Archive for the 'Islam & Muslims' Category

Indonesia considers ‘disbanding Ahmadiyyas’

More than 1,000 Indonesian Muslims gathered in front of the presidential palace on Sunday to press the government to ban a Muslim sect that has been branded heretical by most Muslims.

An Indonesian government team is drafting a decree that will ban the Ahmadiyya sect, which views itself as Muslim but has been branded a heretical group by the Indonesian Ulema Council, the secular country’s highest Muslim authority.

Chanting “Allahu Akbar (God is Great)” and “Disband Ahmadiyya”, the members of the Indonesian Muslim Forum (FUI), a group of about 50 Muslim organisations, urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to issue the decree.

“We are pushing the president to immediately issue a presidential decree disbanding Ahmadiyya,” FUI Secretary General Muhammad Al Khaththath told Reuters.

The FUI also asked the government to capture Ahmadiyya’s leaders and seize all its assets.

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Review of ‘Islam and the Secular State’

Robert Hefner review’s Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im’s latest book Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari`a at The Immanent Frame.

Racism in Muslim cultures

Race and color did matter in the Muslim world and they still do. However, the colourline is not exactly the same as that in pre-abolition America. I would say in the Muslim World it’s like the one-drop rule in reverse, as seen by so many African ethnic communities that are predominantly Muslim claiming Arab ancestry. As the majority of Muslim societies are patrilineal one’s mother’s ethnic origin doesn’t really count. Actually, sometimes slave women (not all of them Black) were preferred because they had no families or social ties to the communities they were enslaved in so there was a great deal of Muslims who rose to prominence whose mothers were Black slaves. This was true in the Pre-Islamic era as well (Note the famous story of warrior poet Antar ibn Shaddad). However, to totally ignore how these prejudices created oppressive and racist power structures within Muslim Societies in Africa is incomprehensible.

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Destroy Rod Parsley

Martin E. Marty does so (not literally, of course):

Islam has no central authority. It is a family religion, a village religion, with millions of bases for a billion believers. Islam is not an institution or a dogma. When one calls for the destruction of Islam one has to mean the killing of all Muslims. Rather than accuse Parsley of calling for genocide, it is in place to ask him to spell out alternatives. Does “destroy” Islam mean winning a debate until every last targeted Muslim cries uncle and says, “I give up, you win”? He may mean that. Does the “destruction of Islam” mean the deconversion of a billion people and, preferably, conversion to Parsley’s “Christian civilization”? Try converting as many as one in your town, and then take on the millions more in Indonesia. Does “destroy” mean bombing the 1,209 mosques in America, which number includes only a few of the world-wide total? As of now, Parsley simply calls for “war.” By most definitions, doesn’t “war” mean “killing”?

The Islamic state is a dead end

Abdullahi Ahmed an-Naim has seen what can happen to an Islamic reformer: His mentor was executed in 1985 in Sudan; he himself had to flee the country. Still, the self-described “Muslim heretic” has no trouble traveling the Islamic world spreading his controversial message:

There is no such thing as an Islamic state.

A secular state and human rights are essential for all societies so that Muslims and others can practice their faith freely, he tells his co-religionists.

“My motivation is in fact about being an honest, true-to-myself Muslim, rather than someone complying with state dictates,” says Mr. Naim, a professor of law at Emory University in Atlanta since 1999. “I need the state to be neutral about religious doctrine so that I can be the Muslim I choose to be.”

So committed is this scholar to opening the door to free debate within his faith that he helped organize the first “Muslim Heretics Conference” in Atlanta over the weekend. Some 75 Muslims, engaged in various reform projects, gathered to discuss issues related to sharia (Islamic law), democracy, and women’s rights – and how to cope with dissent and its consequences.

“We celebrate heresy simply to promote innovative thinking,” he says. “Every orthodoxy was at one time a heresy.”

Naim’s personal project involves what he calls “negotiating the future of sharia.” As Islamic societies struggle to define themselves in a globalized world and some talk of creating Islamic states to codify sharia, he says the state and religion must be kept separate. But religion should still have its place in political life, allowing Muslims to express principles of sharia as they see fit. He believes this is truly Islamic, and that articulating the reasons why will help ordinary Muslims not be taken in by political slogans.

“I know for a fact that Abdullahi has a following among young Muslims in places like Malaysia and Indonesia,” says John Esposito, head of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. “These people are often marginalized in their societies, but over time, these positions can become mainstream.”

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Noah Feldman’s ‘paternalistic Orientalism’

A few weeks ago Noah Feldman’s article “Why Shariah” received some attention on Muslim blogs.

Saïd Amir Arjomand offers a response at The Immanent Frame.

Update: Feldman responds to Arjomand.

Sunni-Shia tensions in Nigeria

Shi’a Islam was almost unknown in Nigeria until the early 1980s when Muslim radical Ibrahim Zakzaky, fired by the Iranian revolution, campaigned for an Islamic government and stricter adherence to sharia, or Islamic law.

For many youths in the poor, predominantly Muslim north, joining Zakzaky’s movement was an act of rebellion against a disappointing political and religious establishment.

Zakzaky’s personal religion is an eclectic blend of Sunni and Shi’ite ideas but many of his followers have come to identify themselves as Shi’ites.

For Sunnis in Sokoto, these followers present a threat to their own religious hierarchy.

[…]

Africa’s most populous country is plagued by frequent outbreaks of violence because of a volatile mix of ethnic diversity, religious rivalry and byzantine politics.

Fighting between ethnic and religious groups has killed thousands in a country split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.

This complex mix is also apparent in Sokoto, where the Sunni-Shi’ite divide is more than just religious.

The Sultan of Sokoto is the heir of Usman Dan Fodio, a scholar and warrior who launched a jihad from Sokoto in the early 19th century, uniting large swathes of what is now northern Nigeria under the banner of Islam and invigorating the religion in West Africa.

Some Shi’ites say the modern Sultanate and political authorities in Sokoto have deviated from Dan Fodio’s path.

“The government feels threatened by us because we recognise no other authority than that of Allah. That is why they support the Sunnis,” said activist Malami Muhammad Alkanci, 28.

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