How Attempts to Humanize Muslims Often Do the Exact Opposite

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CROSSPOST: Riad Alarian

About a decade ago, the New Jersey chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS) released a video titled “I am a Muslim” that aimed to sensitize American viewers to a friendly, apolitical image of Islam in response to rising Islamophobia across the United States.

The video, which amassed millions of views, features a young man named Muhammad nervously proclaiming that he does not like falafel, has never ridden a camel, and “knew who his wife was” before he married her, among other claims. Citing the various social and scientific accomplishments of Muslims, Muhammad eventually abandons his shy demeanor and shouts about his love for Islam to dispel the notion that the religion is incompatible with American values.

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Does the Orlando Attack have *something* to do with Liberalism too Maajid Nawaz?

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The War on Terror has produced industries which feed off misery and violence.  Arms and fuel industries are the most obvious. With the response to attacks in the West defined by neoconservatives, and the focus being ideology, the psuedo-scientific counter-extremism industry has blossomed.

Every time an attack happens, these nefarious individuals and organisation, clearly established to lend credence to neoconservative policies of various shapes and hue, are rejuvenated.  They feed off violence. The attacks in Orlando a couple of days ago once again brought these organisations and individuals back into action.

Maajid Nawaz, as per form, and sounding like a broken record, did not hesitate to drag Islam into the equation once more:

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ASCL’s Ramadan Paper: Deformation of Islam Beneath the Cover of Concern and Advice (2)

ASCL Ramadan guidance

Part 1 can be accessed here:

ASCL’ s Ramadan Paper: Deformation of Islam Beneath the Cover of Concern and Advice (1)


Doublespeak and Distorted Theology

The paper claims that “ASCL does not endorse any particular interpretation of Islamic law or practice.” A close analysis of the content reveals misleading and blatantly incorrect statements which are presented as erudite scholarship, and which the paper adopts as its position under the guise of “advice”.

Thus from the start the paper states,

“They should be made aware that there is a wide and diverse range of opinions on how to observe Ramadan and from what age, which give the necessary allowances for them to perform to the best of their ability in exams.

“If the school notices signs of dehydration or exhaustion then the child should be asked if they are fasting and advised to terminate the fast immediately by drinking some water. They can be reassured that in this situation Islamic rulings allow them to break their fast and make it up later.”

Assuming the position of a Mufti,[1] the authors of the paper seemed to have gone fatwa-shopping and settled on a bad buy. The paper has clearly taken a position that where mere signs of dehydration or exhaustion manifest, pupils can break their fast. Of course, this new Mufti for schools struggles with the utmost basics. When one considers that that the paper asserts that “Those fasting are recommended to have one meal (suhur) just before sunrise”, there is not much hope in the reliability of the rest of the espoused theology. The suhur meal is just before dawn, not sunrise.

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ASCL’s Ramadan Paper – Deformation of Islam beneath the cover of Concern and Advice (1)

ASCL Ramadan guidance

In a world dominated by a fast-paced environments denoted by the maximisation of profits, the tendency to enter into “cruise-control” upon the pathway of life is inevitable. The often spiritually devoid nature can take its toll. For Muslims, the month of Ramadan operates as the nudge which forces the Muslim psyche to recognise the spiritual state and take steps through the obligatory fasting (sawm) and associated worship to reform the soul.

Sawm is not just merely a ritual; it’s an obligation which is central to Islam to the extent that it is referred to as a pillar of this religion. To unshackle the understanding of modernity imposed upon Islam, it is not simply a ritual relegated to the private sphere but operates as an act which imbues the soul with Islamic morality which is defined by its quality of transcendentalism – i.e. its implications are not limited to the temporal but far more importantly, beyond the ephemeral. For a believer it is sine qua non for the purposes of discharging one of the most fundamental obligations in Islam.

Recent reports however, have taken to delegitimising fasting in the month of Ramadan in the context of schools.

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Orientalism, Palestine and covering Islam

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CROSSPOST: Dr Hatem Bazian

Three of Edward Said’s books are as timely today as the day they were published almost 40 years ago: Orientalism (1978), The Question of Palestine (1979), and Covering Islam (1981). The three constitute Said’s trilogy that focused on literary and artistic representation in the service of empire, colonial dispossession, and the media shaping and reproducing Orientalist tropes. Said’s contributions are an invaluable source for anyone attempting to deconstruct the ebbs and flows of events and development in the Arab and Muslim worlds. At the same time, the three books offer a strong critique of Western policies and public discourse that purport to cover the “East” as a separate and mysterious place filled with irrationality.

Observing the daily events in the Arab and Muslim worlds, one is at a loss to comprehend the sheer destruction and the snuffing out of hope faced by a multitude of peoples – 1.4 billion, to be precise. Said’s writing intuitively de-constructed the racialized lens used by Western academics, press, and policymakers to justify their continued disregard of the needs and well-being of the Arab and Muslim worlds.

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Shari’ah Councils and the Neocon Politics of Government Reviews

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When it comes to instituting inquiries which examine the actions of the government, the lethargy is yawningly apparent. The Chilcot inquiry has been postponed so many times one refuses to believe that after seven years, subsequent to warring in Libya, Iraq and now Syria, the due date (6 July 2016) will actually see the report published.

Theresa May’s inquiries into the alleged Westminster paedophile allegations saw similar deferrals. With documents related to the investigation spontaneously going missing from within the Home Office, inquiries being stalled and those linked to accused political figures being placed as chairs of the inquiry, towards the end of the 2014, the inquiry itself had become a scandal.

When it comes examining Islam and Muslims, however, our government is on form.

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