The Middle East-Asia Project (MAP) is an initiative undertaken by the Middle East Institute which is designed to serve two broad objectives:

1. To promote awareness and understanding of the multidimensional relations between the Middle East and Asia by providing information and analysis on cross-regional economic, political, security, and social/cultural interactions and their implications; and

2. To foster collaborative research and other activities regarding Middle East-Asia relations through establishing an online community of experts and forging institutional partnerships.

The Cyber Library contains publication details, abstracts and live links to full text versions of previously published works on Middle East-Asian affairs organized by country and by topic/issue.

The Experts Directory contains the profiles and contact details of a worldwide network of academics, business leaders, diplomats, journalists, researchers and other practitioners affiliated with the MAP.

The Infographics project element consists of periodically updated charts, tables and timelines depicting key trends and developments in trade, investment, migration, and other spheres of cross-regional activity.

The Publications element is organized as follows: (more…)

from The Economist, Feb 4th 2012

ONE leaflet showed a wooden doll hanging from a noose and suggested burning or stoning homosexuals. “God Abhors You” read another. A third warned gays: “Turn or Burn”. Three Muslim men who handed out the leaflets in the English city of Derby were convicted of hate crimes on January 20th. One of them, Kabir Ahmed, said his Muslim duty was “to give the message”.

That message—at least in the eyes of religious purists— is uncompromising condemnation. Of the seven countries that impose the death penalty for homosexuality, all are Muslim. Even when gays do not face execution, persecution is endemic. In 2010 a Saudi man was sentenced to 500 lashes and five years in jail for having sex with another man. In February last year, police in Bahrain arrested scores of men, mostly other Gulf nationals, at a “gay party”. Iranian gay men are typically tried on other trumped-up charges. But in September last year three were executed specifically for homosexuality. (Lesbians in Muslim countries tend to have an easier time: in Iran they are sentenced to death only on the fourth conviction.) (more…)

upin and ipin give thanks
Ramadan this year starts in just three weeks. Last Ramadan I was in Indonesia and bootleg copies of a Malaysian produced animated Ramadan TV special were circulating. Upin and Ipin are a pair of Malay twins about 5 or 6 years old whose gang of friends include an Indian boy, a Chinese girl, and two other Muslim boys. I recently showed this to my children as an effort to start teaching them about world religions. They loved it, they laughed so hard. And they learned something about Islam as it is lived, or at least nostalgialized in Malaysia.

The following information is taken from a relatively new Muslim organization dedicated to equality and justice in the Muslim family. The name of the group is Musawa.

Musawah was initiated in March 2007 by Sisters in Islam, a Malaysian non-governmental organisation that is committed to promoting the rights of women within the framework of Islam, and a 12-member international planning committee of activists and scholars from 11 countries. The committee came together to consolidate information, experiences, and ideas that have been used by NGOs and activists in countries around the world to advance equality in the family. Women’s groups have been conducting these advocacy efforts for decades (see the background papers for more information). (more…)

A year ago from August 8-13 an international conference on “Music in the World of Islam” was held in Assilah, Morocco, jointly sponsored by The Assilah Forum Foundation (Assilah, Morocco) and the Maison des Cultures du Monde (Paris, France). The papers from this conference are now available in pdf format online. Music and dance are described for Afghanistan, Algeria, Andalusia, Azerbeijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Central Asia, East Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Morocco, Russia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey and Yemen.

A description of the conference is described by its main organizer, Pierre Bois: (more…)

[The following tribute by Alvin Tay is more than a year old, but for those who were unaware of the passing of Prof. Alatas, it is a reminder of the value of his scholarly work, which remains unappreciated in many university settings. Webshaykh.]

23rd January 2007 was a sad day for sociology, Singapore sociology in particular, with the sudden passing of Professor Syed Hussein Alatas, former Professor in Malay Studies at University of Singapore and a pioneer of the kind of sociological theorizing that Singapore, and indeed the region of Southeast Asia, could truly call our own. I did not have the opportunity of the many sociologists before me who had passed through the doors of the department and were taught by him in the university, and so I speak only from the position of one who regrets deeply the loss of a formidable sociologist, and yet feels greatly blessed by the corpus of sociological knowledge which he has left behind. It is the imprint of his many works on me, ranging from religion to race to colonialism, amongst other substantive issues, which impels me to proceed with this modest tribute, albeit with a heavy heart and a prayer for love and peace. (more…)

(left to right) Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor of Malaysia, Yury Malen¬chenko of Russia, and Peggy Whitson of the US will fly on a Russian rocket.

How does an Islamic astronaut face Mecca in orbit?

Decisions by a conference of Muslim leaders and scientists will help a Malaysian doctor stay observant in outer space.

By Bettina Gartner | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

Allah is watching – even in outer space. And that poses a problem for a devout Muslim astronaut who is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Russian rocket this week.

Imagine trying to pray five times a day in zero gravity while having to face an ever-shifting Mecca hundreds of miles below. How do you ritually wash yourself without water? And, now that it’s Ramadan, how do you fast from sunrise to sunset when you see a sunrise and a sunset every 90 minutes? Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, a Malaysian astronaut, must decide before the Oct. 10 launch.

“I am Islamic,” Sheikh Shukor told a press conference in Moscow, according to the Associated Press, “but my main priority is more of conducting experiments.” (more…)

I have said it before and I said it again, “I do not study Islam, I study Muslims and what they do as religion.” And the combination of jet lag, falling asleep much too early, and my thoughts about this have me awake as the call to prayers waft up 18 floors and through my hotel window.   It is 5:30 in the morning in KL and I just have to get this all written down. So breaking out my Life Drive and portable keyboard (my one pound answer to lugging a laptop with me), I sat down to address this issue.

Last night I said it, “I study Muslims, not Islam.” And once again it left my interlocutor confused. I was at dinner during conference on Islamic education that was being paid for from soup to nuts, or from hotel rooms to printing materials to meals (and that was soup to nuts) by the government of Malaysia as part of a special project of the Prime Minister — understanding all those dynamics will be for another post.

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