[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating about Islam and reflects a wide variety of opinions and approaches. It does not reflect the views of the Critical Currents in Islam page or of Jadaliyya.]
“How Muhammad bin Salman and Sisi abuse the Islamic concept of clemency” Middle East Eye (Published: June 12, 2020)
This article posits that the Saudi and Egyptian governments have abused the Islamic concept of clemency by granting impunity for the murderers involved in the killings of Jamal Khashoggi and Suzanne Tamim. The author argues that both regimes have manipulated the law to achieve self-centered goals.
“Turkey vows to mobilize ‘Islamic ummah’ against Israel’s annexation” The Jerusalem Post (Published: June 14, 2020)
Turkey’s Minister of Religious Affairs (Ali Erbas) and Foreign Minister (Mevlut Cavusoglu) have declared the country’s full support for Palestinians against Israel’s annexation of the West Bank. Such comments demonstrate how the Turkish government is attempting to make Jerusalem an “Islamic” cause to rally the Middle East against Israel.
“The Iraq Report: Iran's economic woes frustrate Shia militias” The New Arab (Published: 12 June, 2020)
Iraqi Shia militias are beginning to show signs of discontent as Iran's economy is ravaged by US sanctions and Covid-19.
“Hamas calls for united 'resistance' against Israeli annexation” The Daily Star, Lebanon (Published: 15 June, 2020)
Hamas called for unity among Palestinians and ‘resistance’ against Israeli plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley, a process due to start on July 1.
“UN team probing Daesh horrors urges Iraq to pass war crimes law” The Daily Star, Lebanon (Published: 15 June, 2020)
UN investigators have gathered millions of records implicating ISIS militants in atrocities committed in Iraq. They are demanding that Iraq pass a law developed by President Barham Salih which would allow Iraqi courts to prosecute for war crimes.
“Extremist group Al-Shabab sets up COVID-19 centre in Somalia” The Daily Star, Lebanon (Published: 12 June, 2020)
Al-Shabab, the Al-Qaeda linked extremist group in Somalia, has set up a new isolation and care facility for coronavirus sufferers, as the pandemic continues to spread across the country.
“'Urgent need' to repatriate, rehabilitate ISIL children in Syria” Al Jazeera (Published: 18 June, 2020)
The Centre for Global Policy has called on European governments to intervene on behalf of hundreds of children of EU member states citizenship who are currently held in ISIS detention camps in Syria.
“Militants kill 20 soldiers, 40 civilians in northeast Nigeria attacks” Al Jazeera (Published: 13 June, 2020)
Islamic militants launched twin attacks in Nigeria’s Borno state on Saturday, killing at least 20 soldiers and 40 civilians, as well as injuring many more. These attacks came just days after militants also killed at least 69 people in a different area of the country.
“Reluctance to free 'most dangerous' Taliban prisoners slows Afghan peace talks - sources” Al Jazeera (Published: 18 June, 2020)
Afghan peace talks have been slowed down as officials in the government refuse to free hundreds of prisoners accused of carrying out some of the country’s most violent attacks - a condition given by the Taliban before agreeing to start the peace talks.
“Don’t blame Sharia for Islamic extremism-- blame colonialism” Yahoo News (Published: 28 June, 2020)
This article posits that fundamentalism and violence are post-colonial problems and not religious inevitabilities. The author argues that in the case of Muslim-majority countries, Sharia often takes the blame for regressive laws while the individuals who pass such laws in the name of religion remain scot-free. This misunderstanding of the concept of Sharia reinforces stereotypes that the Muslim world is uncivilized.
“Islam and its role in Indonesia’s foreign policy” Observer Research Foundation (Published: 24 June, 2020)
Although Indonesia maintains its policy of non-interference in internal affairs of other countries, it is now nudging them to be more responsive towards humanitarian issues - particularly if Muslims are involved. Yet, Indonesian interlocutors do not see the tinge of Islamic issues now affecting Indonesian foreign policy. Through an analysis of Indonesia’s response towards the Rohingya issue in Myanmar and President Widowo’s (Jokowi) interest in Palestine, the author traces Indonesia’s increasing sensitivity towards issues related to Islamic causes.
“Cov-eid Images as Event and Archive” Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore (Published: June 12, 2020)
Through an analysis of images tagged with the #minimosque hashtag, this author contemplates how such digital images should be read and how they will be read in the future.
“How COVID-19 will reshape Islamic finance markets” The Jakarta Post (Published: June 5, 2020)
This article posits that the global pandemic may create new opportunities for Islamic finance markets by accelerating trends such as socially responsible investing, sustainability and digitalization. Such shifts towards responsible financing will unlock new opportunities for Islamic banks to differentiate themselves and unlock new business opportunities in the post-COVID environment.
Arts and Culture
“I Wish I’d Had Ramy When I Was A Kid” New York Times (Published: June 9, 2020)
In this opinion piece, the author praises ‘Ramy,’ an American comedy-drama web series created by Ramy Youssef, for paving the way for new Muslim narratives. By portraying complex Muslim characters that refuse to submit to or correct stereotypes or fight Islamaphobia, ‘Ramy’ allows for new, wild and odd perspectives from American Muslims to emerge into the mainstream.
“The Portuguese rediscovering their country’s Muslim past” Al Jazeera (Published: June 10, 2020)
The work of archaeologists and historians on the historical coexistence between Muslims, Christians and Jews in Portugal has led to a growing interest in the country’s Islamic past. These foci on continuities across the Mediterranean help to question the predominant nationalist historiography that depicts the Muslim as the “other.”
“Fake Hafez: How a supreme Persian poet of love was erased” Al Jazeera (Published: June 14, 2020)
In this article, the author debunks several “Hafez” poems that have gained increasing popularity on the Internet. These forgeries reveal the Western exotification and appropriation of Muslim spirituality.
“Islamic popular culture: A match for Bollywood - the rise of Turkey’s dizis” Qantara (Published: June 15, 2020)
The rising popularity of Turkish dizis (television series) on international screens is allowing Turkey to challenge the dominance of Western popular culture. While the success of such dizis in predominantly Muslim countries is due to their presentation of Islam-friendly relationships and traditional family storylines, resistance to such dizis and accusations of neo-Ottamanism are also emerging in some parts of the Arab world.
“Virtual tour: Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds Including Oriental Rugs and Carpets” Christie’s (Published: June 13, 2020)
Christie’s Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Oriental Rugs and Carpets features stunning pieces of art across the mediums of porcelain, metalware, paintings and carpets.
“Mahershala Ali and Ramy Youssef on Why Islam is the Key to Acting” Vulture (Published: June 16, 2020)
In this thoughtful conversation between Mahershala Ali and Ramy Youssef, both actors contemplate the dynamic relations between their careers as actors, their faith as Muslims, as well as their impact within the Muslim communities they belong to.
“New book explores intertwined histories of Islam and Asia” Cornell Chronicle (Published: June 16, 2020)
Dr. Chiara Formichi, an associate professor at Cornell, has recently written a new book titled “Islam and Asia: A History.” Within which, Dr. Formichi argues for Asia’s central role in the development of global Islam as a religious, social and political reality. In doing so, she challenges the assumed dominant role of the Middle East in that development.
“Reclaiming Rumi: How Islam was erased from the Persian poet’s network” The New Arab (Published: June 16, 2020)
The “Rumi was Muslim” online campaign was launched to rectify inaccurately translated and wrongfully attributed work relating to the 13th century Persian poet Mowlana Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. Established by researchers and translators Sharghzadeh and Zirrar, the founders hope that by producing and sharing accurate translations of Rumi’s poetry, they can also demonstrate how Rumi’s poems existed within an Islamic cultural framework and so combat the present “whitewashing” of the poet’s verses.
“A style revolution: how modest fashion is breaking stereotypes about Muslim women in India” The National (Published: June 17, 2020)
The rise of modest fashion brands in India is dismantling stereotypes regarding modest dressing in India, by providing women with a wider variety of choices to dress themselves.
“Sisi’s era as ‘one of the worst ages’ for famed Al Azhar” TRT World (Published: June 17, 2020)
Egypt’s al-Azhar has become increasingly politicised under Sisi’s regime. As a result, al-Azhar’s reputation as an institution of Islamic learning has been compromised as evidenced from its recent issuing of fatwas and opinions that are parallel to regional and global political processes.
“Islam for non-Muslims - Chinese Imam in Hong Kong on a mission to explain his religion and its history in the city” South China Morning Post (Published: 5 July, 2020)
Focusing on the work of imam Uthman Yang Xing Ben, one of two Chinese-speaking imams in Hong Kong, this article chronicles the history of Muslims in Hong Kong.
Religious Thought and Practice
“Interview with pioneering Islamic thinker Fehmi Jadaane: What is the essence of Islam and does it need reforming?” Qantara (Published: June 17, 2020)
In this interview with the pioneering Jordanian Islamic thinker Fehmi Jadaane, Jaadane objects to the transformation of Islam as an ideology because faith then becomes mired with politics and the divine message becomes a secular instrument of rule.
“Hasan al-Basri: Father of Sufism with asceticism, mysticism traditions” Daily Sabah (Published: June 12, 2020)
This article chronicles the life of Hasan al-Basri, the patriarch of Sufi tradition.
“When is Eid ul-Adha 2020? The meaning of Islam’s most important annual holiday - and how its celebrated” Edinburgh Evening News (Published: June 30, 2020)
In addition to explaining the meaning of “Eid ul-Adha,” the most important annual holiday for Muslim, this article also details how this day is celebrated by Muslims in the United Kingdom.
“Al-Biruni, the Golden Age of Islam’s ‘Universal Genius’ ” TRT World (Published: June 26, 2020)
This article chronicles the life and achievements of Abu Reyhan Al-Biruni, the 10th century Islamic mathematical genius who combined trigonometry and algebra to calculate the radius of the earth.
Gender and Sexuality
“Muslim Women Renew Calls for More Inclusive Programs as Mosques Reopen” Huffpost (Published: June 13, 2020)
Despite the limitations brought upon congregational religious practices due to COVID-19, online religious programming has opened a space for Muslim women leaders and scholars to lead virtual programs in traditionally male-dominated spaces. The success of these online programs, hosted and led by women, have renewed calls for more inclusive programs to translate over to physical spaces.
“Egyptian LGBT activist dies by suicide in Canada” Al Jazeera (Published 15 June 2020)
LGBT rights advocate was imprisoned and tortured in Egypt after raising the rainbow flag during a concert in 2018. She was later exiled and had been living in Canada for almost two years. She was found to have taken her own life in her home earlier this month leaving behind a note asking family and friends to forgive her.
BBC Arabic (Published 15 June 2020) سارة حجازي: كيف تحول موت الناشطة المصرية إلى سجال "فكري ديني"؟
لا يزال خبر انتحار الناشطة المصرية سارة حجازي يشغل حيزا هاما من تعليقات رواد مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي العرب. فقد أثارت وفاتها تساؤلات عديدة ودفعت كثيرين للنبش في تفاصيل حياتها وما مرت به من تحولات، ومن ثم ما يتعلق بموتها وحتى دفنها.
BLM in Islam
“A Candid Discussion of Racism in the Muslim Community” (Video) Muslim American Society of Minnesota (Published: June 6, 2020)
Organized and led by Sr. Farhiya Einte, Dr. Layla Asmarai, Dr. Julie Henderson this online discussion focuses on the subject of racism within the Muslim community.
“In the aftermath of George Floyd Killing, An Uneasy Discussion About Racism in Minnesota’s Muslim Community” Sahan Journal (Published: June 10, 2020)
While the killing of George Floyd has ignited high profile demonstrations against racism across the United States, it has also helped to expose the wounds of racism in Minnesota’s Muslim community. Prior to the death of Floyd, racism was a taboo topic amongst Minnesota’s Muslim community and even when the subject was raised, it was used to underscore the idea of a global Muslim community, where all were equal irrespective of race of class.
“US Muslims join calls for police reforms in wake of Floyd killing” Al Jazeera (Published: June 15, 2020)
Like members of other faith groups, Muslims in America have called for actions against racism and discussed reforms after the killing of George Floyd. American Muslims are ethnically and racially diverse and the killing of Floyd has also reinvigorated conversations about the treatment and representation of Black Muslims in their own faith communities.
“Gareth Bryant on Being a Black Muslim Man in America” Bklyner (Published: June 10, 2020)
In this profile of Gareth Bryant, a chaplain at Northwell Health Lenox-Hill hospital in New York City, Bryant speaks about his journey with Islam and his experiences with racism and xenophibia within the Muslim community.
“An essential reading list on Black Muslim history” The New Arab (Published 18 June 2020)
Many Black Muslims still face the painful reality of rampant prejudice and racism in their communities today, even though Islam condemned racism from the outset. Explore the rich history of Black Muslims in these ten books.
“Texas mosque faces backlash for hosting local police chief at anti-racism event” Middle East Eye (Published 17 June 2020)
Despite public outcry and petition that garnered hundreds of signatures, East Plano Islamic Center Masjid went ahead with the controversial webinar in which they invited officer Ed Drain to speak on anti-racism.
BBC Arabic (Published 2 June 2020) هل تجاهل العرب عنصرية مجتمعاتهم وانتقدوها في الغرب؟
كان لافتا ذلك الاهتمام الكبير من الشارع العربي، بقضية مقتل المواطن الأمريكي الأسود جورج فلويد، على يد شرطي أبيض في ولاية (مينيسوتا) الأمريكية، والذي أعقبته حركة احتجاج ضد "العنصرية وتعامل الشرطة" في الشارع الأمريكي، إمتدت إلى معظم العواصم والمدن الغربية ولم تهدأ حتى الأن, وعبر وسائل التواصل الإجتماعي، وخاصة تويتر، تدفقت آلاف التغريدات من مواطنين من المنطقة العربية، عبر هاشتاجات متعددة منها "حياة السود مهمة"، و"العنصرية في أمريكا"، و" أمريكا تنتفض”.
“After George Floyd, raw talk and racial reckoning among U.S Muslims” NBC News (Published: 29 June, 2020)
In recent weeks, many Muslims in the United States have joined racial justice rallies across the country and denounced racism in sermons, statements and webinars. Many American Muslims are also grappling with questions of racial equality, tensions and representation within their own communities of faith.
“India’s Islamophobia Creeps into Nepal” Foreign Policy (Published: June 16, 2020)
India’s Hindu nationalist fundamentalists are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to push Islamophobia into Nepal through popular Indian news channels and social media.
“British Muslims held for two Months in India claim religious persecution” The Guardian (Published: June 17, 2020)
Eight British Muslims detained in India for more than two months are facing criminal charges for attending an annual conference organized by Tablighi Jamaat in March. Last week, the Indian government agreed to release and deport the detained foreign Muslims if they accepted guilt for visa violations and “willfully” disobeying lockdown orders.
“Can Muslim college students heal divisions in the US?” Al Jazeera (Published: June 17, 2020)
The conversations in hallways, classrooms and cafeteria with professors and fellow classmates also turned into more personal questions about his faith, he said. "The biggest challenge for me in college was navigating the assumptions that people made about my religion," Shaheen told Al Jazeera. Some were surprised that he did not have a beard, others that his sister did not wear a veil or that he ate meat. He felt like an outsider - misunderstood and stereotyped.
“Arundhati Roy: Indian Muslims facing ‘genocidal climate’ amid pandemic” Open Democracy (Published: June 11, 2020)
According to the acclaimed Indian writer, Arundhati Roy, the language used by mainstream Indian media was designed to dehumanise India’s Muslims. Roy posits that to paint an entire community as “corona jihadis” during the current global pandemic, when there is pre-existing violence against Muslims, is to create a genocidal climate.
“France charges teens for death threats over anti-Islam remarks” Al Jazeera (Published: 17 June, 2020)
Three teenagers have been charged for sending death threats to a high-school girl, after she posted expletive-laden social media remarks about Islam.
“What happened in the Tennessean’s Newsroom After that “Indefensible” Anti-Muslim Ad” Slate (Published: June 23, 2020)
In this interview with David Plazas, the opinion and engagement editor of the Tennessean and the USA Today newsrooms in Tennessee, Plaza addresses how the anti-Muslim advertistment came to be published in the Tennessean and the paper’s firm response to the advertisement.