Beyond Orthodoxy, Identity and Reform
Non-Muslims curious to learn about our faith generally begin by asking us, ‘What is Islam?’ A typical answer prefaces Suzanne Haneef’s What Everyone Should Know About Islam and Muslims
(Kazi, 1979): “The meaning of the word Islam
is “submission” and “peace” (p.vii). The answer is frequently unexpected, probably because it is not quite what the student had in mind. He/she already knows what Islam ‘means’ and it’s nothing to do with etymology - it refers to a religious nation of people calling themselves Muslims. An alternative line of inquiry for both Muslim and non-Muslim would be to consider how the latter conceptualization of Islam has arisen.
It is unlikely that a Muslim standing in Baghdad in the 9th century CE conceptualised ‘Islam’ as a religious nation in the way many Muslims do today. For him/her, the geopolitical landscape was most likely conceived in terms of Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb, with the former defined as the place where Islamic law prevailed. ‘Religion’ ‘identity’ and ‘nation’ are largely modern ideas and the use of ‘Islam’ or indeed ‘ummah’ was not originally formulated beneath their conceptual umbrellas. To take nationalism as one example, for most of the period when India was a British colony, the subcontinent ulema opposed nationalism as contrary to Muslim universalism.
The rise of modern Muslim identity politics almost certainly dates from the first resistance to European colonialism, but has since been fuelled by pan-Islamic movements, the rise of post-independence States and the failure of Arab socialism. In this reactionary politique, one of the crucial emotions informing contemporary collective Muslim identities has been nationalism. The potency of this sentiment is best described by Orwell, whose analysis of nationalistic obsession, instability and a hypocritical indifference to reality remains incisive. Ironically, this did not stop Orwell himself from adopting a nationalist stance during World War II, when he famously describing left-wing pacifists who refused to take up arms against Hitler as “boiled rabbits”.
One way of understanding how nationalistic passions have skewed the contemporary Muslim revival (1798- ) is to compare this Muslim era with the rise of Islam following the death of the Prophet (aws) in 632 CE. Whilst tidbits of this era are often paraded by Muslims as examples of our faith’s former glories, the Islam of this time was not golden age carrying great figures and discoveries on its shoulders. In reality, it was familial rather than national, doctrinally pluralistic rather than monolithic, and intellectually sophisticated. The term ‘ilm, now often employed to refer solely to ‘religious knowledge’, had around 50 contested definitions during this period.
Contemporary Muslims frequently define their identities against a Western protagonist and in fear of Westoxification. Yet ironically, it was the slough from Islam’s intellectual explorations, adopted and revivified in the West thanks in large part to Latin translations of Ibn Rushd, that led to the rise of Europe as a modern political and economic force, driven by an anti-clerical rationalistic bourgeoisie. Such historical cross-wires between Islam and Europe remind us that the social imaginaries of ‘West’ and ‘Islam’ have the potential to mutually deconstruct one another. On the one hand, Islam has the potential to remind Europe of its monotheistic spiritual-ethical roots, and on the other, Europe can remind Muslims of the possibilities of a new age of exploring spirituality beyond scholastic populism with a now much honed intellectual toolkit.
In order for this project to be tenable, however, there is a need to confront the historical and contemporary processes that continue to poison the social imaginaries dividing Muslim and European. One is the continued political, economic and cultural exploitation and denigration of Muslim peoples by the Western military-industrial complex. This in itself is pushed forward by a globalizing neo-liberal rationalism which is pragmatic and technical, rather than one seeking to interrogate and liberate the human and humanity. And in the wake of these forces are their vile effluents, notable racism and the academic misrepresentation of Islam known as Orientalism.
Having actively confronted these forces, and adopted a radical political stance in accordance with them, the critically thinking Muslim must then transcend the identity politics which seeks to define Islam against an assumed antithetical Western other. How can this be done? One thesis that I have attempted to put forward is that of post-orthodoxy. This concept is derived from an analysis of observed religious activity by the ecological anthropologist Roy A. Rappaport, and detailed in his final work, Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity. What is important here is than post-orthodoxy does not attempt to re-define Islam, but to re-imagine it and see it in a new way.
Post-orthodoxy perceives all forms of religion in terms of orders of meaning. Rappaport draws on semiotics to elucidate this concept, but I believe this is an un-necessary complication. At its pinnacle, meaning is most profound when intention, word and action are most closely integrated. In Islam, and in all religions, this integration is most clearly evident in ritual. In the performance of ritual, what people intend, say and do are one. Examples of ritual include shahadah, salah, Mahfil-e sama, zakat, sawm and hajj. It is here, and not at the level of anti-Western doctrine and ideology, that post-orthodox Muslim identity is first defined. Referring to the hadith of Jibreel, this is fully in keeping with the facet of our religion which the angel called islam.
At this juncture, I want to emphasise that post-orthodoxy is not an attempt to modify Islam “from the top-down”, a criticism I have heard directed at some so-called progressives and liberal ideologue and rightly so. Rather, it is an attempt to rescue meanings long attributed to everyday practices by ordinary Muslims, which in this era have been hideously demeaned by the dollar-driven influence of Salafabi puritanism. As the exiled Egyptian Qur'anic scientist Nasr Abu Zayd argues, the work-a-day ritual recitation of al-Qur’an by ordinary Muslims is not ideological or doctrinal, but rather “…represents a domain of communication where both God and man meet.” It is in ritual, and not though quiescence to a patriarchal, authoritarian legalism, that most God-conscious Muslims continue to make sense of their relationship with God.
Looking again to the hadith of Jibreel, iman would be defined by Rappaport as belonging to the arena of middle-order meaning. This acknowledges the interstice between sincere belief and acceptance alluded to in al-Quran (49:14), and the risk of coercion that exists herein, either through State ideologies or populist rhetorical and polemical tracts. Here, doctrine and belief are understood as belonging to the metaphorical. What, after all, is Allah? What is an angel? What is the final day? Such an understanding delivers the exploration of the meaning of these concepts from the hands of the partisan preacher to the individual Muslim, to be made his/her own.
Equally, it also delivers the exploration of Muslim concepts into the hands of the great artists of metaphor, the poets. Although poetry has the potential to be polemical and partisan, the great poets of all cultures remain relevant because they invoke multiple interpretations of themes universal to humanity across time and geography. Thus Rumi has becomes a best-selling foreign language poet of the US, whilst the late doyen of contemporary Sufism Abu Bakr Siraj ad-Din (Martin Lings) continued to promote the importance and relevance of Shakespeare to both Muslims and non-Muslims throughout his noble and long writing and speaking career.
The lower-order of meaning is purely semantic, epitomized by the word. This does not refer to the revealed word, but to the everyday language of social communication. Of course, ritual language intertwines everyday talk, but differs in its intent: social communication primarily reflects the human need for social intercourse, in contrast to the more reified intentions of ritual and metaphor. Sadly, popular Muslim ideological and doctrinal discourse has usurped this meaning domain, to Islam’s detriment, rendering too much popular Muslim discourse ugly, intellectually insipid and coercive. Righted, the Muslim art of social discourse is returned to the high etiquette of adab.
However, adab itself is open to critical thought as a religious concept. One key question is whether imitating the social customs of the Prophet (aws) is always appropriate in modern, urban, European settings. I would suggest adab need to be considered alongside contemporary studies of communication. For example, it is said the Prophet (aws) was always the first to offer his hand for shaking and the last to let it go. Yet empirical studies of social behaviour suggest that, in European cultures at least, such an act is more likely to be interpreted as an assertion of social dominance. A prospective employee using this hand shaking technique in London 2006 would almost certainly disconcert his interviewers and undermine his prospects for success!
The idea of post-orthodoxy is one possible framework for imagining and re-imagining Islam. For me, it stakes out my own sense of being a Muslim and indicates my hopes for my faith community’s future. The latter requires this or a similar concept to be inculcated by the Muslim intelligentsia and ordinary Muslims. Like others, I am trying to sow a seed. Perhaps there are other, better ideas. But I reassert than Islam does not need to be reinvented. It needs to be re-imagined. This is my passionate dream.
Allah knows better.
Mother of Arabs
At night I dream of children throwing stones, defeated tanks moving back into an inky black abyss. I hold my baby mightily as we cower underground. She struggles against my offerings of comfort: a milk-filled breast, soothing words, whispered prayers. In my chest rage and rebellion twist my stomach, blur my vision, clear my mind. The whispered prayers for salvation become tearful pleas for forgiveness before our end, then exasperated cries to God to save us from this hell, then prayers for the moqawama and a powerful wake up call to those who support our tormentors.
I awake thinking of Sukayna and her daughters and their beautiful eyes, blue and green like the Mediterranean and lined with thick dark lashes. I see those eyes staring widely in horror, as their bodies lay twisted in positions possible only in death. Can she know that I think of her daily, that I’m so worried about them I can hardly think, that I feel guilty for not calling, not emailing sooner? What a stupid emotion guilt is, as if it can stop bombs.
Lately, I’ve been saying lots of yallas and tai’la hons. “Kul il batata habibti, bous bous bous.” We eat hummus and tabbouleh, and I’m thinking of making some kunafa, maybe a little sfouf for dessert. It’s culinary solidarity. Perhaps instead we should eat bitter olives and drink only lemon juice. I am fasting today.
I hear on the news that in the holy place where the priests say Jesus (peace be upon his powerful and illuminating soul) turned water into wine that the blood of Arab children is running through the streets. Again. Again. F****** AGAIN! Just as it did 10 years ago. Thank you Israeli Defense Forces, for ensuring that we don’t forget. Your Arab neighbors don’t have the security of ardent declarations of “Never Again!” In our lives it is again and again and again. Ya Qaana. Oh Qana.
No, I am not an Arab. I am the wife of an Arab and the mother of Arabs; my life is forever intertwined with Jnoob (South Lebanon) that land of strength and pain and simple beauty. I gave birth to its sons and daughters, nursed them with my milk, nourished them with my soul. I’ve got the permanently transformed body and forever heavy heart to prove it. Maybe, I once thought, Ali will be Yaroun’s first shaheed. And then I thought “how awful, how awful that when I look twenty years into the future I only see Jnoob offering more martyrs.” Enough with the shuhadaa, when will we have peace!? “Peace” it feels so hollow now that it’s been so thoroughly co-opted by its enemies. Peace has sold out. Peace is an Uncle Tom. We want justice, damn it! Otherwise it is just oppression in peace drag.
But when has the world ever given a damn about the peace of black and brown peoples? Yeah, I know white folks oppress one another too, and I ran breathless from Dearborn, that pulsing heart of Jnoob in the American midwest, ’cause there I learned the heart wrenching ways that brown folks hurt one another too.
Hussain looks at the bodies on the screen, the destruction of Lebanon and pulls his little children before the screen. He says, “Do you see those people?” pointing at the Israeli soldiers like katyushas could explode from his very fingertips, “they are your enemies for life!” When I hear about Hussain and what he told his children it feels like someone is pulling my heart out of my chest, strangling my struggling left carotid. It pains me that physically to admit how much effort it took for me not to do the same. Instead I try to explain to my children the nuances of war. Israelis are not all bad, they are not all your enemies, some people do bad things, but that does not mean they are irredeemably bad. Maybe one day we can visit Israel. In my fantasies I dream of sitting with the Israeli mothers I know, all ticheld and hijabed watching our children play and sharing a plate of (k)hummus and something better than what we have now.
It’s just a dream.
I spend my days riding waves of emotion. I am angry, I am furious, I hate, I love, I cry, I feel despair. I step outside of myself to float on pools of rage, I come back in at the sound of the adhan to ask Allah’s forgiveness and pray hard that I hold on to my humanity. No one is my enemy for life. I can not teach my babies that. I’ve got to find a better way, to teach them honestly, but with optimism. Adrikna Ya Imam! Perhaps the time for shuhada is always, it's just the place that changes.
I eat, sleep and dream Lebanon in all its complicated pain.
After the massacare of Karbala, Sayyida Zainab (AS) daughter of Fatima Zahra (AS), and Imam Ali (AS) , spoke directly to those who had comitted the crime.
Worldly power and wealth have enticed you and have made you proud. But be warned that temporal monarchy and power will fade into insignificance and perish. You are not immortal and shall not live forever. Peace and rest you shall never find.
Do you know and realize what you have done to those divine souls and their relatives? You are revelling and celebrating over your evil deeds and their massacre. Remember your act is so grievously vile and ghastly that its ignominy shall always accompany you till the Doomsday.
Hours before the scheduled visit of US Secretary of State to Lebanon, 55 members of the Shalhoub and Hashem families who took refuge in a three story building were killed and injured by two successive "Israeli" air raids at 1:00am Sunday in the town of kana.Following are links to recommended Qur’an recitation and dua for the people of Palestine and Lebanon and for all oppressed people struggling for justice.
Footage on television screens showed that the martyrs were children, women and elderly in their pijamas.
30 children lost their lives in this "Israeli" murder.
They were slaughtered while sleeping and dreaming of toys, dreaming of returning to schools, dreaming of returning home. There were no Hezbollah fighters in the building, just the children. "Israeli" war planes forced the Red Cross and Civil Defence units from reaching the carnage site for eight hours, especially that the building is far from the highway. Efforts to get the wounded to hospital have been hampered as all roads around Kana have been destroyed by "Israeli" air strikes.
Al Qur’an Al-Kareem (audio mp3)
(Above link is to a recitation of Surah al-Fatihah, Surah al-Fil, and the 26th Section (Para/’Juz) of the Quran. Para/’Juz 26 comprises Surah al-Ahqaaf, Surah Muhammad, Surah al-Fath, Surah al-Hujuraat, Surah Qaf, Surah adh-Dhariyaat )
Dua Ahl ath-Thugur
Dua Jawshan as-Sagheer
Qur'an and dua
following are links to recommended Qur’an recitation and dua for the people of Palestine and Lebanon and for all oppressed people struggling for justice.
Al Qur’an Al-Kareem (audio mp3)
(Above link is to a recitation of Surah al-Fatihah, Surah al-Fil, and the 26th Section (Para/’Juz) of the Quran. Para/’Juz 26 comprises Surah al-Ahqaaf, Surah Muhammad, Surah al-Fath, Surah al-Hujuraat, Surah Qaf, Surah adh-Dhariyaat )
Dua Ahl ath-Thugur
Dua Jawshan as-Sagheer
Debt of ingratitude
As Israel calls up thousands more troops in preparation for a ground invasion of Lebanon, guess who's likely to have to pay for the all the destruction that's been caused? You've got it - Lebanon! Three Israeli lawyers are about to file a lawsuit in the US against the Lebanese government for compensation which would have to be paid to Israeli businesses for war damages. Nice little earner! The idea is that the Lebanese government (elected just last June) should have prevented Hezbullah from launching its attacks. What's at stake is Lebanon's breaching of the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism. Not a bad argument coming from a country engaged in a bloody illegal invasion of a neighbouring country that has seen 400 Lebanese killed together with 45 of its own civilian population in just over two weeks.
If the Lebanese refuse to cough up, a tough approach to debt collection is promised. The threat of economic sanctions will ensure that the cash is "collected from Lebanon without its consent." According to one of the well paid litigators pursuing the case, "we intend to sue other bodies as well in the case that the Lebanese government evades payment. No group associated in any way, shape, or form to Hizbullah is immune to these claims." And just what are the Lebanese people to make of this? Said lawyer went on, "In my opinion, the Lebanese need to sue their own government". The perfect answer for profit hungry lawyers and the parasites that like to make money from misery.
Anwar, Shakespeare & Islam
Anwar (taken from Nur or divine light) is a popular Malaysian Islamic name. Yet after visiting Malaysia last month I was left with the impression few Malaysians were interested in what one particular Anwar had to offer.
The country has moved on since the heady days of the late 1990s, when Reformasi supporters of the then recently deposed Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim brought Kuala Lumpur to a near standstill.
During a visit to the headquarters of ABIM (Malaysia's Islamic Youth Movement founded and led for many years by Anwar), not a single activist even mentioned Anwar's name.
Now he spends much of his time lecturing at Oxford or Georgetown University in Washington DC and he has just completed a whirlwind speaking tour of Australia, his second visit since his release from prison.
His first tour, in early 2005, was when he was still suffering the effects of prison-related health complications and most of his addresses were to Muslim audiences. On his recent visit, Anwar delivered lectures to wider audiences on such diverse topics as Shakespearean drama, democratic politics, liberal democracy and human rights.
Shakespeare is unlikely inspiration for Muslim political activists. But although Anwar is well known in Muslim circles for having spent his six years in jail memorising the Koran in Arabic he also finished the complete works of Shakespeare four times.
He frequently uses lines from Shakespeare in his speeches, arguing Shakespeare's message contains fundamental values shared by people of all faiths and of no faith in particular.
During an address to the Canberra Islamic Centre, Anwar managed to incorporate his image of King Lear as the Islamic ideal of a just ruler.
Anwar felt comfortable surrounded by Canberra's multi-ethnic Muslims, poking fun at the idiosyncrasies of different Muslim ethnic groups. But he had serious messages, reminding his audiences of the necessity to engage with the broader multicultural Australian community.
He says countries like Australia and New Zealand are reviving the classical Spanish Islamic tradition of multi-racial and multi-religious societies, known as convivencia.
"I use the example of Malaysia. It is a multi-racial and multi-religious society. Islam is only relevant to Malaysia if it is understood in a way that reinforces our multi-racial character."
Anwar is scathing of Muslim communities who choose to live in cultural cocoons, refusing to interact with other communities. In Istanbul last month at a conference of European Muslim leaders, Anwar urged EU Muslims to see themselves first and foremost as Europeans, not confining their political activities to pursuing predominantly Muslim issues.
He castigated Muslims who only seem to agitate about human rights violations committed against other Muslims.
"Where are the Muslims campaigning for the freedom of Burma's opposition leader, our sister Aung San Suu Kyi? Or must we wait for her to adopt Islam before we help her?"
Anwar was accompanied for the first part of his Australian trip by his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, a medical practitioner who has now become the family's most active politician. During his last public appearance before imprisonment, Anwar surprised his wife by telling supporters of his Reformasi movement : "If anything happens to me, I want Azizah to take over."
Before his internment on charges including sodomy - an allegation, says Azizah, designed to undermine Anwar's Islamic credentials - Anwar's wife was known for her softly-spoken manner. She was elected to Parliament in 1999, and continues to hold her seat.
Anwar himself is left with profound physical and psychological scars from his jailing. In July 2004, on the eve of his release, Malaysian journalist MG Pillai reported Anwar's doctors as saying he faced "imminent paralysis, neurological, kidney and urinary failure". He has begun a multimillion-dollar civil action against former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed but still jokes about his prison experience.
Anwar now sees himself as a bridge linking the Islamic and Western worlds and is excited about what he calls the "great wave of democratic Islam" sweeping such countries as Indonesia and Turkey.
Anwar's goal of building bridges abroad is admirable. But perhaps a more pressing need is for him to build bridges between faiths and ethnicities within Malaysia itself.
* Irfan Yusuf is a Sydney lawyer and occasional lecturer in politics at Macquarie University. This article first appeared in the NZ Herald on 27 July 2006.
PBS Show Wide Angle "Class of 2006" Murshidaat in Morocco
The show covers the graduation of 50 Moroccan women through a one-year program of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs's murshidaat
Compared to the overall coverage of Muslim affairs in the U.S. media, it's pretty good. What's striking to me is the great distance between the perspectives expressed by the participants in the program and the analysts and experts, expressed in interviews and the ubiquitous voiceovers.
said they were motivated by the prospect of a government position, religious impulse and a desire to help their country and its people. Feminist reformers, Islamist reformers and government officials discussed the political motivations behind the program, portraying the imam
s and murshidaat
as instruments of government policy against Islamists (or the other labels, "salafi", "wahhabi", "extremist", etc.).
The program would have been a lot more effective if it gave more screen time to the imam
s and murshidaat
. Unfortunately, the producers were not able to cover the murshidaat
's activities after graduation.
Dua Jawshan as-Sagheer
This du’a is narrated by the seventh Imam Musa al-Kazim, peace he upon him, and it is said to have all the merits of al Jawshan al Kabir
My Allah, many an enemy drew up the sword of hostility against me, honed the dagger's edge, sharpened the arrows' points, made ready deadly poisons, levelled his bow at me, and, keeping an eye on me, harboured evil thoughts to force me to swallow, against my will, the deadly bitter poison.
You came to know that I am too weak to bear hardships and too exhausted to withstand misfortunes, and took notice of my shortcoming that I cannot confront the enemy who had planned to attack me, and perceived my isolation amid the multitude of gathering enemies, sitting in ditches, ready to pounce upon me, while I gave no thought to sitting in ambush and retaliating.
So with Your might, You came to stand by me, and Your help made me strong and disappointed him in spite of the larger number [of his forces], by rendering his weapons unserviceable.
And You gave me the upper hand over him by catching him in the very trap he laid for me, and threw him into the abyss he dug for me, and gave no hand to his grudging deed, and did not allow him to assuage the fury of his anger. Biting his thumb, he turned back on his heels, and his comrades, ashamed, dispersed in haste.
So praise be to You, O Lord, in [Your] invulnerable Omnipotence, and prudent Forbearance. Bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, and let me be among those who thank You for Your bounties and remember You for Your favours.
My God, many a disobedient tyrant has tried treacherously to oppress me, has laid traps to catch me, was continuously spying on me, and, like a beast of prey who lies in wait for his prey, has tried to surprise me, whereas in public he received me with open arms and a welcoming smile on his face, as if innocent.
So when You took notice of his clandestine trickery and foul play and the fact that in spite of professing the same faith he was devising schemes to injure me, then You contemptuously caught hold of him and threw him down headlong, completely destroying him; after which he found himself in the ditch he had dug for me, smeared with the dust below his feet poverty and disease overtook him.
Thus You rewarded him in kind by making the stones and arrows he hurled at me rebound upon him, and by putting his own rope around his neck. Shame and disappointment came upon him, he suffered disgrace and dishonour, his pride and arrogance gave way to humility, his power turned into helplessness, and finally, at the last moment, when he was sure to overwhelm me, he fell into his own trap and was caught and bound with the rope made for me in the days of his authority.
In fact it was me who would have suffered likewise if You,
O my Lord, had not come to my rescue with Your mercy.
So praise be to You, O Lord, in [Your] invulnerable Omnipotence, and prudent Forbearance. Bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, and let me be among those who thank Your for Your bounties and remember You for Your favours.
What is Israel Doing?
The following text appeared in a full page advert placed in The Times (London)c/o JEWS FOR JUSTICE FOR PALESTINIANS. It was signed by 300 British Jews.WHAT IS ISRAEL DOING?
A CALL BY JEWS IN BRITAIN
WE WATCH WITH HORROR the collective punishment of the
people of Gaza. Everything reasonable must be done to secure
Corporal Gilad Shalit’s safe release but nothing Israel is doing
contributes to that aim. Instead, it is using its enormously superior
military might to terrorise an entire people.
DESTRUCTION OF THE FRAGILE Gaza infrastructure will
not release Shalit. Bombing power stations and cutting off fuel
supplies deprives people of electricity, refrigeration, pumped
drinking water and sewage disposal services. It holds hostage
hospital patients on life support systems, or undergoing dialysis.
It brings the threat of epidemics and starvation.
AS GIDEON LEVY WROTE in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, this
is “not only pointless, but … blatantly illegitimate”. Gilad Shalit
has become a pawn in the Israeli government’s ongoing battle to
topple the democratically-elected government of the Palestinians.
PRESENTING THIS AS AN ISOLATED hostage-taking incident
ignores Israel’s regular snatching of Palestinians from their
homes.Thousands are held in ‘administrative detention’ without
trial, women and children amongst them. A doctor and his
brother – civilians – were kidnapped from their home in Al
Shouka, near Rafah, the day before Corporal Shalit was captured.
Like him, they need to be returned to their families in
the established practice of prisoner exchange. And all elected
MPs, punitively imprisoned by Israel in recent days, must be
FOR THE US AND ITS ALLIES merely to call for “restraint” is
desperately inadequate – and evidently ineffective. This is a
situation that requires determined action by the international
SUPPORT THOSE ISRAELIS protesting against their government’s
WRITE TO YOUR MP to demand that the British Government
act to achieve an immediate ceasefire.
WRITE TO THE ISRAELI EMBASSY.Make them understand
their actions are wrong, their explanations unconvincing.
Signed by 300 British Jews.
To see the full advert, including the names of the signaturies, click here (pdf).
JEWS FOR JUSTICE FOR PALESTINIANS
PO Box 46081
the "israeli" tanks
And 'bout those despicable puppet regimes of "Saudi" Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt, and the oil sheikhs.
But I tell the Arab rulers, I do not want your swords and I do not even want your hearts. To say it in Lebanese slang, the only thing I want from you is leave us alone. Sit on the fence and have nothing to do with us. You have said what you said, thank you, go and rest.
Eid Stamp Reissue
I went to http://www.usps.com
to replenish my stock of the USD $0.37 Eid stamp, and I could not find the stamp. I sent an e-mail to USPS.com's customer support, and the response came back shortly with the good news that a USD $0.39 Eid stamp has a release date of October 6, 2006.
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz - words for our times
click here to listen (web streaming)
"Whenever the master said "we" he said "we" - that is how you can tell a house n****"
"with skilful manipulation of the press they are able to make the criminal look like the victim, and the victim look like the criminal"
and/or subscribe to the ihsan podcast
there is nothing whizzing
imaginary lines of jets in the sky and blank sights of rubble
beyond my window is a tall cherry tree
i hear the words from gaza
200 years has this olive tree sustained us
and they come destroy on a whim
will i eat this year?
tawakkal 'alallah. so no problem.
these are the whispered prayers
as my hope crumbles
these are the tears that fall
desperately trying to quench
salt inducing unending thirst
in this western wind
cloud and ocean merge
to belie that seconds of light away
the ground vibrates
and your families are not safe your families are not safe
swarming will you come overpower their bombs
crawling will you reach and destroy
screaming will you listen
while you cannot hear
my soul spills inconsequence
upon quicksand we sink
into the mire of apathy and lies
did we really believe they cared
did i believe - in internationality
each step upon this land
and soil digs deeper into my brown skin
suffocating i ask only of this earth
reject the hands of the oppressors
overturn in circles of disarray and nourish not their massacrespermit not their sky to rain or their ground to grow*
for there is no weekend
*Sahifa, Dua #27, Supplication for the People of the Frontiers
Hands off Lebanon
Gentlemen, you have transformed
our country into a graveyard
You have planted bullets in our heads,
and organized massacres
Gentlemen, nothing passes like that
All that you have done
to our people is
registered in notebooks
Our Country is a Graveyard by Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish (translated by As'ad AbuKhalil
please pray for all of our sisters and brothers in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq - and all regions of our planet where there is struggle against oppression.
bless Muhammad, Your slave and Your messenger,
and the Household of Muhammad,
with a blessing high above all other blessings,
towering beyond all other salutations,
a blessing whose end is never reached
and whose number is never cut off,
like the most perfect of Your blessings that has passed
to any one of Your friends!
You are All-kind, Praiseworthy,
the Originator who takes back again,
Accomplisher of what Thou desirest.
-Imam Ali ibn al-Husayn, Zayn al-Abedeen (AS)
click to listen to Dua Ahl ath-Thugur
"The fundamental blame falls again on the U.S. empire. It's the empire that armed and supported the abuses of the Israeli elite, which has invaded, abused and defied the United Nations for a long time"
"I'll seize this opportunity to condemn categorically and fully the aggression that the Israeli elite is carrying out against innocents over there in the Middle East"
"Worse, it's craziness with nuclear bombs. (The Israelis) have their weapons of mass destruction and nobody criticizes them, nobody says anything because the empire is behind them."
-President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
"As we have frequently mentioned, Israel has been imposed on the regional people in order to pose a permanent threat to the Middle-East countries and we stress that this regime cannot survive without oppression, aggression and threats."
"The Zionists think that they are victims of Hitler, but they act like Hitler and behave worse than Genghis Khan,"
-President Ahmedinejad of Iran
The Awliya who disappear into the desert
leave gowned princes to
write the world with their dissertations
shouting from his minbar
leaves the widow and orphan without comfort
Little progress a year after London bombings
A year after the London bombings, the understanding of home-grown terrorist threats seems no more advanced, writes IRFAN YUSUF.
A year ago, more than 50 people were killed in a terrorist attack on London's public transport system. The attack represented a turning point in the international struggle against terrorism.
All evidence points to the attack being the work of disillusioned and frustrated children of nominally Muslim migrants. These young men found themselves in what Australian Treasurer Peter Costello described in a February speech to the Sydney Institute as "a twilight zone where the values of their parents' old country have been lost but the values of the new country not fully embraced".
The attacks led to attacks on Muslim targets across the Western world, including vandalism on several mosques across New Zealand. These attacks represented extreme expressions of understandable fears and concerns of ordinary non-Muslim citizens.
Muslim institutions, dominated by first-generation migrants with poor English-language skills and limited understanding of media and government processes, found themselves unable to allay the fears of their fellow citizens.
The phenomenon of "home-grown terror" has seen a fundamental rethink by governments and security services of how the war against terror has been fought. Western governments are seeing engagement of Muslim communities (especially youth) as a security imperative.
The difficulties government and media face in understanding Muslim views arise from a number of factors. Unlike other faiths, Muslims have no priesthood and no central hierarchy. There is no such thing as a Muslim "church".
Further, mosques across the Western world are generally divided along ethnic and linguistic lines. Few imams speak workable English. Women and English-speaking youth are often sidelined from community management.
In Australia, the Howard Government has been forced to set up a special Muslim Community Reference Group under the auspices of its Ministry of Multicultural Affairs. The group is composed of the usual middle-aged male leaders. However, the Government has also recruited women and young people.
Yet the presumptions underlying the establishment of the group underscore the Government's relative ignorance on a faith community that makes up hardly 2 per cent of the population. According to a government website, the group is "among a series of initiatives which will assist Australia's Muslim communities to build a common future with all Australians", as if such a common future has not been built in over 150 years of Muslim presence in European Australia.
Further, it seems the only purpose of government consultation is "to explore how we can best challenge intolerance and extremism". Sadly, more focus has been placed on challenging intolerance and extremism from within Muslim groups than from within sections of the government and the media.
"Home-grown terror" has triggered many conservative commentators (and even politicians) to call for a new cultural revolution. Liberal democratic values are being reinterpreted in a manner which, if implemented, would hand victory to the terrorists themselves.
This conservative revolution seeks to displace decades of multicultural status quo embraced by many Western democracies. Like all revolutions, the conservative counter-culture is based more on myth and perception than reality. To understand the extent of the fiction involved, it is appropriate to focus on one victim of the London bombing.
Costello's twilight zone did not describe the lifestyle of this young English bank clerk. The smile of her published photo elegantly represented a woman at peace with her Islamic heritage and her British nationality.
For Shahara Islam, 21, having the surname and religion of Islam did not diminish her Britishness. Indeed, her family described her as being "an East Ender, Londoner and British, but above all a true Muslim and proud to be so".
She represented a modern multicultural success story – the daughter of migrant parents whose religious and cultural heritage she shared. At the same time, she was a thoroughly modern woman on her way to work.
She was a typical victim of terrorism. Presidents and prime ministers speak of the "war against Islamist terror" in her name. Columnists and talkback hosts rally against "Islamic terrorists" in her name. Yet they keep forgetting what her name is.
In neo-conservative circles, it has become fashionable to attribute extremist violence and terror to the heritage of the young British bank clerk. This has become apparent in a number of neo-conservative publications, including the New Zealand-based magazine Investigate.
This month, the allegedly liberal Centre for Independent Studies hosts Mark Steyn as part of its "Big Ideas Forum". Steyn's most consistent big idea involves blaming Muslim cultures for virtually all the ills of the world.
Writing in the UK Sunday Telegraph (and reproduced in Rupert Murdoch's The Australian), Steyn says: "These days, whenever something goofy turns up on the news, chances are it involves a fellow called Mohammed."
Two recent government appointees to the government-funded ABC Board have made similar claims about the existence of a monolithic Muslim "culture", one even going so far as to suggest this culture encourages its male proponents to sexually assault white-skinned women.
On June 26, ex-Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch spoke in terms of a monolithic Muslim culture which allegedly placed religion above nationalist sentiment. Murdoch's chilling words were: "You have to be careful about Muslims who have a very strong, in many ways a fine, but very strong religion which supercedes (sic) any sense of nationalism wherever they go."
His sentiments have been mirrored in the editorial line taken by virtually all his newspapers whose op-ed pages are frequently used to promote a European monolithic counter-culture as an alternative to the multicultural status quo.
With such powerful media and government forces busy edu-hating their religious heritage, how do the majority of moderate home-grown Muslims avoid being marginalised? A key plank of the solution is for young home-grown Muslims to take over peak Muslim bodies claiming to represent them.
When ordinary citizens know the facts about their Muslim neighbours, when Islam is no longer seen as alien, the hysteria will hopefully end. But when Muslims living in the West allow themselves to become marginalised in cultural cocoons, and when they become second-class citizens, groups like al-Qaeda will find recruitment much easier.
* Irfan Yusuf is a Sydney-based lawyer and occasional commentator on social issues on both sides of the Tasman. First published in The Christchurch Press on Friday 7 July 2006.
located at the foothills of the eastern sierras of California, where Japanese Americans were interned during WWII, is now a historical site/national park. I visited the place on a recent trip to the sierras - above is a shot of the camp cemetery.
It would be a good idea to check out what the policy makers may have in store for those Muslims, and others, who might not go along with the status quo.
Especially important, I think, for those of us US tax paying Muslims who remember that those tax dollars are funding the occupation of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan - and the ongoing US imperialist projects around the planet.
Lets call all this for what it is, it aint "foreign policy" - what is going on is imperialism, and slaughter at a massive scale. We have a responsibility to oppose these actions, as Muslims who keep justice at the forefront, and especially for those of us living in the US - and are paying into the coffers that fund these wars.
A Boricua goes to Palestine
A good friend and comrade of mine is in Palestine, and keeping a blog
Saludos Mi Gente, Comrades, Family, Friends, Allies, Acquaintances, & Enemies:
I will be traveling to Palestine and will be in the West Bank as of next week.
The situation on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is critical
with the Israeli Occupation Forces having killed over 20 people in the past
month and Palestinian militant's patience waning; Palestinian militants
have kidnapped a soldier and a settler, and there are reports that the
settler was killed. Now the Israeli Forces are imposing even harsher
martial law conditions and are engaging in collective punishment in
the Gaza Strip, destroying the only power plant effectively cutting
off people's electricity, bombing the bridge that connect north and
south Gaza, and flying low overhead creating sonic booms that
are deafening if not psychologically devastating.
In the West Bank, Israeli Occupation Forces have kidnapped over 60
Palestinians including members of cabinet and other top officials for
supposed links to terrorism.
Israel is even putting pressure on Syria for the kidnapping of a soldier
during their latest incursion into Gaza.
To keep up with the latest news, always ignore CNN and go to:
But as of next week, and perhaps sooner, check out my blog:
where I will be writing about what I see, hear, and feel
in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.