Category: Articles (Page 1 of 3)

East-West in Postnormal Times (Editorial)

Ziauddin Sardar

East West Affairs 1 (1) 1-12 January-March

OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,

Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat

When Rudyard Kipling wrote these lines in ‘The Ballad of East and West’, they were applauded and became a raging success because they expressed precisely how the world was viewed in the heyday of Empire. Unfortunately, mental structures long outlast the work of human hands. Ideas conquer more territory and maintain more authority than all the armies of the Queen Empress eulogized by Kipling, who was … Read More

Freeze Framing Muslims

Hollywood and the Slideshow of Western Imagination

Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies

Interventions Vol. 12(2) 239-250 2010


Western images of Islam and Muslims have been frozen in history and are recycled with mundane regularity. These ‘freeze frames’ emerged at the beginning of Islam and have, over centuries, acquired certain key elements and descriptors. Association of Islam with promiscuity and licentiousness was common during eight and tenth centuries. The Crusades added war-like violence to the picture, and embedded Islam within the concept of evil. Two further elements, barbarism and despotism, were supplied by the humanist movement of the fourteenth … Read More

Ibn-e-Safi, BA

Ziauddin Sardar

Critical Muslim 4: Pakistan? 133-142 October 2012

When I visited Bahwalnagar in May 1975, I found little had changed. A new generation of goll guppa­­-wallas, ­chaat-walla­s and paan-wallas had taken over the stalls in Railway Bazaar. It was still the direct route from the Railway Station to our house in the centre of the town, where we lived and I grew up. I had left the city at the age of nine, when my parents migrated to London. And I expected no one would know me. Indeed, they did not know me. But they recognised me: I was … Read More

The Future of Arab Spring in Postnormal Times

Ziauddin Sardar

American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 30 (4) 125-136 Fall

To understand how the Arab Spring may evolve over the coming years, we have to understand its specific context. The ‘revolutions’ across the Middle East are not just a product of discontent and fury against dictatorships; after all, the Arabs have been raging against their rulers for well over half a century. The Arab Spring is also a creation of a particular period of time, a time where globalisation, interconnection and instant communication are the norm, and authority and political legitimacy are in flux. It is a period … Read More

Touched by Wonder: Art and Religion in the 21st Century

From Touched edited by Paul Domela, Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art, Liverpool, 2011

Ziauddin Sardar

The ability to experience and appreciate wonder is a distinctive human trait. Both art and religion are informed, shaped by and answer to this inherently human faculty. Both are touched by wonder and help us access this essential characteristic of our nature. Therefore, religion and art are entwined as necessary, indeed, vital elements that must be represented, celebrated and active in the public space if we are to be fully human.

Implicit in religion and art is the capacity to stimulate our sense and feeling … Read More

Critical Muslim

From Oxford Islamic Studies Online:

Ziauddin Sardar

A critical spirit has been central to Islam from its inception. The Qur’an is generously sprinkled with references to thought and learning, reflection and reason. The Sacred Text denounces those who do not use their critical faculties in strongest terms: ‘the worse creatures in God’s eyes are those who are [wilfully] deaf and dumb, who do not reason’ (8:22). A cursory look at the life of Muhammad reveals that his strategic decisions were an outcome of critical discussions – the way he decide, for example, to fight the Battle of Badr … Read More

Transmodern journeys: Future studies and Higher Education

From A Curag et el, editors European Education at the Crossroads, Springer Science, Heidelberg, 2012, Chapter 48.

Ziauddin Sardar

Futures studies has had a lukewarm reception from the academia. Conventionally, a new discipline is said to have emerged with the publication of a couple of dedicated journals. Futures and foresight have a string of journals devoted to the field  – Futures, Foresight, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, World Futures and the Journal of Futures Studies – yet it is not seen as worthy of being taught at a university. There are a few courses devoted to … Read More

The Spirit of Water

From Watermarked: Voices of Pakistan, The Artistan Committee, London, 2011

Ziauddin Sardar

A few years ago I found myself in a desert just outside Karachi. The Thar desert is not as inhospitable as other deserts I have been fortunate enough to encounter in places such as Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Perhaps that’s why it is called the ‘Friendly Desert’. You can detect the air becoming more arid as you drive towards Umerkot, the main town in this area of Sind, and it get hot but it is not unbearable. Every now and then, you can spot a patch of … Read More

Welcome to postnormal times

Futures, 42, 5, June 2010

Ziauddin Sardar


All that was ‘normal’ has now evaporated; we have entered postnormal times, the in between period where old orthodoxies are dying, new ones have not yet emerged, and nothing really makes sense. To have any notion of a viable future, we must grasp the significance of this period of transition which is characterized by three c’s: complexity, chaos and contradictions. These forces propel and sustain postnormal times leading to uncertainty and different types of ignorance that make decision-making problematic and increase risks to individuals, society and the planet. Postnormal times demands, this … Read More

The Idea of Justice

Book Of The Week

The Idea of Justice, By Amartya Sen

Reviewed by Ziauddin Sardar

Take three kids and a flute. Anne says the flute should be given to her because she is the only one who knows how to play it. Bob says the flute should be handed to him as he is so poor he has no toys to play with. Carla says the flute is hers because it is the fruit of her own labour. How do we decide between these three legitimate claims?

There are no institutional arrangements that can help us resolve this dispute in … Read More

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