Islam and cultural politics

I’m in the middle of writing and researching my article on the Muslim community of Montreal. It’s going well, but just as the wider conversation about modern Islam has become infected with politics (or, rather, politicized), I find that in conversations I’ve had so far, the same issues inevitably come up without my having to ask about them. Read more

Fear of fabric

Seemingly taking a cue from France, Britain is looking to ban “veils” (i.e. the niqab, or face veil) from schools because they might be “unsafe.” (Specifically, the veils might catch fire when placed over a Bunsen burner. Seriously, I’m not making this stuff up…) There is simply way too much coverage of this entire hijab/niqab issue in Western media, and I’m going to say my piece on this now and never speak of it again. Read more

Thoughts on Little Mosque on the Prairie

I just finished watching the first episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie. Actually, we managed to get the press kit from the CBC, for the sake of our CKUT radio show. Part of the press kit was a DVD with the first episode.

There seems to be an inordinate amount of “buzz” (God, I hate that word) around this show. We’re finally showing the “normal” side of North American Muslims. Frankly, the mass media has failed, thus far, to really deal with Islam outside of the context of fundamentalism or extremism, so this is a refreshing change. It’s also, in my view, representative of the continuing Islamic renaissance here in the West. Read more

Children of the atom

First off, I must wish Eid mubarak to everyone celebrating Eid today!

Eid-ul-Fitr is the major festival at the end of the month of Ramadan. It’s officially a three-day festival. The analogy would be to compare Eid to a kind of mash-up between Christmas and Thanksgiving. There’s a second Eid, Eid-ul-Adha, that takes place two months after Eid-ul-Fitr, specifically at the end of the Hajj period. That second Eid commemorates Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son.

Anyway, I just got back from Eid prayer at the mosque, where about three thousand people gathered for the customary communal prayer on the morning of Eid. So many emotions came flooding in. Read more

Oh great, here comes WW3

Ugh… I’ve spent the better part of the last few days being utterly exhausted by this whole cartoon controversy.

I was pissed at the beginning. I was offended by the cartoons, by their use of stereotypes and the political insinuations being made. So I wrote about it.

This weekend, when I lay in bed feeling torn in two by these two opposing parts of my self, was the low point. I feel betrayed by the West sometimes, even though I am a Westerner. But the media here continues to talk about Muslims as if we’re not in the room. Just today, I saw a few minutes of an interview on TV, on the CBC, between a white anchorwoman and a Dutch scholar from the University of Amsterdam. “Why are the Muslims reacting like this?” “The Muslims should do this… The Muslims feel that… The Muslims… The Muslims…” Read more

The Muhammad drawings

I’ve just now come across this new controversy in the news, thanks to this Wikipedia article.

It seems that a Danish newspaper made some editorial cartoons depicting Muhammad, some in an offensive manner (e.g. hiding a bomb in his turban, brandishing a sword—you know, the usual). Not only do Muslims take offense that anyone would actually depict the Prophet, which is a huge, huge, huge taboo (like Jesus-having-sex huge—no, huger even), but to have him depicted in a racist way? Oh yeah, that’s gonna go over well. Read more

Review of Orientalism by Edward Said

I finished Orientalism some time last week. I knew for some time, at least somewhere in the back of my mind, that Orientalism was a major book. It seemed to be one of those books that got referred to here and there in other books that I read.

The book, Orientalism, is a critique of a scholarly tradition called Orientalism. It’s an exposition of the means by which Western scholars have, for hundreds of years, defined who “Orientals” were and are. Read more

Ramadan starting Wednesday

As reported on ISNA’s website, Ramadan 1426 AH (2005 CE) will begin on Wednesday!

Here we go! So begins the month of spiritual reflection and empathy for the poor and hungry of the world. Oh, it’s going to be a wild ride, isn’t it? It always is. Waking up before the twilight of dawn to eat some sort of meal (what, pray tell, tastes good at that hour?!). In an ideal world, one is then supposed to get on with their day after that. But I’m not an ideal person. I need sleep. I admit it. So I’ll probably go back to sleep after the morning suhoor meal. Read more