Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dr. Jackson on The Challenge for the Third Resurrection

I love Dr. Jackson. His voice for me really does bring 'clarity amidst confusion.'

Few committed practitioners of revealed religion would argue with Stephen Carter that, at its best, "religion resists." The challenge to religion, however, is to make sure that resistance remains a means rather than an end in itself and that is exercised in consideration of goals that lie beyond self-serving quotidian interests. Otherwise, there is little that separates religion from secular movements and utopias. And in this confusion lies the ultimate impoverishment and potential abuse of religion. For it is here that religion is subject to being reduced to a thinly veiled form of eudaimonism that substitutes the whims and wishes of men and women for the will and pleasure of God. (171)

If Islam is to retain concrete meaning in the everyday lives of Blackamerican Muslims, it will have to continue to show its ability to address the concrete circumstances that inform and circumscribe their lives. At the same time, if Islam is to remain true to its constitution as a religion and avoid degenerating into what W. E. B. Du Bois once described as "a complaint and a curse...a sneer rather than a faith," it will have to remain God-centered and committed to matters of personal piety and eschatological success, even where these evince no direct relevance to the worldly plight of Blackamericans. (172)

At stake in all of this is not whether Blackamerican Muslims choose between piety and protest, activism and spirituality, or secular interest and eschatological success. The issue is, rather, whether these competing interests can be reconciled through an understanding of Islam that avoids both fideistic obscurantism and self-serving eudaemonism, while resonating with deeply-felt meaning in the concentric contexts of black and white America. Without doubt, this is the greatest challenge confronting Blackamerican Muslims as they enter the Third Resurrection. And it is this challenge that I shall seek to address in this final chapter. (172)

Abdal-Hakim Murad - The Poverty of Fanaticism

'Blood is no argument', as Shakespeare observed. Sadly, Muslim ranks are today swollen with those who disagree. The World Trade Centre, yesterday's symbol of global finance, has today become a monument to the failure of global Islam to control those who believe that the West can be bullied into changing its wayward ways towards the East. There is no real excuse to hand. It is simply not enough to clamour, as many have done, about 'chickens coming home to roost', and to protest that Washington's acquiescence in Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing is the inevitable generator of such hate. It is of course true - as Shabbir Akhtar has noted - that powerlessness can corrupt as insistently as does power. But to comprehend is not to sanction or even to empathize. To take innocent life to achieve a goal is the hallmark of the most extreme secular utilitarian ethic, and stands at the opposite pole of the absolute moral constraints required by religion.

-Abdal-Hakim Murad in "The Poverty of Fanaticism"

Friday, November 27, 2009

NYT: Bloomberg Spent $102 Million to Win 3rd Term

November 27, 2009, 3:28 pm

To eke out a narrow re-election victory over the city’s understated comptroller, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg spent $102 million of his own money, or about $183 per vote, according to data released on Friday, making his bid for a third term the most expensive campaign in municipal history.

Mr. Bloomberg, the wealthiest man in New York City, shattered his own previous records: he poured $85 million into his campaign in 2005, and $74 million on his first bid for office in 2001.

And the $102 million tab is likely to rise: the mayor has not yet doled out his storied bonuses to campaign workers, which can top $100,000 a person. That spending will not be reported until after his inauguration.

He has now officially spent more of his own money in the pursuit of public office than any other individual in United States history.

His lavish campaign, which leased a 40,000-square-foot space for headquarters in Midtown and paid a D.J. to play music as volunteers called voters, was widely expected to crush his Democratic opponent, William C. Thompson Jr., the city’s chief financial officer.

But his successful drive to overturn the city’s term limits law, coupled with a sputtering economy, turned off thousands of voters, even though most gave him high marks as a manager.

On Election Day, Mr. Bloomberg won by fewer than 5 percent points, at a cost of roughly $20 million for each point.

Data released on Friday showed that, from Oct. 22 to Nov. 26, his campaign spent $18.6 million, much of it on last-minute tel♠♠evision and radio advertising.

After the mayor’s campaign team discovered that a large block of undecided voters in the city either favored Mr. Thompson or planned to stay home on Election Day, the campaign scrambled.

A few hours before polls closed on Nov. 3, the campaign issued a flurry of telephone calls to registered voters, with recordings in which Mr. Bloomberg requested that New Yorkers pull the lever for him.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hamid Dabashi on Malcolm X and the Civil Rights Movement

To avoid singling out Islam as diabolical, it is imperative for Americans to come to terms with the collectively repressed fact that by far the most important social uprising of their 20th century -- namely the civil rights movement of the 1960s -- is not as exclusively a Christian phenomenon as it is made out to be: The towering figure of a Muslim revolutionary named Malcolm X is of great importance in the history of that movement.

It took a whole generation of Americans to accept the fact that Jewish civil rights activists were instrumental in many measures of the success that was achieved in the 1960s. It is long overdue for Americans also to recognize that Malcolm X was equally, if not more, important to the civil rights movement.

The way the history of the civil rights movement is mostly remembered now, an overwhelming role is assigned to the Southern Baptist genealogy of Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X is delegated to a radical fringe -- portrayed as more of a menace and a hindrance than a positive force in the civil rights movement.

But without the simultaneous presence of Malcolm X as a Muslim revolutionary, the Southern Baptist pacifism of Martin Luther King Jr. would not have been as formidable a force.

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were the yin and yang of the civil rights movement -- ennobling anger and vision coming together in hopes of realizing the dream of equality.

For more than three decades now, I have taught generations of American students who come to college having scarce read a word about Malcolm X, and yet everything about Martin Luther King Jr.

Until Americans come to terms with the fact that they are deeply indebted to a Muslim revolutionary for the fruits of the civil rights movement they enjoy today, Islam and Muslims will continue to be seen as archetypically alien and an everlasting danger to American lives and liberties.

Americans are Christians, Jews, Hindus, agnostics, atheists, and anything else in between -- but Americans are also Muslims, millions of them, and Islam has now become integral to what the distinguished American sociologist Robert Bellah termed our "civil religion."

Abdal Hakim Murad: "One Humanity"

Koshul notes Islam's historic tolerance and even sponsorship of cultural diversity. Yet this is no proof of Islam's compatibility with mainstream Enlightenment notions. Perhaps because of their sympathy with the "body-subject" principle, the Semitisms have shown themselves capable of an internal cultural differentiation which, to the extent that they value it, in fact challenges one of the most visible consequences of the Enlightenment: the annihilation of cultural specificity at the hands of universal Reason. In an intensification of ancient disdain for the barbaroi, Renaissance humanism had generally been reluctant to contemplate the humanity of non-Europeans, and the Enlightenment in many ways took this further. In the first instance, an accelerating secular messianism, apparently vindicated by science, enabled a kind of military expansion whose narcissism was unlike any that preceded it. As Guenon complained during the heyday of empire:

If they merely took pleasure in affirming their imagined superiority, the illusion would only do harm to themselves; but their most terrible offense is their proselytising fury: in them the spirit of conquest goes under the disguise of "moralist" pretexts, and it is in the name of "liberty" that they would force the world to imitate them.
[Guenon, East and West, p. 25]
This new militancy in the name of Freedom typically affirms the possibility of diversity in the context of Enlightenment rights discourse; yet in practice it subjects difference to rapid atrophy. The consequences of this even for the West may prove severe. Much of the energy of internal critics of the Enlightenment came from a deep knowledge of other civilizations (for Rousseau and Nietzsche it was classical antiquity; for many German romantics it was India).

[J. J. Clarke, Oriental Enlightenment: The Encounter between Asian and Western Thought (London: Routledge, 1998).]

Today, however, "we do not have such an alternative because in contrast to the historical civilizations, authentic culture cannot co-exists and survive under the hegemonic character of modern Western civilization."

[Ahmet Davutoglu, Civilizational Transformation and the Muslim World (Kuala Lumpur: Mahir, 1994), pp. 26-27.]

For Davutoglu, the Enlightenment's liquidation of non-Western cultures trap us forever in the monoculture, since the option of borrowing and syncretism open at earlier times of civilizational crisis has now been confiscated. The "peoples and tribes" which are created "to know each other" (Qur'an 49:13), are abolished by globalizing processes. Even the multiplicity of languages, regarded as a sign of God in the Qur'an (30:22), and a source of quasi-religious amazement to Bakhtin,

[Bakhtin, "The Problem of Speech Genres," in Speech Genres and other Late chapters, trans. Vern W. McGee (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986), pp. 60-102.]

is eroded by the extinction of small language groups and the progressive intrusion of English into larger ones. Here, again, the Semitic will resist: Western reason is a single thing; but the body-subject is going to be radically disparate across the globe; for it is scripture, not reason, which insists that:

Unto every one of you have We appointed a [different] law and way of life. And if God has so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but [He willed it otherwise] in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto you. Vie, then, with one another in doing good works.

[Qur'an 5:48; the translation is Muhammad Asad's.]
From Abdal Hakim Murad's "Ishmael and the Enlightenment’s crise de coeur" pp. 166-167

NYT: German General Quits Over Airstrike

November 27, 2009


BERLIN — The chief of staff of the German armed forces resigned Thursday over accusations that the military withheld information on a deadly airstrike in Afghanistan in September that killed civilians as well as insurgents.

Germany’s defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, told Parliament that the chief of staff, Gen. Wolfgang Schneiderhan, as well as a senior official in the Defense Ministry, State Secretary Peter Wichert, had tendered their resignations after a German news report that information on civilian casualties had been withheld from the public and from prosecutors.

Their departures set off political tremors in Berlin and within the German military, with the opposition Social Democrats calling for a parliamentary inquiry. Other opposition groups demanded the resignation of Franz Josef Jung, the labor minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, who was the defense minister at the time of the attacks.

On Sept. 4, Col. Georg Klein, then the commander of the German base in the Kunduz region, called in an airstrike against two tanker trucks hijacked byTaliban insurgents. In the aftermath of the attack, Mr. Jung repeatedly claimed that only insurgents had been killed in the attack.

But, citing a classified internal report, the daily newspaper Bild said Thursday that officials in the Defense Ministry were aware almost from the start of the likelihood of civilian casualties. Within hours of the airstrike, the report said, German military personnel in Afghanistan gave “clear indications” to the Defense Ministry about civilian casualties, based on reports from a hospital in Kunduz where wounded civilians were being treated. Nor could Colonel Klein have ruled out the possibility of civilian casualties when he ordered the strike, the report further stated.

Bild also posted on its Web site aerial video of the attack showing people, in the form of tiny black dots, swarming around the tankers before the explosion. Dozens of civilians are believed to have died in the attack, which killed as many as 142 people.

General Schneiderhan and Mr. Wichert had “assumed responsibility,” Mr. Guttenberg said, for what he called a breakdown in communications. But it was not clear what role, if any, they had played in the military’s withholding of information.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a Social Democrat who until last month was Germany’s foreign minister, told reporters in Berlin that while General Schneiderhan had taken military responsibility, “the question here is the political responsibility.”

The Green Party’s parliamentary leader, J├╝rgen Trittin, said that if Mr. Jung had lied in the days after the bombing, “He would not be fit for office, regardless of which function.”

On Thursday evening, Mr. Jung defended his actions before Parliament, saying that he “informed both the public and the Parliament properly according to the best of my knowledge.” Mr. Jung said that he learned of the report in early October from General Schneiderhan, and that he authorized it to be forwarded toNATO for its investigation of the airstrike, apparently without reading it first. “I did not receive concrete information on the report,” Mr. Jung said.

Mr. Guttenberg, who took over as defense minister last month after elections in September, said he learned of the report only after Bild called him on Wednesday for comment.

At a news conference in Berlin on Thursday with the secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Mrs. Merkel responded to the uproar over the handling of the airstrike, saying, “If we want trust we must also have full transparency.” She added that Mr. Guttenberg “has my full support if he clears up what perhaps still needs to be cleared up, and also bears and enforces the necessary consequences.”

This is a difficult time for the government, with the visit of Mr. Rasmussen and with Parliament debating the extension of the official mandate for German troops to fight in Afghanistan taking place against a backdrop of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and questions about the effectiveness of the alliance.

The United States is trying to persuade its NATO allies to send 10,000 additional troops to Afghanistan as part of President Obama’s strategy for the region, despite the growing unpopularity in Europe of the eight-year-old war. Germany has roughly 4,300 soldiers there, the third largest in the NATO force after the United States with 68,000 military personnel in the country, and Britain with 9,000.

At the news conference with Mrs. Merkel on Thursday, Mr. Rasmussen urged European alliance members to support the expected plan to increase troop levels. “It is of the utmost importance that an American announcement of an increased troop number in Afghanistan is followed by additional troop contributions from other allies,” Mr. Rasmussen said.

Last week, the German government approved a one-year extension of the country’s deployment in Afghanistan without increasing the number of soldiers there. The cabinet decision must be confirmed by Parliament in December, when the current mandate expires.

Abdal Hakim Murad: Faith in the future: Islam after the Enlightenment

Must read this article!
As Muslims, of course, we believe that every culture, including the culture of modern consumer liberalism, stands accountable before the claims of revelation. There must, therefore, be a mode of behaviour that modernity can adopt that can be meaningfully termed Islamic, without entailing its transformation into a monochrome Arabness. This is a consequence of our universalist assumptions, but it is also an extension of our triumphalism, and our belief that the divine purposes can be read in history. Wa-kalimatu’Llahi hiya’l-‘ulya - God’s word is uppermost. (9:40) The current agreement between zealots on both sides - Islamic and unbelieving - that Islam and Western modernity can have no conversation, and cannot inhabit each other, seems difficult given traditional Islamic assurances about the universal potential of revelation.

One of Altaf Gauhar’s intellectual associates, Allahbakhsh Brohi, used the following metaphor:

We need a bi-focal vision: we must have an eye on the eternal principles sanctioned by the Qur’anic view of man’s place in the scheme of things, and also have the eye firmly fixed on the ever-changing concourse of economic-political situation which confronts man from time to time. [15]

We do indeed need a bi-focal ability. It is, after all, a quality of the Antichrist that he sees with only one eye. An age of decadence, whether or not framed by an Enlightenment, is an age of extremes, and the twentieth century was, in Eric Hobsbawm’s phrase, precisely that. Islam has been Westernised enough, it sometimes appears, to have joined that logic. We are either neutralised by a supposedly benign Islamic liberalism that in practice allows nothing distinctively Islamic to leave the home or the mosque - an Enlightenment-style privatisation of religion that abandons the world to the morality of the market leaders and the demagogues. Or we fall back into the sensual embrace of extremism, justifying our refusal to deal with the real world by dismissing it as absolute evil, as kufr, unworthy of serious attention, which will disappear if we curse it enough.

Revelation, as always, requires the middle way. Extremism, in any case, never succeeds even on its own terms. It usually repels more people from religion than it holds within it. Attempts to reject all of global modernity simply cannot succeed, and have not succeeded anywhere. A more sane policy, albeit a more courageous, complex and nuanced one, has to be the introduction of Islam as a prophetic, dissenting witness within the reality of the modern world.

It should not be hard to see where we naturally fit. The gaping hole in the Enlightenment, pointed out by the postmodern theologians and by more sceptical but still anxious minds, was the Enlightenment’s inability to form a stable and persuasive ground for virtue and hence for what it has called ‘citizenship’.

Because it has been the instrument whereby Islam has been embedded in the divergent cultures of the rainbow that is the traditional Islamic world, we may suppose that it represents the best instrument available for attempting a ‘dissenting’ Muslim embedding within today’s inexorable global reality.

Circling the House of God (DVD) Reflections on the Hajj (Dr. Martin Lings)

Just saw this!

Circling the House of God (DVD) Reflections on the Hajj (Dr. Martin Lings)

Publisher/Manufacturer: MAT Media (2009)
Product specifications: 16:9 screen; stereo sound, approx. 35 minutes running time; documentary genre
Item type: DVD (NTSC format)

Product description:

Born in 1909, Dr. Martin Lings (aka Shaykh Abu Bakr Siraj al Din) was revered by people all over the world as a "Friend of God," a man whose saintly radiance touched the lives of all those who looked to him for guidance. In 1938, as a young man in his late 20s, he embraced Islam, entering deeply into its spirit, and the books he went on to write bear witness to the profundity and the subtlety of that spirit which he came to embody and exemplify.

In 1948, he performed the Hajj, or pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. In this documentary film, using unique archive material, Martin Lings recollects his experience of the Hajj, along with his insight into its historical background.

In this half-an-hour documentary, Martin Lings relates of his first Hajj in the 1940's which is accompanied by old, black and white footage from Mecca. The original beauty and simplicity of the Hajj is brought to the viewer through the sheer presence and eloquence of Lings' narrative. A pure pleasure.

  • Producer and Director : Ovidio Salazar
  • Director of Photography - Ricahrd Branczik
  • Editor - Will Roche
  • Executive Producer - P.S. Gilders


    Abdal Hakim Murad - "Ishmael and the Enlightenment’s crise de coeur"

    Just found this article and book in the library!

    Tim Winter, ‘Ishmael and the Enlightenment’s crise de coeur: a response to Koshul and Kepnes,’ in Basit Bilal Koshul and Stephen Kepnes (eds.), Scripture, Reason, and the contemporary Islam-West encounter: studying the ‘Other’, Understanding the ‘Self’ (New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 149-175.

    From the preface:
    The Muslim thinker, Tim Winter (Abdul Hakim Murad) takes on Koshul's claim that Islam and modern Enlightenment culture have important affinities that make continuing dialogue and interactions possible, beneficial, and necessary. Winter puts the issue starkly, "Islam did not produce the modern world" and its discontents. Islam did not produce an ideology that curtails cultural difference in the name of a "global monoculture." Islam did not produce a "world without God." Given this, Islam might very well serve God and humanity best by remaining modernity's "other." Winter's piece is far more complex than we have presented it. Along the way, he shows that Islam has always been part of the "West" and he also outlines subtle ways in which Enlightenment modernity and Islamic thought did and could continue to intersect. However, the real power of the chapter remains its prophetic critique of the continuing march of Western capitalist and secular modernity that threatens to swallow up all particular cultures and the world itself. Winter displays the best of the penetrating thought of many Islamic intellectuals today that simply will not stand the march of Western modernity without at least getting in its way through an extended and deep cultural critique.

    Talk about faith, scholar (Noah Feldman) tells BYU

    Published: Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 10:13 p.m. MST

    PROVO — Don't wait for someone else to start talking about Mormons and politics, Harvard law professor Noah Feldman says.

    "If you wait, the discourse won't expand," he told BYU students Tuesday. "Then, what will happen is Mitt Romney or someone else will run ... and be in the same terribly awkward position, to be the spokesman for your religion. He didn't want to be, but he had no choice by then, because nobody else was really speaking in a very visible or significant way, or they weren't being given a chance to speak."

    And there's no better place for that dialogue to begin than BYU, the legal scholar said at a question-and-answer session following a forum address about religion in the public sphere.

    It is the second time Feldman — who wrote "What Is It About Mormonism?" for the New York Times Magazine in January 2008 — has been to BYU, he said. The first time was several years ago when he spoke at the J. Reuben Clark Law School while writing his book "Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem — and What We Should Do About It."

    "It is only through, I believe, this sort of public debate and discussion that the complex process of recognizing that all people, regardless of their religious faith, ought to be able to participate fully in our American life (is achieved)," Feldman said. "I don't think this will happen overnight, and I don't think it will be easy, but I do know one thing: that it must start soon and that in all probability, it must start here."

    Feldman told the Deseret News he was surprised at the harsh anti-Mormon sentiment expressed by many vocal evangelicals during Romney's 2008 presidential campaign.

    "It's the kind of thing that one doesn't expect to see in the early 21st century," he said via telephone before his visit to Provo. "It's very striking. I found it disturbing."

    But as Feldman explained, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aren't the only people to face skepticism and criticism due to their religious beliefs. In the election of 1800, John Adams, with his Calvinistic roots, attacked challenger Thomas Jefferson and his alleged atheism.

    "It was a serious fight," Feldman said in his forum address. "Jefferson was badly bloodied. From pulpits across New England, it was regularly said, 'Jefferson is unworthy to be president because of lack of religious belief.' "

    In 1960, another Massachusetts challenger, John F. Kennedy, also faced serious scrutiny as voters worried that the Catholic Church, of which he was a member, would exert undue influence on his presidency, Feldman said.

    However, in a 1960 speech, Kennedy famously declared, "I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me."

    Continuing his focus on presidential candidates from his home state of Massachusetts, Feldman said Romney also had to address the issue of religion; however, because Romney wanted to appeal to values-based voters, he couldn't, like JFK, say that religion was irrelevant in his public life.

    Romney declared his belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God but declined to discuss his LDS religion further, saying it would be a violation of the Constitution, which prohibits a religious test for public service eligibility.

    "The question (is) what alternatives (are there), either for Mitt Romney or for other politicians in the future who find themselves in a similar position of believing ... that religion does matter in the public sphere?" Feldman asked.

    One answer is to increase awareness and religious understanding by engaging in the study of comparative religion, Feldman said. Such study requires members of a religion to momentarily set aside their beliefs and look for common, uniting bonds among belief systems.

    Although there may be some not ready or willing to do that, BYU and universities in general constitute an "unbelievable resource for generating conversation, and therefore generating certain kinds of change," Feldman said. "People talking is crucial. So don't wait. If you wait, it won't happen."


    ALIM Winter program: Islam and the Secular State

    “Islam is the answer.” … the rallying cry of Muslim movements for more than a century. What does this mean? Is it hollow or pithy? While all 21st century Muslims do not doubt the practical usefulness of following shariah as a means towards taqwa and personal piety, the social and – more importantly – political implementation of shariah throughout the world brings with it its own problematic: what and how?

    * What should be the place of religious law in the political fabric of a modern world where individual and minority rights as enshrined by the UDHR are held with utmost regard?

    * How was shariah viewed in the premodern world, and how does this view differ with modern day Muslim movements that seek to implement it, however they may define it.

    * How does the Islamic and modern views compare: are they mutually exclusive, one in the same, or something in between?

    The next ALIM Winter Program will seek to ask the relevant questions regarding the nature, scope, and historical role of shariah law in Muslim communities, and their contemporary relevance – all in an effort to strengthen our understanding of our faith.

    Scholars:Dr. Muneer Fareed

    Dr. Abd al-Hakim Jackson
    Imam Mohamed Magid
    Dr. Ovamir Anjum

    Date:January 15th-18th, 2010

    Location:ADAMS Center
    Greater DC Area

    Schedule:Coming Soon!

    Application:Click here to apply online!
    Note: There will be NO on-site registration.

    Tuition:$125 Student, $150 Professional, $250 Couple
    (includes meals, not lodging)


    To best prepare for this program we suggest that you read the following book prior to coming.

    Winter 09 BookIslam and the Secular State
    - Negotiating the Future of Shari`a

    by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im

    Quote from Dr. Jackson's Islam and the Blackamerican 2

    And yet, it is only and precisely by virtue of their conspicuous participation in the American constitutional order that Blackamerican (and other) Muslims can qualify to enjoy the kinds of rights and protections that make protest and the creation of alternative modalities of Americanness even possible. In fact, it may be these very protections that afford Muslim-Americans that greatest ability to rise to their highest selves. For only these - and no other - American protections can sustain the possibility of their expressing the kind of religious commitment to which they feel scripturally bound, on the one hand, and which they hear conscientiously expressed by other American religious groups, on the other. To take just one example of such non-Muslim-American religious expression, Stephen Carter proclaims in his recent manifesto:
    I write not only as a Christian but as one who is far more devoted to the survival of my faith - and of religion generally - than to the survival of any state in particular, including the United States of America. I love this nation, with all its weaknesses and occasional horrors, and I cannot imagine living in another one. But my mind is not so clouded by the vapors of patriotism that I place my country before my God. If the country were to force me to a choice, and, increasingly, this nations [sic] tends to do that to many religious people, I would unhesitatingly, if not without some sadness for my country, choose my God.
    [footnote 77: Carter, God's Name in Vain, 3.]

    It may be a while, given present realities, before the dominant culture in America is prepared to hear such words from a Muslim. But America as a political arrangement makes it possible for Muslims to speak these words now. Indeed, in the final analysis, it may be that of all the Americans, Muslim-Americans have the greatest stake in a constitutional order that enables them to "protect their protection." And, given all that has been said, it may be, from the perspective of the law of Islam, more a duty than a right to uphold and fully support that order, as a matter of fact if not as a scriptural imperative.

    [footnote 78: This distinction between recongizing deeply entrenched factual realities on the one hand, and attempting to invoke scripture in order to vindicate more inchoate, ideological would-be facts on the other, underscores a fundamental distinction between Muslim-Americans who seek to vindicate democracy in America and Muslim-Americans who seek to vindicate it in the Muslim world. The former are simply attempting to process Islam on the basis of inextricable facts; the latter are attempting to use scripture to justify the creation of certain facts, as if such were a scriptural imperative. Moreover, beyond the congenial confusion between fact and law (read scripture), their tendency to equate American facts with universal facts in an exercise in invoking false universals.]

    This man is just brilliant!

    Quote from Dr. Jackson's Islam and the Blackamerican

    Embracing America should not be equated with embracing the American state's or the dominant culture's false universals. To pretend that there is only one American history and social reality and thus only one normal or acceptable response to these is to reinforce the invisibility of American whiteness as a socially constructed mode of being whose "normalness" reclines fundamentally on the use (and at times abuse) of power. Especially for Blackamericans, this tendency must be resisted and opposed. Otherwise, like George Orwell's protagonist in the classic 1984, Blackamericans will be forced to continue to pretend to be served by values, customs, and institutions that betray their most deeply-felt sensibilities and bring them neither solace nor improved individual or collective lives.

    [footnote 76: The crowning scene in 1984 is one where the state wants to be assured that the protagonist, Winston, sees reality only and precisely as it wills. To this end, Winston is placed in a "pain-chair," and a state-official holds up four fingers. Then Winston is asked, "How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?" When he responds, "Four," the official insists that there are five. He then tweaks up the dial on the pain-chair and asks the question again. This continues until Winston finally exclaims that he is trying to abandon his senses and see five fingers!]

    -pg. 167 and 223ff of Islam and the Blackamerican

    Abdal-Hakim Murad on the Rihla program with Shaykh Hamza

    Thanks to

    Dr. Umar F. Abd-Allah on the Rihla program with Shaykh Hamza

    Sex trafficking: An American problem too

    By Bridgette Carr, Special to CNN

    • Bridgette Carr says sex trafficking thrives in U.S. communities
    • Victims of sex trade are often wrongly viewed as criminals, she says
    • Carr: To fight trafficking, communities must become aware, reduce demand

    Editor's note: Professor Bridgette Carr directs the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School. The Human Trafficking Clinic provides direct representation to victims of human trafficking and works to identify solutions to combat human trafficking.

    Ann Arbor, Michigan (CNN) -- "We did not have a right to choose where we lived ... freedom of speech, or freedom of actions. The traffickers had keys to our apartment. They controlled all of our movement and travel. They watched us and listened when we called our parents. They didn't let us make friends or tell anyone anything about ourselves. We couldn't keep any of the money we earned. We couldn't ask anyone for help." -- Lena

    Lena was an athletic student from Eastern Europe yearning to visit the United States through a study-abroad program at her college. She had visions of learning English and returning home to share her experiences with her family.

    But the human traffickers who ensnared her had a different vision for Lena, shipping her to America and exploiting her in the sex industry for profit. They met her at the airport with news that her study abroad placement had been changed. She was given new bus tickets and sent off to Detroit, Michigan. Once there they took her passport and her freedom.

    After almost a year of enslavement, Lena risked her life to make a daring escape. She is smart, resilient and funny, and I have been honored to be her attorney through the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School.

    Unfortunately there are thousands of adults and children like Lena who have not been able to escape their traffickers. These victims, especially the children, are in the same position Lena was: They're being exploited and can't ask anyone for help.

    The data on human trafficking is sparse, but what is known is terrifying. It's already the second largest criminal industry in the world -- behind only the trade in illegal drugs -- and it's growing fast. The global commercial sex trade exploits one million children annually. At least 100,000 and perhaps as many as 300,000 children in America are victims of sex trafficking each year.

    The grim reality of child sex trafficking in the United States is this: Human traffickers are selling sex with children in big cities and small towns throughout America.

    Child sex trafficking has been illegal in the United States since 2000 with the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Under this law it is illegal to recruit, harbor, transport, provide or obtain a person under the age of 18 years for the purpose of a commercial sex act. Since the passage of the TVPA many states have passed their own human trafficking laws.

    Children who are selling sex in the United States are then, by definition, victims of human trafficking. Despite this, child victims of sex trafficking are frequently viewed as criminals rather than as victims. According to the Department of Justice in 2006, six years after the passage of the TVPA, 1,600 children were arrested for prostitution and commercialized vice.

    The children victimized by sex trafficking are often very young. On average, girls are first exploited for commercial sex between the ages of 12 and 14. For boys the average age is even younger -- between 11 and 13.

    But being a victim of sex trafficking does not have to be a life sentence. Victims can become survivors and build new lives. And while Lena is no longer the young college student she once was and it is too dangerous for her to return home, her speech and actions are now her own. She can choose where she wants to live. She is free.

    Through my work with Lena and other clients in the Human Trafficking Clinic we have identified a number of ways to fight sex trafficking.

    Raise awareness within your community: One of the biggest barriers to helping victims of sex trafficking is the lack of awareness about the issue. Human traffickers profit when we think human trafficking only happens in foreign countries.

    • Human trafficking happens everywhere, and sex trafficking cases involving children have been found in all regions of the country. No community is immune to the horrors of human trafficking.

    • Communities must prioritize the fight against human trafficking -- including providing enough resources to law enforcement.

    Change the conversation: Children who by law are too young to consent to having sex obviously cannot consent to selling sex, so:

    • Victims should not be described as entering into prostitution; they are being exploited and should be described as victims of human trafficking.

    • Law enforcement officials often arrest and detain child victims of sex trafficking on either prostitution charges or other charges, such as truancy or curfew violations. Law enforcement must be trained about human trafficking.

    • Sellers of sex, especially when they are children, should not be guilty of a criminal violation. Buyers and pimps should be the only individuals at risk of criminal penalties. This would ensure that no victims are arrested or jailed.

    Reduce demand: The reality of sex trafficking must not be neutralized or glamorized.

    • Individuals who travel abroad to purchase sex from children are demonized in the media and identified as sexual predators, yet individuals who stay in the United States and pay to have sex with children are given the anonymous title "john" -- and frequently aren't even charged with a crime.

    • Individuals who pay for sex with children in the United States should be punished.

    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bridgette Carr.

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