Throughout the last three decades, Wael Hallaq has emerged as one of the leading scholars of Islamic law in Western academia. He has made major contributions not only to the study of the theory and practice of Islamic law, but to the development of a methodology through which Islamic scholars have been able to confront challenges facing the Islamic legal tradition. Hallaq is thus uniquely placed to address broader questions concerning the moral and intellectual foundations of competing modern projects. With his most recent work, The Impossible State, Hallaq lays bare the power dynamics and political processes at the root of phenomena that are otherwise often examined purely through the lens of the legal. In this interview, the first of a two-part series with him, Hallaq expands upon some of the implications of those arguments and the challenges they pose for the future of intellectual engagements across various traditions. In particular, he addresses the failure of Western intellectuals to engage with scholars in Islamic societies as well as the intellectual and structural challenges facing Muslim scholars. Hallaq also critiques the underlying hegemonic project of Western liberalism and the uncritical adoption of it by some Muslim thinkers. [more inside]
“Hindus are, on average, richer and more educated than Muslims. But oddly, the child mortality rate for Hindus is much higher. All observable factors say Hindus should fare better, but they don't. Economists refer to this as the Muslim mortality puzzle. In a new study, researchers believe that they may have found a solution to the puzzle. And, surprisingly, the solution lies in a single factor – open defecation.” [more inside]
The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment has issued a fatwa banning Muslims from participating in a Mars colonization effort, citing pervasive risk for no "righteous reason." The Mars One project (previously) has penned a remarkably erudite reply.
A new Lady Gaga song called Burqa has leaked online. Its production is pretty interesting. Its lyrics are... controversial, to say the least. "Lady Gaga bas a burqa problem," writes Jezebel. "You can't just ornament yourself in other cultures (especially not if those cultures are specifically targeted for violence and harassment in your home country)." Other criticisms abound on The Atlantic and Autostraddle. A blog called Racist Little Monsters has popped up to collect pictures of fans posing in self-made burqas [warning: nsfw language abounds]
Why the controversial (and somewhat backfired) Lauren Green interview of Reza Aslan is is about more than just Fox News idiocy.
Racial Misprofiling When "Arab" stock photos go terribly wrong (SLTumblr)
Questions about Pakistan are now a fact of living here, no different from damp weather or calls from salespeople. Some I deflect, and others I frame around my own terms.[more inside]
A Lost Map On The Tramway In Istanbul
In Turkey, there lives a mysterious minority known as the “secret Armenians.” They have been hiding in the open for nearly a century. Outwardly, they are Turks or Kurds, but the secret Armenians are actually descendants of the survivors of the 1915 Genocide, who stayed behind in Eastern Anatolia after forcibly converting to Islam. Some are now devout Muslims, others are Alevis –generally considered an offshoot of Shia Islam, even though that would be an inaccurate description by some accounts–, and a few secretly remain Christian, especially in the area of Sassoun, where still there are mountain villages with secret Armenian populations. Even though Armenian Gypsies wouldn’t strictly qualify as Secret Armenians, they share many traits with the latter, including reluctance or fear to reveal their identity even to fellow Armenians.[more inside]
When Satire Conquered Iran: [NYR Blog] Molla Nasreddin, an early twentieth-century Azerbaijani magazine that “attacked the hypocrisy of the Muslim clergy, the colonial policies of the US and the venal corruption of the local elite, while arguing repeatedly for Westernization, educational reform, and equal rights for women.” [more inside]
Last year, Wired reported that 'The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding mechanism for combat.”' (previously) The FBI pledged reform, but the materials appeared to be deeply embedded. After the President ordered a review, the FBI 'purged' the documents from training materials. Earlier this year Wired reported that 'U.S. Military Taught Officers: Use ‘Hiroshima’ Tactics for ‘Total War’ on Islam.' [more inside]
There are several groups trying to pass bills in different states to ban the application of foreign laws in a US court, especially Sharia law. These groups are almost all using model legislation drafted by anti-Muslim activist David Yerushalmi.
What might help defeat Muslim extremists in Pakistan for good? Bollywood!
All-American Muslim is a reality show on TLC which takes a look at life in Dearborn, Michigan--home to the largest mosque in the United States--through the lens of five Muslim American families. The participants are depicted dealing with lives far more familiar than extreme. But some are unhappy with the very existence of the series. Citing pressure from far-right wing groups, the home improvement chain Lowe’s has pulled its advertising from the show. Online, boycotts of the store, and other methods of protest, are multiplying. Meanwhile the controversy has put the show, as well as the little known group that takes credit for the Lowes advertising pull (the Florida Family Association), on the national media map.
This weekend marks the time of the Hajj, a core pillar of Islam in which great tides of humanity venture to the ancient city of Mecca to honor God. Predating Mohammed's birth by centuries, the pilgrimage comprises several days of rites, from congregation like snow on Mount Arafat and the ritual stoning of Shaitan to the circling of the sacred Kaaba (the shrouded cubical monolith Muslims pray toward daily) and kissing the Black Stone (colored by the absorption of myriad sins, and believed by some to be a fallen meteorite). While the city has modernized to handle this largest of annual gatherings -- building highway-scale ramps, gaudy skyscrapers for the ultra-rich, and tent cities the size of Seattle -- it remains mysterious, as unbelievers are forbidden from entering its borders. Richard Francis Burton became famous for touring the city in disguise to write a rare travelogue, but contemporary viewers have a more immediate guide: Vice Magazine journalist Suroosh Alvi, who smuggled a minicam into the city to record The Mecca Diaries [alt], a 14-minute documentary of his own Hajj journey. Browse the manual to see what goes into a Hajj trip, or watch the YouTube livestream to see the Grand Mosque crowds in real time.
A law has come into force in France which makes it an offence for a Muslim woman to conceal her face behind a veil when in public. [more inside]
“I want to be very frank here,” Qadhi said, his voice tight with exasperation. “Do you really, really think that blowing up a plane is Islamic? I mean, ask yourself this.” The New York Times' Andrea Elliott explores the fine line between Salafiya and contemporary American values. Multimedia slideshow. [auto-playing video] Qadhi, previously.
The Modern Art Iraq Archive (MAIA) is a resource to trace, share, and enable community enrichment of the modern art heritage of Iraq. Explore the works by artist, browse through related textual materials, or add your own images or stories to the archive.
A Danish court rules that truth is not a defense to its hate speech law and fines Member of Parliament Jesper Langballe $1,000 for commenting that "Of course Lars Hedegaard [President of the Danish Free Press Society] should not have said that there are Muslim fathers who rape their daughters when the truth appears to be that they make do with killing their daughters (the so-called honour killings) and leave it to their uncles to rape them." Hedegaard had tried to explain that he was speaking in the context of an epidemic of honor violence within Muslim families when he said "They rape their own children"; he faces his own set of charges. (via Volokh Conspiracy) [more inside]
"Latino converts to radical Islam have been connected to terrorism cases in this country with increasing frequency — and officials are trying to understand why."
The 99 (previously), the Islamic-inspired superheroes which have met both praise and somewhat batshit controversy, are crossing over with the DC Universe.
Malaysian Catholic newspaper Herald was recently involved in a major lawsuit against the Malaysian government, stating that their constitutional rights were violated when they were stripped of their license to publish in East Malaysian indigenous language Kadazandusun. The ruling was overturned, amidst support by state ministers and protests by the Government, the Islamic Opposition party, and Muslim activists - some of whom have spent the past week attacking churches and convents through firebombs, Molotov cocktails, paint, and bricks thrown at glass. [more inside]
The Interfaith Youth Core was started in 1998 by a group led by Rhodes Scholar Eboo Patel. Propelled by his experience growing up as a Muslim in the United States, and encouraged by the Dalai Lama, Patel seeded an organization dedicated promoting global pluralism. His story is detailed in his acclaimed autobiography, Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation. He keeps a blog at the Washington Post, and is a fellow at the Ashoka Foundation.
Back in 2004, the Chicago Tribune published an investigative series about the state of Islam after 9/11. [more inside]
Abdelrahman Zeitoun is a Syrian American businessman who spent the days after Katrina paddling around New Orleans in a canoe, saving elderly people and feeding stranded pets. His efforts were brought to a halt when he was detained by the Bush administration on suspicion of being a terrorist. [more inside]
Suheir Hammad, a Palestinian-American poet and activist now based in New York, writes about being a Muslim immigrant and also a woman challenging conventions. Spotted by Russell Simmons for Def Poetry Jam, she has performed pieces about love in the time of war, exoticising beauty, and a touching ode to her father, among many others. Suheir has just produced and released her first feature film Salt of This Sea, up for the Cannes Films Festival and possibly an Oscar, and recently performed in Ramallah for the 2009 Palestinian Festival of Literature.
Editor Marty Halpern looks back at the career of George Alec Effinger (part 1, part 2, part 3), a prolific author best known for his work set in the Budayeen, a walled city in a future Islamic state, teeming with gangsters, hustlers and transsexual prostitutes, many of them habitual users of plug in personality modules. The noirish tone and exotic technology of the Marîd Audran books (When Gravity Fails, A Fire In The Sun, The Exile Kiss) made Effinger one of the leading lights in the cyberpunk movie, and spawned a videogame - a rare attempt at a graphical adventure from Infocom - and an RPG setting. Sadly Effinger faded from prominence after that, and he suffered from a number of health and financial setbacks before passing away in 2002. His work has had somewhat of a resurgence in popularity of late, with the Marîd Audran books coming back into print in 2007, a long with a collection containing The Wolves of Memory, Effinger's personal favourite amongst his novels.
Obama speaks in Cairo: "I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world." Text is here. He quoted the Koran and highlighted a subject he avoided during his campaign - his own family's ties to Islam, his youth in Muslim Indonesia and even Chicago's Nation of Islam. An early roundup of US right wing reaction, and US left wing reaction, and the Middle East.
"Let them arrest me". Vehemently anti-Islamic Dutch MP Geert Wilders was scheduled to travel to London tomorrow to attend a screening of his controversial short film Fitna (wiki, mefi). Yesterday however, the UK's Home Secretary notified Wilders that his presence in the UK would pose a "serious threat to [...] public security" (PDF), presumably intending to refuse his entry into UK. Wilders plans to board the flight anyway, daring British authorities to arrest him. [more inside]
Blind Muslims with guide dogs. Dogs are usually considered unclean, but one U.K. imam carried out research and determined that a dog in service to, or trained by, a person could be allowed in a mosque. [more inside]
An article by Johann Hari (a remarkable columnist) in today's Independent about the substantial Heavy Metal movement in the Muslim world inserted a flicker of hope into my normally gloomy outlook on the current situation. I know that in my youth I used Heavy Metal (old school) as a hammer to tell my parents, my teachers and the world in general that I was different from them and did not accept their rules, judgements and values. If that is happening in Tehran, Morocco, Egypt and Pakistan then I'm with the kids. Go Metalheads! Rock the Mullahs! Tarantist look and sound the part but the listing on their YouTube page of 'Home town - Tehran/Los Angeles' is a bit worrying. How the hell do they work that gig? [more inside]
God's Waiting Room is a British documentary about the daily struggles of Haji Taslim Funerals, the first European Muslim Funeral Directors, and how they work to honor the requirements of ancient faith while cutting through the red tape of modern death. [more inside]
CBC Television's sitcom Little House on the Mosque, starring Carlo Rota of 24, has been mentioned before on the blue and grey. Reviews have actually been pretty positive, the ratings have been good, and now you can decide for yourself whether the "brou-ha-ha" was worth it (all 8 episodes linked inside). Don't think a sitcom can possibly capture Muslim life accurately? Well, maybe Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days can do a better job for you. It's pretty fascinating viewing, either way. [more inside]
We have lost on the way the lesson of living together, We are now even scared of each other. They are others whose faces are on your hands, Your hurts are a deep sea -- our wounds are deep. The stories that are being spread in our names are lies, This is not us. Words of a Pakistani pop song Yeh Hum Naheen [This is not us] hitting the charts, attempting to spread the message that all muslims are not terrorists, story via Salon. "Produced and written by a British Muslim, Waseem Mahmood, at the request of his two sons, "Yeh Hum Naheen" offers a welcome counterpoint to the images of troops storming the Red Mosque, or fundamentalist mullahs preaching jihad. But the key to the song's success lies neither in its production values or deft depictions of average Pakistanis going about their daily lives, but in its heartfelt expression of pain. "
I was a fanatic...I know their thinking. If a British former muslim jihadist is to be believed, "the engine of [their] violence" is not western foreign policy, but certain fundamental tenets of islamic theology. Hassan Butt's previous MeFi appearance was two years ago (before he left the jihadist network in February 2006). Also, a video and transcript of a 60 Minutes interview.
Surprising findings in Pew study of US Muslims. The interweb is all atwitter over some of the findings of a Pew Research Center study of the attitudes of Muslim-Americans (the most comprehensive one done yet). While most of the findings should be welcomed (US Muslims are well off, appreciate being here, have non-Muslim friends, shun extremism, etc.), there is one troubling statistic: 6% of US Muslims - and 15% of US Muslims under 30 - believe that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "often or sometimes justified". Sounds bad, but what happens when you ask the same question of non-Muslim Americans? Turns out that 24% of all Americans agreed - four times the 6% of US Muslims who share that view. So are US Muslims more peaceful than their non-Muslim neighbors?
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole.
Wake County, NC: Solomon Kamil invited to speak at a public school in Raleigh tells the students to shun Muslims "You may be excited that you found the 'tall, dark, and handsome man' you have been looking for. His sweet words and attention may blind you regarding the power, importance, and influence of his culture and Islamic faith."
Modest, yet fashionable. It may be February, but you'd best get an early start finding the perfect modest swimwear. Onesies are probably best left the domain of christian harlots. A two-piece is right out. How about a four-piece? The fine folks at Haşema and Ahiida can hook you up with the hottest styles this season. After a refreshing swim, why not go for a jog?
"A Christian man is weak compared to a Muslim man." Violence and war between Christians, Muslims, and Jews is a long-standing fact of life. Even St. Francis joining the Fifth Crusade as a peacemaker, would not change the course of history. "He was repulsed by the sacrilegious brutality of the Crusaders." Stories of personal persecution abound. However, there are also some small glimmers of hope and understanding that don't get much notice. Although such efforts are just specks in a sandstorm, maybe they are a start.
The practical future of the country formerly known as Iraq. [NewsFilter, but a significant acknowledgement of something long-in-coming.]
Keep your balls in check: The Saved Sect Website calls for Muslims to stop supporting The World Cup, as "[...]soccer plants the seeds of nationalism, and is therefore part of a 'colonial crusader scheme' to divide Muslims and cause them to stray from the vision of a unified Islamic identity."
The Muslim Brotherhood The Muslim Brotherhood Are they Islam’s version of the KKK or something much different? According to Robert Baer’s books on his experiences as a CIA agent in the middle east, the followers of the brotherhood are the one’s really responsible for the Lockerbie 747 terrorist attack, attacks against the embassies in Lebanon and Kenya, and very possibly 9-11. What is the history of the brotherhood and why have they been overlooked for so long? Britain seems to be taking an interest in them lately, what do they know that the U.S. refuses to acknowledge? Funded by the Saudis, supported by Iran, supporters of Hamas; by going after Al-Qaeda is the west on a wild goose chase that may end up with their own defeat? And finally, is this part of a secret war that Iran has waged against the U.S. since the embassy takeover after the Shah was forced to leave back in the late 1970’s? And finally, what does the Muslim Brotherhood have to say about all this?
Muslim heritage is an intriguing and rather pretty website detailing contributions of a thousand years. Make sure to see the timelineand events sections. Their new "weblog" seems to be shaping up to be interesting too, have a rummage.
Seeing Only Evil: An Interview with Retired CIA Agent Robert Baer, Author of See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War Against Terrorism.
Redneck Muslims? Apparently. Strange BBC piece on Christian Texans converting to Islam. I have a hard time believing these people don't eat pork.
Maniac Muslim: Making Muslims look cool since 1984. A humorous look at all things Muslims, by Muslims, and for Muslims (and you), such as Annoying Quirks Of Masjid Uncles, Your Guide to Islamic Conferences, and Muslim Chat Lingo. The impetus for the sight can be found here.
My cell was 8 ft by 6 ft, the same size as the detainees’ cages at Guantanamo. It was my turn to be humiliated every time I was taken to have a shower. Naked, I had to run my hands through my hair to show that I was not concealing a weapon in it. Then mouth open, tongue up, down, nothing inside. Right arm up, nothing in my armpit. Left arm up. Lift the right testicle, nothing hidden. Lift the left. Turn around, bend over, spread your buttocks, knowing a camera was displaying my naked image as male and female guards watched. It didn’t matter that I was an army captain, a graduate of West Point, the elite US military academy. It didn’t matter that my religious beliefs prohibited me from being fully naked in front of strangers. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t been charged with a crime. It didn’t matter that my wife and daughter had no idea where I was. And it certainly didn’t matter that I was a loyal American citizen and, above all, innocent... I knew why I had been arrested: it was because I am a Muslim.
James Yee: An American in chains It's OK to demonize the 'Other' if the Other is a Muslim.
James Yee: An American in chains It's OK to demonize the 'Other' if the Other is a Muslim.
In case of emergency, nuke Iran. From the folks who brought you Operation Iraqi Freedom and the "last throes" of the insurgency, the latest strategy for enhancing homeland security and US global standing is to launch a nuclear first-strike against Iran in the event of another 9/11-style attack -- whether Iran has ties to the attackers or not. As Juan Cole points out, turning a Shiite Muslim nation into the next Hiroshima could have disagreeable consequences. (First reported by the American Conservative, not your typical liberal rag, and via DailyKos.)
An interview with a British Jihadist. What he believes, how he came to his beliefs. An extended version of the interview from the latest issue of Prospect.
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