Friday, April 5, 2013

U.S. Jewish groups call on Long Island synagogue to cancel anti-Muslim speaker - Jewish World News - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper

TES poll reveals teachers’ favourite reads | The Bookseller

Tim Winter on the tension between transcendence and immanence in kalam and Sufism

Many disturbing questions of this kind in turn seemed to be generated by a tension implicit in the Qur'an itself. Some verses spoke of a God who seemed utterly transcendent, so that "nothing is like him" (Qur'an 42:11). Such a deity "is not asked about what he does" (21:23), and appears to expect only the unquestioning submission (islam) which seemed implicit in the very name of the new religion. But there were many other passages which implied a God who is indeed, in some sense that urgently needed definition, analogous to ourselves: a God who is ethically coherent, and whose qualities are immanent in his creation, so that "Wheresoever you turn, there is God's face" (2:115). This fundamental tension between transcendence and immanence, or, as Muslims put it, between "affirming difference" (tanzih) and "affirming resemblance" (tashbih), became intrinsic to the structuring of knowledge in the new civilisation. As one aspect of this it could be said, at the risk of very crude generalisation, that the Qur'an theology of transcendence was explored by the kalam folk, and its theology of immanence by the Sufis, which is why, perhaps, we should seek for Islam's greatest theologians among those who emphasised the symbiosis of the two disciplines. It may be thus, rather than for any unique originality, that Ghazali came to be called the "proof of Islam", and Ibn 'Arabi "the greatest shaykh". Their apparent eclecticism was in fact a programmatic attempt to retrieve an original unity, which is why scripture is so central to their respective manifestos.
-Tim Winter, The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology, pg. 6. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Shaykh Walead Mossad:

"Inward And Outward Knowledge Insights from Imam al-Ghazali (High)" on YouTube

Bill Moyers new homepage

Moyers & Company |

Bill Moyers episode with Cornel West, Serene Jones, and Gary Dorrien on Faith and Social Justice

NYT 11/16/2011 article by Laurie Goodstein: Cornel West Returning to Union Theological Seminary

Arianna Huffington: God, Cellphones, Quarterly Earnings and the Search for the Common Good

"[M]y concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side."

-President Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Abdal Hakim Murad on an alliance of religious conservatives vs. the left

If Europe is once again finding a kind of unity in its allergy to Muslimness, can Muslims find any allies in this landscape? Tariq Ramadan, in his book To be a European Muslim, implies that a marriage is possible with environmentalist and left-wing groups who are dismayed by the rise of anti-immigrant feeling. Pim Fortuyn’s assassin was, after all, a militant left-wing vegetarian who wished to defend Holland’s Muslims from Fortuyn’s plans for a liberal persecution. And many of the emerging British and European Muslim organisations seem to sympathise with Ramadan’s approach. After all, when marching against the invasion of Iraq, or campaigning against arms sales to brutal elites in the Middle East, one usually finds oneself sharing an umbrella with Fabian or CND types, not the Young Conservatives. Hence the popularity of the likes of George Galloway among Muslims. 
Such an alliance, however, is likely to be, at best, a tempestuous marriage of convenience. Muslims and the left may converge on Iraq, or Israel, or globalisation, but on domestic matters they stand at opposite poles. The Green movement, and virtually all on the Left, are fiercely pro-homosexual and feminist. It seems clear, then, that European Muslims are unlikely to forge a stable relationship with the Left. Similarly with the environmentalists: Muslims are often forgetful that the roots of the green lobby in Europe are not monotheistic, but often implicitly or explicitly pagan. Nazism was very keen on the environment: Sigrid Hunke, the German feminist and green theorist of the 1930s who is still viewed as a founder of the green movement, was revered by several Nazi ideologues. 
Many Muslims, from their vantage-point in Europe’s ghettoes, intuit this correctly. But they then conclude that the true believers by definition have no allies. Some Salafist perspectives, in particular, seem unable to accept the possibility of partnership with non-Muslims. One recalls the embarrassing cases of Shaykh Faisal in Britain, and Anwar al-Awlaki in the United States; whose followers, mesmerised by the slogan of ‘Back to the Qur’an’, had to spring back in dismay when the political views of these preachers reached the media. Yet such paranoia and xenophobia seem both scripturally unnecessary and practically unwise. If Europe continues to secularise, while Europe’s mosques remain full, then Islam is likely, without any planning or even forethought, to become the principal monotheistic energy through much of the continent, a kind of leaven in Europe’s stodgy dough.
Yet we should note that the pressure being brought to bear on Muslim communities relates to social, not doctrinal, beliefs. No-one in Brussels is greatly concerned about Muslim doctrines of the divine attributes, or prophetic intercession; but they do care about whether or not Muslims believe in feminism. This places Muslim believers in a historically new position. It should be possible to forge close friendships with other Europeans who also have the courage to blaspheme against the Brussels magisterium. We may differ with conservative Catholics and Jews over doctrine, but we are all facing very similar challenges to our social vision. Signor Buttiglione could easily have been a Muslim, not a Catholic, martyr. 
Here, I believe, a burden of responsibility rests upon the shoulders of Muslim leaders. It is in our interests to seek and hold friends. We are not alone in our conscientious rejection of many liberal orthodoxies. The statement by Bishop Michel Santer of the French church condemning the official punishments imposed on women who wear the niqab is an important sign of the possibility of cooperation. The challenge is going to be for Muslim, Christian and Jewish conservatives to set aside their strong traditional hesitations about other faith communities, and to discover the multitude of things they hold in common. To date, clearly, the interfaith industry has failed to catalyse this, partly because it tends to be directed by liberal religionists. We are more and more willing, it seems, to discuss less and less, and to conform more and more to the moral consensus of a secular and individualistic world. 
However an alliance sacrée between orthodox believers in different religions would, I think, deflate the potentially xenophobic and Islamophobic possibilities implicit in the process of European self-definition. If Europe defines itself constitutionally, as I believe it should, as either an essentially Christian entity, or as one which is at least founded in belief in God, then the fact of Muslim support for core principles of Christian ethics will give Islam a vital and appreciated place. But a purely secular Europe will always see Muslim values as problems on the margin, to be tolerated or punished according to the whims of the currently elected politicians. The relationship with European Jews is no less critical. If Orthodox Jewry – currently gaining in strength – can make common cause with Islam over core moral issues, chauvinisms and suspicions which currently exist on both sides will be seen as self-defeating.

 -from "Can Liberalism Tolerate Islam?" Oslo Litteraturhuset, 20 March 2011, Abdal-Hakim Murad.

"Maqasid Al-Shariah as Philosophy of Islamic Law: A Systems Approach" by Dr. Jasser Auda


Read online on author's site

In this pathbreaking study, Jasser Auda presents a systems approach to the philosophy and juridical theory of Islamic law based on its purposes, intents, and higher objectives (maqasid). For Islamic rulings to fulfill their original purposes of justice, freedom, rights, common good, and tolerance in today s context, Auda presents maqasid as the heart and the very philosophy of Islamic law. He also introduces a novel method for analysis and critique, one that utilizes relevant features from systems theory, such as, wholeness, multidimensionality, openness, and especially, purposefulness of systems. This book will benefit all those interested in the relationship between Islam and a wide variety of subjects, such as philosophy of law, morality, human rights, interfaith commonality, civil society, integration, development, feminism, modernism, postmodernism, systems theory, and culture.

"This is courageous research, written by a skilled jurist, and deals with a delicate subject that has a serious impact on the reasoning/ijtihad procedures in Islamic jurisprudence. I would say that Dr. Jasser Auda has an ambition to not only expand and renew these procedures, but to develop novel ones as well!"

- Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, Distinguished Scholar of Usul al-Fiqh; and former Minister of Justice and Jurisprudence of Mauritania

Also see the brief guide: Maqasid Al-Shariah: A Beginner's Guide (Occasional Paper)

Shaykh Dr. Jasser Auda at Princeton: Principle in Sufi Ethics

Watch "Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad Introduces Book 20 Of Ihya Ulum al-Din" on YouTube

Leading Western Muslim scholars (Tariq Ramadan, Sherman Jackson and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf) on homosexuality

Video - Dr. Sherman Jackson "Is there a place for gay Muslims?"

Article by Dr. Tariq Ramadan "Islam and Homosexuality."

Video - "Tariq Ramadan about homosexuality."

Video - "Islam & Homosexuality - Shaykh Hamza Yusuf" a clip from the Oxford "Rethinking Islamic Reform Conference: Hamza Yusuf & Tariq Ramadan."

Video - "Homosexuality - Hamza Yusuf" (from back in the day).

I think a general discussion about desires -- which practically all of us struggle with -- giving in to them vs. curbing them (like in Ghazali's masterful Disciplining the Soul) would be important and relevant to framing the issue in a fuller context.

Abdal Hakim Murad on free will

Interview with Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad – Authority within Islam

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s road into Islam

Andrew J. Bacevich in NYT Sunday Book Review (2/10/13): Avoiding Defeat ‘The Endgame’ and ‘My Share of the Task’