Friday, February 10, 2006
  Yes, but...
Whenever you write something, especially whenever you get something in print, it's easy to re-read it and cringe. Sometimes justifiably and sometimes not. My recent column (in the Pioneer Press, or a slightly different version in the: Indy Star) is just such a column. I've gotten a lot of nice comments about the column, and in a lot of ways I'm proud of it, but in a lot ways it's making me cringe. And justifiably so.

Why? Because I open with a question -- which would make the Prophet sadder, the libelous cartoons or the violent reactions of his followers. Even though I answer that the actions of his followers is a betrayal of the Prophet and a bigger insult to him than the cartoons, I'm still uncomfortable with the fact that I pretty much equated nasty words/pictures with violence. Duh. Obviously, killing and burning on the part of his supposed followers is way worse! There is simply no comparison -- drawings vs murder and mayhem. It's like comparing gnats to killer bees. As I said... duh!

Which brings me to the issue of apologetics (otherwise known as the "yes, but..." syndrome). Looking at the column objectively, it probably wouldn't be perceived by most people as apologetic -- I didn't excuse the violence, or try to explain it, I condemned it roundly and showed how it was totally unIslamic. And yet, isn't placing the offense of the cartoons on a level with burning embassies in a way apologetic? Isn't that saying your pictures are as bad as violence, when in reality they are no where near as bad? Doesn't it minimize the significance of that violence, by saying it's no more important than a handful of offensive drawings? Is that not, in itself, apologetic in some ways?

This is, I believe, a huge issue for moderate, liberal, and progressive Muslims. We feel so shamed by the actions of our radical brethren that we are driven to explain why they do what they do. We rush to make their evil deeds seem less evil, so that we are not stained quite so badly by their actions. I believe this is a fatal mistake. I believe we need to stop explaining and go on the offensive.

One, because we are never going to successfully combat extremism if we are busy explaining why it isn't so bad, really. After all, radicals are going to take that as a sign that we actually agree with them, but that we're just not brave enough to say so. What they need to hear is other Muslims saying, this is wrong. It's un-Islamic. Period. No justifications, no explaining away.

Two, because while we are telling our neighbors it isn't so bad, we water down our own resistance to these things. We start to believe well maybe they are justified, maybe allowances should be made. Baloney. We know better.

Three, because anyone with half a brain sees through apologetics for what they are. Trying to cover the stench of militant actions by covering it with perfume doesn't work -- we just smell like skunks in the lilac bush. The only way to really stop stinking by association, is to wash ourselves of it completely.

Four, it's good for the soul. Truth sets our hearts at ease. Truth is Divine, and when we speak truth, we are blessed with peace.
 
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Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.


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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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