Friday, May 13, 2005

On the latest media stunt...

Hussein Ibish is not your typical “progressive” Muslim. He actually has a real background in civil rights, in addition to solid credentials in the Arab-American community. Unfortunetly as an ardent secularist, Ibish has internalized the “progressive shahada” that states that a Muslim is simply anyone who claims to be one. This is what being an “organic” member of the community means in his view i.e. having a soft spot for hummus or biryani is enough to make you one of the gang.


The focus of this post is not Mr. Ibish himself, but a couple of articles he recently wrote for MWU regarding Kamal Nawash, of “Free Muslims Against Terrorism” (FMAT) fame, and his planned "anti-terror" rally this weekend. Nawash is rightly exposed for the charlatan that he is: a disgraced former member of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a failed politician, and, worst of all, a lowly opportunist selling himself to Zionists, Christofascists, and pretty much any outfit which is hostile to Islam and Muslims in order to promote himself.

In the first article, Ibish presents what he calls the good, bad and the ugly of new Muslim groups to the reader. The bad being FMAT, the ugly being the neocon Center for Islamic Pluralism, and the good, of course, being the Progressive Muslims Union of North America (PMUNA). While the information on the first two groups is relevant and informative, Ibish performs a whitewash of his own organization, the PMUNA.

He states that the PMUNA has received no funding whatsoever from the notorious Rand Corporation, whose report calling for “civil democratic Islam” should be required reading for all Muslims. (ed. note: There is no proof that PMUNA has received funding from this outfit. However, as noted earlier, Aiman Mackie, who is on PMUNA's board of directors, has worked for Rand in the past, and MWU, the mouthpiece of PMUNA has steadfastly remained silent on "Civil Democratic Islam"). However, he also claims that PMUNA is "transparent and straightforward," when past events and inquiries have shown that this isn't exactly the case. He also uses the example of Daniel Pipes calling him names to bolster PMUNA's credibility, as if all of us aren't considered "the bad and the ugly" by Pipes.

The report, by Cheryl Bernard, wife of Muslim neocon Zalmay Khalizad openly calls for creating divisions within the ummah, and for the pitting of “progressives” against practicing Muslims. Interestingly enough, MWU has an interview with Bernard, a disgustingly flattering puff piece where no real questions are asked. At one point, it seems as if Nassef is asking her for tips.

Maybe there's no cash involved as Ibish states, but encouragement is a 110%. Has it ever crossed Ibish’s mind that there might be something odd or amiss about Nassef’s appearances and statements on FOX and other neocon-friendly media outlets slamming Muslim civil rights groups? You don’t have to be a detective to figure out that Nawash is simply doing what the MWU topdog has done, and continues to do so.

In his follow up article, Ibish gives us an exhaustive list of those who have “endorsed” Nawash’s little march. It's quite informative and rather amusing too, reminding me of all the anti-Muslim propagandists in Europe and the US who gave Amina Wadud their collective blessings in leading phony Friday prayers. My concern is why Nassef is being excluded from this list, considering that it was he who gave Nawash the red carpet treatment in the past on MWU. Does Ibish know that his boss at PMUA gave Nawash a free ride ?

While I feel that Ibish is ignorant on matters of religion, I’m fairly certain his heart is in the right place. It’s a pity this can’t be said for the majority of those identify themselves as “progressives.”

8 Comments:

Blogger Yusuf Smith said...

As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

Ibish doesn't seem to pick up on the 48th in Nawash's list of "sponsors" - the "Uzbekistani Kcid Skcus Hsawan Foundation for Peace".

Notice what the three strange words spell backwards?

5:00 AM  
Blogger publicdebate said...

Salaam

as drmaxtor correctly points out, the problem with Ibish is that he leaves out pmuna's own involvement with these people... mwu, nassef, jawad ali etc. made a big deal about the american muslim taskforce endorsement of bush during the 2000 elections, and challenged Agha Saeed (chair of amtf) in person, and in public talks.

But then they invited some of worst bush loving neo-con characters to be on their own pmuna board... (Ibish was part of the invitation and drawing up of the initial list of the pmuna board).

So it seems to me that so long as the pmuna hangs out with fox, hillel, neo-cons etc. that is all OK - only when someone else does it that it becomes a "problem." Another group that the pmuna types are close to is the brookings institute (muqtedar khan is a fellow or something)... that is a Democratic Party outfit that has similar goals of "reform of arab world" etc. something to look into... anyways, i have a blog entry up on this on pmunadebate.

2:33 PM  
Blogger indiaunbound said...

Admittedly you have faced this before and this is all a tired rehash of what is Question you have faced since 9/11.

Anyway - here goes...What REALLY is the problem with you guys allowing that there may be guys who just want a Muslim label rather requiring to be classified as a Muslim by standards that YOU want set?

Methinks this approach betrays a cult mentality rather than a relgion at peace with itself.
Is it sohreat weak that if someone calls himself Muslim and does not adhere to the 'true muslim' criteria as you would state, the religion itself would be under threat?

Educate me please!

4:06 PM  
Blogger DrMaxtor said...

Indiaunbound, I think you are confused, so I'll "educate" you. Instead of asking disingenous "questions" why dont you do your own research into the groups mentioned ? The ones who are behaving like cults are those folks have absolutely no background in Islam or its history yet are promoting themselves as experts.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Abdul-Halim V. said...

Salaam,

I'm actually a bit worried about how this whole issue of PMNUA and Muslim Wake Up! seems to be progressing. My concern is that it will lead to a rather unique split in the ummah in the US (at least) and perhaps in the rest of the West too.

Hopefully, we won't get divisions into Orthodox , Conservative and Reform Muslims.

It's divisive to have certain kinds of disagreements but it becomes even more crucial when the arguments are over who is or isn't Muslim.

Even from an "orthodox and traditional" perspective, Ahl al-Qibla are considered Muslim and your sinss and even certain kinds of heresy aren't enough to remove you from the ummah.

Somehow this conflict has to be handled in a way which doesn't lead to a schism.

2:47 AM  
Blogger izzymo said...

Salaam alaikum,

Brother Yusuf, I can't believe they actually put that on their list. That alone should let them know what kind of people we are dealing with.

Public Debate, you noticed that, too? They don't see that they are doing actually what they are criticizing in other Muslim orgs. The hyprocrisy so blatant. I'm not sure why some of the people in that movement can't see that.

Indiaunboard, I clarified our aims in the post above. I don't care if they want a Muslim label or not. What I DO care about is these groups telling us what is Islam and that anyone who doesn't fall in line is an automatic extremist.

Dr. Maxtor, Great post!!!

Brother Abdul-Halim, I used to be worried about that too but one of many flaws that we have pointed out is that they really don't offer nothing religious to make themselves as a different sect. They are mainly a political group with no spiritual meat to chew. They are also very elitist and seek to enjoin certain powerful people to their group. Notice how most, if not all, Islamic scholars were not invited to serve on their board.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

The comment about "Orthodox , Conservative and Reform Muslims" got me thinking...

In Israel, from what I've read, 3/4 of the Jewish population is secular, meaning that they don't really fit into any of those religious categories. And I think that's more like what some of these "Progressive" Muslims are.

Also, "Jewish" is often used as a cultural label, for people who might be religious Jews but might also be atheist, pagan, or anything else. And that's also what the "Progressive" argument is - that the label "Muslim" shouldn't have anything to do with religous beliefs.

12:51 AM  
Blogger Abdul-Halim V. said...

Salaam,

I'm not sure that secularism necessarily makes the Muslim Wake Up people safe from schismatic potential. If you get a couple of mosques with female imams, then you already start to have a schism because you'll start to have mosques where more traditional Muslims won't feel like a valid salat is taking place. And then a schism could proceed from there.

4:43 PM  

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