Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Ordinary People of Saudi Arabia

Three years ago, I had the opportunity to travel through parts of Saudi Arabia while on a research fellowship at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. Along the way from Riyadh to Mecca to Medina and back to Riyadh, I had the good fortune to meet with regular folk. Surrounded by Mid-East experts and academics, and their talk of politics, religion, and "what the Saudis want" or "what the Saudis are like" or sectarian policies and rivalries/proxy wars with Iran in Yemen and elsewhere, it is easy to forget that the average population is comprised of ordinary families who struggle to obtain their everyday needs, put some food in their children's bellies, and hope for a better life in the future. In the photo above, I met with one such person on the way from Mecca to Medina and talked about his daily routine over a cup of camel milk. During my visit to the port city of Yanbu on the Red Sea Coast near Jeddah, I got to spend time with the family of camel herders photographed below before heading off for a swim and dinner of fresh fish. The father to my right worked at the Saudi Aramco Yanbu Refinery for almost twenty years before making the decision to return to the Bedouin life he missed. My thoughts are with the ordinary people of Saudi Arabia who, like their counterparts everywhere in the region, are not responsible for the actions and policies of their leaders.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Season's Greetings from the Delgados!

A real American heritage!

"America's original forefathers were a melting pot of races that more closely resembled today’s population than previously thought."

Muhammad Hamidullah: Bringing a Heritage to Light - Maydan

Muhammad Hamidullah: Bringing a Heritage to Light - Maydan: December 17 marks fifteen years since the passing of Muhammad Hamidullah, manuscript editor and professor of Islamic law and history. Through him, as well as other manuscript editors of his generation, an educated public came...

Sunday, December 10, 2017

PUERTO RICANS IN KOREA - December 9th 1950.

ONE UNITED States dependency little heard about from a publicity standpoint, is the largest and most vastly populated of all—Puerto Rico. But things started happening a couple of weeks ago that changed all that. First, Communist groups in the capital city of San Juan, led an uprising against the duly elected. Government. Then, to show they meant business in their hostility toward the U.S., this same group directed simpathiser in America to assassinate President Truman. The plot failed as did' their revolt. These were all headline items that brought the West Indian island into focus. But the Puerto Ricans did something else previous to this same hectic 'time that didn't receive much publicity. The 65th Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army, made up largely of native Puerto Ricans, landed in Korea to join forces with other UN troops. This well-trained regiment is not new to the Army, however, and their unit history indicates that their presence in the snow covered hills of North Korea sounds another ominous note for Communist aggressors. Organized shortly after the annexation of Puerto Rico following our war with Spain in 1899, the 65th Infantry Regiment was first known as the Puerto Rico Battalion of Volunteers Infantry. Following several name changes and enlargements, including a battalion of mounted troops, the regiment finally became a part of the Regular Army by an Act of Congress on June 16, 1908, and was again renamed, the Puerto Rico Regiment of Infantry, USA.

The first official act after becoming a member of the regular establishment was an inspection by the 'then Eastern Department commander, Maj. Gen. Frederick D. Grant, U.S. Army, who afterward addressed the assembled troops. He stated, "This is one of the best regiments I have ever seen and there are few as good and none better under my command." Of this the 65th has remained proud and has endeavored to maintain the same standard of efficiency up to the present date. The regiment was brought up to full battle strength in May of 1917 and ordered' to the Panama Canal, where it remained during the first World War, protecting that vital installation. 

June 4, 1920, found the soldiers back home on their Caribbean island under their present name—65th Infantry Regiment. They remained at their home station during the interim of great wars arid it wasn't until the early part of 1943, that they again took up security positions in Panama. 

From Pearl Harbor until that time, they patrolled every march of their homeland in anticipation of an expected invasion. While in the Canal Zone, intensive jungle training was given to the troops when they could be spared from the posts. Although they never had occasion to become engaged in jungle fighting, they were nonetheless prepared. - Later that year the 65th left the Zone and was shuttled to Fort Eustis, Va. where the men took advanced Infantry training, and then sailed for North Africa. After land- ing at Port Aux Poules, more training followed, this time in amphibious tactics. Then on to France and Marseille. Their first commitment to action was in the'Maritime Alp region at Peira Cava. This short campaign resulted in 47 battle casualties. 

Then came patrol duty and security missions in the Kaiserlantern-Manheim sector of Germany. This was March, 1945. V Day found the fighting Puerto Ricans deep in the heart of Germany and in looking back over their route of advance they had won battle participation credits at Naples Foggia, Rome-Arno, Central Europe, and Rhineland campaigns. While alerted for further action in the Pacific War, the signing of the Japanese surrender caught up with them and they were returned home to San Juan in November; 1945. In the last five years the 65th Infantry has been anything but asleep. It has trained extensively, participating in war games and joining in frequent maneuvers. A Maltese cross predominates the coat of arms of the 65th. The significance of this ancient Christian symbol dates from early Puerto Rican history, when at the time of the conquest of the island by the Spanish in the 15th century the city of San Juan was named for the military order of St. John of Jerusalem. 

This order was later renamed the Knights of Malta, their dress being a black robe with a white Maltese Cross. . The regimental crest of a wreath of colors with a rampant lion, was taken from the coat of arms of Ponce de Leon, the island's first Spanish governor. .The UN forces in Korea will find the men and officers of the 65th a ready and willing ally. They carry with them a tradition and they aim to uphold it, Puerto Ricans are brawny fighters, and they appreciate their stake in preserving the freedom of a democratic world.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Marine Corps drill sergeant choked, kicked, and burned Muslim recruits during racist hazing rituals

Savitri Devi: From the Aryans to the Alt-right

CIA files provide new details concerning al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran | FDD's Long War Journal

Analysis: CIA releases massive trove of Osama bin Laden's files | FDD's Long War Journal

"One never-before-seen 19-page document contains a senior jihadist’s assessment of the group’s relationship with Iran. The author explains that Iran offered some “Saudi brothers” in al Qaeda “everything they needed,” including “money, arms” and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.” Iranian intelligence facilitated the travel of some operatives with visas, while sheltering others. Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, an influential ideologue prior to 9/11, helped negotiate a safe haven for his jihadi comrades inside Iran. But the author of the file, who is clearly well-connected, indicates that al Qaeda’s men violated the terms of the agreement and Iran eventually cracked down on the Sunni jihadists’ network, detaining some personnel. Still, the author explains that al Qaeda is not at war with Iran and some of their “interests intersect,” especially when it comes to being an “enemy of America.”
"Bin Laden’s files show the two sides have had heated disagreements. There has been hostility between the two. Al Qaeda even penned a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei demanding the release of family members held in Iranian custody. Other files show that al Qaeda kidnapped an Iranian diplomat to exchange for its men and women. Bin Laden himself considered plans to counter Iran’s influence throughout the Middle East, which he viewed as pernicious."
"However, bin Laden urged caution when it came to threatening Iran. In a previously released letter, bin Laden described Iran as al Qaeda’s “main artery for funds, personnel, and communication.” And despite their differences, Iran continued to provide crucial support for al Qaeda’s operations."
"In a series of designations and other official statements issued since July 2011, the US Treasury and State Departments have repeatedly targeted al Qaeda’s “core facilitation pipeline” inside Iran. Sources familiar with the intelligence used to justify those designations say they are based, in part, on the Abbottabad files. It is likely that still more revelations concerning al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran remain to be found in the cache made available today."

Police Chief Said Black People are ‘like ISIS’

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Florida campus activists shut down white supremacist

"No Nazis, no hate. “His filth has been rejected” - AFT President Randi Weingarten on the great work from the resistance against Richard Spencer's speech at the University of Florida."

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Archaeologists Uncover 9,000-Year-Old Stone Gates In Saudi Arabia

New Editions: Mawārdi's Ethics of Worldly and Religious Affairs

The Ethics of Worldly and Religious Affairs (Adab al-dunyā wa al-dīn
by Abū al-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. Muḥammad al-Mawārdī / Alboacen (972-1058 CE) 
edited by Muḥammad Yāsir Muḥammad al-Ḥusayn
(Dār al-Nafāʾis)

New Publications: Aḥmad Muḥammad Shākir's Method of Textual Editing and Criticism

Ahmad Muhammad Shakir's Method in Textual Editing and Criticism 
(Manhaj Aḥmad Muḥammad Shākir fī taḥqīq al-nuṣūṣ
by Dr. Ashraf ʿAbd al-Maqṣūd ʿAbd al-Raḥīm 
(Maktabat al-Imām al-Bukhārī)

Book Talk: Dan E. Stigall, The Santillana Codes: The Civil Codes of Tunisia, Morocco, and Mauritania (Library of Congress)


On Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 6:00 p.m., the Law Library of Congress, the Friends of the Law Library of Congress, the Embassy of Tunisia, and the Library of Congress African and Middle Eastern Division will co-host an event celebrating the work of David Santillana, a Tunisian jurist and the intellectual father of the civil code of Tunisia – a legal work that influenced the civil codes of both Morocco and Mauritania.

The event will feature remarks by Ambassador Fayçal Gouia, the Ambassador of Tunisia to the United States; Jane Sánchez, Law Librarian of Congress; Mary Jane Deeb, Chief, African and Middle Eastern Division; Emily Rae, President, Friends of the Law Library of Congress; and Dan E. Stigall, author of a new book entitled The Santillana Codes: The Civil Codes of Tunisia, Morocco, and Mauritania. A display of rare law books will highlight the source materials used as inspiration for the Codes.

Please join us for an evening in celebration of Maghrebian and Sahelian legal culture.

Please request ADA accommodations at least five business days in advance by contacting (202) 707-6362 or

This event was made possible through the generous support of Hise Explorations Partners, LLC, and the Friends of the Law Library of Congress.

Image credits: Dan E. Stigall (book cover)."

Indonesia Cables, Communist Massacres

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Real American Heritage or: We Don't Eat Lizards in Puerto Rico

Yesterday (October 15, 2017) marked the end of National Hispanic Heritage Month for this year. Every year since the late 1960s, September 15th to October 15th has been dedicated to celebrating “the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture” (click here for more information). Hispanic/Latino “refers to Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race” and we currently comprise over 17% of the population of the United States. While anti-Latino hate speech seems to be on the rise, institutionalized racism in the United States has targeted Latinos for much longer. Early twentieth century “scientific” racists like Lothrop Stoddard (1883-1950) and Madison Grant (1865-1937) looked at Latinos in a manner not quite in accord with the aforementioned definition. Instead, Hispanics represented to them that which they feared and hated most: the “defiling” of the genetically superior white race through miscegenation with the descendants of African slaves and the indigenous populations of North and South America. In defense of white supremacy, they advocated sterilization and other means in order to implement a gradual ethnic cleansing. Despite the fact that these views have been formally denounced as racist pseudoscience by leaders of the international scientific community since the mid-twentieth century, experience from primary school days to now tells me, and many others like me, that these beliefs persist.

A few examples of the kinds of racist and anti-Latino aggressions (nowhere near being an exhaustive list) to which I have been exposed over the years include:

I worked as an undergraduate at a place where other student employees were primarily from South Asia and the managers were white. Statements shared between the white managers and international students insulting Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics were numerous and almost daily. I approached my employer about this kind of talk, to which he replied that some stereotypes are true. All of this was at a time when the president of our university was a Puerto Rican.

On the shortlist to be admitted to graduate studies at Princeton, I met with one of the better-known senior scholars related to my field who referred to Hispanics as a “peasant race.” I did not pursue graduate studies at Princeton.

A few months into my first semester of graduate studies, I was made aware that one of the professors had asked the only other student of Puerto Ricans descent whether or not we eat lizards (the professor was a person of color who counted themselves among the “model minorities” who were superior to Latinos and African Americans). Both the Puerto Rican student and another student of Central American descent who was present during the exchange expressed to me the level of hurt they felt when being addressed this way in a public setting among other students and professors. My own later experience in classes with this professor included most of my participation being rejected at first and then immediately accepted after an East-Asian female classmate would come to my defense.

One history professor after asking about by ethnic background, suggested I was unfit to be successful in graduate-level studies. He spent a significant portion of one class session mocking the names of Hispanics who had mixed with Asians and other non-Latinos.

One graduate student, also a person of color, in conversation with me referred to Hispanics as having a vulgar culture, while he, as a possessor of “the Arab gene”, came from a superior culture equal to that of white Americans and superior to Latino and African-American culture.

One doctoral student became known for his white supremacist hate speech. Examples include his declaration that “there are too many beaners in Tucson” and other slurs against Latinos, African-Americans, and others that make Richard Spencer and the Alt-right seem tame in comparison. I was briefly part of a research group where he and other white students nodded in approval at the description of a Mexican-American undergraduate student, a bi-racial graduate student, and myself as belonging to “weird races.” The doctoral student referred to white men as “the best race” to which the others laughed, including one white journalism student who otherwise professed to be liberal. Both the latter as well as another MA student who had graduated earlier, at separate times expressed to me their fear and paranoia that Hispanics and other non-white people were trying to “change” white people. I approached a professor in the department regarding this and similar issues, and the response led me to believe that this would only result in me being impacted negatively and no one else.

I contacted a well-known professor of Puerto Rican descent who writes on racism, and his advice to me was the following: “find solidarity from other folks of color… if one finds others, shares stories, and thinks about collective ways to resist, then the struggle becomes feasible; then one realizes that one's pain is the product of a racial order for which one is not responsible (folks want us to believe that things happen because of us, because we make them up). So, find solidarity, create community, and develop collective practices of resistance to racial domination.”

I have since then been awarded a Fulbright and other awards, permitting me to travel for scholarly research to several countries in North Africa, western Asia and Eastern Europe, achievements commonly considered evidence of academic success. Today, a Nuyorican woman from the Bronx, Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, is the first Hispanic to serve in the highest federal court of the United States. With Puerto Rico currently suffering as it is, and being neglected by new political forces seeking to further normalize the racism I am discussing, we have Nydia Velázquez, the first Puerto Rican woman elected to Congress, a Nuyorican democrat, leading the way in advocating for Puerto Rican disaster relief. “Low-class” diaspora Puerto Ricans like the Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Pultizer prize-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda, my fellow Arizona-alum Joseph Acaba, the first person of Puerto Rican heritage to be named a NASA astronaut, and numerous other leading entertainers and successful professionals have continued to increase awareness of the island’s plight, keeping it in the public eye and raising millions of dollars in relief aid.

I repeat the advice of professors like Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, president of the American Sociological Association, and others that victims of racism create community and work together with anti-racist allies to develop collective practices for counteracting racism. I have written this essay as a first step in order to encourage others impacted by racism and to let them know they are not alone.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, during oral arguments in the gerrymandering case Gill v Whitford, referred to social science as "sociological gobbledygook." ASA President Eduardo Bonilla-Silva has responded in a letter, the content of which is below:

Fighting for the NEH's Future on Capitol Hill

Documenting Democracy’s Fall and Dictator’s Rise in Chile By PASCALE BONNEFOY (OCT. 14, 2017)

A phone in the exhibition “Secrets of State: The Declassified History of the Chilean Dictatorship” at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile. Visitors can pick up the receiver to hear a recreation of a conversation between former President Richard M. Nixon and his national security Adviser, Henry Kissinger. Credit Tomas Munita for The New York Times

Gathering Strong Evidence

Monday, October 16, 2017

Racialized Citizenship and Territorial Status in Puerto Rico (Hostos-CUNY Public Policy & Law Unit)

Letters on North America October 16, 2017 (Committee on Academic Freedom)

The first women’s journals published in Africa and the Middle East (Library of Congress International Collections)

All 7 volumes of Irfan Shahîd’s 'Byzantium and the Arabs' are reissued & available for free download

Stars Stand in Solidarity With Puerto Rico at the Somos Live! (Hispanic Heritage Month)

"the most recent updates from the relief benefit revealed there had been over $20 million donated"

"Celebs use a united voice to help at the disaster relief concert."

Sunday, October 15, 2017

‘Do We Have To Fight Nazis Again?’ Professor Says Of Spencer At UF

‘Do We Have To Fight Nazis Again?’ Professor Says Of Spencer At UF: In a Q&A with WUFT News, University of Florida associate history professor Paul Ortiz conveyed his thoughts on Richard Spencer’s upcoming appearance at UF, his ideology and the dangers of his views.

‘Allah’ Is Found on Viking Funeral Clothes

An image taken from the analysis of the Kufic characters on bands found in graves in Sweden. Credit Annika Larsson 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Complex History of the Genes That Color Our Skin - The Atlantic

Carlos Alomar: The Puerto Rican Guitar Hero Behind Bowie’s ‘Fame’ (Hispanic Heritage Month)

Featured image: Courtesy of Carlos Alomar

Here's what would happen to US politics if Puerto Rico became a State" By Ryan Struyk, CNN

Gary Bauer: The Left is "an American Taliban" Destroying Confederate Monuments because "they hate America." (Values Voter Summit)

Yamiche Alcindor: CBC demands action from FB after Russia sows racial division & FBI targets "black identity extremists"

The real roots of early city states may rip up the textbooks

The real roots of early city states may rip up the textbooks: Settled agriculture didn't spawn the first states. Two new books help expose the real drivers, the pressures on marginalised people – and what they can teach us

Iran to blame for cyber attack on MPs' emails – British intelligence

Kurdiu - Attack on mosque kills 20 in Central African Republic

Kurdiu - Attack on mosque kills 20 in Central African Republic: More than 20 Muslims were killed in a mosque in the Central African Republic's southeast during Friday prayers, community leaders said Saturday. “The...

Young Saudis Celebrate as Reach of Religious Police is Reined In

Report Hate in School (Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

ʿAbd al-Fattāh Qudaysh al-Yāfiʿī on Sectarianism

"No one group, sect, or school of thought speaks officially in the name of Islam or the sunna [to the exclusion of others]. No group, sect, or school of thought [can claim] all [their beliefs and practices] are correct and absolute truth [while] other [sects, schools, etc.] are in error and absolute falsehood."

"In every sect, there are extremists and there are moderates, between meagerness and excessiveness; so let us work toward increasing the moderates in every sect."

Martín Espada on banned books, poetry, and resistance

United Muslim Relief Emergency Response Team in Puerto Rico

Statement by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of the Withdrawal by the United States of America from UNESCO

The United States Withdraws From UNESCO

Monday, October 9, 2017

Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science)

Removing Racist Statues ("Whose Heritage?")

Spain and England feared that enslaved Africans would be more susceptible to revolt if they were Muslim

Muslims were banned from the Americas as early as the 16th century
by Andrew Lawler

"By the time of the Hispaniola revolt, Spanish authorities had already forbidden travel by any infidel, whether Muslim, Jewish, or Protestant, to its New World colonies, which at the time included the land that is now the United States... In 1682, the Virginia colony went a step further, ordering that all “Negroes, Moors, mulattoes or Indians who and whose parentage and native countries are not Christian” automatically be deemed slaves."

"Of course, suppressing “Islamic leanings” did little to halt slave insurrections in either Spanish or British America. Escaped slaves in Panama in the 16th century founded their own communities and fought a long guerilla war against Spain. The Haitian slave revolt at the turn of the 19th century was instigated by and for Christianized Africans, although whites depicted those seeking their freedom as irreligious savages. Nat Turner’s rebellion in Virginia in 1831 stemmed in part from his visions of Christ granting him authority to battle evil."

Read more:

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

What is White Supremacy? Do Races Differ?

Longform Podcast #263: Jelani Cobb

Carl Conetta (Defense Analyst, Center for International Policy): << How real was the threat? >>

<< How real was the threat? >>

Also see: Dept of Justice, "US Attorney Announces Unsealing Of Charges Against Three Men Arrested For International Plot To Carry Out Terrorist Attacks In NYC,"
This case like many (see below) involved the active participation of an FBI handler; They're 'sting' operations. Would the plot have matured or even occurred otherwise? In many other instances, no - although such cases add to pervasive public fear of terrorism, and they give false assurance of effective counter-terrorism policies. What stings mostly turn up is some degree of 'proclivity' to terrorist action or 'susceptibility' to terrorist influence.

Obviously, the threat of US terrorist attack related to overseas wars is real. The problem is that sting operations give the false impression that US law enforcement agencies are effectively containing it.

- Kansas City Star (2017), "FBI undercover stings foil terrorist plots - but often plots of the agency’s own making," "Of 126 Islamic State-related cases prosecuted by federal authorities across the country since 2014, nearly two-thirds involved undercover agents or informants." (And many others involved no US attack plans.)

- New Yorker (2016), "Do FBI Stings Help the Fight Against ISIS?,"

- Guardian, "How terrorist 'entrapment' ensnares us all,"

- Al Jazeera, "US law enforcement accused of using entrapment to ensnare ‘terrorists’,"

- Mother Jones (2013), "Inside the Terror Factory," Edited excerpt from author interview (

"In the 10 years after 9/11, there were 500 defendants who were charged with federal crimes involving international terrorism. About 250 were charged with things like immigration violations or lying to the FBI... Of the 500, about 150 were caught in sting operations; these operations were solely the creation of the FBI through an FBI informant or undercover agent providing the means and the opportunity, the bomb, the idea, and so on... Only about five people of the 500 charged...were involved in some sort of plot that either had weapons of their creation or acquisition or were connected to international terrorists in some way... Those are the five that you can point to in the decade after 9/11 who seemed to pose a significant threat... That’s a handful compared to the more than 150 who were caught in these sting operations."

Rise of the Generals By Michelle Goldberg

"Rise of the Generals: Why it’s entirely possible to be both horrified and heartened by the growing political influence of America’s military leaders." By Michelle Goldberg

The People of Flint stand with Puerto Rico

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Saudi Arabia Will Allow Women to Drive (Driving for Hurriya in the Emirate of Diriyah)

The Self-Taught Philosopher: How a 900-year-old Arabic tale inspired the Enlightenment

"Our contemporary values and ideals are generally seen as the product of the Enlightenment. Individual rights, independent thinking, empiricism and rationalism are traced to the debates and discussions held by the great European thinkers of the 17th and 18th century: Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Kant among others. But these thinkers owe a debt to a figure from 12th century Spain: a philosopher-physician named Ibn Tufayl who wrote a story called Hayy ibn Yaqzan -- which may be the most important story you've never heard." **This episode originally aired May 16, 2017.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Gregg Popovich: 'We still have no clue of what being born white means.'

Let There Be Page Numbers

"Print helped fuel the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, which in turn fueled major developments in the printing industry. As people were exhorted to read the Bible, new tools emerged to help them navigate its pages: page numbers, indexes, annotations--basically, all the features of the "apparatus of the book" that we take for granted today."

Rethinking Arabic Canons: Muhammad ʿAbduh as Glossator

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Mohammed Abed al-Jabri on Ibn Hazm in The Formation of Arab Reason and Democracy, Human Rights and Law in Islamic Thought

"As for his insistence, on the other hand, on the necessity of respecting the norms of reason and committing to such, and the necessity of spreading logic, Arabicising it and integrating it according to its milieu within the Arab culture, all this is clearly in evidence as well, not only in his belief in the 'universalism of reason', but also in his ambition to render it the sole referential authority in the various epistemological fields." (385)

"Is it, then, not our right, or even a duty on us, to look at the above verses and hadith on the rights of the oppressed in the light of what is nowadays called ‘social security’?! This covers the right to medical care, unemployment benefit, and the right to pension benefit. These rights are guaranteed for the benefit of the oppressed through deductions from the income of the rich and the state employees. It is a modern arrangement quite in keeping with righteousness, al-zakāt and surplus (al-ʿafw). Ibn Hazm explained ‘giving money’ in terms similar to the modern concept of ‘social security’: God imposed on the rich of every country to provide for the poor. The ruler is to compel them to do that if zakat revenue was not sufficient for that aim. They have to be provided with their sustenance, clothing for winter and summer, lodging to protect them from rain and sun and the eyes of the onlookers." (246-7)

"The ‘building’ of the land, or what today is simply called ‘development’, may be engrafted in our conscience by the employment of some texts from our tradition. In addition to the texts which make land development a duty of man in general terms, there are other texts which transfer this duty to the state, which can do more to support the rights of the oppressed. One outstanding text in this connection is by Ibn Hazm: The sovereign leads people towards development and increase of agriculture. He allots them portions of undeveloped land as their own and supports their efforts of development and cultivation in order to reduce prices, for people and livestock have a better life. The greater the reward, the more wealthy people there will be and the greater the amount of al-zakāt which will be accrued." (248)

Critique of Religious Discourse - Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd

Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd; Translated by Jonathan Wright; Introduction by Carool Kersten

"An important work of contemporary Islamic thought argues against the programmatic use of Islamic religious texts to support fundamentalist beliefs"

"First published in Arabic in 1994, progressive Muslim scholar Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd’s controversial essay argued that conventional fundamentalist interpretations of the Quran and other Islamic religious texts are ahistorical and misleading. Conservative religious leaders accused him of apostasy. Marking the first time a work by Abu Zayd is available in its entirety in any Western language, this English edition makes his erudite interpretation of classical Islamic thought accessible to a wider audience at a critical historical moment. After his exile, Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd (1943–2010) became the Ibn Rushd Chair of Humanism and Islam at the University for Humanistics, Utrecht. Jonathan Wright is an award-winning translator. Carool Kersten is a scholar of Islam at King’s College London."

Muslim Youth Camp Teaches How to Cope With Rising Hate | NPR

Supreme Court of India Judgment - Triple Talaq (Divorce)

On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam

The Legal Thought of Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti

Authority and Legacy

Rebecca Hernandez

Oxford Islamic Legal Studies

  • Explores the different forms of authority and rhetorical strategies adopted by religious scholars and institutions in Muslim societies
  • Brand new study of a previously neglected figure in Islamic history: Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 1505)
  • Interdisciplinary approach that analyses historic sources alongside modern takes, such as the YouTube commentaries produced after the 2011 Egyptian revolution
  • Demonstrates how Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti fits into a larger discussion about reform and revival in Islam

Friday, September 22, 2017

"Righting historical wrongs." Justin Trudeau addresses Canada's Indigenous Peoples

"Canada can and must do better when it comes to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples – we're working together for a stronger future." #UNGA

"We have been working hard, in partnership with other orders of government, and with lndigenous leaders in Canada, to correct past injustices and bring about a better quality of life for Indigenous Peoples in Canada."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Islamic Legal Studies: A Critical Historiography - Ayesha S. Chaudhry

Islamic Legal Studies: A Critical Historiography - Oxford Handbooks

"This article examines the politics of knowledge production in the field of Islamic Studies, including Islamic Legal Studies, in the context of the Qur’an and Islamic law. It thinks broadly and freshly about Islamic Studies, categorizing it anew, by considering the study of the Qur’an as it relates to three forms of Islamic Studies: White Supremacist Islamic Studies (WhiSIS), Patriarchal Islamic Legal Studies (PILS), and Intersectional Islamic Studies (IIS). The article examines the fundamental assumptions of WhiSIS and PILS, uncovering their operational logics, before discussing the theoretical framework that underlies IIS’ approach to Islamic Studies. It analyzes the critiques that WhiSIS and PILS level against IIS, and the challenges that IIS poses for both WhiSIS and PILS. It concludes by considering the role of IIS in the future of Islamic Studies."

Keywords: Islamic Studies, Islamic Legal Studies, Qur’an, Islamic law, White Supremacy Patriarchy, Intersectionality, Feminism, Muslims, Islam

Ayesha S. Chaudhry Ph.D.

Islamic Studies and Gender Studies, University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How ‘white people’ were invented by a playwright in 1613 - Ed Simon | Aeon Ideas

The Jacobean playwright Thomas Middleton invented the concept of ‘white people’ on 29 October 1613, the date that his play The Triumphs of Truth was first performed. The phrase was first uttered by the character of an African king who looks out upon an English audience and declares: ‘I see amazement set upon the faces/Of these white people, wond’rings and strange gazes.’ As far as I, and others, have been able to tell, Middleton’s play is the earliest printed example of a European author referring to fellow Europeans as ‘white people’.

A year later, the English commoner John Rolfe of Jamestown in Virginia took as his bride an Algonquin princess named Matoaka, whom we call Pocahontas. The literary critic Christopher Hodgkins reports that King James I was ‘at first perturbed when he learned of the marriage’. But this was not out of fear of miscegenation: James’s reluctance, Hodgkins explained, was because ‘Rolfe, a commoner, had without his sovereign’s permission wed the daughter of a foreign prince.’ King James was not worried about the pollution of Rolfe’s line; he was worried about the pollution of Matoaka’s.

Both examples might seem surprising to contemporary readers, but they serve to prove the historian Nell Irvin Painter’s reminder in The History of White People (2010) that ‘race is an idea, not a fact’. Middleton alone didn’t invent the idea of whiteness, but the fact that anyone could definitely be the author of such a phrase, one that seems so obvious from a modern perspective, underscores Painter’s point. By examining how and when racial concepts became hardened, we can see how historically conditional these concepts are.

There’s nothing essential about them. As the literature scholar Roxann Wheeler reminds us in The Complexion of Race (2000), there was ‘an earlier moment in which biological racism… [was] not inevitable’. Since Europeans didn’t always think of themselves as ‘white’, there is good reason to think that race is socially constructed, indeed arbitrary. If the idea of ‘white people’ (and thus every other ‘race’ as well) has a history – and a short one at that – then the concept itself is based less on any kind of biological reality than it is in the variable contingencies of social construction.

There are plenty of ways that one can categorise humanity, and using colour is merely a relatively recent one. In the past, criteria other than complexion were used, including religion, etiquette, even clothing. For example, American Indians were often compared with the ancient Britons by the colonisers, who were descendants of the Britons. The comparison was not so much physical as it was cultural, a distinction that allowed for a racial fluidity. Yet by the time Middleton was writing, the colour line was already beginning to harden, and our contemporary, if arbitrary, manner of categorising races began to emerge.

The scholar Kim Hall explains in Things of Darkness (1996) that whiteness ‘truly exists only when posed next to blackness’: so the concept of ‘white people’ emerged only after constructions of ‘blackness’. As binary oppositions, ‘whiteness’ first needed ‘blackness’ to make any sense. The two words create each other. The scholar Virginia Mason Vaughan writes in Performing Blackness on English Stages, 1500-1800 (2005) that: ‘Blackfaced characters in early modern dramas are often used … to make whiteness visible.’ ‘Black’ and ‘white’ have never referred to defined groups of people; they are abstract formulations, which still have had very real effects on actual people.

There is little verisimilitude in describing anyone with either term, which explains their malleability over the centuries. How arbitrary is it to categorise Sicilians and Swedes as being ‘white’, or the Igbo and Maasai as both ‘black’? This kind of racial thinking developed as the direct result of the slave trade. Hall explains: ‘Whiteness is not only constructed by but dependent on an involvement with Africans that is the inevitable product of England’s ongoing colonial expansion.’ As such, when early modern Europeans begin to think of themselves as ‘white people’ they are not claiming anything about being English, or Christian, but rather they are making comments about their self-perceived superiority, making it easier to justify the obviously immoral trade and ownership of humans.

Hall explains that the ‘significance of blackness as a troping of race far exceeds the actual presence’ of Africans within England at the time. Before Middleton’s play, there were a host of imagined ‘black’ characters, such as in Ben Jonson’s The Masque of Blackness (1605), which featured Queen Anne performing in blackface, as well as Shakespeare’s ‘noble Moor’ in Othello, staged a couple of years before Middleton’s play. Understandings of race were malleable: in early modern writing, exoticised characters can be described as ‘dusky’, ‘dun’, ‘dark’, ‘sable’ or ‘black.’ Depictions of an exoticised Other weren’t only of Africans, but also Italians, Spaniards, Arabs, Indians, and even the Irish. Middleton’s play indicates the coalescing of another racial pole in contrast to blackness, and that’s whiteness – but which groups belonged to which pole was often in flux.

Consider the Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets. In sonnet 130, he says of his mysterious paramour that ‘her breasts are dun’; in sonnet 12, he references her ‘sable curls’; and in sonnet 127 he writes that ‘black wires grow on her head’. As is commonly understood, and taught, Shakespeare subverted the tradition exemplified by poets such as Petrarch who conceptualised feminine beauty in terms of fairness. Part of this subversion lay in pronouncements such as the one that states that black is ‘beauty’s successive heir’, a contention of Shakespeare’s that can seem all the more progressive when our contemporary racial connotation of the word is considered. Thus, how much more radical is his argument in sonnet 132, that ‘beauty herself is black/And all they foul that thy complexion lack’. Shakespeare’s racialised language connoted a range of possibilities as to how the Dark Lady’s background could have been imagined, and the conjecture that she was based on women variously European or African indicates this racial flux in the period.

Or take Caliban, the native of the enchanted isle colonised by Prospero in The Tempest. Often sympathetically staged in modern productions as either an enslaved African or an American Indian, there are compelling reasons to think that many in a Jacobean audience would rather understand Caliban as being more akin to the first targets of English colonialism, the Irish. By this criterion, Caliban is part of the prehistory of ‘how the Irish became white’, as the historian Noel Ignatiev put it in 1995. None of this is to say that Caliban is actually any of these particular identities, nor that the Dark Lady should literally be identified as belonging to any specific group either, rather that both examples provide a window on the earliest period when our current racial categorisations began to take shape, while still being divergent enough from how our racialised system would ultimately develop.

Yet our particular criteria concerning how we think about race did develop, and it did so in service to colonialism and capitalism (and their handmaiden: slavery). Bolstered by a positivist language, the idea of race became so normalised that eventually the claim that anyone would have coined such an obvious phrase as ‘white people’ would begin to sound strange. But invented it was. With the reemergence today of openly racist political rhetoric, often using disingenuously sophisticated terminology, it’s crucial to remember what exactly it means to say that race isn’t real, and why the claims of racists aren’t just immoral, but also inaccurate. Middleton demonstrates how mercurial race actually is; there was a time not that long ago when white people weren’t ‘white’, and black people weren’t ‘black’. His audience was just beginning to divide the world into white and not, and, unfortunately, we remain members of that audience.

Race might not be real, but racism very much is. Idols have a way of affecting our lives, even if the gods they represent are illusory. In contemplating Middleton’s play, we can gesture towards a world where once again such a phrase as ‘white people’ won’t make any sense. In realising that humans were not always categorised by complexion, we can imagine a future where we are no longer classified in such a way, and no longer divided as a result of it either.Aeon counter – do not remove

Ed Simon

This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

MLB Celebrates Roberto Clemente Day - 09/06/17

"I think the greatest thing you can say about a person is that they gave their life for their cause. That's what Roberto Clemente did. He was a beautiful human being." - Muhammad Ali

Monday, August 14, 2017

Ring of the Dove - Busaad Art Gallery (2012)

The Ring of the Dove
The Ring of the Dove is one of the most important books in the Arab literary heritage that talked about love and its meanings and attributes, and what lovers may experience, from abandonment and deprivation, to satisfaction and pleasure. And although Ibn Hazm was true to his commitment to the morals and noble values ; his poetry, however, had some direct indications perhaps due to his rebellious nature and the openness prevailing in that period of time. The title The Ring of the Dove signifies permanence and stability, the permanence and immortality of love. In addition to the aesthetic significance of the ring or collar, which has a distinguished beauty in itself, the dove also seen to be a messenger of love and passion.

Ibn Hazm
Is Ali bin Ahmed bin Saeed, was born in the year 384 AH/994 AD in Cordoba. He reached the rank of minister but finally rejected this path in favor of his passion for literature, science and languages. The boldness in his opinions and arguments brought indignation of many people and so some of his books were burned and ripped apart. He said: “to burn the book you are only burning paper because the book is in my heart”. Ibn Hazm died in 456 AH/1064 AD at the age of seventy.

The Technique
Due the high literary standing of The Ring of the Dove, a special harmony between text and the technique of painting was necessary. And so the formulation of the exhibition’s paintings was based on the legacy of the manuscripts in terms of a strict construction and configuration and flow of manuscripts, using natural materials in the preparation of the paper and colors of Islamic design and decoration. Representing the factor of time was paramount and thus the aged appearance of the paintings give a real sense of history. Calligraphy remained the master of the situation in this experiment, which took a lot of effort and time to reach a degree of convergence between the text and actual writing.

Tribute to the calligrapher Hashim Muhammad Al-Baghdadi
It is through his mentorship in the rules of Arabic calligraphy, that I have I got to know the secrets of calligraphy. A grand Salute to my teacher and mentor Hashem Baghdadi. And last but not least Love.. the permanent and sustainable; and longevity means humanity and morality. 

Ibrahim BuSaad (Artist) December 2011

Anthropomorphism in Islam: The Challenge of Traditionalism (700-1550) by Livnat Holtzman

Anthropomorphism in Islam

"Explores the problem of anthropomorphism: a major bone of contention in 8th to 14th-century Islamic theology"