4th Annual Brass Crescent Awards

It’s time for the 4th annual Brass Crescent awards.  Time to vote for your favorite (or least disliked, as the case may be) Islamic blogs.

The Brass Crescent Awards – Honoring the Best of the Muslim Blogosphere

The Brass Crescent Awards, a joint project of altmuslim and City of Brass, is an annual awards ceremony that honors the best writers and thinkers of the emerging Muslim blogosphere (aka the Islamsphere). Nominations are taken from blog readers, who then vote for the winners.

What are the Brass Crescent Awards? They are named for the Story of the City of Brass in the Thousand and One Nights. Today, the Islamsphere is forging a new synthesis of Islam and modernity, and is the intellectual heir to the traditions of philosophy and learning that was once the hallmark of Islamic civilization – a heritage scarcely recognizable today in the Islamic world after a century’s ravages of colonialism, tyrants, and religious fundamentalism. We believe that Islam transcends history, and we are forging history anew for tomorrow’s Islam. These awards are a means to honor ourselves and celebrate our nascent community, and promote its growth.

Despite my best efforts to keep the blog out of the limelight through a cunning mix of non sequiteurs, a pathetic (but, it must be admitted, impeccably "Muslim") work ethic, and bland writing, Akram’s Razor got nominated this year. My gut instinct is that this is the work of a sinister agent provacateur bent on making the Islamophere look bad. This suspicion seems borne out by the surreal (and exceedingly unwelcome) twist of the nod being for "Best Ijithad". Good grief.

Fortunately for me, there’s little danger of me winning that. Still, to avoid tempting fate, I’m probably going to avoid any doctrinal pronouncements for a while. (Did I hear a collective sigh of relief?)

I recoil in horror at the thought of anybody mistaking me for a mujtahid, given the abysmally low standards that would imply for them, not to mention the responsibility that such impressions would entail for me were they to spread somehow. I don’t give–nor want to give, nor want to be seen as wanting to give–fatwahs. In fact, in keeping with Groucho Marx’s sage quip about social clubs, I wouldn’t trust any scholarly class that would count me among its number. I aspire to nothing more than being a gadfly and consider gadflies to be among orthodoxy’s truest friends.  A sting here and there to discourage complacency or blind acceptance of convention is enough for me. 

Too bad there isn’t a category like "Loudest Curmudgeon" or "Most Schizophrenic Critic".

Like some bloggers, I’m a bit disappointed with the picks this year, finding the overall mix a bit ideologically lopsided (even if it’s in my camp’s favor).  Quite a few brilliant, scholarly bloggers inexplicably went unmentioned. (Was most of the Islamophere in khalwa or something during the 1st round of voting?) It’s odd.

Of course, the organizers aren’t responsible for how people vote, and perhaps part of the blame lies with us OG’s (if you will indulge me–I haven’t been blogging for all that long, but I’ve been on the Internet FOREVER) for not contributing our own picks. I know I forgot to give my faves.   

The explanation might be that many voters unconsciously went for "new faces", passing by the old (tried and true) favorites. Or perhaps a lot of people who voted this this around happened to have quirky/dubious taste. (Look at what tops charts in music and film–the Market is anything but wise.) And there’s  the perennial fall-back option of a Mossad disinformation campaign.

Seriously, though, the motley crew of thematically disparate blogs in the "Best Ijtihad" category make me think that some additional categories are in order. The presence of "Best Public Intellectual", "Best Wonk", and "Best Gadfly" probably would’ve diverted some of the quirkier picks (e.g., moi) to more appropriate quarters. (Don’t get me wrong: I think most of those blogs are brilliant. It’s just that only 1 or 2 of them actually actually write as far as I can tell about matters  falling under the rubric of ijtihad.)

So cast your vote, and don’t even think of being a wiseguy and voting for me. I swear, if I even catch a hint of the winds blowing that way, I’ll return to blogging about Legos, Star Trek and Monty Python.

Let’s just pass over that awkward bit of weirdness in dignified silence.

Update (16 Dec 2007): I removed my mention of Abu Layth’s post on the BCA lest that be seen as an endorsement of its overly harshrhetoric towards Ali Eteraz. The blogosphere is so blunt that you sometimes barely notice such things.

  • http://wishsubmission.wordpress.com Manas Shaikh

    I must admit I am not a regular reader of your blog, but I check every title. Definitely enjoy those I choose to read, even though I, perhaps, belong to a different ‘camp’. That is because you are never “holier than thou”. At least I never spotted you doing that. :)
    Needless to say, I’m disappointed with the choices at ABCA too. Without naming anyone, many of the nominated guys/gals are narcissist fellows with no sense of direction.
    And the choices were, IMHO, definitely not very indicative of diversity. I gave a subtle hint to my disappointment in the IJTEMA entry that I wrote. In that office, that was the most I could write. Sharique, later, came out with a bunch of guys (including Layth and you) disagreeing with the choices.
    Even though I think iMuslim definitely deserved to be on the list of “female bloggers” and perhaps to win, I am okay with the miss. To be fair to ABCA, you can’t make everybody happy. Okay.
    What I am not okay with, is the apparent lopsided representation. And the fact that the choices are very similar to what we had last year. Odd.
    Anyway, good luck. I shall not be dishonest and say you are my absolute favourite- but you are high on my “i like” list.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com Svend

    Thanks, Manas. That’s fine by me, and all I’d expect given all the insightful and far more prolific and reliable folks out there in the Islamosphere.
    I think your point about egos is dead-on in many cases. This medium and the superficiality of the MSM’s “debates” on Islam naturally favor such personalities and patterns.

  • Abu Nauman

    Alhamdulilah it is nice to see someone being so modest. One sad aspect of the Brass Cres Awards were a few bloggers who forgot this in their desperation to be nominated.
    I have to confess that whilst there are a number of excellent blogs nominated I remain puzzled as to why some were picked and some were overlooked.
    2 excellent blogs that were overlooked were
    and the insighful
    I wish they they would be more transparent about the whole process

  • http://cityofbrass.blogspot.com Aziz Poonawalla

    finding the overall mix a bit ideologically lopsided (even if it’s in my camp’s favor). Quite a few brilliant, scholarly bloggers inexplicably went unmentioned. (Was most of the Islamophere in khalwa or something during the 1st round of voting?) It’s odd.
    Can you elaborate more on the lopsidedness you perceive?
    not to say that we want to try and “balance” the Awards – if the nominees are lopsided, its only a reflection of the voters, and we are trying to make the democratic process the absolute.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com Svend

    Salaams, Aziz
    I can’t get into specifics right now because of various deadlines I’m woefully behind on. Such an assessment in inevitably subjective, but I got the impression some of the IMHO best conservative/traditional blogs got overlooked.
    I probably should’ve made this clearer, but I wasn’t complaining or implying any error oversight on the organizers part, so much as lamenting how bad some people’s taste seems to be.
    I should also have noted that I think that a certain tilt isn’t shocking given the relatively liberal leanings of the Blogosphere in general.
    Those of us griping who didn’t vote (e.g., me) should’ve voted in the first round, and should’ve blogged about our picks to get the word out.
    While I think the addition of a few categories might help in some respects, the bottom line is that like elections in general popularity contests are often myopic, being strongly influenced by fads and the whims of the judges (i.e., us). The only solution to that is wider participation and discussions to get people thinking properly.
    There’s nothing wrong with people lobbying for their picks on their blogs, either. To the contrary, I think it would improve the contest by sparking discussions and enthusiasm.
    Abu Nauman, AA:
    Thank you. I understand what you’re saying but keep in mind that this is an unpaid effort done by volunteers (not to mention very busy people). I’m sure they’d love to make it more transparent, but as any project manager will tell you documenting a process in a manner that most people can easily track adds an additional layer of bureaucracy that is a luxury you don’t always have you’re scrambling to do a community service in your spare time.
    So we should be understanding and supportive. I’m sure the BC folks are open to suggestions. And offers of help.

  • http://fahmed.wordpress.com Faraz Ahmed

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now and considering how well its written, feel that it should also be nominated in the ‘Deserving of Wider Recognition’ category.

  • george

    What is the meaning of Ijithad, and why is it distasteful to you?
    I just found the Brass Crescent Awards for the first time (via Jews sans Frontieres).
    For a non-Muslim American like myself, trying to educate myself, it is a treasure trove which I will enjoy exploring.