Monday, October 31, 2005

interesting exercise

Can you sort people by race?

the challenge of being both black and muslim

The Challenge Of Being Both Black And Muslim by Mark I Pinsky
From the Orlando Sentinel, by way of Blackelectorate.com

interview with najee ali

Interview With Imam Najee Ali, Founder of Islamic H.O.P.E. on his reconcilliation with Russell Simmons, the future of the American Society of Muslims (ASM), unity with the NOI, and more broadly the future of Muslim political organizing.

rosa revisited

As some of you may have learned recently in the flurry of stories about her (or from the film Barbershop), Rosa Parks was actually NOT the first African-American to refuse to give-up her seat on a segregated bus in the name of equality. About 9 months before Rosa Parks took her stand (by sitting down) Claudette Colvin, a fifteen-year old high school student at the time showed exceptional courage for making the same decision. In fact, as a plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, Colvin's case played a role in helping to dismantle legal segregation in this country. (Rosa Parks was obviously a powerful symbol and inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycotts but technically her case didn't have much legal impact)

Some suggest that Colvin's prior act of resistance is understated in the history books because it was decided she was not a suitable symbol for the civil rights struggle. Rosa Parks was older, and had more "respectable" image while Colvin was a young dark-skinned, poor unwed woman who was pregnant by a married white man.

Several accounts of Claudette Colvin's role in the movement against segregation:
THE ORIGINAL FREEDOM RIDER
BROWDER v. GAYLE: The Women Before Rosa Parks
She had a dream
In The Shadow Of Rosa Parks: Unsung Hero Of Civil Rights Movement Speaks Out
Claudette Colvin, Cindy Sheehan, and Us
Daybreak of Freedom: The Montgomery Bus Boycott

But in fact, even Colvin was not the only person to refuse to give up her seat before Rosa Parks. Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald and Mary Louise Smith (the other three plaintiffs in Browder v. Gayle) made the same decision.

And in 1944, about 11 years prior, Jackie Robinson (yes, that Jackie Robinson) refused an order to get to the back of the bus while he was in the army where he faced court martial but he was ultimately acquitted. In the same year, Irene Morgan also refused to give up her seat on a Greyhound bus to a white person and her court case, Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia, also chipped away at the legal foundations for segregation.

So clearly, what made Rosa Parks special wasn't just the mere refusal to give up her seat. We are tempted to see major events as being caused by individuals, either great heroes, or great villains. But in reality, such individuals are often "in the right place, at the right time" and backed by many others who blaze the trails or provide other kinds of support. This doesn't take away from Rosa Park's greatness, but it should help us see her actions in a broader context.

A Common Dreams piece more about the general hero myth surrounding Parks: Let Us Honor Rosa Parks by Shattering the Myths About Her

Two previous Grenada pieces which address related topics:
the people, united
rosa parks (1914-2005)

imam mustafa el-amin and cedric muhammad

Exclusive Q & A With Imam Mustafa El-Amin on: The American Society of Muslims, Theology, and The Role Of Blacks In Spreading Islam In The United States

This is an extensive two part interview between Imam Mustafa El-Amin and Cedric Muhammad at Blackelctorate.com.

Part One ranges from discussions of El-Amin's time in the Nation of Islam, his research of Freemasonry, and Imam Warith Deen Mohammed's resignation as leader of the American Society of Muslims.

Part Two deals more with the future of ASM, Muhammad (saaws) as the last prophet and messenger, 9/11, African-American dawa, relations between the Nation of Islam and ASM, and future political/ economic developments in the organized African-American Muslim community.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

aminah beverly mccloud

Exclusive Q & A With Dr. Aminah Beverly McCloud, Professor, Islamic Studies in Religious Studies, DePaul University. An excellent interview. I've actually met her once. She's a trip in person. We need more people like her who are willing to speak their own minds.

Part One emphasizes the struggles faced by African-American scholars in the field of Islamic studies and academia in general.

Part Two deals more with modern negative portrayals of Islam, the sunni-shia split, other movements within the ummah, and the status of women.

mccarthyism watch

Ever since 9/11, Matthew Rothschild at the Progressive has been keeping track of the changes in the current political climate through his web-based column, McCarthyism Watch.

tony blair v. hizb ut-tahrir

21st-century McCarthyism discusses the British governments ban of the non-violent Muslim group, Hizb ut-Tahrir or HT.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

why i almost never feel like dressing up for halloween

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries
To Thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

-Paul Lawrence Dunbar

andalusian agony

Andalusian Agony by Ameer U. Shaikh is a good explanation of the role Spain has in the collective Muslim psyche. Personally, I'm still articulating for myself how I relate to it. Obviously it is going to be different due to my background, but I'm basically taking a whole blog to explain how...lol. Spain is mine and not mine, but in ways which are different from other Latinos and other Muslims.

"funny, you don't look moorish"

Even though I use the term "modern-day Moor" I should probably clarify that I'm not from Morocco. Also, although I think the movement is interesting from a cultural perspective, I'm also not a part of Moorish Science which has a distinct Circle 7 Koran as their scripture. I explain what I do mean by "Moorish". elsewhere on the blog.

in the ghetto

In the Ghetto...? by Jamshed Bokhari is a piece looking at how immigrant Muslim youth, especially from South Asia, want to immitate and participate in "gangsta" culture. It's a nice read, although in my opinion Bokhari only really scratches the surface. More could probably be said about the role of class, and racism (both from the immigrant community towards African-Americans, and from the larger mainstream society towards Muslim youths) and other factors which play a role in the decisions these kids are making.

lyrical swords

Dilshad D. Ali's article: Raising the Social, Political, and Spiritual Consciousness of Hip Hop is a review of Lyrical Swords: Hip Hop and Politics in the Mix by Muslim convert and hip-hop journalist, Adisa Banjoko. (If you want to read more from the man directly, Adisa's blog, Holla at a Schola is also on my blogroll)

ramadan round the world

By Salma Elhamalawy

an article on about how Muslim communities in Chile, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and China celebrate the month of Ramadan.


The 3,000 Muslims that live in Chile try to integrate their lives with their spiritual beliefs in a difficult environment

The celebration of the month of Ramadan possesses an important religious and social meaning for the Islamic community and Latin America is no exception. In the Hispanic world, Muslims should adapt their schedules in order to break their fast, but at times, due to work difficulties, they have no choice but to delay it. They are limited to breaking the fast with a glass of water, and have to wait until they leave work to break the fast collectively as tradition states.

Ramadan in Chile

Fareed Maymoun, a Moroccan immigrant, is used to waking up early to go to his job as a construction worker, but when Ramadan starts he gets up half an hour before sunrise. “It’s an important time for me. For the 3 years that I have been living in Chile Ramadan has a very special meaning for me. The first day is marked by a reunion at the mosque to celebrate another year, and break the fast together with the rest of the community.”

Like Fareed, the 3,000 Muslims that live in Chile try to integrate their lives with their spiritual beliefs in a difficult environment. “Christian co-workers are now used to my fasting. When we are on our lunch break many openly admire the will of those who are fasting, although they do not understand why we do it,” he states.

The first days of Ramadan as well as the last days are marked by family visits while children enjoy their new toys and sweets

The Islamic Center itself fills with children and their parents, when the prayers are finished families get together to enjoy the many activities prepared: popular songs, and delicious food.

“In the mosque a festive atmosphere is evident, people fill the halls and their children run from here to there. You hear kul 'am wa anta bikhair, to wish many happy returns for the beginning of Ramadan” Nawal Alvarez states.

The majority of families take advantage of this day to eat together. “We prepare Mote con huesillo, a special juice with pieces of dried apricot.” explains Nawal.

“In Morocco Fareed and I would have met with all our relatives, but here we’re going to eat with some friends at the mosque. Last year was the first time to break the fast without my family and it was very hard”, adds Yasmina, Fareed’s wife.

Nawal and Yasmina have it all prepared for this year, the first weekend of Ramadan they will organize an iftar (meal to break the fast) at the mosque. “We will be eight women cooking and the menu is a traditional one, first sweet tea then couscous and dried fruits with many Ramadan sweets”, explains Yasmina.

The first days of Ramadan as well as the last days are marked by family visits while children enjoy their new toys and sweets. However, for those working, their situation is no different from those of any Muslim minority.

“The difficult thing is when we are not allowed to leave a short time before the Maghrib (sunset) Prayers. For us, it is very important to be with the family at the Prayers and the breakfast. Normally we offer to work during lunch breaks to compensate. But sometimes the supervisors do not accept,” stated Fareed. “In Chile it is more difficult than in other countries because here there are fewer Muslim immigrants. In France, or Germany, there are businesses where Muslims are a majority and they are able to manage their work hours.” He said.

Ramadan in Spain

The celebration of Ramadan acquires a special importance in all Spanish cities--like Madrid, Barcelona and Catalonia

In Spain an Agreement of Cooperation, between the Spanish State and the Islamic Commission of Spain was established in 1992 and approved as Law 26/1992. The law affirms in article 12.1 that: “Members of the Islamic Communities belonging to the Islamic Commission of Spain who desire, will be able to request the interruption of their work on Friday of each week, from 1 p.m. to 4.20 p.m., as well as finishing work one hour before sunset, during the month of Ramadan”.

The celebration of Ramadan acquires a special importance in all Spanish cities--like Madrid, Barcelona and Catalonia--where numerous Muslim communities reside. Muslims get together to break their fast and they organize social meetings in the mosques. Amin Villoch, a Spanish Muslim, illustrates this, “The first day of Ramadan more than 9.000 Muslims gather at the mosques in Madrid to celebrate the breaking of the fast. Ramadan is an important factor in reuniting the community. The Islamic Center of Madrid always prepares many activities during this month for them.”

After the Maghrib Prayers, the mosque becomes a place of festivity. Everyone eats harrisa (an oriental sweet) and dates; Ramadan treats which no Muslim house lacks. “Women spend all day preparing typical food to offer to their relatives and friends whom they meet at the mosque”, explains Amira Masaad. “The first day of Ramadan is a special day. Although, it’s difficult being far away from my family, the mosque organizes events and activities to bring the Muslim community in Spain together.”

Many of the Muslims living in Catalonia visit the mosques occasionally, more to meet the community than to pray. However, when Ramadan starts, the mosques are filled with Muslims. “Muslims celebrate fully these 30 days and dedicate a lot of time for prayers.” This is when the situation becomes difficult too, “the lack of space for Prayer comes to light during Ramadan. The Catalonian Muslim community puts a lot of effort into establishing new places for Prayers and to be able to continue to attract more Muslims.”

Other activities that Spanish mosques organize during Ramadan include Arabic classes, Islamic culture classes and Qur’an and Hadith discussions.

Ramadan in Nicaragua & Dominican Republic

In Nicaragua approximately 300 Palestinian, Jordanian, Iraqi, Libyan and Nigerian citizens, as well as 4 Nicaraguans; all faithful Muslims, celebrate the month of the Ramadan. In 1999, Muslims established a mosque in Cuidad Jardin, where they gather every Friday to pray. Ahmed Hajjami, a Muslim who has resided in Nicaragua for 6 years, assured us that approximately 300 faithful Muslims, celebrate Ramadan in Nicaragua.

“We begin at half past five in the morning. There isn’t any difference in complying with Ramadan in Nicaragua or any other part of the world”, he said.

Nevertheless, he emphasized that given the characteristics of Nicaragua, it is more difficult to carry out Ramadan’s obligations. “One of the main obstacles is the time to pray, on some occasions we only pray in the morning and at night, it is almost impossible to pray the other three times,” he explained.

For Muslims in Nicaragua, the renewal of faith during this period is the main celebration. Ramadan is not a month of penitence by fasting, but of festivals with banquets, gifts and new clothes.

The mosque also publishes a calendar with prayer times and times of fasting, which is coordinated with Al-Noor Mosque in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In the Dominican Republic there are approximately 2,500 Muslims, and the ones that reside in the capital regularly attend the festivities of Ramadan at Al-Noor Mosque, the only mosque in the city.

Yunis Ribas explains, “Although the community is rather small in the Dominican Republic, Muslims gather on the first day at Al-Noor Mosque and their families usually accompany them. Later they meet in Recoleta at a halal (permitted by Allah) restaurant, a Jordanian immigrant runs it. We usually have harira, a traditional Moroccan soup, and shawarma, a spicy meat dish, on the first day.”

The mosque distributes audio materials for the Muslim community, and Muslims gather for Tarawih Prayers before heading home. “You can see the happiness of Muslims when they exchange greetings after the prayers, especially when there are new faces. Usually the day ends with a traditional herbal tea.” Yunis declared.

Ramadan in China

For Muslims in China, Ramadan is traditionally a period of fraternity, solidarity and Islamic charity.

Li Xan is a Chinese student who studies engineering at the Universidad Del Desarrollo in Chile. He has been living with his father in Chile for 3 years now. However, he remembers how his family used to celebrate Ramadan in China. “During Ramadan my father would get up at 4 o'clock in the morning, and an hour later he’d arrive at the Mosque of Niujie, in the center of Beijing, just in time for the Dawn Prayer.”

For Muslims in China, Ramadan is traditionally a period of fraternity, solidarity and Islamic charity.

“Every day in Ramadan, we attended all the five prayers at the mosque. My father’s friends understood our commitment, and when he was occupied with a lot of work they would help him to do it so that he could be punctual for Prayers”, Li explained.

Li is among more than 20 million Chinese Muslims that live by Ramadan’s obligations, continuing strictly the Islamic doctrines, praying five times a day in mosques and abstaining from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.
According to the Islamic association of China, Chinese Muslims have convenient access to prayer services as there are more than 34.000 mosques throughout the country.

”Since the foundation of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949, the rights and religious liberty of the Muslims have been protected by the constitution and the law”, he states.

The Niujie Mosque, built in 996, and that of Dongsi, 500 years old, are the two most two famous mosques in the capital. The Niujie Mosque is an important center for Islamic studies and operates a Qur’an school. During the last 50 years, the government has assigned, on numerous occasions, special funds for the repair of these buildings because of their historical importance.

Beijing has over 900 Muslim restaurants and food stores. Some supermarkets sell food especially for followers of Islam. “Thanks to the social stability and the fast economic growth of the country, Chinese Muslims enjoy a peaceful Ramadan. Many Muslims share traditional food with their neighbors, and distribute gifts to poorer Muslims,” noted Hang Xian a 61 year old Chinese Muslim trader.

Wherever you are, Ramadan is undoubtedly a most special month.

Source: Islam Online

Friday, October 28, 2005

orlando valencia's body found

From the Word War 4 Report: Paras kill Afro-Colombian leader

On the morning of Oct. 27, authorities certified that the body of an Afro-Colombian found washed up on the banks of the Rio Leon at Bocas de Zabalo, Chocó department, dead of gunshot wounds, was that of Orlando Valencia, a peasant leader from Curvaradó who was abducted by paramilitaries Oct. 16. [...]

The Comisión de Justicia y Paz states that the conflict has its roots in commuunity efforts to recover traditional lands legally titled to the Afro-Colombian villages for the past five years, but now under the control of big palm-oil producers following the forcible eviction of peasant cultivators by the paramilitary Bloque Elmer Cárdenas. Justicia y Paz cites over 100 assassinations of Afro-Colombian peasant leaders related to this struggle in recent years.

black studies professor arrested

Once I met a professor (older African-American man) from Stanford who was complaining that people who saw him on campus would often assume that he was a bus driver. He even joked around about getting t-shirts made which said across the front "I am not the bus driver". I guess some folks have a hard time imagining a Black person in an academic position.


Other folks have a REALLY hard time: Black Studies Professor Arrested (for the full story)

San Francisco State professor Antwi Akom was arrested last night and placed in county jail for going into his campus office. He was released earlier this evening.

While in jail, he spoke with numerous friends and colleagues in the Ethnic Studies Department to tell them what happened. Among them was Shenoda, his teaching assistant Ashley Moore, and Dean of Ethnic Studies Kenneth Monteiro. According to these friends, Akom came to campus around 10 p.m. Tuesday evening to pick up a book he needed for teaching his class.

When he arrived in the front of the Ethnic Studies building (which is where his office is located), he was approached by a security guard who asked him what he was doing here. Akom reportedly told the security guard he was a professor and he was simply going into his office. He then proceeded to go inside.

“When he came out, there was a white cop to meet him and told him to put his hands behind his back,” said Shenoda. [...]

racial tension in birmingham turns deadly

Damn... we (however you want to take that) really need to practice what we preach. Racial Tension In Birmingham Turns Deadly: Riots between the British Asian (i.e. Pakistani, presumably Muslim) and Afro-Carribean immigrant communities in the UK highlight racial tensions that have increased in recent years.

orlando valencia

From In These Times: Orlando Valencia, an Afro-Colombian activist, was recently kidnapped by paramilitaries aligned with the Colombian government.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

"because i know you don't read the newspaper"

Like It or Not, 'Boondocks' Will Finally Hit the Airwaves Apparently they had to rework the first episode to remove some Rosa Parks jokes. It is about time they put this on tv. I expect to be cracking up so much, I will need to watch with an oxygen mask.

Boondocks trailer courtesy of Adisa.

and several old posts:

boondocks tv interview

birth of a nation: a comic novel
boondocks: public enemy #2
boondocks: livejournal

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

the real granada

Man Yee at Under the Sun has recently had a couple of brief posts on Andalusia and the real Granada.

"homie don't play that"

So, last night I was watching some television and happened to come across a rerun of In Living Color. Homie the Clown (played by Damon Wayans, and invented by Paul Mooney) was "keepin' it real" by bopping a group of young children on the head with a partially-filled sock. It reminded me how in college, one of the texts for a Latino studies class I was taking, talked about a Brazilian trickster/clown figure who engaged in similar antics. I was moved to try to find information about that particular character online (and failed) but I did find a brief description of a related Puerto Rican character...

The Vejigante
The Vejigante (bay-he-GAHN-tay) is a fantastic, colorful character introduced into carnival celebrations hundreds of years ago. He is a classic example of the blending of African, Spanish, and Caribbean influences in Puerto Rican culture.

The name Vejigante comes from the Spanish word for bladder, vejiga. The Vejigante inflates a dried cow's bladder and paints it to resemble a balloon. The Vejigante's costume is made from scraps of fabric and looks like a clown suit with a cape and bat wings under the arms.

During the carnival celebrations in Loíza Aldea and Ponce, the Vejigantes roam the streets in groups and chase children with their vejigas. The Vejigante is such an old character that he is even mentioned in the classic novel Don Quixote written in 1605.

homie don't play that!

what's in a name?

At blackamericaweb.com, the editorial Black History is Much More Complex and Fascinating than We’ve Been Taught suggests that some "slave names" are actually more "African" than you would think.

somewhere between mexico and a river called home

Where Arab-American Meets Tex-Mex is review of Marian Haddad's recent book of prose poetry, "Somewhere Between Mexico and a River Called Home". Haddad is a Syrian-American woman who grew up in the Southwest and so her work is influenced by accents of Mexican culture along with her Arab-American roots. After finding out a little more about her, she seemed less Grenada-esque than I thought at first (the "Mexican" aspect does not seem much deeper than accent and scenery. She's from a Christian background, not Muslim). But that doesn't make her a bad writer.
a profile and interview with Marian Haddad
one of her poems (which later inspired a visual work)
two more poems
her Pecan Grove Press page

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

blog quake day

To help raise funds towards South Asian earthquake relief, Desipundit is encouraging the blogosphere to make tomorrow (Wednesday) Blog Quake Day.

For more info about the situation and what you can do to help, check out:
Wiki on the 10/5 Earthquake
South Asian Earthquake Relief
South Asia Quake Help

Damn, there are places still recovering from the Tsunami last year that now have to deal with this.

rosa parks (1913-2005)

BE031622

Whoever said these are the things that you can do
And the things you ain't supposed to?
So am I further when I think I'm getting closer?
That's when I tend to think of Rosa
How Rosa took a seat to make a stand
But now in standin' we gettin' more demanding
"Freedom", Panther Sountrack
Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

greedy for attention

Ok, I just updated my blogroll, mainly adding the blogs I've been mentioning recently plus a couple of others where I've been commenting. I'm willing to add more but I don't have any really "on deck" at the moment. Also, conversely, if you like what you read here, feel free to add Planet Grenada to your blogroll. Leave a comment. Make criticisms or suggestions for improvement. Even leave a shameless plug for your blog. (So far, I've only deleted spam and I'm in the middle of deciding what to do with missionaries who leave comments which are equivalent to spam). In any case, feel free to use your voice.

international congress on islamic feminism

In a few days (October 27-29), in Barcelona, Spain the International Congress on Islamic Feminism is planned to take place. And in a related statement on "Gender Jihad", Abdennur Prado argues in favor of a "jihad" against patriarchy in Muslim communities.

Link thanks to Latino blogger, Ulises Ali Mejias at ideant

Monday, October 24, 2005

so white they named white people after them

From Adisa Banjoko's blog, Holla at a Scholar: People always look at me crazy when I tell 'em "Theres' HELLA White Muslims on the planet".... on the situation of Muslims in the Caucasus region and their relations with the Russian government. For me, it is one of the remarkable features of Islam that it is able to become internalized by so many different ethnic groups and races. Each group relating to Islam in a way which makes it their own. And yet its the same religion.

i'm allergic

Study Says Blacks Living in Majority-White Countries Have Poorer Health

really old story, new tribes

Following up on old story, new tribes here is more information about New Tribes, the American evangelical missionary organization which is being expelled from Venezuela by Chavez. According to Prensa Latina, New Tribes may have been conducting experients which infected the indigenous population with a virus and led to about 80 deaths. Missionaries' Experiments on Indigenous Denounced in Venezuela Can we say smallpox blanket?

democracy in the middle east

Writing for Al-jazeera, Soumaya Ghannoushi discusses some of the obstacles to Arab democracy in The great Middle East Power Games. Does the US really believe that the people of the Middle East should freely choose their own path or is it more interested in a Middle East which is configured to serve US objectives?

aminah mccloud activist/scholar

Middle East studies in the News
An Islamic Scholar With the Dual Role of Activist
by Felicia R. Lee
New York Times
January 17, 2004


CHICAGO — Aminah McCloud exchanged a hearty "Assalamu alaikum" ("Peace be upon you") with the two smiling young men guarding the entrance to Muhammad University, which, despite its name, is a private school for children on the South Side of Chicago run by Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam.

A heavyset woman in a black leather jacket and black wire-framed glasses, her graying hair squashed under a black wool hat, the 56-year-old Ms. McCloud has been a frequent visitor to the quiet, orderly school in the last eight years. She has volunteered as an academic consultant and has stopped by most recently as a researcher, gathering material for her forthcoming books on the Nation of Islam and black American Muslims.

As she walked the halls, the principal, a tiny woman swathed in an elegant head scarf and long skirt, as well as other teachers greeted her warmly, like a visiting dignitary.

Ms. McCloud, a professor of Islamic studies at De Paul University here who helped establish an archive for American Muslims there 10 years ago, has been gaining national prominence since 9/11 for talking about Islam in America. She has been quoted in newspapers from The Chicago Tribune to The Los Angeles Times, sparred with television talk hosts like Bill Maher and Bill O'Reilly and been featured on a PBS special on Islam in America.

Yet even more than her news media appearances, Ms. McCloud is known for being an energetic activist among American Muslims. She is a fixture at any number of community meetings and a board member of the American Muslim Council and of the Chicago branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. She is also proud of the legal work she has done as a consultant for cases of capital murder, divorce and wrongful death in which Islam is an issue.

Many Islamic scholars have been called upon by community groups and the news media to explain or even defend Islam, and Ms. McCloud's double role as activist and academic raises old questions about how to mix scholarship and social struggle. Scholars in disciplines like women's studies and black studies have argued about such dual allegiances and about whether it is possible to avoid scholarship that has what Henry Louis Gates Jr. once referred to as a "thumb on the scale."

"Scholars of Islam are in a special position, especially after 9/11 but even before 9/11," said Ali Asani, a professor of Indo-Muslim languages and culture at Harvard. On one hand there is such overwhelming "ignorance about Islam in the public sphere," he said, that scholars are often called upon for very basic public education. On the other hand, he said, their objectivity is sometimes challenged by those who fear they might be cultural cheerleaders.

"One of the contentions Muslim scholars have had for years is that it was taught largely by non-Muslim scholars," Mr. Asani said. "I was asked point-blank at a major university if, as a Muslim, I would be objective about Muslims. The irony is that I was asked by a Jewish man who taught Jewish studies."

As for Ms. McCloud, she has "done some remarkable work" in her studies unraveling the complexities of blacks and Islam, Mr. Asani said. She is very much in the tradition of scholar-activists, he said. But she really sticks out in the field, he said, because she is African-American and a woman.

Over breakfast at a South Side pancake house, Ms. McCloud complained that "the onus put on Muslims is not put on any other group." She acknowledged that "there is always the tendency to want to defend the religion, but we fight that tendency to report what is out there."

In Ms. McCloud's view, most Americans don't understand how politically and socially diverse American Muslims are. She said the government estimated that 46 percent of the country's six million Muslims are black. {pop} There is often tension between African-Americans and other ethnic groups that practice Islam, she said. And African-American Muslims often experience friction with non-Muslim African-Americans, most of whom are Christian. Ms. McCloud said pointedly: "After 9/11, white Protestant churches invited Muslims in to speak. African-American churches did not."

"The media has always largely determined who speaks for Islam, so they focus on immigrants," she said. "I set out to give an indigenous voice to Islam in America." With a book on Muslim immigrants due out soon and contracts to produce three more books this year, including one on Muslim women, that voice could get a much larger hearing.

"African-Americans always lament going to an immigrant mosque and being told how to pray or being ignored," Ms. McCloud said, which is why she works to improve relations among various Muslim communities who often get caught up in the old debate about whose version of the religion is most authentic.

Ali Mirkiani, a member of the Chicago-area Muslim-Catholic Dialogue Group, which meets monthly, said, "She is getting people to talk and to see similarities as well as differences, to talk about the image of Islam." He added that "she is overwhelmed by the immigrant Muslim community relying on her."

Besides the books and her community work, Ms. McCloud teaches seven courses each year and is busy with a proposal to create an Islamic world studies interdisciplinary major for undergraduates at De Paul, the largest Catholic university in the nation. She writes at night, she said, from about 9:30 to morning prayer, usually around 4 or 4:30 a.m., and then sleeps four hours.

One of her books will focus on the Nation of Islam. Ms. McCloud has spent a great deal of time with Mr. Farrakhan and finds him an intelligent, charismatic man. She believes the public view of him as a social and religious leader is distorted because of the focus on his incendiary statements.

"He has been talking abut inequities and injustices among black Americans for a long time," Ms. McCloud said. "To distill his views down to one sentence to what he utters about Jews is an utter negation of what he has done, in the same way that no one has written off Thomas Jefferson because he raped a slave woman."

One major question, she said, is in what direction the Nation will take its brand of Islam. The Nation has always been evolving, she noted, from its inception during the segregated 1930's to the prominent stage it occupied in the 60's, when Malcolm X dominated, to this new century.

Now, she argues, it has been moving toward traditional Islam while still focusing on using Islamic law to raise the status of blacks in society.

But most black Muslims are not members of Mr. Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, she stressed. She has found at least five groups that call themselves the Nation of Islam, with different leaders and different focuses. Most of the communities seem to be in big cities

like Chicago, New York, Detroit and Los Angeles. Some have descendants of original Nation members, others are young adults who joined in the last 10 to 15 years. Some were attracted by spiritual and philosophical concerns, others by the message of social uplift.

As for Ms. McCloud, she was a freshman at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1966 when she first met large numbers of African Muslims and was attracted to their spiritual and political vitality. She became a Muslim, too, coming from a family background of no particular religious affiliation.

"Muslims saw the issues of race in global terms, and they let me know that American racism and separatism were also a kind of apartheid," she recalled. "From my perspective as a young adult, the tactics used by the civil rights movement were wrong. You don't put women and children out to fight white men with dogs. The goal of being a citizen should not be to get people to let you eat in their restaurant."

She moved to Philadelphia and worked as a pharmacist, but after repeated holdups at gunpoint where she worked, her nerves were raw. She was reminded by a Muslim friend of the paucity of Muslim scholars. Although she was the divorced mother of three young children, she went back to school at Temple University and majored in Islamic studies, finishing her doctorate in 1993. "I did it as a commitment to the community," she said. She is now married to Frederick Thaufeer al-Deen, a former federal prison chaplain,

In her case, says Amina Wadud, a professor of Islamic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, the combination of activism and scholarship complement each other: "She was one of the first people to designate Islamic studies in America as a discipline and to introduce it as a field of study in the academy."

Ms. McCloud said she hoped her work showed that "Islam in America is here to stay." She added, "They can assault the leaders, they can call everyone a terrorist, they can restrict people's movements, but Americans as a whole will not tolerate that."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Saturday, October 22, 2005

allah is in da house

Bukhari Volume 8, Book 73, Number 47:
Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle said, "Anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should not harm his neighbor, and anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should entertain his guest generously and anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet.


On Soul Musings Alma, a Latina blogger writes about her visit to an open house at the Islamic Center of Iriving:
The controversial highlight of the Q&A session was when a middle-aged white man said, "I don't think a person can be a good American and also a good Muslim. You are either one or the other but not both." You could cut the tension with a knife! Personally, I thought the man was pretty obtuse for making such a blanket statement. The leaders addressed the man with poise and restraint. But then one of the audience members (he was white too but with a European accent) called the first man on his brazen comment. Everyone clapped in support of the European man's comments. I suppose the brazen man was making an effort to learn; after all he did make it to the open house. I do applaud his attendance tonight. Perhaps his mind was changed a bit after interacting with the friendly congregation of the mosque.


Occasionally I think about patriotism and Islam. In my house growing up my parents taught me to value God, Country, and Family (in that order). So where does that leave me when a good chunk of my country's foreign policy involves killing and torturing many of the people who believe in the same God that I do? If being a "good American" means uncritical support of U.S. government policy, I don't see how any person of conscience (Muslim or not) can be a "good American". But personally I find a different concept of patriotism much more relevant. Being a good neighbor.

Bukhari Volume 8, Book 73, Number 43:
Narrated 'Aisha:

The Prophet said "Gabriel continued to recommend me about treating the neighbors Kindly and politely so much so that I thought he would order me to make them as my heirs.


Being a good neighbor is emphasized so much that neighbors are almost like family. We should care for our neighbors. Take an interest in them and the community around us. But then extrapolate. From your block to your city to your county, state and beyond. In my book that's what real patriotism is based on. And in that sense, Islam not only permits Muslims to be "good Americans" but requires it.
Bukhari Volume 8, Book 73, Number 45:
Narrated Abu Shuraih:

The Prophet said, "By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe!" It was said, "Who is that, O Allah's Apostle?" He said, "That person whose neighbor does not feel safe from his evil."

the other side of the coin

The Other Side of the Coin is a jarring set of images from Turkish artist Ekin Caglar about... well, you'll see.

prussian blue

Ok forget what I said in defense of white pride. I didn't mean people like the blonde-haired, blue-eyed twins Lynx and Lamb Gaede, also known as Prussian Blue. These people are crazy and dangerous. It is one thing for white people to get comfortable with their pre-Christian roots and study the Vikings, or get in touch with Celtic spirituality, etc. But these folks are the neo-Nazi version of the Olsen twins. And they are dangerous precisely because in many respects their image is so disarming.
For example, in an interview they were asked:
What are some of your favorite groups, either current or past?

We really like Avril Lavigne, Evanescence, Three Days Grace, Green Day, AC/DC, and Alison Krauss. [...] But our all-time favorite is Barney the purple dinosaur!

But then their message has another side. In the same interview:
Please tell me the significance of the name Prussian Blue.

Part of our heritage is Prussian German. Also our eyes are blue, and Prussian Blue is just a really pretty color. There is also the discussion of the lack of "Prussian Blue" coloring (Zyklon B residue) in the so-called gas chambers in the concentration camps. We think it might make people question some of the inaccuracies of the "Holocaust" myth.

Out of the mouths of babes.
The Gaede Bunch from the Southern Poverty Law Center
Young Singers Spread Racist Hate from ABC news
Rising Stars: Prussian Blue from National Vanguard
Prussian Blue's Official Website

"millions more" blogs out there

I still haven't been able to find the text of Erykah Badu's speech at the Millions More Movement march. But I have been finally finding blog entries from folks who actually went. One is Hassan Ntimbanjayo at Blogging While Black another is Blaq Speech at My Life in Peace, Politics, Poetry & Love

it's not what you know...

What may be "The Most Important Criminal Case in American History" hinges on what Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald can prove. Did someone create fake documents related to Niger and Iraq and use them as a false pretense to launch America into an invasion of Iraq? When a former diplomat made an honest effort to find out the facts was a plan was hatched to both discredit and punish him by revealing the identity of his undercover CIA agent wife?

progressiveislam.org

Another space for "progressive muslims" opened up online. This one is called Progressiveislam.org. It is still really young. There is a possibility I might get some space from them for a new incarnation of Planet Grenada. I still haven't thought it through yet.

another world is still possible

Macu Namia the author of a blog called Milfuegos is trying to get to the World Social Forum VI in Caracas, Venezuela. If you want to help him get there, check out his blog.

And from Grenada, back in May: another world is possible

on the truth laid bear

Ok, when I first joined The Truth Laid Bear ecosystem I thought it would be kinda interesting just to see where I fit in. And then later on I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was a Large Mammal. Now recently I've been getting distinctively more traffic and comments on my site, but I'm currently a Marauding Marsupial (a demotion). What's even weirder is that yesterday and today I was actually at the very top of the Marauding Marsupial list but I had different rankings both times?!? And I actually have the same number of inbound links as the very last of the Large Mammals?!? Does anyone know how that line is drawn between Large Mammal and Marauding Marsupial?

Friday, October 21, 2005

the holiest parking lot in the world

A recurring issue which comes up in conversations between Muslims and non-Muslims is the challenge of explaining the difference between what Islam teaches in terms of its ideals, and the various practices which pass for Islam in various Muslim countries. "It's not part of the religion, it's the culture" (or economics, or politics, or colonialism) we say when it comes to explaining this or that abuse.

An especially difficult challenge is addressing the assumption that since Mecca and Medina are located in Saudi Arabia, that somehow the Saudi regime represents the purest, most mainstream and orthodox form of Islam. In fact there are many people in the Muslim world who are saddened and angry about several of the policies of the Saudi regime, and object to them on religious grounds.

Part of that criticism is based on the Saudi regime's attitudes towards Islamic historical sites and relics. Just look at:

The destruction of Mecca from Sf.indymedia.org
Makka's historic sites under threat from Al-Jazeera
Advice to our brothers of Najd by Sayyid Yusuf ibn al-Sayyid Hashim al-Rifa'i

The first two focus on how much of the religious architecture in Mecca and Medina is being destroyed by the Saudis. The last is a more comprehensive paper written from a traditional religious perspective and gives many examples (57 actually) of how the Saudi regime antagonizes orthodox Islam.

(links from mere islam)

interview with samantha sanchez

From Sunni Sister's wonderful blog:

Samantha is a poet, writer, teacher, da’iyee, mother, and wife. She is one of the original co-founders of LADO: The Latino American Da’wah Organization, and wrote her master’s thesis about Latinos and Islam. She was one of MuslimPoet.com’s “Poets in Residence” from 2003 to 2004. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I decided to ask her a few q’s about da’wah, Islam, and Latinos.


UZ: Have you been writing any poetry / fiction lately? If so, what’s inspiring you, what are you “into” now? Any projects?

SS: I have written some pieces but none that I have shared. Poetry is always there…in me. I have been reviewing my old poetry to get back into it though. I can’t say I have been inspired as much lately.

UZ: We co-founded LADO in October of 1997. What’s going on with LADO now, esp. since LADO and Latino Muslims in general have been featured in several media outlets lately?

SS: LADO is in the capable hands of Juan Galvan. I will never completely walk away but I sure have taken a hiatus from directing LADO for the past 2 years. He is still on the speakers circuit and works with ISNA on conferences.

UZ: There are estimates that the number of Latino Muslims has doubled, or even tripled since LADO was founded. As far as da’wah to Latinos from the “major organization” goes, what do you see? Pros, cons? Do you think these organizations give enough attention to the Latino community? How do you think da’wah material in English (or Spanish) addresses cultural concerns that a potential convert from a Latino background might have (if at all)?

SS: I think that in years since the founding of LADO, more attention has been paid by the major organizations such as ISNA and Why Islam?. However, more can always be done. I see it being done more on a local level than nationally. Groups in Chicago, Texas and here in our own backyard in NJ have recently had Open Houses of a sort for Latinos to learn about Islam. I applaud these efforts.

MSAs have also recently become part of the local efforts, as NYU and Columbia Universities having iftars and events that included Islamic History in Spain or speakers of Latino descent. Some of the dawah material is written well but it is iften merely translations. I think it would come best from Latinos themselves.

UZ: When it comes to the general Muslim community, do you think that people are generally open minded about Latinos, or do they hold negative stereotypes about Latinos that may keep people away from Islam? What can community leaders and da’wah workers do to educate the community about the diversity of Latino cultures?

SS: I think that the majority of the Muslim community is open minded about Latinos and in fact intrigued that someone of Latino descent would choose to be Muslim. There are always those who look down on converts as not pure bred no matter what their stock, but thankfully, these are few and far between. I believe that community leaders should do more locally, having Latino converts speak at local mosques to explain a bit about Latino culture so that in turn this will help dawah efforts to the Latino community.

UZ: At the same time, do stereotypes of Arabs, Indians, Muslims, etc. among Latino people, esp. Spanish speakers, prevent those who have some interest in the Message of Islam from exploring it further (ie, have you run into this)?

SS: Stranegly enough, I personally have not run into many Latinos who think that badly of Arabs or Muslims. I am sure there are some. I would suppose that the only way to cure this malady is for Latino Muslims to be more vocal in the media particularly on TV. Perhaps if Latinos were made more aware of their own roots and they could hear from one of their own who is a Muslim, such stereotypes would dissappear or lessen at the very least.

UZ: You did a study some years ago on Latino converts. Are you still planning on making a book out of this material?

SS: I would love to have published that work. In fact, many studies that have been done since then have quoted from my work, which is rewarding. For many reasons it has been placed on the back burner, but the fire isn’t out just yet. There were problems with publishers that never got resolved and I never found another publisher that worked. Insha’allah it will happen someday soon.

obama and martinez

Florida Senator Mel Martinez, the first Cuban-American elected to the U.S. Senate, said Friday he was teaming up with Illinois Senator Barack Obama, the only black member of the chamber to introduce an immigration enforcement bill. It would create guest worker programs for immigrants, and provide incentives for undocumented workers to become documented, but tighten border enforcement. (full story)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

white muslims and moorish science

Laury Slivers, who wrote the piece Nourished by the Waters of Indigenous Islam also has another blog entry entitled Which Shade of White? about her experiences as a white Muslim.

In this latter piece she alludes back to the Moorish Orthodox Church of America which isprobably among the more ecclectic and unique movements in American religious history. They seem to have been the Sufi-tinged white hippie fellow travelers of the Moorish Science Temple.

If you want to learn more about the "Moorish" movement which formed around Noble Drew Ali, or want to delve more deeply into the "margins" of Islam, then one name you should definitely get to know is Hakim Bey (also known as Peter Lamborn Wilson). He has published books on Islamic heresies and mystical poetry. But he also has a HUGE amount of material (articles, interviews, a manifesto or two) available on the internet. I blogged about him in an earlier entry called hakim bey, ontological anarchy and cultural expression

the truth is out there

Damn. It's one thing when that one brother who is always talking about the Illuminati and Roswell and watches the X-Files just a little too much tells you about a secret conspiracy in the government. But when it comes from Collin Powell!?!?

WASHINGTON - As top officials in the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney’s office await possible criminal indictments for their efforts to discredit a whistleblower, a top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Wednesday, accused a ''cabal'' led by Cheney and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld of hijacking U.S. foreign policy by circumventing or ignoring formal decision-making channels.
Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Powell’s chief of staff from 2001 to 2005 and when Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces during the administration of former president George H.W. Bush, also charged that, as national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice was ''part of the problem'' by not ensuring that the policy-making process was open to all relevant participants.

''In some cases, there was real dysfunctionality,'' said Wilkerson, who spoke at the New America Foundation, a prominent Washington think tank. ''But in most cases..., she (Rice) made a decision that she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president.''

''…the case that I saw for four-plus years,'' he said, ''was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardisations, and perturbations in the national-security (policy-making) process'', he added.

''What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.''

Wilkerson also stressed that the ''extremely powerful'' influence of what he called the ''Oval Office Cabal'' of Cheney and Rumsfeld, both former secretaries of defense with a long-standing personal and professional relationship, adding that both were members of the ''military-industrial complex'' that former President Dwight Eisenhower warned the nation against in his 1961 Farewell Address. ''… don’t you think they aren’t among us today in a concentration of power that is just unparalleled'', he asked.
(full story)

the emperor has no clothes

After reading What America Needs Now: A Prophetic Social Movement that Speaks Moral Truth to Amoral Power by Andrew Bard Schmookler I wasn't sure whether to stand up and say "Amen!"... or yawn. Don't get me wrong. I like the fact that he said what he said. I think it needs to be said. It's important. But it has been said before. Alot. (And more eloquently in my opinion). It's just hard for me right now to see what the next step is going to be. Are people waiting around for some guy (or woman) in a bathrobe to come down from a mountain somewhere with stone tablets? Do we need to go somewhere and march? Sit-in? Demonstrate? sing? Maybe we should start the Spiritual Left Blogring (not a bad thought)?

What Schmookler says is:
By skillfully speaking the moral truth, we can help unite the good people of America, and end the polarization that our amoral leaders have worked to foster. With such “prophetic” speech, we can help America’s conservatives to remember how better to tell the difference between good and evil, and help America’s liberals to remember how absolutely vital—and real—that difference is.

Let us then speak to America, drawing strength from that ancient idea deeply embedded in the Western religious tradition: the idea that the material power of the bad ruler can be overcome by the power of moral truth boldly spoken. Let us launch, then, a “prophetic” social movement to re-establish the power of real righteousness in America.


And we definitely need to speak truth to power, but in order to succeed, any movement needs more than a catchy sloagan. They need a plan, and a willingness to follow-up on that plan.

For more thoughts from Schmookler, his blog is called None So Blind

tuning out blackness

Another blog which should be going on my blogroll when I finally get around to updating it is Marian's Blog but I'd especially like to highlight her review of Tuning Out Blackness: Race and Nation in the History of Puerto Rican Television by Yeidy Rivero on how issues of race and representation play themselves out on Puerto Rican television screens through the decades: moving from exclusion and invisibility through blackface to the Puerto Rican version of the Cosby Show.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

nourished by the waters of indigenous islam

I haven't been to the Muslim WakeUp! site in a while, but I recently found a piece there called Nourished by the Waters of Indigenous Islam by Laury Slivers which seemed Grenada-esque. It is another response to Sherman Jackson's latest book and an extension of some of his ideas. It is a step in the right direction but ultimately, I think she goes too far and would make the label "Muslim" so inclusive that it doesn't mean anything at all. Granted, there are also some people in our communities who give out takfirs more readily than salaams. I guess I'm praying that the two sides will meet somewhere in the middle.

For some more thoughts on the limits of tolerance within strictly traditional Islam, check out the people of direction.

the front line

These days I've been trying to explore different parts of the blogosphere and I realize that I should really add to and re-organize my blogrolls. For example, I just started looking at The Front Line by Muhammad Karim who is living in South Africa and the brother feels like a kindred soul.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

garvey's ghost

I just wanted to give a shout-out to a Garveyite blog I recently found called Garvey's Ghost. I would take exception to some of the comments on religion and spirituality (although I also agree with several) but either way the blog offers an interesting perspective on world affairs and current events.

in defense of white pride

This will sound odd especially to people who have read my blog for a while (and I almost can't believe I'm saying this myself). But I think it is about time someone spoke in favor of white pride. (I'm serious.) Not white supremacy. Not white racism. But a healthy amount of knowledge of self. In the long run, low self-esteem and social isolation, feeling groundless in the midst of history aren't good for anybody. White kids throwing "kill whitey" parties and the resurgence of neo-nazi activity in the US, in my opinion, are two sides of the same coin.

There is a strong need and desire for youth of all races to find some place to belong. And there is nothing wrong with a health dose of wisdom based on the experience of ones ancestors. Study history, but understand it as well. Don't just believe a caricature. Take it all, the good and the bad. Get some perspective. Know where you come from. Know where you are at.

That doesn't mean you have to dress up in costume (whether brownshirt or b-boy). But know yourself, and treat other people with respect.

old story, new tribes

Published on Thursday, October 13, 2005 by Inter Press Service
Venezuela to Expel U.S. Evangelical Group
by Humberto Márquez

CARACAS - Venezuela will expel the U.S. evangelical group New Tribes Mission, which has been active in indigenous communities along the southern border with Colombia and Brazil since 1946, President Hugo Chávez announced Wednesday.

"They will leave Venezuela," said the president. "They are agents of imperialist penetration. They gather sensitive and strategic information and are exploiting the Indians. So they will leave, and I don't care two hoots about the international consequences that this decision could bring."

New Tribes, an evangelical organisation that has long had close ties with the U.S.-based Summer Institute of Linguistics, is active in a number of countries in Asia and Latin America, and in Venezuela has focused its efforts on the Yanomami, Ye'kuana and Panare indigenous groups and other ethnic communities in the southern part of the country.

Since the 1970s, New Tribes has drawn heavy criticism from many quarters, including leftist political groups, environmentalists, indigenous organisations, academics, Catholic Church leaders and even members of the military. The controversial group has been accused of prospecting for strategic minerals on behalf of transnational corporations and of the forced acculturation and conversion of indigenous people.

Sociologist and environmentalist Alexander Luzardo, who 20 years ago published a report on the New Tribes Mission's operations in the Amazon jungle, welcomed Chávez's decision.

He told IPS that the decision "complies with what is stipulated in the constitution of 1999, which establishes indigenous peoples' right to self-determination and to respect for their beliefs, values and customs.

He also said the expulsion of the group would be in line with the recommendations of numerous government and parliamentary reports that had warned about the group's activities in Venezuela.

"New Tribes has westernized indigenous people by force, while spreading a sense of shame and guilt, disguised as teaching the gospel: they taught the Panares that Satan had turned into a Panare Indian and that they were guilty of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ," said Luzardo.

The now defunct National Identity Movement, which grouped together cultural, environmental and indigenous organisations in the 1980s, maintained that New Tribes acted as a cover for the prospecting of geological and mineral wealth coveted by corporations that provided funding for the Summer Institute of Linguistics. These included General Dynamics, a defence industry contractor, and Ford

Chávez stressed that "we are not going to run roughshod over anyone, we will give New Tribes time to pack up their things and go."

(full story)

"kill whitey"

In "Kill Whitey" on the Dance Floor, Michelle Garcia writes about how for several years now in certain parts of New York, "kill whitey" parties are the rage:

The dance floor throbs to the rapid thump-thump of the hip-hop beat. The deejay, Tha Pumpsta, leans against his booth, and a woman slides up from behind, grabs his narrow hips and rubs hard.

Tha Pumpsta hops onto the crowded dance floor of guys in big T-shirts dangling from slight frames and ladies in short skirts and tasseled boots.

"Kill whitey!" yells Tha Pumpsta into the microphone as he bounces to the beat. "What . . . gonna . . . do dance . . ." he raps to the beat. "Kill whitey!"

But you'd never guess who is calling the tunes. (full story)

the moors and europe

THE MOORS, BLACK CIVILIZERS OF EUROPE is a link to a brief overview of Moorish accomplishments in Spain and their implications for the rest of the continent.

a history of muslims in america

Here is a very brief chronology of the history of Muslims in America. It starts in 1178! and goes up to the early 1990s.

all god, all the time

All God, All the Time by James Carroll is a remarkably humble and sincere perspective on God's role in the midst of current events. From Common Dreams.

searching for failure

Try this:
Go to www.google.com
do a search for the word "failure"
And see what item comes up at the top of the list.
Here is an explanation but try it first.

Monday, October 17, 2005

islam and hip-hop

Also from I.M.A.N.: Islam and Hip Hop: Capital D Discusses the On-Going Role of Muslims in this Global Medium

the legacy of malcolm x

Also from I.M.A.N.: The Legacy of Malcolm X: An Interview with Ilyasah Shabazz where one of Malcolm's daughters shares her thoughts about her father.

civic involvement and islam

From the I.M.A.N. (Inner-city Muslim Action Network) website: In Civic Involvement: An Islamic Imperative, Imam Zaid Shakir shares some comments about how Muslims can be of service to the community around them. And in particular, some of the positive projects which I.M.A.N is engaged are a Day Laborer Campaign and an Ex-Offender Campaign

night of power / laylat al-qadr

This is a bit early, but I figure it would be best to give a reminder ahead of time. Coming up in the last 10 nights of Ramadan is a special night called the Night of Power or Laylat al-Qadr. Here are some resources on it, and Ramadan in general. One of the more intriguing is the section written by Mumia Abu Jamal, who as far as I know, is not a Muslim in any orthodox confessional sense, but was nevertheless moved by the spirituality of Laylat al-Qadr:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani on Laylat al-Qadr
Mumia Abu Jamal on the Night of Power
Laylat al-Qadr from Central Mosque.com
The Virtues of Fasting from Bahishti Zewar
The Night of Power from Essentials of Ramadan, The Fasting Month by Tajuddin B. Shu`aib

guantanamo and planet grenada

This week's topic for the Progressive Blogger Union is the Guantanamo hunger strike. Given that the abuses at Guantanamo are being done by my government, to my co-religionists, in my family's homeland, one could argue that I haven't been blogging nearly enough on the subject. What is going on there mostly makes me sad and angry in a way which is hard to articulate. Besides, there are only so many ways to say that a certain situation is obscenely wrong and shouldn't be happening. In any case, here are most of the past Planet Grenada posts on Guantanamo plus a few more on related subjects:

yo soy un hombre sincero...
fast for justice
amnesty international and guantanamo bay
guantanamo action center
guantanamo hunger strikes serious
guantanamo hunger strike
guantanamo medics accused of abusive force-feeding
james yee
as ramadan approaches
guantanamo and the quran
benito juarez and quran desecration at guantanamo
us admits to torturing prisoners
shut down guantanamo!
"you can't handle the truth"
guantan-ramera?
jose padilla and the death of the republic
jose padilla
secret cia map indicating the location of the taliban
let us be moors
disappeared in america

Sunday, October 16, 2005

amnesty international and guantanamo bay

Here is Amnesty International's page of resources on US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. It includes dozens of documents on the camp going as far back as 2002, some suggestions for ways you can help, and links to over a thousand documents from Amnesty International on various other aspects of the human rights situation in the US.

One such report is called Guantánamo and beyond: The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power and discusses not just Guantanamo but case of Jose Padilla and others.

halfway through ramadan

It is common for Muslims to say that Islam is deen al-fitra or a "natural religion". One of the most vivid ways that is manifested for me is in how Islamic rituals are tied into natural phenomena. The prayer times are all based on the position of the sun, the lengths of shadows and the color of the sky. The fasts in the month of Ramadan go from daybreak to sunset. And the religious calendar is strictly lunar, a new month begins with every new moon. As a result you can look up into the sky, see the full moon, and know that we are almost halfway through the month of Ramadan. Worship is part of a natural cycle.

I'm at the midpoint, but I don't know what to say. I don't feel as "spiritual" as in past years. I let my attention and energy get caught up too much by the dunya (the here and now) rather than the akhirah (the hereafter). I am not saying you have to be an escapist in order to be spiritual, far from it. But I feel like I'm focusing on the surface of things rather than their depth. I still have a little over two more weeks to make the most of the month of Ramadan.

afro-latinos marginalized and ignored

Afro-Descendants Marginalised and Ignored by Diego Cevallos summarizes the results of several studies on the political and economic situation of people of African descent in Latin America. Overall, in the midst of some deeply rooted and pervasive racial problems, there are some bright spots where positive change seems to be occuring.

amiri baraka and the millions more movement

In The Black Left and the Millions More Movement by Amiri Baraka, Baraka discusses the importance of following-up on the march with the formation of a united front and a stable national political organization.

sweetest day / millions more march / erykah badu

I wonder if there is some cosmic significance to the fact that Sweetest Day coincided with the Millions More March (the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March this year. It is easy to find both positive and negative connections. Both events can be seen as sincere expressions of love. Both can also be seen as commercialized, exploited immitations of the same. (Can you tell I didn't have a Sweetie this year?)

I caught part of the Millions More March on CSPAN. Out of what I saw, the best part was definitely watching Erykah Badu doing her thing. Apparently she had been scheduled to sing "Time's a Wastin'", but after they introduced her and the music started playing, she stopped the music to give a speech! Her comments were eloquent enough to make me think she had written them beforehand, but "rough" enough to make me think she wasn't doing what the planners of the march had expected her to do.

I suspect that faced with the considerable temptation of being handed a microphone and a live television audience she decided to go the Kanye route and say whatever the hell she wanted to say. Although in contrast to Kanye, her words were simple, beautiful, powerful and eloquently delivered.

Towards the end she even said "I'm not going to sing. I'm not going to sing". And it would have been alot more appropriate if she had stuck to her guns and let her comments stand on their own. Unfortunately, she caved in and sang anyway... not that the song was performed badly, but it was anti-climactic given the quality of the comments which came before.

If I find a transcript of her comments, I definitely intend to add the text or a link to it.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

guantanamo medics accused of abusive force-feeding

October 15, 2005
WASHINGTON -- US military medics have attempted to dissuade Guantanamo Bay detainees from continuing a hunger strike by forcing finger-thick feeding tubes through their noses without painkillers, lawyers for the detainees told a federal judge yesterday.
(for full story)

guantanamo hunger strikes serious

October 8, 2005 - 3:48PM
The Red Cross expressed concern today about the two-month-old hunger strike by Guantanamo Bay prisoners, some of whom are being force-fed, as the US military said 26 were on strike but their lawyers insisted the figure exceeded 200.

The strike that began on August 8 over conditions and lack of legal rights is the most widespread of a handful of such protests since the prison camp at the US naval base at Guantanamo in Cuba opened in January 2002, the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said.

US army Lieutenant-Colonel Jeremy Martin, a Guantanamo spokesman, said 26 detainees were taking part in a "voluntary fast", including 22 hospitalised for "involuntary feedings" involving food given through a nasal tube and fluids given intravenously. Some rights activists have criticised this force feeding.

Martin said the number peaked at 131 last month and has since steadily declined. "The detainees are all clinically stable, closely monitored by medical personnel to ensure that they don't harm themselves - and will continue to receive appropriate nutrition, fluids and excellent medical care," Martin added.

Amnesty International rejected Martin's account.

"Even the language that they're using is totally indicative of the fact they're trying to minimise this," said Amnesty International official Jumana Musa.

"What is a 'voluntary fast'? This didn't start because of Ramadan [the current Islamic holy month in which Muslims fast]. That's a voluntary fast. This is a hunger strike, which is basically people pledging to starve themselves to death."

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva underlined its concern.

"There is a hunger strike, the situation is serious, and we are following it with concern," said ICRC spokeswoman Antonella Notari.

The hunger strike is the latest flash-point between the US Government and human rights groups over the camp, which activists call a blight on the US human rights record.

The Centre for Constitutional Rights, along with affiliated lawyers, represents more than 200 of the approximately 505 detainees at Guantanamo.

CCR lawyer Barbara Olshansky said her group estimates about 210 prisoners are taking part in the hunger strike, and accused the military of deliberately understating the strike's scope.

Olshansky acknowledged her group had not been able to perform a systematic head count of participants at the secretive prison, and said the estimate was based on data gathered by lawyers visiting detainees in recent weeks.

Australian terrorist suspect David Hicks is among some 505 detainees being held in the prison. Human rights groups have denounced these indefinite detentions and treatment they say amounts to torture. Most detainees were picked up in Afghanistan after the United States invaded in 2001 to oust the Taliban government and dislodge al-Qaeda bases.

The hunger strike began after the military reneged on promises given to detainees to bring the prison into compliance with the Geneva Conventions, CCR said. Detainees were willing to starve themselves to death to demand humane treatment and a fair hearing on whether they must stay at the prison, it said.
Link

guantanamo action center

If you want to learn more about what is happening to detainees in Guantanamo, Cuba and what you might be able to do about it, you can also check out the Center for Constitutional Rights: Guantanamo Action Center

fast for justice

In another example of the muslim like me phenomenon, the Center for Constitutional Rights is trying to promote a Fast For Justice on November 1 on behalf of the hunger striking detainees in Guantanamo, Cuba. A vigil is also planned in Washington, DC for the same day.

Friday, October 14, 2005

black orientalism

Here is an exerpt from Jackson's latest book It is the chapter on Black Orientalism from Islamica Magazine.

If you are a Muslim of African descent living in the West just read this. It's good for you. It's food for your brain. Better than a bean pie. (I'm not a very subtle salesman) I am actually not certain that I have the words to adequately convey my thoughts about this stuff. For a very long time, orthodox Muslim discourse on race and racism in the United States has been extremely superficial. It mainly consists of a pamphlet about how Islam is anti-racist (and it is), a pamphlet about how when Malcolm X went on hajj he was treated really well by Muslims of different races (and he was) and a pamphlet about Bilal (the Ethiopian companion who used to be a slave but was freed by the Muslims and had a beautiful voice). And in some circles that's pretty much as deep as it goes. As a result, it is incredibly and intensely refreshing for me to read or hear from orthodox Black/Latino Muslims who talk about race and racism in an in-depth intelligent way. Hopefully, in some small way, Planet Grenada helps fill that vacuum.. although I don't think of myself as some kind of deep expert. But in any case, I'm just glad Jackson is out there talking about these issues, and if you are a fan of Planet Grenada then you'd probably enjoy his subject matter as much as I do.

review of islam and the blackamerican

Here is one blogger's recent review of Sherman Jackson's Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection. It is a really good description of at least one future trajectory for African-American Islam

Here is the meat of the review:
I was in Atlanta in 1991 when I heard a Louis Farakhan tape in which he said something like, “We did not stop riding the back of the bus to get on the back of the camel!” And, later, around that time frame, I remember reading a line condemning African Muslim hujjaj (pilgrims to Makka) passing the bones of their ancestors to worship at Arab shrines. (I think it was from Molefi Asante’s book Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change.) Lastly, I remember reading an article by Louis Brenner about the manner in which a scholar taught the attributes of God to common people in West Africa. And Dr. Jackson wrote a book which brought together all of these experiences for me.

The existence of a large group of indigenous Muslims in the United States is not duplicated in other countries ruled by Europeans and their descendants, in the Americas, western Europe, the Republic of South Africa, Australia and elsewhere. Dr. Jackson sets out to explain why this developed in the United States and not elsewhere, and at the same time project a path that Blackamerican Muslims must tread if they hope to preserve their Islam and succeed in overthrowing white supremacy. As it turns out, giving up the goal of overthrowing white supremacy would in fact end Islam among the Blackamericans.

A confluence of factors allowed Blackamericans to own Islam. The first was the imperative of Black Religion, a primordial, fitra-like belief in a just God who would not tolerate His people’s abuse and Who would Punish their oppressors. The second was that fact that their oppressors identified themselves as Christians, not Muslims. The third was that Muslim immigrants to the United States and white American converts were too few to define Islam in the United States. The fourth was the leadership of the proto-Islamists such as Noble Drew Ali and The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who allowed their Muslim followers to appropriate White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) values without identifying their oppressors as the source of those values. The fifth was an early twentieth century crisis in Blackamerican Christianity, which inculcated those WASP values yet could not articulate them without surrendering moral supremacy to whiteness. The sixth was features in Islam which met Blackamericans’ needs. These were Islam’s theology, which is simple relative to that of Christianity, Islam’s Protestant-like absence of institutionalized ecclesiastical authority and the Qur’an’s frequent references to the God’s aiding the believers against their unbelieving oppressors.

Elijah Muhammad used the term “resurrection” to describe his movement’s impact on the Blackamerican. Dr. Jackson borrows this term and identifies Elijah Muhammad’s period as the First Resurrection. Blackamericans’ embrace of Sunni Islam since the 1970s is the Second Resurrection. And the challenges facing Blackamerican Muslims today require a Third Resurrection.

The Blackamerican Muslim today has lost control of the definition of Islam to Immigrant Islam in the United States, not because immigrant Muslims and their descendants practice a “purer” Islam but because of their relative affluence, their ideological self-assuredness and weaknesses in Black Religion. I would add to this list the foreign policy imperatives of the United States as it embarks on the re-colonization of the Muslim world. Immigrant Islam, by devaluing “the West”, prevents Blackamerican Muslims from contributing positively to Blackamericans’ struggle against white supremacy. The psychological dislocation of abandoning theirs own selves in exchange for a foreign, identity-based Islam leaves Blackamerican Muslims ineffective in both the secular and religious spheres.

The Third Resurrection of the Blackamerican Muslim must center on personal piety, mastery of usul al-fiqh, the bases of jurisprudence, to derive judgments on what is permissible and forbidden for Blackamerican Muslims, and an unwavering commitment to fight white supremacy. The Blackamerican Muslim will at that point be self-authenticating, needing the approval of neither white supremacists nor other Muslims. Blackamericans would be in the position of the African teacher and his pupils whom Louis Brenner described for me, neither colonizing nor colonized, with knowledge of this religion being treated as a public good and not a personal inheritance.

I’ve summarized in just a few paragraphs a densely written book, and of course I recommend reading it to understand Dr. Jackson’s arguments for why this is necessary.

bokononism

On the occasion of Kurt Vonnegut's 83rd birthday, In These Times recently decided to put together Kurt Vonnegut’s In These Times Opus which is a collection of links to various contributions which Vonnegut has made to that periodical over the years. Enjoy!

But also, since I obviously like to emphasize the spiritual/religious side of issues, I thought it would be also good to include information about Bokonism, which is a fictional Carribean-rooted religion which appears in the Vonnegut novel, Cat's Cradle.

Bokononism is surprisingly thought out for a fictional religion, especially one limited to a single novel. It would be hard to find a belief system created for print/ film/ tv which was more thoroughly fleshed out. You'd probably have to look to the Dune series (based on several novels and short stories) or the Star Trek universe.
The Books of Bokonism
Bokononism

two percent approval rating

2% Of African-Americans Give President Bush A Positive Rating... Daaag! I heard even Jefferson Davis got 5%.

seeking submissions for book on latino muslims

Latinos Journey to Islam: A Rebirth of an Experience

The co-authors, Juan Galvan and Samantha Sanchez, are accepting Latino Muslim conversion stories. Contributing authors will have the opportunity to have their story appear in Latinos Journey to Islam: A Rebirth of an Experience. The tentative book title was "Latinos Revert to Islam: What's Old is New again." The new title more accurately reflects the many paths Latino Muslims have taken on their journey to Islam. This book will touch the hearts of millions and help them see the beauty of Islam, insh'Allah.
"Thus does God make
His Signs clear to you:
That you may be guided"
Qur'an 3:103.

For More Information: Check Link

Thursday, October 13, 2005

muslim like me

In her article, Why Americans Should Observe Ramadan Carol Wolman suggests that Americans (specifically non-Muslims) who want to protest American foreign policy in the Middle East and want to express their solidarity with Muslims (who are often at the receiving end of that policy) should fast during the month of Ramadan. It is an intriguing thought. To be honest, I have some reservations about the idea which I might try to articulate in a future entry. But I still don't think it would be a bad thing if any non-Muslims reading this thought seriously about Wolman's suggestion and, if it made sense for them, followed her advice. I would only hope that anyone making that decision also have a good understanding of the spiritual/religious significance of fasting in Ramadan and did not just do it for narrow political reasons.

As I was trying to make up my own mind about her suggestion, it occured to me that the idea isn't totally new. Or more specifically, that I had already seen other examples of non-Muslims expressing solidarity with Muslims by temporarily adopting some Muslim practice.

For years now, the National MSA (Muslim Student's Association) has encouraged a Fast-a-thon program where non-Muslims are encouraged to fast for one day during Ramadan and raise money for various good causes.

And in the period immediately after 9/11 there was a small movement of non-Muslim women called Scarves for Solidarity who took up wearing hijab in support of the hijab-wearing Muslim women who were facing heightened discrimination during that time.

Even prior to 9/11 I remember reading an account of a non-Musilm woman who wore hijab as a kind of experiment to see what it would be like. (It is called "Unveiling Oppression" by Kathy Chin and is a very interesting piece in its own right)

In the end, I think it is heartening and encouraging to see non-Muslims make such warm gestures towards Muslims and Islam, especially in the current cultural/political climate where Muslims are often very misunderstood. The empathy and understanding forged by these sorts of interactions and experiences can be invaluable. I would just hope that these efforts would continue in a respectful way, and with Muslim input, participation and support.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

pimpin' ain't easy

Pimpin' Ain't Easy: The New Face of the Black Church is a most disturbing piece. In the past, the Black church served an important role in terms of being the conscience of the nation when it came to important issues of social justice. But this article suggests that in modern-times, a significant portion of the Black Church has basically sold out and lost its way.

al-qaeda: where are they now?

Snapshot-Remains-Of-C.article
from the Onion

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

accepting the slurs

Accepting the Slurs by Salim Muwakkil is another article which seems very apt for Columbus Day. It looks at the offensiveness of using Native American imagery in the names and mascots of sports teams.

I have to admit that this is probably an issue I have the least PC feelings about. Don't get me wrong. It seems fairly obvious that many Native American political organizations are opposed to the practice, and so out of a sense of resepct for their feelings, and solidarity with their cause, it makes sense to follow their lead. But it is also pretty clear that it would be hard to defend a general claim that teams should never be named after ethnic groups. After all, no one is complaining about the Boston Celtics, the Trojans, the Spartans, the Fighting Irish, the Minnesota Vikings or the New York Yankees. But my guess is that when you are busy running the world, you are probably going to be more willing to let a couple of things slide. On the other hand if you used to have free run of two continents but are now limited to a few reservations and casinos, you are going to be less willing to roll over and accept one more indignity, no matter how slight.

From a certain point of view, I should probably be more worked up about this issue. I went to a school where the team was called the Maroons. (There are actually a couple of sports teams which still use the name). It seems pretty obvious that the original reference was to Black runaway slaves (which would have had associations with being strong, independent, fierce fighters). Fortunately we didn't have a mascot and the school colors were white and maroon so in some respects the original meaning was more or less sanitized out of collective memory. But even if that hadn't been done, I could still imagine scenarios where could feel good about being on a team called the Maroons. (e.g. if the mascot wasn't a caricature or a cartoon)

In the end I would say that there isn't a universal principle one can really appeal to which explains why the Fighting Irish is "ok" but the Fighting Illini is "not ok". But since it is clear that many Native Americans are offended by many of these actions, then by definition, such practices are actually offensive, and we should take rapid reasonable steps to limt the use of such imagery by sports teams.

Another article by Salim Muwakkil on the same topic was published by In These Times last year and is called Racist Slurs Taint U.S. Sports.

letter to an african muslim

Letter to An African Muslim by Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi ad-Darqawi is a large text (not just a few pages) which discusses Islam's potential role in freeing Africa from external control and improving the condition of African people. I wouldn't necessarily endorse everything in it. I have my own reservations about the author and some of the positions he adopts. But if you are interested in the subject, it might be worthwhile to at least take a look at what he has to say. But at the same time I would try to think: Are there other ways to understand the situation in Africa? Are there other models for Islam's role in addressing those problems? What are the non-religious factors play in African society? etc.

an interview with ralston x

Gus Westcott's interview with Ralston X (Uthman Malik Abdal Hakim) was originally broadcast in December 1993 and consists of a brief discussion on the relation between the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X and Pan-Africanism, along with other related themes.

racial amnesia

Racial Amnesia is an interesting page discussing the African heritage of Puerto Rico and Mexico and the ways in which it gets "forgotten".
Thanks to Sha-King Ceh’um Allah who writes Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil

Monday, October 10, 2005

cornel west on katrina

From Tikkun magazine, here is a summary of an interview with Cornel West on the larger implications of Hurricane Katrina

indigenous activists and columbus day

An interview with Robert Mucaro-Borrero, President of the United Confederation of Taino People on the "discovery" of the New World.

guantanamo hunger strike

A hunger strike at the U.S.-run prison camp at Guantanamo Bay has entered its third month. At least 22 detainees have been hospitalized and are being force fed through nasal tubes and IVs. The number of detainees taking part in the hunger strike is in dispute. The Center for Constitutional Rights estimates 210 detainees are on hunger strike. The U.S. military says that as many as 130 took part in the strike but that only 26 are still refusing to eat.
from Democracy Now!