Monthly Archives: December 2005

In France, the riots were really not about political Islam

In France, the riots were really not about political Islam

In reality, the wave of disturbances was only marginally connected with Islam. There was no doubt that many of the youngsters involved in the unrest were Muslims who are descendants from immigrants from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa, but this identity was not at stake in their mobilization. The rioters had no religious claims, for instance, against the French law prohibiting the wearing of the headscarf in state schools; neither had they a political agenda. Theirs was an unorganized outburst of violence that was mainly the outcome of social exclusion and poverty in deprived urban areas where immigrants and their children have been overwhelmingly concentrated for decades

Ed: Full article below

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Muslims in America/American Islam a talk by Sherman Jackson

Dr. Sherman Jackson recently gave a talk (for the Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism) on Muslims in American / American Islam. An overview of the keynote address can be found here. The actual talk can be heard here.


Filed under Islam, Media, U.S.

No Haven for Scrooge in Cairo

The encroachment of Christmas in Cairo? Dan Murphy shares his experience in this piece in the CSM. It is both eye-opening and rather amusing. Though this should come as no surprise to those living and travelling in the Muslim world. In Islamabad, Pakistan the local McDonald’s was celebrating Halloween a couple years ago and Valentine’s Day is quickly becoming the norm nationwide. To quote Faraz Rabbani: “Merry Merry.”

For many years I’ve taken pleasure in living in Muslim lands free from the trappings of Christmas commerce and the unholy trinity: Carols, mistletoe, and, most daunting, Santa’s lap.

That’s why I was startled to hear strains of “We wish you a merry Christmas,” coming in my Cairo bedroom window last week.

Is nothing sacred? Egypt is 94 percent Muslim. This is the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood, the modern Islamist movement that ultimately seeks to make the Koran the constitution of the world.

This is home to the great scholars of Al Azhar University, and the chauvinist ideology of Sayyid Qutb. Yet, remarkably, there seems to be more controversy in Washington over the devoutly Christian President Bush sending out a million cards wishing friends and supporters a joyous “Holiday Season,” than there is over the spread of all things Christmas here in Cairo.

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Filed under Culture, Egypt, Miscellaneous

The Mirage of Empire

The New York Review of Books covers the American Empire and reviews Robert D. Kaplan’s Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground and Michael Mandelbaims’s The Case for Goliath: How America Acts as the World’s Government in the 21st Century in this piece by John Gray.

This reference to the Wild West is not an insignificant detail. It is central to Kaplan’s picture of American Empire. He writes: “‘Welcome to Injun Country’ was the refrain I heard from troops from Colombia to the Philippines, including Afghanistan and Iraq…. The War on Terrorism was really about taming the frontier.”

I guess this blog is most likely “Injun Country.”

Ed: The article in full below

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Filed under Literature, News & Politics, U.S.

The Mufti of Egypt

The Egyptian publication Al-Ahram profiled Ali Gomaa in its 2001 issue. Though now four years old the article is informative. The article leaves a bit to be desired but nonetheless offers an interesting portrait of one of the most influential modern Islamic scholars and now the Mufti of Egypt.
There is — naturally — a certain aura about Al- Azhar, and a certain majesty. It was a Thursday morning when we went and were guided quite quickly to “Doctor Ali’s lesson.” It could have been a scene out of the middle ages. Al-Maqrizi could have written this. Across the spotless white marble we entered the doctor’s riwaq (gallery). The lesson was already underway, Sheikh Ali Gomaa sitting with his legs up, knees bent, on a large traditional chair, his back to a wall and his students around him in a semi-circle, a halaqa, the men closer to him, the women discreetly at the back. They came in different colours, the students, in different costumes, from various corners of the globe, extremely young and middle-aged, traditionally-dressed, Westernised, you name it. We took our places amongst the women, at the back — of course. All around the riwaq are bookcases laden with hard-backed volumes of the canons of jurisprudence. This was a lesson in economics, out of Al-Suyuti.

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Filed under Egypt, Islamic Scholarship

Karen Armstrong’s Question to the Prophet Muhammad

The BBC World Service’s World Today programme asked a number of high-profile figures what they would ask if they could ask just one question – and who they would put it to. Karen Armstron has a question for the Prophet (as).

Karen Armstrong is a leading religious historian.

I’d like to ask the Prophet Muhammad what he thinks of the current situation.

I think I know what he would say, but I would like Western people to hear the Prophet’s abhorrence of these actions done in his name, abhorrence with the intolerance and hatred and violence that he dedicated his life to transcending.

I’d also like to hear him tell Muslims who believe that he would have endorsed these vile actions to look more seriously at the compassion of the Koran.

As for the West, he would say: ‘Look at the message of the Koran’ – which is all about treating all people equally, and that includes my Muslims in disadvantaged parts of the world who are struggling to make sense of lives in violent and hopeless situations.

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Filed under Islam & Modernity, Miscellaneous

NPR’s Mideast Coverage

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NPR’s Mideast Coverage

Due to intense listener interest, starting on May 6, 2002, NPR began providing at no charge the transcripts and audio of reports about the Mideast produced by NPR in its newsmagazines and talk shows. As a service to listeners, NPR transcribes Morning Edition®, All Things Considered®, Weekend Edition Saturday, Weekend Edition Sunday and Talk of the Nation. We do not transcribe other programs or hourly newscasts because it is cost prohibitive.


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Filed under Interviews, Media, Middle East & Muslim World