Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Interracial Muslim Couple

Khaled Latif & Haroon Moghul: Why me, Allah?

The last part by Haroon Moghul has one of the most wise and informative reflections on being Muslim in the contexts of post-colonialism and post-9/11 America. His sweeping academic rigorousness and personal experiences give him a unique style, which is a very well-honed and rare skill.

Jihadi Jew: Muslim-Jewish Dialogue

Mormon Proselytization Marketing on Youtube

Here's an example of paid marketing Mormon videos on youtube that just appeared at the top right of the video list while I was on the site:

Why Jihadi Jew?

Jihadi Jew: Chanukah 101

Jihadi Jew: Difference between Torah and Talmud

Jihadi Jew: Top as Dialectical Model of Material/Spiritual

Islamic Caliphate & Arab Spring: Suhaib Webb, Hamza Yusuf, Yusuf al-Qaradawi

Here is an interesting compilation of footage from the Arab Spring in Egypt, with clips of sermons from Yusuf al-Qaradawi in Tahrir Square, and Suhaib Webb and Hamza Yusuf in the US:

A military vet, a Muslim, and an Atheist walk into a Court Room

This is one of the most amusing and bizarre things I've read in a while (read it here). It seems like one of those jokes where 3 oddly combined figures walk into a bar, but in this case it's a court room. A military vet who is now a judge engaged in advocating the teachings of Islam with an atheist (not necessarily a bad thing). They went back and forth about the Quran, the meaning of Islam, and images of Muhammad. The legal issue was whether or not a Muslim man harassed (source of dispute) the atheist by trying to force him to remove his Halloween zombie Muhammad costume and sign. There must be a way to condense this story into a short joke with a punchline.

Here's an audio recording with some text from the court hearing:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Rambo 3 Mashup: Mujahideen as Freedom Fighters, before Terrorists

Here's an amusing mashup of clips from Rambo 3 (1988) that reflected the US foreign policy. Ronald Reagan supplied Afghan Muslims Mujahideen with weapons to fight the Soviet Union and called them  "freedom fighters." The film clips are interspersed with news footage surrounding the US invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11.

Mark Hansen New Philosophy for New Media

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Inventing the American Mosque in Detroit: 1910-1980

Inventing the American mosque: Early Muslims and their institutions in Detroit, 1910-1980.

Daughters of the Dust

Here's a documentary on Sapelo Island, an important spot for identifying Islamic influences on African-American culture:

NY Post's Muslim Surveillance Cartoon

After months of AP reports (here's a list of articles) on the CIA's assistance in helping the NYPD to create a surveillance program on Muslims in the northeastern US, the New York Post has published the following cartoon:

What's interesting AND troubling is that the NY Post has not chosen to rebut the veracity of the legal allegations, but has instead opted to label as terrorists those who call for the accurate application of the law. What are the stakes in calling for lawlessness in the name of security? How can there be security if laws do not provide a protective safety net for citizens? Here's a video of a Muslim response to the legality of NYPD surveillance:


Here's a video from CNN on the cartoon controversy:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

9/12: Chicago Film on Muslims post-9/11

Here the trailer for a promising new film on Muslims post-9/11. The flag and uniform symbolism is very interesting.

New Project 2 from Khurram Mozaffar on Vimeo.

And here's an interview with the filmmaker:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2010 US Approaches to Islam & Deradicalization

Haroon Moghul

“Challenges and opportunities in our Masajids (Mosques) in US

Vernon James Schubel
“Seeking a Counter-Reformation in Islam: Tradition as an Antidote to Radicalism

Yasmine Hafiz

“Challenges and Opportunities for American Muslim Youth”

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Judaism in Israel: Women's Public Roles

As noted at the beginning of class, these posts will help to identify the role of religion in contemporary issues, and will also emphasize issues tied to practice since the book focuses more on texts. When studying a religion it is important to look for differences for a couple of reasons: to show that a religious community is not homogeneous (i.e. all the same), and that there are always internal struggles over what religion means to whom and why, which gets at power relations and sectarian divisions.     

A good example of this in respect to Judaism is a recent conflict inside Israel and abroad over the appropriate dress and place of women in society. The first video below is by Israeli journalists and gives a good sense of the tension between Jews who practice differing degrees of conservative dress. In some cases the Haredi have thrown eggs and human feces at school girls. What's interesting is that this is not a conflict between Orthodox and Reformist Jews, but of differences within conservative forms of Judaism. The issue really centers around what is the appropriate response to other Jews with whom one does not agree. Should one verbally (and in some cases physically) confront those one disagrees with? Or, are there other ways of engaging (or not engaging) other religious people who have different perspectives and practices?


Here is another video below in response to the Haredi public attempts to enforce their sectarian views. Secular, liberal, and conservative Jews rallied against the more extreme measures taken against women:

In the wake of negative media coverage and national and international debates, many Jewish organizations have condemned the harsh treatment of women as opposed to appropriate Jewish activity, even some conservative Haredim have criticized such acts (here).

Another issue is gender segregation on public transportation buses (here). But this is about more than just where one sits, it is about the role of religion in public, the influence of the Israeli Supreme Court, and between Israelis of opposing political and religious persuasions to define the future of Judaism in Israel. In response to enforcing sex segregation, liberal Jews have engaged in campaigns of riding buses into Haredi areas with women at the front to protest the unofficial segregation practices (here). The women's rights organization, Kadima, has gone a step further by extending the women's segregation issue to a broader critique of exclusion and inequality of women in Israeli society (here). Kadima claims that women are excluded in public in numerous ways and that it is not just the very conservative Haredi who exclude women. Kadima wants to raise awareness and generate change in a way that makes civil society open to women as equals to men since women serve in the military just as men, and since there have been women Israeli prime minister sin the past. Despite these achievements, they claim there is still much  discrimination and inequality for women that needs to be acknowledged and changed. Here is a call to expand the debate about how the influence of religion on the Israeli public should be dealt with (here).

These general issues involving women in Judaism are not unique to Judaism, but face all religions. We will see some other examples as we cover other religions.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

San Fran Surveillance of Muslims

Good video on surveillance of Muslims in San Francisco in the wake of numerous reports of NYPD activities:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Judaism in US & Israel

The US and Israel have an almost equal number of Jewish citizens (about 7 million each), and so they are the most important for understanding contemporary Judaism. Also, the close political and military ties, with Israel receiving more financial support from the US than any other country, demonstrate how Judaism is very much linked to broader American concerns about peace in the Middle East and oil.

So, let's take a quick tour through current events involving Jews in the US and Israel to get a sense of what is happening. The biggest current religious issue is related to women and so we will hold off on that till next week, since that is when you will read about women in Judaism. But let's keep things in historical perspective as we move toward current events.

Different Jewish Views on Religion and Nationhood

Jews began re-settling in Palestine (what is now Israel) in the late 1700s and 1800s. However, it was only during British rule that Jewish immigration increased substantially. I won't go into all the details about the creation of the state of Israel, but we do need to understand the basic points of view of Jews on the issue of creating a Jewish state.

The first view is Zionism, meaning that a Jewish state is needed to protect the rights of Jewish people, and this view especially gained traction after waves of persecution against Jews in the early 20th century in places such as Russia, Poland and Germany. Many Jews fled persecution to settle in what is now Israel. However, many conservative religious Jews disagreed with the political interests of Zionism to create a Jewish state, and instead they argued that only G-d could or should do such a thing and that mere mortal humans should not toy around with G-d's plan for the 'chosen people'. Pragmatically speaking, though, many of the anti-Zionist camp ended up fleeing to Israel in the wake of persecutions, as well. There are some conservative Jews who still hold that Zionism is illegitimate and take stances that disapprove and sometimes disregard the Israeli government and police by claiming that they only recognize G-d's law and not man-made laws. But they are in the minority.

After Israel became a recognized state in the late 1940s, most of these debates subsided. Some Jewish intellectuals such as Hannah Arendt (more on her here) and Walter Benjamin argued that either a two-state solution or a shared state was necessary for Israelis and Palestinians. The reason for this was the notion that the main problem Jews faced was being stripped of citizenship by European countries, which meant that they lost any grounds for rights and privileges as a stateless people with no government to protect their rights. Even the US did not allow Jews fleeing persecution in Europe to move to the US for safety.

So, this camp of Jewish thinkers argued that the Israeli Jewish state had done the same thing to Palestinians by kicking them off of their land and not allowing them to achieve nationhood, which made Palestinians a stateless people. There are currently more Palestinians living outside of Palestine than inside, and by not having a nation they have no guarantee of human rights since they have no government to ensure them. This camp argued that when Jews sought their own nation by making another people stateless, Jews had contradicted the Biblical injunction to 'love thy neighbor as thyself'. To get a better sense of this approach to conflict resolution view check out the progressive Jewish magazine Tikkun (here).

Now, another camp arose that did reinterpret the founding of Israel as a divine intervention with messianic-like implications of fulfilling Biblical prophecy for the Jewish people. This view combined religious triumphalism with nationalism, so that the founding of the nation was linked to a sense that the Jewish people would be vindicated. It is this view that dominates a lot of discussions about peace in the Middle East in the US and Israel currently. This view is strongly shared by religious conservatives in Israel and the US who support the continuing expansion of Jewish settlements by Orthodox Jewish communities into Palestinian territories as a fulfillment of G-d's promise to restore a greater portion of land to Israel that was initially a part of the kingdom of Israel long ago. Read this article to get a taste of how interpretations of Jewish scriptures get connected to current events in Israel (here) by a politically and religiously conservative Israeli media organization. This camp has received some criticism in the US after a Jewish leader in Atlanta recently called for the assassination of President Obama to secure Israeli interests (here).

Jewish Communities in US

In the US Jewish communities are in the greatest numbers in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and California. Although the vast majority of Jews tend to vote for Democrats, there are many Jews in the Republican Party, as well, and you can read about Floridian Jewish thoughts about the Florida Republican primary here. Members of Jewish communities in the US also contribute greatly to society through charity. In Los Angeles, California a fund-raising campaign recently collected $200,000 to help returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans to get and education and learn how to manage their finances (here).

However, there are still plenty of anti-Semitic violent acts in the US. In January 2012 a young man firebombed two synagogues in New Jersey (here). In response, the Jewish and African-American communities (here) came together in solidarity to oppose racist acts of violence since both groups have a long history of facing this kind of hatred. But anti-Semitism isn't always so clear-cut, as in the case where a Jewish man who had a business dispute with his family carried out anti-Semitic attacks against them as intimidation in order to make them think that he was not the one behind the aggression (here). 

As I said above, we will take up issues involving women at the heart of debates about struggles over the definition of contemporary Israel and Judaism next week.