Never less true

To how many a demagogue and his disciples does this still apply?

“So long as an opinion is strongly rooted in the feelings, it gains rather than loses in stability by having a preponderating weight of argument against it. For if it were accepted as a result of argument, the refutation of the argument might shake the solidity of the conviction; but when it rests solely on feeling, the worse it fares in argumentative contest, the more persuaded its adherents are that their feeling must have some deeper ground, which the arguments do not reach; and while the feeling remains, it is always throwing up fresh entrenchments of argument to repair any breach made in the old. And there are so many causes tending to make the feelings connected with this subject the most intense and most deeply-rooted of all those which gather round and protect old institutions and customs, that we need not wonder to find them as yet less undermined and loosened than any of the rest by the progress of the great modern spiritual and social transition; nor suppose that the barbarisms to which men cling longest must be less barbarisms than those which they earlier shake off.”

— John Stuart Mill, The Subjection Of Women

White saviours

Oops, the sheikh went off on one, ranting about white converts, on and on, telling us what he really thinks. Ah, oops, but um, of course, not all white converts, and definitely not the likes of Hamza Yusuf, Nuh Keller or Tim Winter, and of course not those listening in, no never, back tracking as fast as possible. No, of course, the sheikh doesn’t mean you. No, just the others. Just the white saviours come to teach brown Muslims their Deen. Yes, those annoying ones, but of course not Hamza Yusuf, Nuh Keller or Tim Winter, who teach brown people their Deen, who are excused, because, well I guess they’re institutions. But the others? White converts in general? They’re just a pain in the neck, a grand irritation, what with their white saviour complex and privilege, and inability to just shut up and disappear and keep their opinions to themselves. The sheikh can’t stand white converts like these.

Returnees

With news today that a teenage runaway to Syria now seeks to return, I think a post I wrote in 2015 still applies. Young women like this should be treated the same as other teenage victims of grooming gangs: with sympathy and empathy at the very least. Continue reading “Returnees”

Virtual realms

I found this in a notebook from 2015. Not much changes, except that even the virtual realms now repulse me.

Yes, the heart yearns for food for the soul from the masjid, in place of these technological, virtual realms…

But the positive view of the role of the masjid and imam in the community perhaps needs to be tempered by the reality faced by many even today, which is that too many local masjids offers absolutely nothing to the wider community.

Imagine… the Friday khutbah each week in a language that half the congregation cannot understand, an imam who deigns to exchange salams with congregants outside his ethnic group, no social provision of any kind… and when people do step forward to initiate change, they are castigated and sent on their way because they are from the wrong tribe, follow the wrong school of fiqh or allegedly have the wrong aqida.

Alas, these are the realities even today which are causing people to search elsewhere for spiritual nourishment. A dysfunctional social reality is as much the cause of the rise of virtual communities as technology itself.

We need to address both sides of the problem and stop saying, “We have no idea why this is happening.”

Glorious histories

So, Ertuğrul has entered our household, but though everyone sings its praises without fail, I know it is not for me. I admit that I wasn’t watching it, as I was engaged in something else, so perhaps taking in the gory sound track without following the dialogue or watching the picture skewed my feelings unfairly. In any case, my heart hurts, so I have left it. Further evidence of my heresies: that I cannot watch these dramatic reenactments of a semi-imagined mythical past, without seeing it as propaganda for modern regimes seeking to give legitimacy to their grand aspirations. I don’t think anyone who follows contemporary politics, with its focus on strong, seemingly pious leaders concentrating power in their own hands, could fail to appreciate the message of these international blockbuster productions, taking Muslim audiences by storm.

Safeguarding

Just for a moment there, I thought we were making progress. Last weekend, a groups of senior Barelvi imams and scholars announced that they were suspending a popular imam for gross misconduct in relation to his interactions with female congregants and followers. Continue reading “Safeguarding”

The fundraising lottery

Dear charity,

I recently pledged to support the good work of your organisation, which I was already familiar with having personally seen you in operation. We deliberately stopped at the fundraising display set up in the entrance of our local hospital for this reason. Continue reading “The fundraising lottery”

Blasphemies

I have no problem with people protesting because they think AirMax when read upside down resembles the name of God in Arabic, but personally I find it vastly more unacceptable that people mention His name shortly before strapping explosives to their body and blowing scores of innocents to pieces.