Thursday, February 03, 2005

Islamic Women's strategies for renewal in America

In an earlier post I offered some heavy-duty stuff regarding a proper understanding of the motives of the Islamicist / Salafist terrorwork. I was responding to a blog by Belmont Club.

And another to which the Belmont Club's Wretcherd and McCarles were responding at New Sisyphus.

Also another by a Nigerian Islamicist scholar with a view of the USA you could only hear echoed at the most extreme of the FarLeftwing of the broader Hate-America Left. Of course, the original and the echo present us with two different problems of understanding.

Leaving aside the motives of the echo from the American FarLeftwing (I'm thinking first of ANSWER, the violent anarchist "anti-War" movement that wages war on America), there's the definitely Islamicist view - but not necessarily Salafist stance! - of Nigerian Islamicist, Ibrahim Ado-Kurawa, in his 40-some-pages on United States Society and the Muslim World, which significant essay seems unfortunately to have been removed from the Nigerian "" website. Ado-Kurawa paints a picture of America out of a rigidly predetermined worldview of root-and-branch opposition to the West, marshalling every sin in America's past, putting the most negative construction of American morals and entertainment without regard to the good, inflating America's exercize of power in the Islamic world and evaluating as totally negative. and leaving out almost everything that should appear on the positive side of the ledger, especially towards Muslims and Islam. One has to conclude that the Islamicist worldview has overtaken a judiciously-estimated reality to the extent of creating massive cognitive dissonance for this researcher. He produced his hatchet-job on an American grant for visiting scholars.

Another approach by non-Islamicist Muslims, this time of female gender, is offered to us by Canadian immigrant Irshad Manji (disclosure: I've met her in the corner convenience store nearby my home, and viewed her working on TVO, as she hosts one of the most stimulating intellectual shows in these parts) and by American-born Asma Gull Hasan - whom I haven't met. I've read neither of the books, but I'm now publicly placing them on my Reading To-Do list. I'm motivated in that determination, by a review of the two volumes - Manji's The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith and Hasan's Why I Am a Muslim: An American Odyssey - as introduced by Charles Strohmer in Sojourner, a left-evangelical magazine of faith, politics, and culture. Link

Manji's stand is important because her base is Toronto, Ontario, a province that has all but finalized a plan to set up Sharia courts outside the mainstream legal system, courts which would decide (among other things) marriage disputes where the women face an ancient body of codes and ignorant judges (according to the most learned American Muslim professor of Islamic law, Dr Khalid Abou El Fadl, Prof of Law, UCLA) that automatically award the women a meagre sum in the case of divorce. But more tellingly we have first the case of a leading multi-culturally credentialed male Muslim leader who supports the terrorists, and the head of a major male Muslim organization who said polygamy should replace present marietal practice - after all a Western man may throw away his wife, may have a mistress or mistresses, sometimes strings of mistresses overtime and sometimes all at the same time (I unpack the remark). The leader said that honest publically-legalized polygamy would be the better solution. And, as a matter of fact, it is practised quietly in Toronto and other places in Canada. While in British Columbia, al least, some split-off Mormon sects which form large rural communities where also polygamy is practised and has generated an escaped women's movement to bring to lite the communities' hurtful outcomes for many girls and women. Why you may wonder do the Crown attorneys (public prosecutors) not raid these polygamous locations? Because it would raise questions of religious intolerance, and become a Constitutional legal issue. A situation that makes one wonder about the whole juridical philosophy of Civil Rights at work in Canada, where courts can write into the Charter of Rights provisions that simply are not there in the text. Liberal Paul Martin constantly attempts to construe the recent decisions in several provincial courts as immutable; this is the scary thing. Martin says these decisions, combined with Parliament's upcoming vote, and then Supreme Court of Canada's rubber stamp upon it, will together seal the matter in perpetuity. That subsequent elections could not vote in Prime Ministers and Parties that could overtime appoint Judges holdiing different philosophies of law, and in hearing new cases strike down the presently prevailing absurdity.

While Paul Martin's Liberals are busy forcing Federal parliamentary legislation on an unwilling 67% of the Canadian population, Canadians find themselves being set up for the coming Gay Polygamous marriages of the future - while the Muslim Sharia courts will then get their opportunity to legalize already-existing harems of Muslim women married to a single Muslim man. There is not enuff attention in the legislation to the consequences of the two moves which will at one point combine, producing a new coalition of Civil Libertarians, homo group-marriage advocates, and Muslim male polygamists.

I think the whole thing is absurd, that in Canada the Conservative Party's leader, Stephen Harper, has it right in trying to reserve to 1man1woman intimate unions that want public recognition by the state, the word "marriage." That way, relationships traditional thereto, will stand in the their uniqueness, and continue to carry a certain limited privilege. The spiritual journey into intimacy intended from the outset for life, in the case of tradditional marriage is special because it is an intimate union over difference in many regards (I will spell these out later, what the difference is between intimate unions of differents over against intimate unions of sames). Harper proposes that the state provide legal arrangements where the two other kinds of intimate unions be recognized under the rubric "civil union." I don't like lumping these additional two kinds together. 2women unions are quite different also from 2men unions, and both are different from 1woman1man unions. There are three kinds of intimate unions. More on this later, as well.

On another subject growing out of my reading of Strohmer's great review, I have to say that I have a very strong problem with Sojourners, the left-evangelical magazine, precisely because of how they treated a hero of their immersion-with-the-poor spirituality in the case of William Stringfellow, the celebrated lawyer in Harlem, who upon his death was dragged into a poor-sinner "eulogy" in Jim Wallis' magazine -what grudging praise for one of theirs!- because Stringfellow was homo (disclosure: like me, who has been a vowed celibate for more than two decades). And then Sojourners gave publicity to theologian and anti-homo ethicist, Richard Hays, in regard to the latter's friend at Yale who committed suicide. A Christian homo reader raises questions about the emotional dynamic between Hays and his friend who was obviously in love with Hays and wanted to follow Hays' anti-homo "biblical" ethic out of love for Hays. Hays used the attachment to himself by his homo friend, and did not recuse himself from this tainted "biblical counselling," or refer his friend to another counsellor, say, a woman; Hays' behaviour was highly unethical - resulting in mixed signals which the friend couldn't manage. That's my reading of Sojourners. That the magazine couldn't editorially protect the memory of the suicided friend from Hays' one-sided spin on the story of their relationship in the emotional after-dynamics of the friend's suicide, was one of the worst cases of evangelical journalism to which I have ever been subjected, as a wannabe reader of Sojourners.

Did I mention that Irshad Manji is a publically-out lesbian, a wonderfully-articulate and presentable person? And that she's tackled great Muslim spokesmen on TV, bringing some of their more hidden views out into the light, by her relentless questioning - on CBC TV panel shows! As also did the evangelical TV personality, Michael Coren, who got one such gentleman to admit he agreed with the terrorists on who's worthy of death.

In regard to Asma Gull Hasan, did I mention that the reviewer, Charles Strohmer tells us she is a proponent not only of Islam, but also of Sufism, a centuries-old spirituality movement within Islam that is rigourously rejected by Wahabbism, Islamicists,
and Salafists on the terror side of things - and that, on the other side of the scale, Sufism is at the same time widespread among Sunnis. In other words, the conflicts in Islam are not limited to a big Shi'a vs Sunni difference, but Sunnism itself is divided by a Sufist vs Islamicist / Wahabbist / Salafist spirituality difference. "Another salient feature of Salafism is an obsession with God's oneness while condemning all forms of polytheism (shirk) and unbelief (kufr). Certain Sufi practices (Sufis are mystics of Islam), such as visiting the graves of great Sufi masters, are condemned by the Salafis as diminishing true belief in Allah. The world, according to the Salafis, is unequivocally divided between the domains of belief (iman) and unbelief, and it is incumbent on Muslims to be certain that they remain in the domain of belief," a quote from Radical Salafism: Osama's Ideology by Bernard Haykel Link.

It comes to mind, in conclusion, that in her new worldview book Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity, Nancy Pearcey, when comparing the Muslim philosophical sources puts her stress on Sufist sages and their philosophical writings. But these are not the people who are avidly hating the West, especially America, thru the spread of extreme Salafist Islamacist action-ideologies as in the case of Zarqawi and the guy in the Netherlands who performed a Salafist ritual murder of Theo van Gogh, the Humanist provocateur.

I hope to be checking out various points made in this response to Strohmer's fine and engaging review; and to be getting a few stray facts in order (like further info regarding the Nigerian scholar of Hausa origin, Ibrahim Ado-Kurawa mentioned above).

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