A friend of mine tells me that Islamic Forum Europe (IFE) is holding a lecture this coming Saturday (2nd September) on Arabic calligraphy. The lecture will be delievered by Abu Mustafa and will take place after Asr (which is 18:30) at the London Muslim Centre. Nearest tubes are Aldgate East (District and Hammersmith & City lines), and Whitechapel (District, Hammersmith & City and East London lines). Buses that serve the mosque locale are 25, 254, 15, 115 and D3.
Ibrahim N. Abusharif has another couple of brilliant posts. The first is on how the Qur'an connects despair and disbelief; the second on the subtext of many reports on "radical Islam" which link salat and the ritual practice of Islam with violence and extremism.
Despair and Disbelief: "Despair and disbelief are soul-mates, according to the Quran: “None despairs of God’s mercy except people who disbelieve” (12:87). What’s implied here specifically is the loss of hope for God’s compassion as a quality of those who willingly or unwittingly scoff the sacred, or, as the word kufr strongly suggests, those who are ungrateful to the point of denial."
Prayer and Violence:"I noticed something in the two-hour report -- something which I had
noticed before in many a documentary or report on "radical Islam" --
that the film footage accompanying the narration that speaks of OBL's
radicalization process included men praying in a mosque. Now this is
hardly the first time we see the Ritual Prayer of Islam linked (through
image) with a scripted narrator's screed about violent teachings and
extremism. We all sense it: image is a formidable conveyor of a
message, especially in a time of intellectual sloth in which "image" is
paramount culturally, politically, and commercially, more so than the
written word, which also struggles with dilution."
Austrolabe:"[B]efore Muslims rush to support such laws [against vilification of religious beliefs] and the ideas that
underpin them, we should remember that every argument being made
against the Christians by the Muslims can also be used by Christians
(or Jews or Hindus or atheists) against us. If it is true that there is
no distinction between Islam and Muslims, then it is equally true, for
example, that no distinction can be made between what Jews may
understand as vilification of Judaism and the offence of inciting
religious hatred against the Jewish people."
The deadline is this Friday 1st September. Although the official rules state 12pm EST, that means nothing to me here near the Greenwich meridian, so I'll accept submissions until 12pm GMT (that's 1pm BST Britishers). The Carnival will then be posted on the following Friday in accordance with the rules.
SHAHID MALIK MP has given an energetic response to Lord Ahmed’s charge that he — Malik — is doing the BNP's work for them by telling Muslims who want to live under sharia law to "go and live somewhere where they have it" (News Review, last week).
Other minorities — including many Jews — would feel uncomfortable at Malik's suggestion. Britain is our home. Why leave it? All legal systems evolve. If sharia or halacha (Jewish law) have something to contribute to British law then let the debate begin. That, surely, is what civilised societies do.
Rabbi Brian Fox Menorah Synagogue South Manchester
That a rabbi should write such a letter is instructive, because it reminds us that when Muslims usually talk about "shariah law", they're often referring to quite everyday, mundane, situations and tasks for which a Muslim will try and seek validation or answers; in much the same way an observant Jew might seek approval from the corpus of his or her faith. Yes, some laws derived from the shariah would not fit with the laws in Britain, but, by and large, Muslims in Britain are not talking about that. Indeed, shariah is observed should a Muslim decide to pray in a certain manner prescribed by the sources of shariah or if a Muslim decides to stick to certain dietry restrictions (like not eating pork chops). It wouldn't surprise me that much of Islamic family law (IFL) could still be observed by Muslims in Britain, without the need for state intervention, as long as both parties in such agreements coem to a common agreement.
Update:Kashif and Tariq both take a look at how Muslims (ab)use Jewish sources, a charge we also make against outsiders who distort Muslim texts.
I got back from a weekend away (it was a long Bank Holiday weekend here), to find the world in pretty much the same sorry mess I left her in.
I did catch something about the release of two American journalists taken hostage in Gaza. Israel/Palestine is not something I blog about for a number of reasons. But what did prick my ears about this story was the video of the two men being forced to convert to Islam (note, you might the comments distasteful on that link), after which their ordeal ended:
"Mr [Steve] Centanni told Fox News the two had been forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint [...] I have the highest respect for Islam... but it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns and we didn't know what the hell was going on," he said by telephone from Gaza City."
Thankfully, the journalists were not harmed and Centanni himself seemed to acknowledge that his 'conversion' was not considered part of Islamic practice or belief. But Steven Guess opines:
"It distresses me greatly that thusfar no Islamic websites I visit have made any mention on their blogs/news outlets that this was wrong and inhumane."
He acknowledges that people, Muslims in this case, perhaps don't feel the need to speak out against something which they obviously bear no responsibility for. One could cite scripture, but that is not the point here. The crux of the matter is this: should a Muslim feel compelled to speak out against something 'done in the name of Islam' which they believe to be totally contrary to their faith?
One side would argue that no matter how loudly a vast number of Muslims will shout about terrorism, murder and so on being against Islamic beliefs and principles, bigots will still claim that such acts are 'part of Islam'. Further more, as the blogger in that link says, no one asks the English to apologise for the acts of English hooligans abroad. The flip side is explained by Tariq Nelson:
"[The] political realities, even though we may not like it, make it necessary for the Muslim organizations to distance Islam from it in a clear and unambiguous manner. Given the constant barrage of negative images of Muslims the common person sees on a daily basis, and our relative isolation from society, I don’t think it is reasonable to expect a person not to ask a few questions about this or expect to see some type of condemnation of things done in the name of Islam."
The (sad) reality is that, ordinarily, people do not inform themselves of what they see or hear in the popular media. Even when they do out to seek more information, it can end up simply being a task to enforce their own prejudice (which might explain the popularity of certain blogs and the comments on the videos of the 'conversion' at YouTube). In our media-saturated environments, and especially in more affluent societies (where everyone, rich or poor, has access to a television), sound bites, opinion polls and visual images on the box-in-the-room seem to form the staple diet of information today. It's not that television cannot be informative; it most certainly can. Nor is it the case that everyone should become a scholar of the subject under discussion. Rather, when watching television people may not be discerning or critical and accept everything at face value (the same approach, should be taken when reading a book too, of course). So, if the news reports that two hostages were forced to convert to Islam whilst showing videos of these 'conversion', but does not report that such 'conversions' are considered contrary to Islamic principles and that even the most ardent "fundamentalist" would reject such a forced conversion, then Muslims are left in a bit of quandary.
For me, it comes down to personal preference. Some people do not feel compelled to speak out against such matters. Others, including myself on occassions, do. For me, speaking out against actions is not necessarily 'apologising', but part of the general attempt to take back the usage of Islamic terminology and principles which have become villified in the popular media, whether at the hands ofextremists amongst us or those hostile to us.
Needless to say, on this occassion, such 'conversions' deserve to be derided and rubbished, and I am glad that the two journalists are free and appeared to have a better opinion of their Palestinian hosts, than the Palestinain kidnappers had of them.
Update:Aziz, Eteraz look at the issue in greater detail.
Not content with starting a new carnival (hint: go here and read about it and go here and submit something), Abu Sahajj brings another innovation (of the good kind) to the Muslim blogosphere: a new RSS feed entitled Islam in the West. (Personally, I find that such routinisation, though very useful, takes the spontaneity out of surfing.)
If you want your blog added to the feed, leave Abu Sahajj a comment for his consideration.
NewEurasia: "The increased airport security is an ordeal. I was fine with that and planned in enough time to reach my easyjet flight from London-Luton to Berlin. Long queues, delayed departures, all that was pretty much calculated [...] Being a little tired from an overdose of house-moving and tidying, I forgot to remove a cream from my hand luggage, the sight of which made the security staff put me in the extra-thorough check line. Everything was carefully inspected, including my camera, laptop - and my books [...] The first one, a German novel, seemed alright. But the second, Murder in Samarkand, Craig Murray's account of his time as the UK ambassador to Uzbekistan aroused some suspicion: "Is that about terrorism?", asked the lady that examined my onboard luggage. "Humm, well, it contains mentions of that, but it's about your former ambassador to Uzbekistan and more about diplomacy", I replied politely. "Does it have al-Qaida in it?" I looked a bit confused. "What?" - "Well, I have to check this with my manager, the rest of your stuff is fine, though." [...] The manager then came after a minute or two. "Hello Sir, can you tell me about this book?" "Sure, it is about Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan." "Where, if I may ask, did you buy this book?" - "Well, it is available at any Waterstones here in Britain. I just bought my copy in the Angel branch yesterday." [...] "I am afraid you cannot take this onboard, Sir." You must be kidding me. I just spent 20 pounds on a book that, despite arousing some controversy in the UK, should not be banned onboard a flight to Germany. I understand that the terror plot (which coincidentally seems to have an Uzbek dimension) makes for some overwrought nerves [...] But to ban a book widely available in book stores in the UK is just a joke. Now, cash-strapped, I have to wait for the paperback edition to be published. Already late for the flight and raging in front of the calm airport security manager, I must have overheard that they can - in exceptional cases - post confiscated material to a UK address. I recalled that onboard the plane..."
BSSC:"In the autumn of 2007, new Prime Minister John Reid introduced an array of tough new measures in order to win the War on Terror. We’ve long since accepted the necessity of defeating evil so it’s easy to forget that at the time, many of the measures were considered hugely controversial [...] Perhaps the most controversial was the National Muslim Roulette. The idea that one random British Muslim would be killed every day (and two on Bank Holidays) until all Islamists surrendered seemed like a step too for many people. Not everyone had understood that moderate Muslims’ unwillingness to defeat Islamic extremism made them equally responsible for terrorism and that they could be punished accordingly [...] When the license to operate the NMR and to broadcast the daily executions was first awarded to Killalot (of Muslims), some even attempted to take to the streets in protest. Their applications to protest were of course refused under the new Defence of Democracy Act 2007 but the intention was there. Looking back, it is remarkable to think that it took so long for the self-evident justice of the NMR to be fully absorbed into the national conscience."
(This post has clearly been written with inspiration from the excellent Time Trumpet.)
The post follows a recent poll which claimed that over half the country feared Islam as a religion.