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.

1 comment:

DrMaxtor said...

Nice bit of history there. I'm not surprised that PMUNA scattered as it did. Sort of like the fragmentation of the psuedo-Islamic NOI into smaller sub-sects.
Ultimately I believe that the PMUNA became a victim of its nepotism and lies. I think Tarek Fatah played the role of the catalyst in its fragmentation. Just too many egos under one roof.
That being said, I think the bad cops ie Manji, Arjomand and Co need to be tackled as well.