Posts Tagged ‘muslim’

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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11

09 2011

Anti-Semitism is a Scrambled Egg

…except not as tasty…at least not when you are the one getting scrambled.

I am involved with Students for Justice in Palestine at DePaul University which has been getting some press recently due to our campaign against the not-so-tasty Sabra Hummus sold in our school dining quarters[1]. The boycott campaign started because “[t]he Strauss Group [a parent company of Sabra] maintains a direct material relationship with the Israeli military, particularly providing two elite Israeli brigades with financial support and care packages”[2] (see more in our Public Statement in the footnote). At the moment the Fair Business Practices Committee is analyzing DePaul’s relationship with Sabra and deciding whether or not it is in line with DePaul University’s stated values. So, what does this have to do with anti-Semitism?

As should be expected, our friends at Hillel objected to the campaign, especially because DePaul’s dining services temporarily removed the hummus from shelves[3]. That is all fine and dandy, they are entitled to their opinion and their own political activism (at least they care about something…right?…eh, maybe not). They decided to plug their statement to the university and to the Fair Business Practices Committee. It included this:

“However, by improperly restating the parameters of this conflict to one of human rights it puts SJP into a position to allow its agenda to influence the environment on the DePaul campus to the point where it successfully secured the school’s Dining Services to remove Sabra hummus. It is this environment that bodes ominously for our school’s future for Jewish students and genuine dialogue between Jews and Muslims.”[4]

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11

12 2010

On Critically Reading the Wikileaks

By Ali A.

Only a small proportion of the announced documents have been released so far by the Wikileaks. As such it is a bit early to suggest anything conclusively on the value of these documents and their impact. While following the release, a few tentative thoughts came to mind that I want to share here in the interest of starting a constructive discussion. The examples I mention below are not from the Wikileaks, but they are close to some of the released bits I have seen. The purpose here is not to analyze specific cables but to elaborate a critical perspective for reading these leaks.

Rarely do diplomats speak out their minds and hearts in candid terms. The most sensitive information is almost always communicated in person, not over digital lines or mails. Therefore, one needs to think about not only what was said in these cables but also what was not said.

Even for communications over digital lines and mails, on important issues the US diplomats and other government officials usually use plain but coded language. The person sitting on the other end has to decipher the language and read between the lines. The dots can be hard to connect for an outsider, who may understand no more than just the apparent meaning of a leaked text. However, the added layers can be uncovered by placing such texts in the context of the politics and interests of the involved political players.

A person’s perspective matters a lot for this reason. For example, a leak could suggest that, “Iran is a threat to regional stability and the Arab nations fear its nuclear capabilities.” Now, this message may mean one thing to a devoted FOX News follower and another to the one critical of the American hegemonic ambitions and support to the status-quo regimes of the Middle East. Hence, the interpretation and value of such a statement depends on the perspective with which people judge it and how critically informed are those perspectives.
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01

12 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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01

11 2010