When outsiders forget their place

I expect the occasional troll to drop by, especially given how I openly mock some of the Beltway's most sacred cows (e.g., the so-called War on Terror).  But even the most obnoxious trolls generally pick fights over substantive issues. So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself in a spat with somebody over my use of Arabic words in my posts.  Yes, someone--and a blogger who evidently fancies himself an informed firsthand observer of the Middle East and Islam--was outraged at my … [Read more...]

The Quran a popular Christmas gift in Denmark this year

Am catching up on news from Denmark and came across an amusing report in the Danish daily Politiken ("Koranen bliver et hit under juletr├Žet", or "The Quran a hit under the Christmas tree"). It reports that a new Danish translation of the Quran (by philosogist Ellen Wuff) was the surprise bestseller this Christmas. In just one month, 5,000 copies were sold.  To give you a sense of perspective keep in mind that Denmark's population is less than 6 million and that those … [Read more...]

“Little Mosque on the Prairie”

In his Defense of Poetry, Shelley famously declared poets the "unacknowledged legislators of the world".  Today, those most able to lay claim to the mantle of behind-the-scenes leadership of the world would be filmmakers rather than poets. Hence the importance of popular culture.  Whether or not one approves of this state of affairs, you can be sure that "The Cosby Show" had more impact on racial attitudes than every enlightened book, article or sermon of its time … [Read more...]

Barelvis and Deobandis, still takfir-crazy after all these years

Half a century ago, observers guffawed at the spectacle of Barelvis and Deobandis excommunicating each other over minor difference of opinion and trifles (in one case over the pronunciation of the Arabic letter dad in the final word of Suratul Fatihah, dhaleen). Well, 200 couples in UP in India recently had to retake their vows as Muslims and remarry after they were excommunicated by a Barelvi mufti for the crime of attending a funeral prayer led by a Deobandi cleric. 200 weddings redone in UP … [Read more...]

The influence of Christmas on Hannukah and so much else

Came across some intriguing observations and historical analogies in the Jewish Virtual Library concerning Hannukah and, indirectly, the multi-cultural Borg that  is Christmas for many of us non-Christians in the American Melting Pot. Chanukah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews (and even many assimilated Jews!) think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting … [Read more...]

Tariq Ramadan and this adminstration’s need to dehumanize Muslims

L'affaire Tariq Ramadan lives on.  [HT:  American Leftist].Why I'm Banned in the USA - washingtonpost.com I am increasingly convinced that the Bush administration has barred me for a much simpler reason: It doesn't care for my political views. In recent years, I have publicly criticized U.S. policy in the Middle East, the war in Iraq, the use of torture, secret CIA prisons and other government actions that undermine fundamental civil liberties. And for many years, through my research … [Read more...]

Muslims, the new “natives”

Am writing a brief reaction paper to the chapter in Daniel Pals' (highly recommended) Eight Theories of Religion on the pioneer anthropologist E.E. Evans-Pritchard, best known for his magisterial and seminal work Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande. Don't have time to comment in depth, but I thought I'd share a few observations concerning how accounts of the sloppy and dehumanizing theorizing about "primitive" peoples of the 19th century have a uncannily familiar ring today … [Read more...]

Where oh where is my local Eid ki namaz?

Am I the only one who's sick of mosques that don't bother to announce the time and location of Eid prayers on their websites?  This is basic, folks.  Don't just announce it verbally after tarawih prayers--POST IT  in the places people are most likely to look. At the the start of Ramadan our local moque announced on its website "RAMADAN MUBARUK 1427 A.H.! Ramadan starts on Saturday, September 23rd, 2006." and has been mum ever since. This is especially irksome in a small … [Read more...]