Friday, December 16, 2005

Neo-Orientalists of Rand Corporation

Neo-Orientalists of the Rand Corporation

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

December 13th marks the first anniversary of the Rand Corporation report “The Muslim World After 9/11” that suggests exploitation of Sunni, Shiite and Arab, non-Arab divides to promote the US policy objectives in the Muslim world.

This was the second Rand report about Islam and Muslims in 2004.

The first report was Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies. The Rand reports are the latest in a long series of policy papers dedicated to further the military, economic, and cultural onslaught of the West on the Muslim World. Dig a little into the reports and it won’t take long to find the real objectives.

Writers of these reports are neo-Orientalists with clear intention to belittle Islam and its adherents to achieve ambitions of the empire like the Orientalists of the 19th century who co-operated hand-in-hand with the imperialistic aims of the European colonial powers.

Read more here

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Islamicity interviews M. Shahid Alam

Islamicity has an excellent interview of M. Shahid Alam that readers of this blog should find interesting and relevant to this debate.

A: Western imagination has been fertile at inventing projects for reforming the world, not least the world of Islam. This is their perennial cover for world domination: they are always engaged in civilizing the people they exploit, enslave or exterminate.

The West has accepted market-driven notions of 'rights' as supreme values. Should Muslims willy-nilly follow suit? Or should they seek greater justice in gender-relations within the matrix of their own system of values?

Click here to read entire interview

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Israeli Puppets

As was noted earlier on this blog, Mu(Bu)sharraf the "enlightened moderate" heads up a "Progressive Islam Institute" in Pakistan, along with Riffat Hassan. Hassan recently came to the defense of Mu(Bu)sharraf when he was taken to task for his anti-women comments regarding rape.

Mu(Bu)sharraf, along with some of his lackeys, is now at the forefront of a push for building relations with the Zionist state of Israel that will only come at the expense of the Palestinians. But, as we've seen everything and anything is A-OK - so long as you call it "moderate" and/or "progressive."

For more information on this enlightened progressive move, check out the Pakistan-Israel Forum - that lists individuals and their backgrounds who are behind all of this...

Soon we'll see the "feminist/progressive/scholar" Riffat Hassaan talk about how wonderful Mu(Bu)sharraf is for women, while he shakes hands with the butcher of Sabra and Shatila.
(Palestinian women somehow don't count for these types of military government sponsored feminists.)

Riffat Hassan was also one of the conference dignataries at a recent media event put on by the PMUNA in Barcelona, Spain.

And, of-course, we should'nt forget Ahmed Nassef's (the executive director of PMUNA) flirtations.

See also M. Shahid Alam's excellent article on this topic: Who Benefits, Pakistan "recognizes" Israel.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Progressive Wedge Politics

This is to be expected, of-course. The Progressive Muslim (PMUNAist type) Jawad Ali of Muslim Wake Up, decided to indulge in some good 'ol PMUist type name calling (barely a day into the month of Ramadan).

Jawad Ali states:

Sunni path and Aryan pride A prominent Dear-Abby/paint-between-the-lines/Daddy-knows-best fiqh websites in America is called Sunni Path. Does anyone else find this name to be just a little bit creepy? I know that this is a minor offence in the grand scheme of things….

Seeker's Digest responds:

If they’d bothered to ask, we could have explained that the site is called SunniPath because we seek to explain how to live the sunna of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) in a reliable and relevant manner–in keeping with both the form and spirit of the sunna, without engaging in polemics or negativity.

While affirming our differences with our Shi`a brethren–differences long-established and only facile to deny–we also affirm that Shi`a are Muslims, and we owe them full rights as our fellow Muslims; as People of the Qibla; and as people who believe in Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). After that, we agree to disagree. This is the way of tolerance–not the way of pretending to bulldoze away differences, and then creating disputes and fitna without need.

See: Seeker’s Digest - True Moderate Islam - Statement of Islamic Conference Held in Amman - June 2005.

Most readers of this blog are familiar with the Rand Report that divides Muslims up into "moderate" "modernist" "traditional" etc.

But there is a another, lesser known, Rand Report: This second report lays out a strategy of going even deeper into identifying “fault lines” in the Muslim community. And they recommend that the United States exploit these divisions to “promote” its “objectives.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali wrote in an article:

A new Rand Corporation study suggests that Sunni, Shiite and Arab, non-Arab divides should be exploited to promote the US policy objectives in the Muslim world.

The recently released Rand study - titled “The Muslim World After 9/11” – was conducted on behalf of the US Air Force. One of the primary objective of the study was to “identify the key cleavages and fault lines among sectarian, ethnic, regional, and national lines and to assess how these cleavages generate challenges and opportunities for the United States.”

And in a recent article titled Splitting Islam, James Kurth - a Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College, further details this strategy.

The United States did not create the Sunni-Shi’ite split in Islamism, just as it did not create the earlier Sino-Soviet split in communism. It can, however, put itself in a position to take advantage of the divide as it very likely will develop, as it did with the analogous split during the Cold War.

This Ramadan, given the above US strategy against Islam and Muslims, we could use some internal dialogue and discussions. BUT we do not need polemics, and useless Progressive (PMUist type) name calling, that only serves to further harden rifts in the Muslim communities.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Progressive Hypocrisy

Musharraf (or, as he is affectionately called, Busharraf) in an recent interview with the Washington Post made this statement about Mukhtar Mai

He said Mai had come under the sway of organizations determined to harm Pakistan’s image and he did not think Pakistan “should be singled out when the curse is everywhere in the world.” He noted he had seen reports or figures about rape in the United States, Canada, France and Britain showing that “it is happening everywhere.”
And then he said this:

"You must understand the environment in Pakistan,” Musharraf added. “This has become a moneymaking concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped.”
Then, a few days later, at a gathering to promote "moderate enlightenment" he denied ever making the above statement!

‘Let me say with total sincerity that I never said that and it has been misquoted,’’ Musharraf said. ‘‘These are not my words and I would go to the extent of saying I am not so silly and stupid to make comments of this sort.’’
And he has this to say about human rights activists who challenged him regarding the statement:

“You are against me and Pakistan,” said the president when a human rights activist referred to his alleged comments in a Washington Post interview which quoted him (Gen Musharraf) as saying that women exploited rape to get visas.

Well, it turns out that the Washington Post has an audio of the interview - where The General does make the statement, in his own voice, no less! So Mush/Busharraf lied.

OK, so we know politicians, including vicious military dictators posing as "enlightened moderates" lie.

BUT there is an even more interesting Progressive twist to this story - Riffat Hassan, Phd, an academic, and a Progressive Muslimist has founded a "Progressive Islam" institute in Pakistan - that is headed, by guess who? Yup! The Enlightened Moderate himself!

Organised by international scholar, Dr. Riffat Hassan, and featuring the views of one of the most prolific progressive thinkers of our times, Dr Fathi Osman, a project of no less controversy is now in the works. An autonomous, progressive Muslim institute - the antithesis of more orthodox organisations, such as the Islamic University in Islamabad - and headed by the bastion of the "enlightened moderation" movement himself, President Pervez Musharraf. And it will be truly global in its make and manifesto. It is envisioned that the board of directors will comprise the best international progressive scholars, whose works and teachings will be transmitted to Pakistanis around the country through multimedia sources and teachers programmes.
So, what does Busharraf (I mean... Musharraf) get in return for giving his royal military blessing to the Progressivists? He gets Riffat Hassan's loyalty, who is expected to jump whenever the General is criticised, and, if needed, say a lie or two to cultivate his image as a great champion of women.

And, Riffat Hassan has no problem complying with this quid pro quo: in a pathetic letter to the Pakistani newspaper Dawn she defends the military dictator. Here is what she writes about individuals who raised the issue of Busharraf's comments at a meeting with Pakistani women (where Riffat Hassan was the keynote speaker)!

At the end of his presentation, three-fourths of the people in the room stood up and applauded. The remaining one-fourth were persons who were opposed to him for personal or political reasons. Their venom toward the president became manifest in the question and answer part of the meeting.

In a voice filled with anger the questioner told the president that since he had “categorically denied” making the statement attributed to him by The Washington Post, he should make a clarification to the world press. She went on to express her disappointment at the way he was treating human rights activists who were protesting against violence toward women.

The president responded to the deliberately provocative comment by saying that the many journalists who were present had already heard his clarification. He expressed his disappointment at the questioner and others like her who were engaging in what he said was unpatriotic behaviour. He said that he would always support the cause of women but he would oppose those who were using women’s cause to further their own agendas that were harmful to the country.

At the end of the Q & A session, again the vast majority of the people stood up and gave the president a resounding round of applause.

Of-course Riffat Hassan cannot dare to criticise the General, after all her institute depends on his blessings.

This is yet another sordid chapter in the history of the hypocritical Progrssivists. For some reason, this story did not make it to the PMUNAist's media outlets - and Muslim Wake Up --- wonder why?....

Monday, September 26, 2005

Lessons Learned...

Svend White, former Secretary of The Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy ( CSID ) - a United States Government's State Department funded organization (according to sources) has written an article on the PMUNA that is worth a read.

White makes some good points in his article, however - there are some important aspects of the PMUNA that he leaves out.

A critical piece he does not address is how the PMUNA fit in perfectly with the Rand Report and the US agenda to "change the face of Islam." These reports reveal a strategy to manipulate and divide Muslims, and to use certain "good Muslims" to promote United States policies in the "mid-east". This, in some quarters, has been dismissed as "conspiracy theory." However, the kind of attention that the PMUNA got from the mainstream corporate media cannot just be explained by "screaming headlines sell" (as White suggests in his article).

The United States corporate media performs an ideological function, and, in this context, their role was and, is to create and give wide space to the "good Muslims." While there were other organizations that attempted to fill this role, most notably those associated with Daniel Pipes and Stephen Schwartz's Center for Islamic Pluralism. It was PMU that showed the most promise, because of the support given by high profile academics such as Omid Safi (former Chair) and Amina Wadud (former advisory board member). Both these individuals have since resigned from the PMUNA.

During the debate on NPM, the problematic use of media hype was pointed out by one contributor:

If we assume that Ahmed (Nassef) and PMUNA are aware of the problems of media (and its specific position vis-a-vis "bad" and "good" moderate Muslims) in the heart of the empire, then I can't help feeling as if they are engaged in something entirely unethical.

For "progressives," the general aim has been understood to be one that undermines power and authoritarian structures, either at the political, social, or economic level. From this it follows that the reliance on the US media, certainly a core ideological institution of US imperial power, is to effectively depend on one form of power (a very powerful one in fact) to try to confront another form of power ("islamic orthodoxy," a far weaker power).

Whether or not Ahmed (Nassef) or Omid (Safi) have this intention or not is irrelevant.
Right now, in a situation where Muslims in the US do have their backs against the wall and are being told to get their act together or else, showcasing oneself as the "progressive muslims" amongst the herd of reactionaries is to have the practical effect of using the imperial ideological system for one's "progressive" purposes. This might undermine one form of "power" (Muslim institutions such as ISNA, male-female mosque dynamics IN THE US), but strengthens a far more powerful propaganda system that's not shy of using force and violence.

Click to read more
In this day and age, concerned Muslims, especially in the United States, might want to become more aware of how the US media functions - a good starting point is Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's classic book: Manufacturing Consent.

Monday, September 19, 2005

And over on the other side of the pond...

The Blair government, that more than often follows the foot steps of the Bush administration, seems to be busy playing its own version of divide and conquer, and some Muslims are only too happy to comply.

Are we all extremists now?! MPACUK asks the question:
No sooner had the British Government said jump; some Muslims responded by saying in true colonial subject style, “Yes Sir how high would you like us to jump”. To some Muslims, saying No to Government is simply not in their vocabulary. To them, just being in the presence of Government Officials is an awe inspiring experience. Others are involved for the progression of their political party careers and to serve their Leader, Blair. Many others are on board to milk the system for their own pet interests and projects. There is also another group of participants, a new breed of Muslims seeking to become Islamic consultants in the manner of Race consultants (so the recommendations will inevitably involve commissioning out identified areas of work). These Muslims have made, or wish to make a career in an Islamic Relations Industry to rival the race experts. Of course there are also many that are sincere but politically naïve, and then there are also those who genuinely believe that their version of Islam is the true one, and has been hijacked by extremists who need to be countered.

Click here to read more of this interesting article

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Progressive Thugs Exposed!

Ahmed Nassef, executive director of Progressive Muslim Union North America, ran an article on his website titled "ISNA thugs" on the ISNA convention this year. - picked up this article, and also ran it on their site.

Along with the article, there was this graphic:

Ahmed Nassef apparently changed the graphic showing only a muscular arm - but has the full graphic.

It is interesting to note the depiction of this Muslim "thug" that feeds on the stereotypes used against Muslims: bearded, angry, and style of the cap worn mostly in the northern areas of Pakistan, and Central Asia (note the anti-immigrant tone of the graphic, and the article).

This graphical depiction might as well be something that would appear on a rabidly anti-Muslim site - but instead it appears on a supposed "liberal" "progressive" site. The right wing news station, FOX would be proud of these "progressives."

However, this is not surprising, since features regular articles by Muslims For Bush (who were also invitees to the Progressive Muslim Union advisory board).

And in an interview with the then chair (now resigned) of PMU, Omid Safi, they failed to ask some very critical questions.

Check out two articles exposing the pro-regressives (both very good articles - read 'em).

A point by point refutation to the Muslim Wake Up/Naseeb.Com article:

Sheila Musaji writes ISNA? Thugs?


Dr. Maxtor's blog MWU & Naseeb, irrelevent co-conspirators

Another article by Sheila Musaji - MWU/PMU - Progressive voices?

Musaji concludes with the following:

These sorts of tactics can only hurt the cause of Progressive Muslims and I do not want to be associated with individuals or organizations that show so little professionalism or concern for truth and rational discourse.

By now, North American Muslims (and elsewhere) should be aware that these PMUists types of "Progressive Muslims" do not have a cause!

Friday, September 09, 2005

A brief history of the PMUNA

Early October/ late September of 2004 - Ahmed Nassaf, Omid Safi, Hussen Ibish, and Sara Eltantawi announced themselves as the executive board of a new Muslim organization calling itself "The Progressive Muslims Union, North America."

They sent out a packet of information to a prospective board of advisors. Among the invitees were Seeme and Malik Hassan, founders of Muslims For Bush, Fareed Zakariyya - Nawaal al-Sadawi, Ziyad Asali, and Muqtedar Khan.

The inclusion of these individuals - and others who have publicly stated that they are not Muslim (Tariq Ali) resulted in an impassioned debate/conversation on the direction this new organization was going to take. Much of this debate has taken place on a discussion e-list The Network of Progressive Muslims (NPM members, see archives beginning October 21st, 2004.)

Recently, Omid Safi has stated that they did not invite Fareed Zakariyya. However, during the debate on NPM, the invitation to Zakariyya was one of the main points of contention, and Safi never denied the invitation at the time.

On November 12th a group who were strongly arguing against the PMU direction, issued a public statement outlining their concerns. This blog was founded on the same day, and the debate on NPM was made public. However, because of list/moderator restrictions, most of the discussions were removed. A few sections of that debate is available with permission of the authors of those e-mails.

Another noteworthy blog, critiquing the PMU and “progressive islam” in general, Living Tradition, was founded earlier on October 25th:

In these days, both non-Muslims and Muslims are being presented by the squeaky wheels with two options: reactionism, in the form of Wahabism / Salafism and Islamism, or religious iconoclasm, in the form of "Progressivism." Both sides throw up a smoke screen when it comes to the sources of Shari'ah, the methodolgies of fiqh, the 'aqida of Islam, and more in an attempt to sway their listeners to their particular approach to Islam.

As a reaction to the public statement, Ahmed Nassef, the executive director announced on his web site Muslim Wake Up that the critics of the PMU were “neo-salafis.”

On November 19th, the PMU formally announced their advisory board, leaving out a number of controversial invitees.

Sometime mid to late December, Muslim Wake Up was hacked, and the Executive Director appeared on the right wing FOX network to announce that “not all, but many mosques are run by people who have extremist views on women etc..." (emphasis added).
On December 13th yet another “moderate Muslim” group was founded – with the then advisory board member Muqtedar Khan, and Executive Director Ahmed Nassef playing an active role in the organization.

February 2005, Tarek Fatah, who was, at the time, the moderator of NPM, took the e-mails he had access to (about 200+) and started a new e-list called PMUnet. Fatah was removed as moderator from NPM, and soon he left the NPM list.

Early to mid March, 2005 – the PMUNA created the Amina Wadud media event – subsequently, Wadud resigned from their advisory board. A number of articles appeared on this event and many are linked from this web site.

March 15th dozens of Palestinian groups condemned Ziad Asali who was on the advisory board of the PMUNA. Hussein Ibish, the then vice-chair of PMUNA is a senior fellow at Asali's organization.

"From under the garb of hollow US democratization, Asali has in effect been diligently advancing the neo-conservative plan for the "New Middle East", where nations and people are reconstituted against their will."

On April 20th – US News and World Report came out with an investigative report on the Hearts, Minds, and Dollars In an Unseen Front in the War on Terrorism, America is Spending Millions...
To Change the Very Face of Islam.

Late June/early July – the PMU shahadah was updated, and this resulted in the first of a number of resignations from the PMU board: Muqtedar Khan.

Mid-August a new website was founded that included a blog by a just resigned from board: Michael Knight – who stated in his first entry:

If the Prophet wouldn’t have liked it, then in 2005 the Prophet is wrong, s*!@ on him.

August 23rd – three of the founding members: Omid Safi, Hussein Ibish, Sarah Eltantawi resigned.

Late August – there were no more advisory boards – and Omid Safi found himself at a crossroads.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Omid Safi's crossroads

In a widely circulated e-letter, Omid Safi, the founder, and former chair of the Progressive Muslim Union has complained that he was placed on "moderated status" on the PMU "discussion" (sic) list.

This, effectively meant that all of Safi's post would have to be first approved by (amongst others) Tarek Fatah, before the list gets to see the contents (aka: censorship).

"Not only had I not been informed about this, the list moderators have explicitly disagreed letting the folks on the PMU list know that they are placing people on censored status.

I have had a lengthy discussion with Pamela (Taylor) about this, and my crime is in fact not in anything that I have said, but in something that I might say. "
So, now there is apparently yet another splintered group of people - this time exclusively selected by Omid Safi to discuss this "moderated status."

Now, the only reason this is worth mentioning is to point out the absurdity of this situation - the notion of "progressive islam/muslim" has fallen to a new low : The founder of the Progressive Muslim Union is left arguing with Tarek Fatah and Pamela Taylor about why he has been placed on a moderated status, with an exclusive group of invitees watching the spectacle and chiming in!

Mufti Omid Safi has also promised a "state of the union/progressive muslim" address in the near future! Do we really need more sanctimonious talks? Have we not had enough of loud empty words and grandiose statements?!

Safi is at a crossroads - and it is time he made some choices - he can carry on lengthy debates, and engage in intrigues, on this and that lists, and go about attempting to save and reform PMUNA, maybe making backroom deals in the process with his choice list of invitees. (So much for transparency.)

OR he can get to the business of social justice in the real world!

If Safi is to seriously live his words (and not just say them) it will mean him leaving his comfort zone, and perhaps, begin working within prisons (plenty of work needed on gender justice over there) with taxi drivers, with homeless people in shelters and those living under bridges.

Safi might begin to take strong stands against those "moderates" and "progressives" Muslims, who are joining the Bush/Blair regimes - and point out that there is nothing "moderate" or "progressive" about becoming advisors to those who are invaders and occupiers.

And he has to stop this nonsense about "athiest" Muslims and what not...such thinking reeks of a tribalist mentality - reducing Islam to a mere "cultural heritage."

If Safi himself cannot leave his own comfortable environment, culturally, socially, and psychologically, then who is he to make such grand calls for "reform Islam" and "progressive Islam" and so on and on... ?!

The choice is for Omid Safi to make - he can continue with these petty intrigues, arguments, and fights with the current PMUNA board members, or he can move towards the real world - where the rest of us are living.

The train is moving, and leaving the station - and, as Howard Zinn, has said, in describing the contemporary US situation: there is no such thing as being neutral on a moving train.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

no more advisory boards?

A quick look at the PMU web site shows that they no longer have any advisory boards.

Also, it appears, that Mohja Kahf (the MWU sex and umma fame) resigned from the board a few months back, but quietly, none of the razzle dazzle of the recent resignations.

At its inception, the PMU had invited over two dozen advisory board members, including such luminaries as Muslims For Bush, Fareed Zakariya and Nawaal al-Sadawi who supported the hijaab ban in France.

The current board of directors (assuming no more resignations) according to the PMU web site are:

Tarek Fatah

Zuriani "Ani" Zonneveld

Ahmed Nassef

(more on Ahmed Nassef)

Mona El-Tahawy

(more on Mona Eltahawy)

Pamela Taylor (fomerly co-chair, now the lone chair of PMUNA)

Saleemah Ghaffur

Naeem Mohaiemen

Coming soon: a brief history of the PMU - meanwhile, see the AMP report on the resignations.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Left Behind

Three of the four original founders of PMUNA have resigned.

According to most recent information, the following individuals are the Left Behind Board of Directors of the PMU.

Let us know in the comments section:

1. Who you would like to see resign next? (and...Why?)


2. Who is most likely to resign next? (and...Why?)

(those PMUists - the few that are left -read this blog, maybe they'll listen to you...)

Tarek Fatah

Zuriani "Ani" Zonneveld

Ahmed Naseef

Mona El-Tahawy

(more on Mona Eltahawy)

Pamela Taylor (fomerly co-chair, now the lone chair of PMUNA)

Ginan Rauf ("beer for Ramadan" fame)

Imam Daayiee

Saleemah Ghaffur

Naeem Mohaiemen

Kareem Shora

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Omid Safi, Hussein Ibish, Sarah Eltantawi - all gone!

Three of the five member Executive Board of the PMUNA have resigned.

Bism Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim

August 24, 2005

To Whom It May Concern:

It is with heavy hearts, but out of a deep conviction that there is no other choice at this stage, that we -- Omid Safi, Hussein Ibish and Sarah Eltantawi, three of the four founding members (along with Ahmed Nassef) of the Progressive Muslim Union of North America (PMU) -- hereby tender our resignations from the Board of Directors of PMU.

We helped to form PMU in the hopes that it would develop into an umbrella organization representing a „big tent‰ for Muslims with a very wide variety of religious, political and social attitudes who are drawn together by a spirit of pluralism and compassion to develop and contribute a new voice to the conversation about Islam and Muslims in North America. Our intention was to create a space in which Muslims could pursue a multivalent critique of power, standing against injustice within Muslim societies, among Muslims in North America, and with regard to the foreign and domestic policies of the governments and societies in which we live. We wanted to be as vigorous in challenging injustices in the Islamic world, and the deeply-rooted racism and sexism that lurk within our own community, as we rightly are in condemning the abuses of U.S. foreign policy and the assault on civil liberties in the United States. We also wanted to create a forum for a respectful but critical
engagement with Islamic practices and classical and modern interpretations of Islamic doctrine, as well as how Islam has functions as a social text, especially in our own societies at the present time. We intended PMU to help to develop an independent, and spiritually and intellectually sophisticated, Islamic discourse that is distinctly North American, while remaining true to the essential teachings and values of Islam; one that responds to the challenges and context in which North American Muslims live, as opposed to discourses that are mainly derivative of ideas and agendas formed long ago and/or far away.

The hope was that these two missions would compliment each other, and serve to give a voice to a large section of the community hitherto underrepresented. In both cases, our intention was to help to enrich, broaden and deepen the conversation in the North American Muslim community, and to unleash the power of a set of ideas that have been largely dormant among us in recent years: the Islamic values of tolerance, compassion and equity ˆ that is to say, the spirit of justice that lies at the heart of Islam.

Unfortunately, PMU has not developed in the direction that we had envisioned and worked to promote. We readily accept our share of the responsibility for this, and do not seek to blame or second-guess any of our former colleagues. They are entitled to develop PMU in any direction that they see fit. However we have become convinced that PMU is not a forum that will allow us to successfully pursue the agenda we envisioned at its founding, and that this is not likely to change. We believe that the vision that we outlined in the PMU mission statement and that informed the founding of PMU remains vital and urgently needed, but has yet to find a vehicle for its effective expression. We remain committed to the values and goals of that mission statement, and we will continue to work to help develop and implement a progressive agenda for American Muslims.

We wish PMU all the best, offer it our support and encouragement, and hope that it will to grow into a vital and important organization that represents a significant constituency among North American Muslims.


Omid Safi

Hussein Ibish

Sarah Eltantawi

Mass Resignations from PMUNA

Breaking news: Omid Safi, Sara Eltantawi, and Hussein Ibish resign from PMUNA - more coming soon!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Critique of "Standing Alone"

A well thought out critique of Asra Nomani's book Standing Alone on the Bannos blog.

Readers of this blog will, I'm sure, recognize the statement below as reflective of not only Asra Nomani, but also the "progressive islam" as represented by the PMU/MWU/ factions.

I started getting a strange feeling the more I read. This “true faith” seemed to be rather selective and perhaps restricted to what Ms. Nomani believed to be essential or true.

Click here to read more

The Amina Wadud (PMUNA advisory board member) media showcase was organized by Progressive Muslim Union Executive Director Ahmed Nassef, in conjunction with the "Asra Nomani Muslim Women's Freedom Tour."

Nomani's book was publicized right along side the Wadud event on the PMU NA media outlet: "Muslim Wake Up."

Friday, August 19, 2005

Another resignation! + A Question.

(Post updated 8/22/05)

Now confirmed - Laury Silvers has resigned from the board of directors of the Progressive Muslim Union North America. While Silvers was with the PMU, she drafted the expanded version of the PMUNA shahadah to include sex, alcohol, and "no-god." This new shahdah was part of Muqtedar Khan's reasons for resignation from the PMUNA.

Silvers, Ilan Bashir, along with Sabahat Ashraf are the main individuals behind the new web site Progressive Islam.

Sabahat Ashraf, who stated on the Living Tradition blog - that Knight, as a Muslim, is "free" to hold views about throwing s*^%# on the Prophet) , is also on the Technology Team of the Progressive Muslim Union.

Also the record, I find Mr Knight's attitude to The Prophet a rather odd one for a Muslim to hold. But he is free to hold it.

UPDATE: Link to PMUNA/MWU found - buried in the "links section" of the web site. Stay tuned for more information on this "new" "progressive" blog/site.

However, the question still remains: why has, that does not advertise itself as a "progressive Muslim" site, been given central space on the front page? While Muslim Wake Up - that is very much a self-identified "progressive Muslim" web site been relegated to somewhere deep in the links section. Hopefully this is just an oversight, and they will be adding Muslim Wake Up to their front page - so that everyone can be clear on the background of these individuals.

Muslim Wake Up, of-course, is the media outlet of Progressive Muslim Union. Executive Director of the PMU - Ahmed Nassef is the Chief Editor and Owner of Muslim Wake Up.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Old Wine New Bottle?!

The board members, and supporters of the Progressive Muslim Union North America have a new web site that they are calling ""

But this site has an interesting new twist - it seems that they are looking for a new look and a new package.

Lets look at the Old Wine first:

In typical Omid Safi good cop style, the site states:

Our intent is simply to provide the technical means and a hospitable environment for the expression of ideas in an open and civil manner.
And, then, in typical PMU sensationalist style they proceed to hurl insults:

If the Prophet wouldn’t have liked it, then in 2005 the Prophet is wrong, s*!@ on him.
The site includes familiar faces - the former PMU board member Knight, insulting the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him).

The secular "muslim" Harvardist, Ginan Rauf (board member of PMUNA, and "beer for ramadan" fame - do a google search to learn more...).

Someone calling herself (and thereby insulting) Harriet Tubman - this one is under the delusion that the pro-regressive types like her are some kind of civil rights "leaders."

(Coopting African American struggles for their own ends is a PMU tactic - Asra Nomani likes to fashion herself as some kind of a Rosa Parks, along with casting herself as a latter day Martin Luther).

Here is how she supports Knight (and insult converts).

Sure, Mike’s stuff is often upsetting to many Muslims, not just because of its style and content, but because he refuses the usual role allotted to white male converts: that of (cheer)leader.

Now, lets look at the New Bottle:

The site has no links to the PMU media outlet Muslim Wake Up - instead, they link to Shahed Amanullah's web site, Alt.Muslim. Could be that MWU has become a bit too much of a liablity? So have they found someone new to carry their mission forward? hmmm....

The site also includes a coming soon blog "The Hina Azam Blog" named after Dr. Hina Azam (Amanullah is her husband) who had critiqued the Amina Wadud event.

UPDATE 8/25/05: The "Hina Azam Blog" is gone and so are the front page links to AltMuslim

UPDATE: Following is a comment by Shahed Amanullah

"Hina did agree to have a blog at this site, but she will most likely be repulsed (as am I) by being hosted next to Mr. Knight's infamous blog entry. So I'm not sure it will happen, but I leave that up to her.

And about their links to - they asked to link to and/or reprint content, I gave permission.

There's no relationship other than that. Judge me by the content of my site (well, except for some of the comments), not by those who link to me."

The site also states:

.. an online space, created for Muslims of all theological orientations to gather and engage in creative, thoughtful and intelligent discussion and debate.

Now, this is an interesting statement - there are PMUists who have no theological orientation at all - they are atheists, or secularists. Is there such a thing as an "atheist theology"?!

Well - in the bizarro world of Progressive Muslim Union - anything is possible! After all, if they can "tolerate" and believe that a Muslim has the "freedom" to insult the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) - then why not have an atheist theology?

Monday, August 15, 2005

The high demand groups...

"Those two groups are in very high demand in US media and popular cultures: African-Americans who are willing to say that there is no racism in the US, and who blame African-Americans for the consequences of institutional inequality and racism; and the second group are those Muslims who are willing to blame Islam and all Muslims (and even Falafil) for the violent deeds of individual Muslims. I mean it. If you are either African-American or Muslim try to send an op-ed piece (including what I have said) and you will be instantly published. Try it. You may also be in top demand if you happen to belong to both groups simultaneously. In that case, an avenue will be named after you."

--Prof. As'ad Abu Khalil, UC Berkeley

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Muslim Fest and more...

Several good articles/postings on the Living Tradition blog ---

A review of Muslim Fest (The Muslim Arts Festival that the PMU NA loves to hate.)

One would think that an event like this would have earned the appreciation of the whole community. But wait,the usual suspects were up to their old game. Jawad at MWU ran a diatribe against the organisers accusing them of discrimination against women. Never mind that nearly half of the organising committee consisted of women, that there were more women than men in attendance and that apart from the Salah there was no real segregation of the sexes.

The one thing that these regressives are good at is indulging in unwarranted and baseless attacks on those who disagree with them.You can quote from the Quran and the Sunnah but that is of little consequence.It is always their way or the Highway.

Do we need avice from an apostate - on Salman Rushdie's fatwa on Islam.

However, my beef is not with Rushdie alone; it annoys me that the Western press runs articles on the need for reformation by people who are either out of the fold of Islam or who are barely hanging in there. It may serve the purpose of satisfying the ill informed, the naive, and the gullible but every such publication erodes their credibility even further in the eyes of Muslims. The Manjis, Nomanis, and Nassefs may be wildly popular with the average North American viewer( because they say what the audience wants to hear, not what Islam stands for) but they have little or no following within the larger Islamic community.

The are at it again...:

But like I said, if you don't agree with their agenda, don't go. Or better, have your own group. Have your own festival with like-minded Muslims who don't mind making salat with those who don't believe in God or who think that scrapping the Qur'an and liking briyani makes one a Muslim. I mean, you're getting tons of dollars from the Harvard Pluralism Project to hold your "Islamic Conferences." Why not have them foot the bill to a poetry slam on the Sex and the Umma section and have Muslims wax proudly on their "first time" while our sisters in Iraq are being sold into prostitution?

The Avari/Nameh and Marxists and PMUNA

On reflection, Dr. (Muqtedar) Khan seems to be talking about a bunch of Salafis. Except, of course, they don't really care if you believe in God. This is, I must say, absolutely ridiculous: This trend that "what I want to believe" defines what Islam is and is not. If we are to be a civilized people, with real culture and real progress, we need respect for knowledge. Only morons walk around talking about history being "what I want it to be" or anthropology being reduced to "my stereotypes and biases," and these are restricted to fringe movements -- holocaust denial and what-not.

City of Brass writes

Groups like the Progressive Muslims Association go even further and try to deny that Islam is a religion of Faith at all.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Israel and "moderate Muslims"

A recent article, appearing in the newspaper Haretz, gives some insight on Israeli ties with so-called "moderate Muslims."

These "moderate Muslims" are, of-course, in reality, extremists who tie themselves to anti-Palestinian groups, and the neo-con enterprise to "change the face of Islam."

The Progressive Muslim Union North America (PMUNA) is no stranger to this methodology.

Ahmed Nassef, the executive director of PMU has appeared at event sponsored by the anti-Palestinian group Hillel.

And Ziad Asali, a PMU advisory board member, and founder of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) was strongly condemned by dozens of community based grassroots Palestinian groups.

From under the garb of hollow US democratization, Asali has in effect been diligently advancing the neo-conservative plan for the "New Middle East", where nations and people are reconstituted against their will."

In reality, voices such as Asali's are part of a larger concerted effort to introduce a false veneer of moderation as a replacement for the legitimate inalienable rights of the Palestinian and Arab people, represented by their right to return, sovereignty and self-determination.

Through organizations like ATFP, Asali has gone even beyond the Geneva Accords, the Nusseibeh-Ayalon Agreement and other such attempts that violate fundamental, inalienable and natural rights that are enshrined in international law.

It should also be noted that Hussein Ibish, the vice-chair of "Progressive Muslim Union North America" is a senior fellow at the ATFP - and has the "highest respect" for Asali - whom he regards as his "mentor."

Also check out Ziad Asali hanging out with the top brass.

The Haraetz article states:

Our feeling," says Mansour, "was that we hear about extremists and acts of terror but do nothing with the silent majority of the communities, in which there are moderate voices that are willing to be exposed to joint public activities with Israel and with Jews.">

If this Mansour knew anything about the community, he would know that Arab and Muslims of all stripes already have excellent relationships with many Jewish groups such as the Mideast Children's Alliance.

However, what Mansour is looking for, is an acceptance, and complete silence regarding the Israeli atrocities, and land theft against the Palestinians.

These are the kinds of "moderate Muslims" that Israel is looking for... The "Progressive Muslim Union" seems to fit the bill.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Omid Safi declares takfir on Irshad Manji!

Omid Safi, along with Pamela Taylor, is the Chair of the "Progressive Muslim Union North America."

In a recent Cyber Fatwa - he has declared that Irshad Manji is not a Progressive Muslim!

I think to most of us it is obvious why Irshad is not a progressive Muslim.
Well no, actually it is not obvious at all - since it was Omid Safi himself who wrote the Progressive Muslim Union Shahdah:

"We affirm that a Muslim is anyone who identifies herself or himself as "Muslim," including those whose identification is based on social commitments and cultural heritage."
(An expanded version of the PMUNA shahdah can viewed here).
So, according to Omid Safi's definition of a Muslim - an athiest (they got a couple of those on the PMUNA board) can be a "Muslim" --- he has no limitations at all on who can identify her/himself as a Muslim.

HOWEVER, it now appears that Omid Safi does have some limitations on who can identify her/himself as a "Progressive."

Why? Well, because Omid Safi holds the word "Progressive" more sacred than he does "Muslim." If he were to be consistent in his views - he should welcome Irshad Manji to his fold - on the basis of:

"We affirm that a Progressive Muslim is anyone who identifies herself or himself as "Progressive Muslim."

And the fact is, they do have a lot more in common than meets the eye.

Omid Safi says in his cyber fatwa:

I am quite fed up with her, and frustrated by the way that she pitches herself to everyone from Fox News (which is quite infatuated with her) to very right wing Zionist organizations.

As usual, Safi exposes his double standards: he has no problems at all, and infact encourages the appearnces of his own people on FOX news, and right wing anti-Palestinian organizations.

Along with having a board member who has been strongly condemned by dozens of grass roots Palestinian organizations.

It is like this: if Omid Safi is doing it, that's all OK - but if someone else is doing the exact same crap, suddenly the person is no longer worthy of the title "Progressive Muslim."

Lets not forget that, with all of his rethoric about "Bush and empire" - Omid Safi has no problem cozying up, and inviting people such as Muslims for Bush to his board.

This is the "Progressive Muslims Union of North America."

Thursday, July 28, 2005

no more recomending "PMU"

Synaptic Cartography writes:

I used to recommend the Progressive Muslim Union (PMU) mailing list to those American muslims I'd meet who expressed disillusionment with other muslims (or even their entire faith) based in a high proportion of their encounters having been with very strictly and literalistically dogmatic and communally insular individuals/groups...

And so it's a fairly recent thing that I've stopped making this recommendation. There was a minor thing, a small personal embarrassment at having made just such a recommendation only to have it immediately followed by a run of particularly unnecessarily antagonistic and flat out puerile behavior by several of the more prominent writers there. It's a internet mailing list, this is how these things go, but in making the recommendation it then manages to reflect back, at the very least, on what appeals to me personally. And so that formed the quintessential straw upon a camel's back.

Click here to read more

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Tarek Fatah Problem

see an update on Tarek Fatah:

Pro-Regressives masquerading as "progressives"

The Living Tradition Blog has a couple of good articles worth a read:

Tarek Fatah and Canadian Islamic Court


Hijacking Tagedy -

Last year I wrote a piece on the collaboration of Neocons and “progressive” Muslims in the war against Islam. I received some negative comments demanding “proof” despite those cited in the post. Well here it is, 2 weeks after the tragic events in London. While responsible Muslim organizations in the US and UK were calling for calm and patience, Ahmed Nassef wasted no time claiming that the culprits had be Muslims.
Lets take a closer look at Tarek Fatah, he is on the board of directors of the "Progressive Muslim Union North America" and was one of the founders and moderators of the e-discussion group known as Network of Progressive Muslims (NPM).

A few months back, he was removed as moderator, after he took the e-mail addresses that he had access to, and created a new "progressive Muslim Union" e-list (where he is one of the moderators) - subsequently, he resigned from NPM.

Fatah, has a deliberate propensity to make wild unsubstantiated allegations, just a few examples: on the NPM list he has called officials of mainstream Muslim organizations snakes, supporters of Taleban, having connections with Ben Laden. And just about anyone who disagrees with him on Canadian religious court controversy, he insists, wants to impose "Sharia on Canada."

When he is asked to produce his proof - he commences to attack those who question his authority.

His recent statement on the London bombing includes this innuendo:

Tarek Fatah, communications director of the MCC, said, "For too long the Al-Qaeda and its apologists among the Muslim community have been holding the Muslim world hostage.

Perhaps someone can ask Fatah to identify who these "apologists" are so we can know just who is holding the "Muslim world hostage?"

Intrestingly, on the Islamicity site, the above statement is attributed to Tarek Fatah, but on the MCC web site - the exact same statement is attributed to Niaz Salimi, President of the MCC...

Niaz Salimi, President of the MCC, said, “For too long the Al-Qaeda and its apologists among the Muslim community have been holding the Muslim world hostage.”

hmmm... If you are going to use someone as your mouthpiece, atleast be consistent!

All of this is well known to Omid Safi and Pamela Taylor who are co-chairs of the "Progressive Muslim Union North America" - but they prefer to only whimper a protest once in a great while. And then Omid Safi and Pamela Taylor will talk about how they want self-critique and introspection and all those nice sounding words ---

It appears that they want to attack the Muslim community using Tarek Fatah, Ahmed Nassef, Hussein Ibish, amongst others - and they will NOT hold their own board members accountable for their statements, or actions! Not even when one of their own resigns, after being bitterly attacked, and called a liar by Fatah.

To his credit (if any is to be given to this guy) Tarek Fatah, after some initial flirtation, has distanced himself from Irshad Manji. BUT she did mention him in her section on acknowlegements - and addresses him as her friend here:

2. "'We're not smart enough' is a commonly uttered explanation throughout the Islamic world for why Muslims couldn't possibly have engineered the September 11 attacks." Source and note: This is confirmed by my friend Tarek Fatah, who recently spent time in Pakistan and frequently heard such mutterings.

This is the "Progressive Muslim Union North America"

Monday, July 04, 2005

Sex, Alcohol, and "No god" - The PMU shahadah updated

Earlier, this blog had a report on the "Progressive Muslim Union North America" shahadah and litmus test. This litmus test has now been updated and reads as follows:

"In addition to agreeing to the PMU statement of principles, you agree to interact and exchange ideas with Muslims who may or may not pray, who may or may not drink alcohol, who may or may not engage in sex outside of marriage, who may or may not be homosexual, who may or may not believe in God. PMU will not tolerate any statements questioning or admonishing a person's practice or lack of practice, faith or lack of faith, or sexual identity. "
While this may sound to some as if the Progressive Muslim Union is expanding the "tent" - it is, infact, yet another step by the PMU towards institutionalizing corruptions of very basic teachings of Islam. The issue of alcohol resulted in extreme defensive tones by the PMU defenders - Muqtedar Khan in his resignation letter has termed this "fanatical rage."

Readers in the United States may not fully appreciate the social status role that openly drinking alcohol plays in Muslim majority countries. While there are individuals across all social classes who may take a swig now an then --- it is for the elites that alcohol serves a specific purpose of enhancing one's status, and separating one's self from the mass of Muslims who live in poverty.

Both, alcohol, and an open willingness to have "sex outside of marriage" ('affairs') are part of a yardstick with which the acceptablity of a Muslim is measured. (A "good Muslim" is one who drinks alcohol, a fundamentalist is one who observes the five prayers, wears hijaab, has a beard etc.) It is a form of imitation of the "west" that elites love to indulge in --- believing in the superiority of the "west" to Islam.

While alcohol plays an elitest role in many/most muslim majority countries, lets take a look at Pakistan, as an example:

Dr. Mahjabeen Islam describes what is really a reflection of the elite class of Pakistan under the "enlightened moderate" Musharraf - who is busy implementing the United States vision in that country.

With Musharraf now quite inclined towards alcohol, pet dogs, Ataturk and secularism, euphemized as enlightened moderation, parties in Pakistan are no different from what they would be any Western country. There was a time that Pepsi was used to camouflage whiskey, now in mehndis and weddings there are regular bars serving vodka, whiskey and beer should you so desire.

I will admit that I travel halfway around the world for one or two Qawwali performances in the winter in Pakistan. To my horror prior to the start of the Qawwali I noticed glasses being carried in the hands of many full of that incriminating light yellow liquid. Soon enough the Qawwali was to begin and the groom’s brother detailed what a Qawwali is and then requested that since the Qawwal would start with a Hamd (poetry in the praise of God) that people should refrain from smoking. Excuse me? What about the yellow brew?
AND here is what Ayaz Amir, a columnist with the Dawn newspaper, Pakistan's largest English-language daily had to say about the "englightened moderate" :

"For the whiskey-drinking class, the chattering classes, he (Musharraf) was the messiah they'd been waiting for."
At the next "Progressive Muslim Union North America" event - watch out for that innocuous looking fruit punch --- it might be spiked!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Muqtedar Khan's resignation letter

Dear Omid (Safi)

Assalamu Alaykum,

Lately I have found the environment with Progressive Muslims Union extremely oppressive, abusive and hateful. I have found both PMU and MWU extremely intolerant of difference and disagreement. This is the only Muslim group where people who believe in the teachings of the Quran are ridiculed and those who express ambivalence about it even about the existence of God are celebrated.

But lately the culture of takfir and the absolutely lack of basic adab and simple etiquette that is becoming a defining characteristic of PMU has become suffocating.I have been extremely critical of many Muslim organizations, specially ISNA, AMSS and CAIR organizations that are routinely ridiculed by PMU members who feel that they are morally superior to all Muslims -- both in private and in writing but have never, ever been abused by any of them and most importantly never ever been made to feel that I do not belong.

It should not be a great loss to PMU. Even though I was member of the advisory board for a year, I was never consulted even once on any of its decisions. The advisory board never met even once and we never even had a single meeting with the executive committee. It is a sham anyway.

My close interaction with PMU has taught me three things, (1) that clearly I am not sufficiently indifferent to the teachings of Quran and the traditions of the Islamic heritage to be a "good Progressive Muslim"; (2) I was too gullible to believe in its empty claims of openness and tolerance for different perspectives. And (3) I have also learned that I am completely opposite in nature to most of the members of PMU. For example I believe that a rational argument precedes the moral judgment.

PMU is operating with a set of moral principles randomly acquired from Marxism and/or postmodern cultural trends and is treating them as absolutely moral truths, and are now looking for arguments [hopefully with some Islamic content] to justify them. PMU members unleash fanatical rage when this is questioned and resort to abuse, distortion, false accusations as a substitute to argument.

I can understand, sympathize and participate in exercises of Ijtihad that seek to reassess "human understanding" of Islam. I have been advocating this for over a decade. My website Ijtihad was launched in 1999. But not to observe Islamic values after recognizing them as such to me is a sin. I cannot for example in good conscience approve of alcohol consumption by those who acknowledge it as forbidden. To demand that I do so in order to remain a member of the community is exactly the kind of oppression that I though we had come together to fight.

I have been very prolific in presenting my views and opinions on myriad things Islamic or otherwise and hence there is very little about my politics that can be claimed to remain unknown. So when PMU invited me to join the advisory board, it was with full knowledge of my positions, so why the uproar now over my refusal to toe the party line. I have never, ever, hesitated from expressing my views and dissenting with any majority in every organization that I have worked with. But, the extent of intolerance that I have experienced from members of PMU has been shockingly unexpected and unprecedented. I have come to this sad realization that PMU's moral claims on social justice and tolerance and the "big tent approach" are shallow and indeed false. PMU is just another organization as intolerant and closed as any in our society.

Please liberate me from the oppressive and intolerant culture of PMU and accept my resignation from the advisory board with immediate effect.

Your Brother in IslamMuqtedar KhanM. A. Muqtedar Khan, Ph.D.

Director of International StudiesChair, Political Science Department, Adrian CollegeNon-Resident Fellow, Brookings InstitutionTel: 517-264-3949URL: http://www.glocaleye.orgURL:

Breaking News: Muqtedar Khan resigns from PMU?

According to sources, Muqtedar Khan has resigned from the Progressive Muslim Union, North America --- awaiting confirmation... if you have his resignation letter, please post it in the comments section. Thank You!

The following anonymous comment was left on this site:

I think that even though Khan was invited to join PMU, his mistake was accepting the invite. his resignation letter on the PMU list clearly indicates that he was always in disagreement. A dissident in a dissident community! I think he has had it with the crazies and has left.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Crass Opportunism of the PMU NAists

Recently CAIR announced plans to distribute a brochure titled: Women Friendly Mosques and Community Centers: Working Together to Reclaim Our Heritage (pdf).

Almost instantaneously the so-called "Progressive Muslims Union, North America" began a self-congratulatory corus - including an article by Muqtedar Khan claiming that the PMU was to be credited!

The Living Tradition Blog has an entry on the women friendly mosques. And they have pointed out that, among the very few (two) American individuals who wrote about this issue (years before PMUNA made a media circus for its own publicity) happens to be the editor of the LT blog! A "traditional" Muslim -the kind the PMUists lable "conservative" and love to slam and trash!

Click here to read the Living Tradition Blog's entry.

And click here to read Make Way for Women! Why your masjid should be women friendly! by Saraji Umm Zaid.

This article was written in 2001, way before the PMUists existed, and way before Asra Nomani had begun her media crusade. For a change, lets give credit where credit is due!

(As a side issue, it does need to be noted that Muqtedar Khan, with all of his strange politics, ironically is the only PMUist who has actually engaged in self-criticism! For this grave sin of self-criticism, behind the pro-regressive curtain, Mr. Khan has been on the receiving end of all kinds of abuse by the fanatic elements of the PMU. This charge against Mr. Khan has been led by board of directors member Tarek Fatah, who has accused him of lying - and has called for his removal from the PMU. Some insiders have termed this a "lynching of Muqtedar Khan.")

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Omid Safi, the Progressive Muslim Union Good Cop

Omid Safi is one of the four original founders of the Progressive Muslim Union North America (PMUNA) and is the chair of the group.

Apparently, Safi’s role in the PMUNA is to act as the “good cop” the guy who talks sweet, and presents the kinder gentler face - while Hussein Ibish, Tarek Fatah, and Ahmed Nassef roles are to attack the critics of PMUNA’s strange brand of “progressivism.”

Recently, Omid Safi was interviewed (titled "adl" and "ihsan") by the on-line zine: Unfortunately, the Naseeb interviewer did not bother to ask for specifics, and let Safi off the hook very easily.

There is no reason whatsoever why public figures, who seek to engage in sometimes arrogant controversy, should be allowed to just slide.

But in this day and age we have blogs - and so we’ll try to fill in some of the blanks.

Omid Safi states:

How have we translated that to the Progressive Muslim Union ethos? In the sense that we are trying to adopt a “big tent” approach: that there will be different folks, coming from different backgrounds, pursuing different projects.

At this point the Naseeb interviewer might have asked: What do you mean by a “big tent?” Who do you include in your “big tent?

A Big Tent?

Do you include, for example, Muslims For Bush (“Bush is bringing liberation...” pictured above) or how about Fareed Zakaria ("Invade Iraq, but bring friends..." and "Done right, an invasion (of Iraq) would be the single best path to reform the Arab world.").

Omid Safi did invite these people to his board, and you can view this information by clicking here. The only reason why some of these people (Muslims for Bush, Fareed Zakaria) are not on the PMUNA board is because they declined the invitation!

But, there are others who are on the PMUNA boards, such as a former employee of the infamous Rand Corporation, and those who oppose the Palestinian right of return, along with a guy who was dreaming of becoming a Muslim Henry Kissinger! This is Safi's "big tentism."

Add to this mix are self-proclaimed athiests and agnostics such as Tariq Ali and Hussein Ibish. So we now have reformers of Islam, who have no qualms about proclaiming that they are athiests and agnostics! This is Safi's "progress!"

Like other PMUNAists, Safi too appears to be obsessed with the word “Salafi” and “not falling into the Salafi trap” and “I don’t advocate a Salafi approach.” According to Safi this means: “I do not believe that we can or should limit our approach only to the Qur’an or hadith...”

VIBES: Most Progressive Muslims, you say are also anti-imperialist. Does this threaten/promote the longevity of the PMU in terms of gaining popularity?

Omid Safi: I for one am not obsessed with how to become popular. My concern is with doing that which is morally the right thing to do, in the sight of God and the mandate of our own conscience. Imperialism, both in its classical manifestation and its current permutations, represent an exercise of brutality, force, privilege, and arrogance. We will continue to speak out against all forms of domination and oppression.

But what kind of “anti-imperialism” is this? Invitations to Muslims For Bush? Former employees of the Rand corporation? Creating a media feeding frenzy around salaat (the Amina Wadud event), that portrayed PMUNA as the “good Muslims” and forced US Muslim groups into a corner - at a time when Muslims are under scrutiny? Promoting Asra Nomani who recently claimed on Nightline that:

America has a history of bringing human rights to the world, of bringing social justice to the world.
And that too at a time when the United States has invaded, and is occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, and lending its full support to the "man of peace" Ariel Sharon of Israel, against the Palestinians! And your own Executive Director: Ahmed Nassef hanging out with an anti-Palestinian group!

Like much of the Progressive Muslim Union North America - these "anti-imperial" words of Safi are mere air, without substance, and without any of the “educated, compassionate, historically rigorous perspectives” that Safi says he wants to talk about...

But the best part is this:

This ability to be grounded and self-critical is a great sign of a mature discourse.

BUT the PMUNA board members and/or their supporters have called their critics “neo-salafis” “chickens” “extremists” “people wanting to impose sharia on North America” “converts to ultra-conservative brands of Islam” and people whose "masters are the "Iranian mullahs"" This is the PMU level of "mature discourse!"

And the supposed “independent” PMUNA media outlet, Muslim Wake Up (editor Ahmed Nassef is Executive Director of PMUNA) - well, they will not publish anything even remotely critical of the PMUNA brand of “progressive Islam” --- So much for being “self critical!”

Omid Safi, you may like to sound like a sweet and articulate person, but your rethoric is empty. Your actions, and those of your board members and supporters are deeply contradictory and inconsistent with your words. But you do play the role of the “good cop” very well...congratulations.

Monday, May 23, 2005

hanging out with the top brass...

Ziad Asali, the founder/president of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), is on the Progressive Muslim Union board of advisors. Hussein Ibish, the vice-chair of Progressive Muslim Union is a senior fellow at ATFP.

Asali's statements against the Palestinian right of return was recently condemned by dozens of grassroots Palestinian groups.

And here is a recent statement from ATFP on meeting the United States Secty of State: Rice.

The ATFP delegation will discuss with Secretary Rice the current situation in Israel-Palestine and how the United States can assist in improving the daily lives of Palestinians as well as providing them with a political horizon for the realization of President Bush's goal of an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state.

Huh? Bush's goal? Bush's goal? Bush has a goal? The guy who called Sharon a "man of peace" - he has a goal? Well he does no doubt, and not one that would be in the interest of the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the Asra Nomani show went into top gear with an appearance on Nightline, here is a quote:

"If not america, where else? America has a history of bringing human rights to the world, of bringing social justice to the world. It is obviously from america that muslim women should do this."

Yeah OK, Nomani, "America has a history of bringing human rights to the world?" Quick, someone tell that to the Iraqis, and Afghans, and Palestinians --- don't worry about those bombs, and slaughter of over a 100K, just in the past year and half, in the war on Iraq. America is bringing social justice to the world!

Click here to read Zoltan Grossman's A century of US military interventions - and the slaughter of civillians associated with each "intervention."

We should not forget that The Amina Wadud (PMUNA advisory board member) media showcase was organized by Progressive Muslim Union Executive Director Ahmed Nassef, in conjunction with the "Asra Nomani Muslim Women's Freedom Tour."

Nomani's book was publicized right along side the Wadud event on the PMU "independent" media outlet: "Muslim Wake Up," her website was also designed by Ahmed Nassef ("Nassef Consulting").

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Designing Palestine

The Rand Corporation is the notorious think tank that came up with the notion of dividing up Muslims into "progressives/modernists" traditionalists, etc. and pitting them against each other... (These and other reports are often comissioned by the United States Air Force, and other arms of the US military/pentagon).

The recently formed group called "Progressive Muslim Union North American" (intentionally, or unintentionally) is ending up implementing the Rand Report.

The PMUNA's board of directors includes a former employee of the Rand corporation

- the "Progressive Muslim Union" board of advisors also includes the likes of Ziad Asali whose statements against the Palestinian right of return were widely condemned by dozens of Palestinians groups recently:

"From under the garb of hollow US democratization, Asali has in effect been diligently advancing the neo-conservative plan for the "New Middle East", where nations and people are reconstituted against their will."

Through organizations like American Task Force on Palestine, Asali has gone even beyond the Geneva Accords, the Nusseibeh-Ayalon Agreement and other such attempts that violate fundamental, inalienable and natural rights that are enshrined in international law.
It should be noted that Hussein Ibish, the vice chair of Progressive Muslim Union, is also a Senior Fellow at Ziad Asali's "American Task Force on Palestine"

However, the wider project is to completely re-design the "mid-east" and all Muslim majority areas of the world to fit in with the neo-con imperial designs...

The latest Rand project is to engage in Designing Palestine...

Forget about Palestinians, just sit in your office in Santa Monica, and design a state - that's how state and religion building is done these days...

Designing Palestine

On a Saturday in January last year, in his design studio in Santa Monica, Calif., all Doug Suisman had to go on were some maps and aerial photographs, an adrenaline spike supplied by a deadline, and the grandeur of his commission: design the state of Palestine.

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Ugly and Ugly

There have been a couple of good recent articles regarding the latest Progressive Muslim Union NA media blitzes that are attempting to keep the "progressive muslim" brand distinctive.

On the latest media stunt...

Laugh? I nearly did!

Some background:

There is a marketing/brand promotion element to the Progressive Muslim Union campaigns, and Ahmed Nassef, the executive director of PMU NA, himself has a marketing background.

The PMU is being built around media hyped events. They use the mostly negative North American media attention focused on Muslims, to create a spectacle that would then give the PMU supporters and their high officials, prominancy in the American media. Being media savvy, they are fully aware of events that would get them this kind of exposure, and its implications for the Muslim community.

But media attention is only one part of any sucessful brand promotion campaign, that would then attract loyal consumers. The brand, in this case "progressive muslim union," must also appear to have integrity so that the consumer is willing to try out the product (in this case, the product is the "progressive islam" concept being manufactured by Omid Safi, secularist agnostic Hussein Ibish, Muslim Wake Up etc.).

BUT the brand has run into a snag: blogs! There are a number of Muslim blogs that have exposed the PMUNA: their lack of knowledge about Islam, their attacks on Muslim organizations, and cuddling up with right wing neo-con types such as FOX, and the anti-Palestinian group: Hillel.

Now Hussein Ibish is attempting to distinguish his brand from the other so-called "progressive/moderate Muslim" types. And in doing so he leaves out some critical facts about the PMUNA - such as that they had invited a bunch of neo-cons to their board, and only backed down on some of the most controversial characters, *after* they were exposed on the eve of their official launching.

An extended debate had taken place on various aspects of this group on the Network of Progressive Muslim e-list. During that debate - Ahmed Nassef, Omid Safi, Sara Eltantawi all defended their
choice of including these neo-cons on the basis of what they call "pluralism."

Hussein Ibish is one of the four co-founders of the PMUNA, and its vice-chair, and his name is part of the original invitation that was sent out, that included Bush lovers, and supporters of the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ibish is also a senior fellow of the "American Task Force on Palestine" whose founder, Ziad Asali was recently condemned by dozens of Palestinian groups. And Asali is also on the board of advisors of the PMU NA... surprise surprise!

The PMU may try to distinguish themselves, but it is their actions, and attitudes that determine what they are about. And given that they are more interested in attacking Muslim communities, and creating propaganda for Muslims' precieved lack of "progressiveness" - they are really not all that different from the other ugly "moderate/progressive" groups out there. It's Ugly and Ugly.

Indeed the PMU supporters regard the broader Muslim community as a "them" versus the good "us progressive types..." This is, of-course, exactly the kind of clear divisions that the Rand Corporation intended to accomplish. (A former employee of Rand is on their board of directors).

Meanwhile, the North American Muslim community might wanna tighten their seat belts, and hang on, as these nefarious groups attempt to take the community on a dangerous roller coaster ride. Perhaps best to watch the spectacle from the sidelines, and work on our own individual and collective iman during these times. And, at the same time to be aware that the "progressive muslim union" will continue striking at the North American Muslim community, and using the attack mode to push their own egotistical agendas.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Responding to "progressives"

Living Tradition Blog has an entry responding to Muqtedar Khan's recent article on MWU

... has carved out a place within the American mainstream media, but they haven’t made any significant changes within the American Muslim community.

Click here to read more

And over on the ihsan blog:

Once upon a time, such visits (to MWU) were at least sometimes enjoyable and even informative, but alas no longer. Instead, features have become dominated by self-promoting polemic and vituperative attacks on opponents or critics of the media event which was Amina Wadud's mixed-gender salah.

Click here to read more

And, meanwhile, the PMU NA has admitted Tariq Ali - a self proclaimed athiest - to its board of advisors (Tariq Ali has previously stated that he does not regard himself a Muslim). With athiests and agonistics (Hussein Ibish, vice-chair of PMUNA) engaged in the task of "reform" Islam, we have a better understanding of the kind of "Islam" the "Progressive Muslim Union" is manufacturing.