Archive for August, 2010

News and Analysis (8/31/10)

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

You catch more flies with “non-coercive intelligence interviewing” than you can with waterboarding:

Sharing the archaic view that marriage conflicts with education, lawmakers move to address the problem by taking the right to marry away from young women 15-17, adults under Islamic law but not under Jordanian law:

“In other parts of Tennessee, including Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis, Muslim leaders reported that they had experienced no hostility and saw no reason to increase security”:

Pan Arab Research Center in Dubai “estimates advertising spending by financial services companies in the Arab region is likely to grow by 40 percent this Ramadan compared with the previous season”:

“For the sake of the values we hold dear in this country, we must resist the temptation to fear and hate those we may perceive as ‘the Stranger,’ but instead make a place at the table for all members of the American family”:

“My Faith, My Voice”, a web forum initiative, enables Muslim Americans to respond directly to controversial issues regarding Muslims in America:

News and Analysis

Monday, August 30th, 2010

One very young Iraqi earned an American officer’s  fond respect …

… but Iraqis have little confidence in politicians who “fight over positions and have no idea what we eat and drink and where we live”:

After “far-right activists threw missiles and smoke bombs,” the police say, “the way all the people of Bradford, particularly the Muslim people, reacted, was wonderful”:

“It aint what you don’t know that kills you; it’s what you know that aint so.” — Mr. Dooley:

Hitherto silent, Imam Faizul says the dispute is “not between Muslims and non-Muslims, but between moderates of all the faith traditions and the radicals of all the faith traditions”:

Everyone “thinks it is all very funny,” the owner says as he points to a poster of Yasser Arafat in his kaffiyeh and Sheikh Ahmad Yassin in a green baseball cap standing in front of the Dome of the Rock mosque:

News and Analysis (8/27/10)

Friday, August 27th, 2010

“The last few weeks have seen an intense push by the Israeli right and their neocon enablers in the US to essentially ‘jam’ Obama into either attacking Iran or letting Israel do so;” Jeffrey Goldberg’s  Atlantic cover is Exhibit A:

The “level of rhetoric has become so poisonous that we could end up turning the very moderates we seek to bring into the fold against us””:

“If you’re going to say that we’re separate from people, you’re going to do what the radicals want — on both sides,” says President of the American University Muslim Students Association, Tanim Awwal:

As the National Association of Evangelicals urges Terry Jones to call off his Qur’an burning “in the name and love of Jesus Christ,” Prof. John Esposito exposes the flaws in the argument that “Islam is the enemy”:

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force “officials are aware of civilian casualty allegations as a result of the engagement and are conducting an investigation”:

Is the euphoria of the holy month reflected in a Muslim world stock surge?

News and Analysis (8/26/10)

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Even as NYC Mayor Bloomberg offers to meet with the cabbie stabbed yesterday, and urges Americans not compromise “our faith in the freedoms that have sustained our great country for more that 200 years” …

… in yet another disturbing instance of flared tensions, a  drunkard, cursing,  trespassed into a mosque in Queens:

Lady Ashton is concerned that imprisonment of the nonviolent  human rights activist intends to deny Palestinians from “their legitimate right to protest against the existence of the separation barriers in a non-violent manner:”

Robert Reich blames the current rash of intolerance on economic fear and “demagogues who redirect the fear and anger toward people and groups who aren’t really to blame but are easy scapegoats … It has happened before”:

In Buffalo, as in many other American cities, even amidst tensions, good people still come together for good things:

News and Analysis (8/25/10)

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

The eponymous Christian militia “Right Wing Extreme” providing private security to the incongruously-named Dove World Outreach Center on “International Burn a Quran Day” fits the Islamophobe stereotype well (almost too well):

One Palestinian women says, “Go ahead and make your political point, but for us we’re breaking the law so that we can enjoy ourselves and remember how life was before the checkpoints and the wall;” and another says, “I just want to be able to breathe again”:

The poll indicates opposition to the Park51/Cordoba project is down to 51% from the 61% reported by Time last week:

The “strictly academic” presentation originally intended to educate Westerners becomes a source of “cultural pride against a contemporary backdrop of conflict and suspicion between the West and Muslim countries”:

If Franklin “Graham really wants to pick at genealogical grubs, what’s he to make of the fact that Obama’s father’s father was a Christian who converted to Islam?”:

As terrorists strike in Somalia …

… a hate crime murder is attempted in New York City:

News and Analysis (8/24/10)

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

The little boy was beaten at school and called a terrorist, but only months earlier “his mother had been killed in a roadside bombing by a real terrorist”:

Ismail Haniyeh’s declaration, “all Palestinian citizens must prevent all harm to all Christian churches on Palestinian land. Our Christian brothers are citizens of Palestine”  has a Christian Objectivist asking …

… while columnist Richard Cohen observes, “” I am a Jew, but do not judge me by Baruch Goldstein, who in 1994 murdered 29 Muslims in Hebron…. [Daisy Khan’s] fight is no longer her fight. The fight is now all of ours”:

FOX’s McCarthyesque attempt to link Imam Rauf with the Saudi royal family member who heads the Kingdom Foundation backfires when the Daily Show points out that the prince is also co-owner of FOX:

Bangladesh takes another step towards a secular democracy with a ban on requiring religious dress, allowing for people to choose their own dress, but, restricting businesses which wish to keep a pious character from doing so:

Unlike his Senatorial candidate son Rand, Congressman Ron Paul compares opposing the Muslim community center in lower Manhattan to opposing a soccer field because “the suicide bombers loved to play soccer”:

News and Analysis (8/23/10)

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

A dangerous situation: the percentage of urban Iraqis living in slums has skyrocketed from under 20%  before the American invasion to 53% today and unemployment is over 25%:

The worst side of nationalism, and of nativism meet in a recent Israeli government effort to “preserve the Jewish character” of the state:

“’Yo, we’re against Muslims, not each other man,’ someone in the crowd yells” …

… but in “the heart of the U.S. military machine …religious tolerance is part of what it means to be American”:

“The wrecking ball they’re wielding is not merely pounding Park51 …, but is demolishing America’s already frail support for” a war to nation-build in a country “whose most conspicuous asset besides opium is actual mosques”:

Panel on Teaching Islam in American Universities

Monday, August 23rd, 2010


[This is the nineteenth in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on approaching the Qur’an and Sunnah held in Herndon, VA. These notes are raw material for an edited report I will write on the conference later and represent my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. The Minaret of Freedom Institute thanks IIIT for the grant that makes the publication of these notes possible. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone.]

Session 19. Moderator: Iqbal Unus
“Panel on Teaching Islam in American Universities”

Panelist Cemil Aydin:

There are more Islamic scholars in America than any other non-Muslim majority country. When Ismail Faruqi began teaching the Islamic section of the Academy of teachers has only twenty teachers, but now it has grown enormously.  MESA started humbly forty years ago but now has a membership of 3000. Why? America’s imperial interest is one reason, but not the main one. American Universities in recent years have overcome their Eurocentrism at the same time as the boom in the inflow of Muslim immigrants, a nonimperial humanist interest. Muslims are about half of the scholars in the field and may soon become the majority. I think that 90% of the scholars today are in the humanist camp. During the invasion of Iraq the Neocons complained that the scholars of Islam were not helping them. Edward Said’s legacy now dominates the organization that he criticized (MESA). In Continental Europe they want teachers who can explain Islam, but they don’t want them to be Muslims.

In the last 200 years Muslim scholars have strongly been concerned with issues of reform, but they were focused only on Muslim societies and Europe. They ignored other non-Muslim societies. American universities offer an opportunity to consider the issue of reform in a broader global context. Comparative engagement with the non-Muslim societies could help us overcome the limitations imposed by the myth of golden age and decline.

Panelist Mahmoud Ayoub:

I would like to look at the history of Islamic studies in America to see where we are and to where we may move. Islamic studies began in the colonial countries of Europe, with the Germans joining in the 19th century under the influence of the special relations with the Ottoman Empire. Between the two world wars there was shift of power from Europe to the U.S. and the U.S. adopted a number of European projects, including the study of Islam, as a form of area studies rather than religious studies per se. What may have initiated a change in this approach was the rising European interest in religious civilizations like Islamic civilization and the rise of American imperialism, which differs from the European style in that the Americans wanted to establish business concerns. Their interest in Islam was both commercial and cultural, especially as Islam in America began to grow. People like Gibb and Gruenebaum came to teach on America. Americans also became interested in establishing centers and journals that dealt with areas of special economic interest in the U.S. Things began to change drastically after WWII with the growth of indigenous educated Muslims in America. Jewish scholars including rabbis like Goitien did important work in Islamic studies. The missionaries also took an interest in Islam. The journal Muslim World was founded to understand Muslims better in order to convert them to Christianity. Missionaries started American universities in the Middle East. There were also students like Kenneth Morgan who changed from other fields to Islamic studies. Morgan was interested in all the traditions of the world and wanted them to be taught by people within the tradition, provided only that they did not advocate, i.e. attempt to convert. A final group are the Arabs and Muslims. In the 80s and 90s there was a concern about Muslims taking over Islamic studies. I came to Islamic studies from the history of religion and my view will be different from someone who was a physician or engineer or political scientist, but we played a role in changing the field. After 9/11 there was shift in which we emphasized trying to present ourselves as friendly and good citizens, which is good, but carries the danger of ignoring or watering down aspects of our culture in order to be acceptable to others. We need to be true to our culture and promote peace at the same time.

For a long time universities sought to teach Middle East studies without teaching Islam. I think things have changed. The question is how long will this interest in Islamic studies go on? God knows. We shall have to wait and see.

Panelist Aisha Musa:

One of my pet peeves is the Islam vs. the West dichotomy. I’m of northern European background and changed my name when I converted, but if I knew then what I know now I might not have, since I am now mistaken as being from the Middle East. When students enter my class they have no knowledge that Islam is an Abrahamic faith. Until recently the modality of teaching Islam, as a subset of the study of ancient or modern Middle East, has not helped. Religious studies as an academic discipline is only 20-30 years old. Public universities are trying to study religion as a force in the world without preaching the religion. The highest levels of Islamic studies have mainly been restricted to a few schools in the East. I see a growth of interest in hiring Islamic studies professors at state universities. When Jane McAuliffe gave her talk on “Reading the Qur’an with Fidelity and Freedom” she said twenty years earlier almost all of her students were non-Muslims, but now most were Muslims. I see great hope but we have to move away from the West vs. Islam mentality.

Panelist Khaleel Mohammad:

What I say is purely my own view and has nothing to do with IIIT or San Diego University. I say this because I enforce a stereotype. I am a terrorist. At McGill University there was decision to make at least 40% of the Islamic studies faculty Muslim, but they moved away from that. Despite the increase in vacancies for Islamic studies professors, I do not see a beneficial development. The stereotype still exists that Muslim professors will try to convert people to Islam. In 1898 at the world parliament of religions there was a sustained rhetoric against Islam. A lot of the rhetoric now does not have a positive goal in mind. What is the solution? When we write our texts and they need it be edited, why can’t we have it edited by IIIT? Because of the name. It is still an uphill battle.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: When I taught at JHU’s Social Change and Development Program, the head of the Dept. of Middle East Studies objected that Islam was being taught outside of his department.

Ayoub: It is important not to use our position to proselytize.

Abu Baker Al-Shingieti: How do we teach Islam without appearing to proselytize? How can we teach the will of God?

Aydin: Some non-Muslim scholars have done more than the Muslim scholars, for example the history of Sufi tradition. I recall when Faruqi refused to include a panel on Sufism over the objections of the non-Muslim scholars. There should be an intra-scholar conversation outside the classroom where we can talk about the Islamic tradition in turn of creating a better person.

Imtiyaz Yusuf: Everybody asks me if John Esposito is a Muslim. He is not. He is a Hanif. The best you could have.

Ahmad: In  my class on Islamic civilization at the University of Maryland, I tell the students up front this is not a theology class. Of course, you cannot completely eliminate theology from a discussion of Islamic civilization, so I tell them they may ask questions about Islamic theology in the second and third sessions, but not afterward.

Ayoub: We can’t teach the will of God. That is something one must discover. We can only teach the revelation. What we need here, and IIIT is probably the best to do it, is an Islamic Seminary (which is probably not a bad name) that would be respectable in academic standards and thoroughly train religious leaders and imams in a nonsectarian way, not tied to a particular madhhab.

Mohammed: When a Muslim is considered to teach Islamic studies there is a problem that does not arise when a Buddhist is considered to teach Buddhist studies.

Aydin: The links between academia and government are broken not just in the area of Islamic studies. Washington think tanks are the intermediaries between academia and the policymakers in government.

Ayoub: Two days before we were to meet to inaugurate the chair of Islamic studies at Temple the chair yielded to pressure from Daniel Pipes to cancel the chair.

Ahmad:  The importance of think tanks as the bridge between academia and policymakers is why the Minaret of Freedom Institute, IIIT, and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists produced the Directory of Policy Experts on Islamic Studies and Muslim Affairs.

Hisham Altalib: it would be interesting to compare the religious affiliations of the teachers of Jewish, Christian and Islamic studies.

Aydin: There are very few Christians and no Muslims teaching Jewish studies. There are many secularists and atheists teaching Christian studies, leading to the phenomenon of student who “fail for Jesus.”

Ayoub: We all teach Christianity or Judaism in a sense in a world religions course, as historians of religion. Regarding think tanks, they are of different varieties. Some are funded by and belong to government or intelligence agencies.

Ayoub: I think an introductory course in Islam should be an advanced seminar with a focus on the rich civilization.

Mohammed: There is a new thrust that focuses on syllabus design. We have boards that ask the students what they want to learn about.

Altalib: Why call Christianity, Islam and Judaism Western religions?

Ayoub: Because of the influence of Greek thought. We are all heirs of Aristotle.

Musa: You have to be a marketer in designing a course.

Ahmad:  Judith Latham, now retired from Voice of America, has hosted a salon in her home for many years she calls “Aristotle and Abraham: All Their Children.” Even if you teach a course on theology, these other questions will come up.

Yusuf: My students are surprised to learn that Christianity went to Africa and Asia before coming to the West.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

American Law: Integrating Ultra-Traditional Muslims Through Accommodations

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010


[This is the eighteenth in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on approaching the Qur’an and Sunnah held in Herndon, VA. These notes are raw material for an edited report I will write on the conference later and represent my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. The Minaret of Freedom Institute thanks IIIT for the grant that makes the publication of these notes possible. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone.]

Session 18. Introduction by Yaqub Mirza

Doctoral thesis presentation by Mohammad El-Sanousi

“American Law: Integrating Ultra-Traditional Muslims Through Accommodations”

The dissertation deals with the disastrous consequences of the “Muslim Tablighi Jamaat of Arabi, Louisiana” opting out of insurance before Hurricane Katrina and the necessity of legal accommodations to allow them to obtain “Shariah-compliant” (takâful) insurance.

The Hasidic Jews following Lobovich, mainly in Brooklyn, are similar to the Tablighi Jamaat in their isolation. I look at the history of insurance in America and the communitarian element. I look at the incompatibility of commercial insurance with “Shariah compliance” and the passage of the “Takaful Act.”  I than ask what are the regulatory impediments. Insurance regulations are at the state level, which makes it easier to reform the system. The chapter on the legal structure is very lengthy and deals with religious freedom issues and the challenges of implementing the free exercise clause. There are legal accommodations, monetary accommodations, and permissive accommodations and limits on the accommodation. Despite these, we face implementation problems. I conclude that America is well prepared to accommodate religious groups of diverse traditions such as the Tablighi Jamaat.

I am specifically asking for accommodation in state laws by the insurance interpreting the law to permit takâful or else for legislators to amend the laws accordingly.

Hisham Altalib: Shariah has become a dirty word to the American public. What two sentences would you give the American public to reassure them?

Senusi: They think Shariah is about beheadings and stoning—

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: –and burkas!

Senusi: Shariah should not be understood as something to be imposed on everybody. Even in the Muslim world there are many rights granted to people of other faiths.

Aisha Musa: Newt Gingerich is asking for a federal law that would prohibit what you are asking for. Gingerich’s call has been roundly condemned, but do you see a danger they may succeed?

Senusi: For a short while they will succeed, as they initially did against Islamic finance, but in the long run, because of the way this country is built, we will succeed. Not along ago I was asked would there ever be hijab the military, we have that right now.

Ahmad: You should be more specific as to what the legal obstacles are and what is required to remedy them.

Senusi: Letter 885 gives banks permission to engage in murâbiha or mudârabi.

Mirza: Mutual banking is already allowed, we only need interpretation to allow the investments.

Barzinji: This is as much a challenge for us as Muslims as to the states. We greatly admire the fact that we were given accommodation in financing homes Islamicly. I don’t see what changes are required. Is the only change needed to allow mutual banks to engage in professionally managed Shariah compliance financing? How can we do this without permitting reinsurance?

Senusi: By law you must have auto insurance. Tablighi Jamaat take that, but not property and casualty, which are optional. In comparing the laws of Texas and Virginia, we find the former more difficult, so we should establish it first in Virginia. Their argument against insurance is that they must rely on Allah (tawâkul).

Ayoub: In what way is insurance any less compliant with Shariah than going to a doctor?

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

The Rituals of Khataman Al Qur’an in Indonesia

Saturday, August 21st, 2010


[This is the seventeenth in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on approaching the Qur’an and Sunnah held in Herndon, VA. These notes are raw material for an edited report I will write on the conference later and represent my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. The Minaret of Freedom Institute thanks IIIT for the grant that makes the publication of these notes possible. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone.]

Session 17. Moderator: Aisha Musa
Paper Presentation by Ahmed Rafiq
“The Rituals of Khataman Al Qur’an in Indonesia”

I wanted to show the history of the cultural reception of the Qur’an. Qur’an is the primary guidance and the question is how to use it. Traditionally, we turn analysis of the text and grammar, which results in much commentary. An alternative is a practical, non-theoretical analysis, which may or may not correspond to the literal meaning of the text. The tradition of khataman al Qur’an in Indonesia reflects the fact that most Indonesians are not Arabic speakers.

I have three questions: The first is how do they perform the khataman in Indonesia? The second I borrow from Richard Bulliet in distinguishing the edge (like Indonesia) form the center (Mecca and Medina). Concepts are appropriated from the center and adapted to the edge, preserving the local culture. Third, how are the modes of perception in Indonesia affected by the Qur’an? I also consider the reception of the hadith as it affects the reception of the Qur’an.

Khataman al Qur’an means completion of the recitation of reading of the Qur’an. Children begin by reading what we call “the small Qur’an.” It is a tradition that when a man and woman get married they have to recite part of the Qur’an the night before the wedding. Tadarûsan is another version in which members of small groups teach each other proper recitation, doing two juz’ per night. The final night is the khataman and many people, even those not commonly attending masjid, will attend to observe and the women provide refreshments, traditional and non-traditional. Nonparticipating men sit in a circle around the participants, women in a corner, and children are everywhere. All recite the last three surahs together, followed by Fatiha, the first five verses of Surat-al-Baqarah and the verse of the throne, and some other recitations, concluding with “perfected is the word of your Lord in truth and justice … He is the Hearer, the Knower,” and al-Fatihah, followed by supplications.

To the non-Arab Indonesians the practice is both religious and cultural.  The hadith that there is a double award for those for whom the recitation of the Qur’an Is difficult is very popular with Indonesians. The order of recitation, with additional verses after the end of the consecutive text is significant that the reading of the Qur’an is not over with the completion of the reading.

Most attendees come for the benefits of the recitation of the Qur’an. The quality is not the source of the benefit, but the intention. Tûmpong is the spiritual reward of getting closer to God. The Javanese also love to participate because it is a cultural event. Whenever students wish to proceed from one level of school to another, they must finish the khataman.

Discussant: Mahmoud Ayoub

What interests me is that you have a methodology that you try to follow. A santri is usually a student of a religious school who is committed to follow the Sharia and the Abangan are not liberal or loose Muslims, but Muslims still influenced by the original culture. We are talking about practice, not inner piety. The third group are the religious leaders who have had some training in religion. Geertz analysis makes good academic sense. The Khataman refers not to the completion of the Qur’an, but to the celebration that follows the completion of the recitation. Tadarusan comes from the hadith  “No people get together to study the Qur’an but that a divine tranquility comes down upon them and angels crowd them and God mentions them in the heavenly assembly.”

Rafiq: Tadârusan is the recitation and khataman is the celebration.

Discussant: Khaleel Mohammad

I like the way you highlighted the incorporation of the pre-Islamic tompong into the Islamic tradition, I wish you had spent more time on it in the oral presentation.

Rafiq: That is from Hindu-Buddhism. They bring the philosophy of the mountain, where they get closer to God. It is an agricultural society. Vegetables are picked from their own farms. Picking and serving their products has a spiritual element, and a feeling of harmony with nature that unfortunately has been displaced by the commercial purchase of vegetables.

Imtiaz Yusuf: You have been caught in a trap set by the Orientalists. You are student of religion, but this analysis is all anthropological. You should also consider how Indonesian scholars see the issue.

Rafiq: I am an anthrolopologist by practice not by training and it has influenced my approach.

Louay Safi: What you have described is very orthodox and can be found in Syria, Turkey, Egypt, etc. and Javanese only in detail.

Rafiq: The orthodoxy is a means of avoiding charges of bid`a. The cultural broker has to keep the orthodoxy, but appropriates it to the local system.

Abubaker Al-ShingietI: Once you are aware of the limits of the anthropological method it is easier to use it and to supplement it with other methods taken from other disciplines. There is a universal cultural code in khatm-al-Qur’an, in the eating of food, the timing, etc. It symbolizes the universality of Islam, but the anthropological approach focuses on the particulars.

Rafiq: Ethnography for me is only a tool for collecting the data. The theory of edge and center is a social-historical theory. I agree with you on the universality, but my dissertation is only about Indonesia.

Ayoub: The study of religion has always been done by some discipline other than religion. That’s what differentiates the study of religion from theology. You choose a methodology in order to locate your study. Whatever else we say about Geertz, he gave Indonesian studies a very good place in the academy. Of course, khataman is universal, going back to the 3rd and 4th hijra century.  For Muslims there are two rites of passage: circumcision and khatm-al-Qur’an. Orthodoxy applies to aqîda (faith) not to practice, where we speak about orthopraxy.

Mohammad: You mentioned that at the death of a Muslim Indonesians have recitation of the Qur’an for seven days. In the Caribbean it is done for forty days, considered bid`a by some.

Ayoub: In Lebanon for three days.

Rafiq: In some cases recitation is for seven days, in others for 14, 25, 40, 100, or a 1000. In Java this number is influenced by the Hindu-Buddhist tradition. They preserve the number but they imbue it with an Islamic value.

Sami Catovic: What role does the mawlad-an-nabi (Prophet’s birthday) play? In some parts of the Muslim world the mawlid serves the cultural function you ascribe to the khatm.

Rafiq: Recently they do khataman for an hour during mawlid. For Rabbi al Awal they recite during the entire month. In Indonesia they mostly observe mawlid with the recitation of poetry.

Rafiq: Various local Javanese religions still survive. ID cards recognize only Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism; so many followers of the local religions will put “Islam” on their cards.

Ayoub: Khatm al Qur’an in the Middle East refers to completing the Qur’an, initial reading, or memorization, or in Ramadan (whether in Tarawîh or otherwise).

Safi: I feel that that the view that diversity of practice is threatening is a modern view. Lawrence Rosen [in The Anthropology of Justice: Law as Culture in Islamic Society] says the qadis in the courts Morocco enforce local values.

Ahmad: I love Rosen’s book. I understand his conclusions to reflect not a sacrifice of Islamic law to local law, but a reflection of the Islamic law being a framework for contractual law that will easily accept the customs of the local social contract.

Ahmad Kazemi Mousavi: Iranians are warming to Shabastari’s theory that the message of the Qur’an is divine, but the language is culturally Arabic.

Ayoub: This is because the Iranians don’t like the Arabs.

Safi: There are two types of anthropologists. One looks at their subjects as objects who cannot articulate their own culture, which is very orientalist. The other is Rosen’s approach where he listens to the subjects .

Ayoub: Urf is incorporated into Islamic law as long as it doesn’t violate explicit rules. Where linearity is through the mother rather than the father, the inheritance laws giving more to men than women becomes a point of discussion.

Ahmad: The element of not objectifying the subject is what distinguished the better scholar from the Orientalist.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute