Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Battle for Values

This essay was written by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and published in the journal Foreign Affairs. Found at DeenPort

An excerpt:

To me, the most remarkable thing about the Koran is how progressive it is. I write with great humility as a member of another faith. As an outsider, the Koran strikes me as a reforming book, trying to return Judaism and Christianity to their origins, much as reformers attempted to do with the Christian church centuries later. The Koran is inclusive. It extols science and knowledge and abhors superstition. It is practical and far ahead of its time in attitudes toward marriage, women, and governance.

Under its guidance, the spread of Islam and its dominance over previously Christian or pagan lands were breathtaking. Over centuries, Islam founded an empire and led the world in discovery, art, and culture. The standard-bearers of tolerance in the early Middle Ages were far more likely to be found in Muslim lands than in Christian ones.

What is Islamic spirituality?

Summed up in the following story found at the blog zanjabil

Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Book Recommendations

In my SunniPath class with Sheikh Faraz Rabbani, we were urged by our lumionous teacher to obtain several books, including these two:

Friday, December 08, 2006

Uneasy Havens Await Those Who Flee Iraq

From the New York Times

AMMAN, Jordan, Dec. 6 — Every day at dusk as the streets of this brooding city empty, people like Halima Reyahi scramble to become invisible again.

She sticks to side streets, her eyes scanning for the increasingly frequent police dragnets and checkpoints set up in search of illegal Iraqi immigrants like her. The loneliness of her exile is magnified by the fact that all four of her sons have been turned away repeatedly at the Jordanian border.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

South Africa Update #1

Alhumdulilah, my first trip to South Africa began in Johannesburg where I was stopped at the Oliver Tambo International Airport for about five hours and almost deported because I had (and still have) a full passport. It is a violation of South African immigration law to enter the country without at least one full, empty page in ones passport to receive a South African visa.

As soon as I handed my passport to the immigration official issuing visas, she told me my passport was full and needed to speak to her boss. That's really not a good sign. I've heard that before, especially when trying to enter the occupied West Bank from Jordan. I was detained last year by the Israeli army for seven hours when trying to re-enter the West Bank. So ... I was a bit nervous. I was thereafter escorted to a back hallway in the airport that housed the immigration official offices and was told quite curtly that I would be deported immediately because of my noncompliance with South African law. After a few hours of waiting and nimble negotiating by my professor, I was finally released, but the airline I was flying on was charged a hefty fine for not catching my full passport in the U.S.

But, aside from my passport dilemma, which was of course my fault, I have had an amazing stay on the Eastern Cape. I was a bit worried about whom I would stay with when arriving into East London, because I wasn't sure how I was going to figure out a prayer schedule and decline host family meals because of zabiha issues, but, alhumdulilah, I was told I was staying with a Muslim family and they were absolutely amazing. And they owned a butcher shop! I haven't eaten so much meat, especially sausage and hot dogs, for quite some time. They took me to the local mosques and I was able to meet the small, but very tight-nit East London Muslim community that was affected quite interestingly by apartheid.

After being in East London for a week and Morgan Bay for a few days, which is rather close to East London and occurred in between my stay in East London, I am now in Port Elizabeth for a day and a half. After PE, we will head to Cape Town for a week and then back to Jo'burg to fly from there back to the U.S. insha'Allah.

More updates later isha'Allah.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What Makes a Muslim Radical?

From Foreign

Ask any foreign-policy expert how the West will know it is winning the war on terror, and the likely response will be, “When the Islamic world rejects radicalism.” But just who are Muslim radicals, and what fuels their fury? Every politician has a theory: Radicals are religious fundamentalists. They are poor. They are full of hopelessness and hate. But those theories are wrong.

Based on a new Gallup World Poll of more than 9,000 interviews in nine Muslim countries, we find that Muslim radicals have more in common with their moderate brethren than is often assumed. If the West wants to reach the extremists, and empower the moderate Muslim majority, it must first recognize who it’s up against.

Monday, November 20, 2006

176 Newspapers to Form a Partnership With Yahoo

From the New York Times

A consortium of seven newspaper chains representing 176 daily papers across the country is announcing a broad partnership with Yahoo to share content, advertising and technology, another sign that the wary newspaper business is increasingly willing to shake hands with the technology companies they once saw as a threat.

And most importantly...

“There has been a big question asked for a while as to how newspapers will navigate the online future,” said William Dean Singleton, vice chairman and chief executive of MediaNews Group, one of the members of the consortium. “I think this is the answer to that question.”


bismillah, originally uploaded by elif ayse.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

US is top purveyor on weapons sales list

From the Boston Globe

WASHINGTON -- The United States last year provided nearly half of the weapons sold to militaries in the developing world, as major arms sales to the most unstable regions -- many already engaged in conflict -- grew to the highest level in eight years, new US government figures show.

According to the annual assessment, the United States supplied $8.1 billion worth of weapons to developing countries in 2005 -- 45.8 percent of the total and far more than second-ranked Russia with 15 percent and Britain with a little more than 13 percent.

Arms control specialists said the figures underscore how the largely unchecked arms trade to the developing world has become a major staple of the American weapons industry, even though introducing many of the weapons risks fueling conflicts rather than aiding long-term US interests.

The report was compiled by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Book Review: Mecca and Main Street

Review for the Washington Post by writer Steven Simon.

Abdo's description of the neo-traditionalism of this community is fascinating. She depicts a typical "enclave culture," a religious community that sees itself as beleaguered and is therefore preoccupied by boundaries -- between us and them, male and female, real Muslim and impostor. Defections as well as intrusions fuel the community's sense of danger, as do the glittering vulgarity and the "anything goes" gusto of American society. Jarringly, Abdo at times seems less a reporter than an advocate of a cloistered worldview, as when she puts down Irshad Manji, a Muslim dissenter, as a self-promoting phony. Nonetheless, Abdo's account of the struggles within Muslim organizations on college campuses suggests how the community as a whole may resolve its intramural conflict: by finding a middle way between traditionalist hardliners and those who want to preserve their Muslim identity without isolating themselves, much as modern Orthodox Jews and evangelical Protestants have done in secular universities.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Muslim’s Election Is Celebrated Here and in Mideast

From the New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 9 — Keith Ellison wore his religion lightly on the campaign trail, mentioning it only when asked.

But Muslims across America, and even overseas, celebrated his election Tuesday as the first Muslim in Congress, representing Minnesota’s Fifth District in the House of Representatives, as a sign of acceptance and a welcome antidote to their faith’s sinister image.

“It’s a step forward; it gives the Muslims a little bit of a sense of belonging,” said Osama A. Siblani, the publisher of The Arab American News, a weekly in Dearborn, Mich., a state with one of the heaviest concentrations of Muslims. “It is also a signal to the rest of the world that America has nothing against Muslims. If we did, he wouldn’t have been elected.”

Mr. Ellison’s success was front-page news in several of the Arab world’s largest newspapers and high in the lineup on television news programs.

Friday, November 10, 2006

For U.S. Muslims, it's the American way

From the International Herald Tribune

CHICAGO: Amid copies of the Koran and Arabic calligraphy, a small American flag sits on a table in a corner of Ahmed Rehab's office at the Council on American-Islamic Relations here.

"I am proud to be American, and I really mean that," said Rehab, who as executive director of the council's Chicago branch spends his days handling civil rights complaints from fellow Muslims. "I'd rather be a Muslim in America than anywhere else."

At first glance, such patriotism appears paradoxical. The United States led the invasion of Iraq and passed the Patriot Act. It was here that the war on terror was dubbed a war on "Islamo-fascists." But, for now at least, the violent backlash is in Europe, not America.

Indeed, the Sept. 11 attacks of five years ago have galvanized efforts by a small but growing elite of Islamic intellectuals and young activists to find their voice and carve out an identity that is as American as it is Muslim.

The Ottoman Legacy - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Altra memoria, e non basta ancora., originally uploaded by giuli@.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Muslim Airport Workers Protest in France

From the Washington Post

PARIS — One was a security agent once praised for finding a weapon in a piece of luggage, another handled baggage and a third delivered mail. All are practicing Muslims who worked at the main Paris airport — until their security clearance was revoked.

They are among 72 people who had security badges taken back — and lost their job — over the past 18 months, caught in a campaign by French authorities to guard Charles de Gaulle airport against the risk of terror.

The three are among 11 people who have gone to court challenging the loss of their security clearance. A hearing in the case is set for Nov. 10.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Beliefwatch: School Veil

From Newsweek

Nov. 13, 2006 issue - There's a new fashion on college campuses, but it's not one you'll find at Abercrombie any time soon. It's the higab, the traditional Muslim headscarf that denotes modesty and reverence to God, and it's being worn by increasing numbers of young Muslim American women.

By most accounts, they are the American-born children of the estimated 4 million Muslims who immigrated to the United States over the last 40 years. The irony: many of those parents abandoned their Islamic cultural identities to assimilate into American society. "We're seeing more young women wearing the higab whose mothers don't wear it," says Hadia Mubarak, former president of the Muslim Students Association. Mubarak says that young Muslim Americans who grew up here are not facing the kinds of identity crises their parents did. "These kids are comfortable in their American identity because that's the only culture they've known, so it's easier for them to embrace the outward manifestations of Islam."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Felicitous Ascension by Means of Knowing

"He who knows himself knows His lord."
- Prophet Muhammad (may God bless him and give him peace)

From the Web site Living Islam


Know Your Lord

According to Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (may God ennoble his countenance)

On the subject of knowing the Lord of the universe, al-Nu`man bin Sa`ad said: "I was in the city of Kufa, visiting the Prince and Commander of the Believers, Ali bin Abi Talib, when Nawf bin Abdullâh came to see him and said: 'O Amir al-Mu'minin, there are forty Jews at the door requesting to see you." 'Ali replied: 'Let them in.' When the visitors stood before him, their spokesman said: 'O `Ali, describe to us your Lord who is in the heavens, how is that, how was He before, when was He; and what is He.'

Ali immediately straightened up his sitting posture, and he replied, 'Hearken to me and do not worry! You need not to ask anyone else beside me about this subject! Imam Ali then added:

'My Lord was there first, and nothing ever existed besides Him. He did not commence from what or was intermingled with what! His attributes cannot be fixed or limited. He is not an apparition that can be pursued or delimited, nor is He veiled to be contained. He did not issue from what was not, and thus He is not an occurrence.

Exalted and most glorious is the Creator and Maker of everything, Lord of the universe, Whose divine majesty is most awesome and beyond having to explicate His essence to His creation, and instead, we say (as He described Himself, Qur'an 57:3) that He was there from the beginningless beginning, and He is the eternal without end. He is not subject to changes, nor is He affected by what He causes to change.

How can He be described by an occurrence He created, and how can His divine being be limited to the best fathom of the greatest rhetoricians of all times. He did not emerge from something else that can lead one to assume His manifestation, nor did He emanate from anything else that brought Him into being. He is without how, and He is closer than one's jugular vein, and yet, He is beyond description in the widest perceivable realms.

Not a single glaring of anyone of His entire creation combined is ever hidden to Him, nor the sequence of any uttering or a sound is ever veiled to Him or is unperceived by Him, and neither is a single progression of any toddler obscure to His divine knowledge, and nor is the stretch of the tiniest step taken by any of His creation in a dark gloomy night, or at any depth or layer of this world not visible by Him. The brilliant moon in its fullness does not veil His magnificent effulgent presence, nor can the radiant sun and the full gamut of its rays brighten and make His presence more luminous. The orderly changing stretches of the nights and what they bring, and the prolongation and shortening of the daylight hours are within His knowledge, for He alone has the knowledge of what He wills to exist, and the wisdom behind their alterations.

He is the omniscient Lord Who is full of knowledge of every space, time, sequence, duration and term. The time allotted for the existence of His creation is predetermined solely by Him, and boundaries are not His attributes. He did not create things from preexisting matters nor from elements that were known before Him; rather, He created everything from inception, He made their nature perfect for their respective needs, and He fashioned everything and rendered it its best complementary form. Exalted is He in His glory, for there is nothing that can prevent or limit His reach, nor can anything interfere in His will. He does not benefit from the obedience of His creation, and He is swift in answering their prayers. The countless myriads of angels in the heavens as well as the two earths are subservient to Him.

His knowledge of the annihilated beings and past souls is as intricate as His knowledge of the ever-expanding universe and changing lives. His knowledge encompasses everything in the highest heavens and what is in the deepest layers of the earth. He knows everything. He distinguishes the multitude of sounds He created, and each of them stands distinct from the others before Him. Languages do not preoccupy Him. He is the All-Hearing Lord and without the extremities of a body, and He alone manages the entire universe, and He is the All-Seeing Lord, the Living, and the sole Sustaining power behind the entire existence. Glory be to Him, He spoke to Moses with words without the need for limbs or tools, nor lips nor through the vibration of a uvular sound. Exalted is He beyond ascription of mechanical attributes. He who alleges that our Lord is limited is indeed ignorant of the Creator who is worshipped in the heavens and on earth. The one that imagines Him contained within boundaries will live his life confused and mixed up.

Instead, it is God Almighty, Allah, who encompasses everything. Therefore, if you are troubled, and if you have gone to the extent of asking questions to describe the Merciful Lord, seeking an explanation beyond what He already revealed about Himself, inquiring in excess of the manifest proof of His sovereignty, then describe to me the archangels Gabriel, Michael, or Israfîl. How can you? Thus, if you are incapable of describing the created (angels), then how can you describe the Creator? What you can understand is limited to recognizing the attributes and the essence of perceived matters, but when it comes to describing the One Whom no slumber nor sleep can seize, you will surely fail. To Him belongs what the two earths, the heavens and all what they embody, and He is the Lord of the magnificent throne.'" (Also narrated by al-Nu'man and Ishaq)

• Also on this subject, Ahmad bin Abi al-Hawwâri narrated that `Ali bin Abi Tâlib, may God ennoble his countenance, said: "I would not be happy if I had died as an infant, and if I entered paradise without experiencing this life and growing up to know my Lord."

• Ali bin al-Hussain narrated that his grandfather Ali, may God be pleased with both of them, said: "Among people, the most true in their advice, and the unsurpassed in their knowledge of who is God, are those who have the most love and reverence for the people of Lâ ilâha il Allah (Surely there is no god other than Allah)."

• Yahya Ibn Abi Kathâr narrated that the companions once asked `Ali, God bless his countenance: "Should we guard you?" He replied: "One is best guarded by his own destiny."

From: Hilyat-ul Awliya, Abu Na`im al-Asfahani
The Beauty Of The Righteous And The Ranks Of The Elite

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Muslims, the Veil, and the West

From the NPR program The Diane Rehm Show

Since top British politicians called the Muslim veil a mark of separation, new debate has exploded over whether Muslims should assimilate more or Western cultures should better accommodate their customs.

Guests include:

Karen Dabdoub, executive director, Council on American-Islamic Relations in Cincinnati, Ohio

Mona Eltahawy, commentator; director, Progressive Muslim Union of North America

Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and author of "Piety & Politics" (Harmony Books)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Make Silence Obligatory

From the blog

Take recourse to self-imposed silence (mulāzimat al-şamt). Keeping quiet will kindle the light of joy in your heart and immerse you in happy tranquility, just as Shaykh Abu Madyan points out.

Make silence obligatory
Unless you are questioned, then say:
'No knowledge have I'
And conceal yourself with ignorance.

Sufis who take to the spiritual way consider that there are great benefits to be gained by those who make silence obligatory upon themselves. Doing so raises their foundations high and plants firmly their roots. Silence is of two types. There is silence of the tongue (şamt bi'l-lisān) and then there is silence of the heart (şamt bi'l-janān). Both of there are necessary on the path. Whoever is silent in the heart yet speaks with the tongue speaks with wisdom. Whoever is silent with the tongue and silent in the heart perceives the manifestation (tajallī) of the inner conscience (sirr) and is addressed by the Lord.

This is the ultimate goal of silence, as made comprehensible through the discourse of the Shaykh [Abu Madyan]. So make silence obligatory upon yourself, my dear seeker, unless you are questioned. If you are questioned, return to your roots and reach your goal and answer simply, 'No knowledge have I.' Conceal yourself with ignorance, so that you might be enlightened by the rays of intimate knowledge that comes directly from the divine source ('ilm ladunī). Whenever you acknowledge your ignorance and return to your roots [weakness and incapacity], the glimmers of intimate knowledge of your true self dawn to your sight. And if you know your true self you know your Lord, as it is recorded in a saying of the Prophet [hadīth]: "He who knows himself knows his Lord" (man 'arifa nafsahu 'arifa rabba-hu).

All of this knowledge is the fruit of silence and observing its proper bounds with respect. So keep silent, bear yourself respectfully and stand humbly at the doorway so that you might be recognized as a beloved friend of the master of the house. How beautifully this has been said by a poet:

I won't leave the doorway
till they set right my deficiency
Lest they greet me while I'm bent
with my shameful incapacity

If you are satisfied with me
imagine my honor and my nobility!
Yet if you reject me, is there any hope
for my impertinent rigidity?

From the book "Sign of Success on the Spiritual Path" (Unwan al Tawfiq fi Adab al Tariq) by Sidi Ibn 'Ata'Illah al-Iskandari

Monday, October 30, 2006

Two Rows Over a T-Shirt with Arabic on It

From The Progressive

A troubling excerpt:

Here’s what Inspector Harris said, according to Jarrar: “You can’t wear a T-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a T-shirt that reads ‘I am a robber’ and going to a bank.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Smile :-)

Elderly Hui man, originally uploaded by Frogdeck.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Radical Islam finds US 'sterile ground'

From the Christian Science Monitor

NEW YORK – The Islamist radicalism that inspired young Muslims to attack their own countries - in London, Madrid, and Bali - has not yielded similar incidents in the United States, at least so far.

"Home-grown" terror cells remain a concern of US law officers, who cite several disrupted plots since 9/11. But the suspects' unsophisticated planning and tiny numbers have led some security analysts to conclude that America, for all its imperfections, is not fertile ground for producing jihadist terrorists.

To understand why, experts point to people like Omar Jaber, an AmeriCorps volunteer; Tarek Radwan, a human rights advocate; and Hala Kotb, a consultant on Middle East affairs. They are the face of young Muslim-Americans today - educated, motivated, and integrated into society - and their voices help explain how the nation's history of inclusion has helped to defuse sparks of Islamist extremism.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Under Morocco’s Spell

From the NY Times

The Kasbah du Toubkal, a mountain retreat in the High Atlas outside Marrakesh, is not for the faint of heart or weak of knee. To reach it, you drive up a winding mountain road to the village of Imlil, walk for 20 long minutes up a gravel path, enter a wooden gate and keep walking. But once inside the central garden, you begin to get the point.

Bukhara, Uzbekistan

bukhara, originally uploaded by roadwarrior.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Muslim scholars write the pope - and everyone else

From the Christian Science Monitor

An excerpt:

Tim Winter, a lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge, England, and a practicing Muslim, says the letter is a simple attempt to redress what he describes as misunderstanding of the faith implied by the pope's comments. But more important it's a product of a growing awareness on the part of Muslim leaders that they don't communicate effectively with the West, particularly since the religion doesn't share a central bureaucracy like the Catholic church.

"Everyone can see that the advantage that the Christian churches have is that they have efficient hierarchies. If someone who belongs to the Catholic church misbehaves they can immediately issue a denunciation, which is what we saw for years in Northern Ireland,'' he says. "It's hard for outsiders to see what the consensus of Muslim orthodoxy is, particularly with the slide into violence of a fringe of the Sunni orthodox world in the past 15 years or so.

"Even though the [Muslim] religion is traditionally resistant to creating hierarchies, it has to come up with a mechanism of making the opinions of mainstream orthodoxy known," he says. "Finally the Muslim world is waking up to the fact that it needs to improve its public relations skills."

He points to a lack of reporting in the West of the widespread condemnation of 9/11 by Muslim scholars. He also recalls a letter calling for tolerance by largely the same group of scholars in the wake of the Danish cartoon controversy earlier this year. That letter was released at a press conference but received little notice. "Journalists actually admitted it was very hard to understand,'' says Mr. Winter.

That was because, he says, it was overly scholastic. "The problem that the Muslim leadership has is that it's basically made up of medieval men that generally have the right views when it comes to terrorism or political violence, but they have no media skills. When asked a question, they look grave, invoke the name of God and then address it in a rather complicated and beautiful way the mass media can't cope with.... This statement seems to be much more on the ball."

Muslims put faith into action for Ramadan

From the Christian Science Monitor

ROXBURY, MASS. – Two rows of tables, stretching the length of the gymnasium, are neatly stacked with brand-new items: warm sweat shirts and caps in several colors, thick socks, bright yellow ponchos to ward off the weather, and hygiene kits stocked with towels, toothpaste and a toothbrush, soap, and a comb. There are bags of food, bottles of water, and, for the children, backpacks and toys.

Young Muslims in matching T-shirts stand ready to help those coming through the line to pick the right size or color. Downstairs in the Tobin Community Center, another cadre of volunteers, including medical students, give health screenings and answer questions about dental care.

During their holy month of Ramadan, local Muslim organizations in Boston have joined together to host their first Humanitarian Day for the Homeless.

The charitable event is already a five-year tradition in Los Angeles, where it began under the auspices of the ILM Foundation and Islamic Relief, an international relief and development agency based in Buena Park, Calif. This year it spread to 14 US cities, where last weekend an estimated 18,000 homeless and needy Americans of all faiths were served.

Vélos, arbres et brume

Vélos, arbres et brume, originally uploaded by p-h-d.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Garden I'm Seeking...

by Seth Laffey
17 Ramadan, 1427
Oct. 10, 2006

I seek a garden where the heart's repose
Will not be shaken by the winter's blast
And where the flower of Contentment blows--
Not suffering that I weep for what has past
Nor quake with anxious dread on what shall come
Nor hide my face away from current trials.
I beg you not to beckon me to such
Delusive weeds as sprout in rancid files
In cracks of mid-day streets for all and some
I don't esteem such trinkets' value much.

Many seekers there have been and are that turn
From what they can't imagine with their sense
They light their passions up and let them burn
And fancy that their burning is incense--
As if their self-consumption's somehow holy!
That the scent it leaves upon the air is sweet!
My vision once, indeed, was such as theirs.
Oh brothers! your phoenix dreams are self-deceit
Your cold, dead ashes are most melancholy
Remnants of bathetic, tired affairs.

But the garden I seek where my flower lives
That is so rare and secret in this life
Is only by decree of Him Who Gives,
Found only in a heart that's grasped the knife
And died a martyr in its Master's cause--
Then having perished once, just like the earth
That lies through dead of winter like a corse,
Unconscious of volition, joy or dearth
It is revived to joy in Allah's laws
Dead only now to self, without remorse.

A mighty prescription

"We don't need shock and awe; we need talk and law."
— Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson

Monday, October 16, 2006

What is U.S. foreign policy?

Did it include the U.S. government attempting to create the world in its image and hating what it saw?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Yusuf Islam named songwriter of the year

Found at DeenPort

From the The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

Yusuf Islam was named Songwriter of the Year for the second consecutive year and was recognized for his enduring classic “First Cut Is The Deepest.” Formerly known as Cat Stevens, he was one of the most successful and enigmatic artists of the 1970s, with a string of best selling albums, which virtually defined the concept of the sensitive songwriter. His reflective and often highly personal songs connected with a huge audience and made him an international superstar. His most notable songs include “Morning Has Broken,” “Peace Train,” “Wild World,” ”Moonshadow,” “Father and Son,” “Matthew and Son,” “Oh Very Young,” and “First Cut Is The Deepest.” “First Cut” first appeared on his 1967 album, New Masters, and has been covered by numerous artists, including P.P. Arnold, Rod Stewart and more recently, Sheryl Crow, who earned a 2005 Grammy nomination for her rendition, which was featured on her Greatest Hits album, The Very Best of Sheryl Crow.

To Be Married Means to Be Outnumbered

From the NY Times

Married couples, whose numbers have been declining for decades as a proportion of American households, have finally slipped into a minority, according to an analysis of new census figures by The New York Times.

The American Community Survey, released this month by the Census Bureau, found that 49.7 percent, or 55.2 million, of the nation’s 111.1 million households in 2005 were made up of married couples — with and without children — just shy of a majority and down from more than 52 percent five years earlier.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Oops... (Aceh, Indonesia)

Oops... (Aceh, Indonesia), originally uploaded by Elizabeth Wong.

Microloan Pioneer and His Bank Win Nobel Peace Prize

From the NY Times

The 2006 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh and its founder, Muhammad Yunus, for pioneering microcredit — using loans of tiny amounts to transform destitute women into entrepreneurs.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Dr. Yunus and Grameen for their “efforts to create economic and social development from below.”

Documents Reveal Scope of U.S. Database on Antiwar Protests

From the NY Times

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 — Internal military documents released Thursday provided new details about the Defense Department’s collection of information on demonstrations nationwide last year by students, Quakers and others opposed to the Iraq war.

The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, show, for instance, that military officials labeled as “potential terrorist activity” events like a “Stop the War Now” rally in Akron, Ohio, in March 2005.

The Defense Department acknowledged last year that its analysts had maintained records on war protests in an internal database past the 90 days its guidelines allowed, and even after it was determined there was no threat.

The axis of our acuity

KA'BE (Baytu’l-Ḥarām), originally uploaded by Nima .

NPR: Judea Pearl and Akbar Ahmed's Interfaith Dialogues

From the NPR program Fresh Air

Judea Pearl is the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl and author of I am Jewish. Professor Akbar Ahmed teaches Islamic Studies at American University. The two are collaborating on a series of interfaith dialogues across the country and abroad. Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002, while reporting on Islamic extremists. Judea Pearl is a professor at UCLA, and President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. Akbar S. Ahmed is the author of Islam Under Siege.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

If it's sausages, it must be Ramadan

Found at DeenPort

From The Guardian

An excerpt:

Last Ramadan, I couldn't find a halal sausage for love or money. I scoured the specialist butchers, peered into supermarket chiller cabinets and visited practically every purveyor of Islamic meats in the city, to no avail. During my quest for artery-clogging bangers filled with Islamically acceptable meats such as chicken, lamb or beef, it suddenly dawned on me what was to blame for my sausageless situation: assimilation.

While the media is full of cries that immigrants and their offspring are resisting taking on English values, I know better. Assimilation is happening at unprecedented levels.

Saleem Ahmed, 47, who owns the Food Asia supermarket in Bradford, confesses his need to start his fast with a big greasy plateful. He also confirms my fears about the Great Sausage Rush of 2005. "Things are changing a lot," he says. "Last year we ran out of sausages, but we've been maintaining stock this year. There are more halal manufacturers coming on for things like pies, sausages and burgers, and they seem to have cottoned on to what people want during Ramadan. In the evening, people want to [break] their fast with Asian foods, samosas, pakoras and things like that, but in the morning it seems they want a traditional English breakfast with beans on toast and such things.

"But I'll tell you what people really want this year," he says, leading me to a crammed freezer. "Stone-baked pizzas! It's the strangest thing."

Monday, October 09, 2006


DSC_6279, originally uploaded by thecoco.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

An ode of Ramadan's entreatment

TARAWIH (10 Ramadan, 1427)
by Seth Laffey

What is it I come seeking here?
Why stand for hours in rows with men I do not know,
Whose tongue is not my own, who've come
From far-off Africa--fabled, barely thinkable?
What do we seek together? What could draw us near
As brothers here, shoulder to shoulder, foot to foot,
Our faces lowered, rapt together
As a man in front recites the Arabic Qur'an?

For myself, I've shivered at the touch of winds
On rampage through this world--
Icy winds of hearts, of eyes,
Of people's wretched self-defeat
And fury turned to rot that burns inside;
Where shadows ope on shadows like a nightmare Chinese box--
And each new shadow was an artificial paridise--
Glistening in darkness, a call to Sleep
And hope of warmth that's felt
As that which touches one who drowns in Arctic lakes, before he dies.

"Is there," I'd cry, "A Joy that's absulutely Real and in our grasp?"
Or is our fate to chase these firefly fancies as we can,
Knowing at our core that's what they are?

O weary one, O shipwrecked heart,
Thou wretched swimmer--
Ridiculous contemporary, I know you well,
Your agonizing hungers and your silent midnight grief
That dreads the dawn and all you find within the world of men--
To you I speak, I know you well--
Come here and stand with us, within this crowded room,
For there is Peace here, this I swear!
Though learned fools croak and crow about submission's "shame,"
I swear that we know better here,
You see our eyes!
Our faces bright on rising from the floor and setting down again
As if returning to some paradise!--
Come here and lay your sorrow down before the One
Who knows what's in your heart and what you've seen--
The horrors that have scorched your eyes, O soul in pain!
He does not flinch or turn away, He knows your cure!
And when you come to see that there is nothing in your life
That did not come from Him and by His will,
And that within all space and time you cannot hide
Save only in His shade,
You'll realize what the Treasure is, and what the Quest.
And that the path we tread is "Doubly at your service, Lord!"

O you who have known wretchedness,
Come here and find your dignity,
And honor, strength, courage, magnanimity--
Come join this desert train of loving hearts
And find that wasteland sun and scorpion tail
Mean nothing to the man who seeks his Lord.
The great Oasis shimmers there, beyond your ken--
Your eyes are shattered.
Embark with those who see and have been There.
Set foot upon the well-worn path that led them Home
And learn to trust the One who'll lead you from despair.

Ramadan, When Less Is More

From the Washington Post

Ashraf Sarsour was at an obligatory business lunch for a longtime client when he got what he describes as "the look."

Table by table, his co-workers made their way to the buffet. But he remained seated, his stomach rumbling. A waft of fried chicken filled the air. Forks and knives clinked. Waiters filled and refilled water glasses to the brim. And he sat, acutely aware that he'd become an oddity. Patience, he kept telling himself, patience.

Oooh, then he spotted the sweet potato pie, his favorite. Patience.

"Ash, what are you doing? Go eat, man," one colleague urged him.

"Thanks, but I'm fasting."

"Uh, well, here, have a drink."

"It doesn't really work that way."


DSC_4911, originally uploaded by thecoco.

Madrassa - Marrakech, Morocco

Medersa - Universidad, originally uploaded by jose_miguel.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Report: Thousands Wrongly on Terror List

From the Washington Post

Thousands of people have been mistakenly linked to names on terror watch lists when they crossed the border, boarded commercial airliners or were stopped for traffic violations, a government report said Friday.

More than 30,000 airline passengers have asked just one agency — the Transportation Security Administration — to have their names cleared from the lists, according to the Government Accountability Office report.

Courts are asked to crack down on bloggers, websites


An excerpt:

At its best, the blogosphere represents the ultimate in free speech by giving voice to millions. It is the Internet's version of Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park, a global coffeehouse where ideas are debated and exchanged.

The blogosphere also is the Internet's Wild West, a rapidly expanding frontier town with no sheriff. It's a place where both truth and “truthiness” thrive, to use the satirical word coined by comedian Stephen Colbert as a jab at politicians for whom facts don't matter.

Emploring our Lord - Celebi Camii, Turkey

Friday, October 06, 2006

In US, Ramadan gets an American twist

From the always thoughtful Christian Science Monitor

Muslims in the United States face special challenges in celebrating their holy month, which this year began Sept. 23 and ends Oct. 22. While Muslims in the Islamic world revive the daily rhythms of Ramadan - streets empty at sunset, families congregating for Ramadan dinners, or iftars, and later heading to the markets to drink tea until the wee hours of the morning, comfortable in the knowledge that they can sleep late because others will, too - Muslim-Americans have to adjust Ramadan to the beat of American life.

In the process, they're creating Ramadan traditions with a distinct American flavor - whether it's fasting in the heat of competition, eating takeout for iftar, or breaking fast with Christians and Jews.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Is There Still a Terrorist Threat?: The Myth of the Omnipresent Enemy

From Foreign Affairs

On the first page of its founding manifesto, the massively funded Department of Homeland Security intones, "Today's terrorists can strike at any place, at any time, and with virtually any weapon."

But if it is so easy to pull off an attack and if terrorists are so demonically competent, why have they not done it? Why have they not been sniping at people in shopping centers, collapsing tunnels, poisoning the food supply, cutting electrical lines, derailing trains, blowing up oil pipelines, causing massive traffic jams, or exploiting the countless other vulnerabilities that, according to security experts, could so easily be exploited?

One reasonable explanation is that almost no terrorists exist in the United States and few have the means or the inclination to strike from abroad. But this explanation is rarely offered.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Uzbek entrance

Main Entrance Door, originally uploaded by jaxxon.

Monday, October 02, 2006

"What Muslim-Americans truly represent."

Out of a cycle of ignorance

For the Guardian Unlimited by Prof. John Esposito of Georgetown University

As we remember the tragedy of the London bombings, voices in Europe and America issue ominous warnings of an Islamic threat: the rise of Eurabia, Londonistan and an Islamic caliphate. Recently, a prominent political commentator warned: "Even as Christianity seems to be dying in Europe, Islam is rising to shake the 21st century as it did so many previous centuries." The Bin Ladens and Zarqawis of the world shape perceptions of Muslims. How do we prevent the militant rhetoric and actions of a minority from defining Islam and relations between Muslims and the west?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Zaytuna Minara Program - Dayton, OH


A two-day intensive workshop taught by:
Imam Zaid Shakir
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

NOVEMBER 4th & 5th, 2006
Dayton, Ohio

Crowne Plaza Hotel
33 East Fifth Street
Dayton, OH 45402
(937) 224-0800

- Saturday & Sunday, 10:00am to 6:00pm
- $80 per person ($50 for students, student ID required)
- Price includes copy of "Agenda to Change Our Condition"
- Meals, accommodations, and transportation not included
- No children under age 10, childcare is not available

Limited capacity, register early
For info: visit
e-mail minara@zaytuna
or call (510) 582-1979

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Kocatepe Camii - Turkey

Inside Kocatepe Camii, originally uploaded by rogiro.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Qur'an Explorer: Recitation and Translation

A wonderful resource. This interactive Web site has definitely helped me this month with my recitation. Insha'Allah it is beneficial for all of you as well.

Please click here to access the site, insha'Allah.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Samarkand, originally uploaded by Schlegel.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A struggle over Europe's religious identity

Written by Dr. Tariq Ramadan

PARIS A few sentences spoken by Pope Benedict XVI were sufficient to touch off a firestorm of impassioned reaction. Throughout the Muslim world, religious leaders, presidents, politicians and intellectuals joined their voices with protesting masses angered by a perceived insult to their faith. Most did not read the pope's speech; others had relied on a sketchy summary according to which the pope had linked Islam and violence. But all railed against what they saw as an intolerable offense.

Whatever the judgments of these scholars and intellectuals, one would have hoped that they adopt a more reasoned approach in their critical remarks, for two reasons.

First, the reverence that Muslims have for the Prophet Muhammad notwithstanding, certain groups or governments manipulate crises of this kind as a safety valve for both their restive populations and their own political agenda. When people are deprived of their basic rights, it costs nothing to allow them to vent their anger over Danish cartoons or the words of the pontiff.

Iran's proud but discreet Jews

From the BBC

Although Iran and Israel are bitter enemies, few know that Iran is home to the largest number of Jews anywhere in the Middle East outside Israel.

About 25,000 Jews live in Iran and most are determined to remain no matter what the pressures - as proud of their Iranian culture as of their Jewish roots.


"Because of our long history here we are tolerated," says Jewish community leader Unees Hammami, who organised the prayers.

He says the father of Iran's revolution, Imam Khomeini, recognised Jews as a religious minority that should be protected.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Swimming in the Mystic’s litanies
Drinking from the wine of Divine Love in the ocean of epiphanies

Salvation and sanctification, paths not found through me
A guiding Way led only by The One, transcendent is He!

The Creator, The Unique, placed in the Chosen One an eye to see
The Light bestowed through he who ascended on the luminous steed
It Is for you Oh seeker, established by the Decree!

So be not fooled by the modern’s dead heart,
One hardened and extinguished by spiritual sobriety,
One finished without a new start

And flee from the one that materialism seizes
He is mired in its teases, veiled by insidious spiritual diseases

For The One, beyond limits, cannot be fathomed
Nor sought without a soul outstretched, ransomed

So swim in the ocean that contains no shores,
Be soothed by its waves that cause no sores

Cry a mighty thanks and weep in fear, it is a must, as the end nears
Let pour and be not ashamed of your abundant tears,
For it is a shame that one squanders her Ramadan in these waning years

God bless him and give him peace! Ya Lateef!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Putting a Different Face on Islam in America

From the NY Times

In a class on Islamic history at the Hartford Seminary some years back, the students were discussing a saying ascribed to the Prophet Muhammad that translates roughly as, “Whenever God wants the destruction of a people, he makes a woman their leader.”

The professor, Ingrid Mattson, suggested that the phrase should be analyzed in its historical context when Islamic societies consisted largely of tribal raiding parties. A male Saudi student contended that all such sayings were sacred and not to be challenged, the argument growing so heated that he stormed out of the classroom. Professor Mattson stood her ground, as was her style.

Now she is challenging convention again. This month, Professor Mattson, a 43-year-old convert, was elected president of the Islamic Society of North America, the largest umbrella organization for Muslim groups in the United States and Canada, making her a prominent voice for a faith ever more under assault by critics who paint it as the main font of terrorism. She is both the first woman and, as a Canadian, the first nonimmigrant to hold the post.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

We cannot afford to maintain these ancient prejudices against Islam

From The Guardian

Jesus had told his followers to love their enemies, not to exterminate them. It was when the Christians of Europe were fighting brutal holy wars against Muslims in the Middle East that Islam first became known in the west as the religion of the sword. At this time, when the popes were trying to impose celibacy on the reluctant clergy, Muhammad was portrayed by the scholar monks of Europe as a lecher, and Islam condemned - with ill-concealed envy - as a faith that encouraged Muslims to indulge their basest sexual instincts. At a time when European social order was deeply hierarchical, despite the egalitarian message of the gospel, Islam was condemned for giving too much respect to women and other menials.

In a state of unhealthy denial, Christians were projecting subterranean disquiet about their activities on to the victims of the Crusades, creating fantastic enemies in their own image and likeness. This habit has persisted. The Muslims who have objected so vociferously to the Pope's denigration of Islam have accused him of "hypocrisy", pointing out that the Catholic church is ill-placed to condemn violent jihad when it has itself been guilty of unholy violence in crusades, persecutions and inquisitions and, under Pope Pius XII, tacitly condoned the Nazi Holocaust.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Defining Today's Moderate Muslim

From the Los Angeles Times

Who is a moderate Muslim?

Is it Maher Hathout, the Los Angeles Muslim leader who has promoted interfaith relations and women's equality but denounced Israel as a brutal apartheid regime?

Is it Tashbih Sayyed, a journalist based in Alta Loma, Calif., who praises Israel's behavior toward Palestinians as tolerant and criticizes Muslims for corrupting Islam?

The question has come under intense debate since 9/11 as the public struggles to distinguish peaceful Muslims from Al Qaeda terrorists, and is at the heart of two Southern California skirmishes over who represents moderate Islam.

Very interesting part too...

"When we say we want moderate Muslims, what we are really saying is that we want Westernized Muslims who have the same kinds of sensibilities we have," Firestone said. "But that's not realistic. It's a false but human assumption that moderates must agree with us on most issues."

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Radicals are not worthy of Muslim faith

From the Sun-Sentinel newspaper

The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, recently issued a decree to its supporters: Kill at least one American in the next two weeks "using a sniper rifle, explosive or whatever the battle may require."

Well, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, I am an American, too. Count me as one of those you have asked your supporters to kill.


You say that the word of God is the highest. Yes, it is. But you are not worthy of it. You have abandoned God and you have started worshipping your own satanic egos that rejoice at the killing of innocent people. You don't represent Muslims or, for that matter, any decent human being who believes in the sanctity of life.

Many among us American Muslims have differences with our administration on domestic and foreign issues, just like many other Americans do. But the plurality of opinions does not mean that we deprive ourselves of the civility that God demands from us.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Is fear a force that gives us meaning?

From Radio OpenSource

In this hour we’ll examine the post 9/11 culture of fear. How it is perpetuated, how we react to it and what in the world we should really be bracing for. FDR once told us, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” but is fear now the force that gives us meaning? Do your fears originate from color-coded threat alerts and ever-growing terrorist cells? Or are your fears the fears of car accidents, bad diagnoses, escalating crime rates in the neighborhood? How does America identify with fear? What purpose is fear serving?

Included Guests:
  • Daveed Gartenstein-Ross: Conterterroism consultant and contributing expert to the Counterterroism Blog

Extra Readings on our culture of fear:

Station Charon: The Enduring Power of Fear
To live in America is to be beset by fear, anxiety and insecurity, to be surrounded by potential harm, enemies and evil intent.

Robert Jay Lifton: Giving Meaning to Survival, The Chronicle Review, September 28, 2001
The greatest danger in our present situation would be to resort to extreme measures to deny our vulnerability and reassert a sense of superpower invulnerability.

SunniPath: Fall Semester Registration

"The ability to participate in classes when one does not have the ability to be physically present is pioneering… the format is innovative… I encourage all of the Muslims to avail themselves of these most valuable and badly needed services."
Imam Zaid Shakir

To register, click here

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Democrat seeks to be first Muslim Congressman

From Reuters

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - A Minnesota state legislator who advocates a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq was favored to become the first Muslim in Congress, a day after he won his Democratic primary race.

State Rep. Keith Ellison, a lawyer who made little mention of his Muslim faith during the campaign and who is considered an eloquent orator, would also become the state's first black congressman if he wins the general election in November to represent a solidly Democratic district.

"In this election, we had people who say 'shalom.' We had people who say 'as-salaamu aleykum.' We had people who say all the words of greeting to each other in peace, because peace must be the guiding principle of our nation," the 43-year-old Ellison told his raucous victory party in Minneapolis on Tuesday night.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Stari Most o'r de

Stari Most o'r de, originally uploaded by Gasyth.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

IDF commander: We fired more than a million cluster bombs in Lebanon

From the Israeli newspaper Haaretz

"What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs," the head of an IDF rocket unit in Lebanon said regarding the use of cluster bombs and phosphorous shells during the war.

Quoting his battalion commander, the rocket unit head stated that the IDF fired around 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million cluster bomblets.

In addition, soldiers in IDF artillery units testified that the army used phosphorous shells during the war, widely forbidden by international law. According to their claims, the vast majority of said explosive ordinance was fired in the final 10 days of the war.

Internet is "new battleground for Israel's image"

From the Columbia Journalism Review Daily

Alarmed at what it perceives as a pro-Lebanese bias in the [mainstream media] and in cyberspace, the Israeli Foreign Ministry itself has called up a different sort of reserve force — Jewish activist and student groups — in an organized effort to win the PR war.

An appeal in the form of an emailed letter, signed by Amir Gissin, the Director for Public Affairs at the Israeli Ministry, identified the Internet as "the new battleground for Israel's image." He must have in part been referring to the almost overnight proliferation of blogs from Lebanon, which seem to be spontaneous and unsupported by any Lebanese ministry. The outpouring of first-person accounts coming out of Lebanon via newly constructed blogs and mass emails has managed to give a human and sometimes charismatic face to a country oft beleaguered by war but unable until now to disseminate with speed and savvy Lebanese narratives of what is happening in that country.

Gaza's darkness

From the Israeli newspaper Haaretz

Gaza has been reoccupied. The world must know this and Israelis must know it, too. It is in its worst condition, ever. Since the abduction of Gilad Shalit, and more so since the outbreak of the Lebanon war, the Israel Defense Forces has been rampaging through Gaza - there's no other word to describe it - killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling, indiscriminately.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Look Who's Fair and Balanced

From the Columbia Journalism Review Daily

The summer of 2006 marked an important milestone for Arab media. Israel and Hezbollah were locked in a bitter conflict that would claim the lives of more than 150 Israelis and an estimated 1,000 Lebanese -- a third of them children. Each day brought brutal new images of civilian casualties.

On American television, leading journalists, such as CNN's star presenters Anderson Cooper and John Roberts, regularly referred to Hezbollah as "terrorists" or a "terrorist militia," without bothering to attribute the label to Israeli or U.S. sources. But on the news broadcasts of the Arab world's dominant all-news channels, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, such polarizing language was rarely heard.

The irony, of course, is that Al-Jazeera was condemned by the Bush administration for using terms like "martyr," "aggression" and "terrorism" in describing the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Arab journalists should be "unbiased" like their colleagues in America, was the constant refrain from Washington.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Looking for light

Looking for light, originally uploaded by Farhang .

Man in Zanzibar

Man in Zanzibar, originally uploaded by housden photos.

Young people recall Sept. 11, their generation's day of infamy

An insightful article from the Mercury News

I don't intend on creating a false dichotomy regarding reaction or impact, but I think it's interesting to contrast the effect of Sept. 11, especially the images of and associated with that heinous event that were broadcast into middle and high school television sets across the country, on youth identity-formation of both Muslim-Americans and Americans of other faiths. I really wonder what the effect of having televisions in classrooms had on shaping America's national consciousness regarding the attacks as opposed to the less image-driven "day of infamy" — Dec. 7, 1941.

The impact on non-Muslim Americans (people of other faiths):

For today's teenagers and college students, that somber September morning brought their adolescent lives into sharp focus.

``Everyone was super freaked out,'' said Julie Hopper, who was an eighth-grader in Santa Cruz that day. ``There were all these rumors about other attacks in San Francisco, and my aunt worked at the Pentagon, and I didn't really know what was happening with her until later, when my mom found out that she was OK.''

Hopper, now a freshman at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, said that Sept. 11 definitely sparked her interest in foreign affairs: She plans to major in political science and is eager to take a world religion class to learn more about Islam.

The impact on Muslim-Americans:

Many young Muslim Americans say they felt the impact personally because the 19 hijackers were all Arab men, 15 of them from Saudi Arabia. At school, some students were harassed. Others saw their local mosques vandalized.

And for the first time, many young Muslim Americans had to explore their own feelings about Islam and cultural identity.

Faith's friction

From the St. Petersburg Times

Tampa woman who lost eight relatives in the attacks converts to Islam as tensions simmer from the memories and new terror plots. But she presses on.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

'Gaza is a jail. Nobody is allowed to leave. We are all starving now.'

From the UK paper The Independent

Gaza is dying. The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the edge of starvation. Here on the shores of the Mediterranean a great tragedy is taking place that is being ignored because the world's attention has been diverted by wars in Lebanon and Iraq.

A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most heavily populated area in the world. Israel has stopped all trade. It has even forbidden fishermen to go far from the shore so they wade into the surf to try vainly to catch fish with hand-thrown nets.

Many people are being killed by Israeli incursions that occur every day by land and air. A total of 262 people have been killed and 1,200 wounded, of whom 60 had arms or legs amputated, since 25 June, says Dr Juma al-Saqa, the director of the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City which is fast running out of medicine. Of these, 64 were children and 26 women. This bloody conflict in Gaza has so far received only a fraction of the attention given by the international media to the war in Lebanon.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ishak Pasha Sarayi

Ishak Pasha Sarayi, originally uploaded by becklectic.

Turkey, 30 km from Iranian border.

Tell Disney and ABC to stop playing partisan politics with 9-11

From the advocacy organization Media Matters

As Media Matters for America has pointed out —- and nearly everyone from 9-11 Commission members and members of Congress to prominent conservative pundits and executives at ABC has already acknowledged -- Disney-owned ABC's upcoming "docudrama" The Path to 9/11 is a fabricated, inaccurate, and misleading portrayal of the events leading up to 9-11, one which Disney and ABC deceptively marketed as a documentary-style film based on the 9-11 Commission report.

It has become apparent in recent days that Disney's production is rife with factual errors, inaccuracies, and omissions, and it relies on scenes that even those involved in its production readily admit are fabricated. The movie's premise, reportedly, joins the cause of right-wing conservatives in blaming former President Bill Clinton for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks while simultaneously letting President Bush off the hook.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Young American Muslims Seek Identity in Islam

From World Politics Watch

Sadullah Khan, Executive Director of Religious Affairs at the Islamic Center of Irvine in California, notes that the search for an identity plays a large role in the American Muslim experience.

"It is the search for a relevant identity, the greater awareness of global issues, their greater freedom to have access to a broader perspective on the world and on religion and spirituality that leads them to be more adventurous and participate in more 'Islamic' activities on campuses," said Khan.

Khan also noted that there are differences between the younger generation and older generation of Muslims in America. The parent's generation was Muslim not necessarily out of choice or conviction, he explained, but primarily because of culture. In contrast, he said, the American Muslim youth practice and view Islam more as civilizational than merely cultural.


Coexistence, originally uploaded by light guard.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

9/11 Leaves Its Mark on History Classes

From the NY Times

There is growing interest in the history of terrorism, of Muslims in America, of international cultural conflicts and exchanges. The history of foreign policy is being rethought, some historians said, with less emphasis on the cold war and more on post-colonial politics. The Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis from 1979 to 1981 seem like significant turning points in ways that they had not before.

“For historians, history is never set in stone,” said Joanne Meyerowitz, a professor of history and American studies at Yale who edited “History and September 11th” (Temple University Press, 2003), a collection of essays. “It’s written and rewritten in each generation. The events of the present, of the contemporary age, always help us reframe the events of the past. And the events of the past always help us to reframe the age we’re living in.”

A Muslim in Victorian America: The Life of Alexander Russell Webb

Newly published book by Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah, Scholar-in-Residence of the Chicago-based Nawawi Foundation

A Muslim in Victorian America: The Life of Alexander Russell Webb

Webb was a central figure of American Islam during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A native of the Hudson Valley, he was a journalist, editor, and civil servant. Raised a Presbyterian, Webb early on began to cultivate an interest in other religions and became particularly fascinated by Islam. While serving as U.S. consul to the Philippines in 1887, he took a greater interest in the faith and embraced it in 1888, one of the first Americans known to have done so. Within a few years, he began corresponding with important Muslims in India. Webb became an enthusiastic propagator of the faith, founding the first Islamic institution in the United States: the American Mission. He wrote numerous books intended to introduce Islam to Americans, started the first Islamic press in the United States, published a journal entitled The Moslem World, and served as the representative of Islam at the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago. In 1901, he was appointed Honorary Turkish Consul General in New York and was invited to Turkey, where he received two Ottoman medals of merits.

In this first-ever biography of Webb, Umar F. Abd-Allah examines Webb's life and uses it as a window through which to explore the early history of Islam in America. Except for his adopted faith, every aspect of Webb's life was, as Abd-Allah shows, quintessentially characteristic of his place and time. It was because he was so typically American that he was able to serve as Islam's ambassador to America (and vice versa). As America's Muslim community grows and becomes more visible, Webb's life and the virtues he championed - pluralism, liberalism, universal humanity, and a sense of civic and political responsibility - exemplify what it means to be an American Muslim.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Young U.S. Muslims Strive for Harmony

From the Washington Post

"The natural trend of immigrant communities," he said, is that "the first generation comes, establishing itself. Then the next generation has a different set of issues, figuring out who they are and how they fit in."

The terrorist attacks accelerated that process. "There was this pressure on the Muslim community to grow up in a year, when it's a 20-year process."

Friday, September 01, 2006

Dune Walking - Emirati style

Dune Walking, originally uploaded by JakeBrewer.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Jerusalem Summit's proposal for ethnic cleansing of Palestinian population

The frightening state of mainstream Israeli discourse...

Just a sample conclusion from the Jerusalem Summit

1. The establishment of a Palestinian State must [be] removed from the international agenda.

Sample proposal hidden well in the euphemistic language of humanitarian concern:

11. As for the Palestinians resident in Israeli administered territory, there is only one reasonable and feasible alternative that will facilitate:

(a) extricating them from their dire humanitarian plight;
(b) free them from the yoke of generations of misrule by their leadership;
(c) ensure the survival of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews.

12. This is a generous relocation and resettlement package to allow them to build a new life for themselves and their families in countries preferably, but not necessarily exclusively, with similar religious and socio-cultural conditions.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bonfire of the Brands

Found at Shaykh Faraz Rabbani's blog

From the BBC

Where some boys had posters of footballers or movie stars on their walls, I had images of trainers and turntables - to be surrounded by these names made me feel better about myself, transforming me from my humdrum middle class life in south London suburbia.

But in less than a month's time, I am going to burn every branded thing in my possession. Gucci shoes, Habitat chairs, even Simple soap. I have reached the point in my life where I can no longer be around these things, no matter how special they make me feel. Yes, it is going to be a terrible waste, yes I'll no doubt feel lost when they're gone, but at this moment in time, it seems the only thing I can do.

For more info on the insidious nature of brand-based capitalism, read Culture Jam by Kalle Lasn


Watch the PBS Frontline program The Persuaders

Islamic Revival in Syria Is Led by Women

From the New York Times

In the past, said Muhammad al-Habash, a Syrian lawmaker who is also a Muslim cleric, “we were told that we had to leave Islam behind to find our futures.”

“But these days,” he said, “if you ask most people in Syria about their history, they will tell you, ‘My history is Islamic history.’ The younger generation are all reading the Koran.”

Women are in the vanguard. Though men across the Islamic world usually interpret Scripture and lead prayers, Syria, virtually alone in the Arab world, is seeing the resurrection of a centuries-old tradition of sheikhas, or women who are religious scholars. The growth of girls’ madrasas has outpaced those for boys, religious teachers here say.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A transnational umma: reality or myth?


In the four years since 9/11 much has been written, in the west and in the Islamic world, about the emergence of a new “transnational” and militant Islam, a community of jihadis who operate independently of states, recruit from many countries, and whose operations are not confined to any particular state. Al-Qaida, for example, has had fighters from dozens of countries – from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt and Morocco, to Bosnia, Chechnya, the Philippines and Pakistan (and, on occasion, Britain, France, and Australia also).

In one sense, there is nothing particularly Muslim about this phenomenon. The facility of virtual and physical movement today means that many ideas, symbols, and causes are transmitted globally and near-instantaneously. British surprise that the 7 July bombers were “homegrown” missed the fact that there very few purely “homegrown” things left – and that, in any case, at least one of the bombers had been exposed to Pakistani Islamist, if not al-Qaida, influence.

Yet there is clearly some truth in the claim that the present form of Islamic militancy has distinct, novel features. The decentred structure of al-Qaida is very different from the hierarchical system of interwar world communism or from traditional guerrilla groups such as Ireland’s IRA, the Kurdish PKK, Lebanon’s Hizbollah or Palestine’s Hamas; and its ability and willingness to hit targets in the United States, western Europe, the middle east, Africa and southeast Asia all seem to reinforce this “transnational” model.

Alienation can be a humane response to globalisation

Written by Jeremy Seabrook for the Guardian Unlimited's opinion blog Comment is Free...

Home-grown terrorism has been bred from social dislocation as well as the destruction of alternative ideologies of hope

Fez courtyard

IMG_7479.JPG, originally uploaded by akapadia76.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Bush's field theory of fear


Israel's strategic debacle was a curiously warped and accelerated version of the US misadventure in Iraq. It used mistaken means in pursuit of misconceived goals, producing misbegotten failure. Rather than seeking the disarmament of Hizbollah, Israel sought to eliminate it permanently. If the aim had been to disarm it, in line with United Nations Security Council resolution 1559, Israel might have initiated a diplomatic round, drawing in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, to help with the Lebanese government. But, encouraged by the Bush administration, Israel treated Lebanese sovereignty as a fiction.

America's Muslims Aren't as Assimilated as You Think

From the Washington Post

If only the Muslims in Europe -- with their hearts focused on the Islamic world and their carry-on liquids poised for destruction in the West -- could behave like the well-educated, secular and Americanizing Muslims in the United States, no one would have to worry.

So runs the comforting media narrative that has developed around the approximately 6 million Muslims in the United States, who are often portrayed as well-assimilated and willing to leave their religion and culture behind in pursuit of American values and lifestyle. But over the past two years, I have traveled the country, visiting mosques, interviewing Muslim leaders and speaking to Muslim youths in universities and Islamic centers from New York to Michigan to California -- and I have encountered a different truth. I found few signs of London-style radicalism among Muslims in the United States. At the same time, the real story of American Muslims is one of accelerating alienation from the mainstream of U.S. life, with Muslims in this country choosing their Islamic identity over their American one.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Fighting Words: The Abuse of Islam in Political Rhetoric

From the legal journal JURIST

JURIST Contributing Editor Ali Khan of Washburn University School of Law says that politicians' increasing use of abusive language to describe Islam in the context of the war on terror is symptomatic of multiple problems in Anglo-American democracy and culture...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

仙境 - Yunnan Province, China

仙境, originally uploaded by Snow Kisses Sky.

From Muslims in China: A Brief History

In 755 A.D., five years after the rise of the Abbasids, during the reign of Abu Jaffar, the 3rd Abbasid Caliph, a rebellion broke out in China the leader of which was a Turk named An Lu-shan. Emperor Hasuan Tsung was driven from his capital and he abdicated in favour of his son Su Tsung (756-763 A.D.) who appealed to the Arabs for help. Abu Jaffar sent 4,000 Muslim soldiers who recovered Sian and Honanfu for the Emperor in 757 A.D.

These soldiers never went back, but instead married in China and formed the nucleus of the naturalised Chinese Muslims in Western China whose descendents live there even today. The story was repeated by Tai Tsung (763-780 A.D.), son of Su Tsung, who also sought help from Abu Jaffar when 300,000 Tibetans invaded his kingdom. Abu Jaffar sent a large contingent so much so that the Chinese government was obliged to double the tax on tea to raise funds to pay them. These Muslims also settled down in Western China and some in Yunnan, in South China, where they came to be known as Panthays.

As a result of contact with Muslim armies, many people accepted Islam, among them a tribe ralled Hui Chi, after whom the Muslims of China were known until the time of the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty, when the name was changed to Hui-Hui, by which name they are still known. But there is another name, which is generally used by Muslims, that is, Ching Zhen, In Chinese, Islam is called Ching Zhen Jiao, meaning Pure Religion, as Ching and Zhen mean clean and real respectively.