Archive for August, 2007

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Progressive Islam

August 21, 2007

The Nation ran an article last month entitled: “American Muslims Reimagined.” It highlights what it perceives (and what apparently some Muslims have purported) to be “progressive” Muslims who have broken out of the traditional barriers that are supposedly placed on them because of Islam.

This is not directly stated but is implied both by the title “progressive” (which means forward-moving, changing — essentially someone who embraces secularization) and by the suggestion that their passions (one featured Muslim is a punk rocker and another a comic book author) are somehow beyond the scope of traditional Islam.

What bothers me is not that these young people are seeking to define themselves but rather the title that they’ve chosen. It would seem that they were never properly educated about Islam. They have obviously failed to realize that Islam in itself is dynamic. For centuries classical Islamic civilization flourished in arts, science, technological development, culture, etc.

It was only after European colonization and the subsequent oppression of one ruthless dictator after another that much of the so-called “Muslim world” became stagnant. As one scholar mentioned, their shahadah was altered from being “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God” to “There is no Islam but Islam, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Islam.”

They morphed Islam from a path to awareness and submission to God with many shades of the spectrum into nothing more than a set of unchanging, unquestionable laws, many of which were not derived from shari’ah but rather from the culture of the society in which people lived.

These progressives are mostly the product of those “third world” countries where their ancient cultures have taken dominance not only over their social and economic lives but also over their understanding of Islam. It is skewed by their own ignorance and cultural norms.

The progressive movement is actually a movement to break away from their cultural shackles, not the shackles imposed upon them by Islam itself. As such, they should call themselves progressive Indians or progressive Arabs. The fact that they are Muslim has little to do with their cultural taboos or their rebellion against them.

As someone who converted to Islam, I never struggled with the questions or problems they’ve experience, except when one of their uncles tried to impose their understanding of Islam on me, which I either promptly rejected or studied and refuted. And that is ultimately what this progressive movement is fighting: older generations who are set in their cultural ways. But don’t make it about Islam, forming a new sect simply because you want to play punk music. It is foolish and ultimately arrogant. Islam has room for both the old culturalized uncle and the young punk rocker. Just call yourselves Muslims.

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Path of Light

August 16, 2007

This is my first ever attempt at writing a ghazal, which I discovered is no simple task in English. If you happen to be an expert on ghazals and feel I’ve butchered the form, please tell me, as that was not my intent. I’m merely exploring different avenues of self-expression.

Path of Light
by Adib

Illumination blends into the dark ocean within a clear bright path
piercing senseless void with flowing energy rays of the light path

Within the spectrum of the real divine, truth’s indeed the brightest hue
the prism of the knowledge captures the journey of yearning flight path

All paths lead to light, but many lights are only daughter stars of suns
stars that form are the light energy waves crashing into plight’s path

Each particle cleanses the collective residue of nothingness
a particle of real divine mist that guides the heart on the right path

Those who open up their eyes are blinded, but only then do they perceive
What sort of journey is it one can travel with one’s eyes closed on the night’s path?

Adib, for what cheap price would you barter your most magnificent pure light?
Ask yourself for what reason your weary eyes have stayed closed to Light’s path?

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Bad Me

August 14, 2007

I know I haven’t been blogging lately. I haven’t written at all lately. I’ve felt a little out of sync, but now things are starting to click again.

Many things are happening. The older issue starts school tomorrow, inshaAllah (preschool that is). We’ve chosen what we think is a decent Islamic school.

The younger one, at 9 months, appears to be just about to start walking. She’s constantly on her feet now.

Me, I’m just trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents and keep my head above water. But I’ve never been happier. Allah is enough for me. SubhanAllah. Allah is enough for me.

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We're Like Fox News

August 7, 2007

I’m not one to usually post advertisements, but this one for The Nation is too good to pass up:

“We’re like Fox News. Only smart. And not crazy. And we don’t lie.”

So true.

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Ethics in Islam

August 6, 2007

I’ve suddenly developed an insatiable desire to study ethics (akhlaq) more deeply. I’ve often flirted with the idea, reading works such as Jami’a al-Sa’adat, but I haven’t taken it to the next level.

Much of what Muslims face today in their personal lives, family lives, and even political lives, center around a lack of understanding and application of ethics in relation to those areas of existence. We often turn to western ideas or even to our rationale to try to deal with them, failing to realize that Islam, if studied properly, can guide us even on the most difficult of paths.

If we can come to understand ourselves better, on a deeper level, we can enhance our virtues while also subduing whatever illnesses of the heart we posses. Not all solutions are in one particular act (whether praying, fasting, etc), but those solutions do exist with the right prescription. That requires an honest amount of introspection and also self-determination to be willing to solve one’s own issues or seek proper counsel.