The Rock Star and the Mullahs

THE ROCK STAR AND THE MULLAHS (2003, UK, 56 mins) from Partisan Films on Vimeo.

The Rock Star and the Mullahs is a 53 minute documentary produced in 2003 about the lead singer Salman Ahmad from the Pakistani Rock Band Junoon. Mr. Ahmad returned to his home in Pakistan to speak with conservative religious leaders who argue that music is forbidden in Islam. As you view the video, make special note of the different interpretations of the Qur’an that are represented as well as the issues surrounding what is deemed to be appropriate expressions of devotion.

The Ramayana

The 2010 assault in Kerala occurred on 4 July 2010 at Muvattupuzha near Nirmala College in the Ernakulam district of Kerala, India.[3] T. J. Joseph, a professor of Malayalam at Newman College, Thodupuzha, a Christian minority institution affiliated toMahatma Gandhi University[4] had his hand cut off at the wrist as punishment on allegation of blasphemy, by people belonging toPopular Front of India, a confederation of radical,[5][6] fanatic,[7] Muslim fundamentalist[8] and extremist[9][10][11][12][13] organisations in South India.

Some reports indicate the attack resulted from a ruling from a “Taliban-model” court.[14][15] The Minister of Home Affairs of Kerala,Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, made a statement that while government is aware that there is a local Dar-ul Khada set up by the Popular Front of India under the supervision of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, functioning to resolve civil disputes, there were no complaints received that it was passing “Taliban-model” orders.[16][17][18][19]

In 9 October, Delhi University’s Academic Council decided to drop A.K. Ramanujan’s essay 300 Ramayanas from the Delhi University B.A. syllabus, largely due to pressure from right-wing organisations. The Council, which deals primarily with administrative affairs, saw fit to intervene in this case and dismiss the essay, despite recommendation to the contrary by the expert committee. The essay has been the subject of controversy since 2008, when these groups first objected to some of the findings presented by Ramanujan.


The Ramayana belongs to a class of literature known in Sanskrit as kavya (poetry), though in the West it is considered to belong to the category of literature familiar to readers of Homer, namely the epic. It is one of two epics, the other being the Mahabharata, which have had a decisive influence in shaping the nature of Indian civilization. The Ramayana existed in the oral tradition perhaps as far back as 1,500 BCE, but the fourth century BCE is generally accepted as the date of its composition in Sanskrit by Valmiki. Though some right-wing ideologues in recent years, eager that the Ramayana should have the same kind of historicity attached to it as do the scriptures of Christianity and the Koran, have sought to date the Ramayana back to at least 6,000 years and even furnish an exact date for its composition, it by no means diminishes the importance of the text to suggest that the historicity of the Ramayana is the least interesting of the questions that can be raised about it and its characters. Whether in fact its hero Rama, who in Hindu mythology is an avatar of Vishnu but a principal deity in his own right, and who is also worshipped in parts of north India as a king, existed or not is scarcely of any importance. The other kind of excess is to view him merely as a trope — as a sign of patriarchy, for example, or as an insignia of valiant and militant kshatriyahood, which is what the present generation of Hindutvavadis have turned him into.