When I teach history related to Islam or Muslims in the United States, I begin by asking students what names they associate with these terms. The list is consistent year after year: Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, and Muhammad Ali.
All of these individuals have affected U.S. history in significant ways. If we take a step back and look at the messages these figures communicate about Muslims in U.S. history, we see a story dominated by men and by the Nation of Islam. Although important, focusing solely on these stories leaves us with a skewed view of Muslims in U.S. history. Even these examples are a stretch. Most of my students reference 9/11 as the first time they heard of Muslims.
An Ottoman Tent in Wawel Royal Castle.
A 17th-century Turkish tent currently on display at the Wawel Royal Castle, Cracow is a large and powerful reminder of the historic threat to Europe posed by the Turks and the decisive battle at Vienna with the invading Ottoman armies.
The tent was captured at Vienna on 12 September 1683, when the Holy League army of Polish King John III Sobieski and that of the Holy Roman Emperor defeated the Turkish army commanded by Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa. In 1729 the tent was taken by Augustus (II) the Strong to Saxony to lend lustre to military exercises and great parades. It was donated to Wawel in 1934 by Szymon Szwarc.
The roof and walls are decorated with arcades within which are medallions filled with intertwining floral patterns and flowers, including stylised carnations and tulips – the Otttomans’ favourite flower. Above the oval medallions are cartouches of gold satin with blessings written in Arabic script. The tent was originally supported on two poles, the sockets into which these go are reinforced with leather, and a system of pegs and ropes for pulling and stretching the fabric were used. The outer surface is covered in sturdy canvas, impregnated with copper compounds, which gives it its cool, pale green colour.
The tent underwent restoration from 1991 until 1999: all of the appliqué decoration was removed, the fabrics were cleaned in water baths and then re-applied. Today it is brilliant condition and helps recreate some of the splendour associated with the higher echelons of Ottoman society, even on military campaign.
Last week, Mumbai hosted its largest ever pride march. The Queer Azaadi March was an act of defiance in the face of the Indian Supreme Court upholding Section 377, which outlaws sexual acts that are “non-procreative,” a holdover from India’s years as a colony of the British empire.
Push Dagger and Shark’s tooth Scabbard
- Dated: 18th century
- Culture: Indian
- Measurements: 62.8 cm long including scabbard
- Provenance: acquired in London, 1978
The weapon has tapering, double edged and grooved blade, while the hilt comes with a curved triangular protective guard, its terminal in the form of a dragon head. The hilt is incised and decorated with gilt copper overlay forming floral interlace, while the sides of the scabbard have protruding shark’s teeth.
Source: Copyright © 2014 Bonhams
Citipati, Lord of the Cemetery, is a Tibetan Buddhist figure which loosely represents intertwined male and female skeletons. These two androgynous figures which together form Citipati are considered to be guardians of cemeteries and are honored by semiannual ritualistic dances. As Citipati is comprised of the two halves of the human body, man and woman, the figure is also said to symbolize the counterparts of the human life cyle, birth and Death.
[Image description: screenshot of Facebook photo and its comment page. Photo shows white girl displaying mehndi on her hands. The relevant comment reads, "Love it! I like how it looks on people with light skin. The artistry stands out so much better.”]
hahahaha, FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU. yeah everything is so much fucking better with or on white people! INCLUDING THIS! Indian bridal mehndi: sorry, desi folk, it’s nice that you came up with something so pretty, but white people just wear it better!
it’s a fucking ancient practice described in the earliest Vedic texts, used during festivals and holy days and weddings. it’s a beautiful part of my culture that I love, something I linger over in old family wedding photos, something I’ve worn to temple and during festivals, something I plan to wear at my own wedding someday. and guess what, y’all? apparently, I WILL NEVER DO IT AS WELL AS WHITE PEOPLE.
I experienced an honest-to-God rage blackout when I found this bullshit on my Facebook newsfeed this morning. It was in no way helped when I tried searching for mehndi photos on Pinterest, and like 50% of them were white girls.
I just cannot deal with white people who decide that other cultures are so ~COOL~ and ~EXOTIC~ and want a piece. You can look, but don’t touch, okay? Just don’t. I’m glad you think that our “henna tattoos” are so pretty, but before you decide that you want to wear my culture’s clothes and body art and jewelry, before you decide that we’ve created something worthy of your notice so you’ll just swoop in and lift it wholesale, wear my fucking skin for a day.
Wear my brown skin. Listen to the bullshit you hear when you wear saris and mehndi and bindis, listen to people calling you “dothead” and making fun of your accent and thinking your dad is a terrorist. Wear my brown skin under your fucking henna. You want my culture, don’t fucking half-ass it, you motherfucking white imperialist thief. Take all of it. Take the racism, take the hatred, take the bullshit. Take my wounded civilization forever marked by white imperialism and colonialism, my religion misrepresented and demonized by white missionaries. Take all of it, do you hear me?
Take all of it and live with it, live with it and love it alongside the pain and grief and fear. And then fucking tell me how pretty you look in mehndi.
Goddamn white people. This is why we can’t have nice things. I literally cannot check my goddamn Facebook or fuck around having some fun on Pinterest without some jackass reminding me of my place in the world, reminding me that even when my culture isn’t the object of outright derision and hatred, it’s going to be exoticized and stolen and “so much better” when it’s performed by people with white skin.
These same people will naturally totally fail to understand why you’re pissed off because how it can be racist when the perpetrator just really LIKES something, they’re celebrating your culture (by stealing it, after trampling it and shaming you for it), omg WHY ARE YOU BEING SO MEAN?!