Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Progressive Islam and other updates

My apologies for the staleness of the blog lately. There's a ton of stuff to say and discuss, but there have been a couple of things holding me up. Firstly, as is sometimes the case--at least it is for me, it is--something gets stuck in the pipeline and one can't do anything else till it is out of the way. And in this case on the one hand I was trying to recreate the magic of something I wrote a few years ago that a friend then published in The News (a major English paper in Pakistan), while on the other I get the feeling that the piece is is so unstructured, so stream-of-conciousness, that it most probably is not something other folks would want to read. A mixture of being involved with a piece and an enervating heaviness that, together, saps all energy. Not really writer's block, I guess, so much as writer's plumbing issues. Or as the Winnie the Pooh character puts it when Mr Pooh gets stuck in the entrance to Rabbit's abode, "There's a bear gumming up the works."

With that out of the way (I finished typing out my notes on that piece last night), on to updates and catching up.

Firstly, about the event in SiliValley recently about Progressive Islam. I took copious notes and intend to write a detailed report, but here are a few quick impressions:
  • What has Maha El-Gennaidi done?! A lot of people will remember the event for the last five minutes when things got a little colorful, with various audience (and even panel) members challenging Ahmed Naseef (who is Editor-in-Chief of MWU!, remember?) about some of the more, shall we say, spicy comments about articles on the site. But the thing that stood out most to me was Maha al-Gennaidi, a very significant activist of the SV Muslim Mainstream (founder and moving force behind ING, speaking in this case, in a personal capacity), saying "these guys not a bad thing; in fact, they are most probably a necessary part of our community". I mentioned that to her after the event. Her response was to point out that Zaid Shakir saying, in effect, that "some of the issues they (the Progressive Muslims") raise are things we really need to talk about," as being even more significant.
  • And yes, Zaid Shakir said "I was delighted and pleased by a lot in the book." The book in question being Omid Safi's "Progressive Muslims", described on the Amazon site as "a diverse set of essays by and about "progressive" Muslims" and used by the speakers a reference point about who leaders of opinion in this new set of "Progressive Muslims" are and what they are saying to the rest of us.
More on this after I type up my notes (it's almost a selective transcript) of the event.

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