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On constitutions, Sharia and Muslim political thought

Islam’s calling is an ethical and moral one - not a search for codifying permanent power for Muslims. In the Arab Spring’s aftermath, and the catastrophic divisions and violence in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia - not to forget ongoing debates in almost every Muslim majority country concerning citizenship, rights, responsibilities of citizens and the constitutional contestations in the modern nation state - Muslim political parties across the region are facing textual, interpretational and conceptual challenges.  

While public debates on TV and in the press across the region have simplistically focused on what aspects of Islamic law to be included, and whether the overarching objectives of Islamic Law should be the guiding principle, or to incorporate as many particulars as politically possible, if one has the power; the real challenge centres on the conceptualisation of a nation-state and how to constitute an inclusive polity

The larger debate in Muslim majority states with diverse religious and ethnic communities centres on defining the nature of citizenship. Who is a citizen, what rights do they have and what are the responsibilities of each in the modern nation-state? More critical at this juncture is whether a modern Islamic nation-state could be constituted with different classes of citizenship that are accorded unequal rights based on religious difference?

Finally, what is the nature of the constitution to be adopted and should “classical” Muslim state conceptualisation serve a prescriptive or descriptive role in this emerging period? While not forgetting or dismissing the problematic and constantly interventionist role played by external forces, the questions above set at the heart of the debates and contestations between various political forces in the modern Arab and Muslim worlds, and real and substantive answers must be developed to resolve these ticking political time bombs.

Featured Documentary - The Hidden Genocide

Earlier this year a Buddhist woman was raped and murdered in western Myanmar. The authorities charged three Muslim men.A week later, 10 Muslims were murdered in a revenge attack. What happened next was hidden from the outside world. Bloodshed pitted Buddhists against minority Rohingya Muslims. Many Rohingya fled their homes, which were burned down in what they said was a deliberate attempt by the predominantly Buddhist government to drive them out of the country.

excerpts from WE HAVE NOT BEEN MOVED

excerpts from COLONIAL EXPANSION AND THE SOCIAL AND THEOLOGICAL CRISES OF RACE by Johnson
Europe’s contact with darker skinned people of the Americas and Africa caused questions for the church and legal authorities regarding the origins of humans; indeed it was perceived as a threat to biblical authority.
David Theo Goldberg notes that “Western metaphysics of evil as black and good as white is as old at least as Pythagoras.”
European Christian interactions with the Moors and Muslims (who were considered “non-Christian infidels”) throughout the Middle Ages (400-1400 CE) started to shape anti-black sentiments of non-Christians.
Race was not a category of durable inequality prior to colonial contact.

 However, when colonial contact does occur, here’s what Johnson says that really caught me:

One of the salient markers of the fifteenth and sixteenth century Europe is an obsession with how the origins and causes of dark skin can be reconciled with the belief every human is a descendant of the original parents found in the biblical narrative of Creation. This then is the biblical crisis: if human beings evolved from one set of parents, how can the reality of people with different skin tones be explained?

…European Christians believed themselves to be the overseers of Creation. This was the environment in which Columbus made his decisions to leave and exploit the paradise of the Orient and then mistakenly landed in the Americas.

To review briefly, the theological crisis of genesis raised by colonial expansion called into question is the very foundation of European Christianity. If not everyone was a child of Adam and Eve who were they? If monogenesis was not true than the tenets parents, were they saved? Rooted in notions of being the chosen people and having been given dominion over creation, the European church-states initiated the creation of white superiority based on skin color and purity/goodness.

what I really liked about this section of his analyzing whiteness and white supremacy, is that he went through history/religious history to help explain what thwarted racial superiority, especially during colonialism.

Despite the fact that most African Americans and a rising percentage of Africans are Christian (or one of the many sects of Christianity), we forget Why. But also what negative impact it’s had upon people of color. Reasons why I also don’t condone following religion so strongly, when it has created negatively more issues than not.

It’s quite evident in literature, history, how seemingly “primitive” cultures made up of colored folk were seen lesser than, less humane.

Though this is not a common thought (unless we’re talkin KKK), thank goodness, otherwise one cannot help but look at the damage religious thought aided in racial discrimination.

Here’s my thing, why follow a religion that has done more damage than help since the moment Western European cultures clashed with the Romans and Greeks, than Asia, then the Americas, then Africa?

Thoughts? 

Is religion good or evil?

a look at religion…

Q: What is the African-American tradition called “hoodoo,” and what role did magic play in the lives of Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey and other black leaders?

Mitch: The entire idea of Africa as a cradle of world civilization – today very popular, but was once very marginal – This idea began to enter the American mindset through the migration of African magical and esoteric ideas to the New World. By the early 20th century, the African-American magical system called hoodoo (often confused with the related but very different Afro-Caribbean religion of Voodoo) produceda literature and a spiritual counter-culture that challenged the West’s misconception that Africa lacked a deep mythological past. African traditions later gained a voice in America through the work of figures like Marcus Garvey and Alex Haley. But it was the magical system of hoodoo that first awakened the nation, or at least parts of it, to African culture. In his classic memoirs, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass described the assistance he received from a trusted “root worker” – or a hoodoo medicine man – when Douglass was a teenage slave. This relationship has been largely overlooked, with many readers or critics probably unaware of what Douglass was even describing when he referenced “magic roots.” A few generations later,Marcus Garvey not only helped call attention to African religious and cultural traditions but himself embraced American “mind power” metaphysics – or what we sometimes call “the power of positive thinking” – as a means to black political liberation. Mind-power metaphysics formed an unseen pillar of Garvey’s philosophy, and came to influence the Nation of Islam and other Black nationalist groups. This is one of the many ways in which political and magical movements intersected in America.

Reference: Horowitz, M (2009) Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation, Bantam. ISBN-10: 0553806750

post from PoeticIslam:

Gender Segregation at UCL: A plea for Muslim womens’ rights

This post is for all of you out there: everyone can learn something from this. Whether you be an advocate for human rights or female rights. Whether you are an advocate for justice. Whether you are interested in deepening your understanding on the current media, and how events and ideas can easily be distorted and misrepresented within it.

On Saturday the 9th of March, I attended an event at University College London discussing Islam and Atheism, and an incident occurred before the event with one of the speakers, Professor Lawrence Krauss. In the article below, one female who attended the event like myself gives her side of the story-which unfortunately is not being acknowledged by the mainstream media. It’s an important read and really highlights clearly what happened, as well as giving the reader another outlook. Please read and share:

Gender Segregation at UCL

University College London recently hosted a debate titled “Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?” featuring Professor Lawrence Krauss, an eminent atheist, and Hamza Andreas Tzortzis, a lecturer on Islam. During the debate, a minor incident occured pertaining to the seating arrangements which has since been bizzarely inflated. At the beginning of the debate the Professor made a huge spectacle concerning the way a section of the audience was segregated. The auditorium had a mixed gender section, a male section and a female section. This was not enforced and was done to cater for everyone’s social etiquettes.

On the 11th of March UCL released a statement saying that they will not allow the Islamic Education and Research Academy to hold any events on their premises. This is a highly disappointing response from such a prominent university. ‘Equal opportunities’ was cited as the reason for this decision. Hence this begs the question: why have the rights of the women involved not been taken into account? Especially since this decision violates a woman’s right to conscientiously-held beliefs.

It is no secret that there exists a Western assumption that Muslim women are subjugated or oppressed and therefore in need of liberation. Ironically in this situation, the perennial excuse of ‘liberating Muslim women’ surfaced, when it was in fact the Muslim women themselves who requested separate seating arrangements. The definition of oppression is to exercise control over another person - which is exactly what Professor Krauss did when he forced the women to sit beside men when they did not want to!  So who is the real oppressor here? A quote from Malcom X comes to mind:

“If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing”.

Furthermore, I would like to point out that enforced segregation is completely different to reserving an area to make some participants feel more comfortable, which is what the organisation did. If someone would like to sit separately out of choice, why should this not be allowed? As a woman, I choose not to mix freely with men and this should be respected. It is very disappointing that people have not questioned this, and rather than ridicule Professor Krauss for his misogynistic behaviour, they have penalised iERA, an organisation that stood up for the women’s rights.

Professor Krauss has called upon his companion Richard Dawkins to write an article when he did not even attend the event, and had practically no knowledge of the event itself. An article that cannot be considered reliable has been published over numerous websites which shows that as long as you publicise something well, you don’t necessarily have to have the facts. One can’t help but wonder if this whole fiasco was created intentionally.

As someone who did attend the debate, I can tell you that Professor Krauss gave a very disappointing performance. When someone agrees to a debate on whether Islam is the correct way of life, wouldn’t you think that he would have read at least some books about Islam? He was asked during the debate whether or not he has read even one book on Shariah Law, he said that he had not. As a world renowned academic we expected more from him. We can all appreciate that if you are going to give a good intellectual argument then you would need to have knowledge on both subjects. This to me shows arrogance from his side. Hamza Tzortzis came fully prepared for the debate, even referencing from Professor Krauss’s own book, which meant that he came to the debate with knowledge and integrity. This does make you question how someone with so little knowledge on one of the major religions in the world, can have such a strong opposing view.

It is a common ploy to use a fabricated scandal to cover something up in order to divert people’s attention away from the real problems. In my opinion, this is what has happened here. When a world renowned academic, someone who is held in high-esteem by many, endorses a practise such as incest, yet people choose to focus on a trivial matter such as segregation, you know that there is something wrong.”

-Umm Sumayya

via PoeticIslam

Post Black How a New Generation is Redefining African America Identity By Ytasha L. Womack

So for my thesis I’ve picked up a lot of books about Black Power, Afrocentricity, Blackness, the state of Blackness today in the media, society, feminism etc.

Womack’s book is very short but to the point with many of the topics she goes over. I’ll be posting notes that I’ve collected. 

One of the topics she’s gone over is Spirituality. Personally I am not affiliated with any religion but I do consider myself to be spiritual. I grew up muslim (not Nation of Islam Muslim but traditional Moroccan Muslim), I’ve read a bit of the Bible, from Buddhist scriptures, Thich Naht Hanh, Hinduism, the magic of the universe, shamanism etc. 

I remember when I was a kid during Christmas we would go visit family friends who celebrated Kwanzaa and they would have so many colors on, the house would smell of incense and food and it was beautiful. Others that I know who aren’t exactly religious have an ankh tattooed on their body or somewhere in their house, the eye of Horus and other Egyptian symbols which I feel like is a symbol of empowerment because the Egyptians were very intelligent. One of my closest friends is a buddhist but she’s the only one I know of, I’ve never seen a black Hindu or Taoist etc.

Where I stand as far as Christianity is…I see it as an oppression as it was in slavery. I still see it for being a confusing, confining, White religion that was forced upon us. So when I see so many black Christians I cringe a little bit. I want to tell them, “Do you know that they got rid of our OLD, ORIGINAL religion and replaced that greatness with a white man in a robe who can turn water to wine, just to control you?” But hey at the end of the day I respect what you believe in as long as you’re comfortable with it.

But Womack makes a great point in her passage about Spirituality, without Christianity the civil rights movement would’ve gone differently. SCLC is where Martin Luther King Jr began. Anyway to her notes!

SPIRITUALITY:

Watching the news or even reading black publications you’d think all African Americans were fundamentalist Christians. If you’re not a fundamentalist Christian or in the Nation of Islam, as far as black religious identity goes, you probably don’t exist. It’s safe to say that most African Americans have parents and grandparents who emerged out of the traditional black church culture…
Traditionally the church had served as both the primary place for spiritual upliftment and one of the few places where African Americans could be empowered personally and politically…
While the Christian religion was a tool used to control and justify the transatlantic slave trade, its spiritual core freed people from it. During the civil rights movement, the church served as that spiritual heart behind nonviolent protests…
Spirituality has played a prominent role in people’s growing disinterest in being controlled by institutions.
(Comments on African religions/traditions from Mariahdessa Ekere Talli):
The Yoruba religion celebrates one god, and the orishas are nature-based aspects of that god. Homage to ancestors is a major component of the practice…the way African traditional religions are misrepresented in the media, “They act like we’re just killing chickens and there’s all this insanity going on. There’s a prejudice against anything African and African spirituality. It’s fear. Even black folks don’t get it.”

 This I can also agree with, when watching movies about Voodooism or any sort of African religion it involves the killing of a goat or violence, it looks like dark/black magic. But I think it’s a tactic, Black folk wouldn’t want to return to the old religion if it’s nothing but chicken killing, insane dancing, seemingly primitive religion. Ah how we are confined…

Stay tuned for more notes from her book!

-yazzy

America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.

Malcolm X

the interesting thing about this quote…is he was right. In Islam race in fact they don’t use pictures/images to represent Allah, the prophets etc. It is just not an issue…but if you look at the images of Jesus and the prophets etc, they’re mainly white however where all of those adventures mentioned in the bible took place, had brown skinned people. Brown guese. Brown.

Black Christian Voters: Get Over It

I discussed the issue on twitter with a friend of mine about how black folk-especially religious black folk (not even then my parents who aren’t exactly religious don’t condone homosexuality) are very homophobic. So when Obama stated his support for same sex marriage I’m pretty sure some of their heads flipped. But he’s right; either way, denying same sex marriage is Discrimination regardless of whether or not your support that lifestyle. It’s not fair to Discriminate against someone because they love differently.

When I watched President Obama speaking to ABC’s Robin Roberts about his position on same-sex marriage, I didn’t think about it being another moment in history so much as I thought of another historic figure: Bayard Rustin.

Rustin, who died in 1987, is remembered as the principal organizer of the March on Washington in 1963. As one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s closest lieutenants, he was one of the primary architects of the civil rights movement, even said to have introduced King to Gandhi’s nonviolent-protest philosophies.

But he was also openly gay at a time when the very concept was largely unmentionable. It was all he could do to pursue human rights for African Americans who suffered oppressive discrimination in America, let alone ask for the same rights for people who loved the same gender.

The reaction of the black body politic of the time to men like Rustin, despite what he stood for, wasn’t necessarily tarring and feathering, or even outing him. (There were, however, instances where he had totake less-public positions in various campaigns.) Instead, for some black folks of the civil rights years, guided and influenced by the church, there was a de facto “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

For them, being gay was defined biblically as sin, an abomination. So the best response often was just to shut up about it. Listen to the preacher as he railed against homosexuality (even if he was in the closet himself), and hide behind a clergy-sanctioned veil of secrecy.

But this cultural behavior did not benefit anyone but authors and publishing houses (see J.L. King), because that attitude only served to spawn closeted gay men and women living double lives, the so-called down-low. Eventually it made us afraid to talk about HIV/AIDS, which so far has killed 240,627 blacks in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest figures.

Enter President Obama. Whether he was forced to say something by Vice President Joe Biden’s pronouncement supporting same-sex marriage, whether it was a political ploy or whether he really did the soul-searching he spoke about to come to the conclusion that gay people should be able to marry, his speaking out placed the issue squarely in the faces of African Americans, and it is making us address this whole thing….

This is because African Americans — 96 percent of whom supported President Obama in the 2008 election, but 41 percent of whom are against same-sex marriage — now seem to be presented with a decision: Either continue to support the president and find a way to get past this political issue, or continue to listen to people in our communities, in our churches and in our families who remain focused on gay people as if they were some major ailment for the black community.

Will black Christian voters stick with President Obama, trusting him to steward the country through four more years, as the sluggish but sure economic recovery hits its stride and as the wars that have turned the world’s view of America largely negative start to subside? Or will they decide that President Obama has betrayed their religious instruction — something they’ve been taught most of their lives about homosexuality — and either stay home on Election Day or vote for his presumptive opponent, Mitt Romney? The GOP front-runner has maintained that marriage should be exclusive to people of the opposite sex, and may well do the bidding of what could turn into a right-wing, Republican-controlled Congress.

I can break it down for you. Black people have much, much bigger fish to fry than what two adults do in their own private time or how they choose to spend their lives. Up to 10 percent of young blacks drop out of high school, rendering them largely unable to take advantage of a skilled-worker- and technology-oriented U.S. job market. Meanwhile, black males have a 1-in-3 chance of doing prison time at some point during their lives.

At the same time, we have disproportionately high numbers in far too many negative health statistics, ranging from diabetes to HIV/AIDS to heart disease to gunshots (pdf), which remain the leading cause of death among black adolescents.

So after all this, are we willing to let what people do in their bedrooms influence what we do at the polls? Whatever issue we may have concerning homosexuality is something for us to get over. We should focus instead on the healing that our communities desperately need.

Preventing gay people from getting married is not going to keep a kid in school. It is not going to stop people from using emergency rooms as clinics. It is not going to prevent two young rivals from shooting each other over a dirty look.

President Obama, in essence, has sent this message to African Americans. We can devote our energies to what churches have been preaching about same-sex marriage, or we can focus on solutions. I think Bayard Rustin would partner with Martin Luther King on the solutions part. But that’s what they would have done 50 years ago. The choice today is yours.”

VODOUN; A History of Religious Persecution and Suppression

Contrary to popular belief, the Africans enslaved to build the economic foundation of America were not Christians.1 During slavery, African-Americans were not even allowed to worship as westernized Christians. Later, during Reconstruction, the myth that the majority of “free” Africans were devout Christians, was merely a political ploy deliberately disseminated in popular media by white Abolitionists, and black preachers, as an argument against slavery; in their naive attempt to present the enslaved masses as “civilized,” and therefore  “human.”  The latter being embarrassed and ashamed by the African religious practices which were deemed  “evil” and primitive. 2  This myth has remained unchallenged until the present.

In truth, the builders of this great nation were practitioners of the various African Religions popularly known today as "Voodoo", (Vodoun) Akan, Ifa, Orisha, La Reglas de Congo, and Mami Wata. A small percentage were even (African-styled) Muslims3,

incorporating the ancient matriarchal practices of pre-Arabic Islam, to include ancestral veneration and honor of the family deities into their ritual practices.Vodoun houses were established in many free Black townships headed by great healers in the African spiritual arts…The Vodoun religion in the U.S. pre-dates Haitian influence. Vodoun is actually estimated to have existed for more than 10,000+ years, having its ancient roots in Egypt, East Africa and in ancient Afro-matrilineal Ionia (later known as "Greece") where the African, Queen mothers established their powerful temples and theocratic empires. These black, African empires reigned for more than 4,000 years before the Dorian (white) Greek invaders, whom western revisionist (“historians”) now credit with their ancient history. The Vodoun religion was also one of the major religions practiced all throughout the ancient world…

 

Interestingly enough, many West Africans with an extensive history of pre-Christian Talmudic (biblical) ritual knowledge and practice, even arrived in the Americas highly familiar with their own pre-Christian tales of the legend of “Moses” .6 They were not familiar with him as the Christianized Moses who led the Jews to the promised land, but rather as “the great conjurer,” in which he was revered and celebrated for centuries as the “bringer of the law.” This lore is merely a remnant of the legends popularized during the reign of the black matriarchal empires whose sacred theology, rule and culture dominated the ancient world (Ionia, [Greece], Egypt, Asia Minor, Mycenae, Crete, Thessalonica, East Africa, and North India), for more than 6,000 years…

It was this latter ritual of African Religious practice, that incited the most fear and hatred in the hearts and minds of the slave owners, and American White citizenry. The slave owners learned only too well of the efficacy of its power.

This was so because “Voodoo’s” (Vodoun) philosophical structure, and its ritual and cultural manifestation, emphasized the warrior gods who sustained and directly aided the Africans in their long struggle toward freedom. It was in this respect that the priesthood weld considerable power as they did in Africa.”

 

 

 

There are other elements peculiar to the Nigritian [Negro] on which the disease called negro consumption, or Cachexia Africana, depends. But these belong to that class which subject the negro to the white man’s spiritual empire over him. When that spiritual empire is not maintained in all its entirety, … he is apt to fall under the spiritual influence of the artful and designing of his own color… Better throw medicine to the dogs, than give it to a negro patient impressed with the belief that he has walked over poison specially laid for him, or has been in some other way tricked or conjured.
(p. 723-724)” Elliott, L.L.D. “Pro-Slavery Arguments” (Augusta: Pritchard, Abbot & Loomis, 1860).
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