Saturday, February 6, 2010

"The struggle to make visible the violences of identity may be even more urgent today,

in an era when the dominant discourse, especially in North America and Europe, proclaims race, gender, and class hierarchies to have been overcome. Yes, there were regrettable social hierarchies, the story goes, there was slavery and Jim Crow laws, there was generalized subordination of women under patriarchy, repression and genocide of native populations, the oppression of workers in factories and sweatshops - but since all that is now past, society must be "identity blind." A black man in the White House is posed as the ultimate confirmation of this discourse. The mandate of feminism, antiracist activism, workers struggles, and other identity politics are over, according to this view, and the social divisions of identity are only perpetuated by those who continue to speak of them. That is how those who promote consciousness of social inequalties along identity lines are cast as creating class, race, gender, and other identity divisions. And as a result we are increasingly facing paradoxical forms of "color-blind" racism, "gender-blind" sexism, "class-blind" class oppression, and so forth. [4]

-Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri in Commonwealth (2009) p. 327-8

Friday, February 5, 2010

"In our reading of the revolutionary projects in each of the identity domains we find three common tasks.

The first is to reveal the violence of identity as property and thereby in some sense reappropriate that identity. The "primal sense" of African American identity in this respect, for example, might be considered Aunt Hester's scream: Frederick Douglass recounts in his autobiography how slave identity and blackness in general are rooted for him in the terror of hearing his aunt's cries as she is whipped by the master. [3] Recognizing the fact of blackness, as W.E.B. Du Bois and Frantz Fanon also testify in autobiographical accounts, is a discovery not just of difference but also and primarily of collective subordination and violence. And yet the violence of identity is largely invisible, especially to those not subject to it, making it all the time more difficult to contest. This is one meaning of Du Bois's famous claim that a veil cordons off the subordinated from the view of dominant society. They are mysteriously hidden from sight, invisible, even when they are the ones who in broad daylight clean the houses, care for the children, produce the goods, and in general sustain the lives of the dominant. An initial task of insubordination, then, which is the most widespread from of identity politics today, requires attacking this invisibility, tearing down or rising above the veil, and revealing the structures of hierarchy that run throughout society.

-Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri in Commonwealth (2009) p. 327

Jeffrey Sachs - Criticisms

One of Sachs' strongest critics is William Easterly, a professor of economics at New York University. Easterly reproached The End of Poverty in his review for The Washington Post, and Easterly's 2006 book White Man's Burden is an even more thorough rebuttal of Sachs' argument that poor countries are stuck in a "poverty trap" from which there is no escape, except by massively scaled-up foreign aid. Easterly presents statistical evidence that he claims proves that many emerging markets attained their higher status without large amounts of foreign aid as Sachs proposes.[10] This point is also echoed by the economist Dambisa Moyo who points out that when Sachs was her lecturer at Harvard it was he himself who taught that "the path to long-term development would only be achieved through private sector involvement and free market solutions".[11] She continues "Perhaps what I had not gleaned at that time was that Mr. Sachs' development approach was made for countries such as Russia, Poland and Bolivia, whereas the aid- dependency approach, with no accompanying job creation, was reserved for Africa."[11]

Another Sachs critic is Amir Attaran, a scientist and lawyer and currently the Canada Research Chair in Law, Population Health and Global Development at the University of Ottawa. Sachs and Attaran have worked closely as colleagues, including coauthoring a famous study in The Lancet documenting the dearth of foreign aid money to fight HIV/AIDS in the 1990s, which led to the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. However, Sachs and Attaran part company in their opinion of the Millennium Development Goals, and Attaran argued in a paper published in PLoS Medicine and an editorial in the New York Times that the United Nations has misled people by setting specific, but immeasurable, targets for the MDG's (for example, to reduce maternal mortality or malaria).[12] Sachs dismissed that view in a reply to PLoS Medicine by saying that only a handful of the MDG's are immeasurable, but Attaran then cited the United Nations' own data analysis (which the UN subsequently blocked from public access) showing that progress on a very large majority of the MDG's is never measured.[13]

Sachs has also been criticized by leftists for having an overly neoliberal perspective on the economy. Nancy Holmstrom and Richard Smith pointed out that, in advising implementation of his shock therapy on the collapsing Soviet Union, Sachs "supposed the transition to capitalism would be a natural, virtually automatic economic process: start by abandoning state planning, free up prices, promote private competition with state-owned industry, and sell off state industry as fast as possible…". They go on to cite the drastic decreases in industrial output over the ensuing years, a nearly halving of the country's GDP and of personal incomes, a doubling of the suicide rate, and a skyrocketing unemployment rate.[14] The Lancet [15] has recently reported that rapid privatization of the Soviet Union caused a 12.8% death rate increase among males in just two years,[16] a claim that The Economist attributed to alcoholism, though The Lancet article attributed the rise in alcoholism to changes in the economy.[17] Canadian activist Naomi Klein argues in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism that Sachs' Bolivian "success" is not true. In her analysis, the radical reforms pushed by Sachs were neither democratically agreed upon nor achieved without violent state repression and left the majority of Bolivians in worse circumstances.[18]

Colbert: Tip/Wag - Waterboarding & Canada's History

A former CIA operative admits to lying about the effectiveness of waterboarding, and The Beaver changes its name to Canada's History. (04:50)

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cornel West on "Marxist Views of African American Oppression"

I shall begin by making some basic distinctions between Marxist thought as a monocausal, unilinear philosophy of history that accurately predicts historical outcomes; Marxism it is exemplified in diverse "actually existing" Communist regimes in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Poland and so forth; and Marxist theory as a methodological orientation toward the understanding of social and historical realities. Needless to say, I readily reject Marxist thought as a monocausal, unilinear, predictive science of history or a homogeneous, teleological narrative of past and present events. Such infantile Marxism has been subjected to persuasive criticism by Karl Popper, John Plamenatz, John Dewey and Raymond Aron from outside the Marxist tradition, and by members of the Frankfurt School (Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse), Raymond Williams and Antonio Gramci from within. I also reject, although not without sympathy for, the undemocratic regimes that regiment and dominate their peoples in the name of Marxism. As a democratic and libertarian socialist, I find these regimes morally repugnant, yet I wish to stress that detailed historical analysis of why they evolved as they have is required if we are to grasp their tragic predicament. Such analysis does not excuse the atrocities committed, yet it does give us a realistic sense of what these regimes have been up against.

Despite rejecting Marxist thought as a philosophy of history and Marxism as it has appeared in diverse "actually existing" Communist regimes, I hold that Marxist theory as a methodological orientation remains indispensable - although ultimately inadequate - in grasping distinctive features of African American oppression. As a methodological orientation, Marxist theory requires that we begin from two starting points....

-Cornel West, "Race and Social Theory" in the Cornel West Reader, p. 256

John Gray on Marx

An an analyst of capitalism Marx has few rivals. It was Marx who would understood before anyone else the advance of globalization that would render the national economies of the nineteenth century obsolete and destroy bourgeois life as known in the past. Perhaps only the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, writing in the middle of the twentieth century, grasped the revolutionary character of capitalism quite as firmly. Marx perceived that capitalism is an economic system that unsettles every aspect of human life. Not only politics and government but also culture and society are continuously transformed under the impact of the anarchic energies of the market. Movements aiming to free up the market while reinstating 'traditional values' dominated much of late twentieth-century politics. While effectively reshaping society to serve the imperatives of the market, politicians such as Thatcher and Blair wanted at the same time to revive the virtues of bourgeois life. Yet, as Marx perceived, the actual effect of the unfettered market is to overturn established social relationships and forms of ethical life - including those of bourgeois societies.

Marx showed how unreal are all visions of marrying the free market to bourgeois values. Far from being utopian, his account of capitalism is a vital corrective to the utopian visions that have distorted politics over the past generation. It is Marx's vision of the alternative to capitalism that is utopian. Though he understood capitalism better than most economists in his day or ours, Marx's conception of communism was dangerously impractical. Central planning was bound to fail: no one can know enough to plan a modern economy and no one is good enough to be entrusted with the power to govern it. Worse, Marx believed that with the arrival of communism the conflicts of values that had existed throughout history would cease, and society could be organized around a single conception of the good life. It was a belief that was to have disastrous consequences, as will be seen when the Soviet experiment in examined in Chapter 2.

John Gray, Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (2008), p. 18-19

Interview with Abdal-Hakim Murad: "“In the traditional Muslim understanding money is gold and silver”

Thanks Najeeb!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"With this small place given to looking inward, because the material world is so much with us,

so all-absorbing that the inward things very easily slip away from notice and are in fact not apparent at all, unless one makes an effort to cultivate an acquaintance with them, there is very little room for "la ilaha illa Allah" - There is no deity (in the sense of the One Who commands all one's devotion and obedience and Who is the Authority) except God - because most of us human beings are so absorbed with utterances of "There is no diety [sic] except Man." The call of "Allahu Akbar" - God is the Most Great - cannot be heard amidst the clamor of exclamations over the Most-Greatness of Man. Western man has become so intoxicated with the wonder of his own power and creativity, so enamored of and so utterly bound up with the gadgets and devices he has invented, from which he believes he derives his life and sustenance, that the obvious fact has escaped him that a Power beyond himself gives them these capacities and sustains him, and that the inventions upon which he relies so completely are themselves dependent on that sustaining Power. He imagines that he must be able to see, handle, to measure and to analyze things in order to accept the fact of their existence, yet all the while his spirit as well as his faculties seem to be completely paralyzed in not perceiving that an unmeasurable, unanalyzable Being sustains everything which exists and keeps it functioning...

The capacity to believe in what is beyond man and the material world, to which the Holy Qur'an refers as Al-Ghaib - the Unseen, the hidden or distant things - is a grace from God, I think: the grace of being able to accept the existence of a greater Reality than that which is within the perception of the senses, within analysis and definition by the limited capacities of men. In the West today, such a frame of reference is largely non-existent except in name. Thus, one searching for faith must continually struggle with the disbelief which is rather a cynical and desperate conviction that man is all and everything, that there is nothing beyond, and that even if there should happen to be it hardly matters, combined with a weary disillusionment with life - even with the material pre-occupations which not so long seemed so bright and meaningful - for which it knows of no better remedy than involvement in humanitarian concerns or cultural activities. The West has, in the words of Muhammad Asad, assumed the non-existence of God as a positive fact simple because it cannot prove His existence empirically. As he says in his book, Islam at the Crossroads:*

As the intellectual and social atmosphere of old Rome was utterly utilitarian and anti-religious - in fact if not in open admission - so is the atmosphere of the modern West. Without having a proof against transcendental religion, and without even admitting the need of such a proof, modern Western thought, while tolerating and sometimes even emphasizing religion as a social convention, generally leaves transcendental ethics out of the range of practical considerations. Western civilization does not strictly deny God, but has simply no room and no use for Him in its present intellectual system. It has made a virtue out of an intellectual difficult of man - his inability to grasp the totality of life."

* Arafat Publications, Lahore, Pakistan, 1955.

Marian Kazi, Adhan Over Anatolia: The Diary of an American Muslim, American Trust Publications, Indiana, n.d., p. 18-19

Abdulmutallab Interrogation Explodes Six Central Torture Myths

Connecting Muslims and the Media: An Interview with Edina Lekovic

Scientist convicted for US attack

NKI Center of Excellence in Culturally Competent Mental Health: Muslim Americans

"It is not merely positively, but negatively, that great aggregations of wealth,

whether individual or corporate, tend to corrupt government and take it out of the control of the masses of the people. 'Nothing is more timorous than a million dollars - except two million dollars.' Great wealth always supports the party in power, no matter how corrupt it may be. It never exerts itself for reform, for it instinctively fears change. It never struggles against misgovernment. When threatened by the holders of political power it does not agitate, nor appeal to the people; it buys them off. It is in this way, no less than by its direct interference, that aggregated wealth corrupts government, and helps to make politics a trade. Our organized lobbies, both legislative and Congressional, rely as much upon the hopes of moneyed interests.

From Henry George, Social Problems (New York, 1883).

Quoted in Opposing Viewpoints in American History Vol. 2, p. 15

Inquiry Into F.B.I. Raid That Killed Cleric

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Scholarly Consensus: Ijma' Between Use & Misuse By Abdullah bin Hamid Ali

Scholarly Consensus: Ijma Between Use & Misuse By Abdullah bin Hamid Ali


“Ustadh Abdullah Ali is to be commended for a provocative, timely and critical examination of Ijma’. This work asks serious questions and demands serious, well-considered answers. Hopefully, it will be the start of a deep and fruitful conversation that will enrich all involved.”

Imam Zaid Shakir
Resident Scholar, Zaytuna College

"To be critical is one thing; to be critically responsible is another. The future lies with critically responsible engagement. Shaykh Abdullah is critically responsible."

Dr. Sherman Jackson
Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Law and
Afro-American Studies, University of Michigan , Ann Arbor

"Islamic scholarship has always been predicated upon critical inquiry, it lies at the essence of our tradition. This scholarly work challenges us to examine many assumed absolutes that directly impact the lives of so many people."

Imam Dawood Yasin,
Muslim Chaplain, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

"…a provocative scholarly contribution that courageously reconsiders the authoritative role of ijma’ within the Islamic ethos…"

Mohammad Abderrazzaq,
Ph.D. candidate in Islamic Studies at Boston University

"An honest and needed piece of scholarship."

Shaykh Suheil Laher,
Muslim Chaplain MIT

“A masterly exposition of ijma‘, its definitions, role in Islamic jurisprudence and perhaps most importantly its limitations. A well argued and timely reminder of the necessity for Muslim scholars today to revisit the process of ideological standardization that too often established a criterion for sound belief that, although useful within a particular socio/political context, has become antithetical to the greater good and unity of the Muslim community. An important study that calls our attention to the value of and growing need to preserve the ideological and philosophical diversity that has exemplified Islamic thought from its earliest times.”

Dr. Kenneth Abdel-Hadi Honerkamp,
Professor of Arabic, Islamic texts, Shar'iah (Islamic Law), North African
Sufism, University of Georgia, Athens

"Many young Muslims have questions about the role of scholarly consensus (ijma') in the Islamic tradition. Who decides when a consensus has been reached? Can it be overturned? Do I have any right to challenge a consensus, especially if it seems unethical or anachronistic? Ustadh Abdullah's article on the uses and misuses of consensus in Islamic discourse goes a long way in shedding much needed light on this complex and important topic."

R. David Coolidge,
Associate University Chaplain, Brown University

"Historically, within every generation of Muslims there is a group of courageous scholars who rise to the responsibility of internalizing Islam's rich legal tradition; not to be imprisoned by traditionalism, but in order to distill what is non-negotiable from Islam's vast jurisprudential canon, build upon it, and make it relevant to the needs of their particular time, place, and people--Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Shaykh Abdullah (may Allah preserve him) has risen to this responsibility in his scholarly delineation of the history, role, definitions, and parameters of scholarly consensus (ijma‘). This critical study demonstrates his mastery of the principles and subtleties of Islamic Legal Methodology ('usul al-fiqh) and is indispensable reading for the scholar and non-scholar who seek to be intellectually liberated by the classical legal tradition of Islam and not straitjacketed by it."

Ustath Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes
Instructor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, The Risala Institute, Atlanta, Georgia

"Knowledge of the legal foundations (usul) is the keystone of the jurist and student of law. And it is the methodology of research employed by scholars in legislative deliberations, because it guards against error and aimless chatter. I have reviewed what our brother, Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali—may Allah grant him success—has written about this matter of foundational legal import, and I have found him to have probed its depths and mastered its every nuance; a thing that bears testimony to his broad grasp and mastery of the legal sciences. May Allah, the Exalted, grant him success in the service of the Sunna and those who uphold it; and may He transfer benefit through him and his knowledge to people everywhere.”

Shaykh Muhammad bin Yahya al-Ninowy,
Scholar and Imam of Al-Madina Masjid, Norcross, GA

Stephen Walt: The Lobby versus Iran

Monibot: The Reckoning

Howard Zinn: The People’s Historian by Amy Goodman

Chris Hedges: The Creed of Objectivity Killed the News

"The creed of objectivity and balance, formulated at the beginning of the 19th century by newspaper owners to generate greater profits from advertisers, disarms and cripples the press."

Dearborn police continuing probe of FBI fatal shooting of Imam in Oct. 28 raid

"Having argued for the importance of paying attention to the politics of knowledge in this field,

I hasten to add that we need to be very careful not to conflate a particular theoretical or interpretive approach with, or to explain it solely or even mainly in terms of, bias, prejudice, stereotyping or racism. As we will see, for many centuries - indeed, down to the present day - a good many people in the West, including the ostensibly learned, have embraced and espoused crude prejudices about Islam, Muslims, Arabs and others. However, for purposes of analysis at least, we need to distinguish clearly between such sentiments, however repellent or pernicious, on the one hand, and on the other the interpretive framework embraced by an individual scholar or by a group of scholars in a given field. As we will see, there have been a substantial number of scholars who were highly respectful of Islam and empathetic toward its adherents' beliefs and aspirations but who nonetheless produced work which critics have argued is implicitly or explicitly informed by a questionable interpretive framework. So while I will certainly be noting instances of prejudice, stereotyping and racism in scholarship on Islam and the Middle East, I will also be insisting that it is important to distinguish such attitudes from the interpretive frameworks which scholars use; these are, analytically at least, two different things, though they all too often coincide and can be hard to separate."
-Zachary Lockman, Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism, p. 3-4

"Beyond the issue of theology, there is the more subtle and complicated matter of the relationship between protest and resistance,

on the one hand, and spirituality, personal piety, and moral rectitude, on the other. Here, however, we confront again the problem of a possible mismatch between an imported tradition and an indigenous heritage. The most commonly recognized regime of pietism and spirituality among Muslims is that of Sufism. Sufism includes, however, at least two distinct aspects: (1) a focus on matters of personal piety and moral refinement (tahdhib al-nafs, tahdhib al-akhlaq, tazkiyat al-nafs); and (2) a concern with mysticism, including the supernatural extraction of service from nature and achieving mystical union with the Divine (fana’, hulul, wahdat al-wujud). In terms of substance, the personal piety side of Sufism is a veritable gold mine for Blackamericans, especially in its psychology of rectitude. Its institutional structure, however, tends towards a highly stratified authoritarianism, including a master-disciple relationship that borders at times on the cultic. Moreover, in its American manifestation, organized Sufis, has most often taken the form of a quetistic critique of and alternative to what are cast as the more politicized or even radical expressions of Islam. As for the mystical dimension of Sufism, it tends to ground itself in either the Neoplatonic tradition of Late Antiquity or the superstitious traditions of sub-Saharan Africa, neither of which are easily reconciled with the deeply protestant, lay predisposition of the masses of Blackamerican Muslims, not to mention the protest sentiment of Black Religion.

If Blackamerican Sunni Islam is to subvert false mysterium tremendum and the “second creation” without degenerating into just another secular ideology or cultural performance, it will have to ground its protest mission in articulations of the religion that show such a mission to be consistent with the pursuit of divine pleasure. This will require certain adjustments and modifications to the theological and spiritualist traditions handed down from the Sunni past. And issues of personal piety and spiritual development will have to assume their proper place in the everyday lives of Blackamerican Muslims. Over the remainder of this chapter, I shall attempt to lay out a framework within which such a reconciliation might be effected. While I am confident that my views are entirely validatable from the perspective of Muslim scripture and Tradition, it is perhaps too early in the history of American Islam to expect anything approaching consensus. As such, my statements might be taken as more of a beginning than the end of a process that I hope will be long and fruitful.

January 6, 2005: Howard Zinn

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Jim Wallis: "Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street: A Moral Compass for the New Economy"

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Monday, February 1, 2010

"In fact, whereas Blackamerican Christianity has produced a towering edifice of Black Theology

to obviate, or perhaps establish, the relationship between the worship of Jesus and the liberation of Blackamericans, Blackamerican Sunni Islam has witnessed no such effort to ensure that its consciousness remains religious and that the religion itself does not degenerate into a cultural performance. The Islamists of Modern Islam have contributed nothing in this regard. And the theological tradition of Modernized Islam, as well as that of Neofundamentalists, consists, outside the basics, largely of abstractions grounded in the Aristotelian-Neoplatonic presuppositions of Late Antiquity or equally abstract reactions to these. [10] These theologies emphasize such doctrines as the noncreatedness of the Qur'an, the beatific vision in the Hereafter, and the anthropomorphic versus the nonanthropomorphic interpretation of the divine attributes. Beyond the question of how readily the average Blackamerican Muslim can understand or identify with much of this tradition, in its present form it obviates little relevance as a source of liberation or a bridge to primordial meanings. Moreover, if this theology, as presently articulated, is to occupy the center of Muslim religious consciousness and serve as the criterion for determining who is and who is not a Muslim, it may not be obvious how relevant Islam itself is to the present and future of Blackamericans.

-Sherman A. Jackon, Islam and the Blackamerican, p. 174-5

"Such [civic] involvement is especially critical in these times of political transformation

and the redefinition of both the role and scope of government here in America. As the two major political parties become increasingly responsive to special interest groups, particularly those associated with big business, large unions, and wealthy individuals, their role as facilitators of democratic and civic involvement is being eroded. This shift in responsiveness is leading to what is referred to as a dealighment of those parties. This dealignment causes private citizens to search for new institutions to serve as their primary means of political involvement, which consequently results in the proliferation of smaller, grassroots civic organizations. The collective weight of these organizations and their facilitation of direct citizen involvement in local politics is viewed by some as the reinventing of American democracy."

[footnote 3: See Carmen Sirianni and Lewis Friedland, Civic Innovation in America: Community Empowerment, Public Policy, and the Movement for Civic Renewal (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), p. 1.]

-Imam Zaid in "Civic Involvement: An Islamic Imperative" in Agenda to Change Our Condition, p. 50

Protest today across from Dearborn Police station

Robert Fisk: Israel feels under siege. Like a victim. An underdog

"This must mean that it is absolutely vital that Muslims study closely and deeply the dynamics of resistance that are already in process

in the United States and Europe. They are neither the first nor the only ones to reject the dominant economic system: many studies have been published, and development cooperatives, alternative banks, and ethical businesses and investment funds are functioning and putting forward "something else." Muslim citizens should take inspiration from these writings and experiences and get involved in multidimensional, complementary, and long-term partnerships. We have spoken of civil movements, the new approaches proposed by ATTAC, and the reflections on ethics and economics produced by Christian liberation theologians (and other Catholic and Protestant intellectuals): to live in the West and ignore these developments and achievements is madness, and it is going to be necessary for Muslims to emerge from their intellectual isolation into direct engagement with the debates that are stirring their society and from which they are currently largely absent. Few of their fellow-citizens know that the principles held by Muslims are essentially opposed to the economic logic of today's world and that they are, in heart and mind, opposed to its dominance. It is for Muslims to explain and make themselves heard. Overall, they need to develop a global vision of the stakes involved in their presence on the economic scene and to make sure that the adaptations proposed to them by scholars from here and there do not become a safeguard that allows the emergence of a new caste of "highly integrated" Muslim citizens in the style of new capitalists interested primarily in owning houses or shining financially in the world of productivity and returns. We know how many legal opinions (fatawa) have sanctioned treacherous behavior....Contrary to the old theories, there are no longer two separate worlds, and, whether here or there, our rejection of the dominant economic system is radical by nature. The reality that may force us to interact does not in any way force us to give up.

-Tariq Ramadan, "Economic Resistance" in Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, p. 199

NYT Book Review - 'Blood and Faith - The Purging of Muslim Spain' by Matthew Carr

Sunday, January 31, 2010

"We live in the midst of a pervasive and profound crisis of North Atlantic civilization

whose symptoms include the threat of nuclear annihilation, extensive class inequality, brutal state repression, subtle bureaucratic surveillance, widespread homophobia, technological abuse of nature and rampant racism and patriarchy. In this essay, I shall focus on a small yet significant aspect of this crisis: the specific forms of African American oppression. It is important to stress that one can more fully understand this part only in light of the whole crisis, and that one's conception of the whole crisis should be shaped by one's grasp of this part. In other words, the time has passed when the so-called race question can be relegated to secondary or tertiary theoretical significance. In fact, to take seriously the mutlileveled oppression of peoples of color is to raise fundamental questions regarding the very conditions for the possibility of the modern West, the diverse forms and styles of European rationality and the character of the prevailing modern secular mythologies of nationalism, professionalism, scientism, consumerism and sexual hedonism that guide everyday practices around the world.

-Cornel West, "Race and Social Theory," The Cornel West Reader, p. 251

"All the News That's Fit to Mint",9171,1957468,00.html

"After basic training I went to Denver, Colorado for technical school.

As the school was finishing a previous session, I had a lot of spare time and resumed my spiritual quest. I ended up on the "mucusless diet," among other things, and would eventually, upon arriving at my permanent station at Barksdale Air Force Base, become involved with transcendental meditation. As my involvement with meditation deepened and my reading texts related to eastern mysticism progressed, I was feeling increasingly unfulfilled. I wanted to know God, but I found myself on a path that was leading to an enhanced knowledge of self. Perhaps this was God's way of introducing Himself to me. It is said that he who knows himself will know God. In any case, I gradually become disillusioned with eastern mysticism. I had been attracted to religion looking for a means to make things better for people, I found the eastern approach to be very selfish. It was everything for me, but nothing for the people.

-Imam Zaid Shakir, "The Making of a Muslim" in Scattered Pictures: Reflections of An American Muslim, p. 16-17

Ebrahim Moosa: Civil religion of a different kind

‘Who are the Muslims in America?’

‘They are an amalgamation of races, ethnicities, classes and perhaps most importantly, histories, bound together by a common commitment to a set of basic religious/theological postulates and an ongoing exchange, in word and in deed, about what those religious and theological postulates mean, in the context for their desire for a dignified and self-respecting existence as Muslims in America.’

-Sherman ‘Abd al-Hakim’ Jackson

Sherman Abdal-Hakim Jackson

A native of Philadelphia, he received his Ph.D from the University of Pennsylvania in Oriental Studies –Islamic Near East in 1990. Presently, he is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Visiting Professor of Law, and Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Michigan. From 1987-89, he served as Executive Director for the Center of Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) in Cairo, Egypt.

Dr. Abd al-Hakim Jackson has taught at the University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University and Wayne State University. In addition to numerous articles on Islamic law, theology and history, he is author of Islamic Law and the State: The Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihâb al-Dîn al-Qarâfî (E.J. Brill, 1996), On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam: Abû Hâmid al-Ghazâlî’s Faysal al-Tafriqa (Oxford, 2002) and, most recently, the controversial Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Towards the Third Resurrection (Oxford, 2005).

Dr. Abd al-Hakim Jackson is co-founder of the American Learning Institute for Muslims (ALIM), a primary instructor at its programs, and a member of its Board of Trustees. Jackson is also a former member of the Fiqh Council of North America, past president of the Sharî‘ah Scholars’ Association of North America (SSANA) and a past trustee of the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). He is a sought-after speaker and has lectured throughout the US and in numerous countries abroad.


Also see:

Umar Faruq Abd-Allah

Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah (Wymann-Landgraf) is an American Muslim, born in 1948 to a Protestant family in Columbus, Nebraska. He grew up in Athens, Georgia, where both parents taught at the University of Georgia. His father taught Veterinary Medicine and Organic Chemistry, while his mother’s field was English. In 1964, his parents took positions at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where his grandfather had been a professor emeritus of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Abd-Allah did his undergraduate work at the University of Missouri with dual majors in History and English Literature. He made the Dean’s list all semesters and was nominated to the Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Society. In 1969, he won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and entrance to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York to pursue a Ph.D. program in English literature. Shortly after coming to Cornell, Dr. Abd-Allah read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which inspired him to embrace Islam in early 1970. In 1972, he altered his field of study and transferred to the University of Chicago, where he studied Arabic and Islamic Studies under Dr. Fazlur Rahman. Dr. Abd-Allah received his doctorate with honors in 1978 for a dissertation on the origins of Islamic Law, Malik’s Concept of ‘Amal in the Light of Maliki Legal Theory. From 1977 until 1982, he taught at the Universities of Windsor (Ontario), Temple, and Michigan. In 1982, he left America to teach Arabic in Spain. Two years later, he was appointed to the Department of Islamic Studies at King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah, where he taught (in Arabic) Islamic studies and comparative religions until 2000.

During his years abroad, Dr. Abd-Allah had the privilege of studying with a number of traditional Islamic scholars. He returned to Chicago in August 2000 to work as chair and scholar-in-residence of the newly founded Nawawi Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation. In conjunction with this position, he is now teaching and lecturing in and around Chicago and various parts of the United States and Canada, while conducting research and writing in Islamic studies and related fields. He recently completed a biography of Mohammed Webb (d. 1916), who was one of the most significant early American converts to Islam. The book is scheduled for release Spring/Summer 2006 under the title A Muslim in Victorian America: The Story of Alexander Russell Webb (Oxford University Press). Dr. Abd-Allah is presently completing a second work entitled Roots of Islam in America: A Survey of Muslim Presence in the New World from Earliest Evidence until 1965 and is also updating his dissertation for publication.

Abdal-Hakim Murad (Tim Winter)

Abdal Hakim Murad graduated from Cambridge University with a double-first in Arabic in 1983. He then lived in Cairo for three years, studying Islam under traditional teachers at Al-Azhar, one of the oldest universities in the world. He went on to reside for three years in Jeddah, where he administered a commercial translation office and maintained close contact with Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad and other ulama from Hadramaut, Yemen.

In 1989, Shaikh Abdal Hakim returned to England and spent two years at the University of London learning Turkish and Farsi. Since 1992 he has been a doctoral student at Oxford University, specializing in the religious life of the early Ottoman Empire. He is currently Secretary of the Muslim Academic Trust (London) and Director of the Sunna Project at the Centre of Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge University, which issues the first-ever scholarly Arabic editions of the major Hadith collections.

Shaikh Abdal Hakim is the translator of a number of works, including two volumes from Imam al-Ghazali's Ihya Ulum al-Din. He gives durus and halaqas from time to time and taught the works of Imam al-Ghazali at the Winter 1995 Deen Intensive Program in New Haven, CT. He appears frequently on BBC Radio and writes occasionally for a number of publications, including The Independent; Q-News International, Britain's premier Muslim Magazine; and Seasons, the semiacademic journal of Zaytuna Institute.


Ebrahim Moosa

Ebrahim Moosa is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University. His interests span both classical and modern Islamic thought with a special focus on Islamic law, history, ethics and theology. Dr. Moosa is the author of Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination, winner of the American Academy of Religion's Best First Book in the History of Religions (2006) and editor of Revival and Reform in Islam: A Study of Islamic Fundamentalism, the last manuscript of the late Professor Fazlur Rahman. Currently he is completing a book titled Islam After Empire: Text, Tradition and Technology and working on another book titled Between Right and Wrong: Debating Muslim Ethics.

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