Sunday, March 30, 2008

beware the beast man

The post about Iblis' decision to not bow down before Adam got me thinking about Islamic anthropology (see only human) and how when God announced He was going to place humanity on the earth the angels skeptically asked: What! wilt Thou place in it such as shall make mischief in it and shed blood, and we celebrate Thy praise and extol Thy holiness? (2:30) It also reminded me of another memorable scene from the Planet of the Apes movies:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

more monkey business

A few days ago I managed to catch some bunch of talking heads on Fox discussing LaBron James and his King Kong pose on the cover of Vogue magazine and it got me thinking about the larger question of whether it is ever okay to use racialized monkey images, which of coursa reminded me of the following scene from one of my favorite movies:



see also:
monkey business (I fixed a few of hte links but some are dead)

the devil and al-hallaj

So I recently finished reading Philp Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. It is a kind of an anti-Narnia series where the heroes gather a multiverse-wide army to fight against the Judeo-Christian God, typically referred to as the Authority. Given the theme, I would have expected that that film The Golden Compass (based on the first book) would have caused more of a scandal than it did. In any case, the books got me thinking of other examples (both historical and fictional) of how perspectives on God or the Devil are sometimes dramatically inverted.

One example of such an inversion in an Islamic framework can be connected to a question I've reflected on from even before the time I became Muslim: If Islam is such a radical monotheism, then why would Iblis (the Devil) get in trouble for refusing to bow down to something other than God? (For those that don't know, in the Quran the Devil "falls" when he refused to bow down to Adam)

The Sufi Mansur al-Hallaj must have had a similar question, and in a chapter of his metaphysical treatise The Tawasin entitled Before Endless Time and Equivocation he gives a rather bold answer in the form of an imaginary dialogue between Moses and the Devil:

Musa met Iblis on the slope of Sinai and said to him: ‘Oh Iblis, what prevented you from prostrating?’

He said: ‘That which prevented me was my declaration of a Unique Beloved, and if I had prostrated I would have become like you, because you were only called upon once to ‘look at the mountain’ and you looked. As for me, I was called upon a thousand times to prostrate myself to Adam and I did not prostrate myself because I stood by the Intention of my Declaration.

Sayedina Musa said: ‘You abandoned a Command?’

Iblis said: ‘It was a test. Not a command.’

Sayedina Musa said: ‘Without sin? But your face was deformed.’

Iblis replied: ‘Oh Musa, that is but the ambiguity of appearances, while the spiritual state does not rely on it and does not change. Gnosis remains true even as it was at the beginning and does not change even if the individual changes.’

[...]

If He punishes me with His fire for all of eternity I would not prostrate myself before anyone, and I would not abase myself before any person or body because I do not recognize any opposite with Him! My Declaration is that of the Sincere and I am one of those sincere in love.'

So in Al-Hallaj's mind the Devil almost becomes an almost saintly figure, not unlike the historical Sufi, rabia al-adawiyya who famously expressed her love for God apart from fear of Hell or desire for paradise. To be honest, I find Al-Hallaj's view somewhat compelling. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to defend some kind of Islamic form of Satanism. But I do think that Islam's radical monotheism does imply that the Devil is "on the payroll" so to speak. The Devil's act of disobedience was only apparent and ultimately he serves some valuable function as a part of the divine plan.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

path of perfection: rebel music

According to their webpage, Path of Perfection is a label and distro based in ideas and feelings that truly express a reaction to everything that's happening in the world today. And given how their statement of purpose also includes references to the Natural Order, Allah, veganism and animal liberation I would guess that whoever is behind this is some permutation of the folks we've discussed before in our posts on sean muttaqi, vegan reich and the hardline movement and hashlamah.org

Interestingly enough, they actually link to one of my posts on natural Islam. Also given that I just posted on Mumia Abu Jamal earlier today, it is also kind of nice that they posted some more information on John Africa and the MOVE organization. Check it out.

dave chappelle gives salaams to fans

From MT Akbar (Chi-Town Revolutionary Guerrilla) : Dave Chapelle in the UK-Sends Salaams and Eid Mubarak to fans

new developments in the case of mumia abu jamal

Associated Press: Court: Mumia Deserves New Sentencing Hearing
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal appeals court has ordered a new penalty hearing for celebrity death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says Abu-Jamal's conviction for the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer should stand. But it says he should get a new sentencing hearing because of flawed jury instructions.

If prosecutors don't want to give him a new death penalty hearing, Abu-Jamal would be sentenced automatically to life in prison.

A Philadelphia jury convicted Abu-Jamal of killing Officer Daniel Faulkner after the patrolman pulled over Abu-Jamal's brother in an overnight traffic stop 27 years ago.

Probably due to his name, many people seem to assume Mumia Abu Jamal is Muslim but he actually isn't a confessional Muslim. In his book Death Blossoms, he gives his credo as follows:
My belief – my religion, which I call Life – the teachings of John Africa and the example of my MOVE brothers and sisters across the state, many of whom have survived imprisonment for years and years. Their example has buoyed me up over fourteen years behind bars. Also, my faith in the power of commitment, in the power of family, in the power of love, of community, of God. I could give you one term instead of four or five. "Family," for example, means unity, commitment, love. That is "family." The other thing, of course, is laughter. Very simply, it’s human to laugh and to find humor, even in something small. Every day. Every day there is something to laugh about! That keeps me human.
See also:
mumia abu jamal - death blossoms
mumia abu jamal: hispanics, latin america and the struggle against the empire
legal update in the case of mumia abu jamal

prophetic and civil religion

Fire and Damnation Awaits Those Who Transgress White America’s Religion by BAR executive editor Glen Ford, further develops the idea that Rev. Wright blow-up isn't really about individual views and opinions but is really about white American civil religion and a black prophetic tradition.

And also, in Counterpunch, Ishmael Reed weighs in on the The "Crazy" Rev. Wright

moors and mujaddids

The Book of Assistance


The Moors Gate: Bab El Magharbeh is a Moorish Science Website but I've started to wonder if they are moving in a more orthodox direction with their promotion of The Book of Assistance by Imam 'Abdallah Ibn Alawi al-Haddad (Widely considered to be the mujaddid of his day). In earlier posts they have also recommended works by Ibn Al-Arabi and Imam Al-Ghazali. I wonder how they go about bridging the teachings of Noble Drew Ali with those of the classical scholars.

see also:
moors, snakes and st. patrick
compass for a sea of scholars

we are family

From time to time I like to reflect on the mathematics of genealogy, but I quickly get overwhelmed. Barring virgin births, everyone has 2 parents. Barring, incest, everyone has 4 grandparents, 8 great- grandparents, 16 great- great- grandparents, 32 great- great- great- grandparents`and so on, doubling with every generation. If you know anything about geometric progressions you would realize that the number of ancestors a person has in any given generation will get very very large, very very quickly as we move into the past.

Now, in order for two people to NOT be related what is necessary is the near-impossible requirement that their two respective geometrically increasing clouds of ancestors not overlap. But eventually, if you go far back enough, each person's theoretical number of ancestors in a generation will exceed the total population on the planet. In other words, there doesn't seem to be enough room on the planet for two people to really be from different "tribes". We are all at least distant cousins.

A special corrollary of the realization that we are all related is the fact that we are all related to royalty (or any sufficiently prolific historical figure). For example, everyone today of European descent is apparently descended from Charlemagne. A good discussion of this idea can be found in an old article which appeared in The Atlantic entitled The Royal We by Steve Olson

Last year, in a surprising turn, it was discovered that Barack Obama and Dick Cheney are cousins. And more recently, last month, Juan Cole over at Informed Comment wrote about how: Queen Elizabeth II was Descended from the Prophet Muhammad (saaws). (although this has been known among professional genealogists for a long time.)

See also:
britney spears may convert to islam
kerry descended from the prophet muhammad?
i'm back...
al sharpton and strom thurmond

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

there is nothing wrong with rev. wright

Here's a link round-up for the Reverend Wright issue:

The Real Rev. Wright: The Footage Fox and the Other Networks Won't Show. Shows some of the "controversial" comments with more context. Also TRINITYCHGO has posted dozens of other videos from Trinity United Church of Christ onto YouTube.

The two articles The Wright Dust-Up Shows and Proves That Many Whites Don’t Know Black People at All and There's Nothing Wrong with Rev. Wright both place Wright in the broader prophetic tradition of the Black Church.

Then The White Preacher Double Standard: How Hagee, Parsley and the Rest Get Away with Everything and GOP: Only Our Pastors Can Say Crazy Sh*t contrast how Wright has been portrayed to how the media treat white Christian clergymen who say outlandish (or bigoted, or hateful, etc.) things.

Finally, Pastor of Hillary's Former Church: Don't Use Wright to Polarize and Is It Hillary's Turn to 'Denounce and Reject' a Problematic Pastor? mention how Ms. Clinton might have to do some soul searching of her own before she thinks about using the Rev. Wright as a political club against Obama.

see also:
jeremiah wright and the black church
mccain's spiritual advisor hates muslims and islam

“do good works, engage politically, and get involved”

altmuslim.com: “Do good works, engage politically, and get involved” is an interview of the first Muslim U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison by Wajahat Ali.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sunday, March 23, 2008

two by eteraz

I thought I'd share two pieces from Ali Eteraz's series on Islamic Reform.

The first is The making of the Muslim left. In it, Eterez recommends
"creating a viable and well organised Muslim left. It would be an intra-religious movement as opposed to a universalist one (though obviously it doesn't shun allies). It would be a cousin of the international left, but in a Muslim garb. Just as the Muslim right found Islamic means to justify the destructive ideas from the enlightenment (Fascism, Marxism, totalitarianism, evangelical religion), the Muslim left should find Islamic means to justify the positive ones (anti-foundationalism, pragmatism, autonomy, tolerance)"

I have reservations about some of the specific bullet points in his platform (listed in the article), but I definitely agree that if the above principles gained a foothold in the Muslim world and spread it would be a good thing.

In the second article, The Islamic Reformation, Eteraz rightly points out that unfortunately the "Islamic Reformation" has already begun. What do I mean by that? Something I've realized for a while now is that since becoming Muslim I've gained a greater appreciation for the older forms of Christianity such as Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy. (I was raised Protestant) And whatever else you might think about the ideas of the Reformation or the sins of the ancient Church, it is pretty clear that the Protestant Reformation irreversibly shattered the unity of Christianity and unleashed high degrees of religious violence across the face of Europe. And in an similar way, the zeal of some of the Islamic "reformers" has undermined the tolerance which is a basic part of classical Islam (see people of direction) and has led to the creation of less tolerant, non-traditional sectarian groups.

For further exploration of the comparison between orthodox/traditional Islam and Catholicism check out:
protestant islam
more protestant islam
reverse missionaries
the radical middle way
"...being the last one around"

Thursday, March 20, 2008

quranic eucharist?

Behold! the disciples, said: "O Jesus the son of Mary! can thy Lord send down to us a table set (with viands) from heaven?" Said Jesus: "Fear Allah, if ye have faith."

They said: "We only wish to eat thereof and satisfy our hearts, and to know that thou hast indeed told us the truth; and that we ourselves may be witnesses to the miracle."

Said Jesus the son of Mary: "O Allah our Lord! Send us from heaven a table set (with viands), that there may be for us - for the first and the last of us - a solemn festival and a sign from thee; and provide for our sustenance, for thou art the best Sustainer (of our needs)."
[Quran 5:112-114]


Sometimes the above-described event is identified as a kind of feeding of the multitudes but when I get to the part where the disciples of Jesus (as) describe it as a solemn festival "for the first and the last of us" I can't help but wonder if it is a reference to some sort of Eucharist. The Didache, one of the most ancient Christian texts, contains a Eucharistic prayer which includes the words: "You gavest food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to Thee; but to us You didst freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Thy Servant." but without any kind of association to the the Last Supper or the crucifixion. Perhaps this is the spiritual meal being referred to in the Quran.

the cross and the lynching tree

In the wake of the last post on Jeremiah Wright and in anticipation of Good Friday, I thought it would be interesting to look at some of James Cone's ideas apart from their role as ammunition in the current political "horse race".

First is A Conversation with James Cone facilitated by the Trinity Institute's Bob Scott:


and secondly there is a conversation between James Cone and Bill Moyers entitled The Cross and the Lynching Tree. In both talks Cone connects the sufferings of Jesus with the sufferings of Black people in America.

James Cone obviously identifies himself as a Christian theologian but I think it is possible to connect some of his ideas to Islam in at least two ways.

Firstly, he is willing to cite Malcolm X as one of the basic sources and inspirations of his theology (suggesting that Islam, at least as articulated by Malcolm, provides some important elements lacking in conventional Christianity).

Secondly, although Islam has a different understanding of what happened at the cross (see Good Friday) I wonder if there is a similar value in connecting Black suffering with examples of martyrdom and persecution out of the Islamic tradition. The two examples which stand out for me are the "lynching" of Hussein (ra) and the multiple Quranic allusions to the prophets being murdered unjustly (although by my recollection, only the murder of Abel is mentioned specifically).

But finally, we can also ask the broader question of whether there is another figure or moment in Islam which provides a more suitable lens with which to view the Black experience in America? Yusef who was a slave and then freed? Bilal, one of several black companions of the Prophet (saaws) ? Luqman, who is sometimes identified with the Ethiopian Aesop?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

jeremiah wright and the black church

Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that 11 o'clock Sunday morning was the most segregated hour in the United States. And I think that the continuation of this state of affairs is at the heart of the current controversy over comments made by Jeremiah Wright, Sr., the former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ (where Barack Obama is a member). The issue isn't really about Jeremiah Wright, Sr. as an individual as much as it is a basic discomfort with (at best) or rejection of the progressive/prophetic voice of the Black Church.

In other posts we've mentioned how even apart from labels like "Muslim" or "Christian" one can talk about the American phenomena of Black Religion as a God-centered holy protest against anti-black racism. We've also touched on Cornel West's idea of prophetic Christianity and have repeatedly discussed the radical side of Martin Luther King Jr. [1][2] [3]

In the article, Dallas-area black clergy defend Rev. Jeremiah Wright's message, Gromer Jeffers Jr. and Jeffrey Weiss do a good job of providing some context for Wright's comments within the Bible and the tradition of the Black Church. Similarly, in Is Obama Wrong About Wright? Michael C. Dawson (who is the John D. MacArthur professor of political science at the University of Chicago) locates Jeremiah Wright in the mainstream of the Black community, particularly in the Black Theology tradition of James Cone.

see also Abu Noor Al-Irlandee: Michael C. Dawson: Is Obama Wrong About Wright?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

mumbo jumbo with ishmael reed

Shamelessly taken from Tariq Nelson's blog:

An amazing and involved interview of Ishmael Reed by Pakistani-American writer Wajhat Ali. Topics include race and the Clinton dynasty, Obama, Paul Mooney and the Black/Latino pseudo-divide, the economics of misery, Nazi science, Irshad Manji, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Blacks in NASA, Amiri Baraka, Malcolm X, the racist uses of feminism and the scapegoating of Black males, Gloria Steinem, Geraldine Ferraro, medical experimentation on Black people, Dinesh D'Souza, Crash, The Wire, American Gangster and the canons of Western Civilization.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sunday, March 16, 2008

andre carson became the second muslim elected to the u.s. congress

Tariq Nelson: Andre Carson becomes the second Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress.

mccain's spiritual advisor hates muslims and islam

Unlike the old McCain who in the last election was critical of the religious bigotry of Bob Jones University, (after Bush spoke there), the new McCain is apparently ok with the endorsement of a religious bigot like Rev. Rod Parsley.
Senator John McCain hailed as a spiritual adviser an Ohio megachurch pastor who has called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it.

On February 26, McCain appeared at a campaign rally in Cincinnati with the Reverend Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, a supersize Pentecostal institution that features a 5,200-seat sanctuary, a television studio (where Parsley tapes a weekly show), and a 122,000-square-foot Ministry Activity Center. That day, a week before the Ohio primary, Parsley praised the Republican presidential front-runner as a "strong, true, consistent conservative." The endorsement was important for McCain, who at the time was trying to put an end to the lingering challenge from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a favorite among Christian evangelicals. A politically influential figure in Ohio, Parsley could also play a key role in McCain's effort to win this bellwether state in the general election. McCain, with Parsley by his side at the Cincinnati rally, called the evangelical minister a "spiritual guide."

On the one hand there is the question of consistency: Will McCain's relationship to Parsley be scrutinized in the media to the same degree as Obama's relationship to Farrakhan? But for me, the really scary part of this story is the fact Parsley's views are not atypical among the Religious Right.
In a chapter titled "Islam: The Deception of Allah," Parsley warns there is a "war between Islam and Christian civilization." He continues:

I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.

Parsley is not shy about his desire to obliterate Islam. In Silent No More, he notes—approvingly—that Christopher Columbus shared the same goal: "It was to defeat Islam, among other dreams, that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492…Columbus dreamed of defeating the armies of Islam with the armies of Europe made mighty by the wealth of the New World. It was this dream that, in part, began America."

(for entire story) Mother Jones: McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

mami el negro esta rabioso (el africano)

This post has been rattling around in my brain for a couple days now (or longer depending on how you count) but Kismet "made me" finish it a little bit more quickly due to her comment on negro bembon.

If anyone wants to look at how race shows up in Latin music, "El Africano" by Wilfrido Vargas (actually written by Calixto Ochoa, but Vargas went further with it) is a necessary "text". In one version, the song lyrics are:
Mami el negro esta rabioso,
quiere bailar/pelear conmigo,
decicelo a mi papa.

Mami el negro me echa miedo,
me tapo la cabeza
y el negro me destapa.

(or alternatively)

Mami, yo me acuesto tranquila
me arropo de pie a cabeza
y el negro me destapa.

CORO :
Mami que sera lo que
quiere el negro?
(repeat)


Wlfrido Vargas: El Africano



The classic merengue tune is about a "rabioso" (angry, literally "rabid") black man uncovering the innocent girl who has little experience with "lo que quiere el negro" (what the black man wants). On one level it is a festive party anthem, but on another it pretty clearly perpetuates certain alarmist attitudes towards Black sexuality. (e.g. see race and sex)

DJ Laz made heavy use of a Vargas sample and updated the song musically, if not lyrically. While more recently, Cuban-American rapper Pitbull came out with "The Anthem" featuring Lil' John as an homage to the original. Miraculously, he manages to make the lyrics more lascivious (the girl is certainly not calling her daddy for protection) and racist (adding typical Latin stereotypes of Black female/"morena" sexuality to stereotypes of Black male sexuality).

DJ Laz: Mami El Negro


Pitbull: The Anthem


So far, my favorite piece in this lineage is "Mami El Negro" by the 'conscious' Spanish (as in from Spain) rapper El Chojin. To be honest, I never heard of El Chojin until working on this post but he is growing on me. I also like the Grenada-esque anti-bling anthem Si Mi Chica Se Llamara Shakira /If Shakira was my girlfriend. But in "Mami El Negro" he is the most explicit in terms of breaking down the racist content of the original song, along with the ignorance and prejudice he faces in his everyday life.

El Chojin: Mami El Negro


Lyrics to "Mami El Negro" by El Chojin

Alguien me pregunto de donde soy! hombre no es la misma cancion
pero si es un poco mas de lo mismo racismo,
he crecido como muchos han crecido
escuchando la cancion de los conguitos, la del negro negrito
y payasadas por el estilo
y me las he comido siendo un niño
pero amigo he crecido y tanta estupidez me ha convertido
en un hombre orgulloso y decidido
a no aguantar ni una broma mas,
me cago en el payaso de George Dan,
los del colacao, los de la Warner y todos los demas,
retrasados, que yo nunca me he reido de un blanco por ser blanco,
tanto tonto tan simpatico, tan asno rebuznando
"ah tu no tienes que tomar el sol en verano"
me daban pena pero ya estoy arto,
me dais asco, tontos que sois tontos
y lo curioso es que se creen graciosos
pues mami ahora el negro esta rabioso
otro tonto y monto el pollo gordo,
bobo te cojo y te pongo rojo,
avergüenzate si alguna vez creiste que de veras un blanco
con taparrabos gritando en lo alto de un arbol podria ser el rey de algo, no
a Tarzán se lo comio el miedo al hombre negro,
un desconocimiento inmenso te ha hecho ciego, terco, memo y no tengo porque entenderlo,
ser bueno paciente y toda esa mierda,
al proximo que me venga con la ingeniosa idea
de decir que me parezco a Jordan, Eddie Murphy o al que sea se la lleva,
ea o sea que esta es vuestra manera de hacer que me sienta en vuestra tierra integrado,
pues lo siento pues la habeis cagado,
yo no me quiero sentir integrado
tengo mi peña, mi micro, mi dj y los platos
y bastante interesado que paso,
que ni somos iguales ni tenemos que aparentarlo,
mami ahora el negro esta rabioso
pero es porque tu le has cabreado

¿Mami sabes tu que es lo que quiere? Que el negro esta rabioso de oir a tanto lerdo
¿Mami sabes tu que es lo que quiere? Que el negro esta rabioso es hora de exigir respeto
¿Mami sabes tu que es lo que quiere el negro? No hay ningun problema mientra veas donde termina el juego
¿Mami sabes tu que es lo que quiere el negro? Pues que le dejes simplemente ni mas ni menos

Es cierto, las cosas son mucho mas sencillas de lo que parecen
no tenemos porque andarnos con estupideces,
ya somos mayores, mira, no somos iguales,
no te escandalizes el racismo existe
es real y esto no es una llamada a la reconciliacion
es simplemente informacion
porque sabes que?
lo cierto es que no me importa una mierda lo que tengas en la cabeza,
simplemente callatelo, no hagas comentarios,
no intentes ser gracioso y ya veras como asi a todos nos va a ir mucho mejor,
que yo no tengo porque ser mejor persona que tu,
que no te he pedido de ningun favor, simplemente digo las cosas como son,
soy realista y tener esta actitud la que me han hecho tener a lo largo de mi vida,
ha hecho que incluso haya gente que me llama racisma,
es la risa, o sea que me vigilan, hacen chistes, cancioncitas,
no me quieren en sus familias y encima yo soy el racista
pues nada hombre cuidado que te tengo discriminado,
a ver si voy a hacer que te sientas marginado o algo,
mira cuando alguien dice lo que todos piensan pero no lo dice,
se le decalifica pero bueno asi es como funciona esto,
pero bueno yo soy el que tiene el micro, tengo un disco y consigo
que lo que digo se te meta en el cerebro
ahora piensa por ti mismo firmado el Chojin 1999 a diez meses del 2000


see also:
shakira and wycleff at the grammys

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

floetry: everybody heard



I don't feel like verbalizing too much on this one. It's just some beautiful Afro-futuristic mytho-poetic spoken word. Plus they can saaaaang.

Monday, March 10, 2008

anniversary of the 1977 dc "hanafi" muslim siege

These few days are the 31st anniversary of the DC "Hanafi" Muslim Siege (March 9-11, 1977) led by Hamaas Abdul Khaalis. I started a blog entry on this subject ages ago but never finished it before now. Basically the points I wanted to hit were:

1. The "Hanafis" are yet another piece in the history of Blackamerican Muslims outside of the Nation of Islam.

2. Kareem Abdul-Jabaar entered into Islam (at least in part) through contact with Abdul Khaalis and the Hanafis.

3. Like Malcolm X, Abdul Khaalis was a prominent former member of the Nation of Islam, who was became a critic, and suffered greatly at their hands, although in his case, he was left alive while members of the Nation killed his five children, and his infant grandson. (see also Black Mafia) On a much more negative note, there was some indication that Abdul Khaalis was mentally disturbed even before this incident while the tragedy with his family probably pushed him over the edge.

4. Those injured in the siege included the, then councilman, yet-to-be-infamous-mayor of DC, Marion Barry.

5. On another negative note, this time in terms of how Islam is portrayed in popular culture, I thought it was rather bizarre and out of proportion how some descriptions of the thousand plus year old Hanafi school would toss in a casual mention of the siege is if it were something typical or representative of the teachings of Abu Hanifah. (e.g. GlobalSecurity.org's article on Hanafi Islam)

6. The siege was apparently resolved mainly through the efforts of certain ambassadors from Muslim countries who were able to remind the hostage-takers of the merciful and compassionate side of Islam.


The Hanafi siege certainly wasn't the highest point in Blackamerican Muslim history, but it does provide some food for thought and reflection.

Grenada's past:
radical african-american muslims
nommo

Sunday, March 09, 2008

toward an anti-authoritarian islam


I'm posting this article for a couple of reasons. Firstly, my tracking service "told me" that it seemed like someone found their way to Planet Grenada looking for this article or one like it. Secondly (and this is related to the first) I had already linked to the article previously (natural islam) but I realized that the original link had died. Thirdly, a recent conversation in the comments section of hisham aidi got me thinking again about the connection between Islam and certain leftist ideas and so I thought an article from a self-identified Muslim anarchist would provide interesting food for thought along these lines. Also, another bit of data which I noticed after rereading the article is that the author claims to be a follower of the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa`i (A Shii Muslim scholar who laid the groundwork for the Bahai faith).


Sorel Prison, Quebec
September, 2004


Natural Islam
By Salim



In the Name of the Divine, the Creator (bismillah al-khaliq)


We are all products produced and cultivated to have a value a
commodity society has only one interest in each individual

and that interest is commercial. Only the crazy one’s are defective and lose out on this commodification. The one’s that think differently are able to understand how society uses individuals for profit. The modern oppression is not solely economic; the modern oppression is sociological and pathological. It is not a question of the haves and the have nots anymore. A former luxury item like a television can now be bought at any thrift store. The modern cake is a $4 value meal at McDonalds or Burger King engineered to make the consumer fat. The modern idea is competing logos on super hero physiques between Adidas and Nike. Hercules is not simply a mythic typo today Hercules is a pitchman for a corporate body. The future of Aldus Huxley’s “Brave New World” is here. Except we are not birthed in factories but our minds are. The collective consciousness of our society is engineered solely for the purpose to produce and consume within a feudalistic system governed by rich corporations which may even have a revolving door in the board room where even the elites perform a temporary duty before being replaced by a apparatchik that is of the latest, fastest and smartest product line of CEOs.

Production and Consumption is the Yin and Yang of the modern society. The fatal flaw in the modern mantra is that only mass suffering will be next in line through ecological devastation, capitalism will collapse on itself there is no ethical endogeny built into the system a product is not more valuable because it produces a good or better social or ecological outcome. A product has more value because it is more desirable. We live in a system based on animalistic desires not on intellectual intelligibles. Our system in Christian eschatological terminology is a system based on the sign of the Beast, people are sociologically conditioned to now “choose” with their “freedom” such things as driving SUVs rather then ecologically sustainable alternatives. To choose to eat factory farmed animals rather then healthy alternatives. We are sociologically conditioned to choose comfort over sustainable living. Where freedom even includes choosing to destroy the natural offspring of human life in the name of “freedom” of the person to participate in this modern pathology of a culture of death and consumer “freedom” where capitalist want to give you the “choice” of consumerism.

This culture of production and consumption is not limited to what is known as the West. Even those that have cloaked themselves in holy garments like the Saudi Royal Family daily participate in the unbridled ecological destruction of the earth through it’s Oil exports. Likewise those that carry out life destroying terrorist attacks are just participating in another brand of oppression, control and consumption. Al-Qaeda has no mutually beneficial plan for sustainability rather they seek to replace one brand of oppression with another. Violence is just another aspect of the culture of death. War is a direct result of the need for control and competing elites engaged in competition for market share no matter what the market is, land, oil, shoes, televisions, peoples minds, etc.

The real question is, “Is change possible?” And there is no simple yes or no answer to this question. I would say there are only two routes possible for change to happen and those are:

A) Direct Action [see end note 1]

B) Autonomy [2]

Of course to most people what is really missing from this answer is Democratic Reform and to a small minority the other answer may be Armed Rebellion [3], differentiated from “self-defense” which is always a right. And I will answer the negative solutions before expounding on the positive solutions of Direct Action and Autonomy.

There are some, usually having no military training, that believe you can fight the system with arms this is pure foolishness and just another brand of social conditioning by the oppressive system that says violence is liberation. The system will always be able to raise a larger force; this system already possesses the means to destroy the entire earth with nuclear weapons. You cannot fight the system in armed combat head on.

There is a large majority of people that say you can change the system through democratic reform. They say that we live in a democracy and through the mechanisms of the state change can be brought. Although there is some instances where this is true and it varies from state to state depending on the structure of the government (i.e. US, Canada) in the US this is less true then in Canada, for instance Canada is moving toward proportional representation and has four major political parties from conservative , liberal, socialist and green. The problem is corruption [4] and bureaucratization of governments. The corruption has occurred with policy being decided by economic powers of large corporations and their conservative and neo-liberal benefactors. The bureaucratization has occurred with the increase in size of governments with the decision making occurring at higher and higher levels rather then locally where people live their lives. The combination of corruption and bureaucratization has made democracy vulnerable to undemocratic practices at hierarchical levels of government. With the governments corrupt the rule by the people is no longer a working reality so what we have is the word “democracy” but whose meaning is lost in corruption.

If democracy is no longer a valid source of change then the people are left with only a handful of options and chief among these options is Direct Action or what is also known as Civil Disobedience. When corporations are passing laws literally writing laws to put the commercial interests of a minority over those of the common peoples altering society to turn every citizen into a producer-consumer devoid of individuality then the individual citizen is obliged to disobey those laws through civil struggle like that of Martin Luther King until the laws reflect the will of the people informed by objective facts rather then commercial interests and their propaganda.

In tandem with Direct Action is the need for Autonomy from the culture of death and destruction. We must, by any means, first by legal means, construct alternatives to the culture of destruction such as sustainable development, cooperative enterprises, ecological manufacturing and the use of co-empowering technology. There are some of us that refuse to participate in the culture of destruction no matter what, many of us are labeled crusty punks, but we are not punks we are individuals that desire revolutionary change from the culture of destruction and oppression. But putting a label on something is just another means of branding of merchandise saying a set of people are “crusty punks” is just a matter of demarcating the good product, “producer-consumer” [5], form a bad product, a autonomous individual. This is the destructive, un-natural and de-humanizing effect of living in this system where packaging is more important then understanding the individual attributes of the member of a community.

Today in prison on the television news Msr. Dumat of the ADQ, the regional conservative party in Quebec, proposed that Quebec have its “autonomy” from the Canadian federation: Autonomy is not such a strange concept. The ADQ has been making gains electorally. Of course this in a way does prove how much more sophisticated the Canadian parliamentary system is from the US system—the fact a separatist party or parties can exist within the Canadian federation which would not be permitted in the US, this can be traced back to the different perspective Canada and the US have on citizenship, one is multi-ethnic and the US is uniformist and assimilationist. But what will this Autonomy be, will it allow Quebecois to live free of corporate control, provide sustainable and ecological alternatives or is it just the introduction of a new brand, a new flavor with the same old recipe: “Buy Quebec, 100% more French!”

Branding is everywhere in our society and all segments of society engage in it because of the sociology and pathology of our modern society even Anarcho-Punks are just another brand within our communities. The Anarcho-Punks, of which I am sometimes a member of, engage in the producer-consumer mentality. You have to have the right kind of packaging to belong, the right clothes, the right behavior (usually swearing and drinking 40ozers and knowledge of riding trains, hitch-hiking, petty crimes and squatting). And if you do not conform to this then you will be ostracized usually under a pretext of a being a “manarchist” a “infiltrator”, a “reformist”. Everyone in this society is being socially engineered to act in a competitive and destructive manner, checking out from the dominant brand does not change this behavior.

The means of fighting the sociology, this social engineering of individuals into producer- consumers is not political; every political ideology from religious fundamentalist to communist (did you buy your Che shirt for $15?) can be co-opted and turned into another brand. The means of fighting this socio-pathology is fundamentally a spiritual path—which is distinct from a religious ideology or organized institutional religion. It is not based on a materialism or socio-scientific praxis, it is based on seeking values and expressions which at their source are as non-material as the earliest shaman traditions which eventually transformed into prophetic traditions. It is based on transcendental praxis and motivations that which goes beyond the individual or what is within the individual. I am not saying that we should all be blindly obedient (taqlid) to prophets [6] and shaman, we need a thoughtful and disciplined, even scientific understanding of religious or shamanistic psychology, but the core values of naturalism are embodied in the spiritual psyche not the sociology of the producer-consumer. Some of these values are communal consultation (shura), stewardship of the Creator’s creation (istikhlaf), equality (`adl), non-aggression (salam), mutually beneficial economics [7] (mudarabat), sharing and giving (sadaqa wa zakat).

I, personally, have found the best defense against the producer-consumer sociology in my personal interpretation of Islam. Many will doubt, given the modern gross depiction in the West from both Muslim [8] and non-Muslim, of what Islam is able to be an anti-oppression path. However, to me it is the basis of resistance to the consumer-producer ideology and sociology. I am not saying it is the only means of resistance to the culture of destruction but one that I have found that has inspired my resistance in what I have come to understand as Islam al-fitrah (natural Islam) [9]. I have received death threats from conservative Americans and I have received death threats from reactionary Muslims. What beliefs could generate such viciousness from people that are sworn enemies of each other? My understanding of Islam is what they view as threatening, I have even been called an apostate [10] and unbeliever (kafir) by other Muslims even though I observe the pillars of Islam, according to Jafari fiqh, in my personal life. Similarly, I have been called un-American even though I am a veteran of the US Navy and served on anti-terrorist missions in the Middle East.

I suppose first and foremost I should address the question of authority .[11] Traditionally speaking in Islam religious authority has been inter-twined with the state. First in the role of the Prophet [12], then in the role of the rightly guided Caliphs and for those of us that believe in rightly guided Imams in the Wiliyat of `Ali and his descendants (a.s.) This role became perverted in Sunni Islam with the introduction of the `Umayyad clans control over the state where innovations were introduced, innovations which have been fought by the guided Sunni reformers which have appeared from time to time. This same usage by rulers of states to use religion as a means of control also occurred in Shi’a Islam when the Ilkhanid Mongol rulers of Iran forced the populace to convert to Shi’ism and transformed the cleric class into the primary means of controlling the populace. In both Sunni and Shi’a Islam the state and the religious clerics have been intertwined as a means of control over the populace [13]. I am not saying all clerics are corrupt there have been many inspired laity. I am simply pointing out the traditional corruption of the role of religion and of rulers.

However, Allah [14] (the divinity) has not left the people without vision (kashf) specifically in Shi’a Islam is the conception of Hikmat (wisdom) which has been a guiding principle in such schools as the Illuminationist tradition, the school of Mulla Sadra [15], the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa`i [16]. I am an adherent of these teachings. Hikmat is another source of interpreting law aside from textual deduction. Roughly it is inspiration or unveiling. Mulla Sadra taught that to come to philosophical deductions as well as legal deductions via rationality (`aqli) was not enough rather one must confirm deductions with inspiration, which is a transcendent source. Also, such unveiling of truth can come in the form of dreams or visions. Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa`I had a vision of Imam al-Mahdi which he claimed to derive his authority to make judgments from. The point is that in Islam we can have continuing guidance aside from the textuality or usuli deductions as practiced by the clerical elite. I would argue that we all have the ability and responsibility to make intelligent reflections in concert with good intentions and form our own opinions on religious matters. Using shuratic principles we can come to common communal well being through our differing views.

My understanding of Islam is based in a mystical understanding it is based in gnosis (ma`rifat) not just fiqh (jurisprudence). Authority in Islam is not confined to the ruling clerics. Even in Shi`a Islam, guidance form the hidden Imam is open to all. Thus, in my understanding of Islam we are all equal and our affairs should be governed by communal consultation (shura) [17], there can be no hierarchy of the “righteous” no need for a Guardian Council as it exists in the Iranian political system. So what is the meaning of what I have termed Islam al-fitrah [18] (natural Islam)?

The Islamic belief in stewardship of the Creator’s creation is known as Istikhlaf. This is the concept that humanity has the obligation to uphold the natural order as created by the Creator (it is not necessarily anthropocentric), humanity must not alter this natural order as it is currently doing for example the global warming caused by mass industrialization. Additionally, this is seen in factory farming, the Prophet taught that you must not be brutal or over consume. In fact the Prophet taught it is better to eat vegetables with a minimum of animal consumption, today we have alternative protein sources to eating animals. At the base of Istikhlaf is the Prophetic hadith:
“I [al-lah] have forbidden oppression to Myself. Therefore it is forbidden to you.”
Plainly we can see how the current rulers of this world, the United States does engage in oppression, by continuing to pollute and destroy the natural ecology [19] and by waging aggressive warfare to further their global aspirations of economic dominance over all. According to Islam a Muslim is not permitted to engage in aggressive warfare, nor is a Muslim to live in a war state (dar al-harab) such as the US. A Muslim must immigrate to a land of peace (dar al-salam). Yet, how many Muslims continue to do business in the US pay the US government taxes and engage in non-Islamic economic practices.

The US is an oppressor it uses military means to acquire it’s goals not the power of ideas. Oppression is forbidden to a Muslim, including oppressing the earth, the animals, the natural order (fitrah al-nazm) as created by al-Lah. Ecological devastation is no different from any other form of oppression, yet the US, the largest polluter and consumer of natural resources [20] continues to deny that global warming is real, that human industrialization is the single greatest source of this ecological oppression.

There are many forms of oppression, Islam is a natural religion, it is organic and can adapt to new circumstances and conditions. Islam is a source of universal empowerment to all that are oppressed regardless of what that oppression is natural Islam is opposed to racism, sexism [22], classism and all forms of oppression, even anthropocentrism.

The United States has demonstrated its opposition through its actions to universally recognized standards of basic rights. How can any Muslim say I am a Muslim and ally themselves with such a government? The US is a racist state [22], a military belligerent, an ecological devastator, a supporter of global feudalism through economic institutions it controls and directs such as the World Bank and IMF. The US seeks not to work in cooperation with other governments and peoples but to dominate. The United States government has systematically eliminated any meaningful dissent by Americans with COINTELPRO [23], the PATRIOT Act [24] and superfluous criminalization of dissent and free speech-- with the criminalization of dissent and it’s subsequent ability to imprison the opposition, the US Government uses non-violent tactics to accomplish the same ends as the European Fascists did in the 1930s. With the criminalization of free speech such as at the Miami, Boston and NYC protests Americans have lost all meaningful instruments of dissent. More and more activists are being branded as terrorists with FBI security bulletins labeling non-violent educational gatherings as terrorist threats [25]. The elimination of all national opposition parties has also led to a further devolution of dissent in the US. Only capitalist inspired political parties and unions are able to function in the US. The corporate dominance of the US political system is total and complete any opposition to this is eliminated even to the point of assassinating ecological activists.

It is for some of these reasons I am sitting in a Canadian prison today. I committed no acts of violence. I walked through a field seeking freedom in Canada and was hunted by the US Border Patrol on Canadian soil. My non-violent political activities were branded as a terrorist threat [26] and openly associated with terrorist groups on no grounds whatsoever by the US government. My friends and loved ones systematically arrested and taken off the streets, their homes raided, their cars broken into and tracking devices installed on them, not for what they were doing but for what they were saying. I have watched Muslim institutions, some of whom I organized with, labeled with no evidence, terrorist fronts, religious gathering raided, innocent people wrongly imprisoned, systematically destroyed by neo-Conservatives abusing their new found unbridled powers, even charities which are the sole life line for suffering Muslims living under ruthless military aggression eliminated. For these and other reasons I have sought refuge in Canada. I urge all people to take a stand for freedom, for true peace, for liberation. Their jails cannot contain the truth anymore then their institutions can contain the Creator.

About the Author:

Salim is a libertarian socialist. He is a member of the Shi’a Muslim Sufi Community. His academic papers on Islamic Philosophy have been published in the United States and Iran.




------------------------------------------------------

END NOTES:

[1] On the theory and background of direct action see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_action

[2] Autonomy is directly related to being Autonomous, which is self-organized, see http://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Self-organization On Autonomy see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomy

[3] Many Muslims claim that jihad is armed rebellion, such as espoused by al-Qaeda. However, what is ignored is that the Prophet himself (s.a.s.) engaged in Direct Action passive resistance tactics in the early days of Islam. This resistance involved non-violent tactics as well as self-defense. The need for armed struggle only came later after the Hejira when the Muslims were part of a city-state and only under limited conditions. Passive Resistance, to me, is part of the greater Jihad (jihad al-akbar) that every Muslim engages in on a daily basis in her life against a globalized neo-liberal world with non-Islamic economic systems dictating it’s terms to the rest of the world.

[4] For a major industrialized western democratized nation the United States finished only 18th in terms of least corrupt governments, see report at http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/corruptreport.pdf

[5] Some may say that “consumer-producer” is another brand, however there is a difference between branding and naming.

[6] In Islam the Prophet is not absolute ruler, the Prophet is a spiritual guide and in matters concerning the community, in political matters, all members have equal say in the matter. See Qur`an 3:159


[7] In Islamic economics the concept of collective ownership is know as mudarabat, see
http://www.failaka.com/Library/Articles/Usmani%20-%20Modes%20of%20Finance.pdf Obviously for anarchists this concept is a loose analogy for our views on collectivism and can be a basis for a new interpretation of Islamic economic laws. One attempt at modernizing Islamic economics is by Prof. Choudhury, see http://faculty.uccb.ns.ca/mchoudhu/ipe.htm whose work is secularised under the heading of “humanomics”.

[8] A new politically more correct brand of Muslim is now forming, with progressive values, http://64.233.179.104/search?q=cache:ojlsqSavC78J:www.progressivemuslims.com/+progressive+muslims&hl=en

[9] On Naturalism and Islam see an orthodox interpretation from a jurisprudential perspective,
http://www.islamonline.net/fatwa/english/FatwaDisplay.asp?hFatwaID=64315

[10] see a study of the political use of the term apostate in Islam at http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/islam_-_apostasy.htm

[11] for an interesting discussion of authority from a Muslim feminist perspective see http://www.crescentlife.com/spirituality/religious_authority_in_islam.htm For a more comprehensive discussion of authority In Islam see http://www.csss-isla.com/IIS/archive/2001/july.htm

[12] For a Muslim essay on the political legacy of the Prophet, including his pluralism, see http://www.ispi-usa.org/muhammad/muhammad10.html

[13] Priests are condemned in the Qur’an see 9:30-31.

[14] In Islam, the divinity, usually translated as God, has no sex and any anthropomorphic characteristics associated with the Divinity is to be avoided, the attribution of calling the Divinity “He” is not correct, what is more correct is to call the Divinity is “It”.

[15] Mulla Sadra was an Islamic existentialist (wujudi), more info at http://www.mullasadra.org. He is recognized as the greatest Shi’a philosopher of all time by the orthodox Mullahs of Iran.

[16] Information on Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa`I can be seen at http://www.alahsai.net/ the site is in Arabic.

[17] Shura is akin to the consensus process used by many anti-capitalist groups.

[18] For a reading on “deep ecology” in Islam see http://www.islamonline.net/english/Contemporary/2003/02/Article02.shtml or
http://www.islamonline.net/english/Contemporary/2002/08/Article02.shtml or
http://www.islamonline.net/fatwa/english/FatwaDisplay.asp?hFatwaID=60686

[19] One must recognize that the US is deliberately destroying the environment to maximize capitalization. The Muslim majority state of Bangladesh will loose 44% of it’s territory due to global sea levels rising directly from global warming caused, in most part, by US pollution. It is hard to predict how many will be displaced and how many thousand will die as a direct result from this US oppression of the natural creation. See related story http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/04/0420_040420_earthday.html

[20] For a story on the US impact on the global environment see http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0109-02.htm for academic discussion of human impact on global warming see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attribution_of_recent_climate_change

[21] I include queer liberation under the heading of sexism. There are Muslim based queer liberation groups, like Al-Fatiha, http://www.al-fatiha.net. I disagree with many of the interpretations being espoused by people to justify homosexuality. I believe a Muslim can be queer and be Muslim because the textual arguments are based on a bad analogy: that ancient homosexual rape used as a political tool or the practice of temple prostitution (http://www.worldpolicy.org/globalrights/sexorient/bible-gay.html) is not the same as a modern same sex partnership based on mutual attraction or love. Marriage Laws in Islam primarily were concerned with protecting the rights of the children brought forth between heterosexual coupling. I believe these laws need re-interpreting in the context of the modern needs of our pluralistic society. For a discussion of Islamic Feminism see http://www.geocities.com/pmndc/ExploringIslamicFeminism.htm. I think it should be noted you cannot determine a persons beliefs based on whether they wear a hijab or beard or not.

[22] One example: the 13th Amendment only conditionally eliminated slavery, slavery is still valid as a penalty for committing a crime. A vast disproportionality exists between white and black prisoners in the US.

[23] for information on COINTELPRO see http://www.icdc.com/~paulwolf/cointelpro/cointel.htm

[24] For information on how the PATRIOT Act takes away civil liberties see http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=12126&c=207

[25] The FBI released a terrorist alert regarding educational workshops relateing to Jeff Luers (see http://www.freefreenow.org), a corporate media report on the alert is here, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,122290,00.html

[26] see this report on FBI intimidation of activist groups, http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=17098&c=207 and this report http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/081704V.shtml also see “Save Our Civil Liberties”
http://www.saveourcivilliberties.org/en/2004/12/830.shtml

Friday, March 07, 2008

dr. sultana afroz

Dr Sultana Afroz is a researcher who has been documenting the presence and role of African Muslims in the West Indes during slavery. Here is a brief sample of some of her work. from the oddly-named blog, All history as reconstruction of the past is, of course, myth. She is a Lecturer in History at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica. She completed her doctoral degree in American History with a specialization in US Foreign Policy in South Asia. She is the co-author of The Political Economy of Food and Agriculture in the Caribbean, and is working on a manuscript entitled Invisible Yet Invincible: The History of the Muslim Umma in Jamaica.)

It includes:
1. THE MUSLIM MAROONS AND THE BUCRA MASSA IN JAMAICA
2. Islam and Slavery through the Ages: Slave Sultans and Slave Mujahids
3. The Ummah Slowly Bled: A Select Bibliography of Enslaved African Muslims in the Americas and the Caribbean
4. The Jihad of 1831–1832: The Misunderstood Baptist Rebellion in Jamaica

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

imam zaid shakir: should muslims use the “n” word?

From Should Muslims Use The “N” Word? by Imam Zaid Shakir
Do not call each other by demeaning nicknames: How foul is a name connoting vileness… Al-Qur’an 49:11

...

Words in this regard are part of the forces that engender a healthy human consciousness in us. Furthermore, individual words do not stand alone, in terms of the reality they define. They are part of a system of meaning that informs a conceptual worldview. In affirming the acceptability or even the desirability of freely using the term “nigger” we are not endorsing a single term, we are endorsing a verbal culture that collectively works to dehumanize our youth. For example, popularizing the term “nigga’” has been accompanied by the enhanced acceptability and widespread usage of bi_, ho’ (whore), dog, motherf__, sh__ and a host of other terms that historically were associated with vulgar lan-guage. Collectively, they are part of an integrated culture characterized by nihilism, hedonism, self-hatred, and an increasingly alienated disconnection from mainstream society.

God declares in the Qur’an, You are the best people raised up to benefit humanity. You enjoin the right, forbid the wrong and believe in God. (3:110) Enjoining right and forbidding wrong are part of the mission of the Muslims. Doing so requires a well-established standard of right and wrong. Part of the effort to undermine religion lies in the undermining of revealed or widely accepted moral standards. In the ensuing confusion, many things long held to be blameworthy and in many instances almost universally condemned become acceptable. Illegitimate children, foul language, uncouth and slothful comportment, open displays of sexual affection (both heterosexual and homosexual) and sloppy dressing have all become acceptable or even encouraged behavior, as we move ever further down a slippery slope in what amounts to a moral race to the bottom.


From Grenada's past:
niggers are scared of revolution
"it makes my teeth white" - paul mooney
"i like a little salt on my cracker"
but that's the story y'all
a soldier's story
deep cover
what's my name, fool?
richards' racist rant
richards' racist rant (part 2)
richards' racist rant (epilogue)
with apologies to jesse jackson
accepting the slurs

Monday, March 03, 2008

negro bembon




Mataron al negro bembón
Mataron al negro bembón
Hoy se llora noche y día
Porque el negrito bembón
Todo el mundo lo queria
Porque el negrito bembón
Todo el mundo lo queria

Y llegó la policia
Y arrestaron al maton
Y uno de las policias
Que tambíen era bembón
Le toco la mala suerte
De hacer la investigación
Le toco la mala suerte
De hacer la investigación

Y saben la pregunta
que le hizo al maton
Porque lo mato
Diga usted la razon
Y saben la respuesta
que le dio el maton :
yo lo mate
por ser tan bembón
El guardia escondio
la bemba y le dijo :
Eso no es razon



I was recently thinking about the ways in which race shows up in Latin music when the song "Negro Bembon" by Ismael Rivera popped into my head. The song makes me think of how Afro-Latinos in Latin America didn't really undergo US-style civil rights / Black power movement. So instead of making a loud and angry statement like NWA's "F*** tha Police" or a righteous and defiant statement like Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff", "Negro Bembon" gives us the muted and insufficient "Eso no es razon" from a Black cop who, even with a gun and badge, is still not strong or brave enough to truly challenge a racist system. Occasionally I wonder if the song's refrain is deliberately understated as way of making a powerful social critique, but most of the time I tend to think that the voice of protest is so muted because certain white supremacist assumptions are pervasive and taken for granted in Latin culture, even in the music of Afro-Latino artists like Ismael Rivera.

tego calderon: latin america needs its own civil rights movement
a rising voice: afro-latin americans

ya husayn (no, not about obama)

Especially after the last post, I feel like asking the following question: Over at the Ihsan group blog, the latest entry is titled Ya Husayn Ya Husayn and features a video of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan performing a piece about Hussein at Karbala. So my question is whether it is possible for a Sunni to embrace the lyrics of that piece or do they go outside the parameters of what is permissible for a member of Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jamaat?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

"i'm sushi"

Since I am actually on the Su-Shi (Sunni-Shia) blogring but it's been over a year since I have made any sushi-related posts, the following seems overdue.

In the article Sunni & Shia: I’m “Sushi”, Dr. Hesham A. Hassaballa gives a description of the "su-shi" position, at least as it relates to himself:
In fact, there was no such thing as “Shia” or “Sunni” throughout the period of the four Caliphs. The first time the term “Shia,” was even used was during the civil war between Ali (r) and Mu’awiyah (r). Those who supported the claim of Ali (r) to the Caliphate were termed Shiat Ali, or the “Party of Ali.” Yet, it was not a “sect,” as we understand it today. In fact, it took decades, if not centuries, for the “doctrines” (for lack of a better term) of Shi’ism and Sunnism to fully develop.

Nevertheless, at its essence, the difference between Sunni and Shi’i is jurisprudential: Sunnis believe that political (and by extension religious) leadership can reside with anyone in the larger community, as long as the community accepts said person’s qualifications. For Shi’is, however, political (and religious) leadership must be within the House of the Prophet (pbuh). Another important distinction between Sunnis and Shi’is is the issue of the probity, or upright character, of all of the Companions. It is a fundamental part of Sunni doctrine, whereas some Shi’is do not necessarily ascribe to this. That is it.

Now, over time, these two “philosophical” differences developed into distinct schools of thought, especially with respect to matters of Islamic law. But, again, that took centuries to develop. Furthermore, many people associate with Shi’is an intense love for the House of the Prophet (pbuh). Yet, is this not an essential aspect of Sunni belief as well? Could one be Muslim and not love the family of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)? Both Imam Malik (r) and Imam Abu Hanifah (r), two stalwarts of the Sunni community, were ardent supporters of the House of the Prophet (pbuh). In fact, they could be called “Political Shi’is” because of this support.

[...]

Now, technically, I am a Sunni, of Maliki/Hanafi (or “Malifi") leanings. But, I have a deep and profound love of the House of the Prophet (pbuh). Even though I will not be pounding my chest on Ashura, like many Shi’is do, the murder of Imam Hussein was extremely painful for me. He is my Imam, too. All of the Imams of the House of the Prophet (pbuh), in fact, are my Imams. So, I am proud to call myself a “Sushi,” as well. And I don’t even like fish.


Grenada's past:
egypt and the shias

latinos and obama

To be honest, although I thought will.i.am's "Yes We Can" was incredibly inspiring, I initially thought that the "Si se puede" line seemed like a mere tacked-on token gesture towards the Latinos which Obama needs in order to win the Democratic nomination. In that light, it is gratifying to see the Obama camp seriously court Latino voters, but more importantly it is good to see pro-Obama efforts which are more organically connected to the Latino community.

In These Times: Why Have Latinos Started Voting For Obama?
Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani: Will Puerto Rico Have the Final Say in Obama Vs. Clinton?

reggaeton for obama
para votar pa' obama (la bamba)
latinos for obama: "si se puede cambiar" by andres useche
grenada-esque politics
obama and black latinos
obama: yes we can
will.i.am: we are the ones

Saturday, March 01, 2008

deobandi scholars say terrorism is anti-islam

I wouldn't call myself a card-carrying Deobandi (and I certainly wouldn't pick sides in the whole Deobandi/Barelwi issue) but I do like Tablighi Jamaat enough to get defensive when they are attacked and I do have a couple of "Deobandi" books on my bookshelf which I occasionally consult as references. In short, I certainly didn't need this fatwa to know that terrorism was wrong, but in spite of the fact that mainstream Muslim organizations and scholars often issue statements denouncing terrorism, it is slightly more satisfying/relevant coming from this particular movement.

more on deobandis (and barelwis)
under suspicion
what is the islamic stance on the london bombings?



Darool-Uloom Deoband says terrorism is anti-Islam
Tue Feb 26, 2008 2:35pm IST

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Darool-Uloom Deoband, a radical Muslim seminary said to have inspired the Taliban has denounced terrorism as against Islam, calling it an unpardonable sin, in an effort to distance itself from religious violence.

Tens of thousands of clerics and students from around India attended a meeting at the 150-year-old Deoband, north of New Delhi, on Monday, and agreed to take a stand against acts of terrorism.

"There is no place for terrorism in Islam," Maulana Marghoobur Rahman, the ageing rector of Deoband, told Reuters on Tuesday. "Terrorism, killing of the innocent is against Islam. It is a faith of love and peace, not violence."

Thousands of smaller Islamic seminaries, or madrasas, are affiliated to the Deoband school in India alone, and Indian security services say some have provided recruits for radical Islamist groups in India and neighbouring Pakistan.

Its teachings, and its strict interpretation of Islamic law, have spread to many other countries, including Britain and Afghanistan, where they are said to have inspired the Taliban.

Rahman's comments are seen as significant as they betray a deep sense of anxiety among India's 140 million Muslims that a violent interpretation of Islam was finding root in the country and tarnishing the reputation of the entire community.

Indian Muslims were implicated in bomb attacks on packed commuter trains in Mumbai in 2006 and in a failed attack in Britain last year.

But Rahman said it was unjust to equate Islam with terrorism, to see every Muslim as a suspect or for governments to use this to harass innocent Muslims.

"There are so many examples of people from other communities being caught with bombs and weapons, why are they never convicted?" said Qazi Mohammed Usman, deputy head of Deoband.

The meeting defined terrorism as any action targeting innocent people, whether committed by an individual, an institution or a government.

Rahman's sermon will be circulated to all madrasas affiliated to his seminary.

Muslims make up about 13 percent of India's officially secular but predominantly Hindu population -- giving it the third largest Islamic population after Indonesia and Pakistan.

other news articles on the same event:
Greater Kashmir: Deoband declaration evokes mixed reaction
Clerics against Terrorism by Ali Eteraz
Dawn: 20,000 scholars term terrorism un-Islamic: Declaration issued at Darul-Uloom Deoband

reggaeton for obama

From Amigos de Obama:



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