Tuesday, April 18, 2006
As if the joy of lilacs and birds singing outside my window, the beautiful crisp spring air and the sweet, green, pea plants pushing their way up through the soil of my garden weren't enough to make me dance, there is the news of Hasan at-Turabi officially saying female imams are ok.

At-Turabi, for those who are not familiar with him, has a large following and is very well respected in much of the Muslim world. He is somewhat a contradiction in terms -- he was/is the voice of hardline Islamists in Sudan and was instrumental in bringing shari'ah law to Sudan, yet he is also known for championing women's rights. He supported a coup in 1989 that overthrew the democratic government, and brought in a defacto dictator, and yet, he was removed from his position in the government and jailed for advocating democratic reforms and the power of elected officials to remove the "president" from his office. He is accused of having be insturmental in Sudan's sheltering Bin Laden from 1990-1996, though many Muslims think that is just the US trying to frame a popular Islamic scholar. Liberal muslims are fond of his positions on women, and generally take an ostrich approach to some of his problematical political stances.

At-Turabi is at best a mixed bag and at worst a supporter of terrorism... but that does not diminish the importance of his coming out in support of woman imams. He has already been denounced by people like the Grand Mufti of Mecca, but the impact of his views cannot help but be widespread, especially given his Islamist credentials. He has the ear of conservative groups, the ones most likely to condemn female imams and declare the mere mention of such a possibility sheer blasphemy. Between him and Tahar Mahdi major inroads are being made into the conservative camp!!

How wonderful that such developments come in the spring -- such lovely symbolism -- rebirth, renewal, growth and revitalization -- dancing is definately called for!

It has given me a new appreciation for Easter and the joy it must bring to Christians that Easter comes in spring. I'd never thought of Easter in those terms (we had traditional egg hunts when I was a kid, and while Easter was about the only time I went to church, it was only because my dad was always being asked to play trumpet at Easter services, so my experiences of Easter were very much of a cultural nature). The whole idea of the renewal and rebirth of the human spirit, the mercy and love of God, which is so amply evident in the springtime, and the loveliness of the season, of reawakened animal and plant life, of voilets and birdsong -- what a lovely convergence!

As a Muslim, of course, I believe that renewal and rebirth is accomplished directly, between the individual and God, without the intervention of Jesus. Nonetheless -- I celebrate with my Christian friends God's mercy and love, His kindness and forgivingness of falliable humans -- in both our faiths these are the central characteristics of God, the ones that dominate our lives.
This is big news. Where can one read about it?

Didya get my email?
Oops, here's the link:


This is a partial transcript of an interview he gave on Arabiyya TV.

And, yes, I got your email, just slow getting back to you. :)
This is marvelous news, Pamela, and I'm always so glad to learn more about Islam and its politics (we have them in Roman Catholicism, too, as you are no doubt aware.) But every step forward is a reason to celebrate, in your faith and in ours. Easter is indeed a time of rebirth and renewal, after the six weeks of Lent spent in reflection. It seems to me, from my limited understanding, that all the great faiths work this process into their liturgical calendar in some way--a period of meditation and prayer, and then a day of celebration and renewal of the covenants between human beings and the deity.
I'll see you soon at Wiscon, Pamela!
I think you're right, Louise. Certainly Ramadan is a time of prayer and purification, of remembrance of God, followed by celebration of God's blessings and mercy.

I'm looking forward to WisCon for sure!
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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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