Sunday, July 03, 2005

Muqtedar Khan resigns from the PMUNA

Well...can you blame him? He joined looking for dialogue and progress. Instead, he received insults. I don't think I could have endured those public attacks for as long as he did but patience is a virtue. Maybe his more reasoned outlook could have brought some common sense to the table but, they felt it was better to attack him than to engage him as a human being.

It's a sad commentary on the state of affairs in the American umma. It's all the more proof to show that when the American government is finished with its designs on the Muslim world, the PMUNA will be discarded, disbanded and ignored by the media whose attention they so desperately seek.

Are those cracks I see in the foundation? Words in italics are my added emphasis. All thanks to the folks at the PMUNA Debate.

Dear Omid (Safi)

Assalamu Alaykum,

Lately I have found the environment with Progressive Muslims Union extremely oppressive, abusive and hateful. I have found both PMU and MWU extremely intolerant of difference and disagreement. This is the only Muslim group where people who believe in the teachings of the Quran are ridiculed and those who express ambivalence about it even about the existence of God are celebrated.

But lately the culture of takfir and the absolutely lack of basic adab and simple etiquette that is becoming a defining characteristic of PMU has become suffocating. I have been extremely critical of many Muslim organizations, specially ISNA, AMSS and CAIR organizations that are routinely ridiculed by PMU members who feel that they are morally superior to all Muslims -- both in private and in writing but have never, ever been abused by any of them and most importantly never ever been made to feel that I do not belong. It should not be a great loss to PMU.

Even though I was member of the advisory board for a year, I was never consulted even once on any of its decisions. The advisory board never met even once and we never even had a single meeting with the executive committee. It is a sham anyway.

My close interaction with PMU has taught me three things, (1) that clearly I am not sufficiently indifferent to the teachings of Quran and the traditions of the Islamic heritage to be a "good Progressive Muslim"; (2) I was too gullible to believe in its empty claims of openness and tolerance for different perspectives. And (3) I have also learned that I am completely opposite in nature to most of the members of PMU. For example I believe that a rational argument precedes the moral judgment.

PMU is operating with a set of moral principles randomly acquired from Marxism and/or postmodern cultural trends and is treating them as absolutely moral truths, and are now looking for arguments [hopefully with some Islamic content] to justify them. PMU members unleash fanatical rage when this is questioned and resort to abuse, distortion, false accusations as a substitute to argument.

I can understand, sympathize and participate in exercises of Ijtihad that seek to reassess "human understanding" of Islam. I have been advocating this for over a decade. My website Ijtihad was launched in 1999. But not to observe Islamic values after recognizing them as such to me is a sin. I cannot for example in good conscience approve of alcohol consumption by those who acknowledge it as forbidden. To demand that I do so in order to remain a member of the community is exactly the kind of oppression that I though we had come together to fight. I have been very prolific in presenting my views and opinions on myriad things Islamic or otherwise and hence there is very little about my politics that can be claimed to remain unknown. So when PMU invited me to join the advisory board, it was with full knowledge of my positions, so why the uproar now over my refusal to toe the party line.

I have never, ever, hesitated from expressing my views and dissenting with any majority in every organization that I have worked with. But, the extent of intolerance that I have experienced from members of PMU has been shockingly unexpected and unprecedented. I have come to this sad realization that PMU's moral claims on social justice and tolerance and the "big tent approach" are shallow and indeed false. PMU is just another organization as intolerant and closed as any in our society.Please liberate me from the oppressive and intolerant culture of PMU and accept my resignation from the advisory board with immediate effect.

Your Brother in Islam

Muqtedar Khan, Ph.D.


Blogger Ann said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

I don't really know that much about these people - although I have read some of Muqtedar Khan's stuff - but I have to say that that's an impressive resignation letter.

10:02 AM  
Blogger DrMaxtor said...

Muqtedar's had it coming to him for a long time. The chickens have come home to roost. I also love the way he leaves the "phd" at the end.

12:27 AM  
Blogger izzymo said...

Walaikum salaam Ann, it's very impressive. Get's right down to the point.

Dr. Max, if I had a PhD I would put it on ALL on my stuff. LOL!

9:27 PM  
Blogger Svend said...

I have some rather less charitable commentary at


9:06 PM  
Blogger purpletiger said...

Ah, the apologist appears - (yeah yeah, you say you are not - but you are... )

BUT that's OK - let 'em knock each other out!

It is, Dr. Muqtedar Khan who spoke out about the culture of PMUism - and this is not the first time the PMUists have attacked their critics this way, and it won't be the last!

It does show that somewhere Dr. Khan does have a lot more integrity than the so-called "liberal-leftist"crowd who have gathered around Tarek Fatah, Omid Safi, Ahmed Nassef et al.

No such attack would be possible without their consent. And it is only after the attacks died down did Omid Safi say a few words about "tolerance" and so on...

BUT the attacks had gotten so rotten that Omid Safi had to say something...

Maybe PMU should open up their archives --- let the people be the judge. And why not? It is a public entity, with debates and attacks - that directly impact Muslims. This way people can observe what is going on themselves - and they can decide who is wrong and who is right.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Svend said...

I see purple tiger operates by the "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" principle rather than the principle of supporting honesty and fairness regardless of whether it happens to benefit your cause. You also seem rather uninterested in whether the methods involved are Islamic. I don't subscribe to this end-justifies-the-means thinking. I believe in representing your opponent honestly and fairly--whether the person is a Muslim or non-Muslim, a saint or serial killer--not hurling every possible insult and insinuation at them in order to ruin their reputation. Seems a pretty traditional approach to me.

I do not object to his criticizing PMU. I object to his cheap, dishonest methods.

And if you think I'm an apologist for PMU you don't know me very well. I'm not defending PMU here, I'm criticizing dishonest attacks. I'm sorry to see LivingTradition (many of whose perspectives on PMU I share) endorsing such a trashy attack.

Had his letter of resignation re-hashed or eleborated on the concerns of "Is Undermining the Progressive Muslim Movement?", I wouldn't have had a problem with it at all. I'm all for constructive criticism (and have given PMU leaders a lot of it, myself). But this wasn't a serious critique, it was cheap PR stunt.

10:56 PM  
Blogger DrMaxtor said...

Svend makes a good point. Khan may have resigned from the PMNUA but he still writes for MWU. Given that Khan is no stranger to controversy, a publicity stunt cannot be ruled out.

4:08 AM  
Blogger Svend said...

Okay, I will rephrase it to be fair. I should have written this: "I think this letter *seems* like a cheap publicity stunt."

I don't think PMUers were the intended audience there. If you don't think that letter was intended for public consumption, I submit that you might be a smidgin naive, given the way it was written, but that's just an opinion.

As for my being a PMU apologist, I'm not a member of PMU. I'm simply on the mailing list (I'm on MANY; I'm on the Indian Muslim mailing list, too, but I'm not Indian). I'm simply a Muslim who tries to deal with these complicated issues as best he can. When PMU contributes to needed debate and reform I support it. When it doesn't I don't. The same applies to CAIR, or Rabita or any other Islamic entity.

BTW, I publicly criticized the excesses of MWU long before LivingTradition or PMUNADebate were even founded (check the comments to Mohja Kahf's first 2 pieces in Sex & the Ummah).

11:08 AM  
Blogger purpletiger said...

Mr. White, in order to stay on the PMU you have to agree to the PMU credo. And you have to be either a supporter, or a member of that group. It is not like someone is forcing you to be a supporter. It is not "just" a mailing list...

Of-course Khan has his moments - yet, when someone has said a truth that clearly resonates with a large number of Muslims who have had very similar experiences in dealing with the PMU - then we must give credit where credit is due.

As I said before this is *not* the first time the PMU has indulged in bitterly insulting members of the mainstream Muslim community. That is all documented here on Living Tradition. Actually Khan's letter is very mild - you are just being very defensive (the attitude of PMUers must be catching).

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salaam 'Alaikum

Interesting... I am so behind on catching up on blogs.

Svend, thanks for visiting. I really don't know enough about M. Khan and his relationship / presence / function at PMUNA to comment one way or the other, but I know he does like his public open letters (like the one he wrote handslapping the Muslim American community several years ago that garnered him a lot of attention).

I hope we don't get into the "who was here first," stuff. All of us who are on LT except AJ (who didn't have a blog) were writing about the same things you mention long b4 this blog was established. I can't speak for Altaf, but I believe that PMUNA Debate was established b/c of who was being invited on to the board at that time, not b/c of the magazine.

Hm. Interesting anyway... in the long run it may not mean anything.

6:26 PM  

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