How Our Simple Habits Become A Rite of Passage for Later Life

How Our Simple Habits Become A Rite of Passage for Later Life
By Ahmad Amirali

Last week, my students and I engaged in an open discussion on rituals and habits that how habits and rituals are different and sometimes we start considering some of our practices as rituals. While the conversation went further, one of my students asked ‘Sir, why certain habits become so important for some people that they start taking them as ritual?’ the question was valid at some points, however, I counter question him ‘Is it habits or the stories and feelings related to these habits which makes people to consider them as rituals?’ Throughout our life, whether we follow any religion or not, we involve with many rituals individually as well as communally. For example, holding hands before dinner or saying specific prayers before meal etc. These habits eventually become a sacred part of our lives and even pass on from generation to generations. The question is How Our simple Habits become a rite of passage for later life?

The same question was asked by an activist and tech enthusiast, Bob Stein who has long been in the vanguard: immersed in radical politics as a young man, he grew into one of the founding fathers of new media. He’s wondering what sorts of new rituals and traditions might emerge as society expands to include increasing numbers of people in their eighties and nineties. Read More …

Does Religion mean to Bind a Nation or Vice Versa?

Does Religion mean to Bind a Nation or Vice Versa?
By Ahmad AmirAli

Yesterday, upon delivering a session on ‘pluralism and diversity’ one participant asked a question ‘Sir, does religion have any relationship with diversity? I questioned him back ‘what do you think?’ He replied, ‘Sir, I think religion divide the nation, but pluralism binds it’. I asked him ‘who taught you about the pluralism/diversity?’ doesn’t every religion convey the same ethics and principles of diversity and La Convivencia (coexist) one society? Well, he agrees, but I somehow questioned myself, does religion means to bind a nation or is it really a vice versa.

History has revealed to us that there were instances when we, people, use religion to segregate and establish differences among us, but then there were instances when religion binds-back the people of different faiths and believes under one society. Whether Islam or Christianity, every religion conveys the same principle and message of deepening the divides and accept the differences. Read More …

Modern Thinking: Why There are Clashes among Nations?

Modern Thinking: Why There are Clashes among Nations?
By Ahmad Amirali

As we all aware about the present crucial tensions between India and Pakistan over borders, I revisited a 12-year-old CBC interview with H.H the Aga Khan IV (direct descendent to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslim) where he talks about the Clash of Ignorance and Clash of civilisations. He believes that there is no such thing the clash of religions or the clash of cultures, there is always the clash of ignorance. Interesting this clash exist in the ‘both side of the divide’. Read More …

The Assassin Legends – Myths of the Isma’ilis – A Review

The Assassin Legends – Myths of the Isma’ilis by Farhad Daftary (I.B Taurus, London, 2001)
Review by Ahmad Amirali

Since centuries the legends of the Ismaili assassins have been told and narrated by many western-eastern scholars in a variety of ways. The most common among these stories are ‘the legends of the old man of the mountain’ and his follower assassins who had a stronghold in the Syrian mountains and northern Iran. These tales, myths or the legends first appeared in the Levant during the time of Crusades. Over the years, after crusades, the legends concluded in Marco Polo’s account who fabricated the new definition of Nizar Assassins. According to Polo’s accounts, the Nizari Assassin describe as a leader known as ‘the old man of the mountains’ who controlled the behaviour and will of his followers (devotees) by using hashish (drug) and the secret garden of paradise. This account became so mesmerised that the word ‘assassin’ entered the English language as a collective noun for the murderer. These tales over the time became legends and portrayed Ismailis as a sinister order of assassin by the western scholarship. Read More …

God: A Human History by Reza Aslan – A Review

God: A Human History
Author: Reza Aslan (
Penguin Random House, 2017)
Review by Ahmad Amirali

Nowadays, it seems like people are deserting their religion to the fundamentalists. However, Religion has always been the part of human existence, and it’s not likely going anywhere soon.

Reza Aslan’s God: A Human History is the newest addition to the genre of God books. Before this piece, Karen Armstrong’s A History of God shared a similar account in this genre. One may ask, whether there is a need for another book on this topic? A valid reason for that, according to me, can be Aslan’s way of writing where he bluntly places and elaborates his argument with proper supporting. That makes the reader find the reading much debatable. Read More …