Ihsan

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Laugh? I nearly did!


In order to keep my website and indeed my own knowledge up to date, I receive regular posts from Google News on a variety of Muslim topics, including 'progressive Muslims'. Naturally, the majority of online news stories searching these combined terms originate from Muslim Wake Up (MWU), which means I am forced to subject myself to visiting this site on a regular basis. Once upon a time, such visits were at least sometimes enjoyable and even informative, but alas no longer. Instead, features have become dominated by self-promoting polemic and vituperative attacks on opponents or critics of the media event which was Amina Wadud's mixed-gender salah.

Their most recent article - New Muslim Groups: the Ugly, the Bad and the Good - surely surpasses all previous posts in its glib self-admiration and self-contradiction. The 'Good' in the title is, naturally, the Progressive Muslim Union of North America (PMUNA), an honest Joe outfit committed "...not to condemn any other constituency or tell other people what to do or say." The author of this less than humble piece of pie, Hussein Ibish, Vice-Chair of the PMUNA, is the same non-judgemental darling who recently put the boot into Louay M. Safi for having the audacity to criticise PMUNA, comparing Safi's arguments to hucksters scamming tourists on many street corners in North America and Europe.

The article is a side-by-side comparison, putting PMUNA next to a couple of real fruit cake factories - Free Muslims Against Terrorism, and The Center for Islamic Pluralism, neither of which are likely to attract the support of anyone who has evolved beyond lower primate or wearing Fox News merchandising. Odd how Ibish chose to contrast his own organisation to these two Looney Toon outfits, rather than any mainstream US Muslim organisation. It's almost as if he is saying, 'We are not the joke - they are!' Frankly, I find it astonishing that an organisation which has such a strong backing in US academia so rarely produces anything for MWU that would ever get past peer review, with the recent exception of Omid Safi's What is Progressive Islam. But then that originally appeared in ISIM.

Whilst I admit to being a complete nutter who has never held a consistent opinion for longer than ten seconds, its seems PMU/MWU are sadly lacking in the kind of humour that might give it a sense of proportion and perspective. More telling than anything was the response to my satirical Mixed-Species Prayer, with one very learned ally of MWU requesting his name be removed from my impromptu mailing list, whilst another regular author accused me (in overwrought and patronising tones) of descending into bitterness, but then such is the fate of a white man desperate to play victim and obsessed with postcolonialism. No, I am not bitter; just a bit angry. And I believe I have good reason to feel that way because good reason is something which is sadly lacking in MWU's recent output.

Perhaps one day, insha Allah, the merry dudes at MWU/PMU will engage in a positive and constructive debate with their critics, including the contention that its over-hyped activities risk becoming a yet another facet of American cultural imperialism. But judging by the latest front page 'MWU poll', I think we could all be waiting a looooooooong time...

6 comment(s):

  • assalamu alaykum.

    yeh, i used to contribute on a regular basis to MWU!

    my pieces were so hot that bro ahmed nassef had to edit them in case they were too hot. so he toned down "God's Own Whores" to simply "God's Whores".

    but when i submitted something about prof wudud's jumma at the request of jawad ali, it seemed that i was way-too-hot to publish.

    MWU! has trully been hijacked by the Monty Python school of islamic thought.

    ma salama


    By Blogger Irfan, at 5/08/2005 05:18:00 PM  

  • Salaams Yacoub:

    I'm also big into postcolonial thought; in fact, more post-development thinking. And that's why I'm a bit skeptical of Hussein Ibish's claims of PMU having "organic" links with the Muslim community. I'm reminded of the American socialist Eugene Debs's comment: "When I rise, it will be WITH the masses, and not FROM the masses." So-called "progressive Muslims" need to take this approach seriously.


    By Blogger Abu Dharr, at 5/08/2005 05:46:00 PM  

  • Salaams Abu Dharr

    I like that Eugene Debs' quote! I have the, 'Years ago, I decided I recognized my kinship with living things...' quote on my wall (it came on a postcard with New Internationalist, oh dear, you can see what kind of person I've become!)

    'PMUNA are a reactionary, borgeois Middle class organisation. Discuss' It's a PhD waiting to be written!!

    Wasalaam


    By Blogger Julaybib, at 5/08/2005 10:28:00 PM  

  • As-Salaamu 'alaikum

    Free Muslims is run by someone who has tried (and failed) to get elected to the Virginia state senate as a Republican. He actually stated that under the incumbent (a female Democrat), that conservatives have chipped away at a woman's right to choose. So you can see how much he cares for Muslim issues.

    I found his website via an Islamophobic blog which takes a threatening stance towards Muslims. It's not surprising that such people can "get behind" someone like that guy in Virginia.


    By Anonymous Yusuf Smith, at 5/12/2005 12:56:00 AM  

  • Has anyone noticed the list of sponsors of Kamal Nawash's "anti-terror march" in DC today? Look at number 48, which has three strange words in "Uzbek" which spell something backwards in English ...

    By Anonymous Yusuf Smith, at 5/14/2005 10:50:00 AM  

  • A couple of interesting sites on the pro-regression Moslem types are the

    http://living-tradition.blogspot.com/

    and

    http://pmunadebate.blogspot.com


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/17/2005 06:21:00 PM  

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