Saturday, November 20, 2010

Legislators of the world - In our dark times we need poetry more than ever, argues Adrienne Rich

Just read this

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts " -Bertrand Russell

via Ahmad


On Yemen and Anwar al-Awlaki....

Just read this op-ed piece in the NY Times, "A False Target in Yemen". The author, "Gregory Johnsen is a doctoral candidate in Near Eastern studies at Princeton and writes the blog Waq al-Waq." (There's a short profile here.)

Googled the author, and also found these pieces on Foreign Policy:

"Welcome to Qaedastan: Yemen's coming explosion will make today's problems seem tame." (Jan/Feb 2010)


"Ignoring Yemen at Our Peril: Last week's mail bombs could have taken a horrific toll. Next time, the world might not be so lucky. " (October 31, 2010)

 I didn't know about this 'new video' out from Anwar al-Awlaki apparently..."Kill Americans, Says Yemeni-American Cleric"...

This piece ends with a poignant point from "Jonathan Turley, a law professor in Washington":

"If a President can unilaterally kill a U.S. citizens on his own authority, our court system (and indeed our constitutional rights) become entirely discretionary. The position of the Administration contains no substantial limitations on such authority other than its own promise to make such decisions with care."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Roger Cohen: Madam Secretary’s Middle East

Robert Fisk: An American bribe that stinks of appeasement

Lewis R. Gordon: The Market Colonization of Intellectuals

America's True History of Religious Tolerance

via Ian

Bob Hunter and Jeff Sharlet: An Exchange

"Years later,

at the height of American postwar affluence - the days when millions were questioning the wisdom of "following" - a German-Jewish refugee named Herbert Marcuse (writing not long after Kissinger paid his tribute to the subtleties of status quo power) would capture in his One-Dimensional Manthe contradictions of Abram's Better Way, his celebration of strongmen and his fetish for conformity, his belief in providence and his reliance on behind-the-scenes planning, his love of liberty and his insistence on obedience. [31] After the years of fascist pageantry and war, wrote Marcuse in an essay titled "The New Forms of Control," comes the age of "comfortable, smooth, reasonable, democratic unfreedom." (143)
-Jeff Sharlet, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Author wants to rebrand Muslims from terrorists to environmentalists (on Ibrahim Abdul-Matin's new book "Green Deen")

"Liberal religious institutions

which should concern themselves with justice, embrace a cloying personal piety expressed in a how-is-it-with-me kind of spirituality and small, self-righteous acts of publicly conspicuous charity. Years spent in seminary or rabbinical schools, years devoted to the study of ethics, justice, and morality, prove useless when it comes time to stand up to corporate forces that usurp religious and moral language for financial and political gain. (10)

-Chris Hedges, The Death of the Liberal Class (just came out October 17, 2010)

Chris Hedges: The Death of the Liberal Class (video)

via truthdig

Sherman A. Jackson on theology, Islam, religion and modernity (2 paragraphs)

F.B.I. Seeks Wider Wiretap Law for Web

Malcolm X after his pilgrimage to Mecca

"Until people on the Right really understand this

[that stable fulfilling family life "must [be] built on love, not on coercion"], I will join in the suspicions of many feminists that the right-wing antiabortion agenda is not so much about life as about patriarchy. And I'll join those women in resisting any restoration of patriarchal practices and in exposing the hypocrisies of those who claim to be pro-life but who are unwilling to provide economic and political and social supports for children once they are born, who support American military interventions in which tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children are killed, who support the death penalty, and who are remarkably unconcerned about the between 20,000 and 30,000 children around the world (according to different estimates) who die each day from malnutrition or preventable diseases. While I acknowledge that there are a small group of Christians who are more consistent in opposing the denial of life in all these forms, the majority of pro-lifers seem not to care about all these other ways in which life is being undermined. This inconsistency suggests that we look a little deeper and uncover the not-very-well-hidden patriarchal restoration that many right-wingers yearn for. (270-271)
-from Rabbi Michael Lerner's The Left Hand of God: Healing America's Political and Spiritual Crisis

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"At the deepest level of the human consciousness

there is the capacity for yaqin. There is an openness to Allah's hidaya, whereby we look at things not through the fallible and the limited machinery of reason, but through the fitra. And that's what it is to be hanif. One who looks at the world and can feel at the depth of his consciousness - and science has not defined consciousness yet, it has not even begun to do so - the deepest mystery of what we are, we open to that, and we say, balaa shahidnaa, yes, we bear witness, we know that behind this there is a reality, that complexity emerging from nothing at all, from al-'adam is staggering impossible as the philosophers all say, but the fact there is a unifying principle behind it all, the one who is al-Qayyum, sustains the heaven and the earth is the most obvious explanation, but it's before reason, before math, before logic, before all of those things, its to do with the essence of what it is to be conscious.

Sayyiduna Ibrahim alaihi salaam got there when he was little. He didn't need to go to university to figure that out. Theologians and philosophers argue about it and seem to be no nearer to a conclusion. Sayyiduna Ibraham as a little boy got it. Why? Because of Allah's hidayah and because of his fitri hanif openness to yaqin. This is what humanity needs, we need to broaden our minds, we need to get away from a narrow materialistic definition of what knowledge is and how we can know, and open ourselves up to a deeper, more intuitive level of knowledge which is the fitra and what is natural and this part of the beauty of Islam because Islam is based on cultivating and growing this iman and this yaqin through contemplating the heavens and the earth. That is what the Qur'an asks us to do "wa yatafakarruna fi khalqi samawaati wal ardh" they think about the way the heavens and the earth have been created, not how does this atom interact with that atom - that's just the detail, and the detail goes on forever. It's about the deep mystery and the deep reality of how this could possibly come into being without there being a unifying conscious totality which sustains it, which brings it about and which ultimately will bring it all together again and reduce it to unity. So this is the yaqin we ask for and its the most precious thing any human being could have.
 -from "Belief and Conviction" a khutba by Abdal Hakim Murad, 10/22/2010

"But the aspiration of religion

 soars higher than that of philosophy. Philosophy is an intellectual view of things; and as such does not care to go beyond a concept which can reduce all the rich variety of experience to a system. It sees Reality from a distance as it were. Religion seeks a closer contact with Reality. The one is theory, the other is living experience, association, intimacy. In order to achieve this intimacy thought must rise higher than itself, and find its fulfillment in an attitude of mind which religion describes as prayer - one of the last words on the lips of the Prophet of Islam.
  -Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, pg.61

"When we view living

in the european mode only as a problem to be solved, we rely solely upon our ideas to make us free, for these were what the white fathers told us were precious.

But as we come more into touch with our own ancient, non-european consciousness of living as a situation to be experienced and interacted with, we learn more and more to cherish our feelings, and to respect those hidden sources of our power from which true knowledge and, therefore, lasting action comes. [...]

The white fathers told us: I think, therefore I am. The Black mother within each of us - the poet - whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free. Poetry coins the language to express and charter this revolutionary demand, the implementation of that freedom.

-from Audre Lorde's "Poetry is not a luxury", pg. 37-38 of Sister Outsider.

Reciting the Takbirah in Unison is the Sunnah

New book: "Black Routes to Islam" (2009)

"Erudite yet easy to read, these timely and stimulating essays cover a wide variety of fascinating topics. They revealingly map the unique and intriguing landscape of Islam among contemporary African-Americans. Along the pages, with the help of music, history, linguistics, sociology and several other disciplines, their community, one of the least understood in the country, comes to life in all its striking complexity and diversity.”--Sylviane A. Diouf, author of Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas

"This impressive and sweeping collection of essays examines the hidden history of the ‘Muslim presence’ in North America that began with the enslavement of significant numbers of Muslim Africans.  It shows how the development of US racial categories and hierarchies has long been suffused with assumptions about the Muslim world. And, it powerfully suggests the historical centrality of Islamic discourse and practice to the sense of common oppression and linked fate central to the emergence of modern black freedom struggles.”--Nikhil Pal Singh, Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History, New York University

“This exceedingly well-written and thoughtful collection of articles and essays simultaneously illuminates as it transforms such critically important fields as Black Studies and Islamic Studies. The bold themes of this book are as expansive as the breadth of its geography, ranging as it does from Harlem, Black Chicago and Watts to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran.  Still, the ultimate value of this quite insightful book may be the bright light it shines on how the U.S.--and, indeed, the entire international community--grapples with what may be the most important issue of this century: how to engage Islam and the Muslim world.”--Gerald Horne, author of' The End of Empires: African-Americans and India

"This collection brings together some of the best and most innovative scholars in the country, writing essays that are engaged, intellectually rigorous, and a pleasure to read. Black Routes to Islam is really about the broad canvas of American relationships to the Middle East -- with religion, race, and politics at the heart of the story. It tells a transnational history we need to know, and then brings that history into our current moment, showing how 'war on terror' has come to American Muslim communities. This is a wonderful, timely, politically powerful book."--Melani McAlister is an Associate Professor of American Studies and International Affairs at George Washington University

   Product Description

The Critical Black Studies Series celebrates its fourth volume, Black Routes to Islam. The series, under the general supervision of Manning Marable, features readers and anthologies examining challenging topics within the contemporary black experience--in the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, and across the African Diaspora. Previously published in the series are Transnational BlacknessRacializing Justice, Disenfranchising Lives: The Racism, Criminal Justice, and Law Reader(September 2007) and Seeking Higher Ground: The Hurricane Katrina Crisis, Race, and Public Policy Reader (January 2008).

Celebrating the fourth volume of CRITICAL BLACK STUDIES
Series Editor: Manning Marable

The authors included in this volume explore different dimensions of the more than century-long interaction between Black America and Islam. Starting with the 19th century narratives of African American travelers to the Holy Land, the following chapters probe Islam’s role in urban social movements, music and popular culture, gender dynamics, relations between African Americans and Muslim immigrants, and the racial politics of American Islam with the ongoing war in Iraq and the US’s deepening involvement in the Orient.

   About the Author

 Manning Marable is Professor of History and Political Science and Director, Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University.
Hishaam D. Aidi is a Lecturer at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a contributing editor of Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Culture, Politics and Society

Monday, November 15, 2010

TJ Winter Booklist

Wow, I hadn't seen this before!:

Dr. Jackson on tradition, context and liberalism

Many thanks to Dr. Jackson for giving me permission to post his response to the previous quote regarding tradition and MacIntyre:

Salaam, Ebad: I am a bit rushed right now, but I wanted to jot a word to you before the next batch of emails comes in and yours gets pushed off my screen. Yes, I agree with McIntyre; in fact, this is precisely the point I try to make with my reference to "false universals." And, as you may or may not know, I think it also applies to Muslim intellectual history, wherein we imagine a single, undifferentiated, transcendent history as the context that produced the classical tradition AND as the context that we must assume for our lives in order to preserve that legacy's relevance, denying all other histories the right to any real consideration as a context in which Islam and Islamic tradition are to assume meaning, relevance or application. As you know, I believe that we MUST remain in perpetual discourse with our predecessors; but this is a discourse that assumes that our context is as relevant and operative as theirs, even as it contains good and bad elements, as did theirs. But in the end, there is no ONE unchanging context, and outside such fundamentals as lâ ilâha illa Allâh Muhammad rasûl Allâh and the reality of the Hereafter, there is no ONE single, concrete answer to all the "big questions," and those who defend the "single answer thesis" (be they those for whom everyone who does not agree with their thesis is a “deviant” OR those who in defense of Tradition tend to dismiss modernity as an entirely unworthy, non-probative context, chronologically as well as ideationally) -- all of these commitments are grounded in liberalism -- conservative or other. Indeed, it seems that the modern mindset -- globally as well as domestically -- is so drenched in liberalism that it often does not recognize what it is promoting. And, as you seem to recognize, this has serious implications for us in terms of how we relate to Islam and how we relate Islam to the modern, Western world.

"The view that texts and authors

can be approached, translated, and evaluated according to some universal principles of rationality is a liberal myth, MacIntyre believes, and one characteristic of “modernity, whether conservative or radical.” [20] To him, this view is deplorable, but not only because it leads us to gravely misunderstanding traditions other than our own. [21] The liberal view also underlies a hegemonic discourse where intellectuals positions from other traditions are decontextualized in translation and those at odds with liberalism are rendered innocuous by being recast as “debates within liberalism, putting in question this or that particular set of attitudes or policies, but not the fundamental tenets of liberalism...So so-called conservatism and so-called radicalism in these contemporary guises are in general mere stalking-horses for liberalism: the contemporary debates within modern political systems are almost exclusively between conservative liberals, liberal liberals, and radical liberals. [22]
 -pg. 4-5 of Muhammad Qasim Zaman's The Ulama in Contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change

"The intellectual positions held by the adherents of a tradition

can only be understood, MacIntyre insists, in the context of that tradition. There are no texts, theses, or conceptions - of justice and rationality, for instance - in themselves; they exist, and can be evaluated, only as part of this or that tradition, and so far as their criteria for evaluation are concerned, the different traditions are "incommensurable." [19] For all the disagreements within a particular tradition, there remains a broad agreement on which differences are the critical ones and how, or within what limits, to argue over them. There is, however, no such agreement between traditions, and even to understand a rival tradition presupposes that one be immersed in the language of that tradition. This position is at the heart of MacIntyre's quarrel with contemporary liberalism.
 -pg. 4 of Muhammad Qasim Zaman's The Ulama in Contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change

Hajj 2010 in photos in the Boston Globe

"What you find as you explore the tweets and blog posts

of the profession's leaders is that the failure of newspapers has brought with it a cognitive failure as well, in which a handful of superstitions have come to obscure what is actually happening in the world. So powerful is our desire to believe in the benevolent divinity of technology that it cancels out our caution, forces us to dismiss doubt as so much simple-minded Luddism. We have trouble grasping that the Internet might not bring only good; that an unparalleled tool for enlightenment and research and transparency might also bring unprecedented down-dumbing; that something that empowers the individual might also wreck the structures that have protected the individual for decades.
from "Bright frenetic mills" by Thomas Frank, from the "Easy Chair" of Harper's, December 2010, pg. 13

Chris Hedges: The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum

More on tradition via MacIntyre via Asad via Zaman ;)

Yet, while Graham shows how "traditionalism" informs religious authority in Islam, he does not give much attention to the concept of tradition itself. [15] For that, we must turn to the moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, whose conception of tradition, especially as mediated to Islamicists by the anthropologist Talal Asad, offers a potentially fruitful way of approaching and understanding Muslim institutions and discourses in the complexities of their development, change and continuity. [16]
To MacIntyre, tradition is, quite simply, "an argument extended through time in which certain fundamental agreements are defined and redefined in terms of two kinds of conflict: those with critics and enemies external to the tradition who reject all or at least key parts of those fundamental agreements, and those internal, interpretative debates through which the meaning and rationale of the fundamental agreements come to be expressed and by whose progress a tradition is constituted." [17] Traditions may be more or less successful in asking new questions or satisfactorily answering old ones, in meeting the challenges posed to their adherents and in adapting to change; but what remains key to their constitution as traditions is a history of argument and debate over certain fundamental doctrines in shared languages and styles of discourses. [18]
 -The Ulama in Contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics) by Muhammad Qasim Zaman, pg. 4

Sunday, November 14, 2010

AHM: "Is Islam Compatible With The West?" (audio)

The annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca (21 photos in the Guardian)

Author Connects Islam to Environmental Preservation (on Ibrahim Abdul Matin's new book "Green Deen")

via Imam Zaid on twitter

Glenn Greenwald: Eric Cantor's Pledge of Allegiance

What does your God look like? by Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali

"Maliki versus Shafi'i Law and Jurisprudence

Underscoring the significance and impact of Shaf'i preeminence in Cairo were the standing differences separating Maliki from Shafi'i law and jurisprudence. At bottom, these differences resulted from the asymmetrical development of these two schools following the 2nd/8th century revolution spearheaded by al-Shafi'i. [102] Al-Shafi'i (d. 204/820) had introduced an essentially new, positivist jurisprudence that stood in opposition to what Professor Joseph Schacht has referred to as the "ancient schools of law" of which Malik (d. 179/795) had been a leading advocate. [103] The mainstay of al-Shafi'i approach, was, according to Schacht, his adoption of the thesis of the Traditionalists, who equated the sunnah of the Prophet with the contents of formal hadiths traceable back to the Prophet via an unbroken chain of transmitters (isnad). Malik, meanwhile, had not only taken the normative practice of Medina to be the embodiment of the Prophet's teachings, he also attempted to establish the probative value of individual Prophetic reports by comparing them with Medinese practice, the precedents of the Righteous Calophs or the views of other prominent Companions. Malik also relied on "personal judgement," or ray', on the basis of which he would at times restrict the application of Prophetic reports or even set them aside. According to Umar F. 'Abd Allah, whose Malik's Concept of 'Amal is perhaps the best - certainly the most comprehensive - study on Malik to date, this particular aspect of Malik's methodology was based neither on a hostile nor even a lukewarm attitude towards Prophetic sunnah or hadith. Rather, his attempt was to remove the textual ambiguities from Prophetic reports by using Medinese practice as the semantic backdrop against which to determine their intended scope and application. [104: U.F. 'Abd Allah, Malik's Concept of 'Amal in Light of Maliki Legal Theory (Ph.D. diss., The University of Chicago, 1978), 135ff.]
I love how they reference each other, ma sha Allah! =)

-Sherman A. Jackson, Islamic Law and the State: the Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihab al-Din al-Qarafi (New York: Brill, 1996), 57.

Word is that Dr. Umar is revising and publishing his dissertation as a book in sha Allah. His dissertation is available on pdf, divided in eight parts here (thanks Yusuf!)