Monday, January 29, 2007

what makes american muslims unique?

alt.muslim: What Makes American Muslims Unique? by M. Aurangzeb Ahmad considers the issue of how and why Muslims here are different from Muslim minorities in Europe.

Friday, January 26, 2007

the pen and the sword & prince among slaves

Unity Productions Foundation: The Pen and the Sword is one of many projects trying to put more positive historical images of Muslims and Islamic civilization out in the media. The Pen and the Sword deals with inter-religious relations in Medieval Spain. And Prince Among Slaves deals with the story of Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori, an African prince who was enslaved in Mississippi from 1788 to 1828 when he finally won his freedom and returned to Africa. Check them out.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

an interview on malcolm x

Z-Net: Manning Marable interviewed by Amy Goodman on the life and death of Malcolm X

sleeper cell: the second season

So... I recently found a website where I could see the first few episodes of Sleeper Cell's second season. In some ways, the second season seems to suffert from the same limitations as the first season which I've mentioned before (see sleeper cell (part 2)) but fewer of the positives. Little or no emphasis is put on the faith of the main character, Darwyn the African-American Muslim FBI agent (which is unfortunate since it provided some interesting contrast and tension in the first season). In a similar vein, the government characters are generally portrayed as less compassionate, competent and ethical than they were in the first season. Instead of being about a sincere Muslim who has to carefully negotiate and come to terms with various loyalties and identities (keeping his own faith and integrity, not blowing his cover, and fighting against those who would betray his nation and his ummah) in this season, both the government characters and the Muslim villans seem painted in broader strokes and so the story seems more cartoonish than before.

I'm not sure of whether this is a good thing or not but the cell members are being portrayed in a more diverse way (e.g. a female member, a Latino ex-gangbanger) I've read that there is also a gay Muslim member of the terror cell but that is not totally obvious from the episodes I've seen. (Although if the claim is true, it is definitely forshadowed). On the one hand this is good in the sense that it shows some of the diversity which exists in the Muslim community. On the other hand, it gives the impression that all Muslims could be terrorists.

Perhaps I'll be able to say more as I see more of the season.

Friday, January 19, 2007

marvin x speaks

Marvin X Speaks is a new blog by a brother who has been a frequent subject over at Planet Grenada but is still not totally unknown here at Third Resurrection. Check out: even more marvin x

Thursday, January 18, 2007

open letter to dr. hussein shahristani

ChickenBones: A Journal: Open Letter to Dr. Hussein Shahristani, Minister of Oil, Republic of Iraq by Marvin X (from early last year)

Dear Dr. Hussein Shahristani:

Bismillah-r-Rahman-r-Rahim.

As-Salaam-Alaikum, my brother. It has been forty years since we last met at your apartment in Toronto, Canada, 1967. You may recall that I was resisting the Vietnam War and you were a student at the University of Toronto. I saw that you went on to become a nuclear scientist but was persecuted under Saddam Hussein because you refused to work on his "Islamic" bomb. Al Hamdulilah, you survived. I saw your name on the list of persons for the first prime minister of American occupied Iraq. I noticed you refused this most dangerous job. I prayed for your safety. It was good to know you are a servant of the Grand Ayatollah Sistani. I have watched you advance from leader of the assembly to minister of oil.

Oil is the reason I am writing you, other than to let you know my prayers are with you and I recall fondly how you taught me my prayers in Arabic and our conversations on Islam.

I recall how you related that you wanted a Nation of Islam, thus you agreed with the vision of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Clearly, your nation shall become a nation of Islam. It appears to me southern Iraq is a de facto Islamic nation. Correct me if I am wrong.

But back to oil. As minister of oil, I would like you to consider assisting North American Africans in the United States of America who recently experienced hurricane Katrina, only to discover they were left at the mercy of themselves, with little assistance from the local, state and federal government. Some were too poor to buy gasoline to leave town for safer ground. Some were shot trying to reach higher ground by KKK policemen.

As you know, President Chavez of Venezuela has assisted many poor and minority communities in America and throughout the Americas. He has given them discounted gasoline and oil. Perhaps, you can assist us as well. First, we need to establish a community strategic reserve through the North American African community, just in case of emergency since we know we cannot depend on FEMA, Homeland Security or any government agency. Thus, we see the need to establish our own reserve in each community with storage tanks and tanker trucks equipped with nozzles for roadside emergency service.

Brother, see if you can help us so we are not dependent on this sham government.

Finally, I would like you to consider a speaking tour of Black America to explain to us your perspective on the situation in your nation. It is truly painful for me to hear about the daily violence in Iraq. But it is equally as painful to know about the daily violence in our neighborhoods, the grieving mothers, fathers, siblings, relatives and friends.

We grieve for the Iraqi people and the innocent American soldiers. Please consider a brief tour of the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York, also Detroit and Chicago. We want to hear from you. I know you are in the midst of war, but perhaps you can slip away for a few days. Let me hear from you soon.

As-Salaam-Alaikum,

Marvin X (El Muhajir)

P.O. Box 1317

Paradise CA 95965

mrvnx@yahoo.com

Monday, January 15, 2007

african unity still a dream

BBC News
Gamal Nkrumah

African Unity Still a Dream

My father, Ghana's first President Kwame Nkrumah, was a trendsetter in more ways than one.

One of his most outstanding legacies was a political commitment to African continental unity. The Arabic-speaking states of North Africa were, in his vision, no less African than those predominantly non-Arab states south of the Sahara.

With his initial encouragement, Arabs have since become active participants in the politics of Africa.

Nkrumah's was no easy mission. There were many in Africa and in the West who wished to extricate Arab countries from costly African commitments and interventions south of the Sahara.

But Nkrumah's special friendship with the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser - after whom I was named - was instrumental in cementing Arab-African ties.

Tempestuous relations

Nasser was a strong advocate of the African component of the Egyptian national composition, the first Egyptian leader to take such a view.

According to him, Egypt's national make-up is composed of the intersection of three circles - the Arab, the Islamic and the African.

The destinies of "Arabs" and "Africans" have historically and geographically been inextricably intertwined
Be that as it may, relations between Arabs and sub-Saharan Africans have often been uneasy - and at times even tempestuous.

The precise nature of the role expected to be played by Arabs in pan-African politics was at first only dimly understood.

Self-styled "Arab" Somalia fought non-Arab Ethiopia. "Arab" Mauritania went to battle against non-Arab Senegal.

The so-called borderlands of the Sahara and the Sahel have become a veritable frontline where "Arabs" and "Africans" bitterly engage in war.

The focus of much of the fighting has traditionally been Sudan, a member of the Arab League, a body that groups 22 states - including not only the Mediterranean North African countries of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, but also Mauritania, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and the Comoros.

Geographically the largest African country, Sudan has been embroiled intermittently in civil war since its independence in 1956.

The international media persists in propagating confusing myths and half-truths about the war between the "Arab Muslim north" and the "black African south". But the north is not composed entirely of ethnic Arabs, and most of those classified as "Arabs" are far darker in complexion than many of the Congressional Black Caucus members.

Similarly conflict in Sudan's province of Darfur is depicted as between "Arabs" and "black Africans".

There has been a perceptible change in attitudes and perceptions over the years of tensions between "African" and "Arab", but these incremental changes have on the whole been rather negative.

Expectations

In the wake of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and the sudden price hikes of crude oil, African countries began sizing up the readiness of oil-rich Arab countries to offer economic aid and financial assistance.

African countries had high expectations of Arab largesse, but were sorely disappointed.

Migrants heading to Europe from Senegal
Sub-Saharan migrants head to Morocco on their way to Europe
Not only was money not forthcoming, but it became apparent that Arab countries were developing countries, after all, and incapable of lending a helping hand in the area of technical expertise.

Arabs, in turn, quietly brooded over the consequences of not being able to measure up to African expectations.

Summits have reconciled enemies before: Chad and Libya; Sudan and its numerous neighbours.

But there is no escaping the fact that what are often mistakenly dubbed "Arab" versus "African" conflicts have disturbed the placid surface of Nkrumah's vision of African continental unity.

African governments north and south of the Sahara cannot be absolved of responsibility.

And recently, friction has arisen due to the influx of African youth into Arab states.

Their main goal of immigrating to the West - and in particular Europe - necessitates a long and uncomfortable sojourn in North African transit points.

The stories that filtered back are harrowing: death at sea, slave labour, prostitution and narcotic trafficking and an alarming wave of racism in North Africa.

Nevertheless, the destinies of "Arabs" and "Africans" have historically and geographically been inextricably intertwined.

The only way forward for Africa is continental African Union as envisaged by Kwame Nkrumah.

we should all have the same dream

From TheArab-AmericanNews.com: We should all have the same dream briefly comments on the significance of Martin Luther King's legacy for Arabs in the United States.

Friday, January 12, 2007

usman dan fodio and the sokoto caliphate

By the late eighteenth century in Nigeria, many Muslim scholars and teachers had become disenchanted with the insecurity that characterized the Hausa states and Borno. Some clerics (mallams) continued to reside at the courts of the Hausa states and Borno, but others, who joined the Qadiriyah brotherhood, began to think about a revolution that would overthrow existing authorities. Prominent among these radical mallams was Usman dan Fodio, who with his brother and son, attracted a following among the clerical class. (for more of this history see Usman dan Fodio and the Sokoto Caliphate)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

even more on (and from) brother keith

Recently Laury posted: Keith Ellison Story, Film, Interview, and Essay over at www.progressiveislam.org. The post includes more details on the Jefferson Quran and the whole situation, a film of the swearing-in, an interview with Ellison where he gets a little more detail about his faith and his politics, and finally an essay by Ellison where he encourages Americans to embrace a broader, more inclusive, more "generous" vision of the country.

choose generosity, not exclusion

by Keith Ellison

The author was elected to the House of Representatives from Minnesota's 5th District in November. He is the first Muslim elected to serve in the U.S. Congress. The new 110th Congress will, for the first time, include a Muslim, two Buddhists, more Jews than Episcopalians, and the highest-ranking Mormon in congressional history, the Religion News Service reports. Roman Catholics remain the largest single faith group in Congress, accounting for 29 percent of all members of the House and Senate, followed by Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Jews and Episcopalians.


Somewhere in Minneapolis or Jackson or Baltimore, somewhere in America today, there is a young couple that is feeling vulnerable. Maybe one has been laid off due to outsourcing, and maybe, the other is working for something close to a minimum wage. They probably have no medical benefits. Today real income is lower for the typical family than in 2000, while the incomes of the wealthiest families have grown significantly. Things are tough for working people, but in America, we often turn to our faith in tough times.

When our couple shows up for worship service, probably on a Sunday, there is no doubt that the preacher will tell them of God’s unyielding love. “God loves you.” But the next thing the preacher tells them is crucial - not only to the young couple, but to us all. The next message from the preacher may help to shape, not only the next election results, but the political landscape of the nation.

Will the preacher tell our young couple, “God loves you – but only you and people like you?” Or will the preacher say “God loves you and you must love your neighbors of all colors, cultures, or faiths as yourselves”? One message will lead to be a stinginess of spirit, an exclusion of the “undeserving”, and the other will lead to a generosity of spirit and inclusion of all.

In America today, we are encouraged to believe in the myth of scarcity - that there just isn't enough - of anything. But in the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus, who the Muslims call Isa, found himself preaching to 5000 (not including the women by the way) at dinner time, and there didn’t appear to be enough food. The disciples said that there were only five barley loaves and two fish. We just have to send them away hungry. We simply don't have enough. But Jesus took the loaves and the fish and started sharing food. There was enough for everyone. There was more than enough. What was perceived as scarcity was illusory as long as there was sharing, and not hoarding.

The idea here is not that there is a boundless supply of everything. Such an idea leads to waste and dispensability of everything. But the idea is that there is enough.

If scarcity is a myth, then poverty is not necessary. America need not have 37 million Americans living below the poverty line. It is a choice. Hunger is a choice. Exclusion of the stranger, the immigrant, or the darker other is a choice.

We can choose generosity. In America today, we spend more on health care than any other industrialized nation, yet 46 Million people have none. Canada spends half of what we spend and covers everyone. Perfectly? Of course not. But adequately. That’s more than what a lot of people have right now.

We live in a society which says that there is enough for a tax break for the wealthy but not enough for an increase in the minimum wage or for national health care. There is enough for subsidies to oil and coal companies but not for families who are struggling to afford child care or a college education. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

We need a politics of generosity based on the reality of abundance as opposed to a politics of not-enough. The richest 1 percent of the nation, on average, owns 190 times as much as a typical household. The child poverty rate in the United States is the highest of 16 other industrialized nations. Employers are shifting health insurance costs onto workers. Not only are fewer employees receiving health insurance through their employers, but those who still do are paying more for it.

Recently, I have become the focus of some criticism for my use of the Qu'ran for my ceremonial swearing in. Let me be clear, I am going to be sworn into office like all members of Congress. I am going to swear to uphold the United States Constitution. We seem to have lost the political vision of our founding document -- a vision of inclusion, tolerance and generosity.

I do not blame my critics for subscribing to a politics of scarcity and intolerance. However, I believe we all must project a new politics of generosity and inclusion This is the vision of the diverse coalition in my Congressional district. My constituents in Minnesota elected me to fight for a new politics in which a loving nation guarantees health care for all of its people; a new politics in which executive pay may not skyrocket while workers do not have enough to care for their families. I was elected to articulate a new politics in which no one is cut out of the American dream, not immigrants, not gays, not poor people, not even a Muslim committed to serve his nation.

Friday, January 05, 2007

ellison and the jefferson quran

From Grenada:
In a rather elegant response to the people who were calling him unAmerican for choosing to use a Quran for his swearing-in ceremony, Keith Ellison will be using a Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Nice.
I kind of wish I had been as informative. Here are more details about the situation from Sadiq M. Alam's blog, Inspirations and Creative Thoughts in an entry called: Keith Ellison, Thomas Jefferson's Quran and America's embrace of diversity

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The State of the Blackamerican Muslim Community

Coming November 2-4, 2007, Insha Allah

MANA will be having a conference on "The State of the Blackamerican Muslim Community"

Location and details TBA

beyonce vs. islamism?

Ted over at hawgblawg recently put up an entry called Beyonce vs Islamism? which explores the idea of whether hip-hop, or African-American popular culture generally, is a threat to Islamic fundamentalism abroad.