Archive for October, 2005

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International Day of Quds

October 28, 2005

Al-Quds Day

“I invite all Muslims over the globe to consecrate the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as ‘Quds Day’ and to proclaim the international solidarity of Muslims in support of the legitimate rights of the Muslim people of Palestine.”

Ayatullah Ruhullah al-Musawi al-Khomeini
Ramadan 1399 AH (August 1979)

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Goodbye Rosa (2/4/1913 – 10/24/2005)

October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks ArrestedMy heart and prayers go out to the family of Rosa Parks. She was an inspiration for all who learned from her. If you do not have dignity, honor, and rights, you have nothing. You are an empty shell of a being. Rosa recognized that and fought, not only for her own honor, but for the honor of all those who are oppressed, downtrodden, and reduced to second-class status. Yet for all of the accomplishments and great deeds of Rosa Parks, it is what she did not do that will be forever remembered. Her courage and perseverance has touched us all.

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Getting back to work

October 25, 2005

We’re finally back from vacation. I have a lot of tasks to get accomplished over the next month.

1. I’m ready to get this student-blog (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog)ging thing underway. I have permission slips for students under 13, even though I’m not sure if that’s necessary (you can never be too careful).

2. RIF (http://www.rif.org/) is coming up in November (earlier than last year).

3. KDE (http://www.kde.org) 3.5 is now beta 2. I installed the SuSE (http://www.suse.com) rpm (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RPM_Package_Manager)s and then turned off the computer. So, I have no idea if it even works. Also, SuSE (http://www.suse.com) 10 was released. I have it on the Averatec laptop. (Dude! Sweet!). It fixed one very important bug, but now I don’t remember what it is.

4. Exa will be released with this version, but I’m disappointed to learn that some of the drivers (mainly intel 810) will not be completely finished. I can understand that the ATI situation was probably more important, but I think there are a LOT of people with paltry intel graphics chips who would love to have some eye candy.

5. My huge book order (relatively speaking) is due in December, before we leave for break. The crunch now begins. I have to get a list together and show it to the selection committee (because they won’t help actually make the list, which is fine with me). I already have a good deal of fiction books in my bibliography, but suddenly my mind has gone blank on non-fiction. Everytime something came up, I would tell myself, “Man, I should be writing this down!” Oh well, I still have time to procrastinate (just kidding).

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Ramadan Lectures

October 15, 2005

Here are some Ramadan lectures (in English) from some of my favorite intellectuals:

Professor Hassanain Rajabali, Dr. Murtaza Alidina, etc.

Enjoy!

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A Thankless Heimlich

October 10, 2005

Today, I spent two hours trying to get the garbage disposal to regurgitate some beads that my daughter had dropped into a bottle of juice. It was quite an experience that involved an allen wrench, the dishwasher, a tupperware container, and a plunger. I’ll just leave it at that. It finally spat up chunks, gurgled, and started swallowing water normally again. The blade appears to be fine (it chopped up the beads), but the throat was just clogged.

On another note, Zahra has started praying the entire salat with us. Before, she would just pray parts and mess with us the rest of the time. The other day, her grandmother put a scarf on her. Well, that immediately turned her into a woman I guess because she started praying with us. Now, anytime we have salat, she’ll get mad if we don’t get her a scarf and lay out a rug for her. MashaAllah! It’s hard to believe she’s not even two years old yet. I told my wife, if we find her in her room one night praying tahajjud, I’ll take it as a sign. 🙂

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Modern Islam, Traditional Moderation

October 9, 2005

I’ve been hearing strange things about Islamic “fundamentalists” lately. I’ve been told repeatedly that anyone who is an “extremist” apparently wants to take Islam back “to the 7th century.” Every time I’ve read this, I paused, but I guess I never really knew what to think about it, until now.

The assumption on the table is that these “fundamentalists” are drawing their understanding of Islam from some legitimate, albeit historic, source. In all of their extremism, they somehow have managed to extract their ideology from the very basis of Islam. In assuming this, western analysts are purporting that traditional Islam, as it was known in the 7th century, was extreme, oppressive towards women, power-hungry, and violent. They imagine that the Taliban, for example, are drawing their jurisprudence (fiqh) straight from the source-well of shari’ah, the tradition of the Prophet himself.

If one truly studies history, however, one will not find Islamic history to be filled with extremism and violence but rather moderation and tolerance. In order to prove this, I’d like to focus on a few key issues as examples:

1. Shari’ah punishments (stoning of adulterers, lashing of wine-drinkers, etc.)
2. Enforcement of Islamic dress codes (hijab, beard, etc.)
3. Violence against non-combatants (i.e. terrorism).

1. The very…er…cool thing about shari’ah punishments is that there is little record of them in history. Does that mean that they were so commonplace that they weren’t worth mentioning? Of course not! Classical Islamic historians wrote about everything, even what people ate for dinner. What it shows is that, as the so-called “moderate” scholars of today have maintained, such punishments were prescribed as deterrents from committing forbidden acts. Furthermore, the Qur’an says that four witnesses must testify in cases of adultery and fornication. To my knowledge this did not happen during the lifetime of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). The only way that people could generally be convicted of such a crime is by confessing, which did occur a couple of times during the Prophet’s life. Even then, he gave them chances to leave without being punished, but those people refused and insisted on being punished. Does that sound anything like the way such punishments are imposed today in the supposed “fundamentalist” regimes?

2. As far as I know, there are no books on enforcing hijab or any other type of dress code. I’ve never read any history of anyone ever being punished for not being dressed properly. There’s really not much else to say on this point. Enforcement of hijab is definitely a modern innovation.

3. As our “moderate” scholars have always said, Islam does not condone violence against innocent people. What westerners perhaps missed was that, historically, Muslims did not attack innocent people either. Muslims of the past even took care not to harm animals and trees. They certainly did not use any type of mass killing devices to wipe out villages of innocents. Modern Muslims learned these tactics from other modern terrorist groups. Suicide bombing, of course, is a modern innovation (as is bombing of any kind). My only point here is that there are no records of flaming suicide camel riders or any nonsense of the sort.

The above three examples illustrate what moderate Muslims have known all along. There is no historical justification for extremism in Islam anymore than there is justification in the Qur’an itself. Those extremists who are inappropriately labeled “fundamentalists” are not following the fundamentals of Islam at all. They follow their own desires and their own understanding, not the classical traditional Islamic understanding.

It should also be noted that the trend of some Muslims to abandon the shari’ah (i.e. to not practice Islam) is also not new. Western media sometimes portrays this trend as some type of modern rebellion against “traditional fundamentalist Islam.” History tells us, however, that there have always been those who did not practice Islam, even in the classical Islamic empires. Proof of this can be found in such books as, “The Superiority of Dogs Over Many of Those Who Wear Clothes” and other works of classical Islamic literature that provide commentary on the “moral decay” of society in classical Islamic states. Even some of the classical Muslim rulers were drunkards and womanizers. So, we cannot say that there is any modern rebellion against shari’ah anymore than there was a classical rebellion. Such is the nature of human beings.

Extremism is also not new. The khawarij and other such groups also practiced extremism, and like the modern extremists of today, they killed more Muslims than anyone else. In those times the original understanding of Islam, which is moderate, prevailed, and that same understanding will prevail in this era, inshaAllah. We must not exaggerate the role of extremists or their movements and not allow them to convince the general public that they represent traditional classical Islam or the fundamentals of this religion. They do not.

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Bush is on a Crusade

October 8, 2005

Crusaders murdering innocent jewsThere is a serious problem with the ideology of George W. Bush, and in his “historic” speech on Oct. 6th, he revealed some of his true feelings about the supposed “war on terror.” Much of what he said was accurate, that terrorists do not represent Islam, that Islam is a religion of peace, that most Muslims do not support the killing of innocent people. But then the lines start to dissolve as he discusses “militant Islam.”

He said, “These extremists distort the idea of jihad.” That is true, and they do. But one must also ask, what is Mr. Bush’s definition of jihad? Yes, killing innocent people is not jihad, but what about a war, for example, against the Israeli army? Is this also not Mr. Bush’s jihad? Is jihad only valid when it supports American interests? Or can a resistance movement, such as the one in the Philippines be considered a “valid jihad” by his standards? I suspect not.

Still, the most damaging truth that Mr. Bush reveals about his “ideology of hatred” is that he is on a crusade and that the “crusades of old” were valid and justified.

“Over the years, these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: Israeli presence on the West Bank or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia or the defeat of the Taliban or the crusades of a thousand years ago.”

Let’s analyze what he’s saying here. Keep in mind that he has justified all of these things:

1. Israeli presence on the West Bank (legitimate)
2. U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia (legitimate)
3. Defeat of the Taliban (legitimate)
4. Crusades of a thousand years ago?

Why does he mention this? Were those crusades against Muslims, in which thousands of innocent Muslims were slaughtered, justified? Well, I guess in the defeat of the Taliban, thousands of innocent Muslims were killed (by indiscriminate bombing) as well. So, I suppose it’s no great stretch to include the crusades.

Bush is on a crusade, and like the “crusades of a thousand years ago” his goal is to not only defeat terrorists but to apply his own personal agenda to Muslims, to mold them with his own vision of Islam that is pacifistic, loyal to every American cause (regardless of how absurd it is), and that will accept secularism, materialism, sex, drugs, violence, and every other ill that comes along with “democratic” societies.

Unfortunately for him, just like the crusades of old, they will fail.