Thought for the Day from Yahya Michot

December 11, 2008

“It is in fact revelation itself that makes Islam a religion of liberation for mankind, freeing God’s servants from all forms of sacerdotalism, ecclesialism, caesaro-papism, Ma ‘munism, esotericism, or neo-Mu’tazilism.”

From “Revelation” by Yahya Michot in The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology, edited by Tim Winter.

Ta Grain Agam ar Thatcher Fos

December 3, 2008
Prince Bandar with Margaret Thatcher

Prince Bandar with Margaret Thatcher

Trespassing on Peaceful Sands — Marryam Haleem

Spring 1981
Bobby Sands on hunger strike in prison, dying
Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher in Saudi Arabia, visiting

Addressing the Saudi government
Who hosted her

He lay there on his side
Paled, eyes glazed, and weakened,
Battered, bereft, belied.
And you sit in the company of his killer.

In the very land where he was born –
The mantled one, opposer of the oppressors–
You honor and uphold that lady of scorn.
And the boy lay dying in dignity.

Read the rest of the poem.

Bobby Sands Street -- Tehran, Iran

Bobby Sands Street -- Tehran, Iran

You can read a piece here on how the Street became named Bobby Sands Street here. It ran in front of the British Embassy and was previously known as Winston Churchill St. I’ve got issues with both Shi’i theology and left wing ideology, but …..
that’s a beautiful thing.

Thought for the Day from Bill Ayers

November 19, 2008

You cannot live a political life, you can’t live a moral life if you’re not willing to open your eyes and see the world more clearly, see some of the injustice that’s going on, try to make yourself aware of what’s happening in the world. And when you are aware you have a responsibility to act, and when you act you have a responsibility to doubt, and when you doubt you can’t get paralyzed. You have to use that doubt to act again and that then becomes the cycle. You open your eyes, you act, you doubt, you act, you doubt. Without doubt you become dogmatic and shrill and stupid, but without action you become cynical and passive and a victim of history and that should never happen.”

Note:  Mr. Ayers makes this statement at the end of this interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air.

Is this consistent with the (an) Islamic view of activism? Anyone? Any other thoughts?
Personally, I can admit that I’ve been in a rut for a little while where I am a bit paralyzed by my doubts about what is exactly the right thing to be doing so I’m retreating a bit into study and family…may Allaah (swt) guide all us to do what is right.

Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Islam?

November 12, 2008

I have a post over at Talk Islam in which I attempt to open up a discussion regarding continuing responses of various Muslims to modernity and our current situation and whether these can be analogized to Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative Judaism.

I should emphasize that of course I am in no way trying to call for or encourage division nor even labelling amongst Muslims, but attempting to understand different intellectual reactions to our situation through broad categories in an academic way.

My kids make their debut on this blog

November 10, 2008

These are three of my children last summer at the Printer’s Row BookFair with Brother and Sister Bear of Berenstain Bears’ Fame.

When I was just learning to read, my favorite book to read with my mom was the Berenstain Bears Classic “Old Hat, New Hat.”

Politicians as Saints or Messiahs

October 29, 2008

There’s been a lot of joking during this campaign about how the masses of people starved for change have been treating Obama as a “messiah” figure.

Two voices have recently emerged trying to share a different perspective.  First,  from the Weekly Standard, David Gerlenter tells us that John McCain is a tzaddik.  Then, in an equally bizarre if somewhat more self consciously ironic ranting, someone named Nibras Kazimi compares John McCain to the Prophet Muhammad’s son in law Al-Husayn, revered by all Muslims but especially venerated amongst the Shi’a.

Anyways, I would say especially to Mr. Gerlenter the following:

Esquire Magazine: What it Feels Like…Guantanamo Bay

October 11, 2008

Apparently, Esquire Magazine has a series in which they print short reflections on “What it Feels Like…” A few months ago they ran one by former Prisoner at Guantanamo and one by a former Guard.

I am continually amazed about whatever little information I get about the prisoners at Guantanamo because I am always so impressed by them. Of course it makes me feel even worse about what has happened and is happening to them and makes me feel even more angry, but it also makes me feel good to claim the same faith as them and inspires me to hopefully be a better Muslim myself. I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising as it is well known that Allaah (swt) tests the ones He loves most with the greatest of burdens….and it is Allaah (swt) that will reward them with the greatest of rewards.

What it Feels Like….to Be a Prison Guard at Guantanamo Bay

By Christopher Arendt, 24, Student

I liked working night shifts, because whenever they were awake, I wanted to apologize to them. When they were sleeping, I didn’t have to worry about that. I could just walk up and down the blocks all night long.

There was usually one detainee who would lead the call to prayer at five in the morning. That person was in the very last cell. The detainees, they sang beautifully. It was so eerie to hear, because it was such a beautiful song, and to hear forty-eight detainees just get up in the morning and, in unison, sing this gorgeous song that I could never understand — because Arabic is way out of my range of possibility — it was really intense.

Camp Delta is on a cliff that overlooks the ocean. I had never been to the ocean before in my whole life. There have been a few times in the military when I’ve been so stricken by the juxtaposition of how awful what is happening inside the moment is, and how aesthetically beautiful it is at the same time. Seeing the first couple detainees start preparing for prayer, and then at the same time the sun starting to come up over this cliff base — that was probably one of the most confusing moments of my life.

Every day you walked down the blocks, forty-eight people in two rows of twenty-four cells, and you have no idea what any of them are there for. They’re just sitting in their cells. You give them food, and if they get crazy, you spray them with this terrible oil-based chemical. Then you send these five guys in to beat the shit out of them.

I grew up in Charlotte, Michigan. This was the first time that I ever met any Muslim person before in my life. My family lived in a trailer in a cornfield on a dirt road. I enlisted when I was seventeen, on November 20, 2001. Oh, my God, I met a lot of new people by enlisting.

I had bought two pornos before I left for Cuba, and I had no idea that I would get so depressed that those wouldn’t even interest me. I ended up cutting them up, and I put the remnants of the pornos all over my wall. I made a wallpaper on my half of the room of all these like really grotesque pornographic photos. My mom had sent me a packet of dinosaur stickers, so all of the particularly obscene shots I covered with dinosaurs, and I would just sit and stare at that for a long time.

During the span of a few months, I worked maybe half the time on the blocks. It wasn’t a whole lot of time, but it was really starting to break me down. I couldn’t deal with it. I tied a 550 cord to the ceiling fan that was in my room and I tried to hang myself, but I ripped the fan out of the ceiling. I’ve never been happier about poor construction. That was about two months before we went home.

One thing I miss is the cups. The detainees were only allowed to have Styrofoam cups, and they would write and draw all over them. I’m not totally familiar with Muslim culture, but I did learn that they don’t draw the human form, and I’m not positive if they draw any creatures, but they draw a lot of flowers. They would cover the things with flowers. Then we would have to take them. It was a ridiculous process. We would take the cups — as if they were writing some kind of secret message that they were somehow going to throw into the ocean, that would get back to somebody — and send them to our military intelligence. They would just look at these things and then throw them away. I used to love those little cups. —As told to Lily Percy

What it Feels Like…to Be a Prisoner at Guantanamo Bay

By Murnat Kurnaz, 26, Author, Activist

They used to beat everybody. There was a man — he was really old and couldn’t see and couldn’t hear. If the guards told him something to do and he didn’t do it because he couldn’t hear, they went into his cage and beat him up. They did this for a couple minutes, and after that they took him out and brought him to isolation. That happened to me as well, a lot of times.

There doesn’t need to be a reason. First they would use a pepper spray. It’s burning. It is hot. You have trouble breathing and opening your eyes. All of your face is burning — your eyes especially and inside your nose. You can’t open your eyes because they are burning very hot. Since you have trouble breathing, you have to cough all the time. Then they’d punch me with their elbows. After they were done, they would write something down as to what could be the reason for it.

We were allowed to do the call to prayer every day, but they used to play music over us at the same time. The music some of the time was rock music, but most of the time they played the [American] national anthem. Or they used to kick the doors.

The worst thing about being in Guantánamo was having to live in the small cages. Most of the time there was nothing in there with me. Sometimes I had only my shorts on and nothing else. Nothing else except my shorts and myself.

I never lost my hope, of course. Not losing my hope is an important part of my religion.

Read an excerpt from Kurnaz’s book Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo at

Murat Kurnaz

Murat Kurnaz

Rebel Nasheed of the Day : Ghurabaa

October 10, 2008

Thought for the Day from Emma Goldman

October 8, 2008

Dr. Sherman Abdul-Hakim Jackson on Imam W.D. Mohammed and the Third Resurrection

September 17, 2008

This is a must read piece by Dr. Jackson about the direction forward in the wake of Imam Mohammed’s passing, especially relevant to the future of Blackamerican Islam, but of course one cannot separate the future of Blackamerican Islam form the future of Islam in America generally.

You can read it at Marc Manley’s  Manrilla Blog.