Archive for the ‘islam’ tag
A Muslim woman unintentionally learned that dressing for the cold changes most everything about who she’s perceived as she moves around the world:
But then it became fishy. The Muslim taxi drivers who would almost always say “Assalamu Alaikum,” ask me where I’m from or if I’m single, or not allow me to pay for the fare became cold and dry. I would simply give the address, and the only dialog thereafter was at time of payment. It was puzzling.
At least for American Muslims, I think there’s a reasonable argument for calling “jihad” a curse word in the “nigger” sense. That’s one of the salient points made in this quite good (and rather long) profile of Yasir Qadhi, a rather popular conservative cleric.
I’m a little behind, but though this story doesn’t directly address Mubarak’s fall in Egypt (published at the end of January, it couldn’t), it’s the most interesting thing I’ve seen about it. David Mendicoff argues that America’s fetishizing of secularism in Middle Eastern leaders is probably hurting our desire for both stability and liberalization.
Survey research in the Arab world, such as the University of Michigan’s Arab Barometer project, has found that respondents generally consider themselves Muslims above other markers of identity, including national citizenship. As a result, Islam isn’t just a feature of a national government; for many citizens, it may be as important as the idea of the nation itself. By forcing Islam out of state politics, as Tunisia did, the government can actually reduce its own legitimacy in the eyes of the people, leaving it vulnerable and forcing it to lean more heavily on the machinery of a police state.
EDIT (2/19/11): An slightly different take can be found in the New Statesman.
It feels a little silly, but I’d never thought much about the similarity between the current heat surrounding images of Muhammad and the idol breaking that played a role both in the “Great schism” and reformation. The logic of the offended believers is similar:
“The prohibition is intended to protect the faithful from that sin [of polytheism]. The fear was that intense reverence for the prophet might if unrestrained cross over into worship. In the 8th and the 9th centuries a general consensus banning such depictions arose among the clerics, but not all Muslims knew of it, paid attention, or obeyed.”
This image — presented excellently by Mr. Kleon — from Colin Powell’s appearance on Meet the Press made me cry:
Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That’s not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that he is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
I feel particularly strong about this because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother at Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone, and it gave his awards - Purple Heart, Bronze Star - showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the head stone, it didn’t have a Christian cross. It didn’t have a Star of David. It has a crescent and star of the Islamic faith.
And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could serve his country and he gave his life.
According to Slate’s Explainer, most African-American Muslims — who actually identify as one or the other — are Sunnis.
A 2007 survey by the Pew Research Center found that among the several million Muslims in America, 20 percent are native-born African-Americans. Among those black Muslims, half identified themselves as Sunni—as Ellison does—and another third said they had no affiliation. There are a handful of predominantly black Shiite mosques in the United States, though they represent a small minority of all black Muslims.
Remember that hubbub about how radical Islam was fracturing? Count The Economist as a doubter:
There is no denying that al-Qaeda has damaged its own cause by killing so many Muslims. That is why even Sunni Arabs in Iraq have for now joined the American side. A report from Simon Fraser University in Canada notes an extraordinary drop in support for terrorist groups in the Muslim world.
And yet the impact of this on global terrorism may, alas, be small. Al-Qaeda has compensated for its strategic setback in Iraq by creating a sanctuary in the tribal areas of Pakistan. As for its ideological problems, these may well be outweighed by the continuing current of anti-Americanism in the Islamic world. Besides, the organisation has a simple remedy. It just needs to kill more Westerners and fewer Muslims. For this it does not have to attract millions of people to its cause: a small number of disaffected souls in the right places is all it takes.
In an idea that you’ll probably either welcome or condemn, 12 countries have hosted programs that allow citizens to rent a Muslim, an immigrant, or an Indian atheist. You know, for forced housework cultural interaction and stuff. An interesting detail:
The types of ‘book’ engaged vary from country to country. And the response from the public can be instructive. In Britain, for example, the Muslim and the ex-gang member are popular. In Hungary, it was the neo-Nazi, says Abergel. In some countries, homosexual ‘books’ are popular, but less so in a place like Britain, “because here you’re more liberal and used to it.”
Why refrain from calling terrorists jihadis?
First, to call a terrorist a “jihadist” or “jihadi” effectively puts any campaign against terrorism into the framework of an existential battle between the West and Islam. This feeds into the worldview propagated by Al Qaeda. It also serves to isolate the tens of millions of Muslims who condemn the violence that has been perpetrated in the name of Islam.
Second, these words locate the ideological battle exactly where the extremists want it to be. The terms of discussion are no longer about the murder of innocents in terrorist acts; they are about theology.
Third, when American leaders use this language it sends a confusing message to the Muslim world, showing ignorance on basic issues and possibly even raising doubts about American motives. Why, after all, would we call our enemy a “holy warrior”?
The Reformed Jihadis
When two publications simultaneously carry what is essentially the same — rather long — story, it’s got to be worth noting.
- In The New Yorker, Lawrence Wright has an exhaustive — 14 internet pages — profile of “Dr. Fadl”, who recently published a book admonishing Al Qaeda for it’s tactics.
- The New Republic’s (slightly) briefer article sees a trend of people like Dr. Fadl, who dissent from Al Qaeda’s tactics even if they share some of their aims.
The essential point of both, as stated in TNR:
Although Benotman’s public rebuke of Al Qaeda went unnoticed in the United States, it received wide attention in the Arabic press. In repudiating Al Qaeda, Benotman was adding his voice to a rising tide of anger in the Islamic world toward Al Qaeda and its affiliates, whose victims since September 11 have mostly been fellow Muslims. Significantly, he was also joining a larger group of religious scholars, former fighters, and militants who had once had great influence over Al Qaeda’s leaders, and who — alarmed by the targeting of civilians in the West, the senseless killings in Muslim countries, and Al Qaeda’s barbaric tactics in Iraq — have turned against the organization, many just in the past year.