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Islamophobia Is An American Tradition

When Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson made news recently by questioning whether a Muslim American could (or should) ever become president of the United States, his assertions recalled similar concerns raised by a political supporter of John McCain’s presidency at a rally seven years earlier. “I can’t trust [President Barack] Obama,” Gayle Quinnell told McCain, “I’ve read about him . . . and he’s an Arab.” Whether she meant Arab or Muslim, two identities often conflated in American understandings of Muslims, her fears revealed deeper concerns by some segments of the American public about the loyalty of Muslim Americans to the United States. McCain’s response ...

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New Texts Out Now: Jeanette S. Jouili, Pious Practice and Secular Constraints: Women in the Islamic Revival in Europe

[Cover of Jeanette S. Jouili,

Jeanette S. Jouili, Pious Practice and Secular Constraints: Women in the Islamic Revival in Europe. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Jeanette Jouili (JJ): I began research for this book in 2002, the year after 9/11. The global impact of that event was made evident in Europe as the media and European scholars increasingly scrutinized the activities and affiliations of young European-born Muslims, many of whom were adopting more visible and orthodox forms of Islamic practice. At the heart of the debate lay the question of whether this trend toward increased piety was compatible with Europe's secular, liberal values. ...

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New Texts Out Now: Moustafa Bayoumi, This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror

[Cover of Moustafa Bayoumi,

Moustafa Bayoumi, This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror. New York: New York University Press, 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Moustafa Bayoumi (MB): The War on Terror made me write This Muslim American Life. I believe that the people of the United States aren’t taking sufficient notice of how much the War on Terror is structuring contemporary life, both in this country and abroad. Muslim Americans will feel differently. We have been subjected to sweep arrests and deportations, blanket surveillance of our everyday activities, scripted sting operations that really create rather than discover terrorist suspects, and much more. ...

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حزن مستيقظ إلى الأبد


[تنشر هذه المادة ضمن ملف " الموجة الجديدة في الشعر السوري  ( أثر الحرب )" انقر/يهنا لمواد الملف الكاملة]              -1- سنعتادُ الأمر؛ /اعذر وقاحتي / المصافحة حركةٌ تافهة؛ ودمي مازال قلقاً مذ ذهب آخر جنديّ الى الحرب ولم يعد . البرودة ليست من شيمي، أسلّي نفسي بتربية الشتائم في غياب العاطفة، والرسالة الثالثة، قد مزقتها . سأندم؛ الندم أمرٌ ضروريّ، أمرٌ مسلٍّ أيضاً، ولكن-هذ

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Three Theses on ISIS: The Universal, the Millenarian, and the Philistine

[A view point of the city Kobanê, in Syrian Kurdistan, during the bombradment of ISIL targets by US-led forces, The photo has been taken from Turkish-Syrian border (Suruç). Photo by M. Akhavan / Persian Dutch Network.]

The ruthless brutality of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) unfolds before our eyes on the screens. As commentators struggle to explain and understand it, it becomes convenient to revive old Orientalist tropes. Beyond the spectacular brutality, the reason that ISIS invites attention (both fascination and fear) is that it seems easy to fit in confrontational narratives of Islam (us v. them, anti-American, etc.). Muslims are clearly angry at something. In his infamous article “The Roots of Muslim Outrage”, Bernard Lewis simplistically explained that Muslims are envious of, and angry at, Western modernity and secularism. The U.S. magazine Newsweek ...

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تدمر، واحة للظلام


تعرضت تدمر منذ مدة لغزوة بربرية في وقت قياسي، وتردد صدى الخبر في أنحاء سوريا والعالم لأن تدمر تتمتع بشهرة خاصة كونها رمزاً ثقافياً وحضارياً، ونظراً لموقعها الجغرافي الذي جعل منها في الأزمنة القديمة محطة لطرق القوافل بين سوريا وبلاد ما بين النهرين، ولتاريخها العريق المتداخل مع تواريخ متجاوزة للحدود المحلية، ونظراً لثرواتها المعدنية والنفطية ولموقعها الحساس في الصراع الحالي. إلا أننا يجب ألا نركز على تدمر وننسى غيرها، فهي لا تختلف كثيراً عن المدن السورية الأخرى، ومسكونة بالبشر كالرقة ودير الزور والبوكمال وحلب ودرعا والسويداء ودمشق وحمص والسلمية، ورغم أن آثارها ظاهرة، وتحظى بشهرة عالمية، وتاريخها موثّق بغزارة فإن للمدن الأخرى تاريخها وآثارها أيضاً سواء منها الظاهرة أو ...

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Ramadan 2015 for Uyghurs: Another Crackdown on Islam in China’s Xinjiang

[Men Pray at Id Kah Mosque on Eid al-Fitr. Image by Preston Rhea via Flickr]

In the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), another Ramadan inevitably ushers in an intensified campaign to crack down on the Uyghurs’ religious beliefs, practices, and identity, alongside year-round social, political, and religious restrictions. As in previous years, local Xinjiang authorities have instituted a ban on Ramadan fasting this year for Uyghur civil servants and students, prohibited mosque attendance for Uyghurs under eighteen years of age, monitored mosque sermons and staff, and forced Uyghur restaurants and businesses to stay open during the daytime. During this year’s Ramadan, local authorities have taken additional measures to increase the difficulty ...

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ISIS in the News: Extensive Media Roundup (March-April 2015)

[Editorial Note: This is not a "Best of," only a roundup of significant pieces. See here for an introduction to this roundup series]  English Articles        ISIS Threatens Twitter Founder And Employees Over Blocked Accounts (1 March 2015) David Mack reports that ISIS supporters called on jihadis around the world "to kill Twitter employees because of the company’s frequent blocking of their social media accounts." ISIS releases several captured Christians: activists (1 March 2015) "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released at least 19 Christians on Sunday who were among the more than ...

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ISIS in the News: Extensive Media Roundup (January-February 2015)

[Editorial Note: This is not a "Best of," only a roundup of significant pieces. See here for an introduction to this roundup series]    English Articles        2014: The Year ISIS Won the Propaganda Battle (31 December 2014) Markham Nolan writes about the ways in which ISIS has been documenting its progress throughout 2014 in a constant stream of propaganda.  Vanguard of Syria’s uprising, now on the run from ISIS, weighs a bleak future 2014: The Year ISIS Won the Propaganda Battle (1 January 2015) Anne Barnard on Syria’s “lost generation” and the former fighters exhausted by the continuous clashes and ...

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Slurring Sectarianism: Sunni-Shi‘i Discourse in Lebanon

[Folio depicting Battle of Siffin (657 AD) from a fourteenth-century Tarikhnama (Book of History) by Balami. Cropped image by Underlying Ik]

Lebanon has a history of inter-sectarian strife. Due to recent regional developments, namely the war in Syria, this strife now features new anti-Shi‘i and anti-Sunni slurs. Such slurs fan the flames of the Sunni- Shi‘i conflict that has emerged in the past decade, and are particularly effective when they employ tropes from Islamic collective memory. Anti-Shi‘i Discourse Lebanese Sunni resentment against Hizballah, especially among followers of Saad Hariri’s Future Movement and among the majority of Sunni Islamists, is currently potent after almost a decade of perceived persecution by the group. Tensions started to come to a head with the 2005 assassination of former ...

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Beyond Authenticity: ISIS and the Islamic Legal Tradition

The Atlantic thinks ISIS is Islamic. President Obama and countless others disagree. As the debate rages on with no shortage of interlocutors, one must stop to ask, what is the utility of making such pronouncements? Is the simple binary of whether ISIS is Islamic or not an effective way to discuss and understand the various questions at stake concerning the Islamic tradition, its authenticity, continuity and change? In response to this basic question, Muslims globally have gone on the defensive, denying any relationship between the religion and the group. Whether it be the eighteen-page open letter issued by prominent Muslim clerics globally, the statement of the twelve ...

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Do Muslims Belong in the West? An Interview with Talal Asad

[Architectural art from Cordoba's Islamic past. Image by charlemagne via Pixabay]

In this discussion, Talal Asad identifies the problematic ways in which the presence of Muslim communities in Western contexts has been characterized in response to outbreaks of violence such as the recent events in Paris. Asad argues that many of the critiques to which Muslims are subjected, namely their dependence on transcendent forces, also inhabit the intellectual assumptions of secular and atheist commentators.  He further expresses the need to examine Islam as a "tradition" in order to avoid precisely the types of sweeping generalizations and focus instead on the complexities and particularities of the various ways in which Islam is lived. ...

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A Muslim Future to Come?

[This article was first published on Public Books.]  Michel Houellebecq, Submission. Translated from the French by Lorin Stein. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2015. The devastating attacks of 13 November on Paris’s tenth and eleventh arrondissements viciously targeted the “progressive” heart of the city. When I am there, that is where I live. Like many other inhabitants and observers, I find it difficult to comprehend why the militants assaulted this historically working-class, ...

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كُلفة العنف: المُكوّن الاجتماعيّ للحركات الإسلامية في مصر

شهدت مصر في الآونة الأخيرة  تصاعداً غير مسبوق في أحداث العنف المادي المتبادل، فمجازر الدولة تجاه الإسلاميين بشكل خاص والاعتقالات العشوائية لما يزيد عن أربعين ألف شخص حسب التقارير، والممارسات السلطوية ضد كافة خصوم النظام المصري الحالي، والحملات الأمنية الشرسة التي بلغت ذروتها بتهجير مئات الأسر وتدمير آلاف المنازل في شرق رفح ومدينة الشيخ زويد، هذا من ناحية ، ومن ناحية أخرى، القدرات العسكرية الصادمة وغير المسبوقة لتنظيم "ولاية سيناء " والتي مكّنت التنظيم "الداعشي" من مهاجمة خمسة ...

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Can Total War in the Middle East Be Prevented?

Three weeks ago, Russia started to directly intervene in Syria. The proxy war between Russia and Iran on the one hand, and the United States and Saudi Arabia on the other, threatens to turn into an actual war. Having lost control over its “victories” in the last fourteen years, the United States would rather keep this a proxy war. Nevertheless, it is not clear how long it can permit Russian galloping in what was once simply and only America’s backyard. Russia, long denied a major role in the Middle East, ...

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Syria Media Roundup (August 5)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Monday night of every week.] Inside Syria  Coalition must seek a common goal in Syria As the anti-ISIS coalition now turns attention to Syria, Hassan Hassan claims that the way to defeat the them ...

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Daoud’s Camus Fanfiction Is More of the Same

Kamel Daoud, The Meursault Investigation. Translated by John Cullen. New York: Other Press 2015. Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud’s debut novel The Meursault Investigation, recently translated into English, retells the story of Albert Camus’s The Stranger from the point of view of Harun, the brother of the unnamed Arab that Camus's hero, Meursault, murders. The Meursault Investigation has garnered great praise in American media, sparking multiple articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, and ...

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The Rise and Fall of Abu ‘Iyadh: Reported Death Leaves Questions Unanswered

On 2 July 2015, Mosaïque FM, the largest radio station in Tunisia, reported that Sayfallah ‘Omer bin Hussayn al-Tunisi (al-Tunisi), also known as Abu ‘Iyadh, had been killed in a US led airstrike targeting former Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) commander Mokhtar al-Mokhtar. No sources were attributed to this announcement. But two days later, the New York Times confirmed the information, this time with unnamed sources. Mosaïque FM promptly published the news that the New York Times had confirmed ...

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Beyond Blame: Troubling the Semiotic Ideology of Muslim Passion

In the months following the tragic murders at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery in Paris, reactions to the attacks predictably gravitated toward two polar positions. Pundits and politicians in Western Europe and North America—almost entirely non-Muslim—deplored not only the murders themselves, but also the ostensible incompatibility between Islam and freedom of speech and expression in general. Although this chorus of condemnation reflected recent geopolitical ...

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Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat's Egypt: A STATUS/الوضع Conversation between Abdullah Al-Arian and Anthony Alessandrini

Abdullah Al-Arian, a founding editor of Jadaliyya's Critical Currents in Islam page, discusses his new book, Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat's Egypt, and how it speaks to popular Islamic activism in Egypt today. The interview below includes three parts that you can click on separately. Abdullah Al-Arian is an assistant professor of History at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He is the author of Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat's ...

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New Texts Out Now: Joseph A. Massad, Islam in Liberalism

Joseph A. Massad, Islam in Liberalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Joseph Massad (JM): I had been thinking for a while about a different book, namely one that traces genealogically the transformation in the semantic uses of the term “Islam” since the eighteenth century in Europe and among Muslims and Arabs in Asia and Africa. The project is an intellectual and semantic history of a term and the peregrinations it has made and undergone since ...

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New Texts Out Now: Jonathan A.C. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy

Jonathan A.C. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy. London: Oneworld Publications, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Jonathan A.C. Brown (JB): Through my teaching and public speaking, I got the sense that there was a need for a book that brought the history, inner workings, and contributions of the Islamic tradition of scriptural interpretation to a general audience. In particular, I was constantly asked “How should we understand ...

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The Vagaries of Laïcité

[This is the second of three responses to Muriam Haleh Davis’ review essay of books by Joan W. Scott, Naomi Davidson, and Mayanthi Fernando. For Joan W. Scott’s response, “More on Laïcité in Historical Context," click here.] A cartoon by the French cartoonist Gil from 10 January, titled “Communion nationale,” shows a white policeman frisking an ambiguously raced man standing against the wall with his hands in the air. “Je suis Charlie,” says the man, and the policeman replies, “Yeah, yeah, me too.” ...

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Syria Media Roundup (January 26)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Syria and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Syria Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Monday night of every week.]  Inside Syria Syria rebels overtake strategic base in south Syrian, US-backed, rebels fighting with Nusra overtake strategic base in south near Deraa, helping 2 cut highway and ...

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