Great conversation on Al Jazeera’s The Stream yesterday: I was with Lisa Fletcher and Anushay Hossain in the studio — I love her blog Anushay’s Point — and Omid Safi, Nouman Ali Khan, and Michael Muhammad Knight joined in on Skype. Plus an excellent video comment from Hind Makki in Chicago, which led to a lively post-show discussion, starting at the 25.15 mark, on reclaiming the narrative from both ‘Islamist’ extremists and Islamophobic bigots.
It’s a good thing Nouman Ali Khan wasn’t in the studio, because I’d only have totally embarrassed him by leaping up to give him a huge hug. I really do have to figure out how to be cool on TV…
Like I say, hang around for the post-show segment — the silent majority is silent no longer!
Assalamu alaiki Lesley.
I watched your programm with Lisa Fletch today. I then learned from Wikileaks that you a Jew. I am sure you cannot trace your tribe. When I meet you I will definitely hug you. You know that Muhammad Rasulullah married a Jewish lady from the famous tribe of Levi. It is part of the Sunna that his followers marry a Jewish lady!
Good! I expected you to dispell the hope of a stable and peaceful world based on the history of your ancestors. How can the G-d of Abraham be partial? Do not be deceived for you know very well that after the discovery of the Torah and is promulgation by Josiah, the then Jewish race enjoyed peace and prosperity. The Qur’an has been protected and its Laws are intact. yet those upholding it have turned it into shreds of paper.
Don’t criticize Netanhayu. Freedom of speech demands you to criticize the followers of Muhammad and expose their hypocrisy.
“Don’t criticize Netanyahu”? Are you kidding?
You “learned from Wikileaks” that I’m Jewish? Wikileaks? Really? You could have learned it from me when I said so on the program you say you watched.
No hugs, thank you.
Reblogged this on Heightened Senses and commented:
A brilliant edition of ‘The Stream’ speaking of the cartoons and the rage that followed it; is such a shame that more voices of moderation aren’t given this kind of exposure.
That said, I think the discourse lets-off too easily the greater power-play here – I read it as classical orientalism – a way of subduing the Eastern man because he is quick to murderous rage, necessitating condemnation from Western Governments and schooling in what it is to live in the ‘modern world’ (thank you President Clinton, you very wicked man).
Nouman Ali Khan was particularly excellent – speaking of the moral imperatives as opposed to the legislative ones which are important. And I think that that moral space should be recognised; as a person of ‘belief’, I wonder if it is a failing on the part of the faithful that this has been allowed to be perpetrated; our world today seems to be blinded by the notion of rights that extend even to the bigoted (which is fine in principle), the only problem being that we are so individualistic that we block out moral voices and moral instruction as soon as it interferes with our whims and desires – isn’t the point of morality (and I speak of universals here) that it should be able to shape or control our impulses for wickedness?
It’s an unpopular view to have, no-doubt, in today’s world. What do you think?
The point about lingering Orientalism is well taken, of course: images of rioting mobs feed into that perfectly, thus the infamous Newsweek “Muslim Rage” cover story. As any African American can tell you, it takes a long time for entrenched images, paradigms, and stereotypes to die. Any Jew, too.
Re morality, I think a more productive approach might be to focus on the impulse to good rather than to bad. And this is what I understand Nouman Ali Khan to be saying. i.e. religion not as “control” or a system of “curbs,” but as a force that might, in principle, focus on the potential for good. The idea of humans as inherently evil and thus needing to be punished and constricted only creates religion based on fear and hatred.
Shalom Ms Hazleton….
You’re one of the three Jewish ladies who adorned by blog. The other two, are – poet and historian Tamam Kahn, and Professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan (Hebrew University). Nurit has not studied Islam, but Tamam did. She authored the book, ‘ UNTOLD: A History of the wives of Prophet Muhammad’.
I don’t know Nurit, but Tamam is indeed a dear friend.
Nurit is daughter of Israeli war hero Gen. Matti Peled. She along with her brother Miko are among the few courageous Israeli Jews who though born and raised in committed Zionist Jewish families – have the moral courage to challenge Israel’s official Hasbara (propaganda) lies about Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. Their grandfather, Dr. Avraham Katsnelson, sang Israeli anthem on Israel’s unilateral declaration of a state in May 1948. She lost her 13-year-old daughter Smdari Elhanan in the 1997 bombing in Jerusalem. Nurit turned her grief into quest for justice for the native Palestinians.
Thank you. But please note that there are far more than “a few” such Israeli Jews. In fact a sizeable proportion of Israelis detest government policies, on political, moral, and Jewish grounds, and Matti Peled was among them. What I most admire about activists like Nurit is that they do not give way to despair or exhaustion.
I enjoyed the program and the discussion and agree with much of what was said—but perhaps some assumptions may have been incorrect?
I agree that excessively curtailing speech legally only makes it go underground depriving people of the opportunity for healthy debate and combating ignorance….but the idea that non-legal/social means of censorship does not make unacceptable speech go underground may be a mistaken idea—-statistics on Islamophobia show that a rise in hate-crimes/speech against Muslims corresponds to a rise in hate-crimes/speech against Jews in both U.S. and Europe. Therefore, it is possible the old anti-semitism is not dead—it just went underground waiting for a more conducive environment to re-emerge. If this is the case, then it is also possible that social censorship will only make islamophobia go underground in the West….unless the West actively discards its ideas of “manifest destiny/white man’s burden” and comes up with a new narrative that acknowledges the equality and dignity of ALL human beings…..and its one that is needed in the East as well…..
another myth is that the U.S.(government) respects “free-speech” which its citizens seem to hold as sacred. (one only needs to glance at journalist Glenn Greenwald articles….)
During the time of Hoover, the FBI rounded up all those whom it felt held “subversive’ views (views about communism)…more recently….
Whislteblower Bradley Manning arrested, Assange taking asylum from extradition to U.S., Penn state student arrested for posting links to bomb-making site, Jubair Ahmed arrested for uploading pictures of Abu Ghuraib—-there are also incidents when peaceful U.S. protestors were teargassed (new York) or pelted with rubber bullets causing injuries (California)—–others such as singer Cat Stevens and Professor Tariq Ramadhan were not allowed in the U.S. because it did not approve their views….During the Bush era—Al-Qaeda videos aired on al-Jazeera were not allowed to be aired in the U.S.—the U.S. also kidnapped and tortured (renditions) people whose views or conduct it did not like……..(these days it uses drones to bomb them….)
on a larger scale—one might even posit that the whole idea of fighting “communism”—or of “bringing democracy to Iraq” by war….also contradicts the American value of freedom of speech—-because ideas should be fought by ideas—not by nuclear weapons or tanks…..?…….
—the concept/value of free-speech is one that Americans should grapple with themselves in the American context….Its just that American excuses about how hate-speech is “legal” ring kinda hollow to non-Americans………