For a French Imam, Islam’s True Enemy Is Radicalism

February 13, 2010

Owen Franken for The New York Times

DRANCY, France

HASSEN CHALGHOUMI, 38, is the imam of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s dreams. He supports a ban on the full facial veil, the so-called burqa; he opposes religious radicalism and promotes a “republican Islam” focused on France; he is ecumenical; and he favors dialogue with France’s Jews.

But Mr. Chalghoumi has also received death threats for his public positions and in particular his support for a ban on facial veils, including the black niqab, which reveals only the eyes. There are voices of dissent among the 2,500 worshipers at his mosque here in Drancy, just northeast of Paris. He has been called “the imam of the Jews.”

Twice, bands of young men, wearing knitted skullcaps and many of them bearded, demonstrated angrily at the mosque. At Friday Prayer two weeks ago, they demanded his resignation. Some shouted, “The anger of God on you,” which Mr. Chalghoumi understood as a threat. Continue reading

Top Judge Suspends President’s Judicial Appointment in Pakistan

Published: February 13, 2010

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A simmering power struggle in Pakistan erupted into open confrontation on Saturday, when the country’s top judge clashed with President Asif Ali Zardari over a judicial appointment.

The dispute over the choice of a Supreme Court judge is part of broader political battle between Mr. Zardari and the top judge, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, a powerful figure who has opened old corruption cases against Mr. Zardari and his allies.

It was not clear on Saturday night whether the standoff would deepen into crisis, or be resolved peacefully by Mr. Zardari backing down from his position, which officials of his party said simply followed legal precedent set by the court itself in 1996. Late Saturday, Mr. Chaudhry suspended the work of the Supreme Court next week to take up the matter.

The dispute centers around a constitutional ambiguity over how top judges are appointed in Pakistan. Under Pakistani law, the president has the right to appoint justices to the Supreme Court, but must consult with the chief justice.

On Saturday, Mr. Zardari named the senior judge of the Lahore High Court, Khwaja Sharif, to fill an opening on the Supreme Court, against the wishes of Mr. Chaudhry. Within hours, Mr. Chaudhry had convened an emergency legal panel, which ruled to suspend Mr. Zardari’s order, openly defying the president’s command. Continue reading

Obama names Muslim U.S. envoy to Islamic Conference

Washington Post staff writer
Sunday, February 14, 2010

President Obama announced Saturday the appointment of Rashad Hussain, a White House lawyer, to be his special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Obama made the announcement in a video conference to the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar. In his message, Obama called Hussain “an accomplished lawyer and a close and trusted member of my White House staff,” who would strengthen his policy of outreach to the world’s Muslims.

Obama has made repairing U.S. relations with the Islamic world an important element of his foreign policy, an effort highlighted by his call for a “new beginning” in a speech in Cairo last June.

In the statement Saturday, Obama said Hussain has “played a key role in developing the partnerships I called for in Cairo,” and would continue to do so in his new position. Obama noted that Hussain is a Hafiz of the Koran, someone who has memorized the holy Islamic text. Continue reading

Remembering Aasiya Zubair

A year on from the tragic death of Aasiya Zubair, American Muslims have mobilised to confront domestic violence

Wajahat Ali

Last year the tragic beheading of Aasiya Zubair jolted a dormant Muslim American community to finally acknowledge and proactively confront the hidden scourge of domestic violence in its midst.

On 12 February 2009, Aasiya Zubair, a Muslim Pakistani American MBA student and co-founder of Bridges TV, was murdered by her estranged husband, Muhammad Hassan, after she officially filed for divorce and obtained a restraining order against him. Hassan’s previous two wives left him due to domestic abuse, and Asma Firfirey, the sister of the deceased, stated Aasiya had previously sustained physical injuries requiring nearly $3,000 of medical bills. Hassan, who was ostensibly and regrettably considered a community leader despite his history of abuse – a shameful oversight and failure of the Muslim leadership community – is now charged with the murder. Remarkably, he recently invoked the “battered” spouse defence combined with psychiatric elements claiming that it was in fact he who suffered verbal abuse and humiliation by his wife.

Hassan’s defence takes away from the very real statistics that show the sobering reality of domestic violence in America. Approximately 1.3 million women in America are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually and nearly 25% of women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Contrary to some spurious reporting and ignorant, reactionary stereotyping in the wake of Aasiya’s murder, abhorrent violence against women is neither culturally innate nor exclusive to Muslim, South Asian, or immigrant males. Sadly, domestic violence is universally endemic in “women of all races [who] are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner”.

Commendably, the Muslim American community refused to plead victimhood and make media-friendly, defensive rationalisations following Aasiya’s murder. Instead, they universally condemned the murder, acknowledged the existence of domestic violence as a silent but prevalent reality deliberately hidden due to shame, and decided to finally clean their own house. Continue reading

“Muslims Talking Sex” Series: Porn, Is It Really that Bad? By Dr. X

GOATMILK continues  its original and exclusive series entitled “Muslims Talking Sex” featuring diverse Muslim  writers from around the world discussing a gamut of topics in their own unique, honest and eclectic voices.

Porn, Is It Really that Bad?


February 10, 2010

This may come as a surprise to the believing women out there: Men like sex.  Yes, even those guys with the big beards, the woolen cap, and the pants that are conspicuously above the ankles – they also like sex.  In fact, most men are programmed to like sex – even more than women.  If you doubt this, you can find numerous articles on the subject all over the web.  One of the many articles I found details research finding that men think about sex 13 times a day while women merely fantasize of Mr. McSteamy five times a day (hopefully not whilst praying).

But we do not have to resort to such empirically inspired academic findings to establish this well-known fact.  You can ask any jihadi on the Afghan-Pakistani border about his motivations for engaging in his jihad.  Aside from a perverse and juristically inaccurate explanation that God desires war against all nonbelievers; the average jihadi never fails to mention the 72 virgins that are eagerly awaiting the soon to be exploded warrior.  The Western media, of course, loves to get these guys on tape.  I mean, promising celestial intercourse to induce someone to kill himself and many others, even as a fringe benefit, now that really is hilarious – and 72 virgins, the precision of the number is even more funny even after discounting for the anachronistic nature of the statement.  But we should not delude ourselves into thinking that this type of thought process comes from outside Islam.  The fact of the matter is, Islam, as din al fitra is surprisingly blunt about sexual desire, and thank God that it is.

If this is shocking to you, I suggest you actually read the religious texts of our religion (and not just selectively).  In fact, you can read the religious texts of other religions too.   Being religious and prudish is not necessarily correlated.  Being religious and graceful, modest, and chaste – that is piety.  For example Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism contain a significant amount of literature on sex – and it’s mostly good!  Unlike some of our fellow peoples of the book, Islam encourages sex, and in a famous hadith of the Prophet, we are told that sex with your spouse is actually a virtuous act which is rewarded by God.  According to the Old Testament, Solomon had several hundred wives and concubines; in fact, the Old Testament alleges that his preoccupation with his wives led him astray (let’s not even talk about the innuendos regarding the story of the Queen of Sheba).  From Hinduism we learn that sexual intercourse is a means of experiencing spiritual enlightenment, and the Kama Sutra is not merely the title of a pornographic video starring a Latina dressed in a burqa, rather it is an ancient Sanskrit text believed to be inspired by an individual who overheard the sounds of lovemaking between the God Shiva and the Goddess Parvati.  Obviously this trite survey of religious attitudes of some faiths towards sex is not exhaustive nor is it comprehensive, but I state these simple examples only to quash the irrational presupposition of religious zealots that believers are not, and certainly cannot be, sexual beings.  Au contraire my recently clubbing-turned-bearded friend, your newfound religiosity is admirable but still superficial, so please don’t assume that the natural inclination for sex should be suppressed because it is inherently bad or religiously regrettable. Continue reading