Archive for the ‘Media’Category

The Mayor and His Myopia

by Mohammad Ali Naquvi

In response to the recent boycott of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s annual inter-faith breakfast this morning by over a dozen NYC Muslim leaders, the Mayor reasserted his support for the NYPD/CIA secret spying program by responding with the following statement:


“If you want to look for cases of measles, you’ll find a lot more of them among young people,” he said, according to an Associated Press account. “That’s not targeting young people to go see whether they have measles or not.”


It’s thoughtful of the Mayor to use an analogy, so that the rest of us can try to comprehend the wisdom of an illegal spying program on everyday Muslims.  I remember when I was studying for the SAT in high school, my course review teacher explained a simple test to see if an analogy works. You need to substitute the pairs of words into the same sentence, he told us.  So in this case, the pairs would be:


cases of measles : young people :: terrorists : Muslims


Since the Mayor has already provided us with a sentence, let’s just substitute in the second pair of words to see the brilliance of the analogy:


“If you want to look for [terrorists], you’ll find a lot more of them among [Muslims],” he said, according to an Associated Press account. “That’s not targeting [Muslims] to go see whether they [are terrorists] or not.”

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01 2012

Islamic Literature

I recently read “Minaret” by Leila Aboulela as part of a book club. While discussing the novel, we brought up the notion of a Muslim voice in American literature.

The book deals with Najwa, a girl forced to leave Sudan as her father is executed for corruption after the fall of the government. She settles in England and leaves behind her life of short skirts and infatuation with Western culture and embraces hijab and the stricter aspects of Islam.

The book had a clear message: Najwa had a fulfilled life because she devoted it to her religion. She’s very vocal about this throughout the story, and her views of others is shaded by whether or not they’re practicing Muslims.
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10 2011

9-11 Essay

The late Edward Said in his last series of lectures Humanism and Democratic Criticism defined the role of modern Humanists and their responsibilities to society. This is one of my favorite lines from the lectures:

“Nowhere is this more true for the American humanist today, whose proper role, I cannot stress strongly enough, is not to consolidate and affirm one tradition over all others. It is rather to open them all, or as many as possible, to each other, to question each of them for what it has done with the other, to show how in this polyglot country in particular many traditions have interacted and—more importantly—can continue to interact in peaceful ways, ways never easy to find but nonetheless discoverable also in other multicultural societies…in other words, American humanism, by virtue of what is available to it in normal course of its own context and historical reality, is already in a state of civic coexistence, and, to the prevailing worldview disseminated by U.S officialdom…humanism provides little short of stubborn, and secular, intellectual resistance.”

Where are we as Americans 10 years after the September 11th attacks? Have we espoused the principles of egalitarianism, understanding, and brotherhood with our fellow Americans and the Citizens of the global community? Or have we grown more isolated, introverted and developed enclaves of seclusion? The most promising signs after 10 years after the attacks have been interfaith growth and cultural understanding between previously opposing or isolated communities. In the realm of culture we have seen Muslims starting to come into their own, from actors, comedians, poets, playwrights, rappers, and writers. We are starting to see Muslim-Americans take hold of their own narrative— The Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 30s revitalized and rejuvenated the African American community in America. A young poet wrote The Negro Speaks of Rivers:

I’ve known rivers:

I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the

flow of human blood in human veins.


My soul has grown deep like the rivers.


I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln

went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy

bosom turn all golden in the sunset.


I’ve known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.


My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

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09 2011

Muslims as Artists

From, a photo of two Pakistani policewomen.

It’s been pretty heartening seeing things like the Muslims Wearing Things blog ( and Reza Aslan’s newest book “Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East” pop up.

I’ve always thought that the best way for Muslims to make strides is through our artistic talent and showing the different faces that Muslims have.

The Muslim clothing blog popped up after NPR’s Juan Williams made his comments about “Muslim garb” as a way to prove that there is no such thing as a certain Muslim look.

Aslan describes his book as a collection of fiction and non-fiction poems and short stories written by authors in Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and other parts of the Middle East, both in the past and from the present.

“It’s like a new kind of history book … it’s written by the poets and writers,” he said recently on The Colbert Report. “The best way to reframe perceptions … is through the arts.”

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11 2010

The Yasser al-Habib Controversy

The Yasser al-Habib Controversy: A Framework for Sunni-Shi’i Relations

According to the stereotypical narrative, the Ahl al-Sunnah and the Shi’a have been at each other’s throats since the development of the two intellectual and doctrinal trajectories in Islam. This stereotype has recently flared up yet again in a very public fashion.

“Shaykh” Yasser Habib, a Kuwaiti Shi’i, is recognized by some as a scholar of Islam. He recently made a handful of derogatory comments about A’isha, the mother of the believers and one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (p), that have been taken as slander and seriously offensive to much of the Muslim world. In fact, his comments have led to the revocation of his citizenship and nationality by the Kuwaiti government. It is feared by many Shi’a communities that these comments will spark a renewed wave of misinformation and further alienation of their communities from the majority Ahl al-Sunnah communities.

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11 2010

More Like Insanity: Another Perspective

More Like Insanity

By Fatemah Meghji

Earlier this year, I stood for hours in the rain on the streets of New York to attend a filming of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And I had a good time- I honestly enjoy it when Jon rips apart Fox News, CNN, and the joke of a media that exists. I also had the opportunity to ask Jon a question, and so, I asked him if his political commentary had a point in the larger scheme of things as he exposed the hypocrisies of the media and in a way, brought the reality of some situations to the forefront (for example, his clip on Operation Cast Lead). His response was that he was not trying to pursue any agenda or even portray the real news, that it was just humor meant to expose every absurdity, and that if the Daily Show took a stance, they would become the very demagogues they seek to mock. In fact, he said, “There is no point. That’s the point.” I was slightly disappointed in his response, but thought to myself that if he did have a point in what he did, he wasn’t going to tell the whole world about it- that would defeat the purpose if his agenda was noble in any way.

After this weekend though, I have to say that I honestly believe that you meant what you said, Jon, and I apologize for doubting you. And I’m positive that there is no point meant in your comedy nor do you intend to inspire anybody to stand up for real change in a disintegrating society. At the so-called Rally to Restore Sanity, attended by hundreds of thousands of people, you proved that the rally (if it can even be called a rally since rallies usually have a point) should have been called the Rally to Restore Ignorance and Apathy.
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10 2010

Rally for Sanity: My Perspective

As soon as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced their rallies in D.C., my sister and I knew we had to get here. I’ve always been a big fan of their shows, mostly because they make me laugh on a daily basis, and everyone can use a laugh after a long day.

We decided to take a road trip from Chicago and set out on the 12-hour drive on Friday. It was an amazing day for a drive, and we felt a real camaraderie with all the other travelers we saw on the road with “Rally to Restore Sanity” or “March to Keep Fear Alive” posters on their cars. We honked at people with slogans on their windshields, and they were always excited to get a reaction from strangers on the road. We didn’t know what to expect from the event itself, but we knew that whatever happened, it would be a fun experience.

My sister, my cousin and I set out on Saturday morning from Arlington, Va. to catch the Metro into D.C., but we soon realized that wouldn’t be an easy task. The line snaked up the escalator with people waiting to purchase tickets. We quickly switched game plans and asked my cousin’s husband to drive us as far as he could without getting stuck in traffic. It was a pleasant surprise to see that there was absolutely no traffic in town because everyone decided to use public transport. Read the rest of this entry →



10 2010

Attention America: We are Americans Too

Pamela Geller vs Imam on CNN Sunday Morning June 6, 2010

Note: I refer to we or us, sometimes in the context of ‘Muslims’ and at other times in the context of ‘the West.’ I do so not because I see any diametric opposition (clash of civilizations) between the two but because I consider myself a part of both.

First, let me get something off my chest.


We (Muslims) don’t. Really, we don’t. We really don’t.

In fact we are you. Believe it or not, we (Muslim Americans) are Americans too. We eat and sleep like you. We have families like you and we have similar concerns like you. We worry about the state of the economy when it is down. We worry about job security, about education, and about the future of our children. We attend mosques just like other Americans attend churches, synagogues, and other places of worship. And I assure you, in those mosques we engage in worship and social activities, just come by anytime. Mosques, contrary to what disinformers of Islam claim are open and welcome to the public, even to the pesky FBI agents who come around incognito looking for a smoking gun.

And let me tell you something else. We think the world sucks post 9/11 too. We’re not happy and we hate the terrorists who carry out acts of violence as much as you do. Perhaps even more because Muslim Americans died in those attacks just like any other Americans and on top of that the extremists who commit such egregious acts have hijacked and dishonored our religion.

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10 2010

The War on Logic

Recently the author of the “LSAT Blog” posted an entry in regard to the controversy surrounding Park51 in New York City. In it he used the arguments put forth by the opponents of the construction of Park51 near ground zero as a teaching tool for identifying logical fallacies. In reading this lesson, it struck me just how useful teaching formal logic to all American citizens (and not just attorneys) would be. While many wars have been fought over the past decade, one that is rarely discussed is the war being waged on logic.

With the advent of the Internet, social media and cell phones, information is more readily available today than any other time in human history. Due to this, our society has the potential to reach greater intellectual heights than ever before. However, that status will never be reached unless we are able to distinguish the truth from what simply looks like the truth. Without possessing the requisite analytical tools to distinguish between the two, namely, knowledge of formal logic, we do not stand a chance. Due to the variety of perspectives in society, a real understanding of logic, whether through formal education or a google search, is perhaps the most necessary tool for a 21st century citizen to posses.
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09 2010

Fighting Islamophobia

As much talk there is about Islamophobia nowadays, I think hatred toward Muslims is a classic case of “The Other.” Whatever you call it, Muslims are misunderstood and misrepresented.

The latest issue regarding the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” may not be a case of wanting to vilify Muslims. In some ways, I think it’s just finding someone to lash out against. Muslims just happen to fit the category in this moment in time.

The most distressing part of the discussion hasn’t been that people are angry or don’t want the mosque. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinions, and the issue brings out a lot of emotion in people.

No, the most troubling has been the insistence that ALL Muslims are a certain way, no matter the proof to the contrary.

Sure, there are Muslims who would like nothing more than to see the destruction of America. And there are those who will go to extremes to reach that end. But there are the rest of us – the majority of us, I would argue – that have the exact opposite views. Sure, we hear a lot about Islam as a “religion of peace,” but those words start sounding hollow after a while.

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08 2010