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Essays

Food Plays Its Role in a Borderless World

A Recipe for Mashing Civilizations

Despite what culinary chauvinists claim, few cuisines have developed in isolation. The history of foodstuffs and food words is a history full of migration, adoption and constant civilizational mashups.

The Long Shadow of Deobandism in South Asia

Deobandism in South Asia

The new Taliban government in Afghanistan represents the realization of the 155-year-old Deobandi movement’s objective of establishing a regime led by religious scholars. Over this time, and possibly much like the Taliban today, these religious clerics oscillated between jihadism and pragmatic politics.

The Odd Couple: Franco’s Alliance With Muslims

The Odd Couple: Franco’s Alliance With Muslims

There was a time when the Spanish far right needed Ceuta’s Muslims and plied them with gifts. One of these, the Muley el-Mehdi mosque on the Avenida de África, was built in the middle of the Spanish Civil War.

Thomas Graham
The Heretical Harmony of Sabah Fakhri

The Heretical Harmony of Sabah Fakhri

He was deeply saddened by the destruction that had befallen the Citadel of Aleppo in recent years, privately mourning the loss of the amphitheater and the old market of Aleppo that launched his career, for Aleppo remained a jewel in his heart until his dying breath.

Saad Ibrahim
A Love Song Still Divides a Region

A Love Song Still Divides a Region

A romantic song has captivated audiences across the Balkans, the Middle East and as far away as Japan. But despite its themes of love and longing, it has been hijacked by nationalists determined to make political mischief out of a search for its origins.

Riada Asimovic Akyol
A Russian Intellectual Fortified the Notion of a Eurasian Civilization

A Russian Intellectual Fortified the Notion of a Eurasian Civilization

Barely known in the West, Lev Gumilyov’s theories electrified 1990s Russia and made him an intellectual celebrity — and led to nothing less than a new national story for the post-Soviet world.

Luka Ivan Jukić
The Hoax in the ISIS Flag

The Hoax in the ISIS Flag

The 19th century saw a spate of forgeries by European Orientalists of letters claiming to be from the Prophet Muhammad himself. Sultan Abdul Majid bought one for the equivalent of a staggering 73 pounds of gold. Over 100 years later, the Islamic State used the seal on this fake for its own logo and infamous flag, tricked by the wiles of expert entrepreneurs.

Ahmed El Shamsy