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In the Name of God بسم الله
AbdusSibtayn reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, The Four Elements
The idea that the world is composed of four or five elements (fire, water, earth, wind, and aether) was almost universal in the ancient world. The science and mythology of many ancient civilizations, from Greece to Japan, operated on this understanding.
While Islam is not really married to the idea of four elements (it is not supported in an explicit way in the Quran or hadiths), it is interesting to note that Islamic metaphysics and cosmology use this system.
This is especially the case in the spiritual world. The jinn are made from a smokeless Fire, the humans are made from Earth (Teen), and the soul (ruH) comes from the word for Wind (reeH). The Throne of Allah was settled upon Water (11:7), until that water was separated into the heavens and earth. The angels are from light (Noor, a word related to Nar).
Allah does not raise a prophet except that he speaks the language of his people. He may have used these literary devices to explain a realm that is ultimately beyond our understanding (ghayb). The Quran is a book that needs to be intelligible to people, especially when speaking on the unseen and unknown.
While the universe is simply not made up of H2O, the image of Water as a fluid, clear, shapeless structure is befitting to understanding the world. In physics, the concept of fields (gravitational, spatial) operate largely on fluid mechanics. “Water” is a chaotic substance that was then categorized, compartmentalized and distinguished into the world we know today.
Similarly, a simple sample of the water (saliva) in your body can create an entire profile of who you are: your DNA, and therefore, your family lineage, your appearance, your susceptibility to diseases, and even parts of your personality.
There are some things that are beyond literal and metaphorical. The dichotomy of literal and metaphorical is sometimes not just inaccurate, but harmful to our readings of scripture.
AbdusSibtayn reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, The Cosmology of Salat
In the beginning, Allahu Akbar - God's Essence is too great to be described (الله أكبر من أن يوصف) ( الله الواحد الاحد الذي ليس كمثله شيء ، لا يقاس بشيء ، ّ و لا يلمس بالاخماس ، و لا يدرك بالحواس). Then, the Fatiha: The Light of Muhammad (s), the Ahl al-Bayt (as), the righteous, and the angelic realm is created, supplicating His holy praises and praying to Him. They all bow in subservience to Him. Then, the first Sujud: We are created from earth after nonexistence. (أللهم إنك منها خلقتنى يعني من الارض ّ) Then, we sit: We rise to live, and our life is marred by mistakes, shortcomings, and sins. We repent and beg God for His forgiveness. (و رفع رأسك و منها أخرجتنا) Then, the second Sujud: We die and return back to the earth for a prescribed time. (السجدة الثانية وإليها تعيدنا) Then, we sit: We praise Allah for bringing us to life after having died. We take our shahada, because it is the foremost matter that we will be questioned about. (و رفع رأسك من ّ الثانية و منها تخرجنا تارة اخرى) Then we bless Muhammad and his Family, and greet the Messenger, for it is their intercession that we will seek on that Day. Then, we greet the righteous servants of Allah, who will be raised with him. Then, tasleem: the greeting of Paradise (tahiyat al-jannah). Salat is the ascension of the believer.
AbdusSibtayn reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Identity Politics
Activists today talk much of identity politics. Identity politics, also called identitarian politics, refers to political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify.
You may have heard people "identify as a gay person", or "identify as a black nationalist", or "identify as a vegetarian", or identify themselves with a certain race, nationality, creed, economic class, or ideology. They are then expected to behave and dress according to the mores of that identity. Discovering oneself is indeed a necessary process in the journey of life. It is common for Westerners to travel around Europe, flirt with Indian mysticism, or teach in east Asia in an effort to "find" themselves.
So what is our true Islamic identity? One may say Shia, but to be a Shia of `Ali (a) means much more than to belong to a certain minority community. The Shia are an elite nucleus of believers. One may say Muslim, but even prophets Ibrahim (a) and Isma`il (a) had to pray for Allah to make them into Muslims - submitters to the will of Allah.
The answer to this question may be in the famous saying, “Whoso knows his self, assuredly knows his Lord.”
There are differences of opinion on the true meaning of this quote, but the commentary of this saying that this servant finds most consistent with the tradition is that of Shaykh al-Awhad Ahmad al-Ahsai. He says that the statement expresses conditionality (ta`leeq) to gnosis. The prophets, messengers, and deputies had a self-awareness, believing that their selves were a part of a grander creation, whose origin is Allah. He cites 41:53, 18:51, and a du`a’ of the 12th Imam that put the nafs alongside the rest of creation as temporal signs of an eternal God.
Ahsai brings forward a similar hadith attributed to the Prophet Dawud, in which he says “Whoso knows the ignorance of his self, assuredly knows the strength of his Lord. And, whoso knows the incapacity of his self, assuredly knows the power of his Lord.” This is an expression of the weak, limitedness of man, which thus highlights the strength and capacity of Allah.
This means that one must acknowledge the fact that he was created, and therefore, he is a finite and limited being in need of a Creator and Sustainer. One must realize the limits of his own power and his intelligence to understand He who is All-Powerful and All-Knowing. That is the beginning of the process of ma`rifa - cognizance of the Divine - where one surrenders himself in faith and in action to Absolute Perfection.
So the true identity that a person must recognize is that they are a created servant who is in total need of God. We say "ashhadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluh" in the tashahhud, which acknowledges the servitude of Muhammad (s) to his Lord. This servitude is the key to true greatness, because one who is a slave to God cannot be a slave to worldliness. All people surrender, whether to their own desires or to an outside force, but if one's reliance is completely on Allah, he will be free from obeying others. One who fears only Allah does not fear anything else, which elevates his status in the creation. It is out of Prophet Muhammad's sincere service to Allah that made him the best of creation.
Returning to postmodern identity politics: identifying yourself with what you eat or who you have sex with is very shallow. Food and sex are functions of the lower self. Identifying with a race is identifying with an accidental characteristic of yourself rather than your essential nature. As much as these "groups" may be relevant in today's world, we should not be fixated on `asabiyya (tribalism, group mentality), which was the underlining feature of jahiliyya. Identity politics can blind us from ethics, which is rooted more in verbs and adverbs than in nouns and pronouns. It can cause irreparable division and segregation. And finally, it can cause us to lose focus of our purpose and goal: ma`rifa.
"And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me." (51:56)
AbdusSibtayn reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Believe Anything
This is part two of my blog on the cultural paradigm of the postmodern West. You can check out part one here.
Islamic re-education starts with assessing the problems of postmodernism. Once we understand the problem, we can begin to derive real solutions from the revelation.
Identity Politics is Neo-Tribalism
French philosopher Michel Foucault (d. 1984) inspired a system that divided the world into two camps: "dominant" and "marginalized". The dominant narrative was the Eurocentric heteronormative neoliberal patriarchal narrative. The marginal narrative would be that of the people of colour, minorities, the poor, the disabled, women, children, and homosexuals. His ideas became the basis of activist groups after the 1960s.
Upper-middle-class academics in the West were thrilled that they could now speak for the marginalized groups, which they couldn't really do when communism was popular among the dispossessed. So they formed their own marginalized narratives of history. Each narrative was aimed at deconstructing the dominant narrative's "artifacts" - its pop culture, its founding literature, and its theorists. Each marginal group then formed its own history, literature, and artifacts. This process was in full swing by the 1980s.
At first sight, it appears compassionate to give a voice to marginalized people. But this postmodernist system comes with the exact same assumptions about the world that the dominant system has: (1) the belief that the world is controlled by power and chance, (2) the belief that truth is relegated to the observable natural sciences, (3) the belief that pre-modern spirituality is superstitious and ritualistic, (4) the belief that suffering is all evil, all natural, and does not have meaning, (5) and no formal end-goal or salvation, unlike Islam, Christianity, and Marxism.
For Foucault, there is no way out of the suffering - only a means to "resist" the dominant powers and survive on the margins. Postmodernists believe only in power and the fight over it. They are experts in jargon, little catch phrases, intended to gain an audience and battle the oppressor class. They disintegrate much, but they construct nothing. When all is said and done, they ultimately put their faith in the free market, and fall back onto the Anglosaxon individualist naturalist yeomanry - making them very similar to the dominant paradigm.
Foucault offered the educated bourgeoisie the opportunity to side with and speak for the working class. They are not awaiting some proletarian revolution - they are more bent on co-opting the current political and economic system to give themselves a bigger piece of the pie.
The Intersection of Power and `Asabiyya
Intersectionality is the idea that the liberation of these all "marginalized" groups (women, homosexuals, people of colour, minorities, the poor, the incarcerated) is bound together, because they have a common, oppressive, dominant enemy: heteronormative patriarchal cis-gendered Eurocentric capitalist males. For this reason, we see an alliance between feminists, LGBT activists, Black Lives Matter activists, communists, anarchists, and liberal Muslim activists. This alliance exists in student unions, labour unions, university departments, lobby groups, political parties, and protest movements.
There is a lot wrong with this:
1. The enemy of your enemy is NOT necessarily your friend. We cannot leave our ethics aside for the sake of dunyawi politics. While Muslim activists like Linda Sarsour try to push for their own marginalized Muslim liberation in America, they have taken the feminists and homosexuals as allies in their struggle. This is while they pass laws that either contradict our beliefs or hurt us directly. In the case of Linda Sarsour, we now see a direct clash between her and feminist zionists, who argue that Israel is more feminist than the Muslim world. The point is, each group as its own interests, and while they may overlap in some areas, our "liberation" is not "bound" with theirs at all.
2. Race and sex are NOT essential attributes. They are accidental attributes. Yes, we belong to certain tribes and races, but these are adjectives that should not define our worldview or ideology. We don't accept the notion that "only women can speak on women's issues", or "only blacks can speak on black issues" - the Messenger of Allah (s) spoke for all people, and the inheritors of his knowledge are the Scholars. If we belong to a certain group, we may have some extra insight into that group's issues, but it does not make us a spokesperson for that group, nor does it mean others cannot comment on the issues of that group.
3. Not all suffering comes from the dominant "system". In Islam, most suffering comes from hard-heartedness and ignorance. Any group, regardless of colour or sex, is capable of becoming an oppressor if they are hard-hearted or ignorant.
4. People of faith have always accepted the redemptive affects of suffering. All people suffer, regardless of whether they belong to the "marginal" groups or "dominant" groups. This suffering has meaning: it is either a trial (like in the case of Prophet Ayyub), a purification from sins (like the ill Muslim), a tool for our maturation and personality-building, or a divine chastisement (like the communities of Nuh, Lut, Salih, Shu`ayb, Hud, and others).
5. Not all political grievances are solved by rebellion. Allah does not change the affair of a people until they change what is in themselves. Muslim scholars have traditionally been averse to rebellions and schisms, because they are often ill-advised, violent, and divisive.
6. Power is not all that exists. Intersectional libertines only believe in power - they don't believe in dialogue, patience, or the supernatural.
How did we even get here?
Ideologues speak of the "Overton Window", which is the range of discourse that the public will accept. The window is constantly shifting.
There are issues of discussion that are unpopular and unacceptable - such as the legalization of pedophilia - and so it is not within the Overton Window of discourse. There are other issues that have recently crept into the window, such as the legalization of marijuana, which less than 10% of Americans supported in the 1950s, but now over 58% of Americans accept, and it has become legal in several states. Another example: the legalization of incest and necrophilia would have been unthinkable in modern Europe, but the youth branch of the Swedish Liberal People's Party supported it, and more "bite the bullet" secularists are accepting its possibility.
In the last few decades, the window has shifted due to the clever ideological pushes of postmodernists. In 2008, President Obama ran against the legalization of gay marriage, and 60% of Americans were also against it. In 2015, gay marriage was legalized, and 60% of Americans accepted it - within just 7 years of media promotion and lobbying. In 1988, that number was 12%. The pride march went from being an isolated one-day event to being a month-long city-wide celebration that national politicians must attend.
Postmodernists know that their ideas can only gain political acceptance if they are introduced gradually. In conversation, they take baby steps, and stop right at the point where you will resist them. Then, they'll come back in a few days, weeks, or months, and take a few more steps. In a few years time, you find yourself talking about things that you would've never considered before.
Not only is same-sex marriage celebrated in the centre of the Overton window, but other non-binary, transsexual and furry identities are slowly being introduced. It starts in sociology class or in a corner on the web, then it moves to a comedy hall, then once it is more normal, it is presented on television and in movies, and eventually, it becomes the prevailing narrative. We're told to simply get with the times instead of analyzing its consequences. You go from rejection, to apathy, to support; till your former rejection of it becomes despised, illegal, taboo, and unacceptable.
“The long march through the institutions”
This was the memorable slogan of infiltration, created by Rudi Dutschke, a New Left activist in the late 1960s. His ideas were influenced by Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci and the Frankfurt School.
The plan? A violent proletarian revolution was out of the question. Bourgeois capitalism had deluded the proletariat into not rebelling against their "oppression". The only solution then was to invade the areas of life that were most directly responsible for opinion-forming and the bending of minds: to “work from within” and alter the consciousness of the masses, who would then be made to see the reality of their own situation and become more receptive to the message of revolution.
Comrades of the postmodern New Left would become professors, union officials, journalists, teachers, etc. They would then push a counter culture that resulted in the sexual revolution (free love, homosexuality), the dropping of "bourgeois" subjects from school curricula (Latin, violin classes), and the introduction of Social Justice Warrior deconstructivism and activism. The long-term goal would be social emancipation from the dominant capitalist Eurocentric heteronormative conservative culture.
Now, the postmodernists are in control of most Western universities, school boards, media conglomerates, publishers, unions, activist groups, advocacy groups, and some political parties. Their ideology is cultural Marxism and Foucaultianism, and their goal is to take down Abrahamic religion and the patriarchy through education and programming.
There is no easy solution to this problem, and any solution will require the collaboration of our greatest minds. This is an information war that has destroyed the faith of millions of Muslims, knowingly and unknowingly. We must all be attentive and constantly seeking guidance from Allah. But there are a few things we must all keep in mind:
1. Our ally is Allah. Allah is our God, our Saviour, and our Deliverer. We must remember to seek His truth, to love what He loves, to hate what He hates, and to put Him first. We do not need to seek allies outside of Allah, His Messenger, His hujja, their Shi`a, and the Muslim Umma. As long as we stick to our ethics, Allah will give us the ultimate success. We have the Ark of Salvation that will carry us through the darkness. We can always dialogue with other groups, and work together towards common goals, but never in a way that will compromise our ethics and change our religion. If we tolerate deviation for the sake of political alliances, then we haven't truly tasted faith.
2. Recognize the signs when you see them. Know the terminology - terms like "allies, appropriation, identity politics, trigger, intersectionality, cis-gendered, heternormative, social justice, oppression, phobia, progressive, patriarchy, toxic masculinity, melanin, white supremacy, wage-gap, rape-culture, micro-aggression, privilege, shaming, and victim blaming" are common go-to jargon that dominate western universities, schools, unions, HR departments, activist movements, and political parties. Once you recognize a sign, your antennas should go up, and you should try to understand their goal. You will see the devolution happen very gradually - a person identifying with neither gender, a queer Muslim character on a TV show, a transsexual who wins the "Woman of the Year" award, a gender-neutral bathroom, a gay nikah, a Muslim comedian who jokes about his drinking, a Buzzfeed video about Muslims doing "ordinary" (i.e. haram) things that non-Muslims can relate to, a shaykh allowing women to marry non-Muslims. You may say to yourself, none of this is a big deal, it doesn't harm me. But perhaps someday, within a few more baby steps, we may get pushed off the cliff completely.
3. Our job as always is amr bil ma`ruf wa nahi `an al-munkar. Remember the AsHab as-Sabt. There were those who disobeyed God, those who tolerated their disobedience, and those who spoke out against it. Only the third group was saved.
4. Read! Don't just eat up what your newsfeed, your sociology professor, and your television give you. Follow the money, question everything, and pray for guidance.
5. Remember that Muslims are not just some minority culture in need of Western acceptance. We are not part of this marginal coalition fighting "Islamophobia". We are doing da`wa - calling to the way of our Lord, with justice, good voice, patience, and in the best manner. That da`wa will either be accepted or rejected, but Allah will preserve our destinies. We Western Muslims have been put here to either call to Islam or to lose it completely.
6. Raise awareness in the community about the importance of understanding Nietzsche and the problems of postmodernism, if they really want to be able to correctly recognize the time that we are and the challenges that we face. Then, we need to continue developing our own distinct worldview, and support leaders in our community who are driving towards that change.
7. We are a people of intellect (aql), patience (sabr), prayer (salat), character (akhlaq), glad tidings and warnings. We must manifest those things at all times.
By the Time! Man is surely in loss, except those who believed and did good works, and exhorted one another to Truth, and exhorted one another to patience (Quran, chapter 103)
AbdusSibtayn reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Mecca or the Mechanical
Why have we turned Mecca into the Mechanical?
Mecca is the central pinnacle of human assembly, yet its architecture has been modeled after the capitals of individualism: New York, London, Toronto, and Las Vegas.
Its Ottoman heritage is being destroyed, its mountains are being removed, its mosques are being leveled, and all of it is being replaced with gray skyscrapers, McDonalds, Starbucks, cranes, and boxy buildings.
Over the centuries, our civilization has developed an architectural style, beautiful calligraphy, symmetrical patterns, captivating minarets, and iconic domes. Our mosques were designed to remind us of the divine order of the creation and the beauty of our revelation. We built the marvels that are Istanbul and Isfahan. The Taj Mahal, the Alhambra in Spain, the Dome of the Rock, and the Suleymaniye Mosque are some of the most elegant structures in the world.
The Protestant work-ethic cities in the West were designed with only utility in mind. They designed their cities to maximize profits and productivity, and to minimize costs. Anglo-Saxon culture deviated from the traditional beauty of Catholic architectural style, and they continue to deviate in other areas of morality. After British and American imperialism, Muslims are now emulating their worldly masters in an effort to look “modern”. This has led to the monstrosity that is Dubai and Tehran; cities with no heart and soul, only pollution, traffic, and eyesores.
Ethics is but a branch of aesthetics. Winning back our civilization also means returning to our therapeutic artstyle. We have no need for a concrete jungle in our holiest city.
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, "When you see holes pierced through the mountains of Mecca, and when you see the buildings surpass the mountaintops in height, then know that the affair (the Hour) has cast its shadow." (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba)
قال حدثنا غندر عن شعبه عن يعلى بن عطاء عن أبيه عن عمرو بن العاص((إذا رأيت مكة قد بعجت كظائم ، ورأيت البناء يعلو رؤوس الجبال فاعلم أن الأمر قد أضلك ))
AbdusSibtayn reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, The Matrix is a System
If I told you that missionaries were going to your child's school everyday, preaching their religion and teaching that Islam is backwards and evil, you would be deeply concerned, right?
Well, libertine missionaries have already infiltrated the schools, the universities, the textbooks, the TV shows, the labour unions, and the HR departments. Their ideology teaches your kids everyday:
1. Naturalism: Everything that exists is material. All that is true must be observable to the five senses, repeatable in a lab setting, and published recently by a secular Western university. This sidelines ethics, metaphysics, and spirituality as unimportant, folkloric, superstitious, metaphorical, or simply mad. All non-naturalistic truths are just perspectives and opinions that are equally valid or invalid.
2. Power and chance control the world. There is no Logos, no dialogue, and no supernatural force. Suffering is meaningless, and comes from individuals, institutions, and nature - it is not a trial, it is not a purification, it is not person-building, and it is not a supernatural punishment.
3. Individualism: Everyone is in constant competition for their own material interests. Society is just an amalgamation of individuals with their own independent goals. Forget the "Umma", the "Church", or even familial or tribal associations. Economic prosperity is more important than family and community. If you decide to get married - if it suits your selfish interests - then "economic independence" must precede marriage, even though Allah encouraged early marriage and promised to give sustenance to couples and parents.
4. History must only be observed through a socio-economic lens. Muhammad (s) was, at most, a "social reformer", military leader, and founder of a global religion. Anything more is just a personal belief and perspective beyond the scope of reason.
5. Religion is a non-rational private conviction, practiced only at home and in a place of worship. It is completely separate from all public affairs, even though politics should never be separated from ethics, and ethics is related to religion. Most religion is mythology, and mythology is no different than storytelling.
6. Your identity is whatever you individually feel. It is not negotiated with your surroundings, nor is it demarcated by anything physical. You can choose your name (first and last), your racial/ethnic/tribal affiliation, your sex, your gender, your style, and your mode of expression. "As long as you're not hurting anyone" (a very relative statement), anything goes.
7. Your sexuality should be celebrated and expressed publicly, no matter how deviant it is from global norms. Thou shalt not judge anyone's sex life or lack thereof. Sexual identity permeates our politics, our associations, and our fashion, and is either just as important or more important than our religious identity.
These 7 values are reinforced everyday, and have become the basis of our conscious and subconscious beliefs and actions. Not only is it difficult to transcend this matrix, but it is resilient to change and unyielding to resistance.
So, how will our children maintain an Islamic worldview amidst all of this noise? If their schools, universities, and workplaces all operate under these 7 values, then wouldn't they simply see the way of their parents as old-fashioned and socially irrelevant? According to Pew, 77% of children who are raised Muslim in America still identify with Islam as adults. That means 23% leave Islam altogether. How much of that remaining 77% actually maintain an Islamic worldview; how many even practice their religion? What will our communities look like in a few generations?
The answer to these looming problems must be in the formation of Islamic re-education. Not a simple reactionary return to dogma, but an intellectual re-evaluation of the problems of modernity and postmodernism, and an intelligent integration of Islamic education and spiritual rehabilitation.
AbdusSibtayn reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Hamza Yusuf and Black Lives Matter
As a Muslim Canadian outsider, the U.S's race problem is blaring and obvious to me whenever I visit. Even in the more liberal states, whites and blacks live in separate neighbourhoods, and the black neighbouroods are poorer and not looked after by the city. Whites and blacks have very different jobs and roles in society.
After over 300 years of slavery, 99 years of segregation, and 52 years of tumultuous race relations, the race issue still dominates public discourse in America. While most of the world has normalized relations with the descendants of former slaves, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in America was unique in its shear brutality. African Americans were stripped of their names, languages, cultures, and religions, and were deprived of a knowledge of self that other peoples had. "Black" became synonymous with cruelty, ugliness, and bleakness, while Social Darwinist whites put themselves in a position of natural superiority.
African Americans fought long and hard to gain the same civil rights and liberties as ordinary Americans. Since the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 however, the race issue has remained salient, with spikes in relevance every so often. In general, black people still suffer indiscriminately from police brutality, high rates of incarceration, the breakdown of the family, and lower access to education, health care, and high-paying jobs. Some of these issues stem out of policies that overlook African American issues, while others are more social. Several movements were established to redress these serious issues, such as the NAACP, Urban League, the Rainbow PUSH coalition, as well as the Nation of Islam and other religious organizations. In recent years, Black Lives Matter (BLM) has become the leading activist group on the streets and on social media, bringing awareness to issues in the African American community and seeking to redress them through progressive policies.
Hamza Yusuf recently suggested that Muslims should not join BLM, in fear that more identity politics would exacerbate race relations in America. The Shaykh went on to naively use trigger phrases like "black on black violence", "more whites are shot by police", and "police are not all racist", which had him labelled as a racist by legions of hipster Muslims on Twitter. As many have pointed out, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf comes from a pretty privileged background - he grew up in a wealthy neighbourhood, his relatives were wealthy, his parents were well-educated, and he went to private schools (see here). His family marched with the civil rights movement and against the Vietnam War, and explored different world religions, but like a lot of 60-70s hippies, the Shaykh is probably still a bit more out of touch with the working class than the average person. Still though, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf has actually lived in with bedouins in Africa, and he has spoken about poverty, inequality, and the civil rights movement on multiple occasions. His resume, as a Shaykh that balances the best of Western education with traditional Sunni scholarship, is far more impressive than that of most Western Muslim speakers.
On one hand, Hamza Yusuf could have worded himself better to address the very real race problem in the United States. Yes, there are anti-discriminatory laws in place, but clearly a lot more needs to be done to redress the race issue - body cameras on cops, judicial reform, and affirmative action in police departments in minority communities are a good step. But the onslaught against Shaykh Hamza has a few people scratching their heads - first off, why don't we get the same outrage when a Muslim speaker says something insensitive about Shiites, or when a speaker gleans over racist or sexist injustices in the Muslim world? More pertinently though, is what Shaykh Hamza said wrong? Hamza Yusuf is a Sufi, which attracts a lot of liberal ears to listen to him, but he is a traditionalist and a conservative at his core, and so every now and then he will say something that will get this type of reaction (this time being the climax).
Hamza Yusuf's argument is, if BLM is just an angry rebuke to the system, with few clear policy goals, then it has the potential of making problems worse - more violence against police officers (more police have died in 2016 than in the last 5 years, some during BLM protests), and worse race relations in coming months and years. BLM is more than just the issue of police brutality - it is a living, breathing organization with its own motives and goals. For the purpose of this article, it is important for our minds to mentally separate BLM and police brutality for a moment. BLM in essence is a cadre of identity politics, which highlights one's race or gender as an essential quality in a person (rather than an accidental quality), and very much sees everything through the lens of racism. Hamza Yusuf said that this only helps create the type of "whitelash" we saw with the election of Trump, which will only make things worse for minorities and not better. Hamza Yusuf once said, ethics should be rooted in verbs and adverbs, not nouns and pronouns. I agree with this, and while racism and white privilege is real, we should talk about the *issues* that plague society and not just about identity.
This controversy has caused me to think on multiple fronts. With regards to the Muslim community, it is clear that most Muslim youth identify with leftist politics, since it is multicultural and inclusive. Unfortunately, that comes with baggage: secularism, individualism, naturalism and religious skepticism, identity politics, LGBT rights, hookup culture and the normalization of sex, third wave feminism, body positivism, political correctness, and in general pro-revolutionary sentiments in almost every situation where even mild grievances exist. Balancing this with the Islamic tradition, which can be opposite on most of these issues, is particularly troublesome. The hipster Muslima with a rainbow scarf and a Guevara shirt marching at a Sl*tWalk is becoming increasingly more normal in Western Muslim communities.
I also began thinking about how Black Lives Matter differs from earlier black organizations. There's no doubt that BLM is the cool kid on the block, whom every Muslim revolutionary wants to embrace (Jonathan AC Brown, Linda Sarsour, Suhaib Webb to name a few). However, are their goals the same as the black community, and are they consistent with Islam?
In the 1990s, we saw another spike in relevance of the race issue, and this time, it was the Nation of Islam (NOI) under Louis Farrakhan that was the primary "race communicator" for black people in America. The NOI is a black nationalist American Muslim sect that differed from traditional Islamic views on theology and race. Irregardless of where the NOI may have deviated, the Nation of Islam organized a grassroots movement that brought black civil rights groups, religious groups, and activists together at the 1995 Million Man March. The Million Man March was a historic rally at Washington DC that brought leading African American figures together to demand justice and reproach, including Rosa Parks, Betty Shabazz, Jesse Jackson, Jeremiah Wright, Shaykh Ahmad Tijani Ben Omar, and Minister Farrakhan.
The Million Man March approached the issue of African American suffering in a very different way than BLM. First off, the March was only for black males, who were seen as the major agents of potential change in the Afro-American community. Over 72% of black children are born out of wedlock. Fatherlessness, which Hamza Yusuf mentions in his later apology lecture, is detrimental to any family, and leads to higher rates of poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health problems. Considering the high rates of gang violence, incarceration, drug abuse, and unprotected sex among black males, any solution to the plight of African Americans must include black men. Secondly, the Million Man March sought to bring all religious organizations together to seek repentance and God's support. As people of faith, we don't see all suffering simply as a result of natural causes; rather some suffering can be a divine trial or chastisement, by which we must seek God's succor. The event's major themes were "Lessons from the Past", "Affirmation and Responsibility", and "Atonement and Reconciliation", and it was believed that the very real injustices that exist in America would only be solved through a return to traditional values. Thirdly, the Million Man March gave the means for thousands of black people to register as voters, making the black community a strong political bloc in the American electoral system. The event ended with a pledge to God that they would be good community members from that day forward.
Black Lives Matter, on the other hand, has a very different vision for black America. It is, of course, absolutely secular, and blames the collective suffering of black people on white supremacy. Furthermore, not only does BLM sideline black fathers, but it ignores them completely on their website. BLM has a lot to say about the LGBT community and [presumably single] mothers, its guiding principles leaves straight black males out completely, despite the documented problems that fatherless homes can cause in the lives of youth. BLM even sees traditional "nuclear families" as somehow white supremacist, even though families in Africa are largely patriarchal and nuclear. Yusra Khogali, the leader of the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter (remember, Hamza Yusuf made his comments in Toronto), infamously tweeted about "killing men and whitefolks", and shared articles telling women to avoid conscientious black men. Khogali recently protested against Dr. Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, for refusing to use genderless pronouns like "xe" instead of "he" or "she". BLM also hijacked the Gay Pride Parade until their demands on the Pride organization were met, and hijacked a Bernie Sanders event in 2015. Millennial organizations like BLM are the reason why the alt-right exists, who also use the same frame of identity politics to identify as white nationalists to attack Muslims, blacks, women, and others. Contributing to the frame of identity politics can awaken the sleeping white-nationalist giant in Europe and North America, and awaken far right-wing voices that want to push all minorities away.
Not only does BLM stand for things that are totally irreconcilable with Islam, such as the LGBT issue, but it is devoid of the religiosity found in other black movements, the participation of straight black men, and it does not responsibly address issues within the black community. It is focused on "fighting the system", rather than clamping down on a hookup culture that is destined to plague another generation with fatherless households and STDs. Rather than solving the problems related black fathers, it ignores their issues and fails to address them. It is common to find feminist circles that paint black fathers as irresponsible misogynists that are part of the problem and not the solution - this attitude can only make things worse.
At the very least, the Nation of Islam encouraged a self-help approach: they promoted strong family values, they started rehabilitation programs for those affected by drugs and alcohol, they deployed their Fruit of Islam unit to stop riots and gang violence, they established their own schools and curricula, and they rid their community of the social ills that affect other black communities. BLM on the other hand is a Soros-funded intersectional liberal organization with an agenda that does not jive with Abrahamic religion.
When women, Latinos, blacks, Muslims, and homosexuals began popularizing identity politics, it was a natural consequence that right-wing whites would start doing the same. Some people honestly believe that unless you are black, then you aren't capable of commenting on anything to do with the black community. A white person commenting on black affairs, even to defend black people, is considered a racist by liberals because he is "whitesplaining". Franchesca Ramsey recently appeared in a video arguing that very point. The result of this thinking however is potentially devastating. It means that white people will no longer speak up against racism, because they don't want to appear racist or patronizing. It also means that educated people with legitimate views will be silenced simply due to their race. It also limits outsider perspectives, which are always necessary in a democracy, as every group should be critiqued and held accountable by outsiders. Strange enough, it's also kind of contradictory to multiculturalism - by saying only black people can speak about black issues, and women can only be feminists, and males are inherently privileged, you end up segregating society further. A white male like Hamza Yusuf speaking about race relations or women's issues does not contradict the ethics of our religion - I'm not saying he's right or wrong, I'm saying that he has the right to speak on these issues especially as a trained scholar.
Let's keep in mind that the Muslim community in America in the 60s and 70s was largely an organic one (the biggest being Warith Deen Muhammad's movement), made up of working-class African Americans and white converts. The early Muslim immigrants to America even joined these communities and worked closely with them. But the big influx of bourgeois Muslim immigrants in the 80s and 90s, with their foreign funding (from Saudi and elsewhere), established their own separate communities, bought out the existing communities / swallowed them up, then ostracized the native population, until they almost fizzed out completely. Now, some of those same upper-middle class children of immigrants think they can be pro-black because of their liberal arts degree, a Malcolm quote and a BLM march, yet they themselves would never marry a black person, or volunteer with the homeless or at a prison, or mingle with working-class people in general. As someone who has decent connections within the African American Muslim community in the U.S, I can tell you that these second-generation Muslims really mean nothing to them, and often do more harm than good.
Overall, I agree with Mehdi that Muslims need to be doing more outreach with other communities - that includes the black community. We should also address racism in our own communities, which is more outward than in the average white community. In Trump's America, we cannot afford to stand alone; we need to do more for our cities and our Muslim and non-Muslim communities. We can reach out to black churches, support black businesses, and join civil rights organizations. At the same time, we cannot fall into the trap of supporting causes that are antithetical to our tradition.
AbdusSibtayn reacted to Ibn al-Hussain for a blog entry, A ShiaChat Reunion?
As the school-term comes to an end, and there was some time that I could spare for my self, I've thought a lot about how my views on life, religion, man's relationship with God, and the world around me, have changed over the years. This is going to be a pretty random rant - but I guess that is what blogs are for .
As of now, it has been 4 years since I moved to the seminary in Qom, and while there are many brothers and sisters here who spent many years on ShiaChat, many of them have either asked for their accounts to be deleted, with all of their posts, or have completely abandoned the forum all together or visit once in a while. I'm one of the handful of those who have not asked for my account to be deleted. All my posts from my early teenage years to now mid and late-20s are there. Personally, I never felt I had anything to hide - my posts are pretty much who I am. One can clearly see the early phase of an excited teenager learning a thing or two about the religion, with very deep-rooted presumptions about life, to a hyper kid getting accustomed to a some-what celebrity status, loved & hated by so many, to then entering university life and maturing up (some may disagree ), and eventually entering into the work-force, married, moving to a different country, kids etc. While browsing through my earliest posts back in 2004, I was really able to just reflect on not just how much I have changed, but even how much influence (positive or negative) people on this forum have had on me. Of course this was not happening in a vacuum. I was interacting with all sorts of people - albeit behind a screen. There are so many real names, user-names, and names that I don't even remember - all of them - that I can recall, and in hindsight, see how each and everyone of them played a role in the development of my ideas, the stances and decisions I made in life, the open-mindedness I developed, or even the doubts I may have developed over various issues, and the questions that would remain unanswered for months and years.
This is very obvious for me even while I study in the seminary. The questions I may ask, the extent of tolerance I may show, the critiques I may mention, the willingness to really question some of our "famous" theological or historical views - some of these things make other students and at times even teachers really uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I believe this is in part due to what transpired on this forum and I am happy for it. This forum was like a large community center. It wasn't a community center for a specific ethnicity, or a culture, or converts or a specific gender. This forum for a large part was a community for those who either didn't have access to a real community where they lived, or were not satisfied with the communities that they belonged to. I believe it represented quite accurately the state of the Shi'a (primarily in the West) for a large part. It collectively represented the views that persisted and continue to persist amongst the Shi'a. Unfortunately, it is this portion of the Shi'a populous that often gets unnoticed outside of virtual reality. The inability of those leading us (for the most part) to really dissect and decipher the state of an average Shi'a's mindset, has really been one of the major issues for our communities in the West. The ignorance towards the epistemological framework that an average Shi'a growing in the West acquires through the education system or simply by living there, the delusional presumption that somehow a sub-culture contained within the 4-walls of a building will be able to preserve itself and overcome a dominant culture outside, the satisfaction of merely entertaining the audience with shallow lectures & speeches - while not addressing important and crucial matters: the cure for all of this seems to be have been missing in the last few decades, primarily due to ignorance towards it.
On a rare encounter I may have with a lost-long SCer, Its interesting to see how many stayed religious as they were, or were irreligious and become religious, or remained irreligious, or how so many are now going through a faith crisis as they have grown and began questioning and pondering over life's crucial mysteries.
Reflecting back on what views I held and what views I hold now, nostalgia overtook me and I started browsing through old posts, old pictures, audio and video files that I still have saved from a decade ago (had a seriously good laugh over some audio files of @SO SOLID SHIA I still have with me). It is really weird how all of a sudden around 2012/2013 the forum just died. As if everyone switched off their plugs and disappeared. People definitely have to move on with their lives, no doubt about that. Of course there were some people who left much earlier, but this sudden silence is really absurd and that it wasn't replaced with a new batch of talented, and educated individuals is really hard to explain.
Perhaps those members who are still lingering around from the early 2000s ( @Gypsy @DigitalUmmah @Darth Vader @Abbas. @Haji 2003 @Abu Hadi @Wise Muslim @Qa'im @notme) and are still in touch with those who have left, maybe they can work on a ShiaChat Reunion of some sort. Perhaps get in contact with old members and request them to make a moment's appearance and leave some remarks on what they are up to in life! What changes have taken place in your lives, in your views, in your lifestyle - if any? There were some members I had such a great time with, and it felt as if we would remain friends forever. It would be great to be able to reconnect with them.
@Baatil Ka Kaatil @Matami-Shah @Zain @Hasnain @Abdulhujjah @Peer @fyst @Syedmed @Nida_e_Zahra @hmMm @SpIzo @venusian @sana_abbas @fatimak @HR @asifnaqvi @Bollywood_Hero @phoenix @blessing @zanyrulez @wilayah @Hajar @Zuljenah @LaYdee_110 @fadak_166 @raat ki rani @Friend of All @queenjafri @Simba @Path2Felicity @3ashiqat-Al-Batoul @-Enlightened @karateka @A follower @hameedeh @lethaldefense @kaaju barfi @Friend of All @Ya Aba 3abdillah ...there are dozens of other members if I keep going.
AbdusSibtayn reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, A Guide to Sunni Trends
The Sunni Muslim world, as I see it, is divided up into the following social categories. Below are the major trends that run through this segment of the Umma.
Madhhabi Sunnis: Anyone belonging to the traditional Hanafi, Shafi`i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools, including both conservative and nominal Muslims. Madhhabi Sunnis usually express their religion through devoted worship, spirituality, and traditional law-abidance. Many sub-movements fit in this category, including most Sufis, the mystical Barelvi movement, the Deobandi movement, and those who are simply culturally Muslim. Madhhabi Sunnis are usually suspicious of Salafi, Shia, and modernist ideas and traditions, but still advocate for Muslim unity; agreeing to disagree with competing trends. Some nominal Madhhabis are influenced by Salafi revivalism and conservatism. Sufis in particular are often politically quietist and pacifistic, and have a balanced but positive view of classical Islamic civilizations.
Popular examples: Hamza Yusuf, Yahya Rhodus, Timothy Winters, Zaid Shakir, Umar Abd-Allah, Shabir Ally, Usama Canon, Suhaib Webb, Faraz Rabbani, Amjad Tarsin.
Salafis: Those who try to pursue a literal interpretation of Sunni Islam based on its most established primary hadith sources. Salafis are suspicious of secondary sources, philosophy, mysticism, traditional Sunni schools, saint-reverence, forms of religious expressions that are not explicitly supported by "sahih" Sunni hadiths, and other sects and religions. Salafis usually express their religion through theological discourse, worship, strict adherence to early practices (including having a "Muslim appearance"), and clamping down on "innovations" in Islamic practice (i.e. anything in a hadith they consider "weak", or not found in their most literal interpretations). Salafis have three noticeable sub-movements: (1) the Wahabis, who follow the Najdi Saudi theologians; (2) apolitical non-Wahabi Salafis, who follow non-Najdi figures, are focused mostly on theology and law, and are critical of Saudi Arabia's royal family and state-sponsored scholars, and (3) Militant Salafis, who seek to revive the Caliphate, establish puritan Islamic states, resist Western imperialism, and punish deviant and nominal Muslims. Salafis are very critical of Sufis and Shias, and often push for the destruction of their relics.
Popular examples: Bilal Philips, Abu Khadeejah, Yasir Qadhi, Abdur Raheem Green, Zakir Naik, Feiz Mohammed, Abu Musab Wajdi Akkari, Abu Isa Niamatullah.
Liberal Reformists: This includes Quranists and other reformists, who have a modernist humanist worldview, and see many Islamic laws and practices as outdated or obsolete. Liberal Reformists are focused on social justice and ethical principles inspired by the Quran. They are skeptical of hadith literature, Islamic scholarship, mysticism, sectarianism, and some jurisprudence. Liberal Reformists are especially critical of traditional penalties (hudud), extremism, radicalization, and laws related to gender and sexuality. The Quran is viewed as a flexible, progressive document that mostly lacks the rigidity of Islamic laws.
Popular examples: Mona Eltahawy, Irshad Manji, Maajid Nawaz, Tarek Fatah, Amina Wadud, Asra Nomani, Michael Muhammad Knight, Khalid Abou El Fadl
Muslim Brotherhood Types: They are often unaffiliated with the actual MB, but hold the same pragmatist and anti-imperialist sentiments. They are a middle-upper class educated movement that focuses on social conservatism, harmonizing modernism and traditionalism, international politics, and social justice. The MB types believe in family values, scientific/technological progress and development, and quasi-Marxist-Leninist domestic and international policies (big welfare governments and anti-Western imperialism). They are critical of Salafi puritanism, Sufi mysticism, and Shia Iran's encroachment of the Arab world. The MB types often admire the Turkish, Tunisian, and Malaysian Islamic models, which are pluralistic yet respect Islamic tradition. They are often nostalgic of Islamic civilization's golden age.
Popular examples: Tariq Ramadan, Jamal Badawi, Dalia Mogahed, Anas al-Tikriti, Jonathan Brown
Most Sunni Muslims are not very conscious of these divisions. They usually don't identify themselves with one of these labels, and all 4 trends coexist in most Sunni nations and communities. The trends also have some overlaps, and there are people that are a blend of multiple trends. Sunni scholars are more aware of the red lines due to their epistemological significance. But many Sunnis are subject to the influence of Gulf petrodollars, and therefore will take on some Salafi cliches without noticing it (or just seeing it as becoming "more religious"). I call this "Casual Salafism" - speakers like Nouman Ali Khan, Yusuf Estes, Ismail Menk, or Omar Suleiman, who are more laid-back and popular with the youth, but still have a Salafi epistemology and Salafi influences in their material.
Being conscious of these trends will allow us to better understand whom we can work with and whom we should best avoid.