Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Review: The Great Influenza by John M Barry

John M. Barry´s list of works in shows that he is able to make a popular, general audience book about topics that academic historians might write articles and monographs the general public would avoid, like the way Ken Burns does with PBS films.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Both Believer and Infidel-Herman Melville

And how nobly it raises our conceit of the mighty, misty monster, to behold him solemnly sailing through a calm tropical sea; his vast, mild head overhung by a canopy of vapor, engendered by his incommunicable contemplations, and that vapor - as you will sometimes see it - glorified by a rainbow, as if Heaven itself had put its seal upon his thoughts. For, d'ye see, rainbows do not visit the clear air; they only irradiate vapor. And so, through all the thick mists of the dim doubts in my mind, divine intuitions now and then shoot, enkindling my fog with a heavenly ray. And for this I thank God; for all have doubts; many deny; but doubts or denials, few along with them, have intuitions. Doubts of all things earthly, and intuitions of some things heavenly; this combination makes neither believer nor infidel, but makes a man who regards them both with equal eye.
This amazing passage appears at the end of Chapter 85 of Moby Dick, entitled "The Fountain." It's a (surprise!) lengthy speculation on the breathing apparatus of the sperm whale. And just when you're wondering why you are reading it, you get this wonderful insight from the author, Herman Melville.

Here's an earlier blog entry I did with a Moby Dick quote.

2013-12-25: The Lettered Wayfarer posted a quote from Moby Dick with a thoughtful introduction.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

O God! by Mehdi Alavi

O God! by Mehdi Alavi

I reviewed this one in 2001. I've started to add my reviews to, and then I discovered a review I wrote in 2001. Eek!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Labyrinths by Ayman Fanous and Tomas Ulrich

Dr. Ayman Fanous attended University of Virginia with me in the early 1990s. In addition to being a genuine human being, a gad'a, an ibn nas, he was an accomplished musician and played the `uud in various venues.

He has been able to continue making music, and I was fortunate enough to get his latest album. Lately, he has been combining his classical guitar with Tomas Ulrich's cello. The latest CD is entitled Labyrinths, and its out on konnex records, I purchased my copy from

Free the P

Free the P is a compilation of hip hop and spoken word performances to renew the spirit of resistance and self-evaluation for all activists for justice. There are two songs with a lot of Arabic lyrics, and the remainder use English. There are some "Eastern" musical features, but most of the artists' sounds are familiar to North American hip hop fans.

The bottom line for me is that the CD kept my interest, raised my pulse and kept the car moving.

A warning. There is some profanity and some use of the N-word. Immortal Technique's song "The 4th Branch" is an example of this.

It can be purchased from

Dissonance and Harmony: Arabic Music Goes West

Dissonance and Harmony: Arabic Music Goes West was broadcast on Georgia Public Television November 2. Catch it on your local station. It is not available on the PBS site.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Herman Melville-Philosophers Have a Broken Digester

From the Princeton full-text version of Moby Dick by Herman Melville.
But, perhaps, to be true philosophers, we mortals should not be conscious of so living or so striving. So soon as I hear that such or such a man gives himself out for a philosopher, I conclude that, like the dyspeptic old woman, he must have "broken his digester."
I added another Moby Dick quote in a later blog entry.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Amnesty International Report on Women

Amnesty International has released a report entitled "Egypt: Women Targeted by Association." A local Amnesty International member requested that I translated some letters to Gihan Ibrahim Abdelhamid, the longest-held female administrative detainee in Egypt, into Arabic. I've attached them to this blog entry in case you wanted to use them yourself. The report does not include instructions on how to send the letters, but in sha Allah I'll get that information and updated the blog entry.

Arabic religious letter (MS Word, TIF)
Arabic secular letter (MS Word, TIF)
English religious letter
English secular letter

Update April 20, 2011

Monday, September 29, 2008

Film: War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death

Film: War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, produced by The Media Education Foundation and narrated by Sean Penn, is a 72-minute documentary documenting how mainstream media, contrary to right-wing commentators, generally supports U.S. militarism. The documentary shows how long it took for U.S. media outlets to begin to question the government's narrative in Vietnam. Of course, the situation with regards to the 2nd Iraq war is much worse. Watch it and feel your righteous rage!

Film: No End in Sight: Iraq's Descent into Chaos

No End in Sight: Iraq's Descent into Chaos, the Inside Story from the Ultimate Insiders is a 102-minute documentary detailing the errors (deliberate sabotage?) the U.S. did in Iraq from the beginning of its occupation in 2003 until the film's end in 2007. A great summary for those who have not been following this crime from the beginning.

Film: The Fog of War by Errol Morris

The Fog of War, by Errol Morris, is a series of interviews and commentary with Robert S. McNamara. published a review which best explains the value of this film-that even a person at the center of the U.S. wars of imperialism and the brutality of modern warfare can remain lost in the fog some 40 years later.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Review: Haleem & Kaleem's Eid Gifts by Fawzia Gilani

Haleem & Kaleem's Eid Gifts (ISBN 978-983-065-253-5) by Fawzia Gilani and illustrated by Muslimah Williams. Published by A.S. Noordeen, Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. First published 2008.

The author sent me the copy I read, so I cannot comment on purchasing from the Halalco book site, although I believe I've made successful purchases from it in the past.

The story is engaging, the morality is simple and important and the illustrations are attractive. The book meets my criteria for Muslim children's media.

Review: Ismat's Eid by Fawzia Gilani-Williams

Ismat's Eid (ISBN 978-81-8146-405-7) by Fawzia Gilani-Williams and illustrated by Proiti Roy. It is published by Tulika Publishers, Chennai, India.

I read it in English, but it is also available in Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati and Bangla. The author sent me the copy I read, so I cannot comment on purchasing from the Tulika web site. As of September 22, 2008, I did not find it at or

I like this story a lot. It celebrates Eid, it shows Muslims hard at work, and it shows a Muslim family performing kind deeds for each other and laughing together. The illustrations are excellent as well.

Although I've never seen this before and I have no idea how helpful this is, the book is rated for listening to by children four years and older and for reading by children six years and older.

Film: A Garden in Cairo

The United States public TV show e2 opened its third season with an excellent episode entitled "A Garden in Cairo" about the Aga Khan Foundation project to establish the Azhar Park in Cairo, Egypt and the impact of the project on the surrounding neighborhoods.

Film: Rumi Returning

Rumi Returning is a wonderful documentary about Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi's life, focusing on the historical events and places which provided the context for his example and his writings, rahmat allah alayhi.

I saw it on United States public TV.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Review: Film "Seniors for Peace" by David L. Brown

David L. Brown produced and directed the film "Seniors for Peace: A Portrait of Extraordinary Senior Peace Activists." This film contains footage from 2003 and 2004 and was broadcast on United States public television.

This 27 minute documentary is extraordinary because the elderly interviewed have so many important life experiences and have such deep outrage towards the war in Iraq. Seeing it should inspire people young and old to become more active in their opposition to war in general and this occupation of Iraq in particular.

I purchased it from the web site with no problem.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Review: Ayaan Hirsi Ali "Infidel"

Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Infidel. Free Press: New York; 2007.

I read this book at the request of a friend. I honestly had a lot of hostility towards the author, partly because interviews I heard or read in which she, in my opinion, presented her distorted ideas of Islam, partly because I thought she was a tool of neo-conservative warmongers, and mostly because I was sick of johnny-come-lately, new-kid-in-town pundits feeding crap to ignorant U.S. citizens. I waited until the book became available at the public library, and I still ignored it for several weeks, accumulating fines, until I’m just now reading it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Review: CDs-Foundations of the Deen

Foundations of the Deen: Islam, Iman, & Ihsan by Zaid Shakir and Abdullah Ali.

This is a 5-CD set from the Zaytuna Institute which cover the topics mentioned in the hadith of Jibril, islam, iman and ihsan.

The speakers did a good job of balancing a scholarly treatment of the topic with an engaging mix of beneficial sidetracks.

The sound quality was good. My purchase was without difficulty and the item arrived quickly.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Film: Can We Talk About God? Devotion and Extremism in the Modern Age

This DVD, entitled "Can We Talk About God?: Devotion & Extremism in the Modern Age," consists of two talks by Zaid Shakir and Roger Scruton and their participation in a Q&A with the moderator and some audience questions.

I was disappointed in this DVD because the participants did not really address each other's concerns adequately due to the differences between the United Kingdom's experience with religion and that of the United States. When Scruton described the orthodoxy of agnosticism and atheism among U.K intellectuals, the experience of Zaid Shakir taught him that religious people, acting out of conviction that God forbade injustice, improved the United States by lifting government support of racial and other forms of discrimination. Many of the Muslim dysfunctions of Europe are not widespread here, and hence we U.S. Muslims can't understand European intellectuals' anti-religious impulses.

Moreover, Zaid Shakir did not address Roger Scruton's concerns that committed Muslims could accept legal and social structures in conflict with Islam except by saying that these Muslims always had the option of leaving and that most Muslims in the U.S. did not care about these things anyways. So Imam Zaid did not address why a devoted Muslim would continue to participate in a society which forbids polygyny, allows same-sex marriage, handles divorce in a different way than Muslim jurists recommend, etc. At the same time, I don't think Professor Scruton had enough background in Islamic sciences to be able to understand an Ash`ari theological defense or a juristic defense of Muslim accommodation to liberalism.

Imam Zaid did make an excellent point that the bigger problem is society's prejudice against religous behavior even when it does not conflict with civil law. If the anti-religious claim that they are fighting religion to preserve human rights and scientific progress, then why are they also against manifestations of religion that have nothing to do with either?

Both speakers maintained a high and civil level of discourse.

I'd recommend that people read The True, the Good and the Reasonable: The Theological and Ethical Roots of Public Reason in Islamic Law by Mohammad Fadel. It is a much better treatment of how a devoted Muslim could live in a liberal society.

I purchased the DVD from the link at the beginning of the blog entry. I had no problems with the transaction or delivery.

Film: Jerusalem, the East Side Story

Jerusalem: The East Side Story is a 57-minute documentary film by Mohammed Alatar. Those familiar with the history of Palestine will be bored by the first 10 minutes, which consist of a History Channel type narrative of the partition, the 1947-8 war and the 1967 war. But the rest of the documentary is extremely informative in its description of the tremendous excercise of control the Isreali government excercises over its non-Jewish subjects in Jerusalem. Despite the inhumane and oppressive policies, the non-Jews of Jerusalem still grow at a faster rate than the Jews in Jerusalem. This documentary exposes many of the contradictions of a government promoting a single religious identity as the basis for citizenship and not recognizing the indigenous people with different religious identities.

I purchased the DVD from the official web site, and it arrived in a timely manner.

Review: I am a Muslim-Shekh Abubaker Najaar

I am a Muslim by Sheikh Abubaker Najaar (Part 1 & Part 2)
Part 1 was originally published in 1962. Part 2 was originally published in 1978. This volume includes the 6th edition of part 1 and the 2nd edition of part 2. Publisher Formeset Printers. ISBN: 0958395616

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Film: USA v al-Arian

Just purchased the DVD of USA vs. Al-Arian from DaWorks. I've also got a copy of Shackled Dreams and Conspiring against Joseph. In sha Allah, reviews coming soon.

I wrote the above September 9, 2008. I just watched the film today, November 5, 2008.

I'm not sure how to react to the film. It's well done and well-edited as a documentary. There is a quality animation effect used to portray important courtroom scenes. All of the elements of the case through October 2006 are included, including the despicable sentence of Judge James Moody of Professor Sami to 57-months in jail (minus time served) despite a prosecution recommendation that Professor Sami be released based on time served. There are extensive sound bytes from the federal prosecutor, Walter E. Furr, whom I also come to dislike intensely by the end of the documentary.

I think the documentary gives too much time to Furr and not enough time to explaining why the plea bargain to which Professor Sami agreed was the result of extreme government coercion and deception. What's the point of asking a federal prosecutor if justice was done? In any prosecutor's opinion, the harsher the sentence, the more just the outcome.

Having said this, the film does do a good job of portraying Professor Sami's family as normal people and the tremendous pain the government inflicted on them. And perhaps the film needs to be low-key in order to take the message to those who have not followed the case closely.

In any event, the film's new North American distributor is Kudos Family. When I called, Ms. Klara Grunning-Harris of Kudos Family informed me that they hoped it would be available in NTSC format before the Christmas holidays, 2008. If you can play it in PAL, it is still available from DaWorks.

I've not yet watched the special features. In sha Allah, an update when I finish that. Remember, visit to get the latest information on the case and to help him out.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Film: Mesalla: Activists in Iraq

LaOnf is an Iraqi organization working to promote non-violence in Iraq. September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows is promoting screenings of the film in the United States.

As far as I know, the film has not been released for distribution in the United States. I believe its production company is Doble Banda, a Spanish company.

There are some videos on about the actions of LaOnf.

There is also a YouTube video:

I have not seen the movie. There are at least two values I hope this movie can convey. The first is Iraqis' agency. The second is my hope to learn more about the acceptance among us Muslims of nonviolent resistance. This latter goal is a big topic, so I'm not going to discuss it in this post.

And before I forget, there is a channel on YouTube entitled Nonviolence in the Middle East.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Film: Shame by Mohammed Ali Naqvi

The film "Shame" by Mohammed Ali Naqvi is scheduled for screening at the Imperial Theater in Augusta, GA as part of the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. I'm looking forwarding to meeting Mohammed Ali Naqvi and watching the film. Afterwards, in sha Allah, I'll update the blog entry.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sister Ellen Francis of the Order of Saint Helena, in Augusta, GA!

Knowing that I live in a relative backwater of the world, I am quite happy to report that Augusta, GA, USA is now the home of Sister Ellen Francis of the Order of Saint Helena and a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. I look forward to her helping Augusta become a better place to live, and I hope I can learn a lot from her.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Georgia Tax Credit Program for Private Schools Deserves Attention from Muslims and Other Religious Minorities

The Augusta Chronicle's article of August 4, 2008 entitled "Tax credit program helps open private school doors" alerted me to an important development in Georgia to which Muslims should pay attention. From what I understand, taxpayers in Georgia can decide to allocate a portion of his or her state taxes to go to a Student Scholarship Organization (SSO) rather than to the state. The amount of taxes, however, is still the same.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Aslam Abdullah-Living with the Crimes of Individual Muslims

The editor of The Muslim Observer wrote an important piece that highlights the necessity of improving the standards of operations of Muslim institutions. While individual Muslims cannot be prevented from these actions, wherever possible Muslim institutions must not support the perpetrators and must support the victims.

Film: Uzair by Hena Ashraf

Updated March 13, 2015: The full film is now available for free online.
Uzair from Hena Ashraf on Vimeo.

The Muslim Observer (Volume 10, Issue 30, July 18-24, 2008) reviewed a short film by Hena Ashraf entitled Uzair.

I've received a copy, and I'm writing this after watching it once. It is the first fictional movie piece I've reviewed on this blog.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Taskheel Comics-The 99

Professor Faiza wrote an article about Tashkeel Comics, publisher of The 99, in the June 11, 2008 Washington Post, p. A14. I have subscribed to both the Arabic and English versions from, although there is now a North American distributor for the English print version.

In sha Allah, I'll get a chance to read them soon!

Washington Post Article about Blood-Money in Saudi Arabia

Faiza Saleh Ambah, whose articles I generally recommend, wrote an informative article entitled "Saudis Face Soaring Blood-Money Sums."

I posted this comment on the Washington Post web site:
Several of the comments display a misunderstanding of the qisas ("retaliation") system prescribed by shariah. While richer criminals certainly have the means to pay larger amounts of blood money, it is the discretion of the victim's family to exact punishment, accept the money or forgive. In addition, as the article clearly states, the Saudi state can impose additional punishments, and certain types of crimes (usually attacks on public order and safety, such as the 9/11 attacks and armed robbery) are not subject to the qisas system and are instead crimes which the government is responsible for handling.

There are always flaws in any system of criminal justice because human beings who implement them are flawed. As the article discusses, some people in Saudi Arabia are comparing the blood money amounts among tribes and lineages in a type of “competing with the Jones” way.

I think one positive feature of the qisas system is that the victim's family has more say in the disposal of the case. I know a friend in Knoxville who was tormented by the return of his brother’s murderer from prison to live on his same street. Perhaps if his family had gone through the process of deciding the murderer’s fate, then he would not have this continued pain. I don’t know.

It would be interesting if there were any studies comparing the psychological and social "outcomes" of criminal justice for victims of crimes in different countries.

Washington Post Article About Muslim Women in France, Indicators of Piety

Good article in the Washington Post about Muslim women in France.

I hope the author would reconsider the following passage:
Most French Muslims are hardly pious practitioners of their faith. A 2006 survey by the CSA polling agency found that although nearly nine in 10 Muslims observe the holy month of Ramadan, only 17 percent go to mosque regularly. Separately, the CSA poll found that 91 percent approved of equality between the sexes.
Although I'd agree that observance of the fast of Ramadan is an indicator of Muslim piety, neither mosque attendance nor belief in inequality between the sexes is an indicator of Muslim piety.

Of course, I have never lived in France, and the religious environment in the United States is no doubt different.

From Idaho to Iran-Idaho Public Television Video

I originally wrote:
A heartening short video about an Iranian advocate for protecting the Caspian Sea, Hamid Amirebrahimi, talks about the efforts which lead to the Caspian Sea Programme.

The video was produced by Marcia Franklin, the producer of the hour-length Idaho Public TV documentary From Idaho to Iran, which can be purchased on DVD.
I've purchased the DVD, it arrived, and I've watched it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bravery and Honesty are the Unitarian Universalist Way

I'm reproducing here a speech I heard read at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta on Monday, July 28. I attended to express my condolences and show my support to the congregation after the shooting of church members in a Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville, TN. I found the text reproduced in a comment at the web site.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations-Hearing, United States House Judiciary Committee

On Wednesday 07/25/2008, the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held hearings under the title of Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitations. Transcripts are available now. I suspect video and/or audio will become available shortly.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández

The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández is an episode of the PBS show "P.O.V." about U.S. marines' killing of U.S. citizen Esequiel Hernández Jr in 1997 in his hometown of Redford, TX.

Recently, President George W. Bush has again deployed military forces for border duty. This documentary is emotionally compelling and timely. The people who call for a "secure border" have no idea what it would actually take to do so, and even then it would not stop the flow of drugs and workers.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wide Angle: Heart of Darfur

United States's Public Television show Wide Angle aired an episode July 1, 2008 entitled Heart of Darfur. After watching the episode, I also encourage you to check out the resources on the web site. In particular, there is a coalition of human rights groups in different Arab countries which is trying to advocate for an end to the atrocities in Darfur. I've also added the book Tears of the Desert by Halima Bashir and Damien Lewis to the Muslim Media Review wish list.

Slingshot Hip Hop-North American Screenings

Visit, a site promoting Palestinian hip hop, for more information.

OCTOBER U.S. SCREENINGS - more details coming soon
Boston Palestine Film Festival
Minneapolis Film festival
San Francisco Palestine Film Festival
Los Angeles Palestine Film Festival
Arabian Sights, Washington DC

RIDM - Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal
November 13-23
Montreal, Canada

November 13-23
Denver, Colorado

Human Rights Watch Report on Abuse of Domestic Labor in Saudi Arabia

The summary of the report "Saudi Arabia: Domestic Workers Face Harsh Abuses" has been translated into several languages. This reading is not for the faint of heart.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Muslim Charity Health Clinics in the United States

This is 10-minute segment about free health care clinics established by Muslims in the United States. It focuses on a clinic in Montgomery County, Maryland, USA.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

MLK Quote: Are our Religious Institutions Social Clubs?

From the sermon "The Drum Major Instinct":

And the church is the one place where a doctor ought to forget that he's a doctor. The church is the one place where a Ph.D. ought to forget that he's a Ph.D. (Yes) The church is the one place that the school teacher ought to forget the degree she has behind her name. The church is the one place where the lawyer ought to forget that he's a lawyer. And any church that violates the "whosoever will, let him come" doctrine is a dead, cold church, (Yes) and nothing but a little social club with a thin veneer of religiosity.

MLK Quote: Time Doesn't Necessarily Lead to Progress

From the sermon "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution"

Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God. And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. So we must help time and realize that the time is always ripe to do right.

Comments on Georgia Social Studies Curricula for 6th and 7th Grade

The failure of 70-80% of Georgia 6th and 7th graders to pass their social studies exams in the spring of 2008 has caused the state of Georgia to rewrite its standards. Without commenting on the overuse of standardized tests in today's public schools, I was curious to see what these standards were, and I felt strongly enough about a couple issues to pass on some comments which I'm including in this blog post. Access the draft curricula at

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Testimony of Jonathan Rowe: "Our Phony Economy"

The text of Jonathan Rowe's testimony of March 12, 2008 before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Subcomittee on Interstate Commerce is reproduced in Harper's Magazine, June 2008. The author explains why Gross Domestic Product is an inadequate measure of the nation's economic strength. Katharine G. Abraham, Professor of Survey Methodology, University of Maryland, also testified at this hearing.

Thanks to my cousin Wael Fadel for pointing me towards this topic!

Review: Graphic Novel: Arab in America, by Toufic El Rassi

Toufic El Rassi's Arab in America (ISBN-13: 978-0-86719-697-3, 117 pp, 2007) is an autobiographical graphic novel about growing up and maturing as an Arab in suburban Chicago. It is published by Last Gasp Books. I also saw it being sold at Copacetic Comics and Things From Another World. The lowest price I found was at A friend of mine from Chicago sent me the volume, so I did not purchase it from any of these vendors.

I read this volume in one sitting, which to me is the most important litmus test about the authenticity of this book. I began to think about the memorable moments in my life:

  1. When do you realize you are different? (1st day in 2nd grade at new school in suburban Augusta, GA: are you black or white? Let's fight! Alhamduillah, I was the biggest kid in my grade, and I had a good mean streak as well.)
  2. When do you see your parents unable to defend themselves against an unjust attack based on their religion or ethnicity? (I can't share this, but I remember that time very well.)
  3. When did you fail to defend someone else who was attacked for his/her appearing to be of an unwanted group? (In Augusta, GA, I would not have had any problem knowing what "nigger" meant, as oppposed to Toufic and his little brother.)
  4. When did an authority figure (teacher, policeman, airport official) single you out for harsh treatment? (Detroit airport, 1994, only passenger whose luggage was searched by customs on a flight returning from Amsterdam(?)).
  5. When did co-workers or bosses discriminate against you? (This one you suspect, but you can almost never prove!)

The graphic novel has similar scenes from the life of Ustaz Toufic.

Ustaz Toufic's discussion of his friends Hamid, Laila and Ahmad is another highlight of the novel. Are our paths geniunely our own, or are we simply reacting to the pressure around us?

Another great feature of this graphic novel is that it "teaches" history to our attention-deficit disorder generation. It is a discreet bibliographic essay, introducing the reader to Amin Maalouf's book The Crusades Through Arab Eyes and William Blum's Killing Hope and Rogue State.

At the same time, Ustaz Toufic does not portray himself as perfect. He admists his weaknesses in resisting peer pressure and his sexism/temptation in dealing with women anti-war activists. So a warning to the holier-than-thou crowd: book contains profanity, some poorly drawn female flesh and portrayals of the author in non-shariah compliant positions!

I recommend the novel for its authenticity, honesty and information content.

The Young Adult Library Services Association nominated it for an award in the Great Graphic Novels for Teens category.

Ustaz Toufic was also interviewed for an upcoming documentary entitled Beard Club.

On August 14, 2008, is scheduled to begin shipping Moustafa Bayoumi's book How Does it Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America, which I think will be exploring similar issues. (Hint: It's on my wish list!)

Friday, June 06, 2008

"Dry, dead, do-nothing religion"-quote from Dr. King

From A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr (edited by Clayborne Carson and Peter Holloran). From the sermon, "Why Jesus Called a Man a Fool" (p. 147)

And any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that cripple the souls--the economic conditions that stagnate the soul--is a dry, dead, do-nothing religion in need of new blood.

The text of this sermon is available at Stanford University's Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. It's also worth it to listen to the audio clips, just to hear Dr. King's recorded voice.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Military Recruitment: Sir, No Sir

One of the ways to end this war in Iraq and prevent war in Iran is to decrease the number of enlisting U.S. soldiers. The military is obviously very concerned with recruitment, even going to the extent of cooperating with Hollywood to produce pro-military films like Iron Man.

I recently saw the DVD of the film Sir, No Sir, and it is absolutely critical for every young person considering joining the military to watch this film. The official web site is

For more information, also visit

I attended Private Ryan Jackson's court martial in Fort Gordon, GA on Friday, May 30, 2008.

A new film is being made about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For those of you with children, please visit, which will inform you about how one of the provisions of No Child Left Behind is exposing children to military recruiters and will inform you how to opt out of your child's school's military recruitment list.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Human Rights Watch-Perpetual Minors-Human Rights Abuses Stemming from Male Guardianship and Sex Segregation in Saudi Arabia

The above link is to the full report of Human Rights Watch entitled "Human Rights Watch-Perpetual Minors-Human Rights Abuses Stemming from Male Guardianship and Sex Segregation in Saudi Arabia."

Professor Rafia Zakaria commented on this report, especially focusing on how worker diaspora communities can spread these practices to other countries.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Review of Numb3rs, Season 4, Episode 18 "When Worlds Collide"

This is my third review of a TV crime drama episode (spoiler alert) which featured Muslims. After confessing that I'm a sucker for TV crime dramas, I want to highlight some features of these portrayals of Muslims. For reference's sake, my previous two reviews were of 1st season episodes of Bones and The Closer.

NPR Segment "Songs of Sadr Provide Soundtrack for Shiite Militia"

I wanted to congratulate Ivan Watson and NPR for the piece "Songs of Sadr Provide Soundtrack for Shiite Militia." The piece is sad because it shows how violence has become so pervasive in Iraq that it enters into popular song lyrics.

There is an error in the translation of one of the songs:

No terrorism or the biggest al-Qaida would stop us
If only Muqtada would point with his right finger
In the face of all takfiris [impious Muslims]
As sharp as swords we will be

"Takfiris" are Muslims who excommunicate other Muslims, thereby making their killing permissible. This is the term many Muslims use to denigrate the extreme "salafi" position which justifies killing of Shiites in Iraq and elsewhere.

Film "Muslims in Love" Just Completed

"Muslims in Love", directed by Zerina Usmen, is a 25-minute documentary discussing the situations Muslims in the U.S. face regarding marriage. The film's official web site is

The URL for the You! Tube trailer is

The film's web site has an FAQ, biographies and other useful links.

The film starts with the question, "How do you find a mate when you don't date?" The meat of the documentary is the interviews with young Muslims who describe their various experiences, some of them good and others not so good. One commonality among all those appearing in the film is the idea that love, however defined, should be a part of the marriage process or decision. More women are interviewed than men.

A friend of mine reported to me upon returning from the recent 45th Annual Islamic Society of North America convention in Columbus, OH that the session designed to promote marriage had many more young women in attendance than men. Anecdotally, I hear the same thing. I identified at least three reasons:
  1. Muslim men are incarcerated more than Muslim women.
  2. Some Muslim men marry non-Muslim women.
  3. Some Muslim men prefer to marry Muslim women who either have not achieved a lot academically or professionally or who were raised in a predominantly Muslim country.
This friend of mine also believes that this disparity of Muslim men developed in the last 10 years, and he believed that reason #3 above was the most important cause.

Some of the subjects in the film expressed these opinions as well.

The documentary balanced these complexities with the "happy" ma sha Allah la quwwata illa billah story of two who do end up getting married. The clips from their wedding party and their nascent domestic life, including a newborn, are attempts to show the happy results of the Muslim marriage process.

While this serves the idea of exposing this aspect of Muslims' lives to their non-Muslim neighbors, I fear that it may perpetuate the idea among Muslims that the worth of their lives is tied to marriage and hence some are winners and others are losers.

The single person's social life is precarious in North American society in general, and particulary so among Muslims. Is it necessary to begin creating social spaces for unmarried Muslims? For example, should Muslims develop a concept of not asking single people why they are not married and not offering to introduce them to ibn al-halal or bint al-halal? Even the idea that there are single Muslim parents escapes us. A registration form for a Sunday school might ask specifically for the father's signature, when really only the mother is in the picture.

While doing this might ease the awkwardness single Muslims may feel around other Muslims, the fact is Islam does strongly encourage marriage. I remember reading about how a performer in Nigeria would sing in front of a bachelor's house, mocking him for not being married.

Alternatively, there should be a serious discussion of why people who do want to get married don't get married. If Muslim men don't measure up, as most of the subjects implied, then there should be a systemic reason why they are inadequate. Is it because their mothers spoil them? Is it because their understanding of Islam causes them to behave badly to their prospective spouses?

One thing I noticed among the Muslim women who discussed their situation was a lack of introspection in their comments about marriage. Now this is probably putting on a brave face for the camera, but there should at least be some entertaining the possiblity that something is driving Muslim men away from Muslim women who grew up in North America.

The discussion of a recent woman convert's situation is good. Her situation combines many difficulties.

I hope that this project can be expanded to cover parents' reactions to their children's love and marriage quest.

Looking back on this review, I see that there is a "stream of consciousness" quality to it that may be more of a reflection of my own attitudes than the film. But I'm leaving the entry like this for now.

I hope that the film can contribute to an improvement in the marriage process among North American Muslims and to a "normalization" of Muslims to non-Muslims.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

True Majority Video "Don't Bomb Iran"

Muslim Advocates Comments on Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Report

Read Muslim Advocates's response to the report entitled Violent Islamist Extremism, the Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat issued by the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on May 8, 2008.

Hearing helds by that committe on this topic are available at:

Violent Islamist Extremism: Government Efforts to Defeat It, 2007 May 10

The Internet: A Portal to Violent Islamist Extremism, 2007 May 3

The Threat of Islamic Radicalism to the Homeland, 2007 March 14

Prison Radicalization: Are Terrorist Cells Forming in U.S. Cell Blocks? 2006 September 19

Terrorism Financing: Origination, Organization, and Prevention, 2003 July 31

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Review of Unity Productions Foundation "On a Wing and a Prayer"

Unity Productions Foundation's latest film to be broadcast on PBS is "On a Wing and a Prayer."

The film follows Monem Salam, an employee of Amana Mutual Funds living in Bellingham, WA, as he seeks to acquire a pilot's license.

Along the way, we get a curious look at Muslim domestic life, aviation and aviators, and the work of the travelling committed Muslim businessman and activist. It was quirky, but I liked it, and I think it is precisely the kind of thing Unity Productions Foundation should be putting out. After heavy topics such as the life of the Messenger salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, the history of the Iberian Peninsula, and the attempts of a Muslim slave in the United States to redeem himself and his family, this film and others like it will help "normalize" Muslims in the United States. It brings us closer to the day when the description "Muslim" will bring no more of an image to the mind than "Catholic", "Baptist", "Jew", "Hindu" or "Atheist." And, yes, it would be nice if the image of "Muslim" was honesty, hard work, sincerity, devotion, but I'd be satisified with a neutral, blank slate. I think it's impossible to expect that Muslims will achieve the more positive idealized notion we promote because we simply don't behave that way. Our media productions should target that blank slate.

Problems with Stereotypes in "LA Woman", Episode 10 of TNT's "The Closer"

TNT's The Closer: L.A. Woman, Episode 10-Plot Problems Based on Stereotypes of Iranians

The episode perpetuates a lot of stereotypes and promotes an anti-civil liberties atmosphere.

Science Magazine Podcast: Women in Science in the Middle East


Science Magazine's podcast of December 28, 2007 entitled "Women in Science in the Middle East" was a good insight into the obstacles women scientists face in pursuing their careers. The women interviewees were from Lebanon, Egypt and Kuwait.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Book Review: The Story of the Qur'an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life by Ingrid Mattson

The Story of the Qur'an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life by Ingrid Mattson. Blackwell Publishing, 2008. ISBN: 9781405122580. 262 pp. Paperback. Find the book in a library near you.
The Story of the Qur'an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life
One of the motivations I had for this blog is guiding people to good introductory materials for non-Muslims to learn about Islam. If we can call books like Suzanne Haneef's What Everyone Should Know About Islam and Muslims the first generation of Muslims' attempts to educate non-Muslims about Islam using contemporary English and mass, high-quality publications, Dr. Mattson's book represents a new generation of mass outreach books.

Children's Books by Fawzia Gilani-Williams

This is a review of a series of books by Fawzia Gilani-Williams. I’ve summarized the plots of the books below and noted some specific issues with each book.
The best feature of these books is their strong themes of self-sacrifice, charity, humility and piety. I do have some hesitations about the receipt of charity (either secular as in “Ihtisham and the Eid Shoes” or miraculous as in “A Poor Widow’s Eid Guest.)
These themes related to poverty may not resonate with North American Muslim children. While stories set in “Muslim countries” are fine, the North American family must balance these with stories set in contemporary urban and suburban North America.
The books published by the Islamic Book Service in New Delhi suffer from poor editing and unidiomatic English (North America).
As of November 27, 2007, none of these books is available at, although the author has six other titles there. Used copies are available from They were not available at (different books by the author available here) or
My strongest recommendation of the books listed here are “The Jilbab Maker’s Eid Gift” and “The Story of Salaam Li and the Dacoits.”

The Jilbab Maker’s Eid Gift. Illustrated by Muslimah Williams. ISBN 983-065-237-8. A.S. Noordeen: Kuala Lumpur, 2007.

This story is about a woman who sews jilbabs (dresses) and gives them to the poor. They are “the best around because she put love and kindness into every stitch she sewed.” She never accepted payment, but she did not feel poor. “The Qur’an is my gold, Salah [ritual prayer] is my silver and the smiles of the poor are my diamonds.”
In contrast, her queen required every person in the land to give her a gift. Despite her material treasures, she never felt happy. When she heard of the jilbab maker, she demanded a jilbab as a gift. Upon refusal, she arrested the jilbab maker, who continued to declare that she had promised Allah that she would only give her jilbabs to the poor.
The queen, seeing that detention had not taken away the jilbab maker’s happiness, brought her for more questioning. The jilbab maker advised her to give sadaqa (charity) in order to experience her happiness. The queen tried this out and began to feel the happiness that her possessions never provided.

The Story of Salaam Li and the Dacoits. No illustrator name provided. Islamic Book Service: New Delhi. Not dated. ISBN 81-7231-757-3.

Salaam Li Fayzulayev was an orphan boy in a village of Uzbekistan which a gang of dacoits used to pillage every Eid. After one such occasion, Salaam Li urged the villagers to prepare to fight these brigands. A woman suggested that the village send its young men to learn Wushu (Chinese martial arts.)
When they met their teacher, the teacher refused to teach them martial arts. To repay him for some apples they took, he asked them to serve him for six months. Through work, sermons, Qur’an instruction, night prayer and gymnastics, he surreptitiously teaches them martial arts. When their six months are complete, the master gives each child a knife and says,

This is a gift from me to you. I wish and confide that you will never need to
use these knives. No enemy will be able to hurt you. Use the knife to cut fruits
and vegetables.
That year, when the dacoits returned, the boys resisted the thieves by evading their blows. When the thieves were exhausted and helpless, the chief asked why the boys had not killed them. Salaam Li told him that good Muslims do not hurt other people. The dacoits, inspired by Salaam Li’s example, repented. Salaam Li grew to be a wise old man, and he never used his knife to hurt anyone.

The editing in this book is not good. There are many awkward phrases. The language used is not idiomatic for North America. The most important example of this is the word in the title, “dacoit”. The illustrations are in general good.

A Poor Widow’s Eid Guest. No illustrator name provided. Islamic Book Service: New Delhi. Not dated. ISBN 81-7231-756-5.

In this story, a widow is concerned about how she can provide an Eid meal for her children despite their poverty. She asks Allah for help. As she is fetching water from the well, she meets an elderly woman who asks to be hosted for the Eid. The widow agrees and asks her to precede her to the house. When the widow returns, she finds the house full of delicious food. Her children inform her that the elderly woman had provided the food. The widow exited the house seeking to thank her, but she was nowhere to be found.

A Samosah Maker. No illustrator name provided. Islamic Book Service: New Delhi. Not dated. ISBN 81-7231-758-1.

Abdullah, an outstanding samosah maker, suffers the machinations of Zalim Khan. Zalim (literally “wrongdoer” in Arabic) Khan adulterates Abdullah’s samosas and spreads false reports, thus driving Abdullah out of business. When a travelling scholar arrives, he learns of Zalim Khan’s actions and advises him to repent and tell people the truth. Abdullah is able to resume business, and he partners with Zalim Khan to serve samosahs to the village.

This book suffers from editing deficiencies:

About some of them people had never even heard of.
Zalim watched people making unpleasant faces after having a bit from Abdullah’s samoseh and the happy ones of those who were having samoseh from his tray.
p. 20
He told Zalim that he had committed a grave sin even in the holy month of Ramadan.

Note that “samosah” of the title is spelled “samoseh” in the text.

Unidiomatic English for North America
p.2 samosah, paijama, kurta-It’s important to define terms for an audience which won’t be familiar with these terms.

The lessons from this story are good, namely the prohibition of spreading false rumors and cheating others, the virtues of patience and generosity, and the necessity of investigation to clear up disputes.
The biggest problem for the North American audience, in my opinion, is in the illustration. All of the people are light-skinned, with the exception of Zalim Khan. Muslim children’s literature must be sensitive to the strong skin-color based prejudices of North America (and elsewhere).

Ihtisham and The Eid Shoes. No illustrator name provided. Islamic Book Service: New Delhi. Not dated. ISBN 81-7231-755-7.

A poor man and his grandson each work hard to earn money to buy each other shoes for Eid. On the way back from the market, each person gives a pair of shoes to a poor person. On the day of the Eid, the Imam distributes charity to the grandfather. He and his grandson acknowledge the importance of charity and giving, realizing that when they gave charity, Allah ﷻ gave them back many times over.

An Old Man Who Trusts in Allah. No illustrator name provided. Islamic Book Service: New Delhi. Not dated. ISBN 81-7231-760-3.

A couple gathers money to purchase a goat for qurbani (udhiya, tabaski, sacrifice on Eid al-Adha). On the way to the market, the old man always meets someone who needs the money and gives it in charity. He returns, takes another item from the house, sells it for money, and then again gives the money in charity without buying a goat. Each time his wife is distressed about not having a qurbani, he tells her “tawakkal al-Allah” (trust in Allah ﷻ ). The last person to whom he gave money was a traveler. The day of the Eid, that traveler sent his servant to the couple with ten goats as a gift for the kindness the old man had shown him.

A Beggar Boy. No illustrator name provided. Islamic Book Service: New Delhi. Not dated. ISBN 81-7231-759-X.

A grandmother takes solace in her grandson’s recitation of Qur’an. The body works all day and receives a small amount in payment. The day before Eid al-Adha, a stranger crossed paths with him as he was returning from work. The boy invited the stranger to eat at their home. It turned out that the stranger was a visiting Qari (reader of Qur’an). The nobles of the city, who despised the boy for his poverty, had planned a feast in the Qari’s honor the day of the Eid. When the Qari insisted that the boy attend the feast, the wealthy host refused his entry. Upon seeing that, the Qari decided to leave the town with the boy and the grandmother to a city where the boy’s talents in reading Qur’an would be recognized despite his poverty.
I have had personal correspondence with the author, for whom I have great respect. She is tireless in educating public librarians about the need for Muslim's children literature in public libraries. She has also written some more recent books that address some of the concerns I've mentioned above.

Islamica Magazine in Trouble-Please Subscribe

I'm not affiliated with Islamica Magazine in any way. I'm a subscriber. I visited the web site today, http:/, and there's a message describing some of the difficulties the magazine is going through. Please consider subscribing to it to help it get back on its feet, as it has produced quality articles in a sea of rubbish!

Critic of No Child Left Behind-"Not on the Test"

This web site has a wonderful video and song showing some of the biggest weaknesses of No Child Left Behind.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I had no intention of reading this book because of the negative publicity surrounding Khaled Hosseini's previously published novel, The Kite Runner, and the movie based on it. I know some people who will not watch any movie with rape scenes. Unfortunately, I'm not that ideologically consistent, as my favorite director is Sergio Leone, and his films have a lot of rape scenes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Queen Rania of Jordan-Channel on You! Tube

The You! Tube link is

I have some disagreements with the Hashimite Kingdom, but it's government is relatively well-run. In addition, when the royal family speaks, they can at least put sentences together, unlike some other rulers ... I thought this video is a good way to get some thinking going. The Queen has a couple of other videos responding to certain comments, so I've gone ahead and subscribed to her channel. Her official web site is

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Vote for "Make it Your Own" Outstanding Projects

This widget will send you straight to voting for my favorite, Leaders of the New School. Leaders of the New School is a project which aims to partner youth from the south side of Chicago together with artists and mentors to address and help resolve community issues utilizing hip hop and urban arts. Poverty, a lack of resources and senseless violence plague our communities and the youth are the ones paying the consequences. This project will provide an outlet for positive expression and engage and inspire youth in our communities to work for social change.

The other three I selected were Citizen Participation in New Orleans, Juveniles 4 Justice (J4J) in Philadelphia, and Corssing Borders in St. Paul, MN.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Deadly Misunderstanding by Mark D. Siljander and John David Mann

A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide (Hardcover) by Mark D. Siljander and John David Mann.

I'm hoping to review this book when it becomes available. Please consider buying it for me from the Muslim Media Review wish list. According to the web site, the book is scheduled for release June 10, 2008.

P.S. I've finished my review.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Screening of Film "Talking Through Walls", April 24, 2008, American University, Washington, D.C., USA

Here is information about the film:

Here is information about the screening:

This is the floor plan of the terrace level of the Ward Circle building at the American University campus.

Christian-Muslim Dialogue: Oasis International Studies and Research Centre

The Oasis International Studies and Research Centre (C.I.S.R.O.) is a network of contacts that gives Christians and Muslims a chance to meet and promote mutual knowledge and understanding. Founded in September 2004 by the Patriarch of Venice, Angelo Cardinal Scola, as part of the Studium Generale Marcianum, the Centre sees itself as a venue for the exchange of experiences and points of view between people from different ecclesial realities (some churches in Europe and some Christian communities in predominantly-Muslim countries) and Muslims from various backgrounds.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 War on the Installment Plan

Powerful Quote from MLK, JR Sermon

From "Paul's Letter to American Christians," as reproduced in Clayborne Carson's and Peter Holloran's A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

"You must come to see that is possible for a man to be self-centered in his self-denial and self-righteous in his self-sacrifice. He may be generous in order to feed his ego and pious in order to feed his pride. Man has the tragic capacity to relegate a heightening virtue to a tragic vice. Without love benevolence becomes egotism, and martyrdom becomes spiritual pride." pp. 35-6

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Video of Experiment Demonstrating Varied Responses of Bystanders to Anti-Muslim Prejudice

I think the main lesson here is that most people said nothing, which of course I myself have done at times. The people who did defend the actress are true Americans.

Direct link on YouTube:

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Unity Productions Foundation-On a Wing and a Prayer-Atlanta Film Festival, April 17, 2008

The Atlanta Film Festival will in sha Allah feature On a Wing and a Prayer Thursday, April 17th at 7:15 PM, Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, Midtown Promenade at 931 Monroe Drive, Atlanta, GA. You can buy tickets at

International Museum of Muslim Cultures, Jackson, MS

The International Museum of Muslim Cultures is holding its 7-year anniversary celebration April 18 and April 19, 2008.

Historians Against the War National Conference, Atlanta, GA April 11-13, 2008

Historians Against the War is holding a national conference and the Peace History Society is holding a national conference at Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, April 11-13, 2008.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Hate and Fear System by Nadeem Mazen

In the Vol 1, Issue 2 (Fall 2007) issue of Ascent magazine, there's a wonderful 2 page article entitled "The Hate & Fear SystemTM" by Nadeem Mazen. It's in the form of an advertisement, full of buzz-words and the latest marketing gimmicks.

I hope that a poster can be made out of it!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Review: Nadia's Hands by Karen English

Nadia's Hands by Karen English, illustrated by Jonathan Weiner. Bodys Mills Press. 1999. ISBN 1-56397-667-6. 32 pages, hardcover, over-size.

Nadia has the duty of being the flower girl in a wedding, and two fears threaten her performance of this duty. The first is the fear of her friends' mocking her should she do something wrong or embarrass herself during the ceremony. The second is the fear of what the schoolchildren will do on Monday when they see the orange mehndi on her hands.

Her fears almost overcame her, but when she saw her extended family's happiness at her appearance, she was able to refocus and complete her task as the flower girl. She was able to accept her hands as her own.

The book is well-written and beautifully illustrated.

I'm always surprised at the rivalries among little girls in children's literature, because I never remember as a little boy having these suspicions about the boys my age. With that reservation, I do like this book, and I'm eager to read it aloud to some children and see if they like it as well.

The book is available from Astrolabe.

Kidsville News

Great content for kids!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Amnesty International Action to Close Guantanamo

Read about the case of Maher Rafat al-Quwari, who has been cleared for release, but, being a Palestinian without residency in any country, has no place to go. The Amnesty International case report also includes information about the conditions of his imprisonment and his complaints of abuse while in Northern Alliance and U.S. detention.

Also see the National Religious Campaig Against Torture:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

In Defense of Reverend Jeremiah Wright

Of course, Reverend Wright is not a Muslim, but equating black liberation theology with anti-Americanism demands a response, most particularly from the various Christian churches.

I'm including here some videos from Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ's YouTube account.

The first is from Rev. John Thomas, President of the United Church of Christ, at Dr. Wright's Retirement Celebration Morning Service Sunday February 24, 2008.

Pastor Gaye of Trinity United Church of Christ in St. Petersburg, FL speaks in response to attacks in the media on Candidate Barack Obama regarding remarks made by his Pastor Rev. Wright.

Pastor Otis Moss,III of Trinity United Church of Christ response to clips of Rev, Wright. More than just a sound bite.

There were also some segments on NPR radio's Fresh Air program of March 31, 2008.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Adventures of Amir Hamza: Lord of the Auspicious Planetary Conjuction

The Adventures of Amir Hamza (Modern Library) (Hardcover)by Ghalib Lakhnavi (Author), Abdullah Bilgrami (Author), Hamid Dabashi (Introduction), Musharraf Ali Farooqi (Translator).

From Amazon:

I acquired this book from the Georgia library system in December 2008, and I finally finished it on April 20, 2009. The book is 900 pages. I enjoyed it for the first 400 pages, but it seemed so repetitive after awhile. I guess I began, as an ostensibly responsible adult, to feel guilty spending time reading it and not spending time doing my work. The material seems much more suited to oral storytelling or movies. At the same time, by conservative American and Muslim standards, it's somewhat racy for the Harry Potter age young readers who might not feel that guilt of spending all the time required in reading the book.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Diane Rehm-Interview with Robin Wright, author of "Dreams and Shadows"

After listenting to the interview I downloaded from, I wrote the following letter to the Diane Rehm show. I've added the hyperlinks for the blog.

When are we going to hold "veteran reporters" like Robin Wright and Thomas Friedman accountable for the distorted ideas of Middle Eastern peoples they've fed the American people for 30+ years? These distorted ideas so saturate the American public's mind that it could not resist the Bush administration's infomercials selling "Operation Iraqi Freedom." In your interview, why could you not ask, "Why have your writings of 30+ years completely failed to give us a real idea of the peoples of the region?"

Regarding the specific interview, there's two points I think which illustrate to me your timidity in this interview. Number 1, when a caller challenged her assertion that the main problem in Palestine is Palestinians' refusal to recognize Israel, you allowed her to completely sidestep the question. Number 2, the idea that Abdolkarim Soroush is the "Martin Luther of Islam" is so cliche. Put "soroush iran martin luther" into a search engine and see what comes up: a bunch of U.S. media outlets repeating a phrase with no understanding of Islam's theological traditions or the historical Martin Luther. Ms. Wright's explanation that he's the first to claim that belief is invalid without a conscious (and hence free from coercion) choice is a distortion of historical Muslim theology and perpetuates the notion that, without Euro-American influence and intervention, Muslims would not be able to come up with the simplest foundations of a functioning society. Also, it's a distortion of European history, since Martin Luther's differences with the Catholic Church did not involve the relationship between free will and belief, and in fact some "Protestant" groups, particularly Calvinists, placed more limitations on free will than the Catholic Church ever did.

Having said this, Ms. Wright's book purportedly highlights Muslims' initiatives. I'm just hoping that the ignorance in her reporting over her career is a function of the system of reporting and editing and broadcasting and that her book will demonstrate a deeper understanding of the region's peoples, not just repeating the words of people she meets at the airport Marriots of these countries.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Dr. Mohammed Asmal - Cousin Marriages and Congenital Defects

Taken at face value, the recent statement by British Minister Woolas about the worrisome rate of congenital defects in British Pakistani newborns and its association with the practice of cousin marriage would seem to be a statement of concern for the public health of his constituents. ...

First Freedom First Simulcast About Religious Liberty

First Freedom First simulcast on March 26, 2008. Check the web site to find the theatre closest to you.

Rabbi Friedman's Interview with Jews On First about Obsession

Rabbi Joan Friedman, a professor of Religion and Jewish Studies at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, did an interview with Jews on First about the distribution of the movie "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" and the appropriate Jewish response to Christian Zionists. The link for the full article is

My brief 10 minutes on the Jews on First web site led me to be thankful that this organization exists and to think about ways we Muslims could foster a dedication to truth regardless of the perceived public relations benefit.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Recommendation: Exhibit "Breaking the Silence"

I heard Mr. Oded Na'aman, a member of Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika),, on Dr. Nadia Ali's show "Just Peace" on Atlanta, GA, USA's WRFG 89.3 FM.

Mr. Na'aman served in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, and his organization's exhibit's purpose is to show that Israel cannot combine security, occupation and morality.

The exhibit is in Boston until March 16, 2008.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Recommendation: Islamic Inheritance Blog

The web site is operated by my friend, Ahmed Shaikh. I knew Ahmed from our time as students at Indiana University. He currently practices law in California, and he specialized in helping Muslims plan their estates, which from my experience Muslims in the U.S. are generally not doing well. I encourage you to visit his site, read the "Journal", and if you're in California, give him a call and see if he can help you.

The article in the first link above is a good example of information you can get from the "Journal." It is about why you should not play loose with your payroll, because the one thing you can't mess with in the U.S. is the IRS.

Thursday, February 28, 2008