Saturday, September 4, 2010

Frank Rich: How Fox Betrayed Petraeus

I'm late in reading and posting this political analysis by Frank Rich, but better late than never :)

Thanks Khalid

A Mosque Invisible to Many Is a Target

Is Islamophobia the New Hysteria?

America’s History of Fear

Zoning Law Aside, Mosque Projects Face Battles

NYT Letters: The Divide Over the Islamic Center

Coalition of African American Muslims Addresses New York Islamic Center Controversy

Mother Jones: Ground Zero's Slave Graves

Friday, September 3, 2010

Roger Cohen: Obama's Post-Iraq World

NYT Editorial: Mistrust and the Mosque

Abdal Hakim Murad on Nasr, Modernity, End Times, What are We to Offer in the Middle of the Modern World

So where is this taking us? Is this taking us in the direction recommended by some Muslim writers, like Seyyed Hossein Nasr, for instance, who long before ecology and the environment became fashionable conceptions for people in the West or for traditional religions of the West was writing about man and nature, back in the late 1960’s. Nasr develops this rather triumphalist, absolutist view, that one of the proofs of the authenticity of the Islamic civilization and the fact that it alone among the residual sacred civilizations of the age is the one that is true to its origins and true to God, is that is was not Islam that produced the modern world. He is a profound pessimist. His view is that there is an absolute trade-off between quality and quantity and the more things that we have, that we have made, the less we will appreciate the things that God has made for us. His view is that we may well be heading for some kind of catastrophe and he writes in quite gloom laden terms about the dangers of environmental degradation, nuclear proliferation, genetic manipulation and all of these causes, but its interesting that he was doing it and quite passionately, and books, about thirty, thirty five years ago.

Is that really the message that we need to be deriving? And if so, what really is our relationship to modernity? Are we simple luddites? Are we purely retrospective? Is there nothing we can positively contribute? Well, here again, I think we are up against a larger question which confronts all Muslims, and probably really traditional sort of believers in other religions as well, confronted with modernity. Do you adopt again a kind of monastic approach? Do you just turn away, head for the hills? We know that that’s a recommendation that prophetically offered for the end times, whenever they might be. That the believer, the best thing that he owns at the end of time will be a flock of sheep

Yusheeku an yakuuna khayhr maal al-muslim ghanamaan yattabi’u bihi sha’aab al-jibaali wa mawaqi al-qitrri yaffirru bihi min al-fitan

That in order to get away from the great seditions of the end times, one needs to go with one’s sheep to find rain in the mountains. Interesting recourse to the principle of discovering simplicity and truth and goodness in nature in times of great turbulence. But of course, none of us knows that we are in those times or anything like. Islam at the moment is in a bad mood, but I don’t think we’re quite millenarial in our understanding of our situation. So we’re still in the world, what should be our responsibility? Well, later on we’ll be hearing some suggestions to exactly what they might be, and also some perspectives from outside our particular faith tradition that we’ll be able to learn from.

We can’t be as we so often are, just moaning from the edges, because that ultimately is not what the Prophetic message is about. The Prophetic individual cries in the wilderness to be sure, but he offers something that’s practicable. The Prophet Muhammad sallahu alaihi wa salaam did not take people back to the sharaai’a, to the religious laws at the time of the Prophet Abraham or before. He gave people something that they could actualize in their world in order to give them a form of life that could enable them once again to reconnect with nature. What is it that we can offer? We cannot do, prophetically, Islamicaly, is to offer people a menu of pure luddite rejectionism.

Instead, what I suspect, is that we are called to offer people a way of being recognizably human, according to truly ancient criteria, in the middle of the modern world. Look at us here assembled in Ramadan fasting. Fasting - one of the most ancient human rituals. We, could make the claim, uphold the ritual more consistently in an unaltered form than the followers of just about any other major sacred tradition in the world. Similarly, the act of prayer, when we pray, we pray ultimately, not because someone has come up with a time table, somebody in some distant hierarchy, but we pray in order to conform to the rolling of the planet beneath our feet. Wash-shamsu wal qamaru bi husbaan. The sun and the moon for reckoning. Today when we break our fast it will be because the sun has dropped below the horizon and no amount of manipulation can make any difference to that. To be embedded in the sunna of the Prophet, sallahu alaihi wa salaam, is to be embedded in the natural world. Even if you’re underground in natural light, you have to conform to these basic patterns - that’s a very precious thing. The hajj is another example that could be cited. The hajj for all those sleek new hotels, is a reenactment of something which is of course explicitly fitri, Hanafi, Abrahamic, ancient and everybody who goes there on the hajj and unwraps himself, and unwinds himself, and slouzes off all the confusion of the technological world, knows that he has in a sense returned to the beginning of time, commemoration of the Prophet Abraham, even the Prophet Adam. There is something ancient about those straight lines, those circles, the mountain, the sacred well. There is something that truly takes us back to a pre-technological age.

So that I suspect is the Muslim voice that should be heard. Not a kind of luddite voice of complete world-be-gone rejection and pessimism because man or woman of faith is never pessimistic, because Allah subhanau wa ta’laa likes us to be optimistic. Ar-Rasul alaihi salaatu wa salaam kana yuhibbu al-fa’l. The Prophet alaihi salaatu wa salaam used to love optimism despite the extraordinary threats and challenges which he faced, he was always smiling, always optimistic, always hospitable, always listened to peoples’ situations. But what we need to do as well as with our maqal but with our haal, as well with the things we say, but the things we do, in other words, with our lifestyles, is to be living witnesses to a form of life that is genuinely pre-modern. We become students, we become lecturers, we drive cars, we do the modern things, we use computers, but in the basic patterns of our life, we are following a form of life that is genuinely pre-modern.

So, that I would suspect would be the shape of a Muslim theology of the engagement of these beautiful Qur’anic texts about the natural world which our modern apparently alien and unnatural situation and that would be the basis of developing a proper Muslim understanding of the verse that says kullu mimma razaqnaakum halaalan tayyiba. Eat of what We have bestowed upon you, which is halal and tayyib. Which is lawful in our law, but is also tayyib, that is to say is good, and that is something again which I think we fallen short of, but initiatives like this, which I greatly welcome and salute, are a sign that the ummah is not just form but also content and that wonderful things are happening even today.

-from a talk by Abdal-Hakim Murad "An Organic Iftar -We are What We Eat' - Q-News Magazine, 9/28/06

Book Sets Off Immigration Debate in Germany

Lighthouse Mosque in the News - The last days of Ramadan in Oakland

Ramadan Travelogue No. 14 by Sh. Abdal-Hakim Murad

Ramadan Travelogue No. 10 by Sh. Abdal-Hakim Murad

Ramadan Travelogue No. 9 by Sh. Abdal-Hakim Murad

Ramadan Travelogue No. 6 by Sh. Abdal-Hakim Murad

Ramadan Travelogue No. 4 by Sh. Abdal-Hakim Murad

Ramadan Travelogue No. 2 by Sh. Abdal-Hakim Murad

First Muslim college in the U.S. opens

Jazaka Allah khair Yusuf!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Book Bench: How It Feels to Be A Problem : The New Yorker

Brooklyn College Furor Is More Heated Online (on “How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America” by Moustafa Bayoumi)

Omid Safi: Park51 Controversy Requires Less Heat, More Light

Stephen Walt: Whitewashing the failure in Iraq

'Stealth Jihad' Conveys Paranoia - Newsweek

NY1: Muslim Leaders Rally In Support Of Downtown Islamic Center

Stanley Fish: We’ve Seen This Movie Before

Stanley Fish writes in the context of the 'ground zero mosque' and the attack on the NYC Muslim taxi driver about when something is attributed to 'the lone acts of an individual' vs. a whole group

The formula is simple and foolproof (although those who deploy it so facilely seem to think we are all fools): If the bad act is committed by a member of a group you wish to demonize, attribute it to a community or a religion and not to the individual. But if the bad act is committed by someone whose profile, interests and agendas are uncomfortably close to your own, detach the malefactor from everything that is going on or is in the air (he came from nowhere) and characterize him as a one-off, non-generalizable, sui generis phenomenon. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

the Onion: Man Already Knows Everything He Needs To Know About Muslims,17990/

Coalition of African American Muslims (CAAM) Responds to Controversy Surrounding Park 51 Project

When will those brave critics of Islam decry this mob hate?


“It made me freshly wonder,” he recalled, “how all of us — Vietnamese peasants, Indian tribals or indeed Anglo-American writers — come to construct and inhabit a certain sense of our place in the world, how these differing explanations collide and clash in an age of intensified communications and travel, and how this how this new discordance may affect the practice of art and criticism, which until recently has been informed by the assumptions of Western history.”

Harvey Cox on Stories

In any case, confronted with the discomfort of my students about stories, and at a university whose motto is "Veritas," I had to ponder again the stubborn dilemma of why, in our era, factualness has become synonymous with truth. Is it because "bits" and "information" are crowding out narrative as the preferred mode of communication? If that is so, it is bad news indeed. It will eventually lead to a severe impoverishment of both the mind and the spirit. We need facts, if only to protect us from frauds, but we also need stories, to enable us to make sense of the facts.
Jerome Bruner is one of the greatest twentieth-century scholars of how human beings learn. After years of research he came to the conclusion that narrative - along with science and logic - is essential to us for organizing our experience. Without narratives we would not be able to cope with the fragments of segmented information that constantly surge around us. Narratives provide a framework that enables us to know our world. Without a narrative thread, the fabric of the world is no more than rags and tatters. It would make just as much sense, maybe more, to say, "Well, that's just a fact" rather than "that's just a story."
When bad stories crowd out good ones, soon narrative itself begins to putrefy, but without narrative, moral reasoning becomes impossible. To be able to discern what kind of person you want to be or what you should do in a given situation, as I discovered with my students, you have to have some idea of "where you are coming from." The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre has suggested that the only way to answer the question, "What am I to do?" is to ask, "Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?" Maybe our obsession with fact is a symptom of something deeper that has gone wrong. It may stem from the increasingly manic pace of modern life and the overload of messages and signals that assail us from every side [including this blog!], day and night, and undermine our capacity to organize the important aspects of our lives. No wonder people have turned in such large numbers to meditation, and are seeking out retreat centers where they can slow down and allow their thoughts and experiences to catch up with each other. [...]
The British theologian Don Cupit has written, "Stories are interpretive resources, models and scenarios through which we make sense of what is happening to us and frame our action. Unlike the forms and concepts of philosophy, stories are stretched out in time...They shape the process of life. It is through stories that our social selves, which are our real selves, are actually produced."

-When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Choices Today by Harvey Cox, pgs. 37-39

Book Review by John Gray: 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang

Tea Party Reveals Real Reason Behind Mosque Opposition Frenzy

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Come With Me To Tennessee Or Stay Out Of My Backyard

Teenagers Charged in Harassment at Mosque

Incidents at Mosque in Tennessee Spread Fear

Islamophobia: Stoking Fears about an American Community

The Ground Zero-Sum Game

Liberal Defenders of “Mosque” Get it Wrong

American Islam: Who is in Charge?

Is Religious Freedom a Casualty at Ground Zero?

Islamic center's struggle echoes that of African-Americans By Imam Johari Abdul-Malik