced that the 'Envelope' will be extended, it would be foolish to expect otherwise.

Diversity in education is the way forward. and ongoing support, communication and synthesis between the flavours... Islamic, English and Bangla mediums.

Thursday was lost to a simultaneous storm and strike by the Awami league. Oooh well at least i did some writing and planning. Little inconveniences like rain, dumb power boards and crap roads affect locals far more boneshakingly. Many hundreds of families lost their only bread winner as tons of fishermens trawlers got caught in the depression in the bay of bengal. I dread to think how much potential advancement has been frustrated by the crapness of the road from Ullobazar to Shaggata. The crapness of the road can be attributed, apparently to the local MP. Her goons were not getting the contract so she directed 'development' elsewhere.

Now I'm back in Bogra, waiting for Ramadan totake a hold of me and polishing of 3 small, but probably institutionally rich areas before heading back to the capital. Have been watching too much TV(at least when ther was electricity at the hotel, i shall leave the story of the kanjos hotelier-engineer for another day, mosquitos are biting), some of it surreal.

'Almost Famous' is one of my favourite 70's rock road movies, it was on some random star movies channel the other night. hearing alvin and theodore the chipmunks and simlutaneously seeing arabic usbtitles was very very odd. what a sad life i..

oh, had a rather interesting journey home last night, several miles walk along the dark, rainy windy river side through bogged roads, with pretty much all my data on my person followed by dodjy rickshaw ride, followed by dodjy driver of a 4x4 microbus giving us a lift to earn some extra cash .

Thankyou Gaibandha for not bumraping me. Thankyou nokia for having very bright mobile phone sreens.

off now, Salaam, ... i wonder if this will publish.


Shababaraat, Newspaper and Collective Ijtihad

doh, I'm still in Dhaka. But to my credit I have a new keyboard now.


After Magrib today, Dhaka is gonna be getting namazi for Shababaraat.

Every year in the UK, theres a discussion on whether its an innovation in worship, or whether its ok. In Bangladesh too theres an emerging diversity of views. Some organisations take pride in ignoring it. However i think its one of those islamic cultural 'bells and whistles' that does more good than bad.

Im intrigued and looking forward to seeing what goes on. In case any hardcores wish for a justification on theological grounds Sunnipath have something for you. The concept is that is a weak hadith recommends a virtue, go for it.

If you would like to laugh at an arch secularist loony promotion of the event, read this Daily Star Editorial. Wait untill the end of it for Mahfuz Anam's 'medicine'. Awww bless

Mean while the Dhaka Ploice have banned fireworks.

Picked up an issue of the NewAge newspaper yesterday (during a marathon hour long search for a CNG scooter to go to Tejgaon), they were celebrating some knd of anniversity and had a special supplement of Education, Knowledge and politics. Sterling effort, if a little rabidly anti-Islamic organisation for one whole article. In 'The Green Serpent Rises' a journo gives a very superficial, ahistoric and incomplete portrayal of the history of Islami student activism. Political production of 'evidence', all negative, for the english readership.

All the cliches are drawn on, the spirit of the liberation war, 'inflitration of Islamists everywhere', vien cutting and what not.

All in all, im sure that the supplement raised a little discussion about knowledge culture in this country, and its political manufacture. Its expose on Dhaka University was unusually tempered with optimistic.

This week has been a little frustrating with regards to fieldwork, its been out of my hands, i cannot complete the institutional survey without 6 more mouza maps. i've taken to reaarranging stuff , reading more, visiting people, printing some maps and business cards. This week i think i'll go up north and do a bunch of surveys (without naqsha daag numbers) anyway.

can also do some data processing of the 6 mouzas that i have all ready.

Collective Ijtihad
Bumped into the concept of collective ijtihad a few days back.

I'm reading a new version of Prof Kamali's 'An introduction to Shariah' (2006, Ilmiah Publications, KL). He is much more contextual and has an eye on the present day situation than i have noticed before. However it doesnt read like its a political piece, promoting any particular organisation or self interested actor. Parts of it read more like something from the history/philosophy of science literature. His rendering of the history of ideas in fiqh, and the archaeology of the discipline is fascinating.

What this, and i think the whole maqasid movement is about, is the kickstarting of the Islamic knowledge framework, with an eye to demystifying Islamic disciplines and promoting interdisciplinary scholarship.

Collective ijtihad is not meant as a replacement of that of individual scholars, but highlighted in order that it be recognised for its validity. It makes people of other fields more useful. Prof Kamali quotes an idea that Allama Iqbal proposed, that the Muslim Legislative Assembly would be a zone of this collective ijtihad, this fills me will hope but makes me despair when i think of how far apart the knowledge and power actors are today from this sort of culture.

"Another problem we face at present is that despite the door os ijtihad having been declared wide open, we do not see any effective movement toward making ijtihad an engaging process of law and government. A great deal has been said about ijtihad for about a century, that is, ever since the days od al-Afghani and 'Abduh, but the repeated calls for revitalisation of ijtihad has brought about only mdest results. With regard to the qualification that the theory of ijtihad has demanded of the mujtahid it is said that these are heavy and exacting. But this is, in my opinion, just another taqlid-oriented assertion by those who wished to bring ijtihad to a close. The qualifications so stated were not excessive and were frequently fulfilled, as al-Shawkani has stated, by a long series of prominent scholars across the centuries even during the era of taqlid..." p156-7
the discussion continues interestingly until the end of the chapter :-)

In short i like it cos,
-lowers the unrealisable qualificational burden on the individual
-can draw together a fuller disciplinary blending
-very 'shura'.


Phulbari coalmine, the Good list, Starfruit and mental waste

I came back to Dhaka (to get some naqsha maps i hope) before the strike concerning the Phulbari Coal Mine. It turns out that news has reached the London Stock Exchange and World newspapers. Its a story about a country with a crap decisionmaking and powersharing structure, an opportunistic opposition party, libhely left academics, daft police action... and perhaps a little justice winning out in the end.

Asia Energy (london based, with many australian share holders) wanted to start an open pit coal mine in a northwest district, it was going to displace a lot of tribals and kill many trees. both sides dispute the number. Anyhow, the desh gobht has changed its mind, Asia energy has already inbhested 24 million in the area so id imagine there will be a legal mess arising from this.

Desh does not lack energy resource, just the scaledup techno know how to exploit it in its own interest. for instance on the island of bhola, and in many other parts of the country, people drill for water, and find the added benefit of natural gas. This has been domesticated by and large in Bhola my plumber types (not engineers) , quite safely it would seem. I need to check it out. it need to be mapped and the basic piping and techniques refined to maximise safety and benefit.

BAPEX, the national exploration and eextraction outfit has been steadily immasculated obher the years by bad political decision making and the awarding of tenders to obherseas firms. it is fitting that the experise of such a body should reflect this microscale gas enbhironment as well as the meso and large scales.

Geographic intermission

The Independent, the UK newspaper, published its good list today. It is a bhirtuous play on the Times 'Rich List' and is full of noble people, a lot of them thinkers and doers. I am sure theres a lot more to each of the personalities mentioned and plenty of political critique to be written, but this list does tell us about the more enlightened section of Brit society.

For example Robert Chambers, a debhelopmenty chap whos work at IDS in Sussex has popularise the bluddy obbhious idea of participatory debhelopment.

Another sciencey one is John Houghton, meteorologist extrordinare who has done a lot for pushing the Climate Change science mobhement. He has had some sucess in persuading religious people in the US that Climate change is a clear and present danger. I read his text book when i was younger, studieng atmospherics. Like all disciplines i feel now that it obher emphasised the role of the atmosphere, as a geographer im feeling that natural and social processes on the earths surface and subsurface need emphasis now. How can somebody predict doom and gloom for so much of bangladesh by taking an estimate for sea lebhen rise andcolouring in an elebhation map of the country. Theres so much more going on...

Plenty of religious types on display, Md Abdul Bari from the MCB (politically correct or what?!)Bishop of Oxford, Tariq Ramadan and the young founder of Muslim Youth Helpline.

Its a great list just to communicate the range of actihity going on out there for public consumption and inspiration.

Geographic intermission 2

On a slightly different note, I brought up my star fruit fascination at my uncles house yesterday. It turns out that they grow at my baumuniz bari in Narayanganj. Folks were talking dreamily of juicing the creatures and spicing them up before consumption and ebhen about the fruit's potential with fish (chuto mas). It turns out that its quite cheap and can be found at school children fodder at the right times and places in the city.

Are intellectuals in Muslim societies always subject to humiliation and slander and criminal educational wastage.

Im thinking specifically of the Bengali Muslim Islamic thinkers that were totally shafted by the new 'Bangladesh' system. Their precense is sorely missed and is sought after. Truth doesnt matter to cultural plunderers, the misunderstandability of the public is used to ruin reputations and thereby cut the general people off from sources of enlightenment. Complex historical currents, social undercurrents and spiritual ideals are collapsed onto a single point, declared 'collaboratibhe' and cast out. Meanwhile the unibhersities corrode, with students and later the whole country losing out.

Rebholution of the fools indeed.

Seems to me, well from what ibhe read, that Syed Ahmad khan (founder of aligahr) and Yusuf Ali (famous translator of quran) passed on to the next life in 'non-ideal' circumstances. Choudhury Rehmat Ali too was rejested by the country to coined the name of, and FAzlur Rahman was chased out of Pakistan by cabhemen.

I doubt that this is a Muslim only problem, but one generally of wisdom and politics. The political construction of knowledge and institutions is one of those major flaws and weaknesses in society today. Another, better world is definatly possible, its more than probably, just need to flippin solbhe this knowledge culture issue and bust up the ignocracy first.


from 27th august

this blog will be slightly more contribhed than usual, at least for this post, wrote this a few days back, blogger.com was causing grief.


this is me killing a little time waiting for the good records office to fish out some 'CS' maps.

This mornign i had a little goose chase around the town looking for spatially relevant offices. I feel for the surveyors here the work is very tough, and theres so much to cover and nothing can be printed untill all disputes are settled...

needless to say i wont have the latest 'RS' mouza maps at my disposal as i did in Sirajganj. strange that, this place is less organised, despite being a bigger town, safer from the river hazard and home to the late ziaur rahman and seat of his son at present.

I got here(bogra) early on saturday morning, landed in dhaka from kl in the wee hours of last tuesday.Abiding memories of kl will be chillin at iium, roaming with my kl battalion and talking with syed hussain alattas (Captive minds, Sociology of corruption, the myth of the lazy lative, problems facing intellectuals in developing societies...) till silly morning hours. He is quite opposed to the Islamisation of knowledge movement, thinking it misleading, uber political and a distraction from our actual problems.

I see what he means, and what more or les everyone else means but i kinda fell for the students and people on the campus. As well as the term 'ignocracy' to describe out present day states he has a new term, 'Jargonist' to describe intellectuals hiding their lamoness and dishonesty behind obscure terminology.

dhaka was a bit cooler on return. was brought back to reality when RAB stopped our cab as we got into dhanmondhi. they were in plainclothes and zooming around in an ambulance.i think i was to monged to care at the time, they could have been anyone.
Interesting things afoot in the world.

  • Hezbulla immediately get their hands dirty in rehabilitating the southern lebanese.
  • Airliners in anglosaxon space go ape over terror threats.
  • Inzamam ul huq's heroic confrontation with a wackho cricket umpiring decision by Darrel Hair. The Zidane effect. this isnt about cricket. thumbs up to pakistan on this matter.

not so Interesting things going on in my head.

  • contemplate over the term madhab-diversity, which treid to draw attention to all the schools of islamic thought and law, which have become extinct. Maybe ive spent too long with my man shiro the ecologist.
  • am loving Khaled Abu el Fadl, here is a fan page --> http://www.scholarofthehouse.com/
  • wonder if bangladesh attracts all the secondrate foreign diplomats, development workers et all.
  • think ive typed this stuff somewhere before....anyhoo toodleoo



so i only have a few days left in kl. shall i push my ticket later so i can fit indonesia into this trip?

in the past week or so i have dossed at iium(Rivendell), been to singapore and back(to meet Aragorn and Yoda), then penang( to meet Gandalf) and dossed some more in kl (ive run out of nerdy metaphors folks, sorry!). might post in detail later.

i am holed up in a poshish part of kl, petaling jaya, in a house that a kind couple has given over to wandering vagrants such as myself while they are abroud raking it in. i say its posh because some planning wonk neglected to include PAVEMENTS in the scheme of things.

kl is quite mixed up, everyone is really cute. malays havent been integrated into it more more than a generation...so the temporal spatial community aspect of things is less developed that in say..... penang. Im going to check out bangi, before i leave, i have a feeling its like dhanmondhi in the community respect(minus the ridiculous amount of schools). one people are settled well, the sophistication of the mosque services grows. imaging being able to listen to interesting lectures from the mosque from your bedroom.... community security systems... its all good.

got some new books today, one on phenomenology (weird philosophical method of research/analysis), raffles and religion, ef schomachers guide for the perplexed and something by a chap called steve fuller on intellectuals.

how will i carry all of this home ay? ay? ay?

ive reformed my ideas about proton, my mate has a cool bright yellow car..semi sportscar made by them. not bad... but hell what do i know about cars .. mechanised urban death machines.
i need to work on some aliph male credentials something..

"eliza fetch me my slippers."

so tmrw.. need to get hold of some wedding worthy clothing that doesnt smell, go to a malay wedding and meet up with a funky prof who writes about corruption, and its sociology.

engineering seems generally to be quite a corrupt thing, wastes of moneies that could be best spent elsewhere... or at least spent on something interesting (to me of course). take the proliferation of kiddies playground in petaling jaya. its all well and cute, but someone is really teking the piss here.

oo i tried to find buyers for bangladeshi handloom products, only i had no idea how much my samples were worth :-P

thankfully im getting to spend time with really deep and thought ful people. though i primarily came for a conference, i dont feel like my paper was scrutinised adequately, iA that will happen now that contacts have been made.

we got dosa takeaway yesterday, generated a ridiculous amount of washing up.

1 dosa is 1 ringit, about 15 pence! (90 cents in penang, which is full of hookers of indeterminable gender btw)

Will all the budding entrepreneurs that undoubtedly read my nonsenseness figure out a way of getting starfruit juice on the global market....


Kuala Lumpur dreamin'

Arrived in Malaysia a few days ago for a conference at IIUM..... the campus is huge and majestic. send your brightest kids here.

The book shop is a far more boring place than it was a few years ago, where are the piles of ancient stuff?

Bizarrely finding the more mature students and alumni to be more clued up and hungry.

Enjoying all the juices at the mo, i have no idea about the malay language and generally consume whatever they give me, its all good. Well that a lie, today a got jhalled by some over the top south indian nosh. aaah well we live and learn.

Bumping into nonrandom funky types on a regular basis.

Picked up two books of note from a japanese book chain ?!? once i landed.

One was a selection of essays in dedication to Syed Hussein al Attas (who penned The Myth of the Lazy Native, The Sociology of Corruption and Intellectuals in the Developing World). a good constellation of contributers.

The second was by the Consumers Association of Penang(CAP) , a Halal and Haram food guide. its quite deep, with no hgolds barred, defniately something to circulate around the uk.

Came back into town today with someone from Sisters in Islam, a pseudoummahto feminist type with strong views on where her country is heading. seemed a little conused, im sure theyll find their place eventually, if they already havent. reviews that ive heard of them vary a lot, but im weak, i have a soft spot for sisters no matter how prog rock they reckon they are. doh! keep having to remind people to step back and look how far the country seems to have come, albeit as a rather top down state... but its human nature to draw comparisons with more 'advanced' places.

At the conference i was expecting more social science/humanities types... or at least fiqui types with playful dispositions.... we were discussing the higher objectives of the sharia when a sister from the audience goes on about 'we dont wanna become like the Christian faith, with our faith a shadow of its model self through all this adaptation to western systems.'

I mean come oooooon.

People sweated blood to establish IIUM, an advanced hybrid institution to nourish an integrated islamic knowledge culture, several of the experiments seems to have gone belly up, while this one still has some gas in the tank..... and you come up with some london isoc level disourse....grrr

Oh well, it takes all sorts. I've learnt a lot from the past two days and met some people that i will iA continue to know.

It really gives hope that people think about such a range of issues(CSR, whistle blowing, bioethics, economic culture, penal systems, history) and relate them the the realisation of the Maqasid. But do these urban educated ummahtic types have much 'traction' in the outside Ummah? i fear not, but we'll have to see how the meanings spread through the communities.

I chatted maqasid with a madrassa teacher in rural, river eroded Bangladesh the other day...he seemed to recognise what i was talking about. the Maqasid are mind broadening, thats just the coockie for us.

The range of knowledge adventurers here(IIUM) is vast, as i mentioned before... the older people seem to have their heads screwed on, they honour this knowledge movement by their intellectual scrutiny, attitude and vigour. Its what they do next that adds greater strength to the entire point of the institution. They teach, learn and communicate with a really rational conception of ummah at the heart of things.

This enculturation process can only happen with time, its deeper that the uk brit muslim isoc fetish, as we can see philosophical carry through in the careers of the students.... the best dont dissappear into the ranks of wage slaving or capitalistic banks and consultancies. They seem to have an internal guidance system.

How much of this is seeded at the uni and how much of this is nascent personality?

Theres was a cute Ayatollah from london here aww.

gtg and piddle about.


pre malaysiastani warblings

its easy to buy off people in this country. im suprised it hasnt sold itself down the ribher more than it has.

take the (lack of) science funding.

this ignocracy has penniless bhision. So many of the public uni teachers spent a lot of time teaching (the whole afternoon in the pribhate unibhersities to boost their salaries (i hear you can get like a lakh a month).

and what time for research?

oh and dont let me start on the the total absence of planing and strategy in building science infrastructure of any productibhe power. the bhariability and dumbarsedness of ebhery gobhernment. Maaan i need to fix this keyboard.

i guess i'll be a little less harsh about those who jump at the 'debhelopment' honey.

the degeneracy is our own and some is empowered from outside, the shift can happen from within, im just thinking (deterministically) how it might.....

Ershad joins the bnp, they win...the AL goes through a collapse and transformation into something better. yeah right

The AL win, joi bin bingobondhu runs ICT with a bit of efficacy, proud muslims are oppressed.... the bnp-al shared gobht agreement goes through another cycle. yeah right


something rather interesting happens. somebody with a plan and talent shows some initiatibhe.

i would prefer the two main parties to knockthemselbhes into outerspace, im sure that any group of uni kids could do better, though keeping a lid on the selfish businesses and industrial interests would be interesting to crush....Zidane style.

The story behind the 'MP candidates can stand in a maximum of 5 seats' rule is from the 1980s when ershad thwarded hasina and khalida zias scheme to stand in 150 seats each to oust him.

a canny operator as always, he 'adapted' the constitution. the scenario around rule changes and the rules for making rule changes are always quite rebhealing (Thankyou Ms Ostrom)

im listening to a bhery crap album by a band called aurthohin. My cousin , who's in a band would call is cheap 'ami' tumi 'bhalobashi' tripe. i concur. thats 80 taka that i guess i wont be seeing any time soon.

a rather funky blog -> http://www.safiyyah.ca/wordpress/


back in dhaka

the past 9 or so days hae been a reelation of the experiencial kind.

gien large amounst on semi reliable yet conflicting spatial data, what can one do? The changes in the landscape sincelast years pilot are quite marked. some communities hae moed twice in that time.

i guess ill post pictures when i havev some decenvt bandwvidth, in the mean time rest assured that it was a beautiful trip with lots of river boat ridingv (not the most efficieant form of transportation)

i got about one third of my study areas nailed. took longer and cost more that i had vhopevdv, but next time it'll definately be a swifter less 'flabby'

so reach home in the early hours to find a stuck 'bhe' keyv again.

Had exactly the same problem last year. but now its more annoying because i wanted to electronicify the data i hae just collected.


oh lit l ooks like ershad wivll going the ruling coalition before the caretaker goernment.
though you can neer tell with these things.

I met an Awami Leaguer fanatic on a boat the other day. He was funny, hvad iews that were vso poisonous that you wonder what vkind of soul must hae constructed them in the first place.. Gold seller in some rural backwater, been on tabligh many times internationally, niqaabi wife and long beard.

in bangladesh, there are two parties that appear to get a lot of the bhotes, they all hae their mythology of the history of the formation/successionist struggle that ended up resulting in thes country. Each mythology only tells something like 5% of the story.


got back to my inbox to see a rather pathetic emotibhely worded peacenik bhirtual petition calling for 'peace' in lebanon to be sent to tony bliar. why is it so hard to wish people Bhictory? why are people so hostaged by the media discourse in the UK?

and another example of opportunist a-religious writing trying to masquerade as a silent majority muslim bhoice.

Intellectual corruption of a high degree, but nonetheless published in the premier english daily of Bangladesh. But hey what can you expect of full-time capitalist/part-time human rightists?

Oh, in sirajganj i met with anv old old school gentle man. a prolific writer on the independence war and islamic things in later years. scarey at times , but he had some spine and was prepared to impore his iews with time. He was an awami leaguer during 71, the char islands around here proided a lost of people with a safe political exile to escape the heat of the military crackdown.

I agreed with his bhiew that we need someone strong like khomeini to rebherse the degradation this society has suffered at the hands of contemporary 'goats and cows'. He said something along the lines of 'eije, musalman democracy now, as shundor me diye bisna de ghumao'. Roughly translated thats 'hey muslims take democracy and go to bed with pretty women'.

more than words.

He recounted stories of what happened in sirajganj when a bunch of nutters were let out of jail and basically permitted to hae their ebhil way with all the mohajer/bihari communities. All of the things that the bdeshi nationalised liberation discourse accuses pakistanis and loyalists of are included. It is these criminals that probhoced such fury from the national establishment. How politicised they were with their acts is a question we really need to look into. but i double the children of the rebholution will be doing that enytime soon.

A pious man of the time was a pir called Assadullah Shirazi. major Arif, the man incharge during the following military crackdown had an interesting relationship with him. After seeing the xtent of depreaity inflicted upon the biharis, he took shirazi to the spot to show him and said 'look what your bengalis are doing'.

the pir fainted.

woke up in the majors quarters. the major wanted to 'brush fire' the area for 10 miles. but stopped because of the power of the

anyway, this narratibhe matches another one i head last year. Again from an elderly ex Awami/Mukti chap. Racially flabhoured bhnidictibhness.

hingsha or enbhi - seemed to be the dominant motiator for many in the definition of the bengali nationalism, rather than a superior philosophical and practicaly competant powerblock.

sad that.

spose its also a lesson that degradation can happen obher night, whereas adbhancement takes time and shortcuts should be abhoided.

but resent ment is seeded by injustice.

After independance from the dogs of English Imperialism, migrants from india and rich migrants to india basiaccly swapped libhing arrangements. well this was the bengali experience anyway.

folks here didnt like being passed obher like that. a many times displaced uncleji in a field site was going on an d on about this. 'this was our soil, and they treated us like this'.

k bored of this now. going out.


"you need to blog more prolifically man"

ok then.

got my mandatory 8 hours sleep between stupid hours.

needed a phone for the ganjside trip

so my gps is finally working... now all i need to do is figure out what the 'India-Bangladesh' datum corresponts to. Datums are approximations of the earths geometry.... yeah the world is round, but theire are different 'standards' for shape that are considered better fits for various hunks of Gods good Earth. Needless to say the default was some random WGS-84 thing ...USA -centric... bless.

Waypoint 1 - phone SIM shop oin kolabagan where i got my Grameen phone sim from....
Waypoint 2 - Bashundara City shopping complex where a bulletproof and rather prehistoric nokia beast was procured. Bashundhara City is like the biggeset mall in the universe, a monument to the market.... the manic's 'Motorcyle Emptiness came to mind'

Culture sucks down words
Itemise loathing and feed yourself smiles
Organise your safe tribal war
Hurt maim kill and enslave the ghetto

Each day living out a lie
Life sold cheaply forever, ever, ever

Under neon loneliness motorcycle emptiness
Under neon loneliness motorcycle emptiness

Life lies a slow suicide
Orthodox dreams and symbolic myths
From feudal serf to spender
This wonderful world of purchase power

Just like lungs sucking on air
Survivals natural as sorrow, sorrow, sorrow

Under neon loneliness motorcycle emptiness
Under neon loneliness motorcycle emptiness

All we want from you are the kicks youve given us
All we want from you are the kicks youve given us
All we want from you are the kicks youve given us
All we want from you are the kicks youve given us

Under neon loneliness motorcycle emptiness
Under neon loneliness motorcycle emptiness

Drive away and its the same
Everywhere death row, everyones a victim
Your joys are counterfeit
This happiness corrupt political shit

Living life like a comatose
Ego loaded and swallow, swallow, swallow

Under neon loneliness motorcycle emptiness
Under neon loneliness motorcycle emptiness
Under neon loneliness motorcycle emptiness
Under neon loneliness everlasting nothingness

then i promptly forgot about it....

Picked up this rather amazing weekly news publication called 'the probe' i remember someone telling me about it in london. Its startlingluy mature and explores a lot of routes im interested in. Big up to them!

exploting geography i stop off ar dhaka university, specifically the department of geography and environment. It is a magnificent campus. met a bhai that id got to know last year. we started talking like a bunch of old codgers... about the dhaka uni students being more interested in flirting and dating than their work.

what to do?...

prayed asr (late) in the uni masjid, met a bro there from jagganath college, the site of a recent confrontation between student wings. physics student wahey! he knew where my nanis gram was.

dun dun dun

i eventually find a rikshawallah up for taking me home... get hopelessly stuck in traffic and dismount upon seeing a kabab shop.

so this random man sits on my table, he's ordering takeout. we get chatting. he is a local working in the Housing sector, very widely travelled, alumni of dhaka uni's Zooology department. He likes my thesis topic.

smug fug.

Magrib adhan goes off, and im drawn towards kataban mosqujid (known as a publishing hub for religious texts and thoughts) . walk passed polystyrene sculpturer (500tk for something semi 3-D and massive, ready the next day provided you give him a design).

Then the pet shops which didnt smell as much as the uk ones.

And into the mosque, theres a curiously named "Centre for the preaching of the quran by post " downstairs. Cute.

wander towards the first row, nice qiraat, no 'big deal' manajat. Have an awkward time leaving though, trying to avoid interrupting peoples prayer beams.

books shops, islamic ones all around.

so i feast.

not too much in english, but pick up a book of the Muslims of Nepal by a sis who wen there to do her MA back in the day, an old publication by the Bangladesh Institute of Islamic Thought and a translation of Shayk Qaradawi's 'economic security in Islam'.

get home in time for a quick cooling shower (ok, too much detail), madly rushed kurta-pyjama iron and dash to a wedding.

not that i know the groom, he was a relly of a journo mate. Interesting venue and crowd many of hwho m were very goreously dressed and not male. Half the Deshi Cabinet was there. Wanted to invade the Water Resources Ministers space and squeeze his brain, but was too polite/cowardly. He is a good guy, many say, one of a few. My bhaiya attributes this to him being a sportsman.

its true here i think. last year, my feild assistant was an ex-footy player tragically taken out of the game by dodgy ligaments. really broad minded and noble character.

get home late, well fed and well met.

and we are off in midnight dhanmondi with some gdangs and ma blue guitar and the truth.

RAB drive past.


no title really...more of a brain dump vibe.

Jumma today was FAB, went to an old Eidgah Masjid, it felt like a significant gathering. Outside there were (expensive) fish sellers. typical. in London there would be the odd dawah stall or functionless doss in place.

Friday prayers happen in different forms, for example the entire top floor of a shopping arcade becomes a mosque type area, bit cramped but cute.

The foreign minister had some strong words for Palestine and Lebanon, reflecting what everyone is feeling here. More that words....please.....I read them in a rather interesting paper, the story around which is even more intriguing. Its owner is a little ummahtic righty in political inclination, while his bro is the leader of the manju faction of the Jatiya Party!

In desh theres a few English papers: the Daily Star (sellout but some kind of benchmark, thinks its a little lefty but it talks to itself, its paymastersthe donors and its made up civil society chums, NewAge (interesting things to say now and again, not so partisan as the Daily star. but still without spirit) and the New Nation, which is published by the Ittefaq group. Today the New Nation published a rather large statement from the OIC, a random Dfid statement and a noholds barred yvonne Ridley piece as op-eds. Editorials and wotnots were decent.

While the New Nation published the foriegn ministers own words, the New Age included coverage of a loony lefty party condemnation of the government for allegedly not saying anything against The Occupation's most recent infliction of barbarism in Arabia.

'Dialogue of the deaf' is the most immediate phrase that comes to mind.

People here are losing sleep over the pain of Lebanon, this is evident from reciprocal and loud Ameens in du'a and conversations even with people. Whats refreshing is that people speak without proverbial condoms here, no consideration of self censorship that is so marked in the uk. Simple and enescapably true.

Politics in this country is like a football league where not of the teams really makes me tick. Though im clearly going to want to repel the most obnoxious posse.

Quite miffed at the news from London that have kidnapped another bro on a US whim. May his family and self be strong and the affected communities not dispirited, but emboldened.

In the UK theres a silly non reciprocal extradition situation with respect to the US. They can procure our people, whilst their (un)fortunate citizens are free to basically piss all over the world. In its selfish programme to step on everyones throats, the US administration violates soveriegnty on a number of scales. As well as ripping apart the glorious peoples of Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. It arranges for the abduction of individuals from their homes.

A week or so ago, a Bangladeshi in Bangladesh was kidnapped for them by the brits. I use the word kidnap, because thats what it feels like, looks like and reads like.

I would like for Bangladesh to expel its UK high commissioner as a gesture of disgust at the UK support of the Occupation and its spinelessness with regard to protect its citizens from harm. Im sure Anwar bhai wouldnt really mind. But thats not really going to happen now is it?

I think that the 'development dollar drip' and the 'play it safe' have too many people stoned to think straight. Folks aren't too confident in that respect, but they are moving and expecting more from education, which is where the smarter takas are in bangladesh. Theres a debilitating perception amongst a lot of quite well off people that they are poor and powerless regarding this scale of feck up. they keep thinking on the nationscale. must do something about that....

Heres an interesting legal position.

hmm what else. oh. I am sick of the word stakeholder and the patronising use of the word 'womenfolk' in developmenty reports im reading.

My neice is very cute and very well humoured, she becomes more and more adorable the more i look at her. What on earth in her 8 month old head is so much fun! i wish someone would let me in on the joke. I think she might like Led Zeppelin.

oh and deshi aador showers! i am only just recovering from them.

Zidane is the man! That must've hurt.

Im really looking forward to the next few laps of life.

Dhaka at night is beautiful and serene.

Katchi biryani rules.

Photoshop is tooo flippin slow.

Internet is sooo slow.

Fuskas rock.

Weather is quite nice.

Need to sort out that 'waking up' business one of these days.


This is Ganj Control to Uncle Tom

took some control, and made a decision. it paid off.

and so here i am, sleeping in khalus old room, spending my days and nights wandering around dhaka. A ca moment, im relearning the urban geography, a lot has changed in a year, building work, prices, greater policial stakes, and more interesting ummahtic bookshops.

have been lucky to have bumped into all manner of funky inspiring types in the last few days since i landed.

work is stuttering, one day i think ive got all the data i need to select specific field villages and send a massive map to the printers.... and the other minute i realise that ENVI is not goin to read ERDAS Imagine files.... and dodjy windows 95/98/2000 software that still believes in those autoexec.bat files is really getting on my nerves. there you go, some technical mumbo jumbo to show that im not JUST dossing.

Dhaka is beautiful, especially at night, well to my eyes at least. When theres a strike and the roads are emptier, theres a kinda wild serenity here.

I should really post some pictures, figuring how to again is the main problem.

random obs..

-cows can produce serious weights of milk. Imagine carrying around full to bursting udders. eurgh.
-folks in the ganj area just west of me over the river can sell their produce quite easily and directly to the posh folk of dhanmondhi at a much better price without going to markets.
-lost of people here have studies river erosion related issues at some point or another.
-dhaka uni and buet grads rock.
-if ever your suitcase breaks in two places on the way down the stairs of your house, just get to the airport, you'll find a better bag solution there.
-many deshis are not accustomed to returning the randomly thrown salams of me.
-the letters pages of the newspapers are the most interesting parts.
-leaving home without moderate amounts of taka-age can be frustrating.
-dont let street book hawkers bearing tomes of arundhati roy clamber into your motor rickshaw.
-to remember the right names of your cousins sprogs and the months of peoples deaths.
-thunder means internet connection goes off.

Enough soap box rubbish, im fine , im eating properly and have not been kidnapped yet, in fact i feel much safer and free-er here than in london.


The search for WMD off green street!

Last friday, a 4 AM dawn raid by 250 coppers resulted in one man getting shot (not fatally). he was then arrested along with his brother, and the ever fickle media discourse swiftly shifted from the troubles of the deputy prime minister to the lates nutty '9/11 blues' .Apparently this was a potentially dangerous situation that warranted an eir exclusion zone, but no evacuation of neighbouring properties!! The invasion occured in the London Borough of Newham, a strong kinda suburban multicultural community. Went to green street (asian shopping area) for a peekaboo that night and have seldom seen the place so quite... (kebabish was deserted). The kids in the area know it was a load of pants and many spoke bravely at the cameras pointing at them, showing they have more sense than most, as well as an emerging community solidarity.

The police issued a statement covering their arses, and the media and publics speculated over the little info they had. The right wing telegraph, the scum of the world and times were characteristically blood thirsty, with tales extending to reports of 'sources' saying that the younger bro, shot the older one. channel 4 has been quite sober. The News today in bangladesh even used 'al quaida suspects' as a headline. everyone is making money from the war on terror.

If people read rubbish, i guess they become rubbish.

I hope that these folks, when they are found innocent, find it easy to get jobs, grow from the experience and that their families are ok. I wish people would understand the longterm effects of these things, peoples lives are ruined..... the cloud of suspicion never goes away.

The police/spooks/govt will find nothing(99.99999% certain), and will have discreditted themselves. They insist that they were acting on Spooky direction, which in turn is allegedly informed by a detained descriptions from an informant. The weakness of this method is that anybody with a grudge or agenda can use this time of trial as an opportunity to be nasty.

Sound familiar ey? The 'blame it on the informant' routine seems to be acceptable these days. Whether its a war on iraq, the insane murder of the Brazilian man on the Tube, or this latest trick.

Anti terror fetished institutional types prefer to listen to and accept the information they have been telling themselves to prepare for. That way they have a function, can avoid the real issues and just show the immigrants who is boss for once.

How on earth does such BS, that keeps leading to these ricin and manchester stadium plots that never were..... sustain and reproduce itself? What kind of heartless creatures work in these 'security' fields? When will the people strongly reject the security agenda, and these 'experts' be put on the dole where they belong..... in a place where they cannot harm the rest of us with their insame 'logic', mandarin prattleing and colonialist attitude?

Good things to come out of this?

I know that the Muslim community is wisening up and becoming bolder, and large parts of other ones in the rest of the country too. The solidarity for the victims is greater than a few years ago.


Bangladeshi Engineers resist corruption, but then get a beating, police chicken out

Deshi newsarticle


LGED engineer assaulted Police refused to take case

SHERPUR, May 22: A government engineer, beaten by ruling party activists seven days ago, Monday moved the court as police refused to accept case, reports UNB.
Magistrate Suraiya Begum of the cognizance court after hearing the petitioner directed the OC of Nakla thana to record the case after preliminary investigation into the allegation.
Lawyers outside the court said the magistrate should have referred the case to some others for investigation as the police had already declined to accept it under political pressure.
Subhash Chandra Malakar, Assistant Engineer
of LGED of Nakla filed the case against JCD leader Tutan Chowdury and his seven or eight accomplices for beating him and his senior colleagues on May 16.
Informed sources said Tutan, brother of whip Zahed Ali Chowdhury, secured Tk 65 crore contract for construction of a bridge. Halfway of the work Tutan pressed them for illegal favour that would sustain heavy loss to the exchequer. On refusal Tutan and his accomplices beat him, executive engineer Jamal Hossain, upazila engineer Mahbubul Alam and accountant Zafarullah Bhuiyan.
Following the incident LGED engineers went on work stoppage protesting the incident.
The engineers said they were under threat on their life.

I read this story and felt a number of things. I am assuming that the reporting is representative of the truth.

1) Really pissed of at such blatant skanki-evil-criminal behaviour on the part of the contractor,, who has shamed his family and political background. I think hadd punishment would be a good idea to deter this kinda thing.
2) Thankfulness that there are some in public service who are openly resisting the corrupting influence of the powerful.
3) Amazement at the police refusal to show any backbone, maybe this is one for RAB?
4) How lacking the NGO-social engineering types are when they bleat about 'techno fixes', 'engineering lobby', 'corruption at LGED' and 'lack of public participation'. everyone is passing the buck.

In Bangladesh, engineers come under a lot of pressure to do favours for individuals. When the demands come from political types they have the power to transfer the public servant to some place far away, distressing the family. there are other ways of getting compliance as well.

When i was there last one lovely guy from the water board said 'Bangladeshe ..shodh pothe thakte onek oshubida ase' which would mean 'In Bangladesh it is very difficult to stay on the straight/true path'.

So on behalf of I , Me and Myself i would like to thank Subhash Chandra Malakar, Assistant Engineer of LGED, executive engineer Jamal Hossain, upazila engineer Mahbubul Alam and accountant Zafarullah Bhuiyan. May invisible hands come to your protection and those who show such quality as you did. May the multitudes be inspired by your stand.

Not that they would ever be reading this, but yknow, as a pathetic blog tribute which at least makes me feel better.


death, refresh and transition

Death is so much more important than....yknow, the others; marriage and birth, especially when it happens to other people. We know what to do and demostrate greater than normal collectivity.

In the mosque[recent experience], the collective intelligence figures out that for a janaza there is no need for'prostration space' so there can me more rows. also vehicle convoys seem to stay together more than at , weddings. The act of grave filling then oozes interpersonal kindness and cooperation. Though maybe this reflects the people connected to the individual, rather than the kind of event. hmmm.

<-- for a glimse of a talented creative IT company in Bangladesh, they do 3d animation amongst other things like gaming.

Laid my hands on a rather special book recently. It was the 2nd edition of 'Islam in Transition - Muslim Perspectives' edited by Donogue and Esposito, 2007, Oxford Uni press.

This volumes brings an incredibley ecletic yet vital set of muslim discourses from the 19th century to the present day. Its like 'Later.....with Jools Holland' crossed with an 'Ummahvision song contest'.

I hope muslims, especially young ahistoric ones benefit from reading this kind of work, with around 60 individual contributions there is something worthwhile to learn for every disposition.

It does lack what id call 'geographical extent', but most books written after certain fetishised events tend to have a middle eastern focus.


How to say it all without saying anything at all

sometimes i hear words and sentences coming out of peoples mouths and marvel at the pointlessness of these utterances.

its normally from transient types of sources like politicians or journalists, for whom truth was never really a virtue. if the person is on the telly i can switch off and do something else, or verbally abuse the space in fornt of me.

but what about in real life? wait for them to finish and then get out of there? slap em?

The Conservative party in the uk is going through a couple of cosmetic changes these days. Our Local Council elections are taking place in a few days. So, there's a cheesy party political broadcast with David Cameron doing his best to sell 'blue' as 'green'.... so contrived and paid for it makes me cringe. Not that these elections are at all interesting anyway.

Unless I look at the areas where the respect party stand a chance and there is actually some contestation, The Ganjes and the Pindes. Incompetant Labour councillers from Tower Hamlets are in for a rough ride. Theres a new crop of motivated people standing for the new party (as well as a bunch of SWP folks). its good for these areas, where doorstep concenrns are often the dangerous ambience of the local environment. I met some candidates who were locally known , embedded and credible. iA they will do the job well!

Whats even greater is that a few more people are being brave enough to stand as independants, in tower hamlets at least.

In bangladesh, Tata have resubmitted their industrial proposal to the Bdesh Board of Investment. The Indian corporate giant has upped its offer and included newgoodies like a 10% GOVERNMENT STAKE. who knows about these things? not i.

I reckon that a lot of govt work in desh might get done in the run up to the general election in early 2007. The opposition is looking to embarrass the government, while the goevernment is looking to show how good it is. No this isnt a virtue of democracy, its not even an upshot of the temporary leadership change system. its only a fraction of a fraction of whats needed.

Positives of this past 5 year period
  1. The institution of RAB seems to have made the streets safer.
  2. They caught the criminals who kept bombing places.
  3. I think Muslims, and organised Muslims have learn a lot, diversified, won a lot of arguments and enabled a little more virtue.
  4. the remarkable benefits of the natural gas have begun to really help matters.
  5. The govt sometimes shows a few testicles to the NGO-donor nexus.

  1. Nepotism and missappropriateion of dosh in the first family seems to worry most people i talk to, its expected though, which is really sad. Especially Given that General Zia was especially good at keeping his family away from his offices and had self control in this department.
  2. Some ministers have really let the side down (corruption, bullshiting, oncompetance).
  3. Opposition and similarly aligned media and political actors have bad mouthed desh a great deal in EU and US. its sad because all of our honour is affected this cheap tactic.

I love the system of Waqf
Hamdard Waqf in Bangladesh
Islamic Relief's Waqf Programmes

may you become stronger, deeper, wider and greater. May you countinue to translate virtue into public good on the long term.


Stumble over Turkey and a Vendetta

several months since last blog so i'll make this one as meaningless and petty as possible

a pal pointed me too this rather interesting addon for the Firefor webrowser today, a tool to find quality kooky bits of the web. some might call is a Web 2.0 kinda beast see here

went to Istanbul a little while back, great place, great stuff going on. a pal wanted to skipp the country for a little while, id been to istanbul before and wouldnt leave an opportunity to go there again. needless to say, this trip didnt really have to much to do with the words economy and efficiency, but hey thats a perk of no longer being a student of the poor kind.

found this book on Cultural J, published by Istanbul University, 'Islam in Public - Turkey, Iran and Europe' ed Nilufer Gole and Ludwig Ammann (2006). Interesting interview with Nilufer Gole here.

here are a few tales of how ummahtic the place is,

- got smuggled into the istanbul uni by a libertarian type student, interesting tour beautiful campus with pretty stylish students

- folks at a waqf(religious endowment) in the Sultan Ahmet kept showering me and my pal with Said Nursi books (one was in bangla!), beautiful qurans, tea and love generally....

- spent a while at IRCICA, a historical research centre that forcusses on Islamic civilisation and is set in a flipin OTTOMAN PALACE!

- the azan for fajr (daybreak prayer) pulls you from bed into the mosque very special time in the old centre of the city.

-iskander kebab

was quite proud of turkey, good luck to them Allah make it easy.

folks, please go and see..

V for Vendetta..think FightClub and 1984 and Brave New World and Divine Intervention.

watch out for Stephen Fry, plenty of uses of the word 'bollox' and a few arresting fireworks

comic book entiusiasts - 'this was nothing like the comic...sorry 'graphic novel', this was meant to be about thatcher;s britain'

neo-con apologists - ' bin laden would love this, scum scum, glorifies terrorism, parp, gurgle chortle, vomit'

me - ' cor blimey that was empowering, what amazing.......timing'


Difference, Fiqhx, Election and the cult of celebrity

oooh Imam Zaid Shakir lecturing in london for Q news next week, on the ettiquettes of difference and how difference is strengthening. or as one bhaiya would say .... the importance of ikhtilaugh. geddit!??! i guess not....

ooo new work, 'fiqhx' to indicate active problem solving at the fundamental theorlogical level for practical benefit. we were discussing hajj and its many dimensions, physical, engineering, human, historical, interactive ummahtic event....... ijtihad is a bit loaded see.

now for more worldy affairs of power and the struggle for justice.. mwah hahahahah

'Democracy' is great right? there was some inspiring news last week, news that flipped-the-script and made some hopeful space for us to dream and act in.

Duas for all who seek justice and dignity, for Allah to make things easy for them and confound their enemies plots. Duas that the intangible signals of this inspire confidence, excellence and sobriety in His servants oppressed and nonoppressed throughout the world.

Duas that the 'development' 'aid' bribe game being played by the white powers is lost by those very powers and their client 'dogooders' find useful jobs in other sectors. That the Friends of Palestine stand by it and aren't turned coconut by threats. That unity and coalition are clung to by those infused with Red and Green wherever they might be.

Duas that poncy noncommitted liberals who think of themselves as really quite 'indie' but can't stomach challenging power are discreditted.

Comment on Galloway in Celebrity Big Brother?
My pal cam here and told me off for not having an entry since nuron...... YOU HAPPY NOW!

Ol George is most able to speak for himself as his statements following his eviction make clear. I dont fancy myslef as a sycophant, so i wont, but im inclined to see strange things thorugh this episode in UK public imagination

It has been funny to analyse the various shades and positions of Galloway hate going round,
  • A sudden 'fake concern' for consitutents using the really thick 'crossrail vote' argument, the whole Early Day Motion thing, the clumsy moves in Tower Hamlets to maximise political profit. New Labour are really quite awful, but its ok for them to pick shitty arguments that dont measure up to much, because the public is compliant (uncritical when it counts)and will believe them.
  • Not very well cloaked insults at 'the people who elected him' from the general public
  • Press interviews on 'brick lane' (most corrupt bit of tower hamlets life, but pleasant multi culti candy on ocassion) intended to incite moral outrage my showing cat pictures with no explanation and filming the least informed responce.
  • Surprise and righteous indignation that politicians take risks and promote themselves in the same breath as their causes,
  • Belief that a single MP party had best spend their time in the House of Commons,
  • The attitude of the corporate media, who really have it in for the chap, was selective decontextualising and rude (about all the guests)

The whole episode was rather instructive as to the pitiful state of the British public's mind and my own vulnerability to be distracted from my bluddy upgrade report. What ever happened to manners and decency? Ok, it's not exactly the most wholesome audience (8 million+! ) but from the programmes, message boards and whatever they really didnt come across in a 'good' way. Apparently 'they' were the judges, it was 'their' entertainment, they had the power and how was it used......bitching, snide remarks, very base thinking about people's intention, ...apparently thats ok if you are a consumer, free speech and all.

This series attracted a bigger audience because of Galloway, who also reached a bigger audience (though maybe not in the manner first imagined). Endemol, the company behind it must be laughing all the way to the bank. They had the majority of the control over the atmosphere and presentation of the characters in the house as well as the public chatter. Even though they were the hegemon, there were some unintended occurences, ie in the beginning George organised the whole group to subvert the cardbox box dwelling 'task'....

I like people to take risks, change doesnt come from going through the motions and processes already distracting the people, it comes by stirring up the system to make truth and contradiction clearer to people and interfering with the 'noise'.