Friday, October 07, 2005

hisham aidi

I've been thinking alot recently about Hisham Aidi's piece, Let Us Be Moors. It ends with some powerful ideas which are central to the virtual world of Planet Grenada, and more importantly, the real world of Planet Earth. Consider the final sentence:

Islam is at the heart of an emerging global anti-hegemonic culture, which post-colonial critic Robert Young would say incarnates a "tricontinental counter-modernity" that combines diasporic and local cultural elements, and blends Arab, Islamic, black and Hispanic factors to generate "a revolutionary black, Asian and Hispanic globalization, with its own dynamic counter-modernity...constructed in order to fight global imperialism.

Beautiful. 'Nuff said. That's it in a nutshell. That's why I'm blogging. That's why I'm writing this at all. I didn't realize it as clearly when I started off but the above sentence is the best, most comprehensive, most concise summary I can imagine...
At least today. I almost want to say more, except I should wait until certain thoughts are more fleshed out in my mind.

In the meantime here are some other articles by Aidi, some of which I've linked to before:

Hip-hoppers and Black Panthers in the Holy Land
Blacks in Argentina: Disappearing Acts
Havana Healing: Castro's Minority Scholarship Plan
Did African Explorers Civilize Ancient Europe? An interview with Richard Poe
Hip-hop of the Gods
Jihadis in the Hood
Ole to Allah

21 comments:

Basim said...

This is very important to many Pakistani/Indian (Desi), Black, and Hispanic musicians who channel the religion in its various forms!

In the punk realm, do check out The Kominas. We're a Pakistani, nationalistic, Punk band from Boston.
http://www.myspace.com/thekominas

heavily inspired by Public Enemy and the Clash. The Boston Globe did a write up, which is linked on the page given above.

asalamualaikum!
~ Basim

KARIM said...

I READ YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT THE SABIANS.THEY HAVE LIVED PEACEFULLY WITH THE MUSLEMS FOR CENTURIES.THEY ARE THE NATION THAT HAS MENTIONED IN THE QURAN.THE LATEST FATWA BELONGS TO THE LEADER OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN (AYATALLAH ALI KHAMENEI)ABOUT THIS ISSUE.

LB said...

"Islam is at the heart of an emerging global anti-hegemonic culture..."

It is? That's a weird blanket statement. No religion is a monolith or monolithically practiced across countries/continents or even within countries. A lot of fundamentalism is tied directly to US interests (like when it promoted the Taliban). Why does anti-imperialism necessarily have to be located in a single religion? That kind of bothers me.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

I've been meaning to revisit that passage from Hisham Aida after blogging for a couple of years now and commenting on whether I think the words are still meaningful. To be honest, when I first chose them for the blog I wasn't necessarily insisting on the truth of every nuance and shade of meaning. In part I just thought it was an interesting quote which combined Blackness, Latinidad, and Islam in a positive way which seemed to fit with the blog.

But now after further reflection, I think I would still agree with the idea that "Islam is at the heart..." (which I would like to spell out in a future post at my own pace)

In terms of the Taliban, the were supported by the US as a cold war tactic. But aside from that particular tactical alliance, the Taliban were resisting Soviet imperialism and the US empire as well.

And also, I wouldn't necessarily locate anti-imperialism in a single religion. (Have you seen how many posts I have on Cornel West and Martin Luther King Jr.?) I might argue that Islam is more "naturally" and clearly a liberation theology but I woudln't exclude Christianity altogether.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

But until I get that post written,... I would probably start a fuller explanation by talking about the book Jihad vs. McWorld which paints the Muslim world as a counterbalance to extreme globalization, and then I would probably point out how Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington both suggest that after the end of the cold world, the Muslim world is today the most powerful alternative to Western world. And then, due to the accidents of history it turns out that much of the Muslim world was colonized and today many of the nationalist struggles which have been going on recently (Chechnya, Kashimir, Kosovo, Palestine, Uyghar, etc) are carried out by Muslims.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

perhaps I should just go ahead and write that post...

I think I would also want to point you to the original article which gives other examples of Islam's status of being at the "heart".

But I would probably suggest trying to view this through a concentric approach.

i) a literal reference to Islam, Muslims and Muslim countries

ii) non-Muslim leftists (Tariq Ali, Edward Said, Frantz Fanon) who sympathize with some the political aspirations of people in the Muslim world (e.g. Iraq, Palestine, Algeria etc.)

iii) non-Muslim progressives/leftists who culturally give nods to the Muslim world (e.g. the kifayah fashion craze... which I also want to do a post on, or the Jose Marti poem which inspired the title "Let Us Be Moors")

LB said...

Thanks for your response. But my problem is with the binary of Islam vs. West. Obviously, a lot of countries that don't have a majority-Muslim population were colonized as well. I don't understand your point about the keffiyeh craze - it's "revolutionary chic" like Che shirts.

I *really* don't want to come off as a Hindu fundamentalist, since I'm non-religious, but have a background in Partition stuff (which is why some of this stuff rankles). Islam is an easy target today in the US as well as my parents' original country, and I don't want to bash or single it out, and I respect the role of religion in liberation movements. I just have a problem with one religion being centered as the "heart". I don't understand the link you made between Palestine's struggle for decolonization and the tug-of-war over Kashmir, which I am admittedly ignorant about.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

In terms of Kashmir, Palestine, Kashmir, etc the link was that those are Muslim-majority areas where people are struggling for autonomy from a non-Muslim group.

I don't know if this will ease your rankles but centrality but a part of how I understand that is merely descriptive not proscriptive. In other words, I'm not saying that because I believe in Islam everyone else has to put it at the center. What I'm saying is look at the world today and where the various struggles are, and a lot of the anti-imperialist "nationalist" struggles happen to be in the Muslim world. Yes, there are other anti-imperialist struggles in other parts of the world but just due to demographic considerations they aren't as prominent.

The point about kiffeyah IS that they have become revolutionary chic. So one indication that "Islam is at the heart of an emerging global anti-hegemonic culture" is the popularity of this symbol, where even non-Muslims are expressing some kind of solidarity with Muslim people.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

In terms of Kashmir, Palestine, Kashmir, etc the link was that those are Muslim-majority areas where people are struggling for autonomy from a non-Muslim group.

I don't know if this will ease your rankles about centrality but a part of how I understand that is merely descriptive not proscriptive. In other words, I'm not saying that because I believe in Islam everyone else has to put it at the center. What I'm saying is look at the world today and where the various struggles are, and a lot of the anti-imperialist "nationalist" struggles happen to be in the Muslim world. Yes, there are other anti-imperialist struggles in other parts of the world but just due to demographic considerations they aren't as prominent.

The point about kiffeyah IS that they have become revolutionary chic. So one indication that "Islam is at the heart of an emerging global anti-hegemonic culture" is the popularity of this symbol, where even non-Muslims are expressing some kind of solidarity with Muslim people.

Anonymous said...

I came upon this website by accident and don't mean to interrupt a very interesting and insightful discussion, but I just had to say that as a woman and a non-muslim, I have not usually considered a fashion craze to be an effective way of expressing a political ideology. If it were, the peace movement of the 60's would surely have ended any thoughts of our entering another war. You could just as easily say that the reemergence of those fashions reflected America's dissatisfaction with our leaders' decisons to enter it. I would truly like to hope that this was the case, but have become jaded in my old age and don't believe that my fellow Americans really understand why we are there, much less why we shouldn't be. I agree with the previous poster. To think that any religion is at the heart of a zeitgeist is to be self-deceived. I think that if we all practiced our beleifs, there would be no need for a political sort of solidarity. The illusion of seprateness would be obvious.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

Thanks for commenting. Since the exchange actually seems to have cooled off for a couple of months you certainly didn't "interrupt" anything.

let me fulfill my slavery to god.. said...

salam. i see myself as politically relevant, not only because of that i m a muslim of 21st century but also because of that i am a student of sharee'a in the era of glabal capitalism.

Joe said...

Anti-hegemonic culture???

Isn't Islam a hegemony in itself considering it's one of the top 3 religions with the largest followings?

Abdul-Halim V. said...

Joe, I would view it in a couple of ways... first I would say that in the "right" context nearly any religion could be "hegemonic" in the sense that at an anarchist Quaker convention, even Quakerism could be hegemonic.

Then secondly I could point to a couple of specific posts to support this but I would hope that if you view other entries on the blog you would see how Islam is critical of racism, economic exploitation, etc. and resonates in different ways with left-of-center politics.

Also, to the extent that Western/Christian/Secular culture is dominant (hegemonic), Islam actually would represent some kind of alternative, counter-hegemony.

As you point out, it may be harder to make that claim within the Muslim world, but outside of the Muslim world the concept still seems perfectly valid.

But even within the Muslim world, opposition to the government or oppressive social structures will often be framed in religious (Islamic) terms,

Salahuddin said...

Anyone looking forward to watch CNN's upcoming program: GENERARION ISLAM? I'm not a great fan of Mrs. Amanpour, but i think i'll tune in.

Daniel Ibn Zayd said...

As-salamu aleikum

Was looking for an email to connect but didn't see one; am not sure how I stumbled on your site, but am glad I did. I've moved back to Lebanon and have sunk myself in this idea that is so beautifully summed up in your blog's subhead. Have been working locally, starting up an artists' collective, researching the Black Panther Party and the Taller de Grafica Popular for inspiration and hooking up with artists here and in the States trying to not just imagine change, but live it and thus manifest it in our work. Inspiring to read your posts. No need to add this to the comment wall, just wanted to pass on thanks. My email is daniel.drennan@jamaalyad.org our web site is http://www.jamaalyad.org

salamat

Daniel

Abdul-Halim V. said...

Salaams Daniel,

My e-mail address is:

abdul.halim2005@gmail.com if you want to communicate that way. The idea of an artist's collective sounds amazing. Definitely let me know what you are up to and what come out of that project. I'd like to hear more.

RM said...

I don't like the subhead.
Too narrow and possibly racist.
Islam is not structured to fight global imperialism. It is the way things should be.

It does not build a place where race shows Allah(swt)'s Chosen Ones. It builds a place where race means nothing.

Yes, Islam = versus Global Imperialism.
Yes, most of the West was taught this culture,
But they don't know why they're wrong and launching against them will make them more hostile against Islam.

Why not teach Peace(Islam) through peace?
What's stopping you from helping an old white Kafir(NonBeliever) lady cross the road?

Islam is not = to fight anything.
Islam = saving.
And Jihad is to protect.
Jihad is not to rise up.

Islam does not combine things from asians, arabs and other people.
Islam is from God to Adam and his children.

And I don't know if Adam(pbuh) was Black or Asian or White.
The Qur'an didn't say.
God didn't say coz it wasn't important.

Just saying brother.
Salamat
Salaam.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

Salaams RM,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I wouldn't necessarily argue with most of what you are saying. I think that at its best Islam is about something basically human which isn't limited to race or politics.

At the same time, as individuals we live in particular bodies with specific histories and we live in particular countries with their own unique cultural and political environments and all these things intersect with how we choose to be Muslims in a particular time and place.

And personally, I find those things interesting to reflect on in my blog. I'm Black and Latino and Muslim and have certain political beliefs and cultural tastes so that's what I choose to put up on Planet Grenada. If you want to make a different kind of Muslim blog that's fine.

But I don't see why you think I'd have a problem with helping an "old white kaffir lady cross the road"

Anonymous said...

As salam walakum,So nice article i really like it


Thank


Tabassum

(islam in
grenada
)

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I really like your blog. Having read some comments on this page, I would like to add that non-muslims need to recognise that Islam is not a monolith. However, Muslims, I think, also need to recognise that we are never going to have a successful conversation with non-Muslims, especially if they are either agnostic or atheist, unless we can do it in culturally specific terms that they can understand. Remember that all humanity are the offspring of Adam, so there has to be a 'common ground'. The challenge is to find it. This is where existentialism comes in. For Muslims in the modern world, it may be one of the few ways that we can actually relate to Western thought.