Friday, February 03, 2006
  Happy New Year, Happy Ashura
Happy New Islamic Year! Actually this happened five days ago -- I've been so busy writing a sf story about slugs and ramping up on the redesign of the Islamic writers alliance website (almost ready to go live) that I'm late. One of the things I love about the Islamic New Year is that it doesn't start at the Prophet's birth, nor at his death, but at a significant point in the life of the Muslim community -- that is, when they left Mecca and were welcomed into Madinah. On one level, it's marks Prophet Muhammad taking on the role of Prophet-King, ala Solomon or David, the start of the Islamic rule. But on another, it marks the community leaving dangerous times and places to live with people who embraced them, welcomed them, and loved them like family. This movement from dangerous places to safe spaces is something many of us in the American Muslim community relate to and long for. Many immigrantMuslims left countries where freedom of religion, speech, and conscience, etc. are limited. Many in the African American community metaphorically left mainstream society because of experiences of racism and intolerance. Many of us are extremely worried that America is quickly becoming a hostile place, rather than a welcoming one for Muslims. In the spirit of the New Year, I hope and pray that this does not come to pass, and that the US can remain a modern day Madinah for people of all faiths.


Happy Ashura! This is actually 5 days from now, although the first ten days of Muharram are important days for the Shi'ite Muslim community. They ought to be important days for our entire community because they mark a moment in Islamic history that should make every Muslim weep -- the murder of the Prophet's grandson and his companions. The early history of Islam -- the struggles over who was to suceed Prophet Muhammad, and battles over how to implement Islam once the Prophet had passed away -- make me all the more convinced that Islam is not supposed to be a political system, The Qur'an is not a political manifesto but a guidebook for personal morality and spiritual development. Without the Prophet who has access to God, and thus is infalliable in matters of religion (and religion only), there can be very few absolute answers. Most of the Shari'ah as we know it today is a very human, and very flawed, attempt at understanding and applying God's will. What I find absolutely astounding, is that in the day of the Prophet, people questioned him, at one point his followers were on the verge of open rebellion; in the days after his death, a woman stood up and challenged the ruler, Omar, who was arguably one of the Prophet's favorite companions and extremely knoweledgable, and yet, if we challenge the ruling of a scholar from the 14th century, we are accused of being heretical. So far we have fallen. Anyway, if you'd like to know more about Muharram, I highly recommend Sr. Scorpion's blog.
 
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Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.


What I'm reading now



Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too.
MoveOn.org. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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