The unexpected virtures of reading Sayyid Qutb today

A draft that had been gathering dust... One of the texts assigned to students in the introduction to Western religion course I TAed this spring is an excerpt from Sayyid Qutb's Milestones.  My first reaction as someone committed to reform (and not the "reforms" of old-style revivalist movements) upon seeing this in the syllabus in January was frustration, as I worried that his inclusion would confuse students about the nature of contemporary Islamic thought and ultimately only … [Read more...]

The end is near for Akram’s Razor

Well, folks, I've never really had the time to blog in the first place and I  happen to be a slow writer who tends to savagely rip up, spit upon, and then rewrite his output over and over like some unholy cross between Sisyphus and Penelope. Which means that I often find blogging aesthetically frustrating, as I hate leaving a post in an unpolished a state but rarely have time to revise it adequately. That problem is exponentially worsened by my fondness for complex and/or sensitive topics … [Read more...]

The joys of namaaz alfresco

Ever since I escaped the vain tumult of DC life, I've told people that its cost of living and paradoxically sterile civic and communal life achieved the psychological equivalent of the miracle of transforming lead into gold: a hopeless Yankee, big-city sophisticate who for the longest time considered any area too small to support a proper "alternative" newspaper an irremediably uncivilized backwater has been born anew as a country boy whose hearts sinks at the thought of heading into … [Read more...]

The sad lot of many Muslims in India today

A new report commissioned by the Indian government lays bare the discrimination and poverty suffered by India's Muslim minority. Some highlights from the article (emphasis added):India, which has long prided itself as a shining example of democracy and religious-cultural pluralism, is being forced to contend with an unpleasant truth: the foundations of its claim to religious integration and harmony may be far shakier than earlier believed. This is a greatly underreported problem that I've … [Read more...]

Neuhaus on Europe and Muslims

The articulate and influential conservative Roman Catholic theologian Richard John Neuhaus has a very interesting and thoughtful discussion in First Things, the journal that he edits, of the debate over Muslims in Europe entitled "The Much Exaggerated Death of Europe".  Neuhaus has made controversial statements about Islam and Muslims in the past and jousted a bit with Muslim organizations (especially CAIR). Which is why his evenhanded analysis of Philip Jenkins' critique of the … [Read more...]

Hilfe, ich bin im Kult gefangen!

Am two thirds of the way through a 3-week summer intensive "German for Reading Knowledge" course that meets for 3 hours daily (and bright and early--by summer standards--at 9:30) and assigns a corresponding amount of homework each night. As the title says (hopefully correctly), I'm feeling like a prisoner in a cult these days.  It's great to get an academic requirement that would otherwise be a distraction out of the way quickly, but boy does an intensive course like this take … [Read more...]

The Peshawar bombing & the risk of travel

A hotel in Peshawar was bombed in Pakistan and many innocent people sadly lost their lives two days ago.  This senseless savagery happened as if on cue to welcome my wife and daughter, who are currently visiting family in Lahore while I live the "swinging" (read: unlimited access to the SciFi Channel) but very culinarily-deprived life (one word: tuna) of the temporary bachelor. I tend to be very conscious of probability in life and, thus, rarely give much thought to chilling but … [Read more...]

A question to people using RSS readers

Did the post entitled "The resurrection of Willie Horton in the service of Islamophobia" appear normally?  I'm asking because I mistakenly assigned a date in the past when I posted and I didn't notice it my reader (BlogLines). So I'm wondering if that tweak confuses RSS readers and I need to repost with the current date in order for it to reach everybody. … [Read more...]