Islamic art with Adobe Illustrator

Been a while since I posted anything here, but I thought folks would like some art work I have been working on the past few weeks. The text is comprised of al-Fatiha arranged at complete random.  Sorry about the low-res quality. If you want a PDF, send me a comment!



The Lebanese Civil War (1975 – 1990)

by Daniel Mourad Jensen, Master of Arts in Arabic — a sociological profile, The Copenhagen University, The Carsten Niebuhr Institute


“Yes, we were a laboratory for violence, but we were also, before that, a laboratory for modernity, and in some ways we still are” Samir Kassir, a famous Lebanese journalist who died in a bomb accident in 2005[1].

The Lebanese Civil War still lives on in much of the Lebanese literature and movies that can be found on the market today. It has affected so many lives, that it has been extremely hard to get rid of this bloody chapter, in the modern history of Lebanon. This historical article will enlighten the reader who is new to the facts and reasons behind the Lebanese Civil War. And explain the many shifts of alliances that the different actors chose to take during the long Civil War.

When it all escalated
On 13 April 1975 a bus with Palestinian passengers were gunned down by Christian militia (the Kata’ib) which resulted in the first steps towards an actual Civil War. The shooting was revenge for the killings of several Kata’ib members, and a bodyguard of Pierre Gemayel, at Ayn al-Rumana church[2]. From then on it escalated into a regular war between the Lebanese sectarian and political groups supported by several countries.

Saying that it all began from this date is not entirely true. You have to take a closer look at the sociopolitical and religious turmoil that grew more intense in the beginning of the 1970s. Read the full post »

Keys to the Fatihah: Mafatih li al-Fatihah

by Elizabeth Bowman, Brandeis ’10, B.A. Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

originally written for “Qur’an: Collection, Compliation and Commentary”

Surah al-Fatihah’s importance lies not simply in its position as the first chapter of the Qur’an, but in its uniquely integral role in Muslim life and Islamic theology. Each verse of the surah relays an essential facet of the conception of God or man’s relationship with Him. It is the first surah Muslims must learn to recite, for without it, ritual prayer is impossible. In this capacity, a believer repeats it at least seventeen times each day, and it is additionally used to mark significant events in one’s life, be it the celebration of birth, the rite of marriage, or upon death. It both honors and acknowledges God, and offers our supplication to Him. The Fatihah is a succinct, albeit incredibly descriptive introduction to the entire message of the Qur’an and a reminder of our need for God and our obligation to Him. A close analysis of its verses will introduce the most foundational Islamic precepts, and will provide refuge, enlightenment and guidance for those who seek it. Read the full post »

Women and Gender in Islam: A Question of Cultural Relativism

by Suzanne Rothman, Brandeis University ’13

Some of the great misconceptions in the West about Islam are that the faith is inherently oppressive of women, enslaves them, and treats them as inferior beings. These misconceptions have a clear source; in parts of the modern Muslim world, which Westerners hear about in the media, women are deprived of basic human rights. Despite this reality, a study of the Qur’an and how the Sha’ria was historically practiced, demonstrates the fallacious nature of these negative views of Islam. That is not to say that the Islamic stances on gender relations do not differ from those of the West; the Islamic viewpoint considerably differs from Western Feminist norms. This essay shall expose the truth of how Islam views women and gender relation and explain the logic behind them. Furthermore, it will assert that it is impossible to determine which approach, the Western or the Islamic, is better . Thus, the parties ought to understand and respect each other’s viewpoints.

It is not difficult to trace the sources of Western misperceptions. Human rights reports detailing the condition of women in Muslim countries are often daunting, as they relay reports of honor killings and other forms of extreme misogyny.  Mass media sources expose Westerners to such reports, which in turn become their only source of knowledge about gender in Islam (Mogahed and Esposito 101).  Thus, many Western societies came to believe that Islam is a repressive religion that considers women inferior and subjugates them to men. Read the full post »

New Media in the Middle East

By Daniel Mourad Jensen, Master of Arts in Arabic – a sociological profile, The Copenhagen University, The Carsten Niebuhr Institute

It is important to understand that new media and a newer version of new media have given many researchers and academics new areas to explore and study, and there are many pragmatic reasons for that. This article contains a greater understanding of the evolution of the media and the various types that can be find under the term “new new media”.

Evolution of media
New media is often referred to as “digital media”, meaning that all input data are transformed into numbers[1], which can be manipulated into complex mathematical formulas. The input data from “old” media, like a videotape, a book or a gramophone record, are converted into another physical form, a process called “analogue”. From “analogue” to “digital” the input process shifted from production in sciences like physics, chemistry and engineering to the area of symbolic mathematics[2]. In other words, the specific new medium, like an e-book, is without a physical form and is much easier to manipulate and produce.

Can new media be traced back in history? Read the full post »

A Review of “Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam” from Patricia Crone and Basil Blackwell

By Simin Rafati, M.A. Comparative Religion, Institute of Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Leiden, The Netherlands.

Transportation and trade
Transportation and trade are undeniably related to each other, a principle which is as true for modern times as was for the pre-modern transactions. Crone has tried to give a picture of the transportation of goods around Arabia in different parts of her book, but the existence of trade and different transportation means have been both acknowledged and denied in various sections and the whole book does not afford a definitive picture. A few examples of the inconsistencies:
Read the full post »

Calling for Papers — Give your research the respect it deserves

Welcome to Kulna! We want to feature your work here on our journal. We are actively seeking unpublished student research on any MENA-related topic. The papers that you have worked so hard to research and write throughout your studies shouldn’t just be put into a file cabinet or archived on your hard drive — they should be shared and respected, and Kulna is the place.

You can submit your papers in two ways: either by clicking the SUBMIT link at the top of our page, or by emailing us HERE. We’d love to hear from you and we’re always happy to take your questions, comments and suggestions!

One note about your submission — We are an academic journal looking for research-based papers. As academics, please make sure that you are respecting others’ work by including proper citations along with your submission. Your work ALWAYS remains YOUR property and you always have the right to ask us to hold off on publishing a paper, to include future edits that you might want to make, and to remove your paper from our journal at any time.

So go ahead, dust off those old papers and let some new eyes see your work, because as great as your professors and TA’s probably are, your research means more than a grade and should be treated that way.

BBC News – Syria unrest: Arab League to vote on economic sanctions

BBC News – Syria unrest: Arab League to vote on economic sanctions.

The Arab Springs second wave – Opinion – Al Jazeera English

The Arab Springs second wave – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

To Our Readers

Just a short message to say that I am absolutely honored. I am honored because over 3,500 people viewed Kulna as their first source for the breaking news of Osama bin Laden’s death yesterday night. Of course, I attribute a lot of this to the luck of being in front of my TV and my laptop at the right time, and some decent search engine optimization…but regardless of the reasons, I am flabbergasted at the number of hits we managed to get in the span of twenty minutes.

I hope that in the future, many of the readers who happened upon Kulna the other evening come back to explore our journal and the work of our contributors. We are currently accepting submissions on any topics related to the Middle East and North Africa and would love to have your research added to our growing collection of thoughtful and influential articles.

Again, thank you for choosing Kulna and welcome to our scholarly community. We hope you stick around!



  • Welcome to Kulna, a fresh take on the traditional academic journal. This is a place for young and seasoned scholars alike to come together to discuss the Middle East. We want YOUR work published HERE. Click submit at the top of the page for more information.

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