Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘islam

And the colonial powers claim that the Islamic women are Not at par with bravery?

Read what Maysoon Souwaydan wrote on the social media on the state of affairs of Islam in Saudi Kingdom

لازالت ميسون السويدان ابنة الداعية طارق السويدان تثير الجدل، خصوصا بعد آخر تغريدة لها على التويتر ” تهت في شوارع مكة أبحث عن الله.. و لم أجده في الحرم..”، حيث تم تكفيرها من قبل رواد مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي.

و أثارت تغريدتها غضب عدد كبير من المغردين الخليجيين .. فانهالوا على أبيها بالشتائم بخصوص ما قالته ابنته، و اعتبروه مسؤول على تصرفاتها.
من جهتها ردت ميسون على منتقديها عبر تغريدات في حسابها الشخصي على التويتر قائلة :

أتظنونني سأسكت عنكم ؟؟ لا و الله لن أسكت.. لم أتمسّك بديني كل هذه السنين في الغرب حتى يأتي “المسلمون” ليسلبوني إياه
لقد عدنا و الله إلى الجاهلية،أنتم تعذّبون المسلمين بالشتم حتى تخرجوهم من دينهم..و أنا والله لن أخرج من دين الله و لو كره المكفرون
هذا الدين الذي تدافعون عنه ليس بديني هذا صحيح. .. أنا ديني الإسلام و الرحمة و أنتم دينكم التكفير و النَّقمة.


– لم أذهب إلى مكة لأرى من يدَّعي أنَّه يمثِّل الدين يضرب أرجل النساء بالعصا و يهشّهن كالغنم.. أنا لست بعيراً بيد راعٍ أنا إنسانة جاءت لتقلى ربها


– لم أذهب إلى مكة كي أرى متاجر إسرائيل على بُعد خطوات من بيت الله الحرام


– لم أذهب إلى مكة لأرى آلاف الفقراء المساكين يقفون بين يدي الله بأثوابهم البالية فيجبرهم الإمام أن يدعوا للملوك و السلاطين الذين لا يصلّون أصلاً


– لم أذهب إلى مكة ليبكي قلبي ما فعلتموه بهذه المدينة الطاهرة..بالمسجد الحرام،ذهبت إليها بحثاً عن الله.. فلم أجدْه عندكم.. نعم ما وجدته إلا بقلبي


لو أنّي بحثت عن الله في مكّة.. أو في مذهبكم العنيف لكَفرتُ من زمان

… هذا صحيح.. فالحمد لله أنّي لم أبحث عنه إلا بقلبي
إن لم يسعنا الإسلام جميعاً – فاذهبوا أنتم. أنا هنا في رحاب الله باقية… مسلمة أنا لن أتخلّى عن ديني و لو قاتلتموني عليه بالسلاح.
– أنتم قتلتم الحلّاج … أنتم قتلتم الروحانية في مكة.. أنتم قتلتم الله في قلوب الناس.. – – أنتم شوّهتم دين الله ألا شاهت وجوهكم.
مَن كان يعبد محمد بن عبد الله – فإنّه قد مات و مَن كان يعبد الله فإن الله حيٌّ لا يموت.


أحدٌ أحدْ.. ربُّ المكَفِّرِ شيخُهُ… رب المكفِّرِ سيفُهُ… و أنا إلهي ليس يسكن في جمادٍ أو جسدْ… أَحدٌ أحَدْ … أحَدٌ أحَدْ …


– إن تضعوا حجر التكفير على صدري فلا أقول إلا: أحدٌ أحدْ.. أنا ما وجدتُك في بلدْ، أنا ما وجدتك في جسدْ، أنا ما وجدتك في سوى قلبٍ لغيرك ما سجدْ


أَحدٌ أحَدْ … أحَدٌ أحَدْ … ربُّ المُكفِّرِ قاتلٌ … ربُّ المكفِّر مُستَبِدْ … و أنا إلهي في فؤادي…ليس يقتلُهُ أحَدْ …
__________________________

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Who is dangerously wrong about ISIS and Islam?

Note: In all religions, there are factions that seek interpretations and those that want to adhere literally to the words. What if initially the language had no punctuation in the first place?

On Monday, The Atlantic unveiled a new feature piece by Graeme Wood entitled “What ISIS Really Wants,” which claims to expose the foundational theology of the terror group ISIS, also called the Islamic State, which has waged a horrific campaign of violence across Iraq, Syria, and Libya over the past year.

The article is researched, and makes observations about the core religious ideas driving ISIS — namely, a dark, bloodthirsty theology that revolves around an apocalyptic narrative in which ISIS’s black-clad soldiers believe they are playing a pivotal role.

Indeed, CNN’s Peter Bergen published a similar article the next day detailing ISIS’s obsession with the end times, and cited Wood as an “excellent” source, quoting a passage from his article with the kicker “Amen to that.”

Posted on February 18, 2015

Despite this, Wood’s article has encountered staunch criticism and derision from many Muslims and academics who study Islam.

After the article was posted online, Islamic studies Facebook pages and listserves were reportedly awash with comments from intellectuals blasting the article as, among other things, “quite shocking.”

The core issue, they say, is that Wood appears to have fallen prey to an inaccurate trope all too common in many Western circles: that ISIS is an inevitable product of Islam, mainly because the Qur’an and other Islamic texts contain passages that support its horrific acts.

In his article, Wood acknowledged that most Muslims don’t support ISIS, as the sheer number of Muslim groups who have disavowed the terrorist organization or declared it unIslamic is overwhelming.

Yet he repeatedly hints that non-literal Islamic arguments against the terrorist group are useless because justifications for violence are present in texts Muslims hold sacred.

“…simply denouncing the Islamic State as un-Islamic can be counterproductive, especially if those who hear the message have read the holy texts and seen the endorsement of many of the caliphate’s practices written plainly within them.”

Wood writes. “Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koran and the example of the Prophet.”

Although Wood qualifies his claim by pointing briefly to the theological diversity within Islam, Islam scholars argue that he glosses over one of the most important components of any faith tradition: interpretation.

Jerusha Tanner Lamptey, Professor of Islam and Ministry at Union Theological Seminary in New York, told ThinkProgress that Wood’s argument perpetuates the false idea that Islam is a literalistic tradition where violent texts are taken at face value.

“That’s very problematic to anyone who spends any of their time dealing with the diversity of interpretations around texts,” Lamptey said.

“Texts have never been only interpreted literally. They have always been interpreted in multiple ways — and that’s not a chronological thing, that’s been the case from the get-go … [Wood’s comments] create the [impression] that Islam is literalistic, backward-minded, and kind of arcane or archaic, and we’ve moved past that narrative.”

Lamptey also said that Wood’s argument overlooks other Quranic verses that, if taken literally, would contradict ISIS’s actions because “they promote equality, tolerance.”

She pointed to surah 22:39-40 in the Qur’an, which connects the permission for war with the need to protect the houses of worship of other religions — something ISIS, which has destroyed several Christian churches, clearly ignores.

“ISIS exegetes these verses away I am sure, but that’s the point,” she said. “It’s not really about one perspective being literal, one being legitimate, one ignoring things…it’s about diverse interpretations.

But alternative ones tend to not gain any footing with this kind of black-and-white rhetoric. It completely delegitimizes them.”

Shakir Waheib, a senior member of the al-Qaida breakaway group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), left, next to a burning police vehicle in Iraq's Anbar Province

Shakir Waheib, a senior member of the al-Qaida breakaway group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), left, next to a burning police vehicle in Iraq’s Anbar Province

Wood, of course, didn’t accidentally invent the idea that violent passages in Islamic texts make the religion especially prone to violence, or that ISIS’s supposedly Islamic nature is evidence of deeper issues within the tradition.

These concepts have been around for some time, but are becoming increasingly popular among two groups that usually find themselves ideologically opposed — namely, right-wing conservatives and the so-called “New Atheists,” a subset of atheism in the West.

Leaders from both camps have pointed to violent passages in the Qur’an as evidence that Islam is a ticking time bomb. Rev. Franklin Graham, son of famous evangelist Billy Graham, has regularly attacked Islam using this logic, and recently responded to questions about the Qur’an on Fox News by saying that Islam “is not a religion of peace” but a “violent form of faith.”

Similarly, talk show host and outspoken atheist Bill Maher sparred with Charlie Rose last September over ISIS, saying that people who disavow the group as unIslamic ignore the supposed “connecting tissue” between ISIS and the rest of Islam, noting “The Qur’an absolutely has on every page stuff that’s horrible about how the infidels should be treated.”

It is perhaps for this reason that Fox News and several other conservative outlets fawned over Wood’s article after it was published, as did prominent “New Atheists” Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

But while these positions are widespread, Lamptey noted that they are also potentially dangerous because they play directly into ISIS’s plans. By suggesting that Islam is ultimately beholden to specific literal readings of texts, Lamptey said Wood and other pundits inadvertently validate ISIS’s voice.

“[Wood’s position] confirms exactly what people like ISIS want people to think about them, which is that they are the only legitimate voice,” she said. “It echoes that rhetoric 100%. Yes, that is what ISIS says about themselves, but it is a different step to say ‘Yes, that is true about the Islamic tradition and all Muslims.’”

Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with Raw Story on Tuesday. He argued that in addition to Wood’s piece being “full of factual mistakes,” its de facto endorsement of literalistic Quranic interpretations amounts to an advertisement for ISIS’s horrific theology.

“Scholars who study Islam, authorities of Islamic jurisprudence, are telling ISIS that they are wrong, and Mr. Wood knows more than what they do, and he’s saying that ISIS is Islamic?” Awad said.

“I don’t think Mr. Wood has the background or the scholarship to make that dangerous statement, that historically inaccurate statement. In a way, I think, he is unintentionally promoting ISIS and doing public relations for ISIS.”

Awad also noted that Wood used “jihad” and “terrorism” interchangeably, which implicitly endorses ISIS’s argument that their savage practices (terrorism) are a spiritually justified religious duty (jihad).

In addition, there is a major issue with Wood’s offhand reference to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as “the first caliph in generations”: although a caliphate can be established by force, a caliph, by definition, implies the majority support of Muslims (which ISIS does not have) and caliphates are historically respectful of other religious traditions (which ISIS certainly is not).

Lamptey also noted that Wood’s position is demeaning, because it renders invisible the overwhelming majority of Muslims whose theologies rebuke violent atrocities.

Among other things, Wood’s piece extensively quotes Bernard Haykel, a Princeton scholar the journalist relies on heavily throughout the article, who says Muslim leaders who condemn ISIS as unIslamic are typically “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion.”

This stands in stark contrast to the bold statements from respected Muslim scholars all over the globe challenging ISIS’s Islamic claims, and Lamptey says such comments can be read by many Muslims as having their peaceful devotion to their own religion second-guessed by people who believe they’re simply “overlooking things.”

“[Wood and others think moderate Muslims] they’re not ‘real’ Muslims, but ‘partial’ Muslims, or even apostate,” she said. “The majority of [Muslims] do not subscribe to [ISIS’s] view of their religion. But they do subscribe to the idea of emulating the Prophet Muhammad, upholding the text, and upholding the tradition, but come up with very different end points about what that looks like.”

“It’s not like these Muslims are ‘kind-of Muslims.’ They’re Muslims who are committed to the prophetic example in the texts and the Qur’an,” she added.

Other Islam scholars say this narrative breeds suspicion of Muslims as a whole. Mohammad Fadel, Associate Professor & Toronto Research Chair for the Law and Economics of Islamic Law at the University of Toronto, told ThinkProgress that these arguments entertain the notion that all Muslims are just one literal reading away from becoming terrorists.

“There already is the background … that stresses the idea that Muslims lie about what they believe,” Fadel told ThinkProgress. “That they really have these dark ambitions, but they just suppress them because of their own strategic purposes of conquest. They pretend to be nice. They pretend to be sympathetic to liberal values, but as soon as they get the chance, they’re going to enslave us all. The idea here is that they’re all potential followers of ISIS.”

“On first reading [Wood’s article] seemed to suggest that a committed Muslim should be sympathetic to ISIS, and protestations to the contrary either are the result of ignorance or the result of deception.” he said. “That’s not helpful, and potentially very dangerous.”

Granted, Fadel and Lamptey agreed that a discussion of ISIS’s apocalyptic theology is important, and were hesitant to single out Haykel. But they remained deeply concerned about the popularity of Wood’s framing, and challenged his assertion that ISIS is a “very Islamic” institution that is somehow representative of the global Muslim community.

“Yes, [ISIS is] Islamic in that they use Islamic sources to justify all their actions,” Fadel said. “But I think the question that bothers most Muslims is the idea that just because someone says they are Muslim or that their actions are representative of Islam doesn’t make it so. Just because a group can appropriate Islamic sources and Islamic symbols, and then go around doing all sorts of awful things, doesn’t mean that they get to be the ones who define for the world what Islam means.”

“Muslims who reject ISIS aren’t doing it because they’re bad Muslims. They just have a compelling version of Islam that they think is much better.”

Note 1: A thousand years before the schism between Catholics and Protestants, Islam had undergone extensive scholarly dialogue between interpretation and literal comprehension of the Koran, and this confrontation lasted for centuries and dozens of voluminous books were written and studied for centuries

Note 2: All these violent factions rely on the biased Hadith (what people said about what Mohammad said or did after his death) and Not in the Koran

Note 3: A few comments on FB:

  • Yuval Orr I didn’t read Wood’s article as suggesting that ISIS is “right.” I read it instead as an attempt to place the group within a framework of apocalyptic beliefs found in the particular strain of Islam to which it adheres.
    Andrew Bossone What does “strain of Islam” even mean? Do they follow a particular school of interpretation that developed over the last 1200 years? I can’t help but lump this guy into a group of people who aren’t scholars of a field doing some research and acting like one. Kareem Abdul Jabbar put it pretty well when he compared ISIS as a representative of Islam to the KKK is of Christianity.
    Here’s another article that explains what’s wrong with Wood’s writing: http://www.middleeasteye.net/…/isis-and-academic-veil

 

‘NYT’ portrays Islam more negatively than alcohol, cancer, and cocaine: A study

A study released in November 2015 by 416 Labs, a Toronto-based consulting firm, reveals that the New York Times portrays Islam/Muslims more negatively than alcohol, cancer, and cocaine among other benchmarked words.

Based on a sentiment analysis of online and print headlines spanning 25 years of coverage, the study found “strong evidence that Islam/Muslims are consistently associated with negative terms in NYT headlines.”

Key findings pertaining to 2,667,700 articles include:

  • 57% of the headlines containing the words Islam/Muslims were scored negatively. Only 8% of the headlines were scored positively.
  • Compared to all the other benchmarked terms (Republican, Democrat, Cancer and Yankees, Christianity and Alcohol), Islam/Muslims had the highest incidents of negative terms throughout the 25-year period.
  • Not once over the examined period does the aggregate negative sentiment of headlines related to Islam/Muslims go below the NYT aggregate (29%) for all headlines.
  • The most frequent terms associated with Islam/Muslims include “Rebels” and “Militant.” None of the 25 most frequently occurring terms were positive.”
  • Figure 4 of the study showing percentage of NYT headlines with an overall negative score. (Image: 416 Labs)

    Figure 4 of the study showing percentage of NYT headlines with an overall negative score. (Image: 416 Labs)

To put these findings in perspective, the study notes that “despite causing more fatalities than violent acts by Jihadist groups [throughout the covered period], the negative sentiment for alcohol and cancer remains significantly below the sentiment shown in headlines for Islam and Muslims.”

In a phone interview, co-author Steven Zhou, who is in charge of Investigations and Civic Engagement at the recently established consulting firm, explained the reasons behind their inaugural study:

“Since 9/11, many media outlets began profiteering from the anti-Muslim climate. Though you could probably trace a similar trend back to the Iranian Revolution. We talk a lot about media and Islamophobia, but no body has done the math. So, we thought it is long overdue to have a quantitative investigation of an agenda-setting newspaper.”

Given that media organizations have a powerful role in influencing public perceptions, the study concludes that “the overwhelming sentiment associated with NYT headlines about Islam/Muslims is likely to distort perceptions,” suggesting “that the average reader of NYT is likely to assign collective responsibility to Islam/Muslims for the violent actions of a few.”

While the results may not be surprising to many readers, co-author Usaid Siddiqui who is in charge of Communications, Outreach and Partnerships said “when we went into it we didn’t think it would be surprising if Islam was one of the most negatively portrayed topics in the NYT…What did really surprise us was that compared with something as inherently negative as cancer, Islam still tends to be more negative.”

Though the study was published four months ago, it has received little attention.

Zhou explains this is because “it’s the first study of a recently established firm. You know, we all worked on it while also having different full-time jobs and obligations.”

Nonetheless, given the spike in vitriol against Muslims in an election year, these findings are a timely wake-up call.

Especially when voices like Robert Spencer’s, author and founder of the infamous Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, blast the study as:

“A classic example of how Leftists are out of touch with reality…the insidious agenda here is to silence even the slightest (and the New York Times is about as slight as you can get) critical word about anything related to Islam and Muslims.

This would have the effect of silencing all opposition to the advancing jihad. It would be a recipe for defeat and surrender.”

Zhou said that he doesn’t “see [Spencer’s view] as an assessment of our substantial study, because it doesn’t address the raw statistical analysis and empirical evidence our work clearly highlights.”

Zhou’s defense of the study is not only grounded in empirical evidence, but also in light of a conversation surrounding what could only be described as the Ayan Hirsi Ali Problem: “fringe Muslim [and non-Muslim] Americans, pushing an anti-Islam agenda are promoted as legitimate experts, thus mainstreaming ideas that are both offensive and incorrect.”

Spencer is yet to “demonstrate his qualifications to explicate this topic,” said Zhou. In fact, according to a report by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Spencer, along with many other so-called “experts” on Islam, lacks crucial qualifications on the subject matter, and “mostly engages in internet-based polemics that he tries to pass off as serious scholarship.”

In 2014, Carl W. Ernst, professor of Islamic Studies at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, said that Spencer’s views “have no basis in scholarship,” with “no academic training in Islamic studies whatsoever.” Incidentally, UNC-CH is where Spencer earned his Master’s focusing on early Christianity.

Though the study keenly recognized that its findings are not necessarily the result of intentional choices by decision makers at the Times, it clearly points to an institutional tendency by many agenda-setting newspapers and organizations to paint Islam and Muslims with a single brush: war, violence, and terror.

Zhou said the study’s empirical approach “sets an example” for many other topics because “critical rhetoric and slogans can only be effective with supporting evidence and crunching the numbers.”

One topic that undoubtedly serves as fertile ground is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The NYT is a standout case for several reasons: at least 3 sons of NYT editors assigned to cover Israel and Palestine served, or continued to serve, in the Israeli occupation forces, evident manipulation and biased coverage, as well as a trend of accommodating official Israeli perspectives far more than Palestinians’, all of which pose a serious conflict of interest to fair and balanced coverage, inviting a similar empirical investigation.

Several recommendations are offered by the authors of the study to “help represent Islam/Muslims in a more accurate way.”

1. These include educating reporters on the nuances of Islam,

2. engaging local Muslim voices, and

3.  greater activism by Muslim organizations among others.

Zhou said the most crucial tool for these recommendations to be taken up by people is “through creating spaces for Muslims beyond the mosque and home to talk about and engage with civic life.”

Dorgham Abusalim recently graduated with a Master in International Affairs from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland. You can follow him

 

Why I can’t celebrate Malala’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded this Friday to India’s Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai for their struggles against the suppression of children and for young people’s rights, including the right to education.

That is great news, and it might almost mean Nobel Peace Prize makes sense again.

Mind you that this year prize is meaningful after being awarded to Barack Obama in 2009 “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”,

This prize  was also awarded to European Union in 2012 “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe” (at least this make sense, while the Obama excuse is pretty lame and totally erroneous).

(Again, international politics abridge the years that a person has to struggle before being considered for a prize. Though Kailash Satyarthi has already served his dues after 14 years of steadfast struggles to prohibit kids from being used as labor in India. He managed to save 75,000 kids from this awful state of slavery)

Still, there is something that really troubles me. How come we (meaning the West) always recognize the “devils” of the East, the torments children like Malala had to and have to go through (in her case, with the Taliban), but always fail to recognize our own participation in creating those “devils”?

How come we never talk about the things our governments are doing to the children of Pakistan, or Syria, or Iraq, or Palestine, or Yemen?

Let’s just take drone strikes as an example. Last year’s tweet by George Galloway might illustrate this hypocrisy.

10494696_10205086935471637_7493940445304227766_n

Galloway is absolutely right. We would never even know her name.

But, since Malala’s story fits into the western narrative of the oriental oppression (in which the context underlying the creation of the oppression is left out), we all know Malala’s name. Like Assed Baig writes:

This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalized.

Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case. The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armour to save her. 

The actions of the West, the bombings, the occupations the wars all seem justified now, ‘see, we told you, this is why we intervene to save the natives.’”

The problem is, there are thousands of Malalas that the West helped create with endless wars, occupations, interventions, drone strikes, etc.

In Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, one can hear how little we know about the drone strikes – its aims, targets, results. Right now we have the executive branch making a claim that it has the right to kill anyone, anywhere on Earth, at any time, for secret reasons based on secret evidence, in a secret process undertaken by unidentified officials. That frightens me.

This is how Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown professor and former Pentagon official under President Obama, explained the US policy on drone strikes during a congressional hearing last year.

The following photo presents the piece that was installed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, close to Pakistan’s northwest border with Afghanistan, by an art collective that includes Pakistanis, Americans and others associated with the French artist JR.

The collective said it produced the work in the hope that U.S. drone operators will see the human face of their victims in a region that has been the target of frequent strikes.

foto/photo via notabugsplat/

That is the reality we are not being presented with.

Another reality is the story of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, 14-year-old Iraqi girl, who was gang raped by five U.S. Army soldiers and killed in her house in Yusufiyah (Iraq) in 2006.

She was raped and murdered after her parents and six-year-old sister Hadeel Qasim Hamza were killed.

Also not irrelevant to mention is that Abeer was going to school before the US invasion but had to stop going because of her father’s concerns for her safety.

article-0-0C89D3B2000005DC-51_634x548Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi

And while the West applauds Malala (as they should), I am afraid it might be for the wrong reasons, or with a wrong perspective.

It feels like the West wants to gain an agenda that suits them or the policies they want.

That is also why Malala’s views on Islam are rarely presented.

She uses her faith as a framework to argue for the importance of education rather than making Islam a justification for oppression, but that is rarely mentioned. It also “doesn’t fit”.

So, my thoughts were mixed this Friday when I heard the news about the Nobel Peace Prize. On so many levels. They still are. We’ve entered a new war, and peace prize award ceremonies seem ridiculous after looking at this photo.

tumblr_nd1ycaClBV1tgyqboo1_1280“They say that if God loves you, He will let you live a long life, but I wish that He loved me a little less. I wish that I didn’t live long enough to see my country in ruins.”  Ahmad, a 102 year old Syrian refugee /photo by A. McConnell, UNHCR/

Sure, we must acknowledge the efforts of those who are fighting for a better world, but when it is done in a way that feels so calculated, unidimensional, loaded with secret agendas and tons of hypocrisy – I just can’t celebrate it.

What else do you need to know about Islam?

10 Things I BET You Did Not Know About ISLAM.

1. We can eat pork…… 
depending on the circumstances. By default, the meat of pigs is haram (unlawful) in Islam. However, there are exceptions where it can be consumed in dire circumstances. A clear example would be a “do or die” situation. Literally.

2. We can pray in Hebrew

or in Cantonese. Or in Russian. Or in sign language or just about ANY language in the world! Yes, as Muslims, you are encouraged to learn Arabic as the Quraan (Sacred Book) is written in Arabic (here’s why).

If you have a language disability or you are just really comfortable in your native language -relax. God gets it. Baby steps.

3. WE DECLARE JIHAD!!!! (On ourselves)

Pay attention to the simplest breakdown of this word that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Jihad = Struggle

Struggle = to strive to achieve or attain something in the face of difficulty or resistance

The Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him – says “The greatest Jihad is the Jihad against yourself.”

A highly respected scholar defines this best –

” Declare your Jihad against 13 enemies you cannot see. Egoism, Arrogance, Conceit, Selfishness, Greed. Lust, Intolerance, Anger, Lying. Cheating, Gossiping, Slandering. If you can master & destroy them, THEN you will be ready to fight the enemy you can see. ” – Imam Al Ghazali

4. We dont follow the Shariah ALL the time

The Shariah is the law by which Muslims abide by. BUT, as much as it is law – it is also a guideline. To be misUSED as and when in accordance to the situation and the context and background of the people. I suppose this is why we were created with brains?

Muslims are strongly encouraged to use their intellect, wisdom coupled with knowledge of the sacred texts and books to ascertain the right from wrong using the Shariah as guidelines.

5. Arabs are NOT Muslims.

Ok so maybe some are. But get this. Arab is an ethnic group. Not a religion.

There are different types of Arabs depending on where they are from – White arabs, Black Arabs, Lebanese, Moroccan, Sudanese – the works. And then, there are Christian Arabs, Jewish Arabs, Buddhist Arabs.

And wait, I’m not finished yet.

There are Chinese Muslims, Indian Muslims, Scottish Muslims, African Muslims, White Muslims, Black Muslims, Brown Muslims, North Pole Muslims and did i mention Arab Muslims??

Islam does NOT belong to a particular ethnic group or language or country or race or type of people and it NEVER will.

ANYONE can enter its sphere.

6. We have 290,786 different sects.

Relax. Keep Calm and Read on. Thing to remember before continuing from this point is –

NEVER confuse Islam (The Religion) with Muslims (the followers).

Moving on – Muslims are every where. It is impossible to have 1 ring to rule them all.

Last night, over dinner – my friend gave a really wise analogy for this. Coffee!

It comes from..uhh.. the Coffee Plant. Cultivated in over 70 different countries. It is then processed and the seeds are roasted to varying degrees depending on the desired flavour.

People drink coffee in a million different ways resulting in a million different taste that suits the individual. You may hate the coffee i drink and i may not fancy yours. But, its the same source! So.

Compare this with the Muslims. You have people following Islam from all over the universe. 7 continents. 196 (recognized) countries. A million different races, cultures, background, history. It’s impossible to expect everyone to conform to being 1 type of Muslim.

So there are what we call Madhab (Mazhab, School of Thought) which has 4 different ..thoughts. Some Muslims (Not Islam) also have different sects. Shia and Sunni being the famous two.

What is amazing about this is the very fact that it is mentioned in the Quran. Diversity is to be celebrated and it is a Mercy from God 🙂

Ok wait, so how do you decide what or where to belong to?

In the last sermon of the Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him – he says

I am leaving you with the the QURAN and my SUNNAH, if you follow them you will never go astray

As long as the Quran and Sunnah (practices/teachings of Prophet Muhammad) are heavily relied upon as examples and the way of life, i reckon you’re in safe hands.

And please, BRING YOUR BRAINS WITH YOU. If some guy tells you to bomb yourself & kill others so you will earn yourself 50 women fanning you while you sip on halal wine in paradise -then…. USE. YOUR. BRAINS.

7. Women Rights & Islam is a SYNONYM.

Surprise!! Here’s a rhetorical trivia! Guess the FIRST University in the world?

The University of Al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco. Founded by Fatima al-Fihri in 859. SHE founded it. SHE founded the FIRST UNIVERSITY.

It was lawful. It was encouraged and heck yeah it was celebrated! Women(Muslims or Non) Rights existed over 1400 years ago.

Our Lady Khadijah, peace upon her – was a successful entrepreneur. SHE HIRED the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to work for her.

The best scholar of hadith (traditions) was our Lady Aisha, peace upon her. The men had to go to her and study FROM her. When all of civilizations demeaned women with ideas of them carrying original sin, burying of female infants, treated as sex slaves,not allowed to pursue education, Islam removed ALL of that and was the FIRST to introduce fair distribution of wealth and property to women.

The Sacred Book itself declares numerous versus of how women are integrating, equal halves of the human race.

Guess how Islam decides who is BEST in character??

The best of you are those who treat your wife best.

All ma ladies in the halal club put your hands up!

8. Prophet Muhammad LOVES you & he loves Jesus too!!!

When people tell me “But..Jesus loves you!”  Im like..yeah, i know. I love him too. We ALL love Jesus, peace be upon him.

Thing is, do you know that Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him loves you too!? Unconditionally. Whether or not you hate him. or love him.  or dont even know him. Don’t ask me how.

That’s just how it is and you can’t run away from this. He was the epitome of humanity just like his brothers- the prophets, peace be upon them, before him. He loved ALL of creation. About the animals of the earth, he said,

Fear God of your treatment of these animals who cannot speak

My favourite example of his mercy is the following story.

After praying at the Kaabah (Sacred House) (Also quite possibly THE most sacred symbol in Islam) –the prophet and his companions sat nearby to rest. A bedouin passing by the village,went right up to the Kaabah and started urinating.

The companions who were with the Prophet, started to draw out their weapons but the Prophet stopped them and said “No, let him finish”. After the bedouin released himself, the Prophet walked up to him and introduced himself. They then got into a conversation of where he was from etc…small talk basically. At the end, the Prophet then explained to him the significance of the Sacred House to the Muslims.

Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. Lovveee. There are infinite more examples where this came from. 🙂

9.We want world peace as much as you do

All of our people have died in wars and evil agendas of sick minded humans. Our sisters have been raped and abused and killed. Our men have died in wars and have their throats slit alive and beheaded.

Hold up. If you read the above – ‘our sisters’ and ‘our brothers’ as our muslim sister/brother, you’re wrong.

I meant our Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim brothers and sisters. All of humankind. Every one from every religion and even those without a religion. Too many people have died in vain. Too many children have become orphans.

The media is doing a fantastic job at dividing us. And it does not help when a stupid do stupid things in the name of a certain religion or group thereby portraying all of the group as such.

I don’t know who you are and I don’t care where you are from. If you’re up to fight for world peace and destroying oppression and establishing justice and peace for all in the world- then I  am with you. And I assure you, the lovers of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, are with you too.

10. WE ARE A HAPPY BUNCH!

Despite the crazy shiz going on in the world – one must persevere.

Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, said

Which actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of human beings, feed the hungry, help the afflicted, lighten the sorrows of the sorrowful & to remove the sufferings of the injured.

So because i want you to get the right information, i’m going to leave you with some seriously amazing stuff and work from Muslims all over the world so you KNOW the REAL Islam.

There is a LOT more where that came from.. but since this is off my head, im going to need a few more days to work on this. Oh and you should check out this video.

Note: Islam one of the heretics Christian-Jewish sects https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/islam-is-one-of-the-%E2%80%9Cheretic%E2%80%9D-christian-jewish-sects/

Abdulnasser Gharem’s  Solo Show, The Awakening

It was a cool spring evening in Dubai and the opening reception of Abdulnasser Gharem at Ayyam Gallery was but a few minutes away.

I learned from the news that Ayyam Gallery is owned by a Syrian who fled the civil war in Syria and moved his Gallery from Damascus to Dubai and is doing well.

The owner (Samawe?) has been paying the plane tickets for the Syrian artists who wanted to resume their art work in Dubai.

 posted this April 6, 2014

Ascending the escalator leading up to DIFC, I braced myself for a special experience.

Abdulnasser Gharem’s Solo Show, The Awakening
Corinne

Certainly I will be stirred in the same way I did the first time I saw Abdulnasser’s work at XVA Gallery 4 years earlier and every time thereafter.

corinnemartin_abdulnassercover 1

This would be a particularly significant step for Abdulnasser as his first solo show following the historical sale of Message/Messenger at Chrsitie’s Dubai, which earned $842,500, the largest sum ever paid for a work by a living Arab artist.

For the people following Abdulnasser’s path and the events which lead to this point, it is impossible to separate the man from the work.

corinnemartin_abdulnassercover 11

Gharem is tall and broad shouldered. His bright amber-colored eyes exude wisdom and kindness, and his confidence is an art in itself.

During our conversation he shared the story of his artistic life.

Growing up, his early landscape and portrait techniques were self taught. When in the late 1990s Saudi towns and cities got their first internet, it gave him a way to engage with the world outside.

Gharem’s understanding of the world was transformed and he began reading every book he could possibly get his hands on.

“My art only began when I understood that there are many voices. I think you can also say that my education started when I left school.”

He perfected the ability to condense ideas of great complexity into forms of pure simplicity. This was a key element in getting his work authorized.

In 2009 when he created concrete barriers in response to the wave of terrorist attacks in Saudi, he put it very simply,

“I’m not against anyone. I’m with the subject. What interests me here are concrete walls, what they keep out. In Berlin, yes. In Baghdad, yes. In Israel and Palestine, sure (why?). But most of the all it’s the concrete barriers in my town and in my country that I’m interested in… These walls are temporary… We should see beyond them.”

corinnemartin_abdulnassercover 4

Much of his work has roots that appeared out of personal experiences dating back to his childhood.

“Rich people in Saudi keep horses, everyone else catches pigeons or doves and keeps them instead,” he explained about Message/Messenger. “It’s easy you set a trap using a basket or any kind of dome, and you leave out some water and sugar. Soon you have a bird. Keep the bird in that trap for twenty days and it knows that this is its home. It will not leave you.”

corinnemartin_abdulnassercover 16

Like much of his previous work, Abdulnasser continues addressing difficult issues in his latest solo exhibition, Al Sahwa (The Awakening). The title of the exhibition is a reference to the “Al Sahwa” movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s that gained force in public and university life both in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East.

In this exhibition, Abdulnasser examines a new kind of Awakening, based on creativity, dialogue, exchange of knowledge, discourse on art and education and an attitude of tolerance.

I am “hoping to launch a request for the restoration of the real Islam, which believes in pluralism and diversity, and together is committed against extremism.”

Walking up to the gallery, the first thing I noticed was the concrete block placed at the very front of the entrance, as they are always in his shows and galleries.

There is the initial observation of the art from afar, then there is the intimate interaction with the pieces, where he allows for discovery and a slow reveal of messages hidden in the work.

corinnemartin_abdulnassercover 27

Hemisphere and Camouflage are two of the largest stamp paintings Abdulnasser has made so far.

In Hemisphere an ancient warrior’s helmet is paired with a green dome of a mosque. The green on the dome represents the grandeur of the Muslim world and the faith that stands for peace. The dome and crescent in the work reference his previous installation, Message/Messenger.

ANG330

Hemisphere, 2014

Rubber stamps, digital print and paint

240 x 360 cm

ANG35

Generation Kill2014

Rubber stamps, digital print and paint

160 x 200 cm

ANG310

Generation Kill, 2014

Rubber stamps, digital print and paint

160 x 200 cm

ANG320

Camouflage, 2014

Rubber stamps, digital print and paint

240 x 480 cm

ANG340

Pause, 2014

160 x 400 cm (Diptych)

Rubber stamps, digital print and paint

ANG364

Concrete, 2014

Rubber stamps, digital print and paint

120 x 240 cm

March 21, 2014 (selected as one of the top posts)
Everyone in India barks about tradition

“Don’t marry a Muslim”

My grandmother slit her wrists today.

To assure the inquisitive and prying world, it had nothing to do with the inner politics of the family.

And I was asked to stick to the discussed story that she found out she had an incurable injury.

The truth is she couldn’t handle the apparent shame my actions in the past two months had brought our prestigious family name.

Everyone in India barks about tradition. They say our country stands tall on an intellectual platform because we’ve been following a social structure that’s been untouched for centuries.

One of the core ideas behind this structure is absolute obedience towards elders. The logic is easy enough to understand.

They have more experience.

The possibility of them making the right decision in a dilemma is higher. Tradition, I have been told is the platform for a good family life.

Except that I flouted this rule.

I fell in love and married a girl whose ancestors had a different idea of a creator than mine. They followed a set of beliefs called Islam.

As it unfortunately stands, everyone in my family believes that Islam is an absolute abomination. They don’t believe this out of a sense of logical progression or reasoning. They just believe it.

Except that I flouted this rule.

I had lost any sort of a connection with my family the day I married Shazia. Yet, if you’ve drawn the conclusion that my grandmother lost her will to live because of my choice of life partner, you’re mistaken. My grandmother killed herself because she realised that it was Shazia who saved her life.

Granny had had a small accident on her daily route to the marketplace. She needed blood during the surgery to save her life. It took me a massive amount of courage to tell her that due to the fact that no donors had been available during the emergency, Shazia was forced to donate blood to keep her alive.

At first granny, who for me has always been a symbol of calm my entire life, heard the news like I thought she would. She nodded and kept nodding, mostly to herself. After a minute she burst into a hysterical rage, cursing at mortals and her Gods, begging to know how elaborately she had sinned to deserve a fate so bad.

I had been prepared for a certain amount of chaos, but granny’s outburst shook me to the core. Is it that bad, following another religion?

After living on this planet for 8 decades, do you not understand granny that life is way more precious than a doctrine that’s been created to help us live well. What kind of tradition objectifies blood! Is it not the same source of life that flows inside you and me?

I went home deeply disturbed about her behaviour. I had informed someone that my wife had been instrumental in keeping her alive. Gratitude goes a long way off, but acceptance is the least I had expected.

Flashes of my childhood came back, where my family would be praying in Sanskrit. No one understood a single word of what was being said. We were all singing in a language that had been used for centuries to appease our Gods.

We’re Brahmins.

It means, a couple of thousand years back – people paid us buckets of money to act as a connect between them and the Gods.

For some reason, it was only us who God listened to.

It was because of this unique talent that we asserted our right to be educated. It was almost like a feeling of sexual triumph, the way my father would drunkenly tell anyone who listened that our blood has been pure for the past 16 generations.

I would ask him why he still prayed in Sanskrit if he himself didn’t understand what was being said? It was elitist. A language only we were entitled to understand.

Father died when I was young, and I travelled. I read. I reasoned. I realised with time that I was following a set of beliefs that I had never questioned. I slowly divided myself from the lot. It was hard, but I willed myself to be away from a system that does not make me feel happy.

I stopped laughing at jokes I found hurtful to other religious ideologies.

We had been watching a cricket match, where my cousins made a crude joke at the circumcised penis of the opening batsman of the opposing team. I walked away.

I was sent a joke about Jesus not being able to sexually arouse himself while on the cross. I asked the sender if he would have tolerated a joke of a similar nature about one of our Gods who legend swears, carries a snake on his neck. I was met with silence.

I distanced myself from my family as I could no longer be happy in their culture.

I am sure the problems I see are problems that are faced by reasoning individuals of any religious background.

I was asked by a kid who God is. I told him the truth. “We don’t know”. I told him no one knows. But if he finds peace or salvation believing any theory that gives him happiness, he shouldn’t bother with the opinions of anyone else, provided he doesn’t harm them or maim them in an effort to convince them about the validity of his beliefs.
Being agnostic was the best thing that happened to me, till I met Shazia.

Shazia and I fell in love.

She had lost her parents early, and her guardians were atheist. My family told me that expecting any sort of support in mixing bloodlines was a futile effort. I couldn’t care less.

We wed in a quiet ceremony where people who love us and not our expectations were called. We joked that the devil would be quite dumbfounded about our fate, as he’d have creators of two opposing faiths hurling instructions about our fate. We were together, that’s all that mattered.

My grandmother had begged me to consider breaking the wedding. She followed a well written script that targeted the listener using an elaborate combination of emotional blackmail, threats and monetary rewards.

I smiled at the end of it and asked Shazia to make us tea and coolly answered with a negative. She had been living with me at my apartment. Granny spat and left. I didn’t blame her. She was guided by dogma.

If there are two communities my family would not tolerate, it is the blacks and the Muslims.

This bewilders me. Most Hindus, including myself have a skin tone that’s darker than the night.

Islam, I have warned, has rituals that ‘make no sense’. If I start to make a list of customs which we follow without any idea, it would take me a painstakingly long time. Worshiping a phallus and feeding milk to snakes are glazed cherries on the top

But why am I writing all this? This is a confession.

I want to make it clear that I would have asked Shazia to donate her blood only for the most selfless reasons, to save a life. I hoped that for one moment, my family would gain how futile quarreling over imagination is.

Like Sagan said, the world is so exquisite, with so much love and moral depth that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there is little good evidence. It’s far better to look death in the eye, for the brief but utterly magnificent journey life provides us.

I wanted to really tell granny that, the blood that spilled out of her veins when she slit her wrists, in an effort to cleanse herself, was never really Shazia’s. It was mine.

The one time when it mattered most, I had lied.

And I was happy…

____________________________________________________________________________________

Image

Artwork: Gavin Aung Than’s Zen Pencils, arguably the best inspirational blog on the internet I know of.

http://zenpencils.com/comic/carl-sagan-make-the-most-of-this-life/

Note: I wouldn’t marry with a person who can believe that any written word emanate from a God. Period.

Note 2: KING RAJA YOGA? https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/08/05/three-days-in-king-raja-yoga-retreat/
 


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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