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.