According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Speaking Out - Learning to Distinquish the Differences Between Islam and Islamism

Amazon source link

Book Description

Eye-opening accounts of heroic resistance to religious extremism.

In Lahore, Pakistan, Faizan Peerzada resisted being relegated to a “dark corner” by staging a performing arts festival despite bomb attacks. In Senegal, wheelchair-bound Aissatou Cissé produced a comic book to illustrate the injustices faced by disabled women and girls. In Algeria, publisher Omar Belhouchet and his journalists struggled to put out their paper, El Watan (The Nation), the same night that a 1996 jihadist bombing devastated their offices and killed eighteen of their colleagues. In Afghanistan, Young Women for Change took to the streets of Kabul to denounce sexual harassment, undeterred by threats. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Abdirizak Bihi organized a Ramadan basketball tournament among Somali refugees to counter the influence of Al Shabaab. From Karachi to Tunis, Kabul to Tehran, across the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and beyond, these trailblazers often risked death to combat the rising tide of fundamentalism within their own countries.

But this global community of writers, artists, doctors, musicians, museum curators, lawyers, activists, and educators of Muslim heritage remains largely invisible, lost amid the heated coverage of Islamist terror attacks on one side and abuses perpetrated against suspected terrorists on the other.

A veteran of twenty years of human rights research and activism, Karima Bennoune draws on extensive fieldwork and interviews to illuminate the inspiring stories of those who represent one of the best hopes for ending fundamentalist oppression worldwide.

Why Bill Maher and Ben Affleck Are Both Wrong

Karima Bennoune | UC Davis law professor, author of “Your Fatwa Does

Posted: 10/06/2014 10:18 am EDT Updated: 10/06/2014 10:59 am EDT

When I watched Bill Maher -- with whom I agree about many other issues -- talk about Islam on his show "Real Time" last Friday night, I felt as though my father's life story was being erased.

According to Maher, no one in Muslim majority countries openly denounces fundamentalism. "They are afraid to speak out." Such claims deny heroic battles waged by many people of Muslim heritage against extremism. For example, Mahfoud Bennoune, my dad, was an Algerian anthropologist who risked his life throughout the 1990s jihadist violence in his country. He taught evolution despite a classroom visit from the head of the so-called Islamic Salvation Front (dad threw the guy out!).

Though later forced to flee his apartment, Mahfoud Bennoune remained in his country despite death threats. He went on to repeatedly denounce terror and the extremist ideas that underlie it. For four years, every time he went out, he did not know whether he would come home again. But he never, ever shut up because of that.

My father believed the jihadists "trample Islam underfoot in the name of jihad." A free-thinker and secularist, he remained proud of the positive aspects of his religious heritage, such as Muslim historical contributions to science, even while being honest about the dangers both radical and conservative interpretations pose. Armed only with pen and voice, he fought back. He was just one of thousands of Algerian democrats to do so then, and today thousands of others from Afghanistan to Somalia continue the same fight.

As Michael Steele -- not someone I often agree with -- correctly noted on Maher's Friday show, people like these do not get significant Western media coverage. Have you heard much about the stalwart Iraqi human rights advocate Samira Saleh Al Naimi recently killed by ISIS in her hometown Mosul after publicly excoriating their brutality? Even when they pay with their lives, people like her are often forgotten by the world.

So, I want to challenge Bill Maher -- who is right about the need to ardently defend liberal principles -- to start supporting those who do, but whose stories are untold. Suggesting the fundamentalists somehow represent Islam, as Maher did, overlooks people like Al Naimi, but also acquiesces to the claims of the repulsive ISIS would-be "Caliph" Baghdadi who wants that to be true.

In fact, many liberals and progressives in Muslim majority contexts are fighting back. While writing my book, "Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism," I interviewed nearly 300 of them from 30 countries -- traveling from Pakistan to Mali -- to hear how they continue to resist.

I think of Raif Badawi who faces 1000 lashes in a Saudi jail for running the Saudi Arabian Liberals website. Or those I saw protesting on the streets of Lahore against blasphemy death sentences, despite being told suicide bombers would turn up. Or the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq that runs a shelter for women fleeing ISIS, while simultaneously denouncing the group's misogynist atrocities (like its reported "concubine market" in Mosul).

These people deserve better than for Muslims to be painted as mainly being a bunch of fundamentalists or Islam seen as inherently extreme. For example, on Friday's show atheist writer Sam Harris opined shockingly that "Islam is the motherlode of bad ideas." How does one begin to respond to such an anti-humanist assertion?

On the same HBO program, Ben Affleck passionately defended Islam and accused both Harris and Maher of bigotry. "It's gross, it's racist... You are painting the whole religion with the same brush," he insisted. I am sincerely grateful to him for expressing the outrage many of us feel over such negative stereotypes.

However, Western liberals also make me nervous when they downplay the gravity and the scope of the challenge posed to people of Muslim heritage themselves by fundamentalism and jihadism, even as a rejoinder to discriminatory portrayals of the faith. I do agree with Maher that many Westerners in the liberal camp have been reticent to openly critique Muslim fundamentalism and have failed to grasp the desperate need to defeat it.

"ISIS couldn't fill a double-A ballpark in Charleston," Affleck suggested. Sadly, this is not true. Despite denunciations by countless laudable Muslim groups and individuals, ISIS could pack Madison Square Garden with a well-armed, and small but significant minority -- including young recruits from the West. The Pakistani Taliban have pledged allegiance to ISIS as have some jihadist groups across North Africa. Gulf governments -- that have long been supported by the U.S. -- have for years poured money into some of these same groups.

While Affleck was right to note that the U.S. has wrongfully waged wars against Muslim majority countries like Iraq, killing many more than the Westerners who have been killed by Muslim extremists, the real issue in the debate about Muslim fundamentalism is not the West vs. Islam. It is the huge number of people on the ground being slaughtered by the fundamentalists, from Afghanistan to Nigeria.

Liberals and progressives of Muslim heritage face a very grave crisis indeed, both in terms of violence and the ideology that promotes it. We need both Bill and Ben to rethink. We do not need either stereotypical generalizations, or minimizing responses to fundamentalism, however well-intentioned. What we need is a principled, anti-racist critique of Muslim fundamentalism that pulls no punches, but that also distinguishes between Islam (the diverse religious tradition) and Islamism (an extreme right wing political ideology.) We need support, understanding and to have our existence recognized.

One final notable feature of the Maher v. Affleck debate is that no women and no Muslims were on the show. New rule -- when debating what Muslims supposedly think about fundamentalism, you ought to have some people of Muslim heritage at the table.

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