real-time carnivals at Street Prophets

I've posted a lengthy user diary at StreetProphets about the Carnival of Brass and real-time carnivals in general. Check it out and if you aren't a member of SP, now's the time to join. Let's forge links between other blog communities of faith whenever we can.


Hitchens: JAFI

Ron Coleman at Dean's World admits that he doesn't know enough about the topic, but goes on to approvingly quote Christopher Hitchen's latest racist and Islamophobic rant anyway.

I'll admit I lost my temper. Below are my responses in the discussion thread to the excerpts of Hitchens provided by Ron.

All over the non-Muslim world, we hear incessant demands that those who believe in the literal truth of the Quran be granted "respect."

Ron accepts this statement uncritically. Does it resonate with his prejudices?

We are supposed to watch what we say about Islam, lest by any chance we be considered "offensive."

Muslims are fair game for offensive critiques by everyone. You can get away with a post full of nonsense like this and then pretend it's somehow forbidden to do so?

A fair number of authors and academics in the West now have to live under police protection or endure prosecution in the courts for not observing this taboo with sufficient care.

a TINY handful, all in Europe! of what value is this observation? its meaningless crap. One might as well infer something about the misogynistic impulses of the Haredim on bus lines in Israel when they threaten and attack women. Of course the rational, principled view is that such actions are in no way representative of the broader community, and is only an extreme minority. But funny how that argument only applies to Jews and not to muslims.

A stupid term — Islamophobia — has been put into circulation to try and suggest that a foul prejudice lurks behind any misgivings about Islam's infallible "message."

a "stupid term" - sure, if it were used only in the context of the army of straw men above. However, not so stupid if it actually has meaning beyond that.

Well, this idiotic masochism has to be dropped. There may have been a handful of ugly incidents, provoked by lumpen elements, after certain episodes of Muslim terrorism.

indeed, and a handful of ugly incidents, provoked by lumpen elements, of terror attacks as well. But how dare he suggest that genuine attacks on innocent muslims are direct cause of specific terror attacks! in truth it is clowns like Hitchens that create an atmosphere of hatred and fear and mistrust. That does more to facilitate "ugly incidents" than any attack by genuine terrorists. In fact even the latter nearly always claim more muslim lives than non.

But no true secularist or even Christian has been involved in anything like the torching of a mosque.

oh, is that how its played? well in that case no true muslim has ever been involved in anything like the murder of innocents, either.

(The last time that such a thing did happen on any scale — in Bosnia — the United States and Britain intervened militarily to put a stop to it.

on ANY scale? Hitchens is a dolt or a liar. I leave it to you to judge, dear readers.

We also overthrew the Taliban, which was slaughtering the Hazara Shiite minority in Afghanistan.)

we overthrew the Taliban? are we sure?

But where are the denunciations from centers of Sunni and Shiite authority of the daily murder and torture of Islamic co-religionists?

Yes, where indeed? why dont the heads of every major sect of Islam come to kiss the ring of Saint Hitchens and declare their condemnations to be entered in his royal registers?

Of the regular desecration of holy sites and holy books?

oh, the humanity, is this utter lack of condemnation! the world wept for Bamiyan, though.

Of the paranoid insults thrown so carelessly and callously by one Muslim group at another?

now he wants us to condemn talking smack? okay, sahib Hitchens. Yes Sahib. Anything you like, sahib.

This mounting ghastliness is a bit more worthy of condemnation, surely, than a few Danish cartoons or a false rumor about a profaned copy of the Quran in Guantanamo.

ah, and those riots over the cartoons were so organic and genuinely representative of the attitudes of the vast majority of muslims!

The civilized world — yes I do mean to say that — should find its own voice and state firmly to Muslim leaders and citizens that respect is something to be earned and not demanded with menace.

aha! because the civilized world is indeed a separate entity from "muslim leaders and citizens". But Hitchens is not a racist imperialist snob, no sir.

the muslima book: a call for essays

My sister and another close friend are putting together a collection of essays by Muslim American women, to be published in a book by the end of this year. They have asked me to help them publicize a call for essays to be published in this book. The details are as follows:

Each essay must be written by a practicing Muslim American woman, either born and/or predominantly raised in the U.S. We are looking for contributors between the ages of 22 and 35 who are born into a Muslim family and claim Islam as their faith.

Please write articulately about a personal aspect of your life with regards to being a Muslim American woman. The essay should express in some way how your Muslim-ness and American-ness affect your life. This need not be overt but the essay should come from that perspective.

Essays should be no longer than 1000 words and will be edited for clarity. All submissions may not be accepted, but every submission will be considered. Please include name, age, birthplace, sect of Islam, profession/field, and anything else about yourself that might be useful for us to know (short bios are fine).

This is a project that, Inshallah, will appear across a variety of platforms, both national and international.

Please send all entries via email to: muslimabook@gmail.com


Carnival of Brass: FAQ (updated)

What is a "real-time Carnival" and how does it differ from the usual type of blog carnival?

The Carnival of Brass differs from traditional carnivals (like the Carnival of Islam in the West or Nomad Fatwas, both excellent in their own right) in two important ways. First, to submit a link, you don't send an email with the URL, but rather you simply "tag" it. This requires that you sign up for a free account at del.icio.us and add me, user azizhp, to your "network".

Second, to see the links, you don't visit the host website, but instead have a sidebar on your own blog. This means that the Carnival acts like dynamic news headlines, continually updated in real-time. You can even subscribe to it using an RSS reader like Bloglines or in your email client.

What is the feed address for the Carnival?

There are actually two feeds, and you can choose either or both as you see fit. The first one is titled @brass_crescent, and its address is:


This feed is for blog posts by muslim bloggers and other blogs in the Brass Crescent (aka the Islamsphere). In defining the Islamsphere, we are not relying solely on adherence to the faith, but an affinity for parts of the diverse cultural fabric that Islam embraces and is embraced by worldwide.

The second feed address is here:


This feed is for articles and news items from the mass media, of particular interest to the Islamsphere. Blog posts that comment on these articles belong in the other feed, this is more "news" whereas the other feed is more "opinion".

How do I embed the Carnival on my blog?

The easiest way is to put the following javascript/HTML blocks somewhere in your blog template:

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://del.icio.us/feeds/js/azizhp/%40brass_crescent?extended;count=5;

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://del.icio.us/feeds/js/azizhp/%40cob?extended;count=5;

<small><a href="http://cityofbrass.blogspot.com/2007/02/carnival-of-brass-faq-updated.html">Join the Carnival of Brass!</a></small>

Note that you can change the number of headlines from 5 to whatever you want - just edit the part in green to your taste. Likewise you can also put any title you want, just edit the part in red (the %3A means a colon, ie : , the %20 means a space, and %40 is the @ symbol). You can also style the feed with CSS to match your blog layout.

Your blog host may not allow javascript in your template. If that is the case, then you should try to add the feed directly. For example, blogs hosted on wordpress.com or new blogspot.com blogs allow easy RSS widgets, so you can add the feed addresses directly. Hosted services such as these may have some lag time, so your sidebar may not update immediately after a new link is approved. Be patient, it will get there.

What if I don't use a feedreader, know nothing about RSS, and I don't have a blog?

You can visit any blog (like City of Brass or Eteraz) that has the sidebar for the Carnival and read the links from there. We also will have a dedicated website for the Carnival as well - stay tuned.

How do I submit a URL to the Carnival?

First, you must register for an account on del.icio.us and add the host of the Carnival, Aziz Poonawalla, to your "network". The steps to do this are:

  1. Go to del.icio.us and register for a new account if you have not yet done so already.
  2. Install the del.icio.us extensions for Firefox or for Internet Explorer, depending on which browser you use to surf the web.
  3. Add user azizhp to your network by clicking here.

The above steps only need to be done once. Then, anytime you want to submit a link, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the URL of the item you wish to submit.
  2. click the "TAG" button on your browser toolbar (which was installed by the browser extension).
  3. Fill out the pop-up form using the following conventions:
    the actual URL of the post or item. This may already be prefilled out for you.
    The headline or title of the post.
    A brief description or comment on the item. To identify yourself as the submitter, append your initials as follows: -ap
    Use either the @brass_crescent tag (if the link is a blog posting) or the @COB tag (if the link is an article from the mass media). Do not forget the @ sign. Do NOT use both tags, only one or the other.

If these steps are followed, then your submission will be made visible to the host automatically. The host will choose the best links as they come in.

How many links can I submit?

Please limit yourself to one link a day.

Can I submit links from my own blog?

Of course! Please choose the best of the best for your submissions. Also, it would be a courtesy to ensure that you have added the Carnival to your own blog sidebar before submitting links to it from your blog. The value of the Carnival to everyone is maximized by having more people host it. Otherwise, if you submit but do not host, you are getting a benefit from the Carnival at the expense of everyone else.

I submitted a link, why didn't it show up?

Please note that not all links submitted can necessarily be approved, especially if many people submit links. The process by which a link is approved is admittedly subjective; I am asking for your trust that I will try and keep the content fresh and diverse.

Why not show all the links from everyone who submits?

Since there is a limited number of links we can display at a given time, if we attempt to show all submissions, then nothing will remain visible for very long. By being more selective and lower frequency, we can take our time to savor the content that flows past.

Isn't all this harder than the traditional method?

After setting up your del.icio.us account, you will see that submitting links is in fact incredibly easy to do. Plus, it requires significantly less effort on the part of the host to maintain. The advantages are there - try it out and you'll see!

This FAQ didn't answer my question. Now what?

Please leave a comment to this post or to apoonawa dash bohra at yahoo dot com.


Quotes on Imam Husain AS

Brian has a detailed post about Ashura observances in Bahrain. In the course of the post he mentioned a quote about Imam Husain AS by Mahatma Gandhi; I was motivated by this to go looking for other quotations on Imam Husain and the sacrifice at Karbala by other notable persons. I have reprinted a few of the more interesting ones below.

"The best lesson which we get from the tragedy of Karbala is that Husain and his companions were rigid believers in God. They illustrated that the numerical superiority does not count when it comes to the truth and the falsehood. The victory of Husain, despite his minority, marvels me!" -- Thomas Carlyle

"In a distant age and climate, the tragic scene of the death of Hosein will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader." -- Edward Gibbon

"I learnt from Hussein how to achieve victory while being oppressed." -- Mahatma Gandhi

"If Husain had fought to quench his worldly desires…then I do not understand why his sister, wife, and children accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore, that he sacrificed purely for Islam." -- Charles Dickens


Public Service Announcement

Everyone Who Disagrees With You about Israel Is not Either A Zionist Or An Anti-Semite.

(hat-tip: Hunter of DailyKos fame)

Relatedly, this excellent piece in the Guardian by Brian Klug asks, who speaks for the Jews? He also provides a link to the new group, Independent Jewish Voices:

Faced with this state of affairs, a group of Jews in Britain has come together to launch Independent Jewish Voices (IJV). We come from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life. Some of us are religious, some not. A number feel a strong attachment to Israel as Jews, others feel none. We do not all share the same vision for the Middle East. We are a network of individuals, not a movement or political party.

But we are united by certain fundamental commitments. These are set out in our launch statement, published today on the Guardian's Comment is Free website and in advertisements placed in the Jewish Chronicle and the Times. They include: putting human rights first; giving equal priority to Palestinians and Israelis in their quest for a peaceful and secure future; and repudiating all forms of racism aimed at Jews, Arabs, Muslims or whomever.

We believe that these commitments - not ethnic or group loyalties - define the limits of legitimate debate. We invite like-minded Jews in Britain to add their names to the list of IJV signatories.