Friday, November 17, 2006

Sound familiar? (Moderate Muslim Manifesto)

Faith and Public Engagement

In the public sphere, I increasingly come back to what business it is of the state or the community--especially a community living as a minority--what the sexuality of a member of the community is.

Secondly, the other question I come back to is "What kept Umar up at night?" Was it whether someone might be engaging in homosexual conduct? Or whether a woman in his realm might not be conforming to the religion's requirements of "Hijab"? Or whether anyone--including, very clearly women, homosexuals, or even sinners and kafirs--would go to bed hungry? Which one of those did the second Caliph, one we often refer to as (not bringin The Prophet into) the greatest administrator Islam has had, think Allah would ask him on the Day of Judgement about?

And then I have difficulty going beyond that in terms of public policy. Should we be talking about whether anyone is dying of hunger in Afghanistan, or whether there are any apostates of homosexuals in Afghanistan or in downtown Toronto? Which one will Allah ask me about on The Day of Judgement?
(from: ifaqeerwikispace)

Ifaqeer in comments led me to his various sites and I've been enjoying reading the way the debate in Islam is being conducted through the various links he offers.

If you replaced the names of the groups with names we know: does Jerry Falwell speak for Christianity? Are we to be more interested in whether a woman speaks in a church service (Mark Driscoll) or with feeding the poor (Jim Wallis)? How much should the state be influenced by Christian morality and belief systems?

My oh my! I feel like a huge door flew open! Good stuff.


Dave said...

Well, yeah. That's the question of pluralism, religious, ethnic, other cultural manifestations of, etc. I think it is helpful to see how these dialogues and debates unfold in other venerable religious and cultural contexts because they offer a degree of insight and objectivity on what is happening in our own that is hard to attain if we only operate within our own frame of reference. Thanks for putting this material in front of us.

julieunplugged said...

I like to read it because I think Islam is largely invisible to us except for the megaphone Osama Bin Laden chose to use on 9/11. The call for Muslims to denounce acts of violence by Americans has been repeatedly answered, according to these websites, Reza Aslan and others. Yet we fail to hear it. Why? What is stopping the average American from grasping what is going on with Islam?

I think we just don't realize how complete a world it is, and how self-involved. We tend to evaluate everything through the lens of how the US relates to it.

So this is an interesting web-quest for me.


Dave said...

It isn't exactly "Islam," but al-Jazeera news is now available in English. It's an interesting way to get a non-American, Islam-informed perspective delivered in a style and format that is familiar and easily accessible to Western audiences. Free 15-minute streams are available using Real Player, or one can subscribe for $5.95 a month to get unlimited hi-res webstreams.

I am not sure when (or if) al-Jazeera will be offered by any of the cable companies serving the USA. Perhaps its easier to get on satellite?

julieunplugged said...

I read that too. Fascinating. I realizedmy knee-jerk reaction to that news was that it would be biased and unrealiable. Then I had to ask myself where that impression came from and it developed at the start of the Iraq war when American criticized al-jazeera for inaccurate reporting.

We are so easily influenced by our own worldview, you know?


Dave said...

I think the newscast was pretty reasonable, from what I saw of it this morning. They had some coverage of what's happening in Darfur, a feature on the Brazilian economy and the struggle of that nation to life its citizens out of poverty despite all the wealth at their disposal. Nothing rabid or sensationalistic, nothing all that fluffy either, unlike CNN or FOX.

Have you ever watched the movie "Control Room"? That will open your eyes a bit to what's going on re: al-Jazeera.

iFaqeer said...

Thanks for noticing Julie. (Or is it Ms. Unplugged?) That's based on a snippet from an email response to something. It's on my ever-growing list of things to clean up and post on my blog. Thanks for the reminder.

On Al-Jazeera, I think the issue isn't that it might be biased but that any intelligent person would think that ANY one source can provide the whole picture. Those of us who've spent our formative years in societies where distrust of authority is reflexive seem to have internalized that more than those who live in stable societies in which they have more of a say in how things are run...