March 2, 2014

Check out the article by Sheikh Habib Ali Al Jifri, “Why is there no serious effort to counter takfir ideology?” I’m glad to see this article being run in a prominent Emirati newspaper, as the Gulf is at the heart of this problem. One hopes that’s a sign of some sympathy for real reform, as opposed to shrewd geopolitical optics. Unlike in the case of most thorny social or political problems, I think this question can be answered very simply,... Read more

March 2, 2014

Check out Simon Head’s “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers”  on It’s  chilling and eye-opening. It’s an expose of truly revolting labor practices at Amazon that deserves to be discussed widely. And not merely because people ought to know what this iconic and powerful corporation subjects its employees to, but also because that brutish treatment is quite likely a taste of things to come elsewhere in the economy. This madness could be coming... Read more

February 16, 2014

Given all the attention that Islam and Muslims get today and all anxiety that exists over their relationship to America, I’m often surprised how little attention is paid to the American Muslims as a community and subculture. For all the provincialism and resentment that reigns in many quarters towards America’s increasing ethnic and religious diversity, I think it’s fair to say that Muslims are set apart these days by the extent to which they are widely assumed to be intrinsically... Read more

November 17, 2013

I have a complicated take on veils (by which I mean actual veils, not the headscarves often poetically referred to as such). I think them neither religiously mandated nor ultimately healthy for society. While some women certainly choose it freely and while I concede that veils play a more complex role in some places (especially environments where women lack the relative physical security that Westerners can take for granted), I think the veil’s primary function in most, for lack of... Read more

September 3, 2013

I’m hard pressed to recall a case where the abject imbecility of contemporary Islamophobia is not only captured in a short video clip, but demolished in a single sentence. Watch John McCain inadvertently slap down the air-headed Brian Kilmeade on Fox News on the significance of “Allahu Akbar.” Journalists are often required to cover and discuss a wide range of disparate topics, so I don’t blame them for occasionally getting important facts wrong. That doesn’t let them off the hook... Read more

July 25, 2013

An interesting debate is going on in Muslim corners of the Blogosphere and social media over the ethics and merits of Muslims attending White House iftars in the Obama era, with its militarism and lawlessness . As is usually the case, Sheila Musaji has already neatly laid out the issues  involved in The American Muslim, so I’ll just send you there for the details. I happen to consider both Omid and Shahed dear friends, but I find myself agreeing with... Read more

January 24, 2013

Lego (about which I occasionally blog lovingly) has been accused of racism for alleged similarities between its Jabba the Hut lair set and famous Turkish mosques. Lego Accused Of Racism Amid Claims Jabba’s Palace Resembles Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Mosque (HuffPo):  A Turkish community in Austria has accused Lego of racism amid claims a model from its Star Wars range resembles a renowned mosque. The model in question is Jabba’s Palace – a dome topped structure housing the slobbering Star Wars... Read more

January 24, 2013

Listened to a very stimulating interview from a year or so ago with The Progressive Managing Editor Amitabh Pal on his book,“Islam” Means Peace: Understanding the Muslim Principle of Nonviolence Today. The interview touches on a variety of countervailing evidence to the customary assumption that Islam and Muslims are intrinsically predisposed towards violence–unlike, ahem, the wide-eyed pacifists that populate American society–so the book looks really promising. Amitabh Pal interview on The Progressive podcast: My guest this week is Amitabh Pal,... Read more

January 13, 2013

I listened to a very stimulating discussion of the underlying nature of conspiracy theories, on both ends of the political spectrum, on the invaluable Against the Grain podcast today. Against the Grain, Tuesday Jan 8, 2013: “What’s the Matter with Conspiracy Theories?“: From the assassination of JFK to a wide range of theories related to the attacks of September 11, 2001, conspiracy theories seem natural to the left. But should they be? Anarchist historian Peter Staudenmaier discusses the problems with... Read more

January 13, 2013

There’s a fascinating piece on the Columbia Journalism Review’s “Behind the News” blog exploring some rather unexpected culprits involved in the “Innocence of Muslims” controversy in Egypt. It documents how, contrary to what many assume, the proverbial charge was not lead by the usual, Islamist suspects, but rather by secular and Coptic Christian media outlets aligned with the Mubarak regime (ones that in some cases have a sordid history of disseminating gross misinformation about the Islamic religious establishment). It’s very... Read more

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