Reformation this

Some time ago, TheBit at "Muslims under Progress" wrote a stimulating essay on "secular fundamentalists" - which triggerred a response from the uber-secularists at Gene Expression. I highly respect the GNXP crew, especially Razib, but my sympathies are of course with TheBit on this topic. TheBit has now posted an excellent response which I consider a must-read (in full, so no excerpting).

A related problem is the political alliance that Muslims have made with the Progressive Left. For example, I consider Laura of Veiled4Allah to be a role model for the assimilation of muslims into American culture with retention of Islmaic values, but her support for the Dennis Kucinich wing of the Democratic Party neccessarily means that her allies become people like the odious Amy Richards. This association is difficult to justify to the more conservative muslim mainstream, and is perhaps precisely the neutering that the secularists want to see - a Christian-inspired "buffet" approach to Islam where specific elements are embraced and others rejected, heavily influenced by local cultural mores rather than universal principles. Diversity of interpretation is good but erosion of the essence of the basic teachings is not - and the navigation of those conflicting mandates is fraught with difficulties of both the spiritual and the worldy kinds.

We need to be able to formulate an independent voice from the Progressive Left and the Secular middle - and recognize that not all amongst the conservative Right are neccessarily opposed to our values. That triangulation is essentialy to preserving our religion's practice and our integrity in the larger Ummah as a whole.


Godless said...

Laura of Veiled4Allah to be a role model for the assimilation of muslims into American culture with retention of Islmaic values Have you seen this essay of hers?


But wait! Isn't voting haram? Doesn't it mean supporting a kufr system? Muslims who seek to become politically active will hear this one a lot. So let's deal with it head on. Shaykh Muhammad al-Munajjid, a very conservative Saudi scholar, was asked about voting in elections in a non-Muslim country [4]. He replied...

America is a democracy. Bush can be voted out and another president elected in his place. That other president may be someone who will bring benefit to Muslims. Or he may just be somebody who will do less harm to Muslims. In either case, by voting for this other president we will have done something to help the umma, even if it is a small thing. That is exactly what Shakyh Munajjid is talking about. Bringing benefit to the umma and reducing harm...

This is a decision each of us must make for ourselves. What is the harm if we act, and what is the harm if we don't act? What is the course of action that will bring the greatest benefit to Muslims and is it worth the price?
Note: not the course of action that will bring the greatest benefit to *America* and *Americans*. Her loyalty is clearly to the international ummah and the Muslim community. I believe this is probably not the model of assimilation you mean. (I much prefer you, Razib, and Zack...and even Ikram!!).

James R MacLean said...

Actually, I've read that several times and I must say that you need to put it in context. First, she posted the essay in order to exhaust all possibilities.

Let me put it this way: suppose someone is afraid that a certain policy is "socialistic." I want to convince that person that said policy is merely prudent. In order to explode the fear that it's socialist, I whip out my copy of Milton Friedman, find where he endorses such a policy, and show it to the skeptic. Now, MF is far, far, far, far more conservative than I am. But I figure, look, if Friedman endorses this idea, it cannot possibly be "socialistic."

Get it? My conservative friend may think Friedman's a rightwing crank, but I've made my point.

Second point: I regret that Aziz used the word "assimilation," since I think the real goal is "reconcilliation." The object here is to ensure that people understand that the American system is highly adaptive. The community I grew up in, I thought at the time, was pathologically narrow-minded and hopelessly rigid. In the two decades since I've moved away, it's adapted to an astonishing degree as the urban demographic frontier passed through it. People did not assimilate, in the sense that they retained their individuality. But they reconciled very well to the demands of the community.

Godless said...


I understand why she cited that guy. It is something of a Nixon-goes-to-China type of argument. That is, if *this* hardcore fundamentalist preacher says it's ok to vote, it *must* be ok to vote.

But the point is that one shouldn't look to fundamentalist preachers overseas to legitimate the practice of *voting* in the United States. You need to justify voting in the US on the grounds that it's your civic duty as an American citizen.

She couldn't care less for the USA. Her interest is only the welfare of the Muslim "ummah". She doesn't say what she should have said, which is: "you should vote because while you are a Muslim, you owe your loyalty to the US. Religion and politics are two separate things and a Muslim American must fight for his country against a Muslim from another country if it comes to that".

In other words, she's not promoting assimilation, but rather subversion. It's not the model to aim for.

thabet said...

To what extent is "religion" separate from "politics" in the eyes of certain Christian right-wingers who believe Bush is doing "God's work"?

qawukzi said...

Yeah, that's what Bush thinks. Do you think the same? If so, then I guess the right-wing nutcases are right. Immigrants are here to subvert the system.