Congratulations, Lt. CMDR Khan!

ABOARD USS JOHN C. STENNIS – Cmdr. Muhammad Muzzafar F. Khan relieved Cmdr. Timothy Langdon as commanding officer of Sea Control Squadron (VS) 31 during a ceremony held at sea aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) May 13.

Khan is the first Muslim to take command of an operational aviation squadron in the U.S. Navy.

The “Topcats” of VS 31 are assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, embarked aboard Stennis, and currently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

Sort of makes Bryan Preston look like a fool.


CAIR is pro-assimilation

in a comment thread at GNXP, Diana Moon asks why CAIR is seemingly absent from charitable works, unlike Arab communities of Christian descent. In response, I spent about five minutes of due diligence at CAIR's website, and found examples aplenty of charity work and pro-assimilation work by the local chapters. Examples:

* The CAIR 'Muslims Care' campaign for hunger, breast cancer awareness (more info)

* CAIR-MN sponsors free cab rides for blind persons

* promoted a panel at Stanford about muslim women in science and engineering

* CAIR-OH co-sponsored a Red Cross blood drive

* CAIR-DC encouraged muslims to join in the DC Memorial Day festivities

CAIR-affiliated muslims can even laugh at themselves! And criticize Arab governments! who knew.

And of course the local chapters of CAIR make significant effort at solidarity with the local Jewish communities. After all, muslims and Jews face much the same kind of hatred here.

As I have said numerous times before, the value of CAIR is in the local chapters who do fine work in promoting the sense of community that ordinary muslim-americans have as neighbors and fellow citizens. The national leadership is a PR outfit and I have little use for them, but all too often those who will knee-jerk attack CAIR as an organization as a whole, are really doing a grave injustice to those dedicated people who form the backbone, hearth and soul of CAIR's efforts at sincere, good works nationwide.


muslims in Syria convert... to Shi'a Islam

via The Arabist, the Shi'ization of Syria:

Louay, a 28-year-old teacher in Damascus wearing jeans, a wool sweater and a close-cropped beard, seemed the epitome of the capital’s Sunni middle class. Yet within the last year, as Hezbollah rose to national prominence in the Lebanese government, he — along with his mother — began practicing Shiite Islam. He changed the wording of his prayers and his posture while praying, holding his arms at his sides instead of before him, and during Ramadan he followed Shiite customs on breaking the fast. In many Middle Eastern countries, his conversion wouldn’t be possible — it would be considered apostasy. The Syrian regime restricts its people’s political liberties, but unlike most other ruling dynasties in the Arab world, it allows freedom of religion. “In Saudi Arabia, they ban books on other faiths,” Louay said. “In Syria, I can buy whatever book on religion I want, and no one can say a word.”

Politics, it seems, is only one of the attractions of Shiism. In addition to Louay, I spoke with four other Syrian converts, who asked not to be identified for fear of harassment by Sunni fundamentalists. Louay and the others all spoke of religious transformation as much as of Hezbollah. “Half the reason why I converted was because of Ijtihad,” Louay said, using the Arabic word for the independent interpretation of the Koran and the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad. Suddenly the mufti’s enigmatic answer became clearer. Ijtihad is practiced more widely by Shiites of the Jaafari school than by Sunnis. These Shiites believe that, on all but the largest moral issues, Muslims should interpret their faith by reading holy texts and reasoning back and forth between them and current issues. Many Sunnis say they quietly practice Ijtihad in everyday life as well, but conservative Sunnis do not encourage individual interpretation of the Koran.

I am fascinated by this. All too often, here in eth west we see a monolithic aspect to Islam wherein even the myriad internal nuances of the living faith are packaged as simply factes upon the same jewel rather than as cohesive and independent strands of the tapestry on their own right. The essay above gives a peek into the true complexity of Islam wherein conversion can be intra-Islam rather than across the Christian-Muslim boundary. And the motivation for this is ijtihad, which really is a tremendous point (one that, I might add, is cause for some hope even in the worst case outcomes for Iraq, but more on that later.)

Issandr has his own comment on the article, noting that it's doubtful that the Shi'a conversion wave is being actively managed by Iran.


can we call it racism now?

report from the Guardian:

The American government wants to impose travel restrictions on British citizens of Pakistani origin because of concerns about terrorism, according to a report today.

In talks with the British government, the US homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, called for British Pakistanis to apply for a visa before travelling to the US, according to the New York Times.

The newspaper claimed that US officials were concerned about the number of terrorist plots in Britain involving citizens with ties to Pakistan.

It is understood that the British government is resisting any attempts to single out particular ethnic groups for travel restrictions. The Foreign Office has yet to comment on the report.

The NYT provides some context, noting that the US government cites the case of Omar Khyam:

the 25-year-old Mr. Khyam, a Briton of Pakistani descent, also personifies a larger and more immediate concern: as a British citizen, he could have entered the United States without a visa, like many of an estimated 800,000 other Britons of Pakistani origin.

American officials, citing the number of terror plots in Britain involving Britons with ties to Pakistan, expressed concern over the visa loophole. In recent months, the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, has opened talks with the government here on how to curb the access of British citizens of Pakistani origin to the United States.

There are of course multiple ways to solve this problem:

Among the options that have been put on the table, according to British officials, was the most onerous option to Britain, that of canceling the entire visa waiver program that allows all Britons entry to the United States without a visa. Another option, politically fraught as it is, would be to single out Britons of Pakistani origin, requiring them to make visa applications for the United States.

Rather than impose any visa restrictions, the British government has told Washington it would prefer if the Americans simply deported Britons who failed screening once they arrived at an airport in the United States, British officials said. The British also screen at their end, and share intelligence with the Americans.

Singling out any specific ethnic group is nothing more than collective punishment. The British proposal is the most reasonable one, but barring that, I say that no Briton should be allowed into Fortress America without a visa application. Of course, that's a rather naive view, isn't it? above all else, we must preserve our double standards.


Bohra pilgrims killed in Karbala

InnaLillahi Wa inna Ilahi Raji'un

Three Mumbai residents, Aun and Mohammed Mahableshwarwala and Hussein Rampurwala were among 70 killed in the aftermath of a suicide attack near the residence of Karbala governor yesterday in the Shi’ite holy city.

The fourth Indian has not been identified as yet.

Karbala city health spokes-man Salim Khadhim told AFP, “There were four Indian men among those killed.” He added the dead included five women, five children and eight other victims who were burnt beyond recognition.

Murtuza, Hussein’s elder brother, said, “Karbala is our holiest shrine and we are happy that our brother is buried there. He’s a martyr,” Murtuza told MiD DAY this morning. There are, at least, two more Mumbaikars in Karbala, who sources said have survived the attack.

report via Mid-Day