Friday, March 31, 2006

What's Wrong with Beliefnet?

Beliefnet.com is a popular website that focuses on the world's major religions and one that offers a spiritual alternative to its readers. I am not a great fan of their methods and I find that some of the writers who contribute to the columns on Islam are a bit too apologetic for my taste. Having said that,I must credit them with generally taking a balanced approach to Islam. They tend to steer clear of controversy, though they have featured people like Asra Nomani in the past.

I was therefore truly dismayed that they have now chosen to feature the blog of Kathy Shaidle on their website. Kathy was, until now, a Canada based blogger little known outside of the Catholic blogosphere. Her blog is named "Relapsed Catholic" and chiefly consists of large doses of venom directed against Muslims and Islam in general. She panders to that extreme minority that believes that Islam is the root of all evil. In short, a pest best ignored. But by affording this Islamophobe the chance to spread her vitriol, Beliefnet has greatly erred. She has now access to a large readership with little in the way of balance in opinion.The simply brilliant Antonia Zerbisias says it better than I ever can:

In issuing their fatwa on the Muslims who are calling for the heads of people whose mightiest weapon is the pen, the North American pyjamahadeen have gone too far, using the incident as another reason to bash Muslims and sow further divisions between what are already "clashing civilizations."

It's like they have been waiting for just this opportunity.

Case in point: Toronto-based blogger Kathy Shaidle (a.k.a. Relapsed Catholic) whose religious politics would have easily qualified her as chief judge and bonfire builder during the Spanish Inquisition. The woman never misses an opportunity to insult Islam. And so, it was hardly surprising that, not only did she publish the offending cartoons, she giddily took up the torch and ran with it.

On Sunday she posted a Tom McMahon cartoon claiming that when it comes to skyscrapers Muslims "destroy" them, and when it comes to cartoons Muslims "riot about them" — as if this applies to every single Muslim every single minute.

Why she doesn't call her blog the Daily Auto Da Fe — for the public burning of heretics in Spain — is beyond me.

The cartoon uproar has merely added fuel to her fire, one she and others of her ilk had been hoping for ever since the calls for Muslim blood over the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 calmed down.


I have written to Beliefnet and have expressed my outrage in strong terms. I believe that if enough of us make our displeasure known, there is a strong possibility that she may get the pink slip. For a website that prides itself on a non partisan approach, Beliefnet has really messed up. Let us help them make amends.

(editor's note: Haters take note. We allow your comments to be posted here (with some exception; we do not allow profanity, harassment, and some other things. All commenting is at our discretion and we reserve the right to edit or delete). Kathy Shaidle, on the other hand, doesn't allow commenting on her blog, while she does cyber-pound on the head of anyone who dares disagree with her. And sends out her attack poodles to boot. WWJD, anyway? Thanks for pointing more readers our way, Kathy.)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Iman Muhanna and American Muslim Politics

Salaam alaikum,

Sister Umm Zaid and I have written an article about the murder of Iman Muhanna Mohammad for AltMuslim.com.

Also, it seems that many of us are getting into the political boxing ring as American Muslims are gaining a foothold in politics.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Empowering Muslim Women

All praise is due to Allah, and May His Peace and Blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad and upon his family, and his companions and all those who follow his way until the Day of Judgment, Ameen.

The 2nd annual Sisters Deen Intensive Program will take place in San Jose, CA fromMarch 24, 2006 to March 27, 2006 at the Hyatt Hotel. Applications are open only to sisters.

“WHY SHOULD I ATTEND?”
This intensive is a unique program devoted specifically to female-related topics and it has been designed exclusively for Muslim women who wish to embody the great and noble Islamic tradition. The subjects offered will be covered by an impressive line-up of qualified teachers and will, Inshaa Allah, enlighten and empower the participants by providing them with an introduction to the core Islamic sacred sciences from a gender specific orientation.

THE TEACHERS
Praise be to Allah, several of the foremost female scholars are confirmed for the program including Ustadha Saira AbuBakr, Ustadha Rania Awaad, Ustadha Shamira Chothia, Ustadha Mona Elzankaly, Ustadha Ameena Jandali, Ustadha Umm Hassan (Saliha Shakir) and Ustadha Fadwa Silmi. In addition, Imam Zaid Shakir will be presenting a special session for the sisters. Biographies of all the teachers participating in this program follow below.

CURRICULUM
Daily sessions include:
Tajwid (all levels)
Tajwid sessions will cover the rules and fundamentals of proper recitation of the Holy Quran according to the Hafs recitation. Parallel beginner, intermediate and advanced levels will be taught by an impressive lineup of female Quran teachers whom each hold an Ijaazah (traditional teaching license) in the science of Tajwid from the greatest scholars of Quranic recitation of our time.

Fiqh (Hanafi, Maliki and Shafi’i)
Beginner sessions will cover a primary fiqh text focusing on the rules of purification, prayer and fasting. Intermediate fiqh session will provide an in-depth look into the chapters of menstruation (Hayd), postnatal bleeding (Nifas) and chronic/irregular bleeding (Istihada) for each of the three madhhabs. Both levels will also cover aspects of ritual purification (Ghusl) pertaining to each of the above topics as well as address the issues of discharge, contraceptive use and the fiqh of intimate relations. These are parallel sessions taught by Ustadha Saira AbuBakr, Ustadha Rania Awaad, Ustadha Shamira Chothia, Ustadha Mona Elzankaly, and Ustadha Fadwa Silmi.

Mahaaram al-Lisaan: Prohibitions of the Tongue
Ustadha Saira AbuBakr will present a detailed examination of the rules and etiquettes of speech in Islam based on the wisdom of the famous text, Mahaaram al-Lisaan, by Shaykh Muhammad Mawlud, and inspired by the prophetic warnings about “the harvests of the tongue. ” Not a word does one utter, except that there is an angel watching, ready to record it. (Qur’an 50:18)

Special Evening Sessions:
Foundations of our Methodology:
In this special session, Imam Zaid Shakir will be presenting an introduction to the fascinating science of Usul al-Fiqh, otherwise known as the essential principles in Islamic Sacred Law. Imam Zaid will address what it means to follow a madhhab and its role in allowing us to practice sacred law in our daily lives.

A Muslimah’s Guide to Home Etiquette
In this series of sessions, Ustadha Rania Awaad will be covering the essential etiquette (adab) of home life. She will delineate the rulings pertaining to everyday living according to the Sunna tradition, which if implemented, would ensure a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere in the home. Topics include the etiquettes of speaking, sleeping, eating, drinking, hosting guests, as well as entering and exiting the home with a focus on cleanliness, purity, modesty, worship, education and the relationship with other members of one’s home.

Muslim Supermodel: Redefining Body Image
This groundbreaking panel discussion will focus upon the negative realities of women’s images in our culture today, and provide a redefinition of body image from within our classical tradition. Led by Ustadha Saliha Shakir and Ustadha Ameena Jandali, this forum will touch on issues of self-image, modesty and practical applications to implementing Islam in the public sphere as a Muslim woman.

COURSE MATERIALS
Course materials for the Tajwid, fiqh classes in each of the three madhhabs as well as for the special evening sessions will be provided on site. Students participating in the morning Tajwid classes are expected to bring a mushaf, a copy of the Holy Quran in Arabic, with them to the program.

For more information, click here.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

How to be a Muslim reformer

Salaam alaikum,

Yeah, we've been bad. Very bad. How dare we neglect this blog after winning the Brass Crescent! :::slaps hand::: But we'll make it up to you starting now.

Here is a wonderful entry from a blog entitled 'Aqoul.

In light of the recent slew of unIslamic reformers, here's a reality check served with humor and wit. How to be a Muslim reformer.

It's all good but here's one part that stuck out for me.

"7. Remember your audience
Don't bother engaging Muslims in a respectful yet frank discussion on how to remain faithful to the Prophet's (alayhi salatu wa salaam) message in our modern, globalized, polarized, terrorized world. You don't even need to talk to Muslims, unless it's to get the extremists frothing at the mouth. Being a true visionary is hard work and requires far too much study, which leaves you hardly any time for gala dinners with pretentious, xenophobic ultra-liberal or ultra-conservative (really, does it matter?) activists who will praise you as a model Muslim making a real difference in the Islamic world."