Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Should you not gain your wants, my soul, then be not grieved..."

by Imam 'Ali bin Husayn al-Habshi
(translated by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad)

Should you not gain your wants, my soul, then be not grieved;
But hasten to that banquet which your Lord's bequeathed

And when a thing for which you ask is slow to come,

Then know that often through delay are gifts received

Find solace in privation and respect its due,
For only by contentment is the heart relieved

And know that when the trials of life have rendered you
Despairing of all hope, and of all joy bereaved,

Then shake yourself and rouse yourself from heedlessness,
And make pure hope a meadow that you never leave

Your Maker's gifts take subtle and uncounted forms.
How fine the fabric of the world His hands have weaved

The journey done, they came to the water of life,
And all the caravan drank deep, their thirst relieved

Far be it from the host to leave them thirsty there,
His spring pours forth all generosity received

My Lord, my trust in all Your purposes is strong,
That trust is now my shield; I'm safe, and undeceived

All those who hope for grace from You will feel Your rain;
Too generous are You to leave my branch unleaved

May blessings rest upon the loved one, Muhammad,
Who's been my means to high degrees since I believed

He is my fortress and my handhold, so my soul,
Hold fast, and travel to a joy still unconceived


the Arabic for this poem (in a slightly different version than the one sung) is available here

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Muslims & the American Political Arrangement

Yesterday's LA Times article "Muslim woman's appointment as Obama advisor draws cautious optimism" ended with:

"Yet, Mogahed's declaration that her loyalty goes first to the United States, published Monday in an interview with Al Masry al Youm, disappointed some people.

"I wish your loyalty was to your Islam first, Egypt second and your Arabism third and then to anything else," wrote a reader identifying himself as the Tiger of Arabs. "I am afraid that they might make a fool out of you and use you as a cover for policies that don't serve Egypt and the Arab and Muslim world."

On the topic of Islam and Muslims and the American political arrangement, I don't think I've seen anyone discuss in such a nuanced and brilliant manner as Dr. Sherman Abdal-Hakim Jackson did in his Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the Third Resurrection where he wrote under the the following selected sub-titles:

- American Precedents and Parallels (pg. 134)
- America: A Culture or a Political Arrangement? (pg. 137)
-Liberal Versus Conservative America (pg. 138)

-Can Muslims Embrace America Even as a Political Arrangement (pg. 140)
-The Modern Muslim Political Mindset (pg. 140)
-The Prophetic Example (pg. 142)
-Muslim Tradition (pg. 143)

-Islam and the U.S. Constitution (pg. 145)
-The Authority of the Constitution (pg. 146)
-The First Amendment and the Separation Between Church and State (pg. 149)

-Embracing America in Protest (pg. 156)

-Islam Over Islamic (pg. 159)

-Embracing America Without Embracing the American False Universal (pg. 164)

Also, you can read this article by Dr. Jackson online: Muslims, Islamic Law and Public Policy in the United States

4/25 UPDATE: Also see this article by Hadia Mubarak in Newsweek today: (thanks to Shaykh Faraz for that)

"I can only hope my fellow citizens [and fellow believers I would add as we saw in the LA article] get the message. When many Americans see Muslims like me, they tend to define us as something non-American, which forces us to choose between our religion and nationality. As long as Islam is equated with a foreign culture, as opposed to a faith like any other practiced here, then our mosques and our schools and our headscarves will continue to be perceived as a rejection of "American culture." This idea of Muslims as "other" surfaces every time someone like my friend Kathy, a veil-wearing Muslim American, is told to "go back home" when she and her daughter eat at Subway, or when a man plows his truck into a Tallahassee, Fla., mosque to remind Muslims they're not safe in this country."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ChaiPod: Culture, Identity & Islam

Check out the ChaiPod hosted by brother Dash for a conversation on "Culture, Identity, Islam" with Shaykh Abdallah Adhami

Download: Part 1 & Part 2

Also see Islam & the Cultural Imperative

UPDATE 5/8/09: Also see this Youtube series recorded by brother Dasham at IC NYU with Dr. Jackson 

Unreasonable Intrusions

You can get the full Muslim Advocates report online "which is entitled "Unreasonable Intrusions: Investigating the Politics, Faith & Finances of Americans Returning Home" and mentioned in this article in the Washington Post called U.S. Border Screening Under Fire

(Thanks to Sana for this.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tradition & the Modern World

Many times I hear the labels "traditionalist" and "modernist" thrown out sometimes when people try to define themselves or try to put others in boxes (many times negatively). I think it's useful to have a definition of tradition (and modernity) to proceed. This might not the usage or definition everyone has in mind when they use the word "tradition," but this definition and explanation stuck out for me.

This is from Zareena Grewal's 2006 University of Michigan PhD dissertation called "Imagined Cartographies: Crisis, Displacement, and Islam in America" which I'm trying to finish read and is so far absolutely amazing, hitting on so many of the most important issues in the crisis of authority today especially for Muslims in the United States (more on this in a later post in sha Allah)

Talal Asad, quoted below, teaches at the CUNY Graduate Center and is the son of Muhammad Asad, the author of the beloved Road to Mecca:

The following quote is from pg. 24:

"Tradition is not merely the inheritance of the past nor is it in opposition to modernity. In fact, tradition itself is a modern concept that emerges out of Enlightenment (Scott 1999).

Historical anthropologist Talal Asad best articulates the importance of resisting the binary opposition of tradition and modernity in the study of Islam in his now classic and oft-cited literature review "The Idea of an Anthropology of Islam" (1986)."

another quote from a few pages later on pg 29 of the dissertation

"Following MacIntre, Asad defines the Islamic tradition as a set of discourses connected to an exemplary past and to interpretations of foundational texts that Muslims draw on in their ordinary lives.

"A tradition consists essentially of discourses that seek to instruct practitioners regrading the correct form and purpose of a given practice that, precisely because it is established, has a history.

These discourses relate conceptually to a past (when the practice was instituted, and from which the knowledge of its point and proper performance has been transmitted) and a future (how the point of that practice can best be secured in the short or long term, or why it should be modified or abandoned), through a present (how it is linked to other practices, institutions, and social conditions).

An Islamic discursive tradition is simply a tradition of Muslim discourse that addresses itself to conceptions of the Islamic past and future, with reference to a particular Islamic practice in the present...

[Tradition is not] necessarily imitative of what was done in the past. For even where traditional practices appear to the anthropologist to be imitative of what has gone before, it will be the practitioners' concepts of what is apt performance, and of how the past is related to present practices, that will be crucial for tradition, not the apparent repetition of an old form. (Asad 1986: 14-5)"

[end of quote from Zareena Grewal's thesis]

Abdal Hakim Murad as quoted in in this article on the Cambridge Muslim College initiative "What Muslims acknowledge, whether traditionalists or modernists, is that most of ulemaa (scholars) in the west really need to know what the modern world is."

Seyyed Hossein Nasr in his book "A Young Muslim's Guide to the Modern World"

"What needs to be remembered in conclusion is that Islam is a living reality while the modern world is, also for the moment and despite its falling apart from within, still a powerful force to be reckoned with in the arena of history. Muslims, therefore, whether they are among the youth or of the older generation, have no possibility of surviving as Muslims, individually or as members of a great civilization and the ummah of the Prophet, without being able to respond to the challenges which the modern world poses for them. They must understand the modern world in depth and intelligently and respond to its challenges not simply emotionally but on the basis of authentic knowledge of that world by relying upon knowledge of the Islamic tradition its fullness." -pg. 251

Perhaps Abdal-Hakim Murad said it best when he wrote, in # 93 of Contentions 13:

"Traditional Islam is not the replication of the positions of the ancients; it is to seek what they sought."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond

Check out this new book Backlash 9/11: Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans Respond by Anny Bakalian and Mehdi Bozorgmehr (University of California Press, 2009)

I'm actually taking a class at the City College with Professor Bozorgmehr and he actually did a presentation in class about the book. One of the novel aspects of the book he said is that it deals with a positive development amidst the backlash on Muslim and Middle Eastern Americans - mobilization.

This is a passage from the book:

"Given the enormity of the 9/11 backlash, one would assume that the targeted populations would go into hiding. Instead, Middle Eastern and Muslim American advocacy organizations representing these populations urged their constituents to claim their rights as Americans, to raise their voices, and to fight back against hate crimes, bias incidents, prejudice and discrimination, and governmental abuses of power. They responded in typical American fashion-through political activism, and legal challenges. Their ultimate goal was civic engagement and political integration into the mainstream of American society. However, the relatively rapid mobilization of the affected groups was unusual from a historical perspective..." (p. 2)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

a Sherman Jackson reader

I thought it would be useful to put together a reader of material by Dr. Sherman Abdal-Hakim Jackson as I have been coming across some material that I didn't know was available online.
Please let me know of anything else that you find!
Many thanks and love for Maheen Zaman and Iffat Khan who first introduced me to Dr. Jackson and his work when I was a senior in high school trying to make sense of everything...may Allah increase them in all good and continue to benefit people through them! Ameen!
Many links and information can be found at

See information regarding Dr. Jackson's education, teaching experience and published works: (Dr. Jackson is a co-founder of the ALIM program).


1. Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the Third Resurrection

2. On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam: Abu Hamid al Ghazali's Faysal al Tafriqa (Studies in Islamic Philosophy, V. 1)

3. Islamic Law and the State: The Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihab Al-Din Al-Qarafi

4/6/09 UPDATE: Dr. Jackson's next book in sha Allah should be coming out July this year! It deals with theology and is called Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering [I think according to the U. Mich page, it was previously entitled "Islam and Black Theodicy: Classical Islamic Theology in Modern America (completed and under review)]. It is on amazon for a pre-order with a description.
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (July 10, 2009)


-Muslim-Americans: Between American Society and the American Story

-Imam W. D. Mohammed and The Third Resurrection

-Jihad and the Modern World

-The Etiquette of Disagreement

-Literalism, Empiricism, and Induction: Apprehending and Concretizing Islamic Law’s Maqâsid al-Sharî’ah In The Modern World

-Domestic Terrorism in the Islamic Legal Tradition.

-Muslims, Islamic Law and Public Policy in the United States

"Islam(s) East and West: Pluralism between No-Frills and Designer Fundamentalism,"

focuses the reader’s attention on the existence of the "false universal," which he defines as the view that one’s belief structure is reflective of a "transcendent, ’natural’ order whose validity is obvious," despite the shaping influences of cultural, historical, and ideological perspectives. He argues that American Muslims must face the problem of the false universal and stop trying to compress and transform Islam into a single-minded entity in response to the events of September 11. Instead, American Muslims need to embrace their traditional ability to accommodate multiple and contradictory interpretations of Islam.

Jackson notes that the inclination to resort to false universals develops from recognition that no system of open intellectual exchange can guarantee the emergence or suppression of any particular view (p.116). Placing this within the American Muslim context, he emphasizes the promotion and accommodation of true pluralism and tolerance. He believes that this cannot be done as long as American Muslims refuse to face facts. Jackson employs an historical discussion which focuses on: 1) debunking the myth that classical Islam did not have extreme and repugnant views; and 2) illustrating that pre-modern Islam was emphatically pluralistic and tolerant despite the existence of those views. Muslims should not deny their history; nor should they live in fear of it. The urge to appease the American public regarding the tenets of Islam should not lead to a new form of fundamentalism among American Muslims that rejects the pluralism of experiences and histories their individual stories bring to the table.
[that was from ]

Preliminary Reflections on Islam and Black Religion


Islam(s) East and West: Clash of Imaginations?

"Is Race a Social Construct? Race and Identity Amongst Muslims"


-Dr. Sherman Jackson - Covering Islam and Muslims in America - 74 min - Dec 5, 2005

- Dr. Sherman Jackson, Sharia law Theocracy or Democracy? - 61 min - Feb 18, 2008

Professor Sherman Jackson from University of Michigan expands on the debate surrounding sharia law in the west.

(article about this event: "Jackson addresses Islamic law"

-Takin' It to the Streets 2005 (DVD) $13.50
Special Bonus Feature - Dr. Sherman A Jackson "Making a Difference" (IMAN Annual Dinner Address 2005 Malcolm X College)

Muslim Mental Health Guidelines

Muslim Mental Health, Inc. consultants published a resource in collaboration with the Nathan Kline Institute Center for Excellence in Cultural Competency for Muslim Americans.

The sub-headings in this piece are:

-Epidemiology of Mental Illness

Impact of Islam and Muslim cultural beliefs on mental health-related practices

-Role of Religion
-Views of psychiatric illness
-Use of religious and spiritual interventions
-Use of professional services

Some General Guidelines for the assessment and treatment of Muslim patients

-Assessment and Consultation

Specific Group Issues

-Family Unit and Elderly
-Refugees and Victims of Trauma, War and Disaster

"Do not know the truth by men, but rather, know the truth and you will know its adherents"

"...This is the practice of those dim-witted men who know the truth by men, and not men by the truth. The intelligent man, on the contrary, follows the advice of the Master of the Intelligent, 'Ali - God be pleased with him! - where he says: "Do not know the truth by men, but rather, know the truth and you will know its adherents." The intelligent man, therefore, first knows the truth, then he considers what is actually said by someone. If it is true, he accepts it, whether the speaker be wrong or right in other matters. Indeed, such a man will often be intent on extracting what is true from the involved utterances of the erring, since he is aware that gold is usually found mixed with dirt."

-Imam al-Ghazali in Deliverance from Error, translated by R.J. McCarthy, pg. 68