Friday, January 18, 2013

the grand (hip-hop) chessboard: race, rap and raison d'etat

The Grand (Hip-Hop) Chessboard: Race, Rap and Raison d’État by Hishaam Aidi is a fascinating survey of the ways in which hip-hop (and in another era, jazz) has been a voice of resistance, but has also been used by different governments as a form of "soft power".

the foundations of an american muslim antipoverty movement

This talk was part of an antipoverty conference organized by the Muslim group, United For Change. Clips from other talks are available here.

tons and tons of free left-of-center books

A centralized location for your leftist literature is a huge trove of books from Adorno to Zizek; Dabashi on Islamic Liberation Theology, Said's Orientalism, the new Malcolm X biography by Marable, books on the Panthers, post-modernism and post-pocolonial studies, plenty Fanon, Freire and Foucault, seasoned with heaping doses of Nietzsche and many others. Enjoy.

gun murders vs terrorism

Gun Murders vs

From Juan Cole's Informed Comment

recent blogs on women and spirituality

Naila Amat-un-Nur: The Role of The Divine Feminine And How It Translates Into Women’s Wisdom: Past, Present And Future

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore: Five Short Meditations on the Virgin Mary

zero dark thirty feeding islamophobia?

Mondoweiss: The reviews are in: ‘Zero Dark Thirty makes me hate muslims’

health and hamza yusuf

elevate culture


Elevate Culture is an organization dedicated to supporting the growth of a vibrant and authentic North American Muslim culture. The Cultural Imperative is Islam’s call for Muslims to be culturally relevant while staying true to Islamic values. Elevate Culture believes that until Islam is made culturally relevant, Muslims cannot reach their full potential. Our belief is that Islamic values do not serve to crush cultural values – they are here to refine them. Muslims are not meant to suppress culture – they are meant to Elevate Culture! EC wants to be with you as you unleash your creative force on the universe, God willing. Wherever you’re going, Elevate Culture is riding shotgun with advice, networking apps, and maybe some extra gas money. Check out their website for funding and networking opportunities!

Monday, January 07, 2013

defining legends (again, islam and afrocentricity)

Defining Legends: Analysis of Afrocentric Writings on Islam by Abdul-Haq ibn Kofi ibn Kwesi ibn al-Ashanti is an interesting e-book I've recently "discovered" responding to the basic Afrocentric critique of Islam.  (e.g. see islam and afrocentrism, afrocentricity and islam ii) In alot of ways the book covers ground I've seen before (Al-Jahiz, Chancelor Williams, Molefi Asante, Blyden, et. alia) But among the pieces which were new to me was a surprisingly graphic hadith:
The Prophet said on the authority of Ubayy Bin Ka'ab: "If anyone proudly asserts his descent in the manner of the pre-Islamic people, tell him to bite his father's penis, and do not use a euphemism" (from Sharh us-Sunnah of al-Baghawee in Mishkaat ul-Masaabih)
I was initially tempted to summarize the intended meaning here by means of a certain more colloquial English idiom but according to one explanation I was able to find online, the meaning of the hadith is better rendered as "He who is proud of his origins in a manner that is similar to the era of pre-Islam, let him stay next to his father's semen [i.e. let him remember that his actual origin is a flithy semen]." In any case it should be clear that Islam considers racism or ancestry-based supremacism as a gross offense.

The second piece I found really interesting was a reference to a book by Abu'l-Faraj Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Hasan Ibn ul-Jawzee, a late 12th century Hanbali scholar of Baghdad called Tanweer al-Ghabash fee Fadl is-Sudan wa'l Habash (The Illumination of the Darkness on the Merits of the Black People and the Ethiopians). Before now I was only aware of Al-Jahiz's "Book of the Glory of the Black Race" but apparently there have been several other medeival Muslim works on the virtues of Black folks (also mentioned in Defining Legends). I was not able to find any excerpts from Ibn ul-Jawzee's work itself but the chapter headings are:
a) Those who belong to the Sudan 
b) The Cause of their dark-skin 
c) The enlivening of Shem, the son of Noah, by Jesus the son of Mary 
d) The Kingdoms of the Black People and their extent
e) The collective moral excellence of the character of the black people
f) Things distinguished by darkness from amongst animals, trees and plants
g) The obviousness that there is no preference for light-skinned peoples over dark-skinned people based upon colour; indeed preference is based upon piety
h) The companions who migrated to Ethiopia
i) The deputation of Quraysh to the Negus (Najaashi) to retrieve the companions of the messenger of Allaah
j) The correspondence of the prophet with the negus (najaashi)
k) The arrival of the Ethiopians to the Messenger of Allaah... And their play with hiraab (lances) in the mosque during his presence 
l) Qur'aanic words of Ethiopian origin 
m) What the messenger heard of the Ethiopian language that pleased him 
n) The assignment of the call to the Ethiopians
o) The prophets who were black
p) The eminent king of Ethiopia
q) The distinguished black males amongst the companions of the prophet Muhammad
r) The distinguished black females amongst the companions of the prophet Muhammad
s) Prominent Black learned people
t) Poets and those who composed poetry amongst the black people
u) Groups of clever, intelligent and generous black males and females
v) The pious and ascetic of the black people
w) The famous black females
x) Those who preferred black concubines to light-skinned ones and who loved and died from their love of them
y) Qurayshees who were sons of Ethiopian women
z) Some exhortations and injunctions
aa) Some invocations and glorifications of Allaah, mighty and majestic
bb) Some transmitted supplications
Looking at the list I think I'm most curious about who is identified as a black prophet; Jesus, Luqman, Moses, Muhammad? (saaws). I'm also curious about how these medieval descriptions match-up with modern racial categories.