The RAND Plan in ACTION
It hasn’t been too long since the release of the RAND report part II, and it seems that the government is already following suit. Here is background on the RAND report. San Francisco Chronicle is reporting (article appended below) that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), otherwise responsible for spying on, harasing or setting up Muslims (watch out for the friendly neighborhood informant as he joins the government to make big $$ or arrange for his past-crimes to be forgiven) is now actually working with Muslims to “rebut radicals”. I am sure DHS has good intentions, but they have to produce something to show for all the $$ they are spending… it’s all part of the job.
Back to the article then… the sub-title states that the “Idea is to engage young minds in ideological battle”. Ok, let’s start with a little wake-up call for the writer of the article, “Matthai Chakko Kuruvila” (why does this remind me of laddus and rus malai??)… Mitthu sahib, two of the four individuals that the DHS is engaging with are far from young. Akbar Ahmed and MJ Khan are at least 50, with Akbar maybe in his 60s. So, Mitthu sahib, stop giving people the Chakkar (runaround) and at least be a little more accurate in your sub-title.
So, let’s talk about the four. Pay special attention to the RAND’s advisory system spoof chart. Do share your opinion of which color you think these individuals belong to. Let me start by telling you that it AIN’T red:
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1) Shahed Amanullah: He is from Austin, Texas. He will be DHS’s friend in the blog world. That of course holds special meaning to us, because we too reside in the blogosphere. Mr. Amanullah is the founder of altMuslim.com. The website aims to push forward an ‘alternate’ Muslim opinion, which is just a proxy, softer terminology for progressivism. The better way to say it is that the attempt here is to provide an alternative to being a normal Muslim. Which is to say that the lesser the Muslim in his or her practice, the better.
Well, let’s get it it clear: AltMuslim is a gentler version of Muslimwakeup, PMUNA, eteraz, or other ‘we know better than the Sunnah’ websites in disguise. Granted it is not as outrageous as MWU, and possibly not as pro-regressive either, but it carries columns by progressive writers well-known to people who are in the know. In fact, the folks there are not too shy about espousing the ‘opportunity’ to follow RAND’s guidance. See for yourself here! My problem may not be with this article as much is in what the title suggests: allowing RAND any role or credit in setting the agenda for Muslims.
Also, browse the list of guest-writers. Don’t miss out Muqtedar Khan, the owner of the website called ‘ijtihad.com’… a personal favorite since he resides in the local community, in which he is mostly shunned because his views are so progressive that not even the nutty ones in the community can stand him. Other writers of such classics as ‘how to denude the niqabis’, and other sick perversions, are also star contributers. These pro-regressive (shout-out to Dr. M) websites usually generate a lot of hits, because normal, mainstream, average Muslims like us, usually go there to check out what the newest wacko opinion is. It provides for a good laugh and some stomach muscle movement, which can only help burn some calories for the stagnant web-surfers (ahem abu ameerah ;) )
2) Reza Aslan: Reza’s entire educational background has been garnered in American universities… he has no religious grounding in ANY school of thought from ANY Islamic seminary or university or scholar. His now-famous book entitled ‘no god but God’ has been translated into many languages (someone REALLY wants to promote him…) Ok there, buddy boy. If you can’t even translate the kalimah properly (it should be instead translated as ‘there is no god worthy of worship except Allah’), then how could you say anything on higher discourse levels about Islam. I mean even Satan knew that there was no god but Allah, did that make him a believer?? Let’s read some ‘enlightened’ comments from Mr. Aslan:
“I believe we are living in the time of the Islamic reformation.” [Reference]
And Reza, are you going to be leading that reformation? How about reforming yourself for starters… like learning the ABCs of Islam? Once you pick up any serious knowledge of Islam, starting with the Arabic language, check back with me.
“Iraq should look to Israel for a model that combines democracy and religious belief” [Reference]
Do we need anything more data to understand why Reza is all over the news, and why someone who was barely known an year or two ago, is now a popular talking-head on Islam? Do you GET the promotion??
3) Akbar Ahmed: Reminds me of Sir Syed Khan… one of Pakistan’s own modernist, the founder of the Aligarh University for Messing Up Muslim Minds. Pay special attention to the Deobandi opinion about him.
Actually, I was afraid that I would end up spending too much time in digging up this guy’s history, but lo and behold, Akbar sahib made it easy for me. He was or is on “Progressive Muslim Union of North America” (PMUNA)’s Advisory Board! Need we say more? You can read about his opinions in an interview here just for some additional flavor.
4) MJ Khan: Actually, MJ Khan seems out of place here. I know him enough to say that he has not been one to push forward any master progressive plan. MJ Khan, a Houston city council member, has always supported any programs in Houston arranged by the Muslims or non-Muslims to promote a better understanding of Muslims and Islam. He has supported Texas Dawah, CAIR and other efforts in Houston to bridge the divide.
I am afraid that after this meeting with these other progressives, he may be influenced by them. May Allah protect him. So, in your mind, exclude him from my P.S. note to DHS.
Here’s my note to DHS…
If you, one of the readers, work for DHS or is on this website workING for DHS, then just know that this is no way to start engaging Muslims. By approaching people such as these, who are on the fringes of Islamic circles, who have little support or respect beyond their core-circles, you are only fooling yourself. Of course, these folks will be in line with everything you want them to be in line with, because most of what they are about is publicity. IF you are really serious about engaging the mainstream Muslim populace, then talk to the leaders that we respect. Talk to leaders of CAIR, ICNA, ISNA, MAS, or in terms of ideology/groups, leaders of deobandis, tablighis, ahl hadith, ikhwaan, etc. Talk to Siraj Wahaj, talk to Ingrid Mattson, talk to Yasir Qadhi, engage with Waleed Basyouni, engage with Yasir Fazaqa (who was mentioned in NY Times recently), Hamza Yusuf, Zaid Shakir, etc. I mean there are many Islamic personalities with ACTUAL knowledge of Islam who are not tied to wacko progressives; yet they share equally the desire to reside in this country peacefully and to help root out extremism. If your goal is to stifle Islamic practices and ‘non-violent othodoxy’ (I hate to use this terminology but it seems to cover what I want to say), then sure go ahead and use these pretenders. But, if your goal is not to go after Islam, the religion, but rather the violent and fringe MISinterpretations of Islam, then you have chosen the wrong set of folks.
SO, if you continue to stick around with these left-wingers among Muslims, then they will tell you, by progressive calculations, that 80% of the Muslims are ‘extremists’ (haven’t you heard that before?!) … at that point, you will fall into a huge tail-spin, and won’t get anywhere. Do you really think any extremists or violent hard-liners will actually spill their guts to these progressives; whom they probably don’t even consider to be Muslims? Fat chance! So, instead why not engage people who actually may help get the message across to the extremists on the fringes, such that they can be pulled into the moderate, mainstream fold of Islam? Ultimately, isn’t that the goal? To prevent radicalism before it creates radicals, which is better than jailing radicals after they are made into such? THINK for yourself. Don’t let RANDom thoughts spur you into a huge dark DEAD-END.
Security agency enlisting Muslims to rebut radicals by Matthai Chakko Kuruvila
Idea is to engage young minds in ideological battle
After nearly six years of intense law enforcement scrutiny of Muslims in the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is reshaping his agency’s approach to Muslims and invited four prominent Muslims to help the agency prevent homegrown radicalism.The four leaders Chertoff called on — a former ambassador from Pakistan, a Santa Monica author who grew up in San Jose, a Houston city councilman and an Austin, Texas, blogger — suggest increasing youth services, working with bloggers to fight extremist ideology on the Web and even changing the terminology the government uses to describe terrorists.The May 8 meeting — the first of its kind the Homeland Security secretary has called with Muslims — was part of a series of gatherings that Chertoff told Congress in March would be “an unprecedented level of cooperation” with various ethnic and religious communities to “prevent radicalization.”Daniel Sutherland, the department’s officer for civil rights and civil liberties, said Chertoff invited the four leaders last month because they are among the most influential Muslim scholars and thinkers in the nation. Sutherland, who has been with Homeland Security since its inception, said he believes that previous secretary Tom Ridge never had such a meeting.The department also is working with Sikhs, South Asians, Arabs and Iranians to counter radicalism, Sutherland said, and Chertoff has pointed to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing as the best example of homegrown radicalism.Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, domestic anti-terrorism efforts have included sweeping measures such as requiring all men and boys without permanent residency from many largely Muslim nations to register with the government. Federal authorities have also planted informants in mosques.Participants in last month’s meeting praised Chertoff’s desire to gain a more sophisticated understanding of the 2.5 million to 8 million Muslims in the United States and figure out how to find terrorists of all nationalities.”I like the idea of shifting the focus from policing an entire community to doing ideological battles with the very people who are threatening,” said Shahed Amanullah, 39, an Austin blogger and editor of Altmuslim.com. “It’s much more surgical. You’re going right after people who are causing the problem.”The 90-minute conversation produced no specific plans, and participants said the U.S. government must develop long-term policies toward the world’s billion-plus Muslims and the major Muslim nations.”This is not going to be a quick affair,” said Akbar Ahmed, 64, an American University professor and former ambassador from Pakistan. “Emotions have been unleashed. This is going to be a long, simmering relationship.”
For all participants in the meeting, the two top concerns were finding commonly acceptable terminology for terrorism and figuring out how to keep young people from radicalizing, Sutherland and the participants said.
Chertoff has said that the period immediately after Sept. 11 was a time of crisis when policies were developed based on “imperfect information.” And he has talked about the need to constantly “recalibrate” anti-terrorism efforts.
“Our department’s conclusion is that the American Muslim community is very strong,” said Sutherland, who helped organize and attended the meeting with Chertoff. “It’s well-educated. It’s well-integrated. It’s different than Europe and other parts of the world. How do we preserve that strength?”
The four Muslim leaders suggested increasing interfaith efforts and social services for Muslim youth and encouraging parents and community leaders to allow disaffected young people to talk about their concerns.
“Just like we’re concerned that our children don’t get involved with gangs and drugs, we have to be proactive and make sure they don’t have interaction with people with extremist ideas,” said M.J. Khan, 57, who is in his second term as a Houston city councilman. “The responsibility lies with community members, and especially parents, to make sure we have open discussion and guide them properly.”
Ahmed said Muslim leaders in the United States and abroad must create a public discussion about Islam so non-Muslims have a more accurate understanding of the faith. American Muslims also must study American history and learn from the progress of other minorities, particularly African Americans, he said.
Amanullah, 39, the blogger, said extremists don’t come to mosques or Muslim community centers because they fear scrutiny from law enforcement. But they thrive unchallenged on the Web, where it’s easy for people to find them — and difficult for leaders to control them.
He said he and other Muslim bloggers would like to be able to fight extremists on the Web through blogs and critiques in other online forums. He wants to create a program that would give some Muslims explicit freedom to visit extremist sites and do that work.
“We’re not going to get the hard-core ‘jihadis,’ but at least we’ll get to the disaffected people who are wondering what side they should be on,” said Amanullah, who lived in the Bay Area for eight years until 2004 and remains an adviser to regional Muslim groups such as San Jose-based Islamic Networks Group and American Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism.
Sutherland, the Homeland Security official, said Chertoff was “very interested” in Amanullah’s proposal but wanted the blogger to work out details.
Starting the conversation about terrorism is problematic. The term “Islamofascism,” used by President Bush and others, offends Muslims who believe their faith condones no violence and other religions are rife with examples of terrorism. Many Muslims also reject terms such as “Islamic terrorism,” “Islamist terrorists” or “Muslim terrorists” for the same reason.
Amanullah and Reza Aslan, author of “No god but God” and a professor of religion and creative writing at the UC Riverside, prefer the term “jihadist.”
Many Muslims object to it because it modifies the Islamic term “jihad,” which refers to an inner struggle — not a military one. But “jihadist” has been widely adopted in the Arab world as a way to describe terrorists, said Aslan.
Aslan, 35, who grew up in San Jose, went to Santa Clara University and taught at De La Salle High School in Concord, said agreeing on terminology is vital.
“If you’re in an ideological war, as we’re told we’re in, then your most powerful weapon becomes your words and your words become very important,” he said.
E-mail Matthai Chakko Kuruvila at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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June 6, 2007 at 8:06 AM
Amad, didn’t get your mail…
I sent it… it may be in your spam. If you don’t find it, email me. -Amad
June 6, 2007 at 9:42 AM
I think we need to get involved and try our best to engage DHS and let them know who the real nuts are.
June 6, 2007 at 9:47 AM
By “real nuts” I am talking about the takfeer/khawarij
June 6, 2007 at 10:23 AM
Agreed Tariq… but really it is difficult to find the right person in this bureaucratic institution… so hopefully someone who’s entrusted in ‘keeping an eye’ over Muslim blogs, will find this post and engage us. I mean we have no problem in working with any government organization, not for spying, but for helping root out radicalism in its infancy… esp. by education and correct dawah.
You cannot win over the ‘real nuts’ with the ‘lefty nuts’… you have to win them over with arguments from the Quran, Sunnah, the classical texts, fatawas from scholars, etc. That’s how you will win hearts, not by going at them, starting by creating a new term for them. Great good that will do if suddenly these lefties all agree that the extremists will be called ‘XYZ’. What if the people who are defining the ‘takfiri’ extremists are themselves extremists of a different, progressive kind? At that point, it will be more of a subjective, sectarian and broad-stroking attempt that will ultimately fail with a thud.
The message, and sorry for the repetition, is for DHS to talk to the mainstream folks, talk with ppl from CAIR, ISNA, ICNA, MAS, talk to even Tariq :) . It seems that even Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir have fallen out of their favor, what does that say about the issue? I mean at least these two scholars have wide credibility in the masses, even if we may disagree with them on some issues.
That is why I believe, that we have to first question the intent… whether the real interest at heart is to stamp out violent Muslim misinterpretations, or non-violent Muslim orthodoxy.
June 6, 2007 at 10:40 AM
Either people at DHS extremely stupid or extremely insincere in their efforts. For some reason I feel its the second one. They have lots of money being pumped into them, which they can justify every now and then by framing and entraping some muslims. Debating and actually winning hearts and minds is very difficult task, and they prefer staying out of it. What they do instead is to create perception among common americans that they are doing some efforts by engaging those so called few liberal muslims.
June 6, 2007 at 10:48 AM
I’m a bit puzzled by all this, particularly your linking to an article on altmuslim saying that the RAND report would be used as an opportunity.
The article you link to uses it as an opportunity, alright… to turn the logic on its head and apply it to find “moderate Americans,” complete with a litmus test. If that’s your evidence of accusing us of being a “we know better than the sunnah” site… well, we don’t.
I don’t get the progressive tag at all. I think most of our readers know it doesn’t stick. We’re not any label at all, really. We publish a broad section of viewpoints, including one of the most widely cited arguments against women-led prayer, critical articles of the secular islam conference, critical articles of countless US government fishing expeditions, and… yes, critical articles of some of the things Muslims do. So what?
We focus primarily on aspects of pluralism and civic engagement, and not necessarily micro-theological debate. Again, what evidence do you have that we will claim that 80% of Muslims are extremists? We are trying to do the opposite… taking the broad brush that the US government currently uses against Muslims and making it “surgical” (as the article quotes) and led by Muslims.
As for Reza Aslan, he may have opinions that you don’t agree with, but saying his Iranian-American background says it all is really beyond the pale.
As for asking Ingrid Mattson for advice, it’s a great idea. That’s why Shahed invited her ages ago to a follow up meeting scheduled later this month, since they’re already good friends.
For all the critique, there is no evidence cited that Muslims (the ones you’ve criticised, anyway) won’t hash this debate out with arguments from Quran and Sunnah. I think it would be only fair for you to prove this.
If you have any criticism of what was actually proposed, you’d find more sympathetic ears than if you engaged in character assasination. Speaking of which, it is not proper adab for Muslims to criticise other Muslims anonymously. We have no problem with criticism and debate, nor do we have a problem with identifying ourselves in doing so… that is what our site is all about.
June 6, 2007 at 11:45 AM
There is also the social services and outreach part of this – that the Amanullah mentioned in the article – that I feel is even more important.
We need to move toward an era of dynamic and open Islamic Centers where Muslims and non-Muslims can come for help.
I saw nothing wrong with the article. We (the Muslims) just need to get in the game.
June 6, 2007 at 1:04 PM
Zahed bro, don’t be puzzled. Give me an opportunity to clarify some of your concerns. I wish you wouldn’t selectively attack some issues that I mention, while neglecting the others:
Firstly, about character assassination. Whose character did I assassinate? I pointed to facts. I mentioned Amanullah, because he was there. But I don’t know enough about Amanullah the person. My discussion was aimed at specifically the website, not Amanullah.
Secondly, I will read the article linked more carefully, so I can either address your concerns or change my post.
Thirdly, to deny the progressivism of AltMuslim is a truly noble effort, but one that falls quite flatly on its face. Are you saying the likes of Muqtedar (a former board member of the Progressive Muslims Union of North America) and Eteraz as two explicit examples… no matter how and if these two deny that leaning. Are they merely tokens?
As for Reza, the mention of Iranian is for obvious reasons; it is not a dig, its a fact. I would assume that he would be Shia, which when you are dealing with the mostly Sunni populace of America, and at least apparently dealing with radicalism among Sunnis, it would be difficult to overcome this sectarian difference. Still, I’ll remove that comment, because it distracts from the remaining portion. I am not sure though how you took this comment to overshadow quotes from him that I published above, which don’t need much more explanation re: to his position.
Finally, I am sure altMuslim is doing good work in other arenas, but that doesn’t disguise the obvious flavor of its articles and board. And as Tariq said, we can all work together in what is beneficial.
June 6, 2007 at 1:09 PM
“I mean at least these two scholars have…”
Yusuf and Shakir scholars? I hope that was a typo, if not you really need to learn what it means to be a scholar.
June 6, 2007 at 1:24 PM
Anon, not to delve into semantics, the context makes it relative. They are scholars in terms of having significant knowledge relative to the other people of knowledge in America. But speaking from a different angle, we and they themselves would consider themselves as students of knowledge.
Are they scholars as the translation for Ulema suggests… of course not. I don’t think anyone in America qualifies to that level.
Also, if you look up the definition of scholar, it is varied in application from student to an expert. So, I think its important not to exaggerate the meaning, esp. since I didn’t mention the Arabic word for it. Hope that clarifies.
June 6, 2007 at 1:50 PM
“Mr. Amanullah runs the notorious (for normal Muslims) website altMuslim.com. He wants to push forward an ‘alternate’ Muslim opinion, which is just a proxy, softer terminology for progressivism. The better way to say it is that the attempt here is to provide an alternative to being a normal Muslim. Which is to say that the lesser the Muslim practice, the better.”
I’ll let your readers decide whether that’s character assassination or not… lots of conjecture, no evidence.
As for Ali Eteraz and Muqtedar Khan, both have disavowed the Progressive Muslim movement (on our site!), regardless of their other opinions. Challenge the opinions, not the messenger, which provides and will continue to provide a variety of opinions.
Perhaps it’s our way of forcing people to deal with pluralism in thought and opinion. We’ll measure its success in our influence.
June 6, 2007 at 2:39 PM
ASA, Zahed, thanks for pointing that out. I can see how how this could be misconstrued, so I’ll reword it to point to the site not the person. I don’t mind criticism or the consequent corrections from it.
As for the two personalities you mentioned, I think it is for YOU to point out what part of their message fits mainstream Islam, because everything I have seen and read, or to be fair MOST of everything I have seen and read (and personally seen MQ’s pitiful email lambasting hijab as being a cultural and not Islamic symbol) is exactly pro-regressive. Just because someone disavows something doesn’t mean anything. And you should brush up on the history of the disavowal; you may learn something beyond the mere illusion this ‘disavowal’ presents. See point 1 from Dr. M: here
June 6, 2007 at 2:47 PM
Oh, one more thing, as far as challenging the opinions, we are doing exactly that at MM. How? By presenting the opinions based on the Sunnah and classical ilm. Borrowing the statement from Hamza Yusuf, “Let the best dawah win!”
The only reason I even mentioned these individuals and their site(s) was in reference to the RAND report and its objectives that mirror some of the objectives laid out in some of the efforts of the three above. In many cases, the skeletons in the closet are hard to shake away.
June 6, 2007 at 3:24 PM
You are still basing your arguments on the characters and not their opinions. Bash their opinions as much as you want. I certainly don’t agree with them on everything. Also, in trying to “prove” (whatever that entails) that something fits mainstream Islam, you will still have differences of opinion. If you can’t be bothered to prove something doesn’t fit, why should we?
Anyway, nothing will improve in our lot until we stop bordering on takfir and start addressing the issues only. The way people have dealt with pluralism in thought has turned into intellectual sectarianism, which results in the way you’ve handled this issue.
BTW, no response from you on the adab of anonymous criticism? I can explain further…
June 6, 2007 at 4:59 PM
Feel free to respond to anon and his/her lack of adab in the comment.
I think we are going in circles, so I’ll try to wrap up my point of view. What I am stating about these characters is not something I pulled out from the air; it is based on their opinions and their articles. If I state that Wolfowitz is a neocon, do I need to dig up everything in his past to make that point? It is known and is apparent. That’s why I did not state anything about Amanullah because I haven’t researched his opinions. So, I leave it to the readers here, who are smart enough to make their own judgment, and I am guessing it won’t take them very long to arrive at the picture I am painting. Esp. since many of them already know these characters.
And to throw out the ‘takfir’ word is somewhat disingenuous, considering that no one has done so. Yes, some of what the people mentioned have delved into is definitely in the danger zones, but I, nor anyone else who does not have the knowledge, is in a position to declare anyone non-Muslim.
Switching gears, why don’t you tell me why DHS would choose to approach relatively minor players in the Islamosphere, instead of interacting with the established Muslim organizations? No agenda there, is there? And why is it that not one of the four is an established scholar of classical Islamic sciences, and in fact 3 of them have either directly or indirectly espoused or supported the idea of ‘reformation’, a key buzzword of progressivism; No agenda there either?
June 6, 2007 at 6:26 PM
Wow – all this speculation. All you need to do is ask me yourself. My email is email@example.com.
First of all, I consider myself solidly a part of the mainstream Muslim community. Ingrid Mattson is a personal friend with whom I work with and am in full support of. (Oh, and you can catch me on an ISNA panel this Labor Day as well.) I’ve also worked with Salam al-Marayati and MPAC for nearly 20 years. On top of that, I’m on the board of the United Muslims of America (based in Fremont, CA), the board of the Muslim Youth Camp of California (celebrating its 46th year!), the board of the Muslim Public Service Network (13 years of placing Muslim college students in DC summer internships), and the list goes on. If you can claim similar “mainstream” credentials, then I’ll listen to you – otherwise, you have no basis to question my “mainstream-ness”.
Second, I am decidedly mainstream in my religious belief, and am a big fan of Zaytuna (Both Sheikh Hamza and Imam Zaid are familiar w/my work). I do not hold to any so-called “progressive” viewpoints, though I do think we as a community can be more open minded and engaged with the larger community around us, and less judgemental of others.
At last count, there are over 1200 articles on altmuslim. I invite anyone to read through them and come to a conclusion of whatever “threat” I pose based on a collective reading. Sure, there may be some articles that you or I might disagree with, but that I include for the sake of provoking healthy discussion and debate. My opinions are only those which I write myself.
I am very familiar with the RAND report (having criticized it on altmuslim many times) and have no desire to be “played by the book”. If DHS doesn’t invite the mainstream Muslim orgs, it doesn’t matter – because I talk to and work with them anyway. My goal in promoting a Muslim solution to extremism is to take it away from a government which will surely do a worse job, in every respect (both in our civil rights AND effective countering of extremism). I want to put the fight back where it belongs – in the realm of IDEAS and in Muslim hands.
So if you have better ideas to advance our community, please share them. Better yet, get off your ass and do something about it.
June 6, 2007 at 6:47 PM
MR Co-Signs Amad’s message to DHL
To add to the list of knowledgeable Muslim American Scholars:
Ask the Buffalo DHL about me. I got a good record! :-D
“I’m a New Yorker. A Yankees fan!” – I know you guys got that in your notes, hahah.
June 6, 2007 at 7:22 PM
ASA Shahed: jak for dropping by to clarify. There was no speculation involved, I pointed to people, and if anyone follows the link I provided I have further expounded on at least one of the persons’ past articles. If you do not believe that there is a decidedly progressive edge to your website, then perhaps you need to screen your writers better. I hope you will at least consider that in light of the fact that I do know that many people feel like what I have mentioned. Another important point: if you re-read the article and comments in relation to you, you will surely see that I was addressing your website more than you personally. Regardless, and in light of what you stated, I will revisit the website opinion as well. Perhaps that will force me to build the case about progressivism on your website, though I initially wanted to steer away from that direction and let readers make up their own mind. We’ll see.
Talking about speculation, how did you conclude that we are sitting tight on our behinds and not doing anything?
MR: While you are at DHL, can you mail this post out for me to DHS? ;)
June 6, 2007 at 7:31 PM
As for advertising or claiming any credentials, that has to be answered by people who have placed themselves in positions of leadership for the Muslims, whether by choice or by circumstances. I have done or been asked to nothing such, which gives me the right to ask and not be asked. If and when that happens, then I am sure I’ll be prepared for criticism, questions, and unsolicited advice; that’s just how it works.
June 6, 2007 at 8:56 PM
We can ask a few simple questions to find out if someone is a ‘Pro’regressive’:
1. Are the Sharia hudood punishments valid for today? i.e cutting the hand off the thief (considering all sharia requirements are met)
2. Do you consider open homosexuality to forbidden and sinful in Islam?
3. Is ‘hijab’ obligatory for Muslim women to wear according to Islam?
I’m sure there are plenty of other indicators but those few usually suffice. But most ‘pro-regressives’ tend to try and dodge these questions or give very vague answers.
June 6, 2007 at 9:46 PM
Asalam Aliakum Amad,
Excellent post, I will be linking to this in a future post. Altmuslim is indeed become a MWU-lite site. Despite what Zahed and Shahed say, I remember very clearly a link to the “progressive Muslim meetup” on their site. Zahed got his panties in a twist when I pointed out on the PMNUA blog that they didn’t even mention the passing of Sheikh Ahmed Deedat yet had a post about a wrestler who played stereotypical Muslim on the WWE. Zahed’s reaction was a classic.
Despite the fact that I played by their rules, they still banned me at the request of a neocon warmonger who pretends to be a Muslim, and whose behind I kicked numerous times at altmuslim.
June 6, 2007 at 10:31 PM
DrM – you were banned because of your hostility, not your opinions. I still get a kick out of your opinions and (believe it or not) have a soft spot for you. You’re a very funny guy.
We pulled the meetup badge when we realized that we didn’t want to be associated w/them. A lot of people broke their ties for the same reason. I’ve told you that before. You know that. And you need to come up w/a better reason for labeling us “progressive” than not running a Deedat piece in a timely fashion.
Anything else? Do you have the same hostility for Islamica Magazine? (They seem to like altmuslim, we exchange articles regularly, and one of their editors will be joining Ingrid and I in the next meeting w/DHS.)
You people are running out of straw men to beat up on.
June 6, 2007 at 11:07 PM
Shahed, I understand your desire in seeking a spectrum of opinions, but to seek it from people who are clearly off the chart (and I don’t need to bring you examples, you KNOW or should know what some of your writers espouse) is clearly not meritorious because it only raises the credibility of these wackos in the sight of unsuspecting Muslims. I would fear for the sake of my own deeds, if what I provide, leads someone to, for example, take off the hijab because it is merely a ‘cultural symbol’. Also, the spectrum should have the ‘conservative’ end too, which I consider mainstream. How about adding writers that are scholars in classical fields? Or at least ‘orthodox’ in opinions? Wouldn’t that add some balance in your opinion?
I hope, if anything, you will take into consideration that some of our concerns are based on REAL issues and REAL background, not innuendos and speculation. I mean what personal, financial or social reason would I or others have to criticize your site without a reason? I can speak for myself: I have none. Furthermore, since I am accepting your words for their apparent meaning as far as your stand is concerned, it would be nice for you to provide the same courtesy for what we are trying to say with regards to our concerns.
I am glad that Dr. Ingrid will be joining the next meeting.
P.S. Jak Dr. M for the kind comment w/r to the post.
June 6, 2007 at 11:10 PM
MR, took your vote to heart… I have added the names to the main post.
June 7, 2007 at 1:07 AM
Thanks for the “soft spot,” Shahed..but lets be real, if hostility was the criteria for banning then you would have had flea bitten war monger munafiq(who came crying to you about me after I kicked his neocon behind all over the place) banned also.
Also, the progressive badge was all the rage when the pro-regressives were making noise, but you didn’t want to be associated with a freak show on a soon-to-be sinking ship. The reason given to me by Zahed for not running a piece of Sheikh Deedat was bunk(“do we all have to talk about the same thing”). It doesn’t make you pro-regressives(who hate Islamic scholarship) but it shows being out of touch, if not being a tad bit silly for giving wrestler Mark Copola the attention he doesn’t deserve for his stereotypical antics.
Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT requesting to have my account reactivated, but to point out that opinions do play a role in your decision to keep certain voices out of the mix.
June 7, 2007 at 2:41 AM
“The reason given to me by Zahed for not running a piece of Sheikh Deedat was bunk(”do we all have to talk about the same thing”).”
No. The main reason was that you were harassing us about it. I had mentioned that an article was “in the queue,” but decided writing it to please or spite you was the wrong reason.
“And to throw out the ‘takfir’ word is somewhat disingenuous, considering that no one has done so.”
That “borderline takfir” comment was directed at you for this comment: “The better way to say it is that the attempt here is to provide an alternative to being a normal Muslim. Which is to say that the lesser the Muslim in his or her practice, the better.” It has nothing to do with criticism of anyone else.
“Feel free to respond to anon and his/her lack of adab in the comment.”
Likewise, this was directed at you for the accusations you have made (as well as anyone who wants to make accusations of other Muslims anonymously). Last name, please. Who do we fear except for our Lord?
June 7, 2007 at 2:51 AM
Also, judging us by some of the other things people write (AE gave us the first chance to publish his “niqabi” piece, which we declined) reminds me of the slander thrown at CAIR for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th degree of separation to anyone accused of terrorism. If that’s the model of dialogue we’re going to follow, it’s a sad state of affairs.
Bottom line, if it isn’t lifted from a quote published on our site, it’s not a fair criticism of us. Criticise AE and MK all you want. They’re big boys and can (or can’t) defend themselves. At least they have the courage of attaching their full identity to their convictions.
June 7, 2007 at 4:02 AM
No Zahed, I was not harassing you about anything, you got too defensive and hard headed to admit you screwed up. Read my “harassment” in the comments section, folks:
June 7, 2007 at 4:31 AM
“Truthfully, I was trying to find a slant on Ahmed Deedat’s death to write about but now you’ll just have to make do with what you’ve read elsewhere.”
I stand by that. Make of it what you will (anonymously, of course).
June 7, 2007 at 9:20 AM
Wow, good job on finding new loaded terminology. What’s next? “Marginal Takfir”, “Takfir-wannabe”, “Thought-Takfir”?
I stand by exactly what I stated… the progressive stance is exactly that: reduce Muslim practices that are NORMAL to Muslims, such as denying the hijab, which by account of your writers, quite a few do. Denying it is exactly kufr, but that doesn’t make a person kafir. Takfir 101, you may want to book a scholar to teach your staff about it. As far as being anonymous, people who need to know my last name can easily find it, heck, my picture is on there! There is a difference between fearing Allah, and ‘tying the camel’, and not being stupid. If you don’t know what I am getting at, don’t worry about it. Also, for ‘fearing Allah alone’, you guys have been quite brave for promoting people who have openly mocked the tenets of the faith.
At MM, we too have different writers, each entitled to his or her own opinions, and many times we may and do not agree with each other. So, on this article, other writers may not agree with it. But still we have some GENERAL principles, holding to the general fundamentals of Islam, as well as having people of knowledge on staff to ask when we have questions. We know what we know and we also know what we don’t know. That is the difference.
As for your CAIR analogy, that is quite bogus. Would you choose to have Robert Spencer write for you if he promises to ‘behave’? I hope not. So, what people represent and say, not once or twice but consistently, then that’s what they are; there are no degrees of separation there. So, if CAIR consistently defends militancy, then they would deserve the criticism. But they don’t, they consistently deny it. While the folks at the other end of your analogy do NOT deny it, their manifesto of progressivism/reformation/other buzz-words is all over their personal websites.
Consistent to your previous comments, you have not answered any of my direct questions, rather you have chosen to direct your attention to petty issues and ridiculous insinuations. If you think you are doing nothing wrong and its ok to promote whoever promises to behave on your website, then that’s your prerogative. But, then be prepared for the criticism that this flavor will generate.
June 7, 2007 at 9:57 AM
“such as denying the hijab, which by account of your writers, quite a few do.”
Quite a few? Name them, please.
June 7, 2007 at 10:30 AM
Let’s start with Eteraz and MQ right off the bat… give me time to do my research on the rest… probably in a few days…
June 7, 2007 at 10:35 AM
Two out of dozens who have written for us is not “quite a few”. Perhaps you should have done your research before making that remark.
By the way, Muqtedar edits MPAC’s quarterly journal. I anxiously await your criticism of MPAC, assuming you are consistent in your critiques.
June 7, 2007 at 10:38 AM
“But still we have some GENERAL principles, holding to the general fundamentals of Islam, as well as having people of knowledge on staff to ask when we have questions. We know what we know and we also know what we don’t know. That is the difference.”
We do as well. You won’t find altmuslim pontificating on religious matters for that reason (aside from articles we’ve run by people like Imam Zaid). Plus, you won’t find any writings on altmuslim that advocate anything outside the generally accepted principles you state.
I find it odd that you have such a strong opinion about a site that you clearly have not read much.
June 7, 2007 at 10:48 AM
As’Salaamu Alaikum wa’Rahmatullah!
Excellent Post, Akhi! I appreciate the analysis and thought that was put into the post, mashallah.
Ultimately, I don’t seem to see what all of the hubbub is about — perhaps that is because I’m the “nutter” …
Working with DHS huh? How about we also work with US Special OPs forces? That way, when they “take out” (assassinate/murder) a Muslim in some extra-judicial killing…a “Muslim” would be the one pulling the trigger. Sounds delicious!
June 7, 2007 at 10:55 AM
here’s an MQ post on hijab at altmuslim
“If Muslim women wish to regain their humanity and gain an equal moral status with men, which is not denied to them in principle but only in practice [within Islamic society], they must tear the partition that separates them from their right to understand and interpret Islamic sources and act upon their own understanding.”
June 7, 2007 at 12:49 PM
Shahed and Zahed plz stop pretending to be Orthodox Muslims and hiding your liberal leanings… you want dirt… here it is, from the brothers themselves:
1. Female Muslim Tennis Ace Stands Up To Fatwa (to bare herself in public)…
2. Taking Back The Mosque: Will It Catch On? (A Zaniyah who openly discusses her major sins gets sympathy while those who uphold orthodoxy get shafted)…
3. Taslima Nasrin: A Life Between Two Worlds (the new Salman Rushdie)….
4. What Would Muhammad Do? The Answer Lies In Ijtihad (oh yeah, the version that is propagated by Muqtader Khan)… (relationship between the Mosque and State: a contentious issue!!!!!!! when did that happen?)
5. You want another anti-hijab bias of your crowd: Rafia Zakaria: Veil And A Warning (No mention that Samira Munir’s views on hijab were wrong… )
6. Junaid M. Afeef’s review of Zaniya Nomani book… (again, the article is clearly slanted in favour of the pro-regressive heroine Nomani)
The way you frame your above mentioned feature pieces paints these issues as contentious.
They might be contentious from your pluralistic perspective. But these contentions are not rooted in orthodoxy. Rather they come from understanding of life according to liberalism and hence all this pluralistic hogwash.
It is a view that deems concerns of people like Asra Nomani, Sania Mirza, Taslima, and Amina Wadud as valid for Muslims to debate and reach new conclusions while throwing out the orthodoxy.
If it is pluralism that you seek… then it comes down to the very basic question: where does haq (Truth) come from.
You sir are no different from the PMUNA crowd… no matter how much you may protest…
PS: Moderators, delete the post if it is deemed inappropriate
June 7, 2007 at 12:56 PM
Amad, jazakAllah khair!
DHL is actually pretty funny. When they “interviewed” me, they asked me such silly stupid questions. We actually met twice, when I crossed the border.
I can honestly say though, I wasn’t offended, hurt or attacked in anyway. First time was hard for my family though, that kinda pissed me off.
I will definetly tell them to visit your site. Actually they read my blog, so I think I’ll post this post on my blog. I’ll call it “Message from the average Muslim American to the Department of Homeland Security”.
Tell me exactly what you want me to copy.
This is going to be fun!
June 7, 2007 at 1:08 PM
W/S Random, appreciate your time in doing my homework…
Akhi Shahed, I only mentioned two folks because I wanted to make sure that I got all the facts right before naming more. So, don’t rush to conclusions. Even if it were 2 out of 12, which clearly there are more, that is about 20%. Would you appreciate it if we added 20% of neocon Muslim-bashers to our staff? I hope not.
The point is that if we do not have the stomach for placing Islamophobic writers’ columns on our sites, then why do we compromise when the writers want to bite at Islam from within? At least the Islamophobe comes from the outside, so you know where they are coming from. But the Sunnaphobe (I am copyrighting this one) starts the disease within, aiming to destroy the pillars upon which sits the rest of Muslim practice.
I apologize if I came at you too hard… But I do sincerely hope that you will take this issue seriously into consideration. Perhaps you did not envision the site to come off the way I and others here have mentioned, but unfortunately it does for many. And you know that there is always a ‘fix’. I just hope you recognize the problem sooner than later, because I do sincerely believe now that your goal is not the same as PMUNA’s.
June 7, 2007 at 1:09 PM
MR: you can post it anyway you like it… just don’t have them deliver me any surprises ;)
June 7, 2007 at 1:11 PM
“Let’s start with Eteraz and MQ right off the bat… give me time to do my research on the rest… probably in a few days…”
NOW you’re doing research? Blame first, ask questions later! Still haven’t heard an explanation for your horror at the RAND link to our site.
And aside from the fact that you’re only interested in the women’s issues (randomdude), you’ve highlighted about
June 7, 2007 at 1:16 PM
the cat ate my post
June 7, 2007 at 4:38 PM
Thanks for acknowledging that we are not trying to be PMUNA or otherwise align ourselves with them. I don’t mind being criticized for what I believe, but I don’t want to be associated with people whose tactics and beliefs I clearly don’t subscribe to.
If people are getting a wrong impression based on our articles compared with our intentions, we should look into aligning them better. But aside from a few mentions like this one, however, we have had nothing but positive feedback for the nearly six years we’ve been online.
As I mentioned in my first post, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have comments or questions, or better yet, contribute something.
Contrary to popular belief, I do have a day job, and I had better get back to it….
June 7, 2007 at 9:56 PM
wasalam Bro Shahed… I am glad that you will look into the alignment. Also, I tried to avoid conflating in an absolute sense, your views with the website’s; so in my comment above, I was referring to YOU with regards to your goal being dissimilar to PMUNA. I cannot come to the same conclusion w/r to the website, because the first 4 writers I did a bit of looking into turned up even more stuff on half of them:
1) Aslam Abdullah- Progressive Islamic Thought and Human Rights; a speech he gave. And don’t tell me he is also part of MPAC. MPAC is a political PAC, it does not claim to speak for Muslim opinions; it does not intend to form or mold Muslim opinion; it is more of a lobbying organization as you well know.
2) Junaid Afeef supporting Asra Nomani’s “struggles”:
And your own bit on her (linked above) as well as the piece for Sania, which was strange to say the least, on a mainstream Muslim blog. I mean if you would mention it, wouldn’t it be pertinent to mention that what she is doing is REALLY Islamically wrong?
Anyway, I’ll get more info. as time permits. Clearly bro, orthodoxy is hardly reflected in many of the articles I have seen so far…. More to come.
Finally, I am only doing this because you asked for evidence. And you seem sincere in listening to folks, so hopefully, it will help your realignment if and when you attempt it, inshallah.
June 8, 2007 at 5:14 AM
MPAC volunteer’s are good hearted people, I ran into some of them at last years immigration rally. However their leadership is corrupt, with the likes of Salam Al-Maryati and Sarah Eltantawy running about.
Muqtedar Khan is an embarrassment whose relentless attempts to promote himself have made him the laughing stock of Muslim academics. The guy is a self-descriped Kissinger wannabe and brown sahib desi with delusions of grandeur.
June 8, 2007 at 10:04 AM
I used to visit altmuslim quite frequently. I saw some things I objected to but I tolerated them (in part because I enjoyed reading DrM’s comments). However when I came upon the article linked in my name suggesting that the Prophet Ibraahim may have been a mushrik, in utter disgust I stopped visiting the site.
June 8, 2007 at 11:47 PM
What a horrible site! May Allah replace it with one that is better.
June 9, 2007 at 1:32 AM
ahh the irony, after initially giving the benefit of the doubt and joining the site (altMuslim) and then having been banned in short order from this quack site (altMuslim) now the charlatans finally coming out of the closet with their true colors, sympathies, and trying to apologize for progressive sympathies. The best comment on this blog is this one:
>Working with DHS huh? How about we also >work with US Special OPs forces? That way, >when they “take out” (assassinate/murder) >a Muslim in some extra-judicial killing…a >“Muslim” would be the one pulling the >trigger. Sounds delicious!
akhi, there already is one “pro-regressive” (OmarG), that both DrM and I mopped the floor with numerous times. He was proud of his “service” killing muslims in Iraq (as mentioned on his own blog) and went on defending his true master and lords (the U.S. army) ON altMuslim right thru the gang raping and burning alive of the Iraqi girl in Basra. Of course, this is the “brotherhood” and “pluralism” that all of us must embrace as part and parcel of “progressive” Islam.
As for Muqtedar, we were able to use this delicious quote from him for 2 jum’ah khutbahs in our area:
“It is time that we acknowledge that the freedoms we enjoy in the US are more desirable to us than superficial solidarity with the Muslim World.”
June 9, 2007 at 1:58 AM
Please do not attribute comments on our site to us. We have the following disclaimer after every article:
“We try to remove any comments that do not conform to our netiquette guidelines. If any comments remain that are in violation, please let us know. The presence of offending comments does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors of altmuslim.”
June 10, 2007 at 12:20 AM
Prophet Muhammad incorages ‘sucinctness in speech. I found your warning of tghe Rand Plan in Action confusing and verbose. your points (all 30 or 40 or so of them!) got lost, as I se it.
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