America: The Gaslighting of a Nation

As Neil Postman so brilliantly observed in his 1985 classic “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, two great dystopian visions have defined contemporary anxieties about the future of society. The first is George Orwell’s “1984” and the second Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”. For a long time it was Orwell’s vision that received the most attention due to the extraordinary insight it offered into the role of war in economics and the language of propaganda (”newspeak”). Since the dawn of cable television… Read more

Pakistan’s Ahmadiyya Paradox: Fighting Extremism While Practicing Takfir

  May 12,2014: In the half rural-half industrial town of Sheikhupura four men were arrested by Punjab police . Their crime was tearing down posters filled with hate speech directed at their community plastered outside a shop in their village. The shopkeeper immediately filed a complaint with local police claiming that the posters contained Quranic verses. The men were charged with blasphemy. May 16, 2014: A 16 year old boy walked into the police station and shot one of the men, 65 year old Khalil Ahmad,… Read more

The Tyranny of Realpolitik: Understanding the Modern Context of Violent Extremism

    This is the third part of a three-part manuscript tracing the origins of extremist movements within Muslims. The first part dealt with the rivalry between the Ahl-e-Sunnah and the Mutazila and its implications on Islamic jurisprudence. The second part focused on Ibn Taymiyya and the repercussions of his theology and fatwas on the treatment of minorities and sectarian relations. This concluding part examines the circumstances and sociopolitical as well as psychological factors that have contributed to the current… Read more

Ibn Taymiyya and the Mamluke Sultans: Takfir and its Weaponization

This is the second installment of a three part article tracing the evolution of extremist strains in Islamic history and analyzing their etiology and perpetuating factors. The first part described the impact of the Mutazila-Ahl Sunnah rivalry on the Islamic religiopolitical paradigm. In this article the utility of Hanbali scholar Ibn Taymiyya’s teachings and religious rulings to latter day exponents of sedition and persecution is studied. Taqi al Din Ahmed Ibn Taymiyya was born on January 22, 1263 in the ancient Mesopotamian… Read more

On the Genesis of Violent Extremism: The Mutazila, Ibn Hanbal and the Advent of Taqlid

  Since the so-called “War on Terror” began after 9-11 the number of terrorist groups has increased and the territory under their control has exponentially grown across countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya and Somalia. Neither full scale invasions such as those of Afghanistan and Iraq nor targeted drone operations have succeeded in militarily defeating terrorist groups. The strategy of “deradicalization” such as that pursued through the “Prevent” initiative by the British Government, the Saudi authorities in Saudi prisons and by… Read more

The Speech Donald Trump Will NOT Be Making In Saudi Arabia

According to National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, President Trump will be giving an “inspiring yet direct” talk about Islam and the need to confront extremism during his trip to Saudi Arabia. McMaster said that more than fifty leaders of Muslim majority nations will be in attendance. He further stated that:  “The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners.” The following is the hypothetical speech that the author believes Donald Trump… Read more

To Fight Terror Break the Vicious Cycle of Trauma

Chosen Trauma The term “chosen trauma” was first used by Psychoanalyst Vamik Volkan in an essay published in 1991.  It refers to a group ascribing an inordinate amount of emotional and historic significance to a persecutory event. Destructive and Reparative Leadership According to Volkan traumatized groups evolve two kinds of leadership. The “reparative” type uses the traumatic event to unite the group and solidify its identity without harming another group. The “destructive type” uses the “chosen trauma” to increase a sense of… Read more

Pope Francis in Egypt: The “Salaam” That Must Echo Around The World

  “As-Salaam Alaikum” “Peace be on you”, in Arabic: that is how Pope Francis opened his address at a peace conference hosted by Al-Azhar university in Cairo, Egypt today. He is on an official visit to bring a message of peace and continue the dialogue of reconciliation he started in 2016 with Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University. During the address Pope Francis emphasized the need for brotherhood between the two faiths and spoke out against terrorism,… Read more

Fighting The Persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt Is A Religious Duty For All Muslims

Some of my best childhood memories are of Thursday evenings spent at the Coptic Club in Khartoum, Sudan. Most patrons there were members of the Coptic community but everyone was welcome. Immigrant Copts from Egypt have been in Sudan for over a century and currently number over half a million. As is the case in Egypt, their contributions to civic life in Sudan are inordinately consequential to their numbers. Today in Egypt, two Coptic Churches were attacked, one in Tanta… Read more

انتفاضة الروح (The Uprising Of The Soul)

    A hymn for those who believe in the evidence of subjective experience. For those who have chewed on the hollow reed of skepticism and found that it is the most deceptive restraint of all. For those who have experienced liberation in humility, the humility of belief in the only One who is Real.   “We created man, and we know what his soul whispereth to him, and we are closer to him than his neck vein.” -Quran (50:16) I…. Read more

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