How the hijab – and H&M – are reshaping mainstream British culture | Remona Aly

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 September, 2015 - 16:07
Hijab-wearers are appearing everywhere from fashion chains to the Great British Bake Off – it’s a celebration of the diversity Britain and good news for ordinary Muslims

Muslim women in hijabs are becoming increasingly visible in the public domain, whether appearing in EastEnders, Android ads, or The Great British Bake Off. Twenty years ago, when I began wearing my headscarf, “hijabis” were a rare sight, but now this contentious yet innocuous piece of cloth is shaping the face of mainstream pop culture.

The latest move comes from within the world of fashion, with global clothing giant H&M featuring its first ever Muslim model in a hijab. Mariah Idrissi, a 23-year-old who lives in London, stars in the 30-second video, alongside a boxer with a prosthetic leg, a man in drag, and a guy wearing socks with sandals – all united under the avowal: “There are no rules in fashion.”

When I began to wear a headscarf, one friend split no hairs, telling me I was bending to ‘male enslavement'

Women have been punched, kicked, spat at and had lit cigarettes thrown at them, even when with their children

Continue reading...

Prevent will discourage the very students who can help fight extremism | Hicham Yezza

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 September, 2015 - 14:47
The government’s corrosive counter-terrorism initiative means Muslims at universities and schools will disengage from the topic for fear of suspicion

It’s the stuff of farce. A Muslim postgraduate student of counter-terrorism, spotted reading a textbook entitled Terrorism Studies in the library, is accused by his own university of being a terrorist; while a 14-year-old Muslim schoolboy, having taken part in a French class discussion on environmental activism – l’ecoterrorisme – is asked whether he was is “affiliated” with Islamic State.

Welcome to the world of Prevent duty, the latest government initiative – in force since June – ostensibly aimed at stopping pupils from becoming extremists of all stripes; but which many see as another ill-thought-out addition to the litany of miscalculation and distrust between official Britain and its beleaguered Muslim community.

Related: 'You worry they could take your kids': is the Prevent strategy in schools demonising Muslim children?

On the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, hard-earned liberties are being stripped away at an alarming rate

Related: #IStandWithAhmed shows why we mustn’t rush to increase counter-terror powers | Gaby Hinsliff

Continue reading...

Controversial Muhammad biopic selected by Iran for Oscars contention

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 September, 2015 - 14:22

Muhammad: The Messenger of God, the most expensive movie yet made in Iran, has been chosen by the country to be put forward for the 2016 Academy Awards

Muhammad: The Messenger of God, a blockbuster about the birth of Islam, has been selected by Iran as its contender for the forthcoming Oscars.

Related: Muhammad: Messenger of God review – evocative account of Islam’s gestation

Related: AR Rahman responds to Muhammad: Messenger of God fatwa

Continue reading...

The Guardian view on the hajj deaths: a test for the regime | Editorial

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 September, 2015 - 20:06
Saudi Arabia’s legitimacy rests on its guardianship of the holy places, but can it keep them safe?

When Ibn Saud’s troops seized control of Mecca in 1924, he issued a resounding proclamation pledging to care properly for the holy places and to improve conditions for pilgrims, conditions which had allegedly deteriorated under the previous Hashemite rulers. His assumption of that duty was never fully or clearly accepted across the whole Muslim world, in spite of conferences at which a reluctant acquiescence was extracted from representatives of some countries. But it nevertheless became, and remains, the most important source of legitimacy for a Saudi state riven internally by both political and religious divisions and never popular in a region where most regimes have very different views from those prevailing in Riyadh. Effective guardianship of the holy places became one of the two pillars holding up the unlikely Saudi state, the other being the vast oil reserves soon to be discovered.

That is why last week’s disaster in the Mina valley near Mecca, in which as many as 1,000 hajj pilgrims may have perished, is more than a tragedy. It is unavoidably also a political event which could have large consequences. Nor is it the first such calamity. There was a similar if smaller incident in 2006 and a worse one in 1990. This year’s terrible accident followed another earlier in the month when a crane fell on worshippers at the Grand Mosque. It will lead some to raise the issue of whether Saudi Arabia is, in the technical sense, a modern state capable of using its wealth to ensure high standards of safety and competence, or whether it is so dysfunctional that error and misjudgment are inevitable. This is certainly what its main rival, Iran, is charging.

Continue reading...

Counter-extremism law and liberal values | Letters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 September, 2015 - 20:04

Having just read the piece by Jonathan Dimbleby discussing the proposed anti-terrorism legislation where he propagates the notion that the laws being suggested are an attack on one of our “most fundamental of principles” (For freedom of speech, these are troubling times, 21 September), I have to say to him and all those who follow his line of reasoning that they are wrong.

The proposed laws are to protect our fundamental principles of freedom – freedom of speech, freedom to believe in whichever religion (or none at all), and most importantly our right to life.

Continue reading...

Ben Carson says Muslim president would have to 'subjugate' beliefs

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 September, 2015 - 16:25
  • Neurosurgeon: Muslims must ‘subjugate beliefs to our constitution’
  • Carson now one point behind Trump in Republican presidential polls

The Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Sunday marked his surge to within one percentage point of the frontrunner Donald Trump with a return to his controversial comments about whether a Muslim could become US president.

Related: For a teen aspiring to be president, being Muslim is a hurdle in post-9/11 America

Related: Ben Carson says no Muslim should ever become US president

Continue reading...

No, meat is not murder (and other reflections on Corbyn)

Indigo Jo Blogs - 27 September, 2015 - 13:08

Picture of Kerry McCarthy, a white woman with a rounded face and shoulder-length hair wearing a black jumper with a "tweet for Labour" badge.Last week it was revealed (or we were reminded) that the new shadow cabinet member for agriculture and the environment, Kerry McCarthy, was a vegan who gave an interview with the vegan magazine Viva!Life, published March 2015, in which she called for meat-eating to be treated like smoking, with public campaigns to encourage people to stop eating it, because of its environmental impact. She said, “Progress on animal welfare is being made at the EU level and I feel it is best left to those campaigning groups working there but in the end it comes down to not eating meat and dairy. … The constant challenging of the environmental impact of livestock farming is making me more and more militant, not least that CAP [common agricultural policy] payments are available for grouse shooting, controlling buzzards and forestry”.

The papers, oddly, turned to the Countryside Alliance, an organisation representing the hunting lobby rather than farmers as such, for a response. They called her ideas “verging on the cranky” and would only “make it more difficult for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party to reconnect with rural Britain”. Sadly, these words are more relevant than we might think, because where Labour has rural support, it tends to be in upland areas of Wales and northern England which are best suited to livestock farming (especially sheep) on hills, rather than the intensive crop growing found in lowland regions like Lincolnshire, which are Tory heartlands which only returned Labour MPs in the early Blair years. It’s preposterous to compare meat to tobacco; tobacco is a pure waste of time and money, which is addictive without yielding a high, produces foul smells, damages the user’s health and endangers that of those around them. Meat is food; to most people it tastes pleasant; it’s been a standard part of the human diet from the beginning, it converts material inedible to humans (like grass) to something edible, and is a source of needed iron and protein, especially for children. It turns out that Corbyn did not even know about McCarthy’s views before appointing her, which if it does not reflect poor judgement, certainly shows he has limited choices.

I didn’t get a vote in the leadership election because I let my membership lapse in 1995 and never renewed it because I did not like what Blair was doing to the party (not just in terms of policy, but also things like crushing dissent in organisations like student unions, which I first became aware of when I went to university that year). I’ve lived in New Malden since 2001, an area the party has been content to leave to the Liberal Democrats to oppose the Tories, which meant there seemed little point joining a party I could not vote for in my constituency and vote for without risking letting a Tory in. I also didn’t rejoin because Labour do not tolerate public dissent; if you publicly express support for another candidate, they expel you. I still voted for Ed Davey in 2015. However, it is clear to me that Jeremy Corbyn won because the other three candidates were uninspiring and did not offer any change from the status quo, some of them parroting Tory rhetoric about aspiration and “wealth creators” while taking their core vote for granted. Corbyn won a landslide, even when the £3 supporters were taken out of the picture. A lot of people perhaps wish there was a more credible candidate than Corbyn who had the backbone to challenge the Tory political and press narrative on such things as “economic competency”, but the New Labour machine had made sure that there wasn’t.

There has been a lot of over-analysing of Labour’s defeat in 2015, particularly from New Labourites who crow that Labour lost because it diverged from their policies, and others are accusing Labour members of harbouring the “delusions of the defeated” and failing to face up to the “real reasons” Labour lost. The Liberal Democrats also do not accept that their behaviour while in coalition was a major reason why they lost, and Tim Farron last week refused to rule out another Tory coalition, claiming that there was “nothing grubby or unprincipled about wanting to win, nothing noble about defeat”. The Liberal Democrats did not ‘win’ the 2010 election; they lost seats and came third, and got into office by means of a back-room deal. The coalition was not the only reason why they lost such a huge number of seats, but it was a very important one. And they deserved to lose.

The over-analysing of Labour’s defeat is as much the product of trauma as might account for some of the rush to the Left. The scale of the defeat is being exaggerated: it wasn’t 1983 all over again and except in Scotland, it wasn’t a rout. It is a common trait of defeated people to think they were defeated because they were not, on a very deep level, more like the victors, rather than because of other factors. In the case of a military force, this can often mean superior weaponry and discipline, rather than a religious difference, but it is not unknown for the defeated nation to imagine that “their gods were conquered” or otherwise that their core beliefs are discredited. Labour’s core beliefs were not discredited by last May’s election defeat. Labour did not win because the Tories were not doing too badly, as they were in 1997. They were not mired in scandal, they were not openly divided, and there was no crisis. Those are the reasons governing parties lose elections. This is the chief reason why Labour lost in 2010: there was an economic crisis which discredited Brown’s (essentially right-wing) economic policies (such as deregulating the banks), and the man himself reeked of frustrated entitlement (something that should have disqualified him from the job on its own) and the parallels with John Major from 1992-7 were too obvious.

New Labour also fail to appreciate that their behaviour in and out of office cost them votes. Like the Lib Dems, they prefer to simply blame the voters for costing them an election. The facts are that Blair won a landslide in 1997 and a respectable victory in 2001, then won by the skin of his teeth in 2005 and the remains of his movement lost in 2010. He lost support because he dragged this country into an unwinnable war because he was unwilling to say no to a powerful, angry man, and because he upset a large body of voters who care about civil liberties and social justice with such acts as agreeing to an extradition treaty with the USA that offered UK citizens no protection, and curtailing individuals’ rights (often on spurious grounds) with control orders. They then told us that we had to agree to it or we would get a Tory government, and see how we liked that. They were like the pigs in Animal Farm: give us what we want or “Jones will come back”. They also failed to keep their working-class vote on side by, for example, re-investing in run-down areas of the north, which is why that has been threatened by UKIP. They also lost ethnic votes, especially young Muslims, and it also caused vote-rigging scandals.

New Labour seem to be clinging to their strategy of targeting the same “C2” swing voters they targeted successfully in 1997 and forgetting that they cannot take all their other voters for granted. This has been stated openly in the media on a number of occasions: that your core vote will vote for you anyway, so there’s no point pitching your campaign to them. More recent evidence is that the core vote is leaking to UKIP because of fears of immigration, especially eastern European immigration, which has been bolstered by continual suggestions in the media that British workers are lazy and stupid (these kinds of sneers are circulated on social media too; a good example being the meme “if all you’ve got is two GCSE’s and an STI, a foreign doctor doesn’t threaten your job”). Immigration could be accommodated with less impact on native people’s jobs and living standards if politicians required business to invest in native talent, but they don’t, because that would be interfering with the market. (An example that affects me personally is the requirement for two years’ entitlement before being even considered for many truck driving jobs, which gets them more favourable insurance premiums; they could not do this if they did not have a ready supply of foreign drivers who do meet that requirement.)

Another major cause of why Labour were at a disadvantage is the press. To point this out is to invite accusations of whining that the rules of the game aren’t fair, but the fact is that the press is a moneyed interest in its own right, and is biased against notions of social justice because it is owned by rich people, and because harsh, easy answers sell papers to people who do not have the time (and have not been encouraged at any time since they were at school or college, if even then) to sit down and think about things, and calmness, rationality and compassion don’t. We then find the BBC following the same agenda set by the commercial press, largely out of fear of being branded a “liberal elite” institution existing on involuntary public subscription. Labour have to stop pretending it can win clean against a Tory party that plays dirty, attacking the funding it gets from its union base. The papers are part of the Tories’ corporate base; they are a powerful tool for propaganda because they have access to newsstands and bulk distribution, and they present propaganda, prominently, as news and fact. They must be curbed. No semblance of progress is achievable when public opinion is formed by these unaccountable and amoral corporate papers and when elected governments are cowed by them.

New Labour, in any case, has not even defended its own legacy. It allows the press to portray the last Labour government as one of spendthrift socialism, which it never was. It hollowed out the party so that there was no credible successor to Tony Blair who could have won the 2010 election. This is why none of the three uninspiring functionary politicians who stood in the last leadership election came within a mile of defeating Corbyn. Like many, I’m worried that he might have too little support from his fellow Labour MPs (as shown in his choice of environment spokesperson) and that his message will be rejected by the electorate, but the party will give him a couple of years to prove himself, or choose someone else, but he will have the benefit of an energised activist base who will get out and campaign for him in a way that fewer of them would have done for Burnham or Kendall. Hopefully other Labour politicians will realise that you cannot expect people who joined the party believing in social justice to put in time and effort campaigning for someone who just wants power and offers little more than a change of colour.

Image source: Wikipedia, originally by Paul Simpson. Released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 licence.

Possibly Related Posts:

Two teenagers held on suspicion of arson after London mosque fire

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 September, 2015 - 12:52

Boys aged 14 and 16 detained by police after fire tore through Baitul Futuh mosque in Morden on Saturday

Two teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of arson after a fire engulfed part of a south London mosque said to be the largest in western Europe.

Seventy firefighters battled the blaze at at the Baitul Futuh mosque in Morden on Saturday afternoon, which London fire brigade said had hit admininstrative buildings and not the main prayer room.

Related: Firefighters tackle blaze at south London mosque

Continue reading...

Shazia Mirza review – scattergun thinking defuses the shock tactics

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 September, 2015 - 12:26

Tricycle, London
There are laughs to be had in Mirza’s passionate, taboo-busting comedy but she’s let down by duff puns and an aversion to logical argument

Shazia Mirza dislikes performing to Guardian readers, because we analyse silently, she says, rather than laugh. Well, I like a laugh, and there are a few here, but – at the risk of sounding over-analytical – arguments put forward by comedy still have to make sense.

Mirza’s bracingly outspoken new set has made a splash by addressing the flight of British schoolgirls to Islamic State. She weighs right in on the issue, with the confidence that comes from closely identifying with those teenagers and the devilment of a comic who can’t resist flouting supposed taboos. By the end, she’s made a passionate point forcefully – but there’s scattergun thinking en route.

Related: Shazia Mirza: 'Look at me – Isis would stone me to death'

Continue reading...

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Saudi Arabia should apologise for Hajj deaths

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 September, 2015 - 09:07

Iranian supreme leader calls on Saudis to accept responsibility for deadly stampede where the number of pilgrims killed could exceed 1,000

Iran’s supreme leader has said Saudi Arabia should apologise for a crush outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca that killed 769 worshippers performing the annual hajj pilgrimage, Khamenei’s website said on Sunday.

“This issue will not be forgotten and the nations will pursue it seriously,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said. “Instead of accusing this and that, the Saudis should accept the responsibility and apologise to the Muslims and the victims’ families.”

Related: Hajj pilgrimage stampede: a visual guide to the fatal crush near Mecca

Related: Saudi Arabia under pressure to improve safety at Mecca after fatal hajj crush

Continue reading...

The readers’ editor on… Islam and the media | Stephen Pritchard

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 September, 2015 - 00:04
British Muslims feel they are too often associated with extremism, with little attention paid to their positive contribution to society

With the tragedy of last week’s hajj stampede, Pope Francis entering the climate change debate in the US and the archbishop of Canterbury considering loosening the ties of the worldwide Anglican communion, religion is never far from the news – but just how literate is the press when it comes to discussing matters of faith?

“The media’s coverage of religion is a bit like covering football from the point of view of hooliganism and never really watching the game,” said Michael Wakelin, former head of religion and ethics at the BBC, at a fascinating, though occasionally depressing day of discussion held in London recently on Islam and its treatment in British broadcasting and newspapers. After years of conflict in Afghanistan and the Middle East, Muslims in Britain feel that they are too often associated with the crimes of extremists while too little attention is paid to the positive contribution they make to civic life or to the peaceful aims of their faith.

Continue reading...

Iran's president uses UN speech to call for investigation into hajj stampede

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 September, 2015 - 17:40

Hassan Rouhani demands review of what caused the crush that killed more than 750 after Saudi Arabia’s top cleric reportedly absolves officials of blame

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani used a major United Nations speech on Saturday to demand an investigation into a crush that killed more than 750 people at the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

His remarks came after Saudi Arabia’s most senior cleric, the grand mufti, appeared to absolve the authorities of blame for the stampede at Mecca.

Related: Hajj pilgrimage stampede: a visual guide to the fatal crush near Mecca

Continue reading...

For a teen aspiring to be president, being Muslim is a hurdle in post-9/11 America

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 September, 2015 - 12:00

17-year-old, straight-A student Aya Beydoun is not an implausible future occupant of the White House – if the US can only move past its Islamophobia

Aya Beydoun wants to be president of the United States. On paper, the 17-year-old already is not an implausible future occupant of the White House.

She’s an ambitious, articulate, near straight-A student, planning to use a college law degree as a stepping stone to politics. She already chairs her high school politics club.

Related: Ben Carson's narrow view of Islam is widely shared – by Islamic extremists | Jamiles Lartey

Related: Ahmed Mohamed is tired, excited to meet Obama – and wants his clock back

Continue reading...

Hajj stampede: former Iranian diplomat thought to be among dead

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 September, 2015 - 11:03

Former Iranian ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, is believed to have died in crush that killed 719 and injured hundreds more

A former Iranian ambassador to Lebanon is feared to have died in the stampede at the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia that killed more than 700 worshippers.

Ghazanfar Roknabadi, who worked as the country’s ambassador in Beirut until last year, has been declared missing and is believed to have been at the pilgrimage to Mecca, Iran’s state TV said.

Continue reading...

‘House Muslims’, whatever we call them, are a thing

Indigo Jo Blogs - 26 September, 2015 - 11:00

A word cloud consisting of words used in hate crimes reported to Tell MAMA; prominent ones include terrorism, beheading, rape, Rotherham, ISIS, scum, rape, UKIP and Paki. It also includes more common racial slurs, swear words, terrorism references, and misspellings of all of the above.The other day Tell MAMA, which monitors hate crimes against Muslims, published an anonymous article claiming that certain unnamed “moral guardians of the Internet”, mainly aged between 20 and 35 “who spend their time on Twitter railing against prejudice and Islamophobia” and “shout Islamophobia at the slightest drop of a hat”, are in the habit of calling Muslims they disagree with on matters like extremism or Prevent “house Muslims”, “equivalent to the House Slaves who kept the machinery of oppression through slavery going” and “who ensured that the South’s policy of slavery continued on longer since they had sold their labour just to receive some basic privileges”. They continue:

Why are these statements problematic? They are problematic since those making them leave themselves open to the charge that they have no moral mandate in countering intolerance and prejudice, when they themselves are promoting a form of bigotry. They have no mandate since tackling racism and prejudice, speaks to power. These individuals do not speak to power, they simply re-enforce a mob-like mentality that bays, taunts and attempts to humiliate the individual, thereby re-enforcing power structures. This statement is also problematic, since it shows the hypocrisy in some who claim to be part of the anti-racist movement and who are nothing but charlatans and snake-skin salespeople playing to a mob mentality. Underneath the facade, they have slightly more in common with the plantation owner who sought to keep his slaves subjugated and controlled; boxed off and easy to understand. Well, we will have no part of it.

Anyone who uses the term ‘House Muslim’ should be regarded as being akin in his/her views to those who promote the false narrative that Muslims cannot be trusted and that they are secret Sharia or taqiyya peddlers. Both narratives are toxic and we simply should reject both with all of our energies.

My experience of monitoring the coverage of Muslims in the British media for over ten years is that whatever we want to call them, “house Muslims” are a reality, they are popular with the media and appear frequently, and they fall into a number of categories. Among them are members of sects that look a bit like Islam but are not (e.g. Ismailism, Qadianism, Quran-aloneism), telling the media that they are the true Muslims and that everyone else is doing Islam wrong. Others include sectarians who accuse their rivals of being extremists or terrorists in interviews with the mainstream media (Brelvis and some so-called Sufis being the most common offenders of this type). There are also some individuals who want to build a name or career for themselves, either within the community or in the media.

Someone does not become a “house Muslim” by dissenting from popular Muslim opinion. They do so by speaking to the media about Muslims or Islam in a way which is treacherous, which confirms others’ prejudices, which undermines campaigns for Muslims’ civil or religious rights (for example, by claiming that Muslim civil rights organisations are fronts for Hamas), which makes broad and unsubstantiated claims about terrorism or support for terrorism, support for specific groups, extremism or extremist attitudes, attitudes to women, attitudes to non-Muslims, FGM or forced marriages, and a variety of other issues. Any time there is a public controversy about Muslim practice or behaviour, or a scandal involving people of Muslim background, the media seeks the views of these people despite them often having no standing in the community whatsoever. For example, after the convictions of various groups of men of Muslim heritage for grooming and raping young girls, the BBC mid-day presenter Jeremy Vine hosted a debate between a man from the NSPCC and Taj Hargey, who was presented as offering an insider’s perspective (which he is not), told Vine what he wanted to hear, i.e. that Muslim attitudes were to blame and it was all the imams’ fault. (A week later, Hargey also claimed on the same show that the murderers of Lee Rigby got their ideas from “the mullahs”, an entirely false and baseless claim.) One also recalls Yasmin Alibhai-Brown screeching over Omar Ali of FOSIS during a Newsnight feature on the separation of men and women at Islamic events two years ago, telling Muslims to start their own universities rather than imposing their “Saudi Arabian practices” on anyone else.

Those are two of the more extreme examples — some actual Muslims have been known to make damaging statements to the media whenever extremism is under discussion, blaming “Wahhabis”, Saudi influence, “radical ideology”, a “them and us attitude”, anything but racism, Islamophobia, official harassment, media demonisation, and a host of other real challenges that Muslims and particularly young Muslims face in western societies. This is what the media, of left and right, want to hear because they are part of the establishment and run by a class of journalists who are mostly white, mostly middle-class, often products of private schools (when challenged on Twitter about this in the case of the Observer, Nick Cohen responded that it was in fact a “grammar school paper”!), and their main target audience is much the same, only with a wider class selection. The only Muslims they really want to hear from are the most westernised.

To call someone a “house nigger”, particularly if you are not Black and the person you are referring to is, is unacceptable because it contains a racial slur, but the phenomenon of a member of a minority speaking or acting treacherously about their own people in order to gain fame or leadership for themselves, or for other reasons, is well-known through the ages and not just among Muslims. Tell MAMA argue that the unnamed individuals they criticise “have no mandate since tackling racism and prejudice, speaks to power”, but when these people “speak to power”, they do so in a way that reinforces prejudice and suspicion about ordinary Muslims. It is they who “reinforce power structures” because they do not challenge dominant narratives; they enforce white power and keep Muslims powerless. In most ways, they are worse than the “house slaves” of the 19th century and before, since they were only trying to better their lives at a time when freedom was not on offer to them. They did not do it to make money or become famous on the backs of poorer or less powerful people of their own kind.

The situation we live in today is not slavery, and neither is it Apartheid or racial segregation. But we live in a continent which has perpetrated two genocides against religious minorities within living memory, a continent which in places is turning in on itself, reasserting itself as a white secular or Christian society and telling others that they have to get like the white majority or get out, banning religious dress, religious slaughter and circumcision, interfering in marriages, denying citizenship on the grounds of religious views, prosecuting people for offending popular sensibilities. One only has to look at the debate over allowing Syrian refugees to enter Europe to see that hatred of Islam and Muslims is never far from the surface. In this context, Muslim public speakers have a duty not to expose their communities to hostility or hatred by making rash claims or exposing more of their community’s problems than is necessary; if they do, then they can expect to be condemned for it, all the more so when they are doing it for personal gain. Call them what you will, but untrustworthy and disloyal, or just self-seeking, Muslim public figures running their mouths off to the media with half-true or irrelevant tittle-tattle about Muslims are a fact, and they feed public hostility, including the hate crimes Tell MAMA monitor. We’ll stop talking about them when they stop talking about us.

Image source: Tell MAMA.

Possibly Related Posts:

Student union blocks speech by 'inflammatory' anti-sharia activist

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 September, 2015 - 08:00

Warwick University union says Maryam Namazie could incite hatred on campus if allowed to take up secularist society invitation

A human rights campaigner has been barred from speaking at Warwick University after organisers were told she was “highly inflammatory and could incite hatred”.

Maryam Namazie, an Iranian-born campaigner against religious laws, had been invited to speak to the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists Society next month. But the student union blocked the event, telling the society that Namazie’s appearance could violate its external speaker policy.

Related: Nick Cohen: One woman's war

Related: What isn't wrong with Sharia law?

Continue reading...

Book Review: International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies

Muslim Matters - 26 September, 2015 - 07:33

By Dr Azher Siddiqui


Title:               International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies

Author:           Sameen Ahmed Khan (Dhofar University, Salalah, Sultanate of Oman)

Publisher:        LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany

Details:            96 pages (30 July 2015).         Price: 49.90 €.

Reviewer:       Dr. Azher Majid Siddiqui, Department of Physics, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi 110025, India.


In December 2013, the United Nations designated 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL).  A number of major scientific anniversaries are being celebrated in 2015, starting with the encyclopedic works on optics by the Islamic scholar Ibn al-Haytham in 1015.

The author, Dr. Sameen Khan, has been following the IYL since its conception in Italy, in 2011.  Dr. Khan is a Member of the prestigious Working Group, “Ibn Al Haytham” set-up by the 'International Steering Committee' of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies.  The book under study is the first book on this topic.

The book traces the history of optics from the early Egyptian and Greek civilizations to the present.  Then lucidly describes how the ancient knowledge of optics reached the Arab lands in the eighth century.  The Medieval Arabs preserved the then known sciences (astronomy, chemistry, medicine, mathematics, optics, etc.) through the process of translation accompanied with original contributions of the highest calibre.

Over half the book is dedicated to the Medieval Arab achievements in optics, during the Islamic Golden Age (eighth to the thirteenth centuries).  Ancient science and philosophy preserved in the Greek, Sanskrit, Pahlavi and Syriac languages would have been lost forever had the scholars centred around Baghdad during the 8th-12th centuries not translated them into Arabic.  Later on the knowledge preserved in Arabic was translated into Latin and other European languages.  This paved the way for the European Renaissance.

Contributions of the contemporary science historians such as Abdelhamid Ibrahim Sabra and Roshdi Hifni Rashed are described in detail.  They examined and translated the Arabic manuscripts from antiquity (lying in the museums) into French and English and thus shedding new light on the Arab contributions to sciences and optics in particular.  A detailed account of these developments is presented.  The book has an appendix outlining the history of modern optics from the 13th century to current times.  The very current developments are covered such as the ones leading to the optics related 2014 Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry.   The 2015 King Faisal International Prize, which is also related to optics by a remarkable coincidence is also addressed.  20th century was marked with the remarkable development of Accelerator-based Light Sources.  These developments are described and the author persuasively presents the need for an International Year of Particle Accelerators and Accelerator-based Technologies (IYPA).

The author states, “It is high time to recognize the Medieval Islamic Achievements in Optics and other sciences and give due credit, which they rightly deserve.  There have been numerous conferences on Arab Contributions to Science.  But this era of golden history is yet to find a mentionable place in school textbooks.”  The author further urges, “It is time for the Arab and Islamic countries to reflect on the decline of science in their nations and look forward to turning a new leaf.  It is time for them to come up with realizable schemes to revive the tradition of learning and enquiry as enshrined in Islam.  Such a revival will not be possible without the generous funding and the government patronage.  It is time to build international science centres in the Arab and Muslim countries, possibly modeled after the international European institutions.”  As of August 2015, we have 93 National Nodes which are organising local campaigns, activities and events.  What about the remaining hundred-odd countries?

The book could have included the “Medieval Islamic Achievements in Optics” in its title or subtitle.  The book has 172 references, many of which belong to the author!  This is not surprising since the author has been working in optics for twenty-five years and has extensively published on different aspects.  The book has concisely covered the very ancient to the contemporary and has even attempted future insights.  The book shall be very useful to one and all: popular science readers, historians, students, teachers, researchers, and mostly importantly the policymakers.



Sameen Ahmed Khan, International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany (30 July 2015).   ISBN-13: 978-3-659-76482-0 and ISBN-10: 3659764825

Sameen Ahmed Khan, 2015 declared the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, Current Science, 106 (4), 501 (25 February 2014).  (Fortnightly Publication of the Indian Academy of Sciences),

Sameen Ahmed Khan, Medieval Islamic Achievements in Optics, Il Nuovo Saggiatore, 31 (1-2), pp. 36-45 (January-February 2015).  (Publication of SIF: Società Italiana di Fisica, the Italian Physical Society).

Alleged Islamic extremist accused of destroying Timbuktu monuments sent to Hague

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 September, 2015 - 07:12

International Criminal Court takes custody of its first suspect for the war crime of destroying historic monuments during unrest in 2012 in Mali

An alleged Islamic extremist charged with involvement in the destruction of religious buildings in the historic city of Timbuktu in Mali in 2012 has been arrested and was sent to the International Criminal Court early on Saturday.

Ahmad Al Mahdi Al Faqi, known as Abu Tourab, is the first suspect in the court’s custody charged with the war crime of destroying religious or historical monuments.

Related: Timbuktu's Djinguereber mosque: a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 5

Related: The book rustlers of Timbuktu: how Mali's ancient manuscripts were saved

Continue reading...


Subscribe to The Revival aggregator