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.

China's Great Armada

From National Geographic

The greatest seafarer in China's history was raised in the mountainous heart of Asia, several weeks' travel from the closest port. More improbable yet, Zheng was not even Chinese—he was by origin a Central Asian Muslim. Born Ma He, the son of a rural official in the Mongol province of Yunnan, he had been taken captive as an invading Chinese army overthrew the Mongols in 1382. Ritually castrated, he was trained as an imperial eunuch and assigned to the court of Zhu Di, the bellicose Prince of Yan.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Blue tilework, Topkapı Palace, Istanbul

Monday, August 14, 2006

An identity crisis of our own making

Found at Shaykh Faraz Rabbani's blog Seeker's Digest

From the UK paper The Observer

Amartya Sen reminds us about Fazlur Rahman Khan in his illuminating new book, Identity and Violence. Muslims can be on different sides of many cultural and political divides; to be a Muslim is not to have an unasked-for, all-engulfing identity. Yet the current enthusiasm for tying people down to one simple identity not only fosters a bleakly reductive view of what human beings are and may become, but also frequently fuels violence. Sen's passionate insistence on the need for a more nuanced view takes him into a discussion of some of the most pressing political issues we face: terrorism, Iraq, globalisation and the management of multicultural societies.

Aiding Our Enemies

By New York Times columnist Bob Herbert.

“Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.” — George Santayana

Here we go again.

I wonder if Americans will continue to fall for the political exploitation of their fears of terrorism, or if voters will begin to show some awareness of the fact that they have been cynically manipulated, and that our current policies have been disastrously counterproductive.

The disrupted plot to blow up as many as 10 passenger jets bound for the United States was a reminder, as if we needed a reminder, that the threat of terror remains both real and imminent. And it was a reminder that the greatest danger to Americans here at home continues to be an attack by a group affiliated with, or inspired by, Al Qaeda.

That being the case, what in the world are we doing in Iraq?

The day the enemy became 'Islamic fascists'


News from London Thursday morning that British intelligence agents had foiled a potential new terrorist plot in its advanced stages prompted the highest level security alert in the United States since 9/11, and brought trans-Atlantic travel to its knees.

It was a “stark reminder,” President Bush said in his first public reaction to the events, that “this nation is at war with Islamic fascists,” seeking to destroy freedom-loving societies.

At this dramatic moment, it was not “war with terrorism,” as the president characterized events shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, or a “war on terror," as he has referred to it more commonly over time.

Instead, the war was now with “Islamic fascists” — a term that has rarely been used by the president before this week. Was it used in the heat of the moment, or was the president rolling out a new way of explaining U.S. policy — choosing new words to explain and solidify support?

The term is not new inside the Beltway. Washington’s neo-conservatives have bandied about “Islamo-fascist” and “Islamic fascism,” for months. And it's true that the president referred to the term at least once before, in a speech in October. But the president chose to use the expression pointedly at a key moment: the day after the arrests of British men of Pakistani ancestry in a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners — and almost exactly three months before congressional elections.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Israel Asks U.S. to Ship Rockets With Wide Blast

From the NY Times

If the shipment is approved, Israel may be told that it must be especially careful about firing the rockets into populated areas, the senior official said.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

USA's Muslims under a cloud

From USA Today

Motaz Elshafi, 28, a software engineer, casually opened an internal e-mail at work last month. The message began, "Dear Terrorist."

The note from a co-worker was sent to Muslims working at Cisco Systems in Research Triangle Park, N.C., a few days after train bombings in India that killed 207. The e-mail warned that such violent acts wouldn't intimidate people, but only make them stronger.

"I was furious," says Elshafi, who is New Jersey-born and bred. "What did I have to do with this violence?"

Reports of such harassment and discrimination against Muslims are rising, advocacy groups say. A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of 1,007 Americans shows strong anti-Muslim feeling. And the hard feelings are damaging the mental health of U.S. Muslims, suggest new studies to be released at the American Psychological Association meeting starting Thursday in New Orleans.

Hizbullah's attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon

Found at DeenPort

It's written by Anders Strindberg for the Christian Science Monitor

Since its withdrawal of occupation forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israel has violated the United Nations-monitored "blue line" on an almost daily basis, according to UN reports. Hizbullah's military doctrine, articulated in the early 1990s, states that it will fire Katyusha rockets into Israel only in response to Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians or Hizbullah's leadership; this indeed has been the pattern.

In the process of its violations, Israel has terrorized the general population, destroyed private property, and killed numerous civilians. This past February, for instance, 15-year-old shepherd Yusuf Rahil was killed by unprovoked Israeli cross-border fire as he tended his flock in southern Lebanon. Israel has assassinated its enemies in the streets of Lebanese cities and continues to occupy Lebanon's Shebaa Farms area, while refusing to hand over the maps of mine fields that continue to kill and cripple civilians in southern Lebanon more than six years after the war supposedly ended. What peace did Hizbullah shatter?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Saqi (Water Carrier)

The Saqi (Water Carrier), originally uploaded by rsaslan.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Manrilla Podcast: Race and Religion

Found at the blog Third Resurrection

This is very interesting, indeed. Please check out the promotional notes below written by Marqas of Manrilla Blog and then download his podcast. This is very important documentation for Muslim-Americans and a great idea that God-willing will be built upon by others around the country.

Earlier this year I was asked to participate in a project by a group of grad students from Hunter College in NYC. It was a spiritual biography of sorts. It traced lines along religion and race. The final project has yet to be published but an excerpt is now available for listening. So take a few moments to download the first in a series of podcasts forthcoming from the Manrilla Blog. It’s approximately 14 minutes in length [25MB]. Enjoy.

Let's Start Talking

A NY Times op-ed piece by columnist Nicholas D. Kristof.

As I see it, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is shooting Israel and America in the feet (and Lebanon in the stomach) each day that he continues his onslaught, with President Bush enthusiastically providing the ammunition.

But since discussions of the Middle East usually involve people shouting past each other, let me stop harrumphing and try to address head-on the arguments of the many readers who disagree.

It’s a tragedy that Lebanese children are dying, but it would be crazy to accept a cease-fire now. That would hand Hezbollah a huge victory and return the Middle East to the impossible situation of the last few years, with rockets still raining down on northern Israel. So the U.S. has to give Israel space to get this job done.

Look at the results so far with the job half done: some 600 dead Lebanese, and scores of dead Israelis; Hezbollah’s rise to heroic status; the strengthening of Syria’s hard-line regime; the weakening of moderates like King Abdullah of Jordan; a boost for Shiite militants in Iraq and around the region; the marginalization of Lebanon’s democracy movement; and the further trashing of America’s reputation around the world.

casablanca mosque fountain

casablanca mosque fountain, originally uploaded by xinejc.