Tuesday, December 27, 2011

dhoruba bin wahad / keith ellison

A lively exchange on the nature of effective political change between Rep. Keith Ellison and Dhoruba Bin Wahad. This was actually part of a longer talk by Bin Wahad which took place Feb. 28 of last year, but Ellison happened to be in the audience when Bin Wahad started to criticize the Congressional Black Caucus.
From: Kasama

Monday, December 26, 2011


I finally finished Craig Thompson's Habibi and I'm basically left with mixed feelings. On the one hand, especially considering Thompson is a non-Muslim, the work should be viewed as an intricately crafted graphic novel which affectionately and beautifully weaves together islamicate elements into a multi-layered anachronistic narrative. The basic story deals with the life of two slaves, a boy and a girl, who meet as children and move in and out of one another's lives. This main story is then embroidered and echoed by a diverse collection of elements including Quranic and Biblical texts, meditations on Arabic calligraphy, Sufi poetry, alchemical and astrological concepts, Middle Eastern pagan myths, Chinese numerology, and even modern physics. On the other hand, the work is also full of Orientalist cliches and one-dimensional characters (misogynist men in turbans, black eunuchs, half-naked harem girls, flatulent palace officials and horny sultans). Moreover, I don't want to give away any spoilers but I really didn't find the ending very satisfying. Basically the storytelling was stylistically rich and impressive but the characters lacked depth and humanity.

The Hooded Utilitarian: Can the Subaltern Draw?: The Spectre of Orientalism in Craig Thompson’s Habibi
Majjal: Self-Conscious Orientalism in Craig Thompson’s Habibi
The Hooded Utilitarian: A Conversation about Habibi’s Orientalism with Craig Thompson
CBR: Craig Thompson discusses "Habibi"
Wired: Craig Thompson’s Habibi: Gorgeous, a Bit Overwhelming
The Guardian: Habibi by Craig Thompson – review
Islam and Science Fiction: Islam and Sci-Fi Interview of Craig Thompson

Friday, December 23, 2011

islam, science fiction and afrofuturism

Two new websites I've "discovered" recently:
Afrofutures, an online magazine dedicated to Afrofuturism and related topics, and Islam and Science Fiction: A Website on Islam, Muslims and Science Fiction. The latter site's definition of "science fiction" apparently includes graphic fiction as well which explains their interview with Crag Thompson, the author of Habibi. I'm actually in the middle of Habibi right now. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. Thompson is certainly well-intentioned and Habibi is certainly not as obviously problematic as Frank Miller's Holy Terror but it also isn't totally free of orientalist cliches either. Maybe I'll do a mini-review when I'm done.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

fbi organizes almost all terror plots in the united states

The FBI has in recent years used trained informants not just to snitch on suspected terrorists, but to set them up from the get-go. A recent report put together by Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkley analyses some striking statistics about the role of FBI informants in terrorism cases that the Bureau has targeted in the decade since the September 11 attacks.

The report reveals that the FBI regularly infiltrates communities where they suspect terrorist-minded individuals to be engaging with others. Regardless of their intentions, agents are sent in to converse within the community, find suspects that could potentially carry out “lone wolf” attacks and then, more or less, encourage them to do so. By providing weaponry, funds and a plan, FBI-directed agents will encourage otherwise-unwilling participants to plot out terrorist attacks, only to bust them before any events fully materialize.

Additionally, one former high-level FBI officials speaking to Mother Jones says that, for every informant officially employed by the bureau, up to three unofficial agents are working undercover.

The FBI has used those informants to set-up and thus shut-down several of the more high profile would-be attacks in recent years. The report reveals that the Washington DC Metro bombing plot, the New York City subway plot, the attempt to blow up Chicago’s Sears Tower and dozens more were all orchestrated by FBI agents. In fact, reads the report, only three of the more well-known terror plots of the last decade weren’t orchestrated by FBI-involved agents.

The report reveals that in many of the stings, important meetings between informants and the unknowing participants are left purposely unrecorded, as to avoid any entrapment charges that could cause the case to be dismissed. Perhaps the most high-profile of the FBI-proposed plots was the case of the Newburgh 4. Around an hour outside of New York City, an informant infiltrated a Muslim community and engaged four local men to carry out a series of attacks. Those men may have never actually carried out an attack, but once the informant offered them a plot and a pair of missiles, they agreed. Defense attorneys cried “entrapment,” but the men still were sentenced to 25 years apiece.

"The problem with the cases we're talking about is that defendants would not have done anything if not kicked in the ass by government agents," Martin Stolar tells Mother Jones. Stolar represented the suspect involved in a New York City bombing plot that was set-up by FBI agents. "They're creating crimes to solve crimes so they can claim a victory in the war on terror."
RT: FBI organizes almost all terror plots in the US
Project Censored: FBI Agents Responsible for Majority of Terrorist Plots in the United States

Thursday, December 15, 2011

put your money where your morals are

By now you've probably heard about the controversy surrounding the reality show, All-American Muslim and Lowe's decision to pull out as an advertiser in response to Islamophobic pressure from the Florida Family Association. At the moment it seems that Lowe's and Kayak.com are the only companies who admit that they've been pressured into dropping their ads from the show, but the Florida Family Association claims to have influenced a much longer list of companies:

3M (Command, Scotchbrand tape),
Airborne Vitamin,
Amway, (says it has been misrepresented)
Anheuser Busch Inbev (Select55),
Art Instruction Schools, (says it has been misrepresented)
Bank of America (Cash Rewards), (says it has been misrepresented)
Bare Escentuals,
Brother International (Ptouch),
Campbell’s Soup, (says it has been misrepresented)
Capital One,
Church & Dwight (Oxi Clean, Arm & Hammer),
City Furniture,
Conagra (Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes),
Corinthian Colleges (Everst411),
Cotton, Inc.,
Cumberland Packing (Sweet’N Low), (says it has been misrepresented)
Dell computers,
Diamond Foods (Kettlebrand Chips),
Estee Lauder (Clinique),
ET Browe (Palmer’s Cocoa butter),
Gap, (says it has been misrepresented)
General Motors (Chevy Runs Deep),
Good Year,
Green Mountain Coffee, (says it has been misrepresented)
Guthy Renker (Proactiv),
Hershey kisses,
Home Depot, (says it has been misrepresented)
Honda North America,
HTC Phones,
JC Penney,
JP Morgan Chase (Chase Sapphire),
Kayak.com (admits to cancelling ads)
Kellogg (Special K),
Koa Brands (John Frieda),
Leapfrog Enterprise (Leapster Explorer),
Lowe’s (admits to cancelling ads) *** now removed from list on FFA site with no explanation
Mars (Dove Chocolate),
McDonald’s, now removed from list on FFA site with no explanation
Nationwide Insurance,
News Corp (We bought a zoo movie),
Nintendo (Mariokartz.com),
Novartis (Theraflu),
Old Navy,
Pernod Ricard (Kahlua),
Pier One,
Pfizer (Centrum vitamin),
Procter & Gamble (Align Probiotic, Crest, Febreze, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Pur, Tide),
Progressive Insurance,
Prudential Financial,
Radio Shack,
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse,
SC Johnson (Drano, Glade, Scrubbing Bubbles),
Sears (says it has been misrepresented)
Signet (Kay Jewelers),
Sonic Drive-ins,
THQ (uDraw),
Toyota (Camry),
Vtech (Mobi Go, V Reader),
Whirlpool (Maytag) (says it has been misrepresented) now removed from list on FFA site with no explanation

The American Muslim: American Companies Accused of Joining the All-American Anti-Muslim Bandwagon - updated 12/14

MPAC: Action Alert: Stop Bigots From Pressuring Advertisers For TLC’s ‘All-American Muslim’

Loonwatch: All-American Muslim: Kayak Executive Robert Birge Issues World’s Worst “Apology” Ever

The idea of boycotting Lowe's, Kayak.com and the rest of the companies has got me thinking more broadly about the ethical implications of our purchasing decisions. Depending on the issues which are important to you (e.g. labor practices, support for Israel or other regimes, animal cruelty, genetic modification, sustainability, other environmental impacts, sweatshops, use of pesticides, etc.) it can be a challenge to go to the store without being complicit in one kind of wrongdoing or another. (There are even some smart phone apps out there to help you navigate as you shop)

Some other resources you may want to look at are:
Ethical Consumer: List of Active Boycotts
Palestinian Boycott Divest Sanction National Committee
AFL-CIO National Boycott List
Muslim Yellow Pages

The big picture lesson seems to be that small, locally-based, independent businesses are generally better than impersonal chains.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Friday, December 09, 2011

"afro-trini muslims are zealots"

In a recent interview with the Trinidad Guardian, Imam Hydal (of the Ahmadiyya community) discusses Islamic extremism in Trinidad & Tobago. His comments are interesting but I wish he had been more responsible in his words. He frames the problem of extremism in very binary terms. On the one hand you have good "docile" Desi Indo-Trini peaceful Muslims. And on the other hand, you have extremist Saudi-trained zealot convert Afro-Trini Muslims.

The interview raises all sorts of issues in terms of racism among Muslims, ownership and authority in Islam, "traditional" interpretations versus "Salafi/Wahabi" interpretations, and other questions. It will be interesting to see if the story sparks a thoughtful response in the Trini media.

"muslim homegrown terrorism not a serious threat"

Loonwatch: Prof. Risa A. Brooks’s Study Reveals the Obvious: “Muslim Homegrown Terrorism Not a Serious Threat”

Monday, December 05, 2011

how islamic sects proliferate

muslim reality

From Muslimah Media Watch: “Me, the Muslim Next Door” – What Muslim Reality Shows Should Be is a review of a Canadian reality show similar to TLC's All American Muslim. The main differences: "Me, the Muslim Next Door" is a web documentary (available here) so you can explore different scenarios and narratives as you wish while All American Muslim is obviously a sequential tv show. Secondly, Me, the Muslim Next Door is much much more diverse racially, ethnically, geographically, doctrinally while All American Muslim is focused on different families of Lebanese Shias in Dearborn.
hat tip to Elenamary

Thursday, December 01, 2011

from b-boy to islamic studies scholar

Loonwatch: Exclusive Interview with Reza Aslan

I read Reza Aslan's "No God But God" a few months ago and was really impressed. After reading the above interview I'm now even more impressed with the person. The wide-ranging interview covers Aslan's time as a break dancer, his conversion to evangelical Christianity and his subsequent rediscovery to his Muslim roots, his love-hate relationship with Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, the nature of Islamic reform, the role of rationality in Islam and Christianity, Iranian eschatology, the Arab Spring, the New Atheists, and why Osama bin Laden is like Freddie Mercury. And for an added bonus he shares his super-secret sleeper agent activation code.

are evangelicals a national security threat?

Loonwatch: Are evangelicals a national security threat?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

black friday / buy nothing day / #occupyxmas

Wikipedia: Buy Nothing Day
Adbusters: #Occupyxmas

um no, camping out for black friday sales is not a part a occupy wall street

no one can tell i'm a muslim

Su'ad Abdul Khabeer's review of All-American Muslim: No One Can Tell I’m a Muslim: All-American Muslim Debuts delves into how TLC's new reality show and discusses how it simultaneously manages to be full of cliches while covering some new ground. The main limitation of the show seems to be that it only shows a narrow slice of the Muslim community (in this case, Arab Shias in Dearborn, Michigan). If the show is successful enough to spawn a second or third season I hope that would cover a broader spectrum of images (e.g. African-American Muslims in Philly, or Desi Muslims near Chicago's Devon Avenue).

el zahir, borges and sufism

If you are interested in some of the intersections between Hispanic/Latin culture and Islam after the Reconquest, you might want to check out a recent entry at the Technology of the Heart blog: Sufi Themes in Jorge Luis Borges' Writing

another vision of the first thanksgiving

Christina Ricca (well before Black Snake Moan and Cursed) and David Krumholtz (well before NUMB3RS, Serenity and Harold & Kumar) in Addams Family Values.

thanksgiving from the islamic perspective

In contrast to my usual remember-the-Native-Americans type of Thanksgiving post I thought it would be nice to share Thanksgiving from the Islamic Perspective by Ibrahim Gamard which takes a glance at the concept of thanksgiving in the Quran and in Rumi's Masnavi.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

spiritual message of the occupy movement

Technology of the Heart: Spiritual Message of the Occupy Movement | Driving out the Money Changers, Once Again Bangladeshi blogger Sadiq Alam shares an extended reflection on how multiple spiritual traditions connect to the Occupy Movement, with a special emphasis on the money-changers in the Temple.

islam in america ... en español

Friday, November 11, 2011

amir sulaiman: the meccan openings

Amir Sulaiman's latest album, The Meccan Openings, is available for FREE download here. (And if you don't like downloading, most if not all of the songs are available on YouTube in some form). I haven't finished listening yet but so far the first couple of tracks have really drawn me in. I'm really curious to get a better sense of where Amir Sulaiman is at spiritually.
My lyricism is an exercise in exorcism.
But the exoteric call it eso-terrorism.
I learned jihad from Rumi.
The Sunni call me Shia.
The Shia call me Sufi.

imam zaid shakir on abraham

imam zaid shakir & abobaker mojadidi on the occupy movement

This is an in-depth discussion between Imam Zaid Shakir of Zaytuna College and (Host) Ustadh Abobaker Mojadidi in regards to the American peoples frustration with the financial and economic disparities and injustices.

This program was broadcasted live via Arman Satellite TV - 'Islam in America' program throughout the continental United States and Canada.

occupy oakland jummah: imam zaid shakir 11/4/11

Thursday, November 10, 2011

review of brown skin, white masks

I just recently came across a Review of Hamid Dabashi's "Brown Skin, White Masks on Nima Wahid Azal's Grand Shaykh of the Fatimiya Sufi Order blog. The book is apparently an update of Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth and Black Skin, White Masks which focuses on the condition of Muslims in contemporary times. I'm going to definitely have to put Hamid Dabashi on my reading list.

On a separate tack, the Fatimiya Sufi Order isn't a Muslim group but a "post-Islamic gnostic religion" founded by Nima Wahid Azal which instead of following the Quran is based on the Bayan and other writings of the Bab. We've mentioned Nima's work on Planet Grenada before.

more latinos choose a less travelled road to spirituality

More Latinos Choose a Less Travelled Road to Spirituality By Cristina Pinzon takes a peek at Latinos who are exploring Buddhism and Islam.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

brother ali - forest whitaker

Brother Ali, the white hairy Muslim albino rapper finds confidence and self-esteem in the beauty tips of Forest Whitaker. Damn a magazine / These is God's fingerprints!

ghost dog and the clash of civilizations

Ghost Dog: You know, in ancient cultures...bears were considered equal with men.
Hunter: This ain't no ancient culture here, mister.
Ghost Dog: Sometimes it is.
The last entry on the Five Percenters got me thinking about RZA (aka Robert Diggs aka Bobby Digital aka Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah aka The Abbott) which got me thinking about the film Ghost Dog where RZA has a cameo.

The film is filled with all sorts of jarring cultural juxtapositions. Forest Whitaker stars as an African-American Samurai who struggles against Italian mobster hip-hop fans. He speaks no French or Creole and yet his best friend in the world is Raymond, a Haitian Ice Cream Vendor who speaks no English. And apparently the unnamed city where the film takes place has a large number of people from different cultural backgrounds who live on apartment building rooftops. My pet theory is that the film is trying to say that we are all like the people on those rooftops, separated by huge gulfs of space. Genuine communication is impossible (unless you are a mind reader) and the best we can hope for is occasionally guessing what another person wants or needs from indirect cues (like Ghost Dog does with Raymond).

My favorite scene is the one where Ghost Dog encounters RZA in the street.
As the two approach, RZA's character (credited as "Street Crusader") says:
"Ghost Dog...

While Ghost Dog replies:
Everything, my brother."
A unique moment of understanding and P.E.A.C.E. between two warriors from different civilizations.

Transcript: Ghost Dog: Way of the Sammurai

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

why i am a five percenter

I just recently finished Michael Muhammad Knight's latest book, "Why I Am A Five Percenter". I liked parts of it, but in the end it was disappointing. On the plus side, I was curious to learn more about the history of the Five Percenter movement but Knight had already mapped out much of the story in his earlier book The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip Hop and the Gods of New York. Also interesting and informative was Knight's discussion of how earlier generations of Muslims unpacked words and letters in ways not totally dissimilar to how Five Percenters use the Supreme Mathematics or the Supreme Alphabet.

Some of the less satisfying aspects of "Why I Am A Five Percenter" might have been resolved with a more accurate title. (I would have suggested "Sacred Drift(er)" after Peter Wilson's anthology.) The book is less a confident conversion narrative and more of an affectionate ethnography. Less, Paul on the road to Damascus and more, the Prodigal Son who still hasn't found his way home. (Also, the occasional digs and swipes against Sherman Jackson didn't really endear him to me either.) Knight is caught in some limbo between Sunni Islam and the Five Percenters but not really belonging to either (although at the moment he seems more comfortable calling himself a Five Percenter).

In many ways, Michael Muhammad Knight is a kind of updated version of Hakim Bey /Peter Lamborn Wilson. Bey's participation in the Moorish Orthodox Church (inspired by Noble Drew Ali's movement) parallels Knight's association with the Five Percenters. And both have clearly done a fair amount of travelling (physically and spiritually) in the Muslim world. It might be interesting to find out what Michael Muhammad Knight will do a few years down the line after having more experiences and education under his belt, especially if he's reached some kind of religious and cultural equilibrium point.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy."

Lately I've been reading an economics textbook so that I can better understand the issues behind the housing market and the recession while at the same time reading a book on the Simple Living movement. The juxtaposition is particularly-thought provoking. I'm especially mulling over the paradox that if more people stopped to smell the roses and rejected consumerism in favor of a more authentic definition of quality of life, then the reduction in spending would potentially be bad for "the economy" according to conventional assumptions, at least in the short term. It reminds me of the line from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

For some other off-the-beaten-track "solutions" you might want to check out the latest episode of Rap News from The Juice Media "featuring" Ron Paul, Peter Joseph (of the Zeitgeist Movement) and Jacque Fresco (of the Venus Project). At some points their ideas literally sound like something out of Star Trek (I'm not kidding... the Roddenberry estate should definitely be getting money from the Venus Project) but they are still interesting to consider.

The Zeitgeist Movement
The Venus Project
Wikipedia: The Zeitgeist Movement
Wikipedia: The Venus Project

Sunday, October 23, 2011

muslims and condolences

I was intrigued by Ify Okoye's piece How Muslims Don’t Express Condolences. I both did and didn't identify with her comments. Like her, I find myself a bit tongue-tied by death and not sure how to comfort the survivors in my life. Unlike her, I don't feel like it has been a life-long condition or even one I would necessarily attribute to the Islamic norms Ify mentions in her blog. Instead, I think my issues are more related to the lingering effects of my own father's passing several years ago. Theologically I think I have come to terms with what happened, but emotionally it can still be difficult to find the energy to reach out to others... something for me to work on.

piri thomas (1928-2011)

Piri Thomas' Official Website
NPR: Piri Thomas, Poet And Novelist, Remembered
Democracy Now!: Author Piri Thomas Dies at 83
LA Times: Latino writer Piri Thomas dies at 83

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

the golden calf and occupy wall street

File:Charging Bull statue.jpg

The Golden Calf and Occupy Wall Street
Rev. Jennifer Butler
Executive Director, Faith in Public Life

As the #OccupyWallStreet movement continues to flourish as a national symbol of outrage at economic injustice and inequality, faith leaders are bringing a new dimension to the demonstrations in New York. I'm an ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister, and I traveled to Wall Street last weekend with a lay Catholic friend dedicated to fighting for economic justice. Our other passenger was an inanimate object that spoke volumes -- a statue of a golden calf -- a powerful symbol of idolatry in Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions.

On Sunday, we joined hundreds of people for an interfaith worship service at Judson Memorial Church and march to reflect on the condemnation of greed throughout Scripture. The calf was displayed in the sanctuary during worship and carried at the front of our procession through Lower Manhattan. In church and in the streets, the cheers and prayers were overwhelming. Photographers and TV crews flocked to us. Apparently you don't need to know your Exodus to understand a symbol of idolatry.

People know deep down that greed has been idolized for too long in our nation, with disastrous economic and spiritual consequences, and our effort struck that chord. Americans have wised up to the fact that bad actors on Wall Street -- and their servants in Washington -- have segregated a grossly unjust concentration of our nation's wealth in the hands of the people whose recklessness and greed caused our economic collapse. And we know from experience that working hard and playing by the rules doesn't bring the security that it used to. And we're outraged. We recognize a great sin and injustice in our midst.

This awakening has scared the hell out of the defenders of the status quo, and they're going on the attack. Karl Rove calls us "left-wing crazies," and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor described us as a "growing mob" at a recent religious right conference. Turn on Fox News at any time of day and you'll see pundits throwing around terms like "anti-American" and "class warfare."

What they may not realize is that there's no turning back. Not when the nation has realized an unjust truth. Not when the inspiring and sustaining power of faith is directed toward building a more just economic order. We're not going to forget what we've seen and go back to our homes and our churches like none of this ever happened. We finally, truly understand that greed really is a pervasive sinful force that must be confronted, not a necessary thing that leads to prosperity.

The faith community's movement for economic justice didn't start in Zuccotti Park in September. In addition to overcoming Jim Crow, Martin Luther King Jr. worked to end poverty for people of all races in all places. Since the Tea Party has taken over Washington, we've organized to protect the poor and the vulnerable from immoral budget cuts and confronted politicians who pay lip service to the Gospel but pursue an economic agenda inspired by Ayn Rand. We're working to hold predatory banks accountable, not only on Wall Street, but in cities across the country.

Scripture is replete with examples of people backsliding into sin after progressing toward righteousness. It would be foolish to believe that we are ushering in a golden age free of greed. But the occupiers are helping to end the era in which it is celebrated and rewarded with obscene wealth and power. And it's fitting that the faith community is part of it.


See also: Occupy Wall Street, The Golden Calf And The New Idolatry by Donna Schaper

immortal technique at occupy wall street

Monday, October 17, 2011

muslims and occupy wall street

Some brief reflections from the Huffington Post on how Muslims are connected to the Occupy Wall Street movement:
Should Muslims Occupy Wall Street Too? by Dr. David Liepert
From Tahrir to Wall Street: The Role of Religion in Protest Movements by Nuri Friedlander

being muslim in cuba

Every Friday, Pedro Lazo Torres, clears the furniture out of his second-storey apartment in a potholed Havana suburb and lines the floors and balcony with carpets. For Havana’s Muslims, he is Imam Yahya, and the home that he shares with his wife and two adult children, is their place of worship. “You can be a Chinese, Cuban or Russian Muslim and the laws are the same for everyone,” Yahya told CNN. “The cultures can be different, but someone who embraces Islam must accept what Allah orders, it’s that simple.”

There are about 1,500 Muslims in Cuba, but no mosques. That’s why, at the end of each week, Yahya, dressed in an immaculate white cap and tunic, welcomes people for Friday prayer. Women head inside, sitting on the living room floor, while men tend to kneel on the shady balcony.

Most Muslims in Cuba are international college students from countries like Pakistan and Indonesia. Three medical students from Guyana were among those gathered at Yahya’s house for Friday prayer.

Cuba is traditionally Catholic, but many don’t actively practice the religion and others adhere to Afro-Caribbean beliefs like Santeria.

Yahya was introduced to Islam by exchange students and converted more than a decade ago.

Cubans are generally very tolerant of religions, Yahya told CNN. But Muslims do sometimes encounter some of the same prejudices found in other countries.

“Sometimes even friends say things jokingly, like ‘terrorist,’” Yahya said.

Muslims in Cuba also face some unique challenges. Pork, for example, is the most popular meat here. “Pork has the problem that it’s very attractive,” Yahya said. “Just like all things that are bad.”

The faithful say they have to be flexible. Before Friday prayer, they perform ablutions, or cleansing of the body, in Yahya’s small bathroom. But the water supply is often turned off in Havana and adherents have to scoop water out of buckets filled in the shower for these kinds of emergencies.

Noalia Gladys Carmen Perez, who wears a headscarf, told CNN she and other adults have encountered some resistance to their faith.

“I’ve had good reactions, people who greet with you respect, and people who don’t like it,” she told CNN. “They’ll say, ‘It must be so hot,’ [and] comments like that as a form of criticism.”

Headscarves have never been an issue in schools, in part because Islam is relatively new in the country. However, few can pray at work, either because their schedules or social norms won’t allow it.

Many also find it hard to adopt certain Muslim customs here in the touchy-feely tropics. In Cuba, men and women usually greet each other with a kiss.

Ibrahim Kinsan, a physical therapist, says most of his co-workers are women. “Now I’ve converted to Islam, but I can’t just turn into an alien,” he told CNN. “Most of them greet me with a kiss and that tradition isn’t going to disappear.”

Many Muslim countries have offered to donate the money for a mosque, but Yahya wants the gesture to come from Cuba. The country inaugurated its first Russian Orthodox Church in 2008.

“I think we could see something similar for Muslims in the near future,” he said.

From Repeating Islands

Saturday, October 15, 2011

spun and mixed by iraqis

From the Hip-Hop Diplomacy blog: An Embrace of the U.S., Spun and Mixed by Iraqis gives a brief glance at how American culture, Islam and urban resistance come together in the lives of some Baghdad hip-hop heads.

talib kweli at occupy wall street

Tabil Kweli attends Occupy Wall Street on Oct 6, 2011. Kweli preforms an exclusive new rhyme titled "Distraction" and by request "Thieves In the Night." He also speaks heart-felt words in support of Occupy Wall Street.

eighth annual brass crescent awards 2011/1432

Nominations were recently announced for the Brass Crescent Awards (for the best contributions to the Muslim blogosphere). You can check out the website to vote or just to get turned on to some new blogs you may not have seen before. Polls close end of day Monday, November 7, 2011! 9 pm (Mon) PST, 12 am (Tue) EST, 5 am (Tue) GMT

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

wham! bam! islam!

A trailer from WHAM! BAM! ISLAM!, Isaac Solotaroff's documentary that will air on PBS's Independent Lens on October 13th (check your local listings). WHAM! BAM! ISLAM! (http://www.facebook.com/WhamBamIslam) tells the story of Naif Al-Mutawa and his venture to create the first team of superheroes from the Muslim world called THE 99. Following the tumultuous journey of THE 99 from concept to reality, from international acclaim to censure by cultural gatekeepers, Al-Mutawa doggedly pursues his vision to bring new heroes to Muslim children while re-introducing Islam to the West.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Sunday, October 02, 2011

occupy wall street (assorted links)

Occupy Wall Street seems to be the most "official" site connected to the demonstrations in New York City. Occupy Together is a related site attempting to help coordinate events in other cities across the country (and several outside the United States as well). The NYC General Assembly seems to be a (the?) major deliberative body behind the NY demonstrations and they have also issued a Declaration of the Occupation of New York which is the most explicit statement I've seen on the reasons behind the protests. For a history of the events leading up to the protests there is A Report from the Frontlines: The Long Road to #OccupyWallStreet and the Origins of the 99% Movement

Adbusters: Occupy Wall Street
Twitter: Occupy Wall Street
Truthout: Occupy Wall Street (Watch Live)
Reddit: Occupy Wall Street
The Guardian: Occupy Wall Street
Wikipedia: Occupy Wall Street

Sunday, September 25, 2011

soul on islam / hang time

what happens in mecca stays in mecca

Wow, I remember being shocked and surprised when I read that Mecca had a McDonalds... This is so much worse.

Behind closed doors – in places where the religious police cannot listen in – residents of Mecca are beginning to refer to their city as Las Vegas, and the moniker is not a compliment.

To the al-Saud monarchy, Mecca is their vision of the future – a steel and concrete metropolis built on the proceeds of enormous oil wealth that showcases their national pride.

Yet growing numbers of citizens, particularly those living in the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina, have looked on aghast as the nation's archaeological heritage is trampled under a construction mania backed by hardline clerics who preach against the preservation of their own heritage. Mecca, once a place where the Prophet Mohamed insisted all Muslims would be equal, has become a playground for the rich, critics say, where naked capitalism has usurped spirituality as the city's raison d'être.

But a number of prominent Saudi archaeologists and historians are speaking up in the belief that the opportunity to save Saudi Arabia's remaining historical sites is closing fast.

"No one has the balls to stand up and condemn this cultural vandalism," says Dr Irfan al-Alawi who, as executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, has fought in vain to protect his country's historical sites. "We have already lost 400-500 sites. I just hope it's not too late to turn things around."

Sami Angawi, a renowned Saudi expert on the region's Islamic architecture, is equally concerned. "This is an absolute contradiction to the nature of Mecca and the sacredness of the house of God," he told the Reuters news agency earlier this year. "Both [Mecca and Medina] are historically almost finished. You do not find anything except skyscrapers."

The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of Mecca's millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades alone.

From The Independent: Mecca for the rich: Islam's holiest site 'turning into Vegas'

I remember when I first became Muslim I took a certain amount of comfort in the fact that Muslims seemed less susceptible to the Hal Lindsey / Millerite /Harold Camping / Jack Van Impe / David Koresh -type error of reading endtime prophecy in everyday events. Even now I would say I'm not so apocalyptically-minded but I still can't help but think about how according to the hadith of Gabriel, one of the signs of the end is "that you will see the barefooted, naked, destitute herdsman competing in constructing lofty buildings."

For further evidence that Saudis are going to hell in a handbasket check out:
The Guardian: Saudi princes throw parties boasting drink, drugs and sex

See also:
the holiest parking lot in the world
the hajj and the apartheid train

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

abou ben adhem

I first heard this piece by James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784 - 1859) a few years ago at a conference on education and social justice. At the time, it was recited by Bob Moses who shared it as one of the few poems he had been forced to memorize in school. I recently found the poem again when I was browsing through a used bookstore this weekend. It is interesting to me that Hunt chose to give his protagonist an Arab name (literally the father-of-the-son-of-Adam). I wonder what was going on with Orientalism in Hunt's world that he was willing to make an Arab (Muslim?) the paragon of humanistic virtue?

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said
"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still, and said "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

100 thousand poets for change

This seems to be a world-wide event and I'm impressed at the level of participation they were able to get. Expect the planet to spin off its axis and enter a higher vibrational state on September 24. Find a spot near you.


600 Events – 450 Cities – 95 Countries

Join other poets around the USA and across the planet, on September 24th, in a demonstration/celebration of poetry to promote serious social, environmental, and political change.

TO REGISTER YOUR EVENT for 100 TPC write to us at: walterblue@bigbridge.org

Or if you just want to participate in an event, check the website to find contact information for an event near you!

Friday, September 09, 2011

latino muslims after 9/11

Latino Muslims Define Their Identity 10 Years After 9/11

mos def, ya sin, and "government names"

Mos Def is changing his name to Yasiin! The name is actually old news to some of his fans. A few years ago on The Ecstatic album he said clearly (in Spanish) on the track No Hay Nada Mas: "Mi primero nombre es Yasiin Dante" (sic). So I suppose the real news is at the end of the year he is retiring the name "Mos Def":

Get More: Sucker Free

Coincidentally I've been thinking about names a lot recently. Earlier this week I started to write down ideas for a spoken word piece riffing on the concept of "government name" and was intrigued by the different kinds of names and ideas about names which are out there.

For a large mass of people, there is a simple identification between their "real" name and their "government name" but not everyone takes that identification for granted. Many Jews will have a Hebrew name given at circumcision which is different from their public/government names. Similarly, there are Asians in America who might use an Anglo name as their public name but their "real" name used with family is different.

Obviously many rappers and performance poets adopt flashy and distinctive stage names. Also actors and comedians choose names which hide or obscure their ethnic origins or emphasize/de-emphasize their connections to show business dynasties (list of stage names). But if you look at the full range of naming practices, people change their names for all sorts of reasons (religious, spiritual, cultural, personal and familial, social, economic, idiosyncratic, etc.)

An interesting distinction between the Nation of Islam and more orthodox Islam lies in their attitudes towards names. For example, the Quran (33:5) says "Call them by the names of their fathers" and orthodox Islam puts a certain amount of emphasis on acknowledging ones lineage and not denying paternity. So there are many converts who, even when they adopt a "Muslim" name, they will keep the surnames they were born with. (e.g. Abdul-Hakim Jackson, Nuh Ha Mim Keller). For the Nation, on the other hand, most African-American surnames are treated as European-derived "slave names" and replaced with an X, but there is a tendency to keep ones given name. (e.g. Malcolm X, Clarence 13X, etc.)

For Muslims, Ya Sin is a fairly common name which comes from the name of a surah known as the heart of the Quran.

Heart of the Qur'an: A Commentary to Sura al Yasin by Ayatullah Dastghaib Shirazi
The Heart of the Qur’an: Reflections from Surah Ya-Sin by Hamza Yusuf Hanson

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

imam zaid on the norway massacre

Reflection on the Norway Massacre by Imam Zaid Shakir
...let us imagine that the wildest of the anti-Muslim bigots eventually get their wish and the country is purged of Muslims. Were that to happen, an America purged of Muslims would not be a nation immune from purges. New demons would emerge to take the place of the departed Muslims. Like the Muslims, those demons would demand to be exorcised and the likes of Anders Breivik, perhaps by the millions, would rise up to undertake the task. Before such a scenario unfolds, we would do well as a nation to realize that the demons we need to exorcise are not our fellow humans. They are the demons of ignorance, delusion, hubris and our tendency to continuously ignore the lessons that history repeatedly endeavors to teach us. The sooner we all get on with the business of attacking those demons the better off we will all be.

"the oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a westerner"

Loonwatch: Jews and Christians Way More Likely than Muslims to Justify Killing Civilians

Loonwatch: Surveys Show Muslims in Every Country Less Likely to Justify Killing Civilians than Americans and Israelis

Why They Hate Us (II) by Stephen Walt

I don't really want to essentialize Jews and Christians in the way Muslims too often are, but I can't help but point out that given the genocides which were commanded in the book of Deuteronomy and put into vivid practice in the book of Joshua, it is clear that Bible believers can't take the position that genocide is always wrong and be consistent. Furthermore, in modern times, in spite of the moral restrictions of Catholic just war theory, it is clear through acts like the attacks on Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII that even Christian/Western nations have reached a turning point in terms of following their own rules.

On a related note Defending the Transgressed: Mudafi' al-Mazlum by Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti is a contemporary fatwa (from a traditional Shafii) against targeting civilians in warfare.

Blogger Muhammad Cohen shares a tongue-in-cheek reaction to the Breivik attacks in Norway which was Overheard at Ali’s Diner on Arab Street

For a bit of background on where the title of this post comes from, you can check out Common Dreams' The Westmoreland Mind-Set by Derrick Z. Jackson

Thursday, August 04, 2011

"checking out some fromm, some sartre, camus..."

I've recently been looking into Slavoj Zizek again which has whet my philosophical appetite more than usual. The thing that is most intriguing about Zizek is the way he seems to synthesize so many diverse influences into a coherent perspective. It's made me want to reread some older philosophers to try to decide how I feel about them. At the moment, I mainly want to look at some of the existentialists like Camus and Fanon. When I first got into them (in high school) I wasn't Muslim so reading them now should be interesting considering that Camus was born in Algeria and both of them had a lot to say about the Algerian Revolution (and by implication, political revolution and jihad in general). The other day I went to Borders and got Albert Camus' Resistance, Rebellion, and Death and The Rebel. I'll probably read some Gabriel Marcel next and then pick up The Wretched of the Earth again.

See also:
islam and existentialism
ali shariati

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

your friendly spider-man from the barrio

Wow, I'd heard that the Ultimate version of Spider-Man was going to die... check out his replacement; from Peter Parker to Miles Morales:


Sunday, July 31, 2011

somalia: nevermind by amir sulaiman

black faces
white tongues
the smell of sea water
taunts with sarcasm
drink me

oh somalia
im sorry i couldnt be there for you
but while you were trying to to get your daughter
to drink her urine
a singer died
while your children
were falling from the tree of life
scattered bushels of rotten fruit
some whiter children were shot

oh somalia
only if your beautiful wasnt so black
only if you were
gaza or
libya or
bahrain or
egypt or
norway or
england or
japan or
or the moon
i would mention you in a poem

only if you had
oil or
poppy or
timber or
rubber or
white people
i would mention you in my prayers

oh somalia
only if your beautiful wasnt so black
the world has grown accustom to watching you die
since i was a child
somalia - synonymous with suffering
african meant adversity
an african struggling was like
a fish swimming
a dog barking
somalia meant starvation

nevermind the magic in your poetry
the glowing saints rising from your lands like a thousand moons

nevermind the beauty of your beaches
the utter perfection in the hips of your women

oh somalia
only if you didnt wear the resemblance of eve
like an ornate funeral shroud
we wouldnt see you as our sin
and avert our gazes
in shame
turn our faces
to blame
only if your lack of the worldy
didnt remind us
of our lack of the other-worldly
perhaps then we would mention you

oh somalia
only if your beautiful wasnt so black

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

god loves mexicans and kazakhs more

Elenamary shares an interesting intersection between Latin and Muslim culture in God loves Mexicans and Kazakhs more

dead poets society

I just recently learned about the passing of two poets who were a big part of their respective scenes. Will "Da Real One" Bell was based in Miami and David Blair was based in Detroit. At times I've been moved by both of them and I was sad to hear that their voices were silenced.

Blair - Being Black in America

Will "The Real One" - So I Run

New Times: Will Da Real One's murder left many questions
Detroit Metro Times: Poet and singer/songwriter David Blair passes away

Saturday, July 16, 2011

is the glee project racist?

Just putting the question out there...
For those who don't know, The Glee Project is an elimination-based talent show where the winner will get cast in a multi-episode arc on the show Glee. The show started with 12 contestants. Each week, the contestants sing, dance, rap, perform in videos. The "bottom three" are given a chance to save themselves with one more song. The loser of the week is eliminated.

The show started off with 4 out of the 12 contestants being people of color (or as W. Kamau Bell says, "obvious ethnics"). One identified as a black gay man, one who identified as a biracial woman, one Nuyorican Latina, and one man who (as far as I remember) never talked about their background but was pretty obviously of African descent (possibly biracial). That last guy was the first one eliminated. And in the first four weeks of the show, all but the black gay man were eliminated. Coincidence?

The world of Glee is at times like a cross between a Bennetton ad and an afterschool special so I certainly wouldn't argue that the creators of the show are racist in a crudely exclusionary way. But I do suspect that the writers of the show would have trouble writing extended story lines dealing with race and ethnicity.

Planet Grenada: is glee racist?
Racialicious: When will Glee stop ignoring race?


From Recipes for Disaster

"But what if I get caught?"

"...you're already caught. Better ask yourself- what if you get free?"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

i speak for myself: american men on being muslim

Taken from Wajahat Ali's Goatmilk blog:
I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim (White Cloud Press, May 2011) is being received very positively in the media and is spurring dialogue that we feel is necessary and timely. In this vein, we want to continue the conversation with a sequel called I Speak for Myself: American Men on Being Muslim. The book will be published by White Cloud in 2012.

Each essay must be written by a practicing Muslim American man, born and/or predominantly raised in the U.S. We are looking for contributors between the ages of 22 and 45 who claim Islam as their faith.

Please write articulately about a personal aspect of your life with regards to being a Muslim American man. The essay should express in some way how your Muslim-ness and American-ness affect your life. This need not be overt but the essay should come from that perspective.

Essays should be no longer than 1500 words and will be edited for clarity. All submissions may not be accepted, but every submission will be considered. Please include name, age, DOB, full contact info, birthplace, ethnicity, sect of Islam, profession/field, and anything else about yourself that might be useful for us to know (short bios are fine).

This is a project that, Inshallah, will appear across a variety of platforms, both national and international.

Please send all queries about this project and/or entries via email to: isfm786@gmail.com.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

my fellow american

My Fellow American is an online film and social media project that calls upon concerned Americans to pledge and spread a message that Muslims are our fellow Americans. It asks people of other backgrounds to pledge, and share a real life story about a Muslim friend, neighbor, or colleague that they admire. Using the power of social media, My Fellow American seeks to change the narrative – from Muslims as the other, to Muslims as our fellow Americans.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

gil scott-heron - Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un

Just some of my favorites from this great artist who will be missed.

His most famous (and commercialized, and copied, and parodied) piece is:

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

But some less well known pieces are:

Ghetto Code (Dot Dot Dit Dit Dot Dot Dash), an inspired meditation on the United States government's role in the world.


H20-Gate Blues, on the moral aftermath of the Watergate scandal. (I'm not certain if an honest-to-goodness sample was used, but the music and some lines from this piece also inspired KMD on the piece Bananapeel Blues which has nothing to do with Nixon, but is instead a breakdown of Five Percenter theology).

Wikipedia: Gil Scott-Heron
NPR Music: Gil Scott-Heron, Poet And Musician, Has Died by Daoud Tyler-Ameen

Saturday, May 07, 2011

the five percenters: islam, hip hop and the gods of new york

I recently finished reading Michael Muhammad Knight's The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip Hop and the Gods of New York. The book is a pretty informative and detailed treatment of the early history (birth record) of Clarence 13X and the Nation of Gods and Earths. I definitely recommend it if you want to learn more about the movement.

My initial impressions: I was surprised at the extent to which Five Percenters seemed to get in trouble with the authorities for petty crimes even after being "civilized". (And Knight describes how he himself would "elevate with equality" i.e. smoke weed, with other Five Percenters). At the same time, I also was surprised by the extent to which Clarence 13X seemed to get along with with the "powers that be". (He had a good relationship with the New York City bureaucracy including the mayor and he was even a supporter of the Vietnam War.) Personally, I wish he been more thorough and in-depth when it came to the Five Percenter teachings, but all in all, it was a decent book.

See also:
Hip-Hop Linguistic: Interview with Michael Muhammad Knight

Grenada's Past:
Blue-Eyed Devil

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

black in latin america

PBS recently had a special on Blacks in Latin America hosted by Henry Louis (Skip) Gates Jr. I only caught part of the special myself but here is the corresponding page with a number of clips, episodes and essays. The series focuses on Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

imam zaid on nationalism and the recent muslim uprisings

Two articles from Imam Zaid Shakir:
Islam and the Question of Nationalism [1]
Reflections on The Islamic Legitimacy of the Muslim Uprisings (Expanded)

muslim responses to the death of osama bin laden

The Goatmilk blog has put together a pretty good round-up of individual Muslim commentary on OBL's death. In addition, Muslim poet, Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, shares his own thoughts in his blog entry on the Death of Bin Ladin. Finally, the Huffington Post has two pieces: NYC Muslim Community Reacts To Bin Laden's Death and 'Muslimericans' React to Bin Laden's Death

Sunday, April 24, 2011

muslim easter hymn

The closest thing I know of to a Muslim Easter song, is Bob Marley's Time Will Tell, with the powerful line "Jah would never never give the power to a baldhead/ run come crucify the dread" I've blogged about it before, but here is a cover of the song by Gilberto Gil:

Gilberto Gil: Tempo só (Time will tell)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"read the book 'how to eat to live' by elijah muhammad/ it's a brown paperback/ for anybody/ either white or black"

Actually, this blog post is not about the Elijah Muhammad classic but the much more recent book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman which I happened to pick up at a used bookstore last weekend and am starting to experiment with. The concept behind the book is fairly simple. Eat lots of good food. And the way Dr. Fuhrman measures the quality of food is in terms of nutrients / calories. More specifically, he recommends a plant-based diet with lots of green leafy vegetables, other nutrient-rich vegetables and whole fruits; supplemented with beans, legumes, nuts and whole grains and sparing use of other foods. I've been pesco-vegetarian for years, I literally don't remember the last time I ate red meat. So mostly the new plan means I'm trying to cut out the fried food and eat more fruits and salad. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

imam zaid shakir on libya

I wouldn't say that I agree with Imam Zaid's ultimate position in the article Why I Oppose the US-led Intervention in Libya but I think he makes some valuable cautionary observations about the U.S.'s latest (mis)adventure in the Muslim world.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

from tarim to granada

h/t to www.caribbeanmuslims.com

Granada. In Muslim imagination the mere name conjures up images of a magnificent city. A place where science and culture thrived during Europe's dark ages. A place where the streets were lit at night and ornate fountains fed verdant gardens of exquisite beauty. Where a tolerant convivencia brought the Abrahamic faiths together in a most remarkable coexistence. Granada and its iconic Alhambra Palace represents Islam's Andalucian legacy in Europe.

Tarim. Nestled in Yemen's Hadhramaut valley, it is a city like no other. A place of spirituality and learning, tended to by the descendents of the Prophet Muhammad himself. From Java to East Africa and beyond, the scholars of Tarim led by their guides - the Habibs - have taken their tradition all over the world establishing a truly global spiritual community dedicated to living and celebrating the sacred.

Now the living tradition of Tarim and the glorious legacy of Granada meet for the first time. Habib Umar bin Hafiz travels to Spain, visiting Muslim communities in Madrid and Granada. Accompanied by journalist and commentator Fuad Nahdi and Muslims from the Spain, Yemen and the UK, From Tarim to Granada chronicles a remarkable journey.

This is the story of new communities and ancient legacies. Of enduring faith and the burden of history. Of renewing the connection between East and West. Of finding a new convivencia for our times.

From Tarim to Granada

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

silent but deadly

The title is meant as a tongue in cheek reference to the Florida legislature's odd entry in the apparent national race to pass anti-sharia legislation. Florida's anti-Sharia bill is unusual in that it actually makes no reference to the Sharia or Islam or Islamic concepts at all. Instead Florida's SB 1294 is about the "application of foreign law". And the bill's language goes on to explain that:
the term “foreign law, legal code, or system” means any law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside any state or territory of the United States, including, but not limited to, international organizations or tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals.

And then the bill goes on to say that rulings, arbitration decisions, contractual obligations etc. based on foreign law can't be enforced:
if the law, legal code, or system chosen includes or incorporates any substantive or procedural law, as applied to the dispute at issue, which would not grant the parties the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the State Constitution and the Constitution of the United States.

The last part of the bill explains that it applies only to "natural persons" and "does not apply to a corporation, partnership, or other form of business association".

To be honest, I'm not absolutely certain how I feel about the bill since I don't have the legal training to determine exactly how it would be applied.

The bill seems limited to cases which have an international component, and if "sharia" is interpreted as "the legal system of this or that Muslim country" then I'm tempted to say "fine, I don't get my interpretations of the sharia from Iran / Saudi Arabia /Afghanistan etc. anyway." What I'm still unclear on is whether SB 1294 would also void out contracts and decisions involving U.S. citizen which are not based on foreign law per se (e.g. the laws of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, etc.) but are based on religious rulings (e.g. The Fiqh Council of North America, ones local imam, etc.)

Since the bill doesn't mention Islam at all, it will be interesting to see how it will be applied to Jewish arbitration bodies or cases where American law butts up against Israeli law and the laws of other non-Muslim countries (which is likely to be an issue in Florida generally, and Miami in particular).

A few Christians would be surprised to learn that the Bible itself also seems to have little faith in secular legal systems:

When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life! If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed by the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no man among you wise enough to decide between members of the brotherhood, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?
(1 Corinthians 6:1-6)

And as a result, there are also Christian arbitration organizations which operate parallel to the US court system.

What I find most ironic is that it seems many of these anti-sharia efforts are backed by the Religious (Christian) Right while the same Religious Right are perfectly willing to impose their own opinions on abortion, homosexuality, US foreign policy (especially towards Israel) and social justice on the rest of the US population, even those who don't share their convictions. It raises the possibility that the anti-sharia movement might end up secularizing American society in ways that the Islamophobes would find constraining as well.

Past posts:
"lord i've really been real stressed/ down and out / losing ground..."
oklahoma and the sharia

Miami Herald: Republican lawmakers are taking aim at Islamic Sharia law, but they don’t specifically want to talk about it
Huffington Post: Florida State Lawmakers Push Bill That Would Ban Sharia Law

episcopal priest tries islamic rituals for lent

A few years back, Episcopalian bishop, Ann Holmes Redding declared that she was both Muslim and Christian. Now the Episcopal priest, Rev. Steve Lawler is trying to pray 5-times a day as a Muslim... for Lent. Especially as someone with more of an evangelical fundamentalist upbringing, I never stop being surprised at how liberal the more liberal ends of the Christian spectrum are.

islamicate: Episcopal cleric tries Islamic rituals for Lent

see also:
"i am both muslim and christian" (part 3)
"i am both muslim and christian" (part 2)
"i am both muslim and christian" (part 1)
robert karimi

dis[locating] culture

Huffington Post: Dis[Locating] Culture: Contemporary Islamic Art In America

Sunday, March 13, 2011

sometimes i wish i lived in his district in minnesota just so i could have voted for him

I think that in general Keith Ellison has been doing a great job of articulating what is wrong with the King hearings (although I can't tell if he has been effective in terms of changing minds).

What I would say is that the way you frame a question will determine the kinds of answers you tend to get. So when Rep. King chose to frame a set of hearings around the radicalization of American Muslims he basically chose to get answers which reinforce negative portrayals of Muslims. On the other hand, if you look more broadly at domestic violence and terrorism (George Stack flying a plane into an IRS building, Jared Lee Loughner's shooting rampage in Arizona, Scott Roeder's murder of George Tiller, George Jakubec's Esdondido house full of explosives, Roger Stockham's attempted bombing of a Dearborn mosque, the foiled Hutaree militia plot, and so on) other factors start to enter the conversation (how we diagnosis and treat mental health, the heated political discourse, gun-control, anti-government sentiment and much more). So by all means, let's look at the causes of violent extremism but let's not just look at a small slice.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

"lord i've really been real stressed/ down and out / losing ground..."

For those who still haven't heard, a bill has been introduced in the Tennessee legislature, sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, which would basically make it a felony to practice Islam in Tennessee. The bill was written by lawyer David Yerushalmi, a white supremacist Jew who also hates Muslims and Black people. A link to the bill is provided below. Read it yourself if you have time.

Here are some of the highlights:
This bill defines "sharia" as the set of rules, precepts, instructions, or edicts which are said to emanate directly or indirectly from the god of Allah or the prophet Mohammed and which include directly or indirectly the encouragement of any person to support the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the United States or Tennessee Constitutions, or the destruction of the national existence of the United States or the sovereignty of this state, and which includes among other methods to achieve these ends, the likely use of imminent violence.

A couple of things: Since Christian Arabs also use the term "Allah" for God, I wonder if one could argue that Arab churches are also "sharia organizations"? Also, depending on how you read "abrogation" this seems to include even peaceful attempts to amend (abrogate) the constitutions of Tennessee or the US. Also, since a constitution isn't a physical object in the first place, what does it actually mean to cause its "destruction"? And since the US Constitution is a basic text for detailing the structure of government bodies and agents, is it something which individuals can violate? I mean, I have a sense of what it may mean for the President, or Congress or the Supreme Court to violate the Constitution, but I'm honestly not sure what it means for Joe or Zayd down the street to do so. In any case, in spite of the difficulties with the above definition, I can almost understand a bill which singled out "bad Muslims" from "good Muslims" but the definition in the bill actually continues:

Under this bill, any rule, precept, instruction, or edict arising directly from the extant rulings of any of the authoritative schools of Islamic jurisprudence of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali, Ja'afariya, or Salafi, as those terms are used by sharia adherents, is prima facie sharia without any further evidentiary showing.

In other words, the overwhelming majority of mainstream, traditional Muslims (both Sunni and Shia) are going to be lumped together with any Muslims who are trying to destroy "the national existence of the United States" without any specific evidence of violent or criminal behavior.

The bill then goes on to criminalize "sharia organizations" (basically, any two Muslims) and makes it a felony to give such "groups" material support.

It would be hard for me to overstate just how stupid and ill-conceived I think this bill is. I would say that the bill is retarded if it weren't so insulting to retarded people.

- The bill is clearly a violation of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. What part of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" don't they understand?

- Even if it wasn't such a literal violation of the bill of rights, trying to criminalize religious activity is anti-democratic.

- Even if non-Muslims are scared of having the shariah imposed on them without their consent, again, that pesky First Amendment already prevents that from happening making an anti-shariah bill unnecessary.

-The alleged reason for the anti-sharia bill is to protect US citizens from "homegrown" terrorism. But as the folks at Loonwatch have most ably pointed out, all terrorists are Muslims... except for the 94% that aren't. If we are really serious about protecting the homeland, then we need to look at the causes of violence regardless of what flag it may fly under. (I hope that the IRA supporting Rep. King is listening.)

-A question: I wonder how many of these anti-sharia fear-mongers are Christians who are willing to use the government to impose their view on abortion, homosexuality, or US Middle Eastern policy on citizens who don't share their view. Just curious.

- Even if there was some honest (but ill-conceived) concern that Muslims would magically take over the country and adulterers would suddenly be stoned (with rocks) on the White House lawn or women would suddenly lose the right to drive to work (or drive... or work), there are more constructive ways to handle those issues without demonizing Muslims and conflicting with the First Amendment. By all means, strengthen laws against spousal abuse or other forms of domestic violence across the board. Pass the ERA. Strengthen the rights of criminals against cruel and unusual punishment. If you think "they" are the enemy the "defeat" them by being the best "you" that you know how to be.

Text of SB 1028
Summary of B 1028 from State Congressional Website
Loonwatch: Bill Would Make it Illegal to Be Muslim in Tennessee
The American Muslim: David Yerushalmi and (in)SANE
Huffington Post: Tennessee Considers Bill That Makes Following Shariah A Felony

Thursday, March 03, 2011


For those who don't keep in touch with comic books, Bruce Wayne apparently died for a while (but he's better now, it turns out he was just lost in time.) Dick Grayson, the original Robin, is the new Batman. Damien Wayne (Bruce Wayne's son) is the new Robin. And apparently the Batman symbol has become an international franchise (over 20 million whuppins served). In other words, not unlike how Ra's al-Ghul is the head of the League of Assassins, Bruce Wayne is the head of Batman Inc. and it turns out out that the French "Batman" is Bilal Asselah, an Algerian Sunni Muslim French citizen who goes by the name Nightrunner.