Saturday, April 29, 2006

May Day! International Workers Day!

While there are some Muslim liberals and conservatives who are all into slamming
immigrants for our accents,for our culture, and our own understanding of Islam -
the huge American immigration population is taking a stand like never before.

We must also, however, consider the class and race context of immigration, the
corporate globalization that has created some of the most horrible conditions
in home countries.

It is about time that Muslims of all stripes take a clear stand in solidarity with
immigrants. Or, remain seriously divided - first along sectarian lines, and now we
even see some anti-immigrant sentiments rearing its ugly head amongst some Muslims.
That is not the way to go.

Come on all out - and stand in solidarity with the working class immigrants who will
be marching in huge and record numbers all over the USA on May 1st!

ASATA encourages folks in our communities to observe the May 1st boycott for
immigrants' rights!


May 1st

From Philadelphia to San Francisco, millions of immigrants & allies will
leave school and work,and take the streets of the United States demanding dignity
and an end to immigrant attacks in congress.

From Buenos Aires to México City, there will be a boycott of US products.
From Shanghai to Sao Paulo, millions will celebrate international workers


Please join your local rally (see below for Bay Area info).
If you will be in SF, join the South Asian/API/Arab/Iranian/Muslim
contingents at the Anti-Imperial rally beginning at the Yerba Buena Gardens
and later joining the march.

This country ain't shit without third world workers!!!!!!

(Mission between 3rd & 4th)
To meet up with the March at 11 AM Embarcadero

click here for more info.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Las banderas de Las Americas

May 1st Legalization for All! (San Francisco Bay Area).

For info. on local marches/rallies in your area click here.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

South Asians on anti-immigration legislation in the USA

Following is a joint statement by a South Asian activist groups, Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA), Friends of South Asia, and Narika - a helpline for abused South Asian women, based in the San Francisco Bay Area:

We oppose the continuing domestic “war on terrorism” and “war on immigrants”: movements that we understand as intricately linked.

For us, opposition to and mobilization around the various versions of HR4437 means showing our solidarity with other immigrant communities, particularly our Latino brothers and sisters, as they fight what is also our fight.

Immigration to this country does not denote positions of privilege, but of plight. The majority of us did not make a decision to migrate from our homes, families, and communities: we were forced here by the violent effects of global economic inequity. The U.S. government is using a double-edged sword as it coerces countries in the Majority World into Free Trade Agreements and then simultaneously criminalizes the people displaced by them.

We denounce the use of these displaced citizens of the world as cannon fodder for the United States’ imperialist crusades in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Iran. The tactic of recruiting undocumented immigrants for active service by offering them citizenship in exchange for death is a gross and manipulative practice that exemplifies the intimate linkages between USforeign policy, the international war on terrorism, and the domestic war against immigrants and perceived immigrants.

It is also critical for us to connect the ongoing and often secret raids, mass detentions and mass deportations that have been the tools of the War on Terror, with this anti-immigrant legislation. The cross-collaborations between federal and state agencies suggested by the different versions of HR4437, along with the proposed increase in detention beds and aggravated felony laws will have a cumulatively huge impact on communities like ours that continue to be the targets of the War on Terror.

We hope to stand as a counterpoint to the media’s strong emphasis that this is a movement of people who are unquestioning supporters of America. We are not merely good immigrants waving American flags; rather, we understand and resist the devastating economic and political policies of this administration.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Neolib Khalil

A lost chapter from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. Thanks to Sister Scorpion for inspiring this post.

And a sweat shop labourer clutching a few coins in her hand said, "Speak to us of neoliberal economics."

And he said:
Your money is not in your wagepacket,

but in the bank accounts of the rich and greedy.

It comes from your labour,
a theft justified by capital investment.

And though you may be free, you belong to the grim factory.

You give the bourgoisie your life, but they give you only false hope,
for they own everything, even your DNA.

You sell them your bodies and they purchase your souls,
which dwell on a computer database, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but they will kill before becoming like you.

For power is theirs and they will not surrend it,
even if it means destroying the planet.

You are factory fodder sent forth to manufacturer designer gear for the US and Europe.

The foreman sees the mark upon the garment, and he fires you for taking a toilet break so your friends now fearfully urinate into carrier bags.

Let your exclusion deliver you to revolution;
For the arrow that falls does not forget the meaning of justice.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

On Apostasy, Treason & Ostriches

I’m sure people of all faiths and no faith in particular were relieved when the Afghan government decided to release Christian convert Abdur Rahman.

In case you don’t remember, Rahman was facing the possibility of a death sentence for the “crime” of apostasy. Following a concerted international campaign involving pressure from both Christians and Muslims (as well as others of goodwill), the Afghan court announced Mr Rahman’s release.

Of course, not all have found this to be an occasion of joy. One such voice of disappointment is anti-Muslim propagandist Dr Patrick Sookhdeo.

Sookhdeo is the International Director of a body calling itself “The Barnabas Fund”. The Fund claims to be an organisation which “serves the suffering Church and makes their needs known to Christians around the world, encouraging them to pray.”

Yet if one were to examine the “
Statement of Faith” of the Fund, one could be forgiven for concluding that this organisation is little more than a front for Christian fundamentalists with theocratic aspirations. In the same manner as Muslim fundamentalists, and in complete contrast to the more secular-minded majority, the Fund states that it believes in “the sovereignty” of God.

Further, the theology of the organisation makes it clear that not all Christians are included within its mission. Indeed, the organisation displays some very un-Christian attitudes toward non-Christian minorities living in the West.

Dr Sookhdeo seems determined to “expose” Islam as a malign force in the world. His writings reveal an agenda of portraying all Muslims as being involved in a giant conspiracy to destroy the West.

Yet Dr Sookhdo’s own theocratic political tendencies and his blatant anti-secular and anti-liberal streak make him a far more sinister and dangerous threat to Western democracy and liberalism. Further, his attempts at painting the cultures and theological understandings of 1.2 billion Muslims with the same brush are reminiscent of the worst excesses of anti-Semitism as it existed in Europe (and, in some circles, still exists).

It is therefore quite fitting that we briefly focus on Dr Sookhdeo’s work at this time when we approach the 100th anniversary of the exoneration of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, the French Jewish soldier who was accused of spying against his native France. The attitudes and sentiments of many French writers supporting Captain Dreyfus’ prosecution are being repeated in the works of Dr Sookhedeo.

No doubt there are Muslim-majority states where non-Muslim minorities are being mistreated. No doubt there needs to be more heard from Muslim minorities living in relative freedom in Western countries in support of non-Muslim minorities.

So how do we resolve this? Do we encourage the more moderate mainstream voices from amongst the Muslim communities? Do we give prominence to those Muslims wishing to revive the true spirit of the sharia?

Or do we take Dr Sookhdeo’s approach and demonise all Muslims whilst writing off any attempts by mainstream Muslim voices to project the voice of reason?

For Dr Sookhedeo and his ilk, the release of Abdul Rahman was a tragedy. Why? Because it meant he would find it much more difficult to demonise Islam and mainstream Muslims. In the case of Abdul Rahman, Muslims themselves were at the forefront of defending the rights of this poor man.

A far preferable option for Dr Sookhedeo would be for Abdul Rahman to have been mercilessly butchered. Then Sookhedeo and his organisation could dance on Rahman’s grave and sing their mantra of that nasty evil Islam which oppresses Christians. No doubt, this will have resulted in a huge increase in donations to the Barnabas Fund, as well as adding fuel to the fires of anti-Muslim hatred the Fund so readily lights.

Mainstream Muslims are tolerant and caring people. They want peace and justice just like every other sensible human being on the planet. If all Muslims were a bunch of suicide bombers (as Sookhedeo and his ilk would have us believe), Iran and other Muslim-majority states wouldn’t need nuclear weapons. Instead, 1.2 billion human bombs would be enough to wipe our planet out of the solar system.

I was particularly pleased at Sookhedeo’s attempts to explain away my own analysis of the spectrum of sharia opinion on apostasy, published in the New Zealand Herald on 29 March 2006. I was particularly bemused by his description of my article as “a masterpiece of propaganda, blending fact and fiction”

Sookhdeo, of course, is a master of recognising propaganda. After all, he spends much of his time producing propaganda. His entire indicates a rather severe case of paranoia in which I am part of a huge conspiracy to keep poor Westerners in the dark about the nasty realities of Islam.

In one particular paragraph, Mr Sookhedeo insults all New Zealanders by claiming that their ignorance enables writers such as myself to deceive them. He writes:

In fact it is Irfan Yusuf’s readers who are likely to be ignorant of Islamic law, not the Afghan people. If he were not so certain of the ignorance of most New Zealanders, indeed of most Westerners, he surely would not have dared to write such an article.

So there you have it, folks. Kiwis and Westerners are all a bunch of fools with their heads buried in the sand. Westerners are ostriches, and the Muslims are a nasty bunch of extremists always ready to deceive the incredibly stupid West.

According to the Barnabas Fund's director, 1.2 billion Muslims are all a bunch of extremists who are part of a huge conspiracy to deceive ignorant and imbecilic Westerners into believing that Islam is anything but a nasty violent agenda for theocracy. But then, theocracy itself isn’t the problem. It’s just that Muslims don’t want a Trinitarian theocracy!

© Irfan Yusuf 2006

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Science, Scepticism and Faith

This following is inspired by a post on Burning Blue Soul entitled Reflection: The Vanity of the Self. In it, Basil says, "I am a vicious sceptic... [a] side-effect of this skepticism is that I have developed an unhealthy contempt of teachers & imams that I am desperately working to overcome." Personally, I think a degree of scepticism is essential in a faith so rampant with dogged authoritarianism.

Scepticism was bred into me. Both my elder brothers were enthralled by science at school: one attended a Technical High, the other was born dismantling things. In part they were inspired by my father, himself a technician and a scientific atheist in the tradition of T H Huxley. The result was a mindset not uncommon in 21st century Britain: liberal, rational-empiricist and sceptical.

As a result, I don't 'believe' in science. Some people do, some don't. I was taught to mistrust both attitudes and, instead, study science. The science most people swallow is one propounded by the media, and it is extremely distorted version of the real thing. For example, science correspondents often headline single research studies as if they are statements of fact, which they are not.

The science people reject is one that they think promised certainty, but never did. Or they 'believe' in something else supposedly incompatible with science. In both stances of belief and disbelief, there is rarely a serious attempt to test assertions against observation or un-emotive debate. The status of science is sufficient to ensure it has plenty of unthinking evangelists and detractors.

Rational thought and observation continue to inform how I make sense of the world, although both these tools have been tempered and developed by the insights of post-structural thinking. Yet I remain a Mu'min. My faith is one which intuits a living path to truth within the Muslim fold not dependent on blindly accepting authoritarian pronouncements on Islamic orthopraxy or orthodoxy.

This is not to deride the faith of those who accept the word of the Imam as final in matters of belief and practice. For example, neither of my two daughters have shown much interest in science. As a result, they have no informed understanding of cross-infection. In teaching them to cook with raw meat, therefore, sharp words - rather than reason - were generally required!

The important thing, if one embarks on a path of reasoned exploration, is to remember what al-Qur'an has to say about those who chuck it in, and instead use their knowledge to assume a position opposing religion (4:137). There aint no way out of that dark hole. Doubt and scepticism aint the same as atheism. Sadly, poor old T H Huxley and my old dad never figured that one out.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

What is this thing, "The West" that you keep talking about?

This was a question I posed on a listserve of Muslim academics last month. The person to whom I had addressed this question wrote a long email, an ode of sorts, to all the wonderful things that she claimed were exclusively synonymous with "western civilization".

She said that "western civilization" was defined by "a set of ideals developed in the post-enlightenment period", including: "a personal rights based system of order", "human rights", "citizenship", "individual expression", "creativity", "sense of security in tolerating critiques", "tolerance of racial and religious diversity" and "freedom".

She also added that she believed she owed "the wonderful things in her own life", "her education", and "her ability to critique", to "western civilization".

Quite a phenomenal list. Below is my [slightly edited] response to her, written from my position as a Muslim, a woman, and a person of colour, also living in what is called, "the west".


The way I work through things is basically I take them apart and look at them and ask the question, "what does this have to do with the price of flour?"

Let me just break down briefly my problems with your definition.

I flat out don't believe that there is this thing that can be termed, "western civilization" that exists as a self-contained entity. All the things you mention did not pop-up in Europe without the deepest engagement in the material realities, and the literature and theories of non-European [I mean this just geographically] cultures and histories.

You are describing something that never actually existed, except as an imaginary. The reality is that cultures and languages and ideas etc., all emerge from the smelly soup that comes out of people sharing a planet together. And no one "civilization" has a right to claim exclusive title to these things.

As well, all the things you list as characteristics of "western civilization" are not absolutes. In fact all of it contains huge contradictions and tensions. And this fantasy of a "western civilization" that invented human rights, and dissent, democracy, critique, blah blah blah, is riddled with the much uglier reality of inequality, racism, fascism, slavery, patriarchy, blah blah blah, that is intimately embedded in the former.

Now I am not saying that we should be critics for the sake of just being annoying, or griping. I mean that the foundational LIE of the "West" having a superior "civilization" is the critical myth that enables so much of the injustice in the world we live in to go on. And that lie MUST be broken down and exposed.

This is not "west bashing". Absolutely, we should engage with all the ideals of justice from every source that they come from. Let us not, though, reify the delusion that one side is unblemished, and the other monstrous. Neither of which is true.

For example, I identify as a feminist and have worked in the women's movement in various capacities. I am also passionately committed to democracy and the power of enfranchising all people in the process of working towards a more just and more empowered world. And yes, the suffragists of the first wave of the feminist movement in the "west", pioneered the cause for women's voting rights.
Cool. They rocked. Woo hoo. Indeed.

However, I never will forget, nor will I allow to be sidelined, the fact that these white women were on the whole organizing against women of colour and men of colour. Their arguments for the enfranchisement of white women were made explicitly as a way to hold at bay the "threat" posed by communities of colour, to the economic power of their "race".

Both of these facts are true, and both have to be taken as part of the history of the women's movement.

This doesn't mean that I now think that voting should be rejected as it is only a stupid idea envisioned by bored rich white women, nor do I think that those women should be uncritically hailed as being my foremothers in the struggle.

What I do recognise is that the fact that I now, in my brown body, can vote in Canada and even run for MP, is directly linked to a huge history that involves many many different forces, that contain both the praiseworthy and the hideous.

A short list of which is:

- the initial dispossession of the First Nation's people and the genocide against them,

- the colonial occupation of this land,

- the wars of nationalism and greed between the British and French occupiers of this land who also were fleeing persecution and famine,

- the creation of a limited democracy, with rights only for the wealthy, the white, and the male, but that nevertheless seemed to think it was based on equality for all [go figure],

- the building of an economic structure that ensured prosperity through the reliance on an unequal system of the distribution of wealth and of the powers of global capital

- a racist history of immigration policies,

- and a varied history of social movements that fought bitterly and in complex and conflicted ways to include more people into the body of the "nation".

Am I happy that I can vote and stand for election in Canada? Absolutely.

But I think I owe that, and my education, and my other material and intrinsic privileges, not to some mythical fantasy of a superior civilization, [and by implication its charity towards me], but to a complex history of pitched battles in which those who were left out of the myth have, and continue, to fight to be let in. And to ideals and ideas that have emerged from the process of people far away from one another, and yet in dialogue with eachother, continuing to think and write, and speak and fight for a world in which there would be more justice than they saw around them in their lives.

I like to think of that as the human civilization.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Sufis, As-hab as-Suffah, our times...

It is interesting to note that some say the word "Sufi" has its origin in the phrase "Ashab as-Suffah" (people of the platform of the Prophet's mosque) - and that many of these early seekers of knowledge, and followers of the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him and his family) were homeless.

In the "west," especially the United States - "Sufism" is by and large an upper middle-class phenomena. The myriad of tariqas in the US are filled with either mostly Whites and/or upper-middle class immigrant professionals (or, they are students well on their way to becoming part of that class). There are a few exceptions that can be pointed to, I’m sure… But these are exceptions.

The US Sufi Shaykhs themselves come from similar backgrounds, and their circle of friends, family, and acquaintances are often from this same class. This is not to say they don’t have anything to offer, they certainly do, many have a very deep understanding of some aspects of Islam. But there is a disconnect when “Sufism” separates itself from Islam’s strong emphasis on social justice, struggles against oppression, and providing a space for the most marginalized.

This is in stark contrast to Muslim majority countries, where the dargas are filled with very poor people, drug addicts, homeless, sick, and mentally ill. The larger, and more well known shrines are a place of refuge for some of the most marginalized individuals of society. But it appears that this is also changing, as “Sufism” becomes a fashion statement, and the upper and so-called “educated” classes of those societies also join the proliferating tariqas. And so, if this fad does not fade soon, we may well see dargas becoming gentrified, and "cleansing" may take on a whole new meaning: the mentally ill, the sick, the homeless will be sent off somewhere miles away - so as not to disturb the slick of the liberal rich.

Not surprising, since the upper classes of most Muslim majority countries owe their loyalty to the “west.” And , it is a part of US policy (as outlined in the infamous Rand Report) now to promote “Sufism” as an alternative “good Islam.” Supporters of the neo-cons, and the Bush regime can now even join their very own Muslims for Bush sufi group.

In the US, masajd that do work (however flawed) with, say, substance abusers, those homeless, and against inner-city violence, are primarily African-American, and located within some of the most severely impacted communities. As an imam of one such masjid said at a recent talk: that fluffy nice moderate/liberal/progressive version of “Islam” floating around has little or nothing to offer to those of us who are facing harsh realities of watching our sisters and brothers succumb to violence, drugs, and severe health problems such as HIV and environmentally caused cancer. Few, if any, of these new age Rumi lovers will step outside of their zones of comfort to face, and act in solidarity with communities that have experienced the worst of rampant Capitalism and corporate globalization.

Cultivating taqwa is not some abstract exercise, being Allah conscious means being conscious of what is around, and within us, and taking concrete steps towards changing our condition. And if “Sufism” is all about journeying towards Allah, then we might also consider this hadith of Imam Ali (AS) attributed in the Nahjul Balagha:

Go towards Allah as oppressed and do not go towards Him as oppressors.

And then there is that little business of the Abu Dharr mall... but thats another story for another time...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Muslim Musings on Easter

This Easter, I discovered the real meaning of divine mercy. I also discovered that the best way to feel God’s mercy is to serve the saints with humility. And I am not alone in this discovery.

The exact theological formula of Easter isn’t what matters. Rather, for the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and people of other faiths and no faith in particular, Easter is a time to serve society’s true saints.

Coming from a Muslim background, my Easter was a time to wash feet. On the Thursday before Easter, I had the good fortune to wash the feet of 2 Buddhist nuns and a Uniting Church Minister named Bill.

In a room crowded with saints lining up for their lunch, the four of us took turns in placing our feet in the water and having them washed. Bill provided the water and bucket while I provided the ceremonial Jasmine oil which all washers rubbed on their hands and faces.

One or two saints also volunteered their feet for us to wash. I personally could feel the faiz (an Arabic word connoting a kind of blessing associated with the presence of saints) radiating from the water.

It was all made possible thanks to Bill, an enterprising Uniting Church Minister from Ashfield. Bill runs the Ashfield Parish Mission, part of the Uniting Church in Australia.

But Rev. Bill Crews is no ordinary priest. He is also part of a growing ecumenical movement of people from across Sydney working under the auspices of The Exodus Foundation.

The Easter 2006 Newsletter of the Foundation reflects the involvement of people from a range of faiths all working to serve the saints of society. Amongst the volunteers are members of the Temple Emanuel congregation led by Rabbi Jacki Ninio. Jewish volunteers are especially active, and the Temple Emanuel congregation have been serving meals to the saints on Christmas and Easter at the Ashfield church hall (known as "the Restaurant") for over a decade.

Since November 1995, a Buddhist congregation led by Jim Teoh have been providing and serving meals at the Restaurant. Food prepared by individual members of the Buddhist congregation includes noodles and fried rice, freshly cooked on site within 2 hours of being served. The saints just can’t get enough of it.

This Easter Saturday, the Foundation is unveiling a plaque in their Ashfield restaurant to commemorate and thank the Buddhist congregation for their 10 years of support to the community of saints.

My own involvement with saints is not a recent development. Family members, relatives and friends of mine have experienced sainthood to varying degrees.

Late last year, a close friend told me about her brother who had gone missing some weeks back. He's admitted himself to hospital after experiencing severe weakness. His liver almost collapsed and suffered irreparable damage.

My friend took her brother up north to get some country air and keep him away from dealers and other low-life. Thanks to their intervention, her brother developed some kind of psychotic illness and lived on the streets of Sydney managing a group of other saints wiping windscreens.

Some weeks later, my friend and I had one of those major arguments male and female friends have every so often (usually when the male begins acting like a female!). A week later, still feeling rather guilty after the argument, I was at Surry Hills meeting a colleague for lunch. I parked my car, and was approached by a saint pushing a shopping trolley with bottles of water and detergents.

“Mind if I wash your windscreen?” he asked. Before I could say no, he was already onto the side windows. Within 5 minutes, the windows of my humble Daihatsu Mira were spotless.

He was fashionably dressed for a saint. I noticed feeling a strange calmness as I stood in his presence. I then realised he was babbling a name which sounded like that of my friend. He also shared her dark eyes and tall forehead. I asked him his name. He told me. Yep, this was her brother.

I gave him $20 for a phone card and told him to call his sister. I then tried contacting my friend to tell her I had found him. When she returned my message, it seemed she had lost it completely. Perhaps she had joined the ranks of the saints.

Then a few days ago, a prominent Sydney Muslim identity asked me if I could fill in for him at an Easter ceremony with Rev Bill Crews. Each year, Bill holds a ceremony where he emulated Christ who washed the feet of his disciples during the last hours leading upto his arrest.

Muslims have a horrible habit of turning up late. One Muslim stand-up comic from the United States even suggested governments should start naming hurricanes and cyclones with Muslim names to allow more time to de-populate affected areas. I kept the lateness tradition going.

In the distance, I could see Bill standing with the saints. They were dressed in their finest - non-matching clothes, ripped shoes, dishevelled hair. Dressed like true saints.

We entered the Restaurant and sat down for the feet washing. The cameras were there, but they may not have been. We were having too much fun reviving an ancient New Testament practise of Christ to worry about media.

Nearby, the Exodus Choir were singing their lungs out. Amongst them were a variety of saints, including one man who had suffered a number of strokes and could only smile and wave his hands. And how appropriate was their song, being heard and enjoyed by the line of saints collecting their lunch - “When the saints go marching in.”

The Prophet Muhammad’s mosque had a special platform where his homeless followers, known as As-hab as-Suffah (literally “People of the Bench”), lived. From Suffah, we get the word “Sufi”, literally meaning “saint”. The Prophet’s followers often were too poor to afford shelter, were severely depressed or had other ailments.

The Prophet also taught that people who had lost their sense of sanity were not fully responsible for their actions in the sight of God. So the homeless, many of whom are mentally ill, are true saints.

Easter is about Christ, a great man who saw the inherent worth of all human beings. Even tax collectors and sex workers and lepers, those whom the rest of society wrote off. Christ always made time for the saints of his time. If we want to be Christ-like, we should make time for the saints of our era.


© Irfan Yusuf 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Indispensable websites?

Salaam aleikum, wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu!

This isn't an article, but a request. I'm co-writing a training that will be used, inshallah, with business people on several continents to increase their understanding of al-Islam. The writing is done, but I'm wondering if you have suggestions of websites for the resource list that would be helpful. I really trust the wisdom, depth and international awareness of this group. Am also looking for a book that would balance Abou El Fadl's The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists by holding the West more accountable, but without being so anti-western as to whip up a backlash. A reasoned critique. Any ideas?

All blessings,



For Badshah Khan

People who practice self-deception
judge others
but refrain from judging themselves

People who practice self-abasement
judge themselves
but refrain from judging others

People who practice Satyagraha
judge with mercy
and thus refrain from all intended harm

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Conference on Islam and Bioethics: Available On-Line

Islam and Bioethics: concerns, challenges and responses

Rock Ethics Institute - Penn State University

click here

todos somos mojados!


500,000 in Dallas! The largest demonstration in that city's history! 50,000 in San Diego ! 10,000 in Fresno, California - another record broken! 25,000 in San Jose! 10,000 in San Francisco! And this has been the story throughout the United States, as a stand is taken against anti-immigrant legislation.

The above photograph is of a march in San Francisco, in the predominately immigrant Mission District. I've attended tons of demonstrations on that street, and have lived in that area for years and years, before I moved to Oakland. But today's demonstration was totally different.
Here we had people of the neighborhood marching for their rights, in huge numbers.

For once, the white liberals were on the side lines - and in a small minority (where did they all go???) - for once I did not feel patronized as some kinda token person of color that the liberals can point to as "diversity." For once - I could proudly chant in espanol (my third language) Si Se Puede! And hear the roar of tens of thousands chanting loudly and enthusiastically in espanol!

What makes these demonstrations so powerful is that they are almost entirely people from working class backgrounds - people who have been directly impacted by the anti-immigrant idiocity - that attacks people for their language, their accents, their color, and the kind of documentation people may or may not have. And don't be fooled by the large numbers of American flags, this is not some kind of jingoistic rah rah demonstrations - the people are politically aware --- if you speak espanol - the recognition of common causes is immediate.

And while Christian/Catholic - it was a welcome change to see the demo. begin and end with profound prayers, and readings from the Bible!

click here for independent media's immigrant rights coverage.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Ya Rasool Allah

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O Allah, bless Muhammad,entrusted by You with Your revelation,
distinguished by You among Your creatures,
devoted to You among Your servants,
the imam of mercy,
the leader of good,
the key to blessing.
-Imam Ali bin Hussein

O Beloved of Allah, your are the messenger of the Sole Creator.
You are the one chosen by the Holy Lord of Majesty Who is without equal.

You are the delight of the Lord Allah, and highest full moon of created beings,
and you are the light of the eyes of Allah's messengers and the lamp of our eyes.

On the night of the ascension, Gabriel was at your stirrup,
and you are the one who was standing on top of the nine blue domes of heaven.

O messenger of Allah, you know that your community are deprived and destitute,
and you are the guide of those who are vulnerable and helpless.

You are the cypress tree of the rose of garden of Prophethood,
and the spring season of spiritual knowledge.

You are the rosebush of the garden of the Religious Law
and the nightingale of the lofty Heavens!

Shams-i Tabrizi is one who has the praise of the Messenger in his heart.

O Chosen Prophet of Allah, you are the supreme master!

(Maulana Rumi - from Rumi and Islam )

Thursday, April 06, 2006


a couple with achondroplasia Julaybib (ra) is one of the lesser known companions of the Prophet (aws), but arguably one of the greatest. He was probably born in or near Medina, but nothing at all is known about his family or tribe. He is believed to have became a companion of the Prophet (aws) sometime after the Hijra. His name means "small grown", being the diminutive form of the word "Jalbab”, indicative of the fact that Julaybib (ra) was small and short; he was also described as being "damim" which means ugly or deformed. From these details, it seems probable that Julaybib (ra) suffered from a life-long medical condition such as achondroplasia.

In these times, even in a society enlightened by Prophetic light, Julaybib (ra) could not expect any compassion or help, except from some of the womenfolk. If he was not reviled and scorned, then he was feared, or perhaps worse, pitied. Indeed, a man named Abu Barzah of the Aslam tribe went so far as to prohibit Julaybib from entering his home. He told his wife: "Do not let Julaybib enter among you. If he does, I shall certainly do (something terrible to him)."

However, the Prophet (aws) of Mercy was aware of the problems experienced by Julaybib (ra) One day, he went to one of the Ansar and said: "I want to have your daughter married." "How wonderful and blessed, O Messenger of God and what a delight to the eye (this would be)," replied the Ansari man with obvious joy and happiness. "I do not want her for myself," added the Prophet. "Then for whom, O Messenger of God?" asked the man. "For Julaybib (ra)," said the Prophet.

The Ansari, probably too shocked to answer directly, replied that he would talk to his wife about the matter and then deliver his response in due course. At first, his wife was equally thrilled at the idea, until her husband explained that the Prophet intended their daughter to marry Julaybib (ra). "To Julaybib (ra)! No, never to Julaybib (ra)! No, by the living God, we shall not marry (her) to him." She protested.

As the Ansari was about to return to the Prophet (aws) to inform him of what his wife had said and their decision, the daughter – her name is not recorded - interjected, having heard some of the discussion: "Who has asked you to marry me?"

Her mother told her of the Prophet's (aws) request for her hand in marriage to Julaybib (ra). When she heard that the request had come from the Prophet (aws) and that her parents was absolutely opposed to the idea, she was greatly perturbed and said: "Do you refuse the request of the Messenger of God? Send me to him for he shall certainly not bring ruin to me. I am satisfied and submit myself to whatever the Messenger of God deems good for me."

The Prophet heard of her reaction and prayed for her: "O Lord, bestow good on her in abundance and make not her life one of toil and trouble." Julaybib (ra) was married to the Ansari, and they remained married until he was killed.

The death of Julaybib (ra) is another story. It is said he went on an expedition with the Prophet (aws) and an encounter with some mushrikun ensued. When the battle was over, the Prophet asked his companions: "Have you lost anyone?" They replied giving the names of their relatives of close friends who were killed. Another group answered that they had lost no close relative whereupon the Prophet said:

"But I have lost Julaybib (ra) . Search for him in the battlefield." They searched and found him beside seven mushrikun whom he had struck before meeting his end. The Prophet (aws) went straight to the spot where Julaybib (ra) lay. Standing over him, he said: "He killed seven and then was killed? This (man) is of me and I am of him."

He repeated this two or three times. The Prophet (aws) then took him in his arms saying that Julaybib (ra) had no better bed besides the forearms of the messenger of God. Then the Prophet (aws) dug his grave and placed his noble companion in it.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un

Monday, April 03, 2006

Preliminary reflections on Ashis Nandy

1. The ignorant monotony of banal, white middle class men (and their imitators) are the lust driving Empire. Their crusading quest for social and civilizational superiority through perfect consumption, combined with their governed sublimation of interpersonal aggression (diverted into widespread social bullying and domestic violence), creates a myth of the polite, peaceful civilization, itself a muted disguise for their complicity in the violent oppression and killing of Iraqis, Afghanis and other groups politically and/or economically subjugated by the Euro-American alliance.

2. One of their shadows is the Muslim – irrational, superstitious, ascetic, violent and authoritarian; after two centuries of the dreary deadheads projecting this shadow, a minority of Muslims have been duped into believing this shadow is the true faith. Yet as academics in Islamic Studies such as Ernst have noted, the label of ‘Islam’ for the Shahadic Mu’min is a modern, reactionary one; anthropologists such as Varisco confirm there is no ‘Islam’, only ‘islams’. Islam as a monolith is Salafi/Orientalist dogma.

3. The globalizing colonizer is masculine, adult, rational, part of the forward movement of history, pragmatic. The victim of neo-liberal violence in thus represented as feminine (or hypermasculine), childlike, irrational, superstitious, regressive, ahistorical, lacking in empiricism and impractical. She thus wastes time on love, play, prayer and a repetition of ancient, empty rituals. Never improving, she is simply cunning and resentful.

4. The anti-imperial hybrid Mu’minun are post-orthodox. We look into the Quranic tradition and embrace its beautiful multiplicity. We look into the non-Quranic traditions and embrace all tender-hearted resistance. We pity the zealots, whether they be neoliberal or neo-Salafi. We are androgynous. We renounce the normative, and embrace love-play. We acknowledge the objectivity of taqwa. We pray behind the Prophet (aws).

5. We are warriors whose swords are fashioned from dhikr. We are children of Adam and Eve, born twice – once at the beginning of time and once in our own lifetimes. We are logicians whose premise is revelation. All history is mythology. All text is myth. Every word of God is a symbol and a sign. We are scientists of the soul. We are professors of culture. We cannot be sold because only Godless death-fear can be effectively marketed.