William Dalrymple on Sufism

There is an article by William Dalrymple (of White Mughals fame) in today’s Guardian, entitled Gateway of the heart, about Sufism being under attack in India from so-called Tablighis. While there is no doubt that there is vocal opposition to Sufism from ill-informed and well-funded corners of the Muslim world, accusing Tablighis of anti-Sufism is somewhat ignorant. (Dalrymple is presenting a programme on this subject tomorrow on Radio 3 at 9.30pm.) Continue reading

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New Ecologist out

The new edition of the Ecologist magazine is out - this month the main feature is called “Do You Work for a Psycho?”, a feature on the recent film (and book) The Corporation, a film about corporate culture featuring Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and the notorious ultra-monetarist academic Milton Friedman. Continue reading

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Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon

From Khalil Abu Asmaa’:

The great, noble, and pious Shaykh Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki passed away today in Makkah, Friday, Ramadan 15, 1425 / October 29, 2004… After a night of calling on the Lord, he passed away this morning at Fajr time…. May Allah have mercy upon him, and may He grant this ummah the likes of him…..

YA ALLAH !!!!!!!!!!!!

I am sure the times are near…..

Sayyidi al-Habib Ali al-Jifri traveled early today to pray the Janazah upon the Shaykh… Many have already prayed Salah al-Gha’ib for the Shaykh as well…

Here are some pictures of the Shaykh, may Allah have vast mercy upon him, from this site:

http://groups.msn.com/TheHabaib/mawlidabudhabi.msnw http://groups.msn.com/TheHabaib/mawlidnationaltheatre.msnw

Your brother and servant, Khalil Abu Asmaa

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Mail to GWB site mistakenly sent to opponents

Shaula Evans at Tzuredzuregusa reports that the George W Bush campaign parody site had been gathering emails which were being mistakenly sent to them instead of to the legitimate campaign site. One of these has reference to some sort of “list” of Arab and Muslim Americans being organised by Randa Fahmy Hudome and Walid Phares - the latter being a Lebanese American who regularly crops up on Front Page, Jihad Watch and the usual right-wing broadcast media. Why would any Muslim be in cahoots with someone like this?

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Turner Prize nominees

This afternoon I went to the Tate Britain gallery in London to see the nominees for this year’s Turner Prize. The Turner Prize is supposedly the UK’s most prestigious art award, awarded annually to an artist under fifty years of age, and it has acquired a reputation for being awarded to art which, in most people’s opinions, isn’t really art. Last year a politician called last year’s entries “cold, mechanical conceptual bullshit”, and I only went this year because I had heard that there was more political art and less of the usual rubbish. Continue reading

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Boy convicted of girl’s murder

The British news agencies are reporting that a man of 18 has been convicted of the murder of a young girl at a Christmas party late last year. The man, and his family, are denying that he is guilty. But one issue which has been brought up is that the boy suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of autism. Continue reading

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Second part of “The Power of Nightmares”

Yesterday the BBC aired the second part of its drama The Power of Nightmares, in which they followed the history of the Islamist movements and the neo-Conservatives during the period of their collaboration in Afghanistan. I have some criticism of this programme, as well as of some of the criticism in both the right and left-wing media. Continue reading

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Against government casino plans

Those of you in the UK may be aware of government plans to reform the gambling laws, and among the plans include plans for so-called “Las Vegas-style casinos”. I’m sure all Muslims disapprove of plans for more casinos and gambling resorts, even if it’s accompanied by measures tightening up regulations on children and young people gambling. There is an article in today’s Guardian by a croupier (i.e. casino worker) who explains the downside of the industry and why she’s desperate to get out: the abusive and frustrated customers and the indecent uniforms, among other things.

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What value is this petition?

There have been calls on various Muslim forums and blogs to sign an online petition against an anti-Islamic book written by one Craig Winn. I’d never heard of this guy until I found a link to this book’s entry on Amazon from the “Niqaabi 4Ever Insha Allah” blog. I immediately did a Google for him, and also did a search on the Heritage Foundation’s TownHall.com website. TownHall is a right-wing site, which has featured an article by Doug Giles, of which more here. There is currently no reference to Winn anywhere on Townhall. So it looks like he’s a fringe crank. Continue reading

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Blogging the Linux expo

I started writing this entry at the Sun Microsystems stand at the London Linux World Expo, on a pretty much state-of-the-art Sun workstation powered by two fast AMD Opteron processors. I hadn’t got far (not even a line, in fact) when I was kicked off the computer by someone who said that it was intended as a demo for their Java Desktop system. More on that later insha Allah.

I was actually not entirely certain I’d even get into the Expo (which is being held at the Olympia in Kensington; there is another day left tomorrow). When registering for a similar event last year I found a message that said that they “couldn’t accommodate” students, which is a bit of a cheek, because Linux itself was originally written by a student. This year, however, I declared that I was a student and put “n/a” (not applicable) where I was asked for my organisation, and I still got in. I registered early, and admission was free.

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Does this sound like sexual harrassment to you?

Yesterday Jon Gaunt was discussing the subject of a six-year-old girl who was pulled out of school by her mother because a teacher dragged her half-naked into assembly in front of a mixed audience of more than 100 people. The girl had refused to get dressed for some reason and the teacher was unsympathetic.

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The oppressors’ rally

Well, I managed to get to the rally organised by “Global Justice UK 2004” which I got the leaflet for yesterday. As I had suspected, there was really no place for Muslims at this rally. Of the few speakers I could see (less than 10 including the compere), two were members of a Zionist organisation called Betar, and two were distinctly “Orange” Northern Irish. Another was from Sri Lanka.

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Nicholas Kristof on gang rape in Pakistan

Ginny blogged an op-ed piece from one Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, on a lady he met in Pakistan while in some way helping to find Osama bin Laden. The lady in question is Mukhtaran Bibi, who was sentenced by a “panchayat” or impromptu local meeting (or kangaroo court) to be gang-raped by a group of local thugs for some petty infraction by her brother against the local caste code. The victim was expected to crawl away and kill herself, as past victims have done, but instead the incident was brought to light, she received compensation from the government which she used to start a school, and the people responsible are now on death row.

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Spencer on the ‘Cat Stevens affair’

Robert Spencer has written yet another piece for Front Page, this time in response to what he calls the “Cat Stevens affair”. The biggest problem is that “if he is indeed telling the truth, the implications are even worse than if he is lying”, he claims.

As we know, the so-called Department for Homeland Security hasn’t provided any reason for why Yusuf was refused entry. One suggestion is that it was a spelling mistake, with a “Youssouf Islam” on the list for whom Yusuf was mistaken. If this is the case, it must be the most stupid case of “mistaken identity” for a while - Yusuf Islam’s name is never spelt Youssouf! This spelling is most often used by Arabs, not converts who normally use the textbook spellings of Arabic names.

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Why did the UK really participate in Iraq?

Some people are wondering why it was that the UK really got involved in the US’s invasion of Iraq. After all, we have here what passes for a centre-left government, and the last time the US was embarking on a foolish overseas mission with (some) international help, the UK managed to keep out of it. And this was during the Cold War, during which arguably we needed America much more than we do now.

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Mandrake’s crippleware

I don’t think I’ve ever been as disappointed by a Linux distribution as I was by the download version of Mandrake’s latest version of its Linux package (10.1, Community version). The impression I’ve got is that it’s “crippleware” - a trial version of a piece of software with important components removed, in order that the customer will then buy the full price version.

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Imams from UK negotiating with terrorists

The BBC has a profile of the two representatives of the British Muslim community who have gone to Iraq to negotiate with the terrorists holding Ken Bigley hostage. It has been asked whether their word will cut any ice with these people, and my answer is: probably not.

I don’t know much about Daud Abdullah, but Dr Musharraf Hussain is a Hanafi from Nottingham, and is known to be of the Bareilawi persuasion. His shaikh was Muhammad Karam Shah who was a very well-respected imam in Pakistan, and another of his students is Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada who runs an Islamic school, Jamia al-Karam, in Retford near Nottingham. Of course, people of this persuasion are strongly pro-Sufi as well, they support Mawlid and Tawassul … in other words they are rock-solid Ahlus-Sunnah.

As for who is holding these hostages, the likely answer is either Ba’athists, or renegade Wahhabis, or some other extremists who don’t respect the normal Islamic rulings on these matters, nor those who give them. If you say “Ya Rasoolullah” (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), some of them don’t regard you as a Muslim; if you follow a madhhab or celebrate the Mawlid, you’re a heretic. One wonders if they will ask the two imams about their aqida before listening to their fatwa on hostage taking? Of course, there is nothing wrong with these imams enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong, as the Sahaba did with the original Kharijites, but remember that a lot of the Kharijites didn’t listen.

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Blogging on

The Guardian has a feature on blogging, particularly in response to the recent controversy over the forged documents at CBS:

CBS was doubly at fault. It failed to appreciate the force of the thousands of voluntary fact-checkers out there on the web (let alone trying to harness their power in advance), while also failing to interview bloggers after the event as part of an ongoing story.

The article talks of how newspapers often claim to be superior because of their long-established filtration and editing process, in contrast to the anarchic processes in operation on the web, but in fact, bloggers are often “experts”. I’m sure some bloggers are experts, but there is good and bad on both sides.

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Look, they’re not Sunnis!

Last night, I heard someone on a British news channel refer to the terrorists who take people hostage in Iraq as “Sunni Muslims”. This seems to be an “academic” definition of Sunni, which puts all the people with the Sunni view on the status of the Sahaba in one category.

The problem is that the Wahhabis, who are the group most closely associated with the various violent groups which exist, differ from Ahlus-Sunnah in two other important areas - their attitude to madhhabs in both aqida (theology) and fiqh (means of interpreting the sources of Shari’ah). There has long been consensus that the Truth lies with the schools of Imam Ash’ari and Imam Maturidi, both of which the Wahhabis reject in favour of anthropomorphic literal interpretations. The same goes for the four schools of law, and Wahhabis allege that following an imam is wrong - some even call it shirk (idolatry).

As for this women whose release from prison is being talked about in relation to the current hostage crisis, it is obvious that she is a member of the old régime and not connected to international terrorism. So why would her release satisfy religious extremists, other than that they could kill her themselves rather than leave it to the Americans or Iraqi authorities? And why can’t they just release the women and then rearrest them as soon as the hostages are released?

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Yusuf Islam banned from US

I’m sure I’m not the only person wondering why the US has banned Yusuf Islam from entering their country. He is apparently on one of their “watch lists” and was denied entry on unspecified “national security” grounds.

Of course, I’m sure some will say that the probable reason is Yusuf’s supposed support for Hamas, for which he has been banned from entering Israel. Some British charities are known for supporting schools in Palestine, some of which are associated with Hamas, but its chairman of trustees, Ibrahim Hewitt, has said:

Hamas is an ideology as much as an organisation. We deal with people whether they are Hamas or whether they are Fatah. Palestinian society is riven by factions but we don’t look at that, we look at it on the basis of need.

The UK Charity Commission has investigated Interpal twice (in 1996 and 2003), but last September abandoned its investigation, saying that no evidence had been provided by the US government to substantiate its accusations. One can perhaps understand Israel barring him from entering, but for the US to do this makes no sense whatsoever, and suggests that they are taking their advice from people whose sympathies are as much with Israel as with the US.

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