Saturday, June 13, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith & Letter to a Christian Nation, Richard Dawkins author of The God Delusion and Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything are probably the biggest names (and best-selling authors) of this phenomenon.
By placing Islamophobia in context of the broader assault on religion in general, the over-glorification and even idolization of reason and science into a utopic belief system where religious beliefs and those who believe in them including Muslims are all seen as impediments and threats becomes clearer.
About "the new atheists, who attack a repugnant version of religion, [but] use it to condemn all religion," (p. 33) Chris Hedges in I don’t believe in Atheists writes:
"The agenda of the new atheists, however, is disturbing. These atheists embrace a belief system as intolerant, chauvinistic, and bigoted as that of religious fundamentalists. They propose a route to collective salvation and the moral advancement of the human species through science and reason. The utopian dream of a perfect society and a perfect human being, the idea that we are moving toward collective salvation, is one of the most dangerous legacies of the Christian faith and the Enlightenment. All too often throughout history, those who believed in the possibility of this perfection (variously defined) have called for the silencing or eradication of human beings who are impediments to human progress. They turn their particular notion of the good into an inflexible standard of universal good. They prove blind to their own corruption and capacity for evil. They soon commit evil not for evil's sake but to make a better world." (pg. 1-2)
Hedges writes that "the new-atheist attack on absurd forms of religion is also used to avoid confronting the core and most important issues taken up religious thought." (p. 100-101) Indeed, instead they
"offer an escape from moral responsibility and civic engagement. They express the dreams the dreams and desires of a morally stunted middle class. They promote, under a scientific veneer, the selfish lusts of the consumer society and the deadening provincialism of the petite bourgeoisie. Dawkins, in an example of this pedestrian vision, draws up his own list of commandments to replace the Biblical injunctions. He advises people to enjoy their sex lives as long as they don't harm anyone else. He calls on parents not to indoctrinate their children but to evaluate evidence. His are hollow, liberal platitudes that casually deny the seductive lusts of violence, evil and abuse - lusts that the biblical writers who wrote the commandments understood and feared. These atheists are suburban mutations. They are products of a moral and political landscape corrupted by too much television, rampant waste, unchecked self-indulgence, wealth, too little contemplation, the physical destruction of community and a loss of the sacred. They tell us we are good. They tell us we will get better. And they warn us not to get in the way of progress." (p. 86-87)And among those who get in the way are Muslims:
In The End of Faith, Harris, in passages that could be lifted from a sermon by a Christian fundamentalists, calls for a nuclear first strike against the Islamic world. He defends torture as a logical form of interrogation. He, like all utopians, has reduced millions of human beings and culture he knows nothing about to primitive impediments to his vision of a better world...Harris again reduces a fifth of the world's population to a vast, primitive enemy. He argues that we may have to murder "tens of millions of people in a single day." His bigotry, and the bigotry of all who dehumanizes others, is used to justify indiscriminate slaughter and atrocity. The people to be killed, we are told, are not distinct individuals. They do not have hopes and aspirations. They only appear human. They must be destroyed because of what they represent, what lurks beneath the surface of their human form. This dehumanization, especially by those who live in a society with the technological capacity to carry out acts of massive slaughter, is terrifying."-pg. 36-37.I haven't read Bruce Bawer's new book (2009) Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom (but unfortunately had to see it on display at Barnes and Nobles) - I wonder whether it would fit into this same utopic over-simplifying thinking of the new atheists...Paul Barrett, author of American Islam has a review in last Sunday's Washington Post which you can read here.
Local (Tuition-Only) Option Available!
Mohammad Abderrazzaq, Boston University
Elsa Elmahdy, American University of Cairo
Aymen Elsheikh, Indiana University, Bloomington
Dawood Yasin, Zaytuna Institute
Souhad Zendah, Tufts University
Click here to learn more about our instructors..
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I really do believe that this twenty first century and in fact the first quarter of this twenty first century will be an enormously important era in the history of Islam in America.
It is this period that future generations will look back to and if those generations are successful and they are enjoying a dignified existence as Muslims in America, neither assimilated nor isolated, then they will look back to the activities of this generation, this one right here, and say "that was the beginning."
And if they are failures, they will look still, back to this generation, this one right here, and say "they were failures."
(Dr. Sherman Jackson, Muslims at the Crossroads, ISNA 2003)
Many had just entered high school in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks and now, eight years later, they are leaving college and choosing their path in life. Young Muslims in the Washington area are part of a generation that appears markedly different from their parents in career choices, assimilation and views of their religion. (Keep reading...)
Thanks to Zyad Qamer for this!
A. On Historiography- What is Islamic History?
B. View from the Center - Caliphs & Sultans
C. Visions of Islam - Faqih or Faqir?
D. View from the Edge - Conversion & Islamization
E. Colonial Modernity - Revival & Reform
F. Edge of the Future - Islam in America
As a seminar it will be driven by weekly readings and class discussions. The classes will be held at Jamaica Muslim Center [Masjdid al-Mamoor, 85-37 168TH Street. Jamaica, NY 11432] on Saturdays: June 27th, July 11th, 18th, 25th, and Aug 1st from 5:45pm to 8:00pm.
The Class is FREE but you must REGISTER at ISLAMTRIUMPHANT@GMAIL.COM to reserve a seat. Please provide us with your 1) Name, 2) Email address 3) Background in the subject, and 4) Expectations of the Seminar to help us organize and give you access to course syllabus, materials and updates. Last day to register online is June 20th 2009.
Visit Course Website
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. -- "Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood." -- Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."
Ralph Waldo Emerson in "Self-Reliance"
Obama's address also contained some worthy language of mutual respect and offered valuable recognition of Islamic civilization and even of the role that American Muslims have played in U.S. history. And he did seek to chart a new relationship between peoples on the premise that our identities are not mutually antagonistic, let alone mutually exclusive.
But it's not only clashing identities that drive the conflicts in today's world, which unfortunately is how the Middle East is almost always portrayed in the United States.
In reality, historic and structural inequalities play a much larger role in why people fight with one another. To paper over these issues with too much talk about identity is to think that peace can be had with a handshake and a hug.
But it cannot, and the sooner we recognize this, the better.
Obama's speech sought to convince the world of something it already knew, that peace is desirable. But peace without justice is merely the calm between wars.
NYC is the place to be right now :)
LIVE from the NYPL (New York Public Library)
ISLAM IN EUROPE—Insult: Fractured States? is a three-evening symposium on June 9, 10, and 11 that gathers prominent, cross-sector speakers from diverse disciplines and the Muslim diaspora to share country-specific perspectives on Muslim communities’ integration in European society.
In five events, ISLAM IN EUROPE sets the context for and explores multiple perspectives for viewing relations between European societies and their Muslim communities. Participants will examine how different European nations and the Muslim diasporas within their borders consider immediate local issues, as well as look at the development of a Europe-wide discourse. The program also offers opportunities to bring American voices into this dialogue and is aimed at identifying opportunities for cross-cultural understanding and cooperation.
Through scholarly debate, the related voices of participants of ISLAM IN EUROPE will articulate new perspectives offering insight into the ideas that shape policy and thought.
Part I, June 9, 7:00 pm
Opening Event: How Did We Get Here?
Part II, June 10, 6:00 pm
Migration Policy, Response and Reaction: The Status Quo
Part III, June 10, 7:30 pm
Youth: The Future
Part IV, June 11, 5:00 pm
Media: A Catalyst For Change
Part V, June 11, 7:00 pm
Conclusions: Where Do We Go From Here?
Shukran to Mohsin for this!
490 Riverside Drive,Between 120 and 121st Street
Introduced by Amy Goodman with Music by Earthdriver & Mahina Movement
5:30 pm - Doors Open & Benefit Reception for Brecht Forum
6:00 pm - Pre-Event Concert with Earth Driver and Mahina Movement
7:00 pm - Main event with Noam Chomsky & Amy Goodman
On the forty-year anniversary of the publishing of his classic American Power & the New Mandarins, Noam Chomsky comes to the historic Riverside Church in Harlem, New York City, to address a wide range of issues from the global economic crisis, US military intervention in the Middle East and South Asia, left electoral and social movement upsurges in places like El-Salvador, Bolivia and Venezuela, and the election of Barack Obama. Chomsky, whom The New York Times Book Review has called "arguably the most important intellectual alive," is the author of over 100 books including in the last few years; What We Say Goes: Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy and Hegemony or Survival.
Sliding scale for talk: $20/$25/$30
The Obama-Netanyahu-Abbas meetings in May, followed by Obama's speech in Cairo, have been widely interpreted as a turning point in US Middle East policy, leading to consternation in some quarters, exuberance in others. Fairly typical is Middle East analyst Dan Fromkin of the Washington Post, who sees "signs Obama will promote a new regional peace initiative for the Middle East, much like the one championed by Jordan's King Abdullah... [and also] the first distinct signs that Obama is willing to play hardball with Israel." (WP, May 29). A closer look, however, suggests considerable caution.
It is also worth remembering that the George W. Bush administration went a bit beyond words in objecting to illegal Israeli settlement projects, namely, by withholding U.S. economic support for them. In contrast, Obama administration officials stated that such measures are "not under discussion," and that any pressures on Israel to conform to the Road Map will be "largely symbolic," the New York Times reported (Helene Cooper, June 1).
There is more to say, but it does not relieve the grim picture that Obama has been painting, with a few extra touches in his widely heralded address to the Muslim World in Cairo on June 4.
Reza Aslan in Conversation with Vishakha Desai
Tuesday, Jun 9th 6:30pm
$10, members, students with ID and seniors, $15 non-members
Acclaimed author Reza Aslan discusses Islam in the context of history, faith, ideology, and culture with Asia Society President Vishakha Desai.
Together they explore historic patterns of interaction between the Muslim world and the United States and the potential to build new and more meaningful relationships, particularly for the next generation. Reza Aslan is the author of No god but God and, most recently, How to Win a Cosmic War
Just saw this video of Reza taking on Sam Harris, author of the End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (2004) and Letter to a Christian Nation
Monday, June 8, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Masterpieces of calligraphy—on display through September 1, showcases the calligraphic art of the Islamic world, from Spain to south Asia and beyond. The works, ranging in date from the eighth to the nineteenth century, include several richly illuminated Qur'anic manuscripts, as well as sumptuous album pages in a variety of scripts, examples of inlaid metalwork, fine ceramics, and rare textiles with calligraphic elements. Many calligraphic scripts—from early kufic to the later refined nasta'liq—are shown in a range of media, demonstrating the impact and importance of this most quintessential of art forms.
This installation is presented in conjunction with Muslim Voices: Arts and Ideas, a ten-day festival and conference in New York City celebrating Islamic culture (June 5-14 2009).
Dr. Hatem Bazian addressing a crowd of demonstrators at a rally marking the 42nd year of Israeli occupation of Palestine just a few days after Obama's speech in Cairo.