Catholic Muslims: The Pope and the Qur’an

Catholic Muslims: The Pope and the Qur’an

Pope Francis released an encyclical today discussing the environment and humanity’s responsibility to be good shepherds of it. Quoth Rod Dreher:

What Francis has written is an encyclical that celebrates life as harmony, communion, and incarnation. He calls on all persons to revere nature as gift, and to think not as atomized individuals, but as stewards who owe a debt to others, as well as to the past and to the future. [Emphasis is Dreher’s]

110307-F-PO994-001There are of course many, many similarities between the religions of the world. One of the most striking, to me, is the Catholic doctrine that, “Man is not saved by faith alone. Faith must be combined with good works.”

This is also a central tenet in Islam. There are stories of the early sahabah (companions of the Prophet), who, during Ramadan, would want to stay at the mosque all day and night praying, such was the fervor and zealousness of their faith. But Prophet Muhammad admonished them to get out of the mosque, to attend to their families and businesses and lives. Not to just sit around and be all religiony. Read more about Catholic Muslims: The Pope and the Qur’an

Muslim or Black in America

Muslim or Black in America

I think, if there’s one thing I will like about President Obama’s term coming to an end, it is that perhaps the extreme right-wing of this country will go back to their classic culture wars tropes – wars on the poor, black people and a little misogyny thrown in for good measure. Actually a lot of misogyny if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. (Yes, the Left has its own classics so shut up).

Eight years of people screaming about creeping shari’a law. Eight years of the President supposedly being a Muslim and facilitating the rise of militant Islam in the USA. Eight years of not understanding what the hell the President Obama’s speech in Cairo meant. Eight years of people posting stupid bullshit taking the President’s tolerance completely out of context while throwing their hands up in the air saying, “No really I don’t hate Muslims!”

Did you hear that [insert geographic location] was bombed the other day? Whodunit? Too late – almost every single Muslim in the USA already thought, “oh please let it not be a Muslim!” How relieved I was when the Oklahoma City bombing was found to be done by a non-Muslim. Praise Jeebus!

But I was struck tonight, after reading another half-assed attempt to tar and feather Islam and President Obama, that this ain’t shit compared to what blacks in this country have and continue to endure. Read more about Muslim or Black in America

Prophet human

Prophet human

Or… God Uppercase

Removing the Middleman Vol 1I just started reading Rashed Hasan’s new treatise, Removing the Middleman: Deciphering Faith Without Ritual. The book is intended to be an examination of accepting faith without being bound to ritual. Just in the foreword, he makes an assertion which I think is worth contemplating and with which I think many Muslims fail to engage:

It is important to note that some Muslims who lack knowledge or proper understanding of the essence of God or prophethood tend to elevate Prophet Muhammad to some level of divinity while vehemently opposing any notion of divinity to Prophet Jesus, who is showered with divine attributes by his followers.

I could not agree more. I was once told by an unkel that Prophet Muhammad could not make mistakes. When I asked him how this was not making equals with Allah, he replied that that the Prophet was an exception. A friend once told me that he saw no reason to even recognize the birth of Prophet Isa (Jesus) because, “we have our own Prophet”. This despite the fact that the Qur’an even recognizes the significance of the Virgin Birth, though our story of Prophet Isa’s life is vastly different. Read more about Prophet human

American(ized) #Islam

American(ized) #Islam

Culture and religion, no matter how universal we may want to view the latter’s principles, are inexorably tied. Islam strives to be a religion sans culture, stressing its universality. Due to its founding in the Arabian peninsula, it makes sense that Islamic practice is fundamentally mixed up with tied to the cultures of the Arab world.

But that has not prevented the religion from being adopted in unique ways by non-Arab Muslims around the world. In fact, less than 20% of the world’s Muslims hail from the Middle East. Nigerian Islam and Bangladeshi Islam may share the same underlying principles but their expressions will be different because culture cannot be subsumed under religion.

Region Population Percent of total regional population Percent of world Muslim population
South & Southeast Asia 1,005,507,000 24.8 62.1
Middle East-North Africa 321,869,000 91.2 19.9
Sub-Saharan Africa 242,544,000 29.6 15
Europe 44,138,000 6 2.7
Americas 5,256,000 0.6 0.3
World Total 1,619,314,000 23.4 100

(Source: Wikipedia – Islam by Country/Region)

It stands to reason that American Islam should also have its own character. I’ve written before about the need to find a new way to educate Muslims, that is not so reductive. Richard Mouw, writing in First Things, touches upon a separate complaint that others have brought up:

I read recently that some young Muslims in the United States are complaining that what goes on in their mosques is not “American” enough. They say that the patterns of worship and religious education seem designed to preserve the connections to the countries from which their Muslim communities emigrated, while these young folks want their faith to guide them in their lives in America. Shouldn’t their leaders be doing more, they ask, to help them understand how their faith applies to the country of which they are now citizens?

(H/T as always to Rod Dreher for linking to Mouw’s article). Read more about American(ized) #Islam

Where Have All the Lone Star Liberals Gone?

Where Have All the Lone Star Liberals Gone?

Prajwal Kulkarni makes an interesting statement about diversity in an essay entitled, “Who Speaks for the Black Pentacostal”:

Whatever their differences, they [Christians] should remember that the Church is ultimately one body that is united by the blood and Spirit of Christ above all else. As a first step, such Christian unity is more than diversity enough. That alone would achieve a level of racial and socioeconomic diversity the secular left can’t even dream of.

At that point, after they have realized it’s possible to fellowship and form bonds with people much different than them, white Christian conservatives will hopefully find it easier to relate to people like my deeply Hindu aunt. Maybe then they will see that she considers home-schooling her daughters for the same sorts of reasons some of them do. Maybe then they can also reach some of my Muslim — yes, I did say Muslim — college friends, many of whom valued abstinence as much as the average member of Campus Crusade for Christ. Maybe then they’ll understand that they’re not the only ones uncomfortable with a hyper-sexualized culture, and that social conservatives can include more than white Christians.

Click here to read the whole essay.

The ideological lines of our political parties used to be blurred. When Texas was blue but still socially conservative. When a Tennessean could be liberal, advocate for farm policies and be a Republican and not accused of being a RINO. Such characters still exist in public life but their numbers are dwindling.

Religion symbols

There’s no reason why the current ideological positions of the parties should be so fast and hard. Being religious shouldn’t mean that you automatically have to sell out to free market libertarianism. Being a social liberal shouldn’t mean that you must accede to increasing government regulations on businesses. Rod Dreher describes himself as a Crunchy Con and the subtitle on his first book reads, “How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature… America (or at least the Republican Party).” Read more about Where Have All the Lone Star Liberals Gone?

From Prayer to Fasting to Kickoff to Happy Hour

From Prayer to Fasting to Kickoff to Happy Hour

This morning, I performed wu’du (ritual cleansing before prayer) for the first time in years. I don’t like wu’du much, it’s a little too messy. I’d prefer to wash my hands and face and just pray. No my feet aren’t caked in mud either. I can’t imagine that not giving myself over to the minutiae of wu’du will cause my prayers not to be accepted by God. Still, it didn’t seem all that bad after all these years.

Prayer, salat, namaaz, comes and goes for me. I fast during Ramadan. I give to charity. And I try not to sin (too much). I regard prayer as a way to calm the mind but it’s damn near impossible to hear the Creator talking back to me. So I keep trying. From time to time.

After finishing Fajr (morning) prayer, I opened up my email to find a link to an article titled, Practicing Islam in Shorts by Thanaa El-Naggar. It’s a really great article and well describes how I grew up. My parents always said they wanted to give us the tools to accept Islam on our own terms. What we did with it as adults was our business. “La-ikraaha fid’deen” – “Let there be no compulsion in religion”.


So as children, my sisters and I went to Islamic Sunday School and boy, did I hate it. Mostly because I was picked on for the being the youngest and quietest in my class. I had long sideburns. Kids can be cruel. I really enjoyed the history portions of class but I stunk out loud at reading Arabic. But mostly, as Naggar points out, I just hated the minutiae.

My Islamic studies teachers taught me how to how to obsess about the mundane—about all the things I’m doing incorrectly and therefore my prayers will not be accepted. They taught me guilt. They taught me fear. They taught me that being a good Muslim is difficult.

Read more about From Prayer to Fasting to Kickoff to Happy Hour

Satire, Charlie Hebdo and the Mindset of (some) Muslims

Satire, Charlie Hebdo and the Mindset of (some) Muslims

ou… la liberté d’expression est non négociable.

The offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper which has attracted controversy for lampooning Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, were attacked today, resulting in the deaths of 12 people and injuries to 3 others. From the New York Times:

Among the dead were four prominent cartoonists who have repeatedly lampooned Islamic terrorists and the prophet Muhammad, leading to speculation that the attack was the work of Islamic militants acting alone or in concert with extremist groups. A police guard assigned to protect the newspaper was among the first victims. A second police officer, who responded to reports of the shooting, was killed on the sidewalk outside the offices by the fleeing suspects, the Paris police said. The shooting of the second police officer was captured in a widely-seen video.

Speech has consequences. Sometimes it can get you in hot water with your bosses or friends and family. It can get you fired. Freedom of speech does not constitute freedom from criticism. If you say something stupid, you may deserve to be called out on it. If you say something offensive, you may deserve to be criticized. Criticized. Not to be murdered or even have your life threatened.

I care not for those who will point out the crimes of the West against the Middle East. As if that is justification for this barbarism. Firstly, the offenders-in-chief at Charlie Hebdo are just writers. Their weapons are words, not bombs. Words must be met with words. Not violence.


Secondly, I would venture to say that no one gets to throw stones because all of our houses are made of glass. I would wager that those self-styled jihadis have also laughed at jokes about Christianity, Judaism, Christ, Moses or the Dark Lord Cthulhu.

We make fun of everything – religion, sexuality, sports, gender, etc. We laugh, we get offended and then we go home to bed. Read more about Satire, Charlie Hebdo and the Mindset of (some) Muslims

Karma’s Not a Bitch, Your Dogmas Are…

Karma’s Not a Bitch, Your Dogmas Are…

Every once in a while, I like to put on Chris Rock’s comedy special Bigger & Blacker. If you haven’t seen it, do so. Rock talks about the breakdown of the family, the battle of the sexes, political scandals, gays, racism, healthcare, insurance, school violence, gun control, sex, etc. It’s a comedy special so you take it with a grain of salt but even though some of the references are old, the overall themes are still relevant.

The special was on Comedy Central last night and here’s a great quote from it:

It don’t make no sense to be a racist, sexist, or nothing, but…. it don’t. It doesn’t. It don’t make no sense ’cause whoever you hate will end up in your family.

That’s right, you don’t like gays, you’re gonna have a gay son.

You don’t like Puerto Ricans? Your daughter’s gonna come home with ”Livin’ la vida loca!”


The more dogmatic the person, the bigger the fall. No where does it come more into focus than in family life. In addition to the examples cited, I’d add religion or ethnicity to the mix.

Read more about Karma’s Not a Bitch, Your Dogmas Are…