Wednesday, July 09, 2008

the debates + more on the "Prince"

A few months back, the Sunni Forum board had a wide ranging debate on the issues surrounding the British government sponsored group Radical Middle Way. While somewhat acrimonious at times, I think the debate and discussion just about covered all of the various concerns - click here to read the thread.

My own view is that no Islamic scholar, nor any Islamic group should be taking funds from a government that has been partners with the US in its war on Islam. And especially not to promote any specific form or school of Islam.

As I have implied earlier, with regards to Farid Esack, nor should Islamic scholars be part of any project, or academic program that has been primarily (maybe even 100%) funded by someone like "Prince" Al-Waleed Bin Talal. This "Prince" funds an "Islamic Studies" programs at Harvard - to promote a form of, no doubt, empire friendly Islam. And then also gives money to support Bush senior, and praises and partners with the likes of Rupert Murdoch (owner of the anti-Muslim, neo-con supporting, ultra right wing FOX news).

This is Al-Waleed's palace:

Al-Waleed's $130 million palace in Riyadh includes a 75-foot-high foyer is framed by dual winding staircases. In all, there are 317 rooms, covering 400,000 square feet. The palace has 520 TVs, 400 phones, and eight elevators. And of course swimming pools (indoor and out), a screening room, a bowling alley, tennis courts (indoor and out), and an Astroturf soccer field (that's outdoors). The staff, all 180 of them, carry walkie-talkies.

I can understand that there are scholars of Islam - even Muslim scholars of Islam - who are primarily academics. However, the task, and role of an Islamic scholar is different than that of a western university professor who is an academic. An Islamic scholar has to not only be a scholar of Islam, but also give primacy to living, and making appropriate choices, in accordance with the Qur'an and Sunna. This role does not change whether one is living in the US, England, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, or Iceland.

Lets be clear, we are talking about the knowledge of Islam here, Allah's revealed religion. We are not playing games here, scholars have a greater responsibility to take seriously the Qur'an and Sunna, and such issues as sources of funding, contradictory agendas, and the role of the present day war on Islam. This war not only includes the obvious and severe violence against Muslims, but also attempts to ideologically corrupt how Islam is presented (and this form of corruption can be more subtle than the obvious neo-con anti-Islam hate mongering).

I would hope that most, if not all, of our Islamic scholars are savvy enough to not get tempted to join this project at Harvard, and be more vigilant with regards to sources of funding, and institutional pro-empire agendas.

click on image below to get a larger/clearer view: