Sunday, February 27, 2011

suheir hammad at tedwomen

"What I Will" and "break (clustered)"

also libya by suheir hammad

also libya

no one tells you
if anyone does you do not listen anyway
if you do still you do not understand
no one tells you how to be free

there is fire in your neck
ocean in your ear
there is always your fear
the words you cannot even

no one is here
when the world opens upside
down you reach toward dawn
your weight on the earth changes

some of us plant deeper
others ache to fly

Thursday, February 24, 2011

r.i.p. dwayne mcduffie

on zuhdi jasser (part one)

I've recently started to become more aware of Zuhdi Jasser. He's an odd bird, a Muslim that only an Islamophobe can love. He has appeared several times on Fox speaking against "political Islam". When I first saw him, he was debating Reza Aslan on Fox and was arguing against the Park 51 project. More recently, he has appeared on Glenn Beck's show to provide cover for Beck's suggestion that the Mahdi awaited by Muslims is actually the anti-Christ. A few years ago he even served as the narrator of the alarmist Islamophobic film The Third Jihad which talks about the dangers of a so-called "cultural jihad" (i.e Muslims engaging in non-violent political activity to affirm their rights). He is likely to be a witness at Peter King's upcoming hearings on "radicalization" among American Muslims.

Back in 2009, Jasser appeared on Capitol Hill to give a briefing on the dangers of "political Islam". Rep. Keith Ellison was also present and gave a spot-on analysis of why Jasser's efforts are essentially undemocratic and dangerous (and he all but called Jasser a sell-out).

What is both funny and sad from a certain perspective is that even someone with Jasser's agenda still isn't loyal enough for Islamophobic activists. For example, in the article Where are all the Jassers? Pamela Geller makes a range of criticisms against Jasser and ends by saying "Dr. Jasser, I am not aiding the "Islamists." But it is not at all certain that you aren't."

I'm definitely reminded of the ayat: [2.120] And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians until you follow their religion. [...]

M.T. Akbar: Zuhdi Jasser: Who does he Really Work For?
Tundra Tabloids: What to think about Zuhdi Jasser……?
Hussein Rashid: The Right’s Hate Rhetoric Makes them Eat Their Own

Sunday, February 20, 2011

flamenco and hip-hop unite in granada

This is an old NPR story but still eminently suitable for the blog:
Flamenco and Hip-Hop Unite in Granada

K'naan + Granada Doaba - "ABCs" (Gnawledge Remix)

El Canyonazo's YouTube Channel

Canyon Cody's Blog

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

mooz-lum now playing!

I've mentioned the film Mooz-lum before. Now it is finally playing in select cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, DC, Detroit, Elizabeth, Houston, LA, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco and S Unfortunately I don't live in any of those cities. Maybe I'll be able to catch it on DVD.

You might also want to check out: Mooz-Lum: Thoughts and Reflections on an American Muslim Movie from The Manrilla Blog

Sunday, February 13, 2011

imam zaid shakir on egypt

From Imam Zaid's article: Bravo Egypt!

The people of Egypt have shown that they are not the property of any foreign power to be owned, used, abused and then discarded or possibly “lost.” They are human, men and women determined to carve out a dignified existence for themselves and their progeny. In so doing, they have shattered, to this point, virtually every myth and stereotype encouraging Americans to view Muslims as our inherent enemies. For example, we have been told that Muslims are bloodthirsty savages. We have been told that political Islam is a totalitarian system that knows of no compromise. Yet in Egypt, as in Tunisia, we have seen a majority Muslim population engage in a nonviolent revolution.


Here in the United States many politicians and pundits are asking, “Why didn’t we see this coming?” I will offer my answer here. Specifically, American policy-making towards the Middle East has become dominated by anti-Muslim bigots. They have projected their own fears onto the governing elite and created such an obsession with so-called radical Islam that the latter has accepted the draconian (and profitable for some) measures being put into place to fight it, including support for “moderate” regimes like Mubarak’s. All the while, they have failed to take note of the real, dynamic politics on the ground in the Middle East and the civil society that has sprung up around those politics.


The road ahead in Egypt will not be an easy one. There are powerful interests, both in Egypt and in other countries who were profiting lavishly from the ancien regime and the system of crony capitalism it has put in place to syphon off the country’s wealth. They have much to lose from a new system and will fight hard to preserve at least some of the privileges they formerly possessed. New institutions will have to be built. A new balance of power will have to be hammered out between the groups the protesters represent and the older, more established parties and groups who supported the protests, along with those who did not. The healthcare and university systems, both of which have been destroyed by mindless and neglectful policies, will have to be rebuilt. The minefields of the Palestinian situation will also have to be traversed. However, that is tomorrow’s work and tomorrow’s worry. As for today, let the people of Egypt celebrate. Bravo, Egypt, Bravo!

See also, Imam Zaid's: Reflections on the Situation in Egypt

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

land far away / satta massagana / happy land

Land Far Away by Muslim female rap duo, Poetic Pilgrimage, is a remix of the reggae classic Satta Massagana by the Rastafarian musical group, The Abyssinians.

Land Far Away - Poetic Pilgrimage

My first impression was that mixing Islam with Rastafarian themes was odd until I really started thinking about how the Quran also deals with the subject of the Exodus of the children of Israel to the Promised Land. Furthermore, the general themes of land and migration show up in other Islamic contexts as well, from the travels of Abraham (as), to the Hajj to Mecca, to the hijra which marks the turning point of the Islamic calendar, to the Night Journey to al Aqsa (the "farther mosque" so literally a Land Far Away), to the "minor hijra" in Abyssinia, to the Garden. We are always traveling.

Satta Massagana - Abyssinians (the standard "studio" version)

Satta Massagana - Abyssinians (a "rootsier" version from a documentary about Rastafari)

Happy Land - Carlton & the Shoes (an earlier song which inspired Satta Massagana)

a love supreme: musilm jazz artists

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

a question about religion and film

I just saw Anthony Hopkins in The Rite last weekend. It was a halfway decent movie with its high points but after The Exorcist it is difficult for any exorcism-themed supernatural thriller to impress or cover new ground. (Although, Drag Me To Hell wasn't bad and the Angel episode I've Got You Under My Skin had a nice twist.)

It occurs to me that (even apart from the super-obvious examples like The Ten Commandments or The Passion of The Christ) there are plenty of Hollywood movies which assume that Christianity is basically true (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Rapture, The Book of Eli, Left Behind). There are also a number of movies where Hinduism is true (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Love Guru) and movies where Buddhism or other Eastern philosophies are true (The Golden Child, Little Buddha, a number of martial arts films). But I was hard pressed to come up with a movie where Islam was true. Apart from The Message, the only one I could think of was The Jewel of the Nile (which is actually full of your typical Arab stereotypes, but the "Jewel" of the title is an Egyptian Sufi with real powers.) Are there any others?

continuing soundtrack of the revolution

Both of these sites feature a round-up of clips of chanting and singing from Tahrir Square as well as studio tracks by artists expressing their solidarity with the protesters.

KabobFest: The Soundtrack of #Jan25
hawgblawg: Music of the Egyptian Revolution

roger stockham arrested on terrorism charges for trying to blow up islamic center

This story got swept up in the wake of news from Egypt, but last month Roger Stockham, a 63-year-old Army veteran from California who has a history of being angry with the U.S. government was arrested outside of the Islamic Center of America (in Dearborn, Michigan) wearing a black ski mask and with a large number of M-80s and other explosives in the trunk of his car. Stockham has a "colorful" history of mental illness, criminal activity and substance abuse. The most recent twist in his case is that he fired his court appointed lawyer Mark Haidar, for being Shiite.

Detroit Free Press: Mosque attack plot suspect demands a new lawyer
Huff Post: Roger Stockham Arrested With Explosives Outside Major U.S. Mosque
NPR: California Man Arrested For Planning Attack On Michigan Mosque
Detroit Examiner: Examiner: Mosque terror suspect has history of making threats
All Voices: California man charged in trying to blow up Michigan Mosque served time for threat against President Bush

seham's links on egypt

Seham's links on Egypt (8 February 2011)

head of state - el general (hamada ben aoun)

to be a black. convert muslim. female.

From Jamerican Muslimah's Veranda: To be a Black. Convert Muslim. Female.

liberation square in egypt

Liberation Square in Egypt
by Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

As Moses cast his staff down
so the masses are casting theirs

and their transformed and transformative
multi-million-strong serpent is swallowing

those vain wrigglings of the Pharaoh’s
police-state magicians now made

useless by the greater heartfelt

uncoiling masses of
God-sent Moses

all peace and success
be upon him (and them)

and each of his prophetic lights now
shining across every Pharaonic

tyrant’s face

February 1, 2011

eco-islam in africa

PRI's The World: Eco-Islam in Africa
Green is the color commonly associated with Islam and some scholars say the Koran also commands Muslims to be green in the modern environmental sense. In East Africa, a development project using Islamic ethics has taught locals the Koranic imperatives of conserving natural resources. Some say eco-Islam has taken root. From Pemba Island in Tanzania, Matthew Brunwasser reports.

hip-hop for revolution

PRI's The World: Hip-Hop for Revolution

The poetic tradition in North Africa has also woven its way into more modern forms of expression. Rappers and hip-hop artists from Algiers to Cairo have been casting critical eyes on governments and dictators for years now. In the wake of unrest across the region, their rhymes have become a kind of soundtrack for revolution.

egyptian rappers give uprising a soundtrack

From WSJ blog: Egyptian Rappers Aim to Give Uprising a Soundtrack

Rebel - Arabian Knightz featuring Lauryn Hill

Monday, February 07, 2011

egypt and race

The Root has some interesting pieces on race relations in Egypt. First there is the blatantly-titled Egypt's Race Problem by Sunni M. Khalid which details some of the challenges, assumptions, and indignities faced by blacks (especially from sub-Saharan Africa) in Egypt. Secondly there is An African American in Egypt by Wendell Hassan Marsh with more of the same.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

us state department on egypt situation (with subtitles)

poetic pilgrimage - silence is consent

I think the song itself is from last year, but the video gives the words a new relevance in light of what is going on in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, etc. these days:

Wikipeida: Poetic Pilgrimage
Raw Deen: Interview with Poetic Pilgrimage
Blog: Poetic Pilgrimage

is the mother plane joining the fight against xenu?

I wouldn't claim that the following example constitute a genuine trend, just that the two data points seem oddly connected.

A few months ago I was surfing the net and found a clip of an interview with George Stallings (former Catholic priest who later founded the Imani Temple as an African centered alternative to Roman Catholicism). What I found surprising is that in the interview he basically affirms (with a small amount of nuance and hedging) that Rev. Moon is the Second Coming of Christ and that he even had "Holy Father" and "Holy Mother" choose his current Japanese wife. As far as I can tell the Imani Temple is still a distinct organization from the Unification Church but Stallings definitely has a close (and devotional) relationship with Rev. Moon.

Second data point:
Farrakhan is apparently getting friendly with the Church of Scientology. I'm not sure what it all means. Is this just a temporary deal, a tactical alliance, or a more substantial sharing of ideas to the point of syncretism? A recent column in the Final Call, From the Land of the Seminole and Osceola to the Clear Water Mecca of Scientology describes a trip some Nation of Islam members took to Clearwater, FL to learn more about Scientology. A more recent column from last November even refers to "the incredible work and discovery made by L. Ron Hubbard on the training of the psyche and the mind into its spiritual development which touches upon the organizational policies and discipline of study".

I'm not sure what it means, but both these examples seem odd to me. In both these cases, a Black-identified religious leader seems to be aligning with a non-Black religious organization with a reputation as a "cult" (i.e. a religious group which exploits and restricts the freedom of its members). So on the one hand, these leaders have been highly critical of more mainstream religious groups, ostensibly out of a heightened concerned for Black independence and autonomy (among other things), but at the same time they seem willing to submit to more fringe and/or hierarchical groups.