Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Contentions 16 by Abdal Hakim Murad [October 2010]

"Mercy, The Stamp of Creation" by Dr. Umar F. Abd-Allah

This paper examines the role of mercy in the Islamic tradition and eternal salvation, and its imprint on all affairs of the universe. Although Islam is often proclaimed as the ‘religion of peace,’ theologically, it is more accurate to refer to it as the ‘religion of mercy.’ God has designated mercy as his primary relation to the universe and sent his greatest prophet, Muhammad, as its emissary. Following this, Muslims are commanded to be vanguards of mercy to the world in fostering benefit and averting harm. Islam enjoins a healthy and spiritually alive heart and teaches a law of universal reciprocity by which God shows mercy to the merciful and withholds it from the unmerciful.

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News That’s Unfit to Print: UN Report on the Flotilla Deaths—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)

Close Read: Should We Kill Anwar Al-Awlaki? : The New Yorker

Liberal multiculturalism masks an old barbarism with a human face | Slavoj Zizek |

Advice for Students of Knowledge Overseas: A Meeting with Dr. Ingrid Mattson - By Ustadh Abdullah Misra

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Muslim-Americans must exercise extreme diligence

in reminding themselves of a fundamental difference between the American and the Islamic legal systems. In America law, the legal process (i.e., the system for adjucating disputes in court) is coextensive with the system's body of legal rules. Every legal rule, in other words, is the basis for a civil or criminal action. While there are certain "sensitive areas" in which society insists that "law stays out," these are protected by simply insisting that these areas be exempted from both legal rules and legal contemplation. In other words, such sensitive issues as, for example, whether or not a mother breast-feeds her child are left to custom, religion, popular morality, malicious gossip, or other means. In the event, however, that Americans should decide there be a legal rule governing this issue, this would mean, ipso facto, that civil or criminal liabilities would attach thereto. [45]
In Islamic law, on the other hand, "sensitive areas" are protected not by insisting that they be exempt from legal rules but by exempting them from legal sanctions. In other words, the scope of Islamic legal sanctions is significantly narrower than the scope of Islamic law. That is to say, Islamic law includes many legal rules that are essentially moral exhortations that carry no civil or criminal sanctions in the Here and Now and over which no court or coercive power has any jurisdiction. [46] Thus, for example, while abortion, even during the first trimester, is forbidden according to a minority of jurists, it is not held to be an offensive for which there are criminal or even civil sanctions. [47] On this understanding, Muslim-Americans who oppose abortion should assiduously limit their activism to the moral sphere and avoid supporting positions that favor the imposition of criminal or civil sanctions in an area into which Islamic law itself never contemplated injecting these. [48] Indeed, this is an issue on which Islam's own version of the separation between religion and state should be assiduously observed. [49]
-Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the Third Resurrection by Sherman Jackson, pgs. 150-1

footnote # 47: "Traditionally, the majority has held abortion to be permissible through the first trimester (120 days), at which time, according to a Prophetic hadith, ensoulment takes place and the fetus becomes a human. All of the schools impose a prima facie ban after 120 days."

"Muslim-Americans must resist the temptation

to carry legal sanctions into areas where Islam never contemplated taking them. In other words, concern over the separation between religion and state must extend in both directions. Not only must the state be monitored for specifically antireligious bias, Muslims must also guard against seeking to translate every Islamic rule or value into a civil or criminal sanction that is backed by the state.
-Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the Third Resurrection by Sherman Jackson, pg. 149

"[B]oth the examples of the Prophet and Muslim Tradition

 allow for if not encourage a political culture according to which Muslims pursue political arrangements that directly serve their interests even as they indirectly serve the interests of those whose actions may contravene the rules and values of Islam. Indeed, far from constituting a theocratic commitment to societal homogenization, Islam is quite at home with negotiated political arrangements that accommodate religious and ideological pluralism.
-Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the Third Resurrection, pg. 141

"Clearly, these two approaches to the meaning of America

 bear far-reaching implications for Muslim-Americans. On the nativist approach, full commitment to and inclusion in America would entail a commitment to a neo-Anglo Saxon culture that sets itself up as the determiner and protector of all that is "truly American." [23] On the pluralist approach, however, commitment to America would not entail any commitment to any particular culture but rather to a political arrangement that protects their right to remain culturally cum religiously independent. This is essentially what conservative critic Samuel P. Huntington had in mind when he lamented (in an essay revealingly entitled "The Erosion of American Identity") that America is now taken by many minorities as the greatest protector of the right to remain themselves. [24]
 -Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the Third Resurrection by Sherman Jackson, pg. 139-140

"These two approaches to the meaning of America

 can be summarized in the different understandings of the hyphenated American. For conservative-nativists, the "American" in "Jewish-American" or "Asian-American" is the repository of both the greatest significance for the country and the greatest happiness for the hyphenated citizen. It is this side of the construct that denotes citizenship and rightly devotes its energy to coopting the other side. To be sure, as the British immigrant Randolph Bourne pointed out almost a century ago, far from being culturally neutral, nativists both identify "American culture" with their own processed version of the "Anglo-Saxon tradition," [21] seeking to extend its hegemony over the left side of the hyphen. Their aim, in other words, is to "conserve" the primacy of what they purport to be the neo-Anglo Saxon element of the cumulative American legacy.

For liberal-pluralists, on the other hand, economic and political interests may be rightly sought from the right side of the hyphen, but the greater meaning and happiness for the individual resides to the left. This liberal model implies two things. First, ethnic and religious groups can intervene in political life only to defend themselves and advance their legitimate interests but not to impose their culture or religion on others. Second, the primary function of the right side of the hyphen is essentially to protect the left side. On this understanding, the true value of citizenship resides in both the ability to live (culturally and religiously) as one sees fit and in the knowledge that government will protect this ability as a full-fledged civil right. As such, individual citizens' primary commitment to the right side of the hyphen is essentially an effort to protect their protection.[22]

-Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the Third Resurrection by Sherman Jackson, pg. 139

Monday, October 4, 2010

German leader: Muslims belong here

via Mr. Moghul :)

"Liberal Versus Conservative America

In an important essay entitled "What Does It Mean to be an 'American'?" [16] Michael Walzer reveals that there are two competing understandings or constructs of America: (1) the liberal-pluralist construct; and (2) the conservative-nativist one. The first sees America as a political cum economical arrangement that is culturally, religiously, and ethnically anonymous. [17] On this understanding, America connotes a manyness that is cultural cum religious while denoting a oneness that is political cum economic. To be an American, on this construction, all one has to do is "commit [one]self to the political ideology centered on the abstract ideals of liberty, equality, and republicanism [i.e., representative government.]" [18] For the liberal-pluralist, the true meaning and value of America resides in the right and duty to live in peace with all other Americans, "by agreeing to respect social manyness." [19] As far as religion is concerned, America as a political arrangement is either unqualified by religion or qualified by so many religions as to render it free of any one of them. [20]
The conservative-native understanding, on the other hand, invests more heavily in the notion of America as a melting pot. Like liberal-pluralists, conservative-nativists see America as a political cum economical arrangement. But unlike pluralists, nativists perceive a certain danger in cultural/religious manyness. The latter, they fear, threatens the kind of political integrity and allegiance that is essential to the country's welfare. To nativists, not only is there a positive correlation between cultural oneness and political unity, there is also a clear advantage (if not necessity) in converting the cultural pluribus into a uniform national unum. This for nativists is the very meaning of E pluribus unum("From many, one"), at least regarding those who qualify on the basis of whiteness. Undergriding this perspective is the belief that a very particular cultural genius brought forth the miracle of America and that this particular culture must be preserved, promoted, and reproduced. Those who hail from or identity with "other" traditions must be assimilated into this unique and seminal "American culture."
-Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the Third Resurrection by Sherman Jackson, pg. 138-139

Frank Rich: The Very Useful Idiocy of Christine O’Donnell

They are acing it, these guys. Election Day is now only a month away. The demoralized Democrats are held hostage by the unemployment numbers. And along comes this marvelous gift out of nowhere, Christine O’Donnell, Tea Party everywoman, who just may be the final ingredient needed to camouflage a billionaires’ coup as a populist surge. By the time her fans discover that any post-election cuts in government spending will be billed to them, and not the Tea Party’s shadowy backers, she’ll surely be settling her own debts with fat paychecks from “Fox & Friends.”