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, 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.
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.