Saturday, February 13, 2010

"On this arrangement, Sunni doctrine (legal or theological) has always relied on a public discourse

rather than the prerogative of any ecclesiastical authority or the naked assertions of any particular group. In this capacity, theology has always had to validate itself on the basis of some objective, public authority (objective in the sense of everyone having equal access to it). Sunni public authority consisted of two interrelated sources: (1) primary, religious authority, and (2) secondary, interpretive authority. Primary, religious authority, identified as al-naql (or al-manqul or al-sam') is located in the faithful transmission of scripture and its "natural" extensions. Secondary, interpretive authority, referred to as al-'aql (or al-ma'qul) resides in the intellectual/rational interpretation and debate. Beyond their univocal passages and most basic fundamentals, the Qur'an and Sunna are incapable of interpreting themselves or of settling disputes over whose interpretation is correct. This require the intervention of an interpretive authority that lies outside of these texts. Muslim Tradition locates this in al-'aql.
-Sherman A. Jackson, Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering, p. 9-10

Abdal-Hakim Murad: "Reason as Balance: the evolution of 'aql"

Islam’s self-understanding as a middle way is both well-known and distinctive. Contrasting itself with some evolved forms of the earlier religions, the new faith announced itself as neither purely legalistic nor purely spiritualising. Ethically, its pattern of life was to embrace neither the severe asceticism of early Christianity, nor the hedonism of ancient Rome. ‘Thus have We made you a middle nation,’ (2:143) the last people of God are informed; and the commentators decided that this was to be geographical, spiritual, and moral. But in what sense could such a self-image be, pre-eminently, a basis for the intellectual life? Can one set too much store by reason (can it be itself if practiced to excess?). Or too little?
The introduction to Abdal-Hakim Murad's "Reason as Balance: the evolution of 'aql" (a paper for the Cambridge Muslim College)

"The authority of reason forms the foundation of Islamic theological and legal thought.

Until recently, most Western academics wrongly looked upon the Mu'tazili school of theology as the sole example of Islamic rationalism. In reality, its rivals, the Ash'ari and Maturidi schools, which make up the mainstream of Sunni orthodoxy, are no less rationalistic, and their speculations consistently demonstrate originality and intellectual depth. [12] Pragmatic reason is central to the Islamic legal tradition. Even the Hanbali school of law, which is known for textual literalism, is highly pragmatic and cedes a significant role to reason in both theology and law. In fact, the school was divided from an early period between two wings, one of which relied more heavily on reason than the other. Ibn Taymiyya, one of the greatest Hanbali scholars, and his disciple Ibn al-Qayyim belonged to the school's rationalist wing. Another school of law, the extremely literalist Zahiris rejected the use of reason in theology and law but never won a significant following; they died out early, in part, because of their rejection of reason.
-See "Trusting Reason" in Dr. Umar F. Abd-Allah's important article "Living Islam With Purpose," p. 4

"We need to emphasize in our communities

the mental health professions and the counseling professions to help people deal with the tumult of reality that is overwhelming and these issues and challenges do not exist in our fiqh canon with all due reverence. The juridical canon does not deal with psychological trauma but it must. We must write the books to deal with psychological issues. Address the mental health of our communities.

Address how a child who is dealing with their package, they're clumsy or not good looking and they don't know that Allah made them this way as a challenge for them and a challenge for other people and this is a trial. This person grows up to be overbearing. They call them thuqala in the literature of Islamic, in the Islamic library and unfortunately this is funny, the thuqala are the butts of jokes when in reality we commit a double crime against them, we don't nurture properly in childhood and when a person comes out disjointed and out of sorts and not connected and unable to deal properly with the world they are shunned for being overbearing and heavy.
-Shaykh Abdallah Adhami at RIS

"Questions crowd in my bewildered mind every time I encounter the world's ugliness.

This ugliness gives me the frame of reference by which I understand the world's beauty...but I suffer nonetheless. She confronts me with what I cannot explain. She reproaches me at every encounter without saying a word. Does your dignified and sanctimonious Conference of the Books deal with the extremities of ugliness? Does your Conference console a murdered soul?

After an uncomfortable pause, she tells me that as a child she learned that love is a service. The warmth and love of parent that you take for granted came to me at the price of my soul. She senses the anxiety on my face and she says: "Yes, I was sexually molested by my father most of my life." Do you have any idea how that feels? I learned early on that my body was not my own - it was simply a price to be paid in return for attention and affection. I learned to hate and sacrifice my body and to cower each time in shame. I was locked into a cycle of degradation and bitter self-hate. The barriers of decency or morality were long ago destroyed. Your dignified Conference cannot endure the degrading details so I will save you the agony. But who talks about me in your dignified world? [...]

I tried to find what my fellow Muslims have to say about me or to me. I found books written by atheists, Jews, and Christians, but nothing by fellow brethren. Nothing by Muslims about rape, sexual abuse, or child molestation. Do I exist in your world? I tried to talk to my fellow Muslims about my 'experiences' - have you ever experienced the shifty eyes, the uncomfortable glances, the change of topic, and the self-assured advice to forget the unforgettable? [...]

Your conference seems to discourse about everything. But does this Conference talk about me? [...]

The only place I can find a discourse about here is in the writings of non-Muslim authors. Most bookstores have a section on abuse and self-empowerment. But our books are silent. Unfortunately, my sister, you have not yet entered our consciousness. I know that in some circumstances an apology is an insult. But this whole Conference is an apology for our contemporary reality. I write this in your honor and may future Conferences acknowledge your reality.

January 1997

-Khaled M. Abou El Fadl, Conference of the Books: The Search for Beauty in Islam, p. 41-43

Wajahat Ali: Remembering Aasiya Zubair

John Gray

John Gray's review of 'The Shock Doctine'

"In the last analysis, the world will not accept a Pax Americana because it resists the imposition of American values.

For many Americans, this may seem paradoxical. Are not American ideals shared by all of humankind? The answer is that insofar as they are American, they are not. Beyond its shores, no one accepts America's claim to be the model for a universal civilization.

Fifty years ago, George Santayana wrote about the prospect of an American empire:

The authority that controlled universal economy, if it were in American hands, would irresistibly tend to control education and training also. It might set up, as was done in the American zone in Germany, a cultural department, with ideological and political propaganda. The philanthropic passion for service would prompt social, if not legal intervention in the traditional life of all other nations, not only by selling them innumerable American products, but by recommending, if not imposing, American ways of living and thinking. [9]
Americans see their country as embodying universal values. Other countries see the American way of life as one among many; they do not believe it ever will - or should - be universal. Knowing from long experience how easily friends and enemies change places, they resist the division of the world into 'good' and 'evil' regimes. Perceiving the US as a proselytising regime, they fear its interventions. They prefer the dangers of a world without hegemonic power to a world made over in an American image.

Americans will support a Pax Americana only if it promotes values that they believe to be shared by all humanity; but it is just such a peace that the majority of mankind will find most oppressive. In the volatile mix of geopolitical calculation and messianic enthusiasm that is presently shaping America's foreign policy, it is not American realpolitik that the world most resents. It is American universalism.
-John Gray, Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern, p. 99-100

"Yet another distressing visit to the bookstore.

I compare the size of the Islam section to the Christian and Jewish sections, and the Islam section pales in comparison. The titles of books in the Islam section are the same week after week. Once again, I complain to the managers and, once again, they cite the lack of sales in the Islam section. "There is movement in the Christianity and Judaism sections, but not Islam," I am told. I know from experience that Muslims hardly read - not even the Qu'ran for that matter. If Muslims do pick up a book from one Conference or another, they search for a book that affirms what they already know.

Muslim roads to knowledge are blocked by dogma, apologetics, laziness, and simple idiocy. But most of all, Muslim roads are blocked by a near total disregard for the value of the intellect and the role it plays in the pursuit of knowledge. Muslims today prefer to construct buildings rather than minds.

While the world discourses on Islam, Muslims exalt Islam and pretend that the world does not exist. All too often, discourses on Islam engage Muslims as subjects and not participants. In the United States and the West, academic presses such as Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, Harvard or Westview publish on Islam and Muslims all the time. The authors of these works are most often not Muslim. Universities and government institutions fund and support research and teach courses. Popular presses, whether in book or journal form, report on Islam and Muslims everyday. Politicians, journalists, legislators, educators, and others base their impressions on Islam on these mainstream discourses. Muslims do not impact the mainstream discourse in any significant sense.

The Muslim response is to build Islamic Centers, organize camps and conferences, and pretend that the mainstream does not exist. Although Islamic Centers are necessary for generating a basic sense of community and identity, they are rarely a serious avenue for knowledge or discourse on Islam. As to the camps, conventions, and conferences, all too often they are no more than pep rallies or cheerleading events.

In the contemporary age, whoever controls the flow of information controls the discourse. Muslims do not shape or control the discourse on Islam; Muslims are discoursed about but do not discourse back. The flow of information about Islam rarely originates, or even passes through, Muslim avenues.


It is reported that the Prophet said, "A Muslim will not tire of knowledge until he reaches Heaven." The problem occurs when one does not tire of knowledge but tires of the dogma, slogans, and cliched rhetoric encountered in Islamic centers and conferences all over the United States - where does one go after that? Or when those who wish to pursue knowledge must either live in poverty or accept easy money from those who offer easy solutions. The problem is when every wealthy Muslim prefers to build a building than support a mind...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Juan Cole: Huge Crowds Peacefully Commemorate Islamic Revolution; Some Green protests Reported

"In this Conference hundreds of books stand and converse

- books on sira, hadith, fiqh, tafsir, usul, adab, and much more. Yet, my books, in this context you are so foreign, so marginal. You are an anachronism!

Here, in this time and place, you are fossilized showpieces. The orientalist uses you to confirm the inferiority of the other, and the oriental uses you to apologize for being that other. As to the rest, you are incomprehensible, your language archaic and your universe of symbols impenetrable. Your terminology and categories impress that who is tolerant, enchant the patient, assure the alienated, misguide the stupid, and is ignored by the contemporary.

Here in this place and now in this age, they do not care about your categories: the hasan or qabih, the 'ilal or maqasid, the 'amm or muqayyad, the zann or yaqin. Here and now, they care about deficits, portfolios, health insurance, gang violence, sexism, proms, drunk driving, date rape, and teenage pregnancies. Yet, I know that you are eternal and immutable because you speak forever. But you are contextual because the people who read you who must speak to the age, the people who read you who must transform through you into a book for our new age and new place.

"The hours have passed and the night is subsiding.

The Civilization of the Book must now bring its Conference to a close. But the Conference never ends, it only adjourns. As I re-shelve you I pray, God forgive me for taking Your Book with such abandonment. Tomorrow, You Willing, I will continue my transformation. God, through a single book You transformed us into a civilization of books. Will we ever remember this transformation? Will the people of this nation once again transform into Your nation, a nation of books?

"But here, in the Conference of the Books, the debates still rage on and the dynamic discovery ends only to begin again.

In the small crowded apartment outside Princeton, New Jersey, the Islamic Civilization, the Qur'anic Civilization, still stands, reproducing itself every night. Has a single text ever played such a pivotal role in any world civilization? Has there ever been a civilization based on a text, a single text, before this one? Weren't we the civilization of the Reading? But how did a civilization founded on reading forget the art of reading? Why is it that the people of the Book came to disdain books? My God, You said that they forgot God, so You caused them to forget themselves. Is this how we came to forget You? Is this how we came to forget the art of reading?
-Khaled M. Abou El Fadl, Conference of the Books: The Search for Beauty in Islam, p. 20

"In this Conference, I sit alone surrounded by you.

You are the repository of our wisdom, the meticulous record of our failures and successes, and of our reasons and whims. You connect the past to the present and the present to its genuine self. So, my dear books, why are your guests so few? From that singular divine Book you created a civilization. From an inspiration you created an idea, then a thought, then a system, then a vehicle, then you discovered roads and signs. Why do Muslims insist on re-inventing the wheel at the beginning of every journey? Do any people deny their heritage more than we do? Is there a people more self-effacing than we are? Are there any people who dare limit God's manifestation to a single Golden Age and live enslaved to the illusion of a re-created history as much as we do? Can't we see that every age is God's age and that every age is to be honored, studied, and absorbed but never reproduced?

"The impregnable, resilent volumes stand side by side in a solemn procession testifying to our deeds.

Hasn't the Lord commanded us to recite and to bear witness? Here, in this small crowded space, is the endless recitation and the eternal murmurings of the Conference of Books. Who was ever foolish enough to believe there is a past and present? There is only the read and unread; otherwise, all times are ever present in this library.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another red scare? By Sahar Aziz

Politicians, the press, and foreign policy: What to read

Glenn Greenwald: The mythical potency of terrorism fear-mongering

"Stripping US Citizenship from Terrorists?"

Student detained over Arabic flashcards, lawsuit says

Thanks Yusuf and Khalid!

Intro to "Conference of the Books"

The essays, however, do not represent a systematic argument toward a specific conclusion, nor is this book intended as a scholastic discourse on the contemporary Muslim reality. The essays do not assume an air of detachment or academic objectivity but, rather, reflect a variety of moods; they are passionate, jubilant, angry, and sometimes sarcastic, but they are invariably committed. Each essay was written in the context of an imagined conference of books that occurs every night. The books represented here are the books of my personal library, which contains books on a variety of subjects including Judaism, Christianity, law, philosophy, and literature. However, the books represented in this conference are mostly classical Islamic texts, and these texts engage their readers in reflections about the contemporary Muslim reality. Books, in general, preserve snapshots of the intellectual activity of their authors. Classical Islamic texts are the repository of the intellects of the past - the intellects that eventually transformed into books. And, it is my belief that, of all God's wondrous creations, the intellect is the most wondrous of all, and it also my belief that a book is the gift of God that preserves the intellect for generations to come. With this in mind, I engaged the intellects of the past in addressing the intellects of the present. A Muslim may read these essays as the testament of a Muslim jurist on the problems that confront us today. A non-Muslim may read these essays for their sociological significance and for their relevance to comparative insights on law and theology. Yet, as the Islamic message was addressed to human beings at large, I wrote these essays for Muslims and non-Muslim alike.

Why Are The Drums So Silent? by Dawud Wharnsby Ali

All the sounds that surround us,
All the noises that dumb-found us,
The clatter and the clammer of the clutter of our lives.
Cars and streets, make silence shatter,
Idle minds fill up with idle chatter,
If we fill our void, that’s all that matters.

Why are the drums so silent?
Why can’t we hear the rhythm?
What’s wrong with you and I?
Why are the drums so silent?
Why can’t we hear the rhythm from the heels of believers
Marching to the garden as they strive.

We digitise the revelation,
Does our rehearsed recitation,
Go any deeper than our throats?
Our calls to prayer seem to raise up to the sky.
Conferences, and lectures, seminars for you and I.
The words that blow away with the nasheed that make us cry,

Why are the drums so silent?
Why can’t we hear the rhythm?
What’s wrong with you and I?
Why are the drums so silent?
Why can’t we hear the rhythm from the heels of believers
Marching to the garden as they strive.

And if we can just be brave enough to be each other’s mirror.
We might finally recognise the face of conscience that we fear.
And if we can finally take the time to face the mute the noise
We’ve built around ourselves.
The rhythm of the heartbeat and the purpose may be clear.

If we beat the drums,
A whisper of peace,
Beat the drums,
Moving through the land,

If we beat the drums of hope and faith,
We will all fall into rhythm,
I have faith in you and I,
I we beat the drums of hope and faith,
Then we will hear the rhythm from our footsteps and our striving marching to the garden as we try.

If we beat the drums of hope and faith,
We will all fall into rhythm,
I have faith in you and I,
I we beat the drums of hope and faith,
Then we will feel the rhythm from our footsteps and our striving marching to the garden as we die.


"As I explained in Islam and the Blackamerican, however, in negotiating its future,

Blackamerican Sunni Islam will look to Sunni Tradition not as the end but as the beginning of religious deliberation. The point, in other words, is not to go back in search of cut-and-dried solutions but to benefit from Tradition's authority and intellectual capital, while heightening the likelihood that one's own deliberations are not derailed by the allure of undisciplined compromise or crass, "religionized" pragmatism. This latter interest can be most effectively realized by placing one's views in dialogue with the accumulated wisdom of Islam's ongoing conversation with itself. In this context, the move to position Blackamerican Muslims as active agents, as opposed to passive recipients, recognizes a fundamental difference between bona fide Islamic thought on the one hand and ideas and propositions whose proponents simply happen to bear Muslim names on the other.
-Sherman A. Jackson, Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering, p. 4

"Sunni Tradition was also identified as the key to overturning the false universals invoked by many immigrant and overseas Muslims,

according to which the realities of the central lands of Islam are treated as the primary object of Muslim religious contemplation, deeply informing the reigning paradigm of a properly constituted Islamic life in America. That paradigm typically excludes Blackamerican concerns or simply assumes them to be subsumed under the models settled on in the Muslim world - a presumption ultimately sustained by a deeply entrenched racial myopia or agnosticism through which immigrant and overseas Muslims tend (or tended) [3] to see America. By forcing the latter, however, to accept both the strictures of Tradition and its ability to sustain multiple view of equal authority, immigrant and overseas Muslims' ability to privilege, if not universalize, old-world and immigrant perspectives through preconscious conflations of "East" with "Islamic" can be greatly diminished, if not eliminated.

-Sherman A. Jackson, Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering, p. 3-4

"This book is a sequel of sorts to my Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking towards the Third Resurrection.

In that book, I argued that while the rise of Islam among Blackamericans was rooted in the agenda and sensibilities of "Black Religion" - essentially, a folk-oriented, holy protest against antiblack racism [1] - the future was intimately tied to Blackamerican Muslims' ability to access and deploy the intellectual legacy of the classical Sunni Tradition, both as a means of domesticating Black Religion and of moving beyond it to address important spiritual and transracial issues in a manner that is both effective in an American context and likely to be recognized as Islamic in a Muslim one. [2]
-Sherman A. Jackson, Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering, p. 3


"O believers! Fear Allah. And let every soul look to that which it sends forward for the morrow. And fear Allah, for He is Aware of what you do.

And be not as those who forgot Allah, so that He caused them to forget themselves. Such men are corrupt."

from the Majestic Qur'an; Sura Al-Hashr 59: 19-19


"And We desired to show favor to those who were oppressed in the earth, and to make them leaders, and to make them the inheritors"

from the Majestic Qur'an; Sura Al-Qasas 28: 5

Blurbs for Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering by Sherman A. Jackson

"It is hard to imagine a more central notion in monotheistic ethics than the challenge of theodicy: What kind of God allows suffering, and why so some groups seem to suffer more than any divine scale of justice could ever justify? These are the questions tackled by Sherman Jackson in this probing, evocative study of black theodicy revisited through the multiple lens of Islamic theology. Many who have never thought of pre-modern Islam, or classical Muslim self-reflection, as relevant to contemporary issues will find here a vista of hope for the God of Abraham, as also for his suffering black folk."

-Bruce Lawrence, author of The Qur'an: A Biography, and Director, Duke Islamic Studies Center

"Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering
is demonstrative proof that American Muslims are bound to have a profound impact on the historical and normative trajectory of the Islamic faith in the modern age. Firmly anchoring himself in the Islamic theological tradition and its rich discourses, Sherman Jackson insightfully engages current debates on black religion, the role of religion in the black American experience, and the theology of racism. Ultimately, Jackson delivers a singularly original, richly learned, and carefully measured book on rationalism, tradition, and morality in Islam and on the theological implications of human suffering, oppression, and subjugation. I found this book an enthralling and enriching read, and there is no question that it deserves to be read and debated very widely."

-Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, Alfi Professor Law, UCLA School of Law

"Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering is an examination of how the religion of Islam would respond to the problem of black theodicy as defined by W.R. Jone's classic text, Is God a White Racist? Jones addressed his book to Protestant black liberation theologians who claim that God is a liberator. If God is all-powerful and all-loving, how do black theologians explain black suffering? Jackson applies Jones's questioning to the two main developments of Islam - Rationalists and Traditionalists. This text will make an important contribution to black scholarship in religion because it will initiate and deepen the conversation between Islam and Christianity in the black community."

-James H. Cones, Charles Augustus Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology, Union Theological Seminary, New York and author of Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare?

Get your copy now! :)

"Reuven, I did not want my Daniel to become like my brother, may he rest in peace.

Better I should have had no son at all than to have a brilliant son who had no soul. I looked at my Daniel when he was four years old, and I said to myself, How will I teach this mind what it is to have a soul? How will I teach this mind to understand pain? How will I teach it to want to take on another person's suffering? How will I do this and not lose my son, my precious son whom I love as I love the Master of the Universe Himself? How will I do this and not cause my son, God forbid, to abandon the Master of the Universe and His Commandments? How could I teach my son the way I was taught by my father and not drive him away from Torah? Because this is America, Rauven. This is not Europe. It is an open world here. Here there are libraries and books and schools. Here there are great universities that do not concern themselves with how many Jewish students they have. I did not want to drive my son away from God, but I did not want him to grow up a mind without a soul. I knew already when he was a boy that I could not prevent his mind from going to the world for knowledge. I knew in my heart that it might prevent him from taking my place. But I had to prevent it from driving him away completely from the Master of the Universe. And I had to make certain his soul would be the soul of a tzaddik [Hebrew for a person of outstanding virtue and piety] no matter what he did with his life.
-Chaim Potok, The Chosen, p. 279

Thanks Najeeb!

Election candidate in headscarf causes uproar in France

Thanks Khalid!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"The next two examples touch on the legal status of instrumental music and producing two and three-dimensional images of living things.

It is commonplace to hear that Islam unconditionally forbids both. Yet there are noteworthy positions permitting them under certain conditions, as the following examples indicate. In any case, whether music and images are judged to be prohibited or permissible in the law, each ruling regarding them is predicated upon readings of presumptively authoritative evidence. Islam's position toward both questions is not immutably fixed like rites of worship; both issues are based on rationales and have tangible purposes, which leave their status open for discussion.

The majority of legal scholars forbade music; generally they did so on the ground that music was closely associated with drinking, dancing girls, and licentiousness, which was often the case in Middle Eastern and South Asian culture. But there were notable dissenting views on music when performed in other contexts. The famous Andalusian judge Abu Bakr ibn al-'Arabi and the notable scholars Ibn Hazm and 'Abd al-Ghani al-Nablusi wrote legal opinions in defense of music. Al-Kattani, a contemporary Moroccan scholar, cities twenty Muslim jurists who wrote on various types of musical instruments and the art of audition (sama'). [23] In many Muslim lands, hospitals made regular use of musicians, comedians (muharrijun), and teaching hobbies to cure the sick and the clinically insane. As a rule, Muslim hospitals were pious endowments under the supervision of Islamic judges; their allowance of music, humor and hobby therapy constituted legal validation of each. [24]
Continue reading here

-Dr. Umar F. Abd-Allah, "Living Islam With Purpose," p. 10

Avi Shlaim: Gaza’s Great Betrayer

Robert Fisk: Gaza's defiant tunnellers head deeper underground

Swiss Politician's Conversion Sparks Rumors

Stephen M. Walt: I don't mean to say I told you so, but...

Yvonne Ridley: The Truth About US Justice: Aafia Siddiqui

Love for the Sake of Allah by Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad

Stars Gather for IMAN's Community Café

"Arkoun's heuristic methodology, in contrast to that of Rahman, is rooted in pluralism.

He argues with impressive effect that the remarkable similarities in the theological and intellectual developments among the Abrahamic religions should be the new basis of dialogue (1987a). However, in the search for meaning, the hermeneutical quest, when we do not address the question 'For whom and in whose interest?', then pluralism simply becomes 'a passive response to more and more possibilities, none of which shall ever be practised' (Tracy 1987, p. 90). 'This is the perfect ideology for the modern bourgeois mind. Such a pluralism makes a genial confusion in which one tries to enjoy the pleasures of difference without ever committing oneself to any particular vision of resistance, liberation and hope' (ibid.).

For those who eke out an existence on the margins of society, living under the yoke of oppression and struggling with the equally oppressed Other in the hope of liberation, a pluralism of splendid and joyous intellectual neutrality is not an option. On this basis, I argue for the freedom to rethink the meanings and use of scripture in a racially divided, economically exploitative and patriarchal society and to forge hermeneutical keys that will enable us to read the text in such a way as to advance the liberation of all people.

-Farid Esack, Qur'an, Liberation and Pluralism: An Islamic Perspective of Interreligious Solidarity Against Oppression, p. 78

"What Arkoun's critique of the authority structures fails to recognize,

is that authority does not only derive from formal institutions, but also from other systems of meaning such as academicism. Furthermore, modernity itself functions as an appendage to liberal ideology, which is not without its hegemonic interests. Leonard Binder has raised the pertinent question of whether the critique of Muslim liberals has not been a 'form of false consciousness, an abject submission to the hegemonic discourse of the dominant secular Western capitalist and imperialist societies, an oriental orientalism, or whether it was and is practical, rational and emancipatory' (1988, p. 5).
-Farid Esack, Qur'an, Liberation and Pluralism: An Islamic Perspective of Interreligious Solidarity Against Oppression, p. 72

"As we shall further develop in Chapter VIII, the Qur'an is very much conscious that it is an "Arabic Qur'an"

and, the question of ideas and doctrines apart, it appears certain that the claim of the miraculous nature of the Qur'an is connected with its linguistic style and expression. Unfortunately, non-Arab Muslims do not realize this enough; while they correctly assume that the Qur'an is a book of guidance and hence may be understood in any language, they yet not only deprive themselves of the real taste and appreciation for the Qur'anic expression but - since even a full understanding of the meaning depends upon the linguistic nuances - also cannot do full justice to the content of the Qur'an. It is extremely desirable and important that as many as possible of the non-Arab educated and thinking Muslims equip themselves with the language of the Qur'an.

-Fazlur Rahman, Major Themes of the Qur'an, p. 105

Monday, February 8, 2010

Muslims & critics challenged

from a little while back, but i never posted it on this blog - thanks Khalid!

"On one occasion Abu Bakr brought to him [the Prophet] a man of the Bani Tamim, Hanzalah by name,

who had settled in Medina. Hanzalah had first approached Abu Bakr with his problem, but Abu Bakr felt that in this case the answer should come from the highest authority. The man's face was full of woe, and when the Prophet questioned him he said: "Hanzalah is a hypocrite, O Messenger of God." The Prophet asked him what he meant, and he answered: "O Messenger of God, we are with thee, and thou tellest us of the Fire and of Paradise until it is as if they were before our very eyes. Then go we out from thy presence, and our minds are engrossed with our wives and our children and our properties, and much do we forget." The Prophet's answer made it clear that the ideal was to seek to perpetuate their consciousness of spiritual realities without altering the tenor of their daily lives: "By Him in whose hand is my soul," he said, "if ye were to remain perpetually as ye are in my presence, or as ye are in your times of remembrance of God, then would the Angels come to take you by the hand as ye lie in your beds or as ye go your ways. But yet, O Hanzalah, now this and now that, now this and now that, now this and now that!"

[footnote 18: M. (Muslim) XLIX, 2]

-pg. 219 of Muhammad: His life based on the earliest sources by Martin Lings (Abu Bakr Siraj al-Din)

Kareem Salama - It Came To Be lyrics

My friend, come with me
I know what you want to see
But it's neither here or there; in your heart, it will come to be

Close your eyes and come with me
Fear not the darkness you may see
The stars are our guides out there; in your heart, it will come to be

This Road we're on is not easy
To undertake in a day or three
But the path is somehow mysteriously
The very road we seek to achieve

Our beloved await us patiently
Awake while we rest sleepily
So let us close our eyes softly
And wake our hearts gracefully

When the morning dawns blissfully
We'll praise the night that had to be
And say "Now I see... now I see"
In your heart, it came to be

Forgiveness by Richard Hoffman

Apart from both the certainty of maps
and the panic at being suddenly lost

is an open place, like a great square
in an ancient city of winding streets.

You know it. Once or twice we've found it
just when we were about to give up.

If we're separated, for whatever reason,
and you find it first, wait there for me.

Whatever you do, don't double back.
And if I find it first, I'll wait for you.

-p. 72 of Without Paradise: Poems by Richard Hoffman

Harper's: The intelligence factory: How America makes its enemies disappear

"The Terror-Industrial Complex" by Chris Hedges

I spent more than a year covering al-Qaida for The New York Times in Europe and the Middle East. The threat posed by Islamic extremists, while real, is also wildly overblown, used to foster a climate of fear and political passivity, as well as pump billions of dollars into the hands of the military, private contractors, intelligence agencies and repressive client governments including that of Pakistan. The leader of one FBI counterterrorism squad told The New York Times that of the 5,500 terrorism-related leads its 21 agents had pursued over the past five years, just 5 percent were credible and not one had foiled an actual terrorist plot. These statistics strike me as emblematic of the entire war on terror.

Terrorism, however, is a very good business. The number of extremists who are planning to carry out terrorist attacks is minuscule, but there are vast departments and legions of ambitious intelligence and military officers who desperately need to strike a tangible blow against terrorism, real or imagined, to promote their careers as well as justify obscene expenditures and a flagrant abuse of power. All this will not make us safer. It will not protect us from terrorist strikes. The more we dispatch brutal forms of power to the Islamic world the more enraged Muslims and terrorists we propel into the ranks of those who oppose us. The same perverted logic saw the Argentine military, when I lived in Buenos Aires, “disappear” 30,000 of the nation’s citizens, the vast majority of whom were innocent. Such logic also fed the drive to root out terrorists in El Salvador, where, when I arrived in 1983, the death squads were killing between 800 and 1,000 people a month. Once you build secret archipelagos of prisons, once you commit huge sums of money and invest your political capital in a ruthless war against subversion, once you empower a network of clandestine killers, operatives and torturers, you fuel the very insecurity and violence you seek to contain.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Friendships, courtships, marriages, and families begin to reflect this strange logic,

so that, far from cherishing one another as emodiments of the holy, we increasingly see each other instrumentally - as tools for satisfying our own needs. Instead of taking an interest in finding out who someone is and how we might build a relationship with him or her, we spend our time figuring out how to manipulate the person to get whatever it is we want."

-Michael Lerner, The Left Hand of God: Healing America's Political and Spiritual Crisis, p. 58

"Once we understand how deep and real the spiritual crisis is,

it no longer seems bizarre that many give precedence to the spiritual crisis in
their lives and feel angry at, or at least deeply alienated from, those who
don't even recognize that something fundamental to human life is missing in the
contemporary world. The fact is that human beings cannot live happily without a
framework of meaning that transcends the individualism, materialism, and
selfishness of the marketplace and without the sense that a loving connection
exists among us as well as to that larger experience the religious among us call

-Michael Lerner, The Left Hand of God: Healing America's Political and Spiritual Crisis, p. 65

"Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question:

unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word.
-W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, p. 1

Yusuf Islam - Father & Son

Raj Patel, author of "The Value of Nothing," on the Colbert Report

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"Neruda: Ode to Money" by Richard Hoffman

Green, valuable,
easy to waste,
hard to earn.
Need of the poor
who dare not hope for it
while the rich
don't know its real worth.
Money, a paper that tears
the brotherhood
each has a right to.
Money, the hope
to go on living,
this green ticket
not all want to share.
Money. Money. Money.
Just because I go on
wanting you
does not mean I am content
to go on needing you
until you kill me.

-p. 56 of Without Paradise: Poems by Richard Hoffman

lyrics for 3Ms by Cornel West

brother martin
brother medgar
brother malcolm

we love you so
and miss you much
your freely given blood fertilizes the tree of freedom
your precious bodies ripped apart by the assassins' bullet
sustains us in our struggle

we shall never forget you
we shall build on your shoulders
and keep alive your legacy

martin, medgar and malcolm

brother martin
visionary dreamer of a multiracial democracy
grand tiden of love
drum major for justice
child of the prophetic black church
who loved your way through the darkness

we shall never forget you
never ever forget you

it's hard to believe three brothers could give their lives
for iraq and the new world
martin, medgar, and malcolm
look it here
they stood tall for what they believe
so you and me can achieve anything
martin, medgar, and malcolm

brother medgar
leader of quiet dignity and undeniable determination
fighting for black people to gain the right to vote in gut bucket mississippi
within apartheid America

we shall never forget your smile
we shall never forget your love
we shall never forget your sacrifice


brother malcolm
truth teller about the night side of american democracy
tellin' america like it is
its vicious legacy of white supremacy

we shall never forget the witness that you bore
we shall never forget the love that you laid bare

your fiery spirit is at work among the younger generation
they and us shall never forget you



"we'll be able to join in hands and sing in the words of the old negro spiritual
'free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we're free at last'"


"now finally ladies and gentlemen,
we'll be demonstrating here until freedom comes to negroes here in jackson, mississippi"


"to be recieved as human being, to be given the rights of a human being, in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary"

look it here,
martin had a dream one day
back in georgia somewhere
then medgar
back in the hills of mississippi doing his thing

while malcolm told us
by any means necessary

you taught us there's no struggle without sacrifice
there's no rebirth without death
that the world is incomplete
that history is unfinished
that the future is open ended
that what we do and what we think makes a difference

and we will rededicate ourselves to your cause
we'll live and die for what you struggled for
your life and works will constitute wind at our back
we shall never forget what you gave us
and try to take it to a higher level in the twenty first century
martin, medgar, malcolm
hear us

-Cornel West in 3Ms

[You can listen to it here in this special slideshow taken from the DVD, “Malcolm and Martin: Implications of their Legacies for the Future” featuring a spoken word performance of Dr. Cornell West’s critically acclaimed piece, “3Ms.”

This slideshow features photos taken from the December 2005 event in Oakland, California.]

Saving the Ship of Humanity by Imam Zaid

Imam Zaid: Demand an Investigation Into the Killing of Imam Luqman Abdullah