Thursday, November 30, 2006

Giving One's Life in the Holy Land

I am not big on reading newspapers (though not for the same reasons as you-know-who), and newspapers from societies where the press does not operate very independently are even further down on my list. But following a link from something else, I happened to run into this story (click on the graphic to see a clearer version of the graphic if the one on this page is blurry):

[I am not sure if the story is still available online, but click here to check, if you want to.]

Now I was in a rather odd mood when I first to saw this story, because I have to admit that on the one hand, it is a very, very sad, depressing almost, thing to read. But on the other hand, an couple of couplets from a "naat", a peaen to The Prophet, very popular in Urdu-speaking communities came to mind and wouldn't go away for quite a while. Of course, from just a short newspaper story, I don't know what the real particulars of the case are, but the spirit of these lines echos through my mind; it evokes a kind of religious, or spiritual fervour that is very, very different from the kind that is so common today. It evokes a gentler, deeper, more spiritual attachment to things we hold holy than the type of car-burning, Kalashnikov-toting one so often in the news today. Here are the lines I am talking about:
hum madinay main tanha nikal jayaingay
aur galiyon main qasdhan b-hatak jay'eingay

hum wahaan jaa kay waapas naheen aayaingay
d-hoondthay d-hoondthay loag th-hak ja'eingay
in quick-and-dirty translation:
we will venture out into The City (of Madina) all alone
and lose our way in the streets, on purpose

we go to that land, and will not return
try and try as they might, folks will tire of trying to find us
That spirit of unselfishly loving something, even the very dirt of a a place you hold holy, with all one's spirit, and of not wanting or expecting anything in return--no virgins or Houris, no looking forward to rivers of honey, no glory for one self or one's community, no status as a martyr or a Shaikh--seems so far from the folks so often associated with faith today, be it Muslim militants, telegenic Shaikhs and Imams, evangelical pastors, or Bible, Qur'an and Geeta-spouting politicians and pundits.

Like I said, I don't know the particulars of this case; but I'd like to think that if something like this happens, it is in this spirit...

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Allow Me to Join in this Call

I'd like to call upon Muslims and organizations of Muslims to join this call from the Turkish press:
"It is true that Benedict XVI made disagreeable statements about Turkey and Islam. However, the Pope is visiting as our guest..." "no matter what he has said in the past, we have to be supremely hospitable towards Pope Benedict, not only for our own esteem and image but for inter-religious peace as well."
[More at: ]
If we count ourselves as having any loyalty to the faith we claim to, then a guest, anyone who is an official guest in one of our communities, and particularly one who is so honoured by the faith community we believe The Prophet said is the closest to ours, should be an honoured and respected guest.

Now who will stand up and be counted?

So after I said that, someone on a progressive Muslim list I am asked about my use of the word "Ummah" and what responsibility it was of Muslims outside of Turkey to be nice to the Pope while he was visiting that country. My own response to that would have run to something like saying that it was at least as much as some of us felt to protest his famous speech. But then, a nice gent by the name of Akber Choudhry stepped in and said the following--I couldn't have said it better myself:
There are other transnational concepts like 'Ummah' in use today: 'Christendom', 'la Francophonie', 'Western', 'Slavic', etc., so it is not a big deal. We all know what it means :).

One should not forget that Cardinal Ratzinger (before becoming pope) said: Turkey should find its identity in the Islamic world (ummah) and not in Christian Europe (wonder why he did not mention Italy? or France? etc. :).

Also, by your logic, the Pope is just the representative of the Vatican state then?

I had the privilege to visit Istanbul recently, and I would advise anyone to please go visit Turkey, and particular Istanbul, to understand this critical issue at this point in history:
1. Istanbul sits in Europe (on the old Greek province of Thrace). The Ottoman Sultans' seat of government was here.
2. The Ottoman sultan was also 'sultan-i-room' - King of Rome - the Byzantine Empire (the Russian Orthodox became independent due to the conquest of Byzantium by Muslims).
3. The patriarch of the Orthdox Christian Church (technically still head of all Orthodox Christian denominations) sits in Turkey.
4. Turkey has just said, 'enough is enough' on the EU accession talks
5. pan-Islamism fervor is on the rise in Turkey, primarily due to the 50-year failed talks with Europe.

This trip of the pope is very profound. Unity between the Orthodox churches and conciliation with the Catholic Church will make Turkey an aberration in the continuum of Christendom, in which Turkey is just an aberration. On the other hand, Turkey is the wedge that pushes into the EU and divides the Catholic and Slavic communities - with the latter having bitter memories of Turk occupation. The accession of Bulgaria to the EU on 1 January 2007 is symbolic - for if Turkey is not admitted fairly soon, there would be little rational reason for it not to - as Bulgaria (Bulgaristan) was just a poor province of Turkey some time ago, and is still economically inferior to Turkey.

The dilemma is that a rejected Turkey, flexing its muscle sooner or later (20-50 years), might leave NATO and thus be the vanguard of a new Islamic alliance once again pushing into the heart of Europe - a Europe already demographically compromised by Muslim migrants.
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Women's Islamic Initiative for Spirituality and Equity -- Follow-Up

I posted a notice about a "Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equity" a little while ago. Here are some comments from a couple of attendees.

First the first reaction of Pamela K. Taylor, Chair of the Progressive Muslim Union of North America. Please do read it, even if you aren't a fan of her organization; it is really an interesting comment:

She ends that post with the comment: "It struck me that the Muslim commmunity has put a lot of effort into interfaith dialogue in the past twenty years, maybe we need to start putting a similar effort into intra-faith dialogue...When the Christians started interfaith dialogue, it meant Baptists sitting down with Methodists. Or Protestants sitting down with Catholics. I think the Muslim community really needs similar dialogue."

My comment on that was:

We have an expression in one Muslim community I am part of:

Sau Bismillah!

[which roughly translates to: A hundred times Bismillah--meaning that I can't say say enough times that please you should say a Bismillah and start this! Or something like that.]

She's since posted a follow up:

The other comment I have found from an attendee is from Farzana Hassan-Shahid, President of the Muslim Canadian Congress. It is here.

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Racial Profiling...Diallo was a Muslim, Too

I wish I could write a long and beautiful article about this, so it could be read and re-read and circulated and published.

When we found out that a Muslim would sit in Congress for the first time come January, my comment was that in "Keith Ellison, we non-African American Muslims have seen the victory of a brother (the pun is intentional) as our victory. It is wonderful, joyful, and so on. But my prayer was that maybe, just maybe, Muslim activists, maybe even including a lot of people who (like me, I will admit) really got in touch with our progressive side after 9/11, will now also consider the issues and problems of our African-American brothers and sisters as our issues and problems."

Because it really is amazing. Since 9/11/2001, American Muslims, and a lot of organizations with "America" and "Islamic" in their name, in particular, have talked and talked about "Profiling". Just this month, there was a major brouhaha about a group of "Imams" being pulled off a flight. But I have always been fascinated by the complete lack of any acknowledgement that the issue affected anyone in the US before the above date. Even quite a few Muslims, in fact.

My favorite reference is to racial profiling on the New Jersey Turnpike. It was something that affected mainly African Americans and got so serious that the Federal Government had to step in and monitor the New Jersey State Police and formal policies had to be adopted banning the practice. And guess what the second largest ethnic group of Muslims in the US is? South Asians or Arabs? No. African Americans, right after South Asians.

And yet just last month, I heard the executive director of a group of American Muslim lawyers say that we didn't get engaged in things like human and civil rights before 9/11 because they didn't affect our community.

Why do I raise this today? Why do I keep coming back to this point? Let me put it like this: while I am a South Asian with rather light skin, when African American History Month swung by, m
y six year-old son casually informed his First Grade class that his "dad's an African American." I don't remember using the phrase at home. But he knows I was born in West Africa--just like another Muslim who lived in New York during the period my son was born in the same city.

Amadou Diallo. A West African-born person. A Muslim in America. A name that is today on the lips --or at least at the back of the minds--of everyone who follows news from New York. A name I sometimes think about. What if I had been born a few beds down at Sokoto General Hospital, and in a different family, with slightly different-coloured skin?

And I also think about whether I saw any activism by our "American Muslim" organizations around that case. Either when Amadou was shot. And shot. And shot. Or today, when another African American had died in a hail of gunfire, did I hear a peep out of "our" organizations? This brother--and I WILL use the word--wasn't a Muslim. But if American Muslims haven't learnt in the last 5 years the lesson that standing up for human rights and civil rights is not something you only do when your own community is under threat; what have we learnt?

We keep saying that Islam is a religion of peace, it believes in the sanctity of every life equally. "You kill one human being, you kill all of humanity," we quote The Prophet as saying. But do we practise what we preach? Even when it comes to communities that we claim as our own? We soak in, and bask in, lectures about how Muslims have been in the US since the days of Columbus and definitely since the days of slavery. Slaves that, like Amadou, mainly came from West Africa. We sit with smug smiles at discussions of influences of West African Muslim music on American Jazz & Blues.

But does that pride, and our concern about racial profiling, extend to today's African American brothers? When a woman died here in Fremont California, the victim of what we all suspected was a hate crime, I got several emails in the first few hours. But I just searched my Gmail account. I am still waiting for the first mail on this topic, on any of our American Muslim lists.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Rumi. And Hafez. And Khayyam. And Of Whence They Spake.

Also posted on the blog Urdu ke Naam, with the title "rumi-o-hafiz-o-khayyam ka dhaik-ha hai kalaam".
All the positive feedback on my post yesterday has been very gratifying.

Readers might also want to read this.

It is my desire to bring the poets and qawwals of South Asia to as wide an audience as "Rumi-o-Hafiz-o-Khayyam". We all read these elders, and we all need to. But especially in this day and age we (all of us; Muslims and not, Sufi-leaning or not, Westerners and not) need to reconnect with the living tradition they represent--especially in South Asia. We need to connect with the zawiya, or angle, facet, of Islam that was, and still is, rooted so deep in the lands from where all we hear nowadays is "Deobandi", "Taliban", "Maududi", "Terrorism", and on and on.

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If one is going to commemorate Thanksgiving, the following ceremony seemed to be the most appropriate I have seen in a while--and it is not even in the US...

[On a side note, the first name of the chief is very, very intriguing.]

A blessed season (mubarak/mabrook, we say in Muslim communities) y'all. I have always been intrigued by this most American of holidays--about the only one that is purely and and uniquely an American holiday.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Blast from The Heart (Do Not Read If...)

Also here with the title "ha'ey kambakhth thoo nay pee hee nahee! !حاءے كمبخت تو نے پي هى نهين".

Strong Disclaimer:
This post is written purely "for myself". I know some will be touched by it--in whatever way--but if you're put off by either metaphysics, tasawwuf (Sufism), abstractions, or weird, personal transliteration schemes, PLEASE, PLEASE, do not read on. I really don't want to get into detailed discussions of any kind.
There are moments when one just wants to let go; to be lost in something. Something deep. When that happens, I often find myself gravitating to Qawwali, the Muslim mystic musical art form of "Sama" in its South Asian incarnation.

There's one piece, in particular, that I have been promising myself I will translate, render, if you will, into English and post, but just haven't had the energy and bandwidth to sit down and apply myself to the task.

So I just got home about 11 pm tonight (technically yesterday at this point) after attending, I guess, what you'd call a political meeting. After the meeting, I got into a rather refreshingly intelligent conversation with a relatively new friend. By the time I got home, and had checked in on the kids, and sat down to dinner, like I said, I was in a mood that was definitely leaning towards mu'arfa, irfan, tasawwuf, the metaphysical, or whatever you want to call it. So I turned to one of the only two bookmarks I have in the Real Player on my Mac at home.

And the first through, I just got lost listening to this piece. By the end of it, I was definitely close to a "haal", the Sufi version of what our US brothers and sisters would call "being in the zone", "the flow", and so on. And I am not even a formal Sufi. For a traditional "desi" like me (a South Asian), that is a title reserved for some attainment in the metaphysical realm. I am just someone who, I will admit, has an inclination in that direction and, frankly, have been too chicken to formally step on the "tareeq", or Way.

The piece just captures the mood I am in perfectly; the frustration with Naseh, The Preachy Folks, and their obsession with preaching and obsessing with enjoining moral conduct; the reference to the Wine of Truth's greatest bartenders (others use the word "cup bearers", but let's get with the 21st of Our Lord, The Prophet of Divine Love, shall we?) being exactly in Karbala, Najaf, and Samarra; and, of course, the frustration with folks who interpret the references to Wine, and Love in "our" language as moonshine (how else do I translate "t-harra"?) and carnal lust...

So then I looped back and transcribed the parts of it that I think really should be brought to the Rumi- and Hafiz- and Khayyam-in-English-reading public. I am going to try and do the translation some time later. But if you care to, and understand Urdu and/or the languages around it in the linguistic geography (like Hindi and Dakkani and Awadhi and...), do take a read to the following...and/or just watch this space for a translation.

The piece is almost universally referred to as "ha'ey kambakhth thoo nay pee hee nahee!" (Oh! You Unfortunate Wretch! You have not Imbibed!) Here are my selected excerpts. First the prologue, itself one the most deliciously intense tongue twisters in the Urdu language:
samajh samajhna samajh kay samjhoe
samajh samajhna bhee aik samajh hai

samajh samajh kay bhee joe na samjhai
mairee samajh main woe na samajh hai
and then the Qawwali itself, sung at the link above by the person who people who connect with the art on a very unvarnished, unapologetic level, as about the greatest proponent of that form in the 20th Century; Aziz Mian:
lutf-e-mai tujh say kya kahoon, nadaaN
(aray) ha'ey kambakhth thoo nay pee hee nahee!

x x

bathla'ey dhatha hoon thujhay maikhaanon ka patha
batha-o-kazmain, khurasan, saamara

khurshid mudha'a maira burj-e-sharaf main hai
aik saaqi karbala main maira, aik najaf main hai

x x

mairay shairon kay haqeeqath main na maanee samjha
badha-e-haq koe thoo angoor ka paanee samjha

thoo nahee jaantha arbab-e-thariqath kay usool
thayray bayhoodha sawaalaath sar-a-sar hain fizool

thoo nahee jaantha paymana kisay kehthay hain
thoo nahee jaantha maykhana kisay kehthay hain

isthaylaahaath-e-thasawwuf kee nahee thujh koe khabar
fakar kee raah main jahaan miltha hai jahaan kaif-e-nazar

kot-chashmi say thujhai k-hotee k-haree lagthee hai
mai-e-irfan bhee thujhay laal paree lagthee hai

ha'ey kambakhth thoo nay pee hee nahee!

x x

ahl-e-daanish nay thairay zehen ko kaisa samj-ha
baadha-e-shair koe jis dhum thoonay t-harra samjha

mai-e-tauheed kee main thoe wazahath kee th-hee
thoo na samj-hay aray nadaan yay qismath thairee

rumi-o-hafiz-o-khayyam ka dhaik-ha hai kalaam
jaam-o-meena kay libadha main thareeqath th-hee thamaam

naseha thuj-hai naseehath kay siwaa kaam nahee
jaam main gharq na kardhoon thoe maira naam nahee!

x x

(yay) Allah ki inayath hai kay main saif zubaaan hoon
Aur naasay, thairay liyay main koh-e-garaan hoon
I should put that last couplet in my email signature...once I have a translation, I guess...

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Well, Duh...Ideology is al Qaeda's Achilles' Heel: Study

The following turned up on a few lists. Speaking from the point of view of a person, as I was saying (was it yesterday or the day before?), of someone who's lived through an "Islamization" or two, when people on "that" side of the "Islamic" shop got control of a government, my first reaction to the subject line is exactly that: Well, whop-dee-friggin' Duh!

Of course the assumption that the US government could do something about it is a whole other problem, now isn't it?

And I have snipped most of the article out (you can read it by following the link), but that last paragraph is a wonderful example of how a very interesting concept can then lead to really, really evil policy recommendations and policies...divide and rule, y'all! divide and rule!!

The News Release from the Rand Corporation itself is here and you can read the full two-part report beginning here.

[And apropos of a whole other kind of fundamentalism, the heading below is an example of why the US predilection for using "sentence case", meaning no capital letters for most words in headings makes things so ugly. Tell me, honestly, shouldn't the word "study" have an initial capital letter?]
Ideology is al Qaeda's Achilles' heel: study
Thu Nov 16, 2006 7:40 PM ET

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States could discredit al Qaeda in the Muslim world by challenging its violent Islamist ideology and muzzling its leading proponents, an independent report released on Thursday said.

The 364-page study, published by the RAND Corp. think tank, described al Qaeda's Islamist ideology of violent resistance as a "global revolutionary creed" akin to the Marxism-Leninism philosophy that the West defeated with "a robust political warfare" campaign during the Cold War.


Such operations could also exploit ethnic differences by emphasizing al Qaeda's Arab core in non-Arab Muslim countries, and highlight the elevated socioeconomic status of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, scion of a wealthy Saudi family, and his second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian physician.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Pakistani Activists React to Change in Rape Laws (Hudood Laws)

The following is a statement from an organization that's done a lot of very interesting work over the last couple of years or so. A necessary reference point in the discussion. And even if you dismiss them as excitable expats, the Aurat Foundation and Sungi are not names to sneeze at, being very respected social voices from "on the ground" in Pakistan--the latter, for example, being one of the most important groups working on the ground in the aftermath of the quake last year.:

Politics in the name of Women

ANAA stands with its civil society partners, Aurat Foundation, Sungi and many others in expressing their opposition to the Women's Protection Bill (WPB). The Bill is being wrongfully used by the Government of Pakistan to gain political mileage in the guise of championing women's rights. Our opposition to the Bill is based on the following reasons:
  1. The reason ANAA supported the prosecution of rape under the Pakistan Penal Code instead of the Sharia Courts was because the former has never historically prosecuted the crimes of adultery and fornication. This basic difference has been eliminated by introducing the new crime of "lewdness" into the Pakistan Penal Code.
  2. The Amended Women's Protection Bill actually introduces a new crime under Section 496B of the Pakistan Penal Code. This new crime entitled "lewdness" would punish anyone engaging in consensual sexual relations outside of a marital relationship. Absent evidentiary requirements, the creation of this new crime now creates new opportunities in which citizens merely accused of "sexual relations outside marriage" can be thrown in jail and face a five year prison sentence as well as !0,000 rupee fine.
  3. While the new Bill allows rape cases to be tried under the Pakistan Penal Code and removes the supposed evidentiary requirement of providing four adult male witnesses, the creation of the new crime of "lewdness" under the PPC effectively eliminates any cumulative gains.
  4. Ultimately, the new bill uses the already confusing mixture of Sharia and Civil law effective in Pakistan to achieve political gains while ignoring the reality that under the new legal regime private citizens face prison charges for mere accusations of sexual impropriety.
  5. The Bill does not repeal the entire Hudood Ordinance which has been the demand of ANAA as well as all other civil society and human rights organizations in Pakistan. In doing so, the Bill fails to follow the recommendations of the National Council of Women or the Council of Islamic Ideology which have both recommended a complete repeal of the Bill.
For these reasons, ANAA renews its demands to the Government of Pakistan to stop playing with the lives of the citizens of Pakistan by introducing laws that pretend to change the status quo while effectively not doing anything to change the status of women in law and society. For questions please contact

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A Conversation with People Who Study Faith...any Faith

I seem to have struck up a conversation with "Julie Unplugged", a blogger focused on religion, based out of Cincinnati. Her blog is here. And you can read more about--and from--her here.

The conversation started here, and then she picked something up from one of my websites (more about it later) and discusses it here.

Especially with respect to the first post of hers that I commented on (the one about Reza Aslan in his own words), in a conversation across cultural, religious and social chasms, it is interesting to see what it is that causes people to stop and think and realize that they had not been getting the right picture up to that point.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pakistanis Talk about the Pakistani Rape Laws

Folks interested in the issue would do well to read this. It has a detailed description of the process--and has a discussion taking place between Pakistanis with different points of view--and some others stopping by.

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New York Times Covers the Change Pakistani Rape Laws (Hudood Laws)

The New York Times covers the attempted change (what else can I call it?) in Pakistani Rape Laws (part of what is known as the "Hudood Laws"):

Pakistan Moves Toward Altering Rape Law, New York Times, November 16, 2006

I haven't read it yet, so can't comment on it, but I'd like to point folks back the post on this blog from yesterday where I'd like to start a discussion on the laws:

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Empowering Muslim Women; A New Global Movement?

The following is billed as an effort to "Launch a Global Movemet to Empower Muslim Women. It is interesting to see that female Muslim leaders with very varied points of view will be represented in this effort, at least as it starts off. I have seen at least one such effort here in the SF Bay Area (on a more focused topic) evolve and ... but let's not pre-judge this effort.

A last note is that while the headline says "empowering Muslim Women", the formal name, again, refers to it as an "Islamic Initiative". Hmmm....meaning what? That this will be Shariah-compliant? Whose interpretation of Shariah? Folks might be familiar with my thoughts on this; if our Muslim brothers and sisters are going to repeatedly identify their efforts as "Islamic", then why the complaint when the "other" side of the Muslim world is also identified as "Islamic Terrorism", or "Islamofascism"? But we digress. Let's see how this effort evolves:
DATE: November 8, 2006

Daisy Khan, Executive Director, ASMA Society New York
P: 212 362 2242 direct; e-mail:
Faisal Shah, Press Coordinator, ASMA Society New York
P: 917-492-8690; e-mail:
Web Page is here.
PDF is here.


Manhattan, New York - Over one hundred Muslim women religious leaders, human rights activists, scholars and artists from around the world will meet in New York City on November 17th to 19th to launch WISE: The Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equity to empower Muslim women to play a greater role in their societies worldwide.

Top leaders will attend, including Baroness Uddin, the first Muslim woman to enter the British House of Lords, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General Dr. Nafis Sadik, Saudi municipal candidate Fatin Bundagji, Malaysian Islamic Feminist Zainah Anwar, author of Standing Alone in Mecca Asra Nomani," Afghani Presidential candidate Dr. Massouda Jalal, Nigerian advocate in the Amina Lawal stoning case Nogi Imoukhuede, President of Islamic Society of North America Ingrid Mattson, Dubai' Comic Writer Rima Khoreibi who introduced the Muslim World to their first female heroin and Pakistan's Mukhtaran Mai, author of the much anticipated In the Name of
Honor: A Memoir.

"This is a historical and critical event in the history of Islam," said Daisy Khan, Executive Director of The American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), the chief organizer of the event. "WISE will provide a much needed platform for diverse Muslim women to discuss global Muslim
women's issues, assert our rights through the use of and in accordance with Islamic law, and build a coherent movement that empowers and connects Muslim women everywhere."

On the agenda is the formation of an International Shura Council of Muslim Women. A Shura Council is an advisory council that interprets Islamic law for the political and religious leaders in its region of authority. Also under discussion will be the creation of a global fund to provide scholarships for Muslim women to be educated in Islamic jurisprudence thereby qualifying them to serve on the Shura Council of Women.

The leaders will discuss the major obstacles facing Muslim women and create strategies to address them. They will discuss how to increase women's religious & political leadership via faith fueled activism, challenging local customs that impinge on women's rights and develop effective methods
to change negative perceptions about muslim women.

A selection of non-Muslim women faith leaders will also participate in the WISE meetings as supportive partners. They include Sister Joan Chittister, prolific advocate of women's rights and American Benedictine nun, Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, leader in the ecumenical interfaith movement in the U.S., Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt, founder of Sister Fund and author of Faith &
Feminism: A Holy Alliance , and Devorah Zlochower, director and instructor of Talmud and halakha, Drisha Institute.

The events of WISE will also feature the theater debut of 7WOMEN, 7HEAVENS, Portraits of Muslim Women, a play that juxtaposes stories of seven Muslim women in abrasive, funny, and soothing dialogue with themselves around personal struggles with faith, community, and relationships. The world premier will take place Saturday, November 18 at 8:30pm during the WISE
conference and is open to the public.

Sponsor: The ASMA Society, a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 founded in 1997 in New York City, is an Islamic cultural and educational organization dedicated to fostering an American-Muslim identity and building bridges between American Muslims and the American public. ASMA's philosophical objective is to strengthen a culturally American expression of Islam based on tolerance and
on cultural and religious harmony and to foster an environment in which Muslims can thrive within a pluralistic society.

Project Collaboration: ASMA Society will collaborate with Cordoba Initiative, a not for profit 501(c) 3 founded in 2004 in Aspen, Colorado. Cordoba Initiative is multi-faith initiative whose objective is to heal the relationship between the Islamic world and America/the West

WISE has been supported by The Ford Foundation, Sister Fund, Henry Luce Foundation, Danny Kaye & Sylvia Kaye Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, William & Mary Greve Foundation, Marshall Family Fund.

Venue: The Westin New York at Times Square: 270 West 43rd street, NYC, NY 10036

Schedule: Start on November 17th Fri at 5pm and end on November 19th Sun at 5pm
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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pakistan Reforms Rape Laws?

This just in; while people like me, who do not accept Gen. Zia's "Islamization" as being a valid implementation of Sharia (Zakat on 2000 rupees in your checking account?!!) and therefore cringe at characterization of laws he put in place as "strict Sharia laws", this article provides a general outline. Can can anyone throw any light on the details?
Pakistan votes to amend rape laws
Pakistan's national assembly has voted to amend the country's strict Sharia laws on rape and adultery.

Until now rape cases were dealt with in Sharia courts. Victims had to have four male witnesses to the crime - if not they faced prosecution for adultery.

Now civil courts will be able to try rape cases, assuming the upper house and the president ratify the move...
More at
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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Afghanistan, 11/06, and the Value of a Classical Education

Sarah Nathan, quoted as an "Afghan Analyst": "I don't think anyone could have foreseen the sheer ferocity..." of the Afghan attacks this year...!!!!

WTF-!? This is what happens to the quality of the people who run and advise our governments when people don't get a proper education. This "expert" on Afghanistan has not so much as read her Kipling!!

I mean, I won't even go into the echos of Madame Rice (or should that be "Mademoiselle"?) talking about what else people had not foreseen...she obviously hadn' t read her Tom Clancy...

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Muslims, the 2006 Elections and the Clash of Fundamentalisms

A little late, but let's get the discussion going. Hopefully, by now the apple cider foam has subsided.

The celebrations are on. But here are a few morning-after thoughts:
  • On the First Muslim in Congress: Keith Ellison, we non-African American Muslims have seen the victory the victory of a brother (with a pun intended) as our victory. It is wonderful, joyful, and so on. My prayer that maybe, just maybe, Muslim activists, maybe even including a lot of people who (like me, I will admit) really got in touch with our progressive side after 9/11, will now also consider the issues and problems of our African-American brothers and sisters as our issues and problems. Just last week, I heard the executive director of a group of American Muslim lawyers say that we didn't get engaged in things like human and civil rights before 9/11 because they didn't affect our community.

  • On the Clash of Fundamentalisms: Whatever else happens, we have to remember that we now do have a Clash of Fundamentalisms in the world today. What we have seen yesterday is the American people--to give them credit--trying to reign in one side of that insanity. But we--especially we moderate, progressive, and traditional Muslims (and I count that as three groups, not one)--have to make sure that that is a step towards ending the insanity and try to reign in the extremists on "our side". As I have taken to saying, in a situation where even Reza Aslan can't bring himself to call Maududi and Qutub a part of the puritanical manifestation of the Islamic Reformation he himself is the clearest chronicler of, we have a LOT of work to do.

  • And a quick reminder to EVERBODY, Muslim or non-Muslim, Democrat and other, courtesy an American journalist who has been one of the few voices really making a difference:
Blame for Iraq Extends Far Beyond the GOP
By Matt Taibbi, Posted November 5, 2006.
It's dangerous to allow history to be written that it was "the
Republicans" who got us into Iraq -- a lot of America's mushy moderate
media and political establishment thought the invasion was a great
idea at the time.
  • And on a more general note, from Muqtedar Khan's Ijtehad comes the following:
Do we now know what Americans want? Like the Democrats they have a clear craving for a new direction but only a vague vision of what it might be. While it is clear what the voters have rejected -- Republican hubris, crony politics and power mania – it is not obvious what they have voted for, except change...This election was about change. Americans are seeking a new leadership, certainly new direction, but perhaps not a shift in values.
[Full article at:]
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

COMMENT: In Spain, dismay at Muslim converts holding sway (CSM)

I have again been lax in posting; though podcasting has taken off. Here are a few rapidfire comments.

First...someone posted the following story from the Christian Science Monitor:
In Spain, dismay at Muslim converts holding sway
'New Muslims' have gained prominence as mediators between politicians and Islamic groups, but now they face new scrutiny.
By Geoff Pingree and Lisa Abend | Correspondents of The Christian Science Monitor
November 07, 2006 edition
They are a voice for moderation; there's dismay at what they do... hmmm... I guess it's fortunate that we don't have this problem in North America... ;) [y'all know I am being sarcastic, right?]

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Monday, November 06, 2006

The Muslim Vote, Hijab, Niqaab, and a Poetic Take on the Clash of Cultures; iFaqeer Podcast November 06, 2006

Here's a new podcast that covers US Elections, Muslim block votes in USA and Canada, Hijab, Veils, Niqaab, and a South Asian/Muslim poet of the Clash of Culture, and Civilizations.

This program is now listed on the iTunes Music Store; just search on "Azad Karachi Radio"; or just "Urdu". And as always, you can also access the program in one of the following ways:
  • Subscribe to either the text version of this blog or the Podcast using the following the following URL/link for our RSS feed:
  • Listen to the streaming version of this program using the Odeo player from any iFaqeer blog or Azad Karachi Radio blog page. Just take a look in the righthand column of the page!
  • At Yahoo! Podcasts.
  • At Odeo.
If you are in Pakistan or elsewhere where you have difficulty accessing the Blogspot domain due to censorship, etc., please use:

Formally speaking, the iFaqeer Podcast is a service of Azad South Asia, a collaborative media effort initiated by yours truly and Cemendtaur. Please leave comments, and provide feedback, suggestions, and other input by posting comments on our blog pages or via email at

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