Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The End of Neo-liberalism?

By Joseph E. Stiglitz

NEW YORK – The world has not been kind to neo-liberalism, that grab-bag of ideas based on the fundamentalist notion that markets are self-correcting, allocate resources efficiently, and serve the public interest well. It was this market fundamentalism that underlay Thatcherism, Reaganomics, and the so-called “Washington Consensus” in favor of privatization, liberalization, and independent central banks focusing single-mindedly on inflation.

For a quarter-century, there has been a contest among developing countries, and the losers are clear: countries that pursued neo-liberal policies not only lost the growth sweepstakes; when they did grow, the benefits accrued disproportionately to those at the top.


Nor did markets prepare us well for soaring oil and food prices. Of course, neither sector is an example of free-market economics, but that is partly the point: free-market rhetoric has been used selectively – embraced when it serves special interests and discarded when it does not.


This mixture of free-market rhetoric and government intervention has worked particularly badly for developing countries. They were told to stop intervening in agriculture, thereby exposing their farmers to devastating competition from the United States and Europe. Their farmers might have been able to compete with American and European farmers, but they could not compete with US and European Union subsidies. Not surprisingly, investments in agriculture in developing countries faded, and a food gap widened.

Those who promulgated this mistaken advice do not have to worry about carrying malpractice insurance. The costs will be borne by those in developing countries, especially the poor. This year will see a large rise in poverty, especially if we measure it correctly.


Neo-liberal market fundamentalism was always a political doctrine serving certain interests. It was never supported by economic theory. Nor, it should now be clear, is it supported by historical experience. Learning this lesson may be the silver lining in the cloud now hanging over the global economy.

Full article at Project Syndicate

Sadly, I do not see neo-liberalism coming to an end soon. It has proven its failure as a global economic system, but some are still benefitting from it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Salaam, My dear brother Abid from IIOC forwarded me this wonderful reminder. It was something I was recalling while the earth was rumbling, thought it was good to share with you all:

When the earth is shaken with its (final) earthquake. (1)
And when the earth throws out its burdens, (2)
And man will say: "What is the matter with it?" (3)
That Day it will declare its information (about all that happened over it of good or evil). (4)
Because your Lord will inspire it. (5)
That Day mankind will proceed in scattered groups that they may be shown their deeds.(6)
So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it. (7)
And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it. (8)

The Emergent Islam I Want?

I hate to admit it, but I don’t like going to mosques. Whether it’s the crudely written signs informing me I must cover myself, or the awkward way men and women avoid each other, or the Friday preaching that is just so irrelevant to my life, I usually feel happiest when I’m walking out the door.

I long for a Muslim environment that is spiritually fresher, deeper, and, perhaps most importantly, untainted by a Saudi-style conservatism or bitterness over the war on terror. With a small but growing number of “emergent Christians” – and now “emergent Jews” – reinventing the very idea of religious communities, I have also begun to hope for the emergence of a post-modern, post-9/11 Muslim faith life.

Emerging Christians struggle with stale ways of “doing church” they say are left over from the 1950s, or even the beginning of the Reformation, wrote Sam Crum, pastor of The River, a small emerging congregation in Florida, in a Facebook discussion with me. Emerging congregations – including a number of Jewish ones– emphasize authenticity and deemphasize hierarchy; both of these qualities, coincidentally or not, overlap with the values of the Web 2.0 world, where everyone – not just the anointed, institutional leaders – are content creators.

At The River’s MySpace blog, a husband-and-wife team describe their earlier life in a mainstream evangelical congregation. “We oddly enough began to learn some bad habits of a duty-driven life and became very religious, hypocritical, and hungry for something more,” they write. “Although we had both come to know Jesus Christ, we were still trying to unlearn and deconstruct some religious systems that were not only damaging to our ministries, but to our marriage.”

My journey isn’t about Jesus, but I sure can relate. My husband and I also lived through a “duty-driven” period of near-fundamentalism, when we were immersed in Muslim communities that emphasized conformity to a particular interpretation of Islam. That interpretation was largely inspired by Salafism, the fundamentalist version of Islam that hails from Saudi Arabia.

We weren’t alone in this experience. “Anyone who converted to Islam in the 1990s came under the spell of Salafism,” Muslim blogger and ex-Salafi Tariq Nelson told me recently.

After ardor comes burnout, and many Muslims, and converts in particular, don’t survive the transition. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, now a Christian and conservative counter-terrorism expert, described his own journey out of a soul-numbing Salafism in his recent memoir, "My Year in Radical Islam." Long-time convert Jeffery Lang has warned fellow Muslims for years that many converts and young people are leaving Islam; a recent report from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that for every person who joins the faith, another leaves – challenging the common assertion that Islam is the “fastest-growing religion” in the U.S.

For me, Islam has remained compelling for the same reasons that attracted me in the first place: the simplicity of God’s oneness, the effectiveness of daily prayer, the discipline of fasting, the compassion of charity, and the magnificence of pilgrimage – in short, the five pillars of Islam.

While fundamentalism was probably destined for a short stay in my own life, 9/11 made that transformation irreversible. Today I have an almost physical aversion to anything Muslim that smacks of Salafi fundamentalism. I am equally impatient with American Muslims’ insistence on their own victimhood at the hands of “the media,” as if suicide bombers and cartoon-rioters were somehow an invention of Fox News. The last time I attended Friday prayers at my mosque, I walked out half-way through when an Egyptian-born preacher lamented how hard it is to raise children with “Islamic values” instead of “Western values” – with the obvious implication that the former was good and the latter was bad.

So while emerging Christians gather around a narrative of dissatisfaction with status-quo church life, so I imagine American Muslims finally repudiating Salafism and all its trappings, realizing that fundamentalism can – and often has – lead down a dark road to hatred and violence. And while I’m re-imagining American Muslim life, I’d also like to order up a come-as-you-are, online-friendly, community experience where I can be myself and deepen my faith.

Yes, I know, it’s a too-tall order. Not because there aren’t other American Muslims dissatisfied with status-quo mosque life – in my experience there are many – but because, initially at least, the numbers may be small.

Continue article here.

There is something quite familiar to me about her account. I wouldn’t say I can relate to everything she is referring to nor hold the same point of view, but there is definitely something there. Huda asked some of the questions many are curious about and attempting to find answers for in the blog below.

Since my conversion I have always continued to ask questions about Islam. I can’t say I’ve ever reached a point in which I felt truly content with my knowledge of it…I don’t think that’s possible. And with every question there came growth. That’s why when I took off my hijab a part of me considered it growth, although others (many) felt bad for me as if I were losing my faith. Many things such as these have compelled me to ask questions about the ‘mainstream’ definition of what Islam is, or how it is we are meant to interpret it.

There is no doubt that the way one grows up, the experiences she/he goes through, shape the very questions and answers that lead us to Islam in the first place. However, I have very often found myself wondering about the current state of Muslims in the world and whether the way we practice our Islam can be improved and how, whether we are benefitting ourselves and the world. I don’t mean things like, ‘well if Shariah Law became the law of the land….’ More like analyzing the social stratification of our societies and the conflicts that arise from the West vs. East hodgepodge of what we term the Muslim Ummah and Islam.

For example I am Latina. What has Islam added to my history, to the current state of my people, how can it help me realistically help others? How do I identify myself in terms of Islam? See, Islam is an extremely Arabized religion that consists of manners, customs, etc that are from the Arab culture in many ways. As a Latina Muslim can I say that I feel compelled to keep or express certain parts of my culture than others because it contradicts the ‘Arab Muslim’ form of Islam I have come to know? Where and how can I make the distinction to sensibly apply these teachings from the Quran and the Prophet to my everyday life? …A way that is successful in helping me grow in my identity not just Latina and Muslim but also many other things. This is an example of what prompts me to look around and consider the status of Muslims throughout the world and wonder why it is so difficult for us to comprehend how Heavy Metal and Islam are contradictory. Why should they be contradictory? Why do we hold on to these old beliefs of what Islam is? Why haven’t Muslims been able to evolve enough in their faith in order to be more open minded and successful in transitioning and being able to adapt to an always changing society? Or is the other way around, that Muslims have not been united enough and need to pursue the more literal interpretations of our religion? I don’t know.

I know there is a resistance to hold on to ones culture especially from the evils of Western society (I mean that literally), but where does that leave someone like me for example. I cannot look at Islam and say “well its simple, it says clearly in the Quran that we must not even listen to music in the first place and on top of that look at this strange music anyway, surely it cannot be Islamic”. No matter how hard I look Islam does not tell ME this. Am I wrong and others correct? How are we to know in the end? Is my way of life, my interpretation of Islam flawed and yours correct, or the other way around? Many would say well, “as long as it does not cross the boundaries of what is Islamic then it is ok.” But what is Islamic?

Affad over on his blog and many others attempt to reconcile their identity in terms of how they define what makes them in terms of Islam and their American life, among other factors. I always find myself asking the same questions. Natural I suppose. I’m sure this post probably confused many and leaves more questions asked than answered, but when I look around at other Muslims I see I am not alone in my frustration.

I can’t say I agree with the ‘progressive’ notions of Islam that many out there strive to advocate, but I do have a lot of questions that I cannot answer by simply looking to sheikhs and imams, or other Muslims for that matter with explanations that make little sense to me. At the end of the day I can only trust Allah and that what I feel is right. It’s become like an addiction though, asking how we can improve the state of the world or how we can successfully define ourselves with the wonderful teachings we have been blessed with. Therefore, aside from all the injustices holding many Muslims back, does our Islam need to find a way to better adapt to the ongoing changes in the world in a more ‘stricter’ manner, or does it need to find a way by loosening its hold on what it has come to know as true? Perhaps there is not clear cut answer…still I’d like to know.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Can We Eat THIS Meat of the "People of the Book"?

After Iowa Raid, Immigrants Fuel Labor Inquiries

POSTVILLE, Iowa — When federal immigration agents raided the kosher meatpacking plant here in May and rounded up 389 illegal immigrants, they found more than 20 under-age workers, some as young as 13.

Now those young immigrants have begun to tell investigators about their jobs. Some said they worked shifts of 12 hours or more, wielding razor-edged knives and saws to slice freshly killed beef. Some worked through the night, sometimes six nights a week.

One, a Guatemalan named Elmer L. who said he was 16 when he started working on the plant’s killing floors, said he worked 17-hour shifts, six days a week. In an affidavit, he said he was constantly tired and did not have time to do anything but work and sleep. “I was very sad,” he said, “and I felt like I was a slave.”

At first, labor officials said the raid had disrupted federal and state investigations already under way at Agriprocessors Inc., the nation’s largest kosher plant. The raid has drawn criticism for what some see as harsh tactics against the immigrants, with little action taken against their employers.

But in the aftermath of the arrests, labor investigators have reaped a bounty of new evidence from the testimony of illegal immigrants, teenagers and adults, who were caught in the raid. In formal declarations, immigrants have described pervasive labor violations at the plant, testimony that could result in criminal charges for Agriprocessors executives, labor law experts said.

Out of work and facing deportation proceedings, many of the immigrants say they now have nothing to lose in speaking up about the conditions in the plant. They have told investigators that they were routinely put to work without safety training and were forced to work long shifts without overtime or rest time. Under-age workers said their bosses knew how young they were.

Because of the dangers of the work, it is illegal in Iowa for a company to employ anyone under 18 on the floor of a meatpacking plant.

In a statement, Agriprocessors said it did not employ workers under 18, and would fire any under-age worker found to have presented false documents to obtain work.

To investigate the child labor accusations, the federal Labor Department has joined with the Iowa Division of Labor Services in cooperation with the state attorney general’s office, officials for the three agencies said.

Sonia Parras Konrad, an immigration lawyer in private practice in Des Moines, is representing many of the young workers. She said she had so far identified 27 workers under 18 who were employed in the packing areas of the plant, most of them illegal immigrants from Guatemala, including some who were not arrested in the raid.

“Some of these boys don’t even shave,” Ms. Parras Konrad said. “They’re goofy. They’re teenagers.”

At a meeting here Saturday, three members of the House Hispanic Caucus — including its chairman, Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois — heard seven immigrant minors describe working in the Agriprocessors plant.

Iowa labor officials said they rarely encounter child labor cases even though the state has many meatpacking plants.

“We don’t normally have many under-age folks working in our state,” said Gail Sheridan-Lucht, a lawyer for the state labor department, who said she could not comment specifically on the Agriprocessors investigation.

Other investigations are also under way. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is examining accusations of sexual harassment of women at the plant. Lawyers for the immigrants are preparing a suit under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act for wage and hour violations.

Federal justice and immigration officials, speaking on Thursday at a hearing in Washington of the House Judiciary immigration subcommittee, said their investigations were continuing. A federal grand jury in Cedar Rapids is hearing evidence.

While federal prosecutors are primarily focusing on immigration charges, they may also be looking into labor violations. Search warrant documents filed in court before the raid, which was May 12, cited a report by an anonymous immigrant who was sent to work in the plant by immigration authorities as an undercover informant. The immigrant saw “a rabbi who was calling employees derogatory names and throwing meat at employees.” Jewish managers oversee the slaughtering and processing of meat at Agriprocessors to ensure kosher standards.

In another episode, the informant said a floor supervisor had blindfolded an immigrant with duct tape. “The floor supervisor then took one of the meat hooks and hit the Guatemalan with it,” the informant said, adding that the blow did not cause “serious injuries.”
Source: NY Times

Food for thought: given the work conditions the employees at this Kosher meat packing plant were subjected to, would it still be permissible to eat this meat of the "people of the book"? And even were it permissible, would it not still be preferable to avoid it?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam

Eagerly seizing on the stereotype-busting possibilities of “an 18-year-old from Casablanca with spiked hair, or a 20-year-old from Dubai wearing goth makeup,” LeVine would like us to see them as the faces of an emerging Muslim world, potentially a much less monochromatic place than the one represented on TV by the usual “Death to America” brigades. “Heavy Metal Islam” turns the notion of irreconcilable differences between Islam and the West on its head, appealing to the universality of youth culture as “a model for communication and cooperation” in the Internet age. LeVine reckons the likes of Metallica and Slayer provide a brute lingua franca that knows no borders, opening up breathing room in cloistered societies, gradually undermining rigid belief systems — a benign, bottom-up brand of globalization as opposed to the ruthless corporate or state-sponsored kind.
Continue NYT book review here

Mark LeVine, the author of the book, is definately one of UCI's coolest and most interesting professors:

The hirsute-headed history professor, author, world musician and activist has stared down bulldozers in protest, worked in Harlem and taken refuge in the shadows of Hamas mosques.

After earning a doctorate from New York University in Middle Eastern Studies, LeVine began to peer at and pen about the Arab world from many different angles. As a guitarist, he has strummed from stages in Damascus, Casablanca and Istanbul. As an author, he's written for the Boston Globe, al-Jazeera International and other media outlets – not to mention several books.

Continue here for OC Register interview

This is all interesting from a political and social perspective; however, I can't help but wonder if it is helping or hurting the Muslim youth. Expressing oneself, connecting with people from other cultures, resisting unjust political systems is all good, but is it leading to a grey (or black) area of ignorance and lack of identity? Is it a struggle towards or away from the soul of Islam? Probably a bit of both...I'm not sure.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Europeans Need not Come to the US

What, we're Mexicans in Mexico...gotta problem with that?!

Dear European citizen, I urge you to think twice before coming to the United States of America. I know it is quite attractive, considering our economy is going down the crap shoot, your currency has more buying power- but think about it- do you really want to be treated like a second class human?

Because, as an American Muslim, I can tell you that I had one of the most atrocious and harrowing experiences, being treated like a second class citizen, while with and due to a Dutch citizen who wanted to go across the border to Ensenada for horse back riding on the beach and some of the best seafood one could possibly find.

This individual was subjugated to the most ignorant, incompetent and inhuman CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) agents. (They basically didn't know where Holland was) To make matters worse, they felt that we- the group of us- were coming to the US to "kill the President" in one agents own words.

Another agent suggested that things are not the same as "India" that this is the US. And another agent suggested that because we were "guests in the US" we should respect the laws of the land and not question their authority.

I am an American Citizen, proud to be one, I spent three weeks in Pakistan defending American values, I spent two hours talking to this Dutch friend of mine about how the "law of the land" and "American values" allow Muslims the capacity to be better Muslims and Americans at the same time.

Then to experience what I experienced, to be told that I am a guest in my own country, and to be treated with the most disrespect I have ever encountered in my 20 some years of being a US citizen (I am 25 years old by the way) leaves me angry, angry at this government and its policy, angry with the policy's ability to dehumanize and criminalize people for their religious, ethnic and political views.

It leaves me angry at what Bush and his hooligans have done to the United States, its values and it leaves me in sad reflection, as I sat three hours at the San Yasidero border check point thumping through some quotes in my American (Blue) passport I read the page with Dwight D. Eisenhower's quote- "Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the hear of America" and it saddens me that we aim to spread these grand ideals of democracy and western notions of humanism, yet when it comes to these very ideals and practices in our own country, we seem to have forgotten to apply it here.

This is me, a second class American citizen, saying that if things were so disturbing for me, then I can imagine how disturbing things are in Abu Gharab and Gitmo, I can see the duplicity and hypocrisy in this governments so called "terror trials"- we are so far away from the ideals we try to impose on Iraq and Afghanistan. Its no wonder we are failing there, we can't even win at home.

So Europeans, take your business, take your vacation time (your holiday's) else where, you need not be subjected to second class human status in the United States.

Friday, July 25, 2008

UK told to be nicer to Muslims

Photo credit: Mail Online

Britain was told yesterday by a United Nations committee to take firm action to combat 'negative public attitudes' towards Muslims.

The nine-member human rights committee also criticised some of the UK's antiterror measures.

The body, which is composed of legal experts, said it was concerned ' negative public attitudes towards Muslim members of society' continued to develop in Britain.

The Government 'should take energetic measures to eliminate this phenomenon and ensure that authors of such acts of discrimination on the basis of religion are adequately deterred and sanctioned'.

The committee expressed concern over the Government's plans to extend pre-trial detention of terrorist suspects from 28 to 42 days. Suspects should be brought to court 'within a reasonable period of time, or released'.

Continue here

On a lighter note, check out the article below on UK sisters:

A unique and groundbreaking “1000 Sisters’ voices” survey carried out by Ummah Foods, a “new generation” British Muslim food company, and by SISTERS, the inspirational new magazine for Muslim women, has found that, while an overwhelming majority view Islam as their guide to life, read the Qur’an and observe hijab, they also shop at high street stores, go out to eat and travel regularly. The picture that emerges is one of a population balancing the demands of their faith with the opportunities afforded by life in the UK.

Continue here

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Shouldn't Islamic funds be socially and environmentally responsible too?

The big winners in faith funds (if you can be so crass) are the Islamic funds. They screen out "sin stocks"—and producers of pork products. The profitable difference is riba, or interest. The Qur'an strictly prohibits the borrowing or lending of money at interest: "Whatever you give as riba so that it might bring increase through the wealth of other people will bring you no increase with Allah," it says. Because of this prohibition, Islamic mutual funds, like those in the Amana group, don't invest in financial-services companies: they escaped the subprime mortgage debacle altogether. Most energy companies, however, are fine. "We don't consider ourselves an environmental or socially responsible fund," says Monem Salam, Amana's director of Islamic investing. "Energy was a big part of our growth."

Over the past year, the Amana funds outperformed the market; their assets have more than doubled from $400 million in 2003 to $1.3 billion this year. Five years ago, most of Amana's investors were American Muslims, Salam adds. Now, he guesses, 80 percent of new investors are non-Muslims.

Continue at Newsweek

Good news: 'Islamic' funds exist and they stay away from anything to do with pork, "sin", and riba-dealing financial services - and, they're leading the market.

But the statement "We don't consider ourselves an environmental or socially responsible fund" doesn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

I will not pretend we live in an ideal world but it would be great if Muslim funds moved to being more environmentally and socially responsible. I am not sure were the line should be drawn but I think some thought should be put into this. A flat out statement like the above should raise some questions from the Muslims investing in the fund.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sponsor a Billboard on Islam Inside an NYC Subway Car for ONLY $48!

In coordination with ICNA-NY,Why Islam has signed an exciting new contract. During the upcoming month of Ramadan, there will be advertisements prompting subway riders to learn about Islam from authentic sources, in 1,000 subway cars!

The signs will be 70x11 in size. The black and white posters will ask simple but thought provoking questions and provide contact information for those riders interested in learning about Islam for themselves, vs. taking Fox News' word for it!

Why Islam has come up with 140 million reasons for people of conscience to support the campaign:
About 4.9 million people ride the subway system on a average day in NYC

These people come from all walks of life; rich and poor, artists and scientists, students and teachers

NYC is the only city in the USA where over half of all households do not own a car!

The Message of Islam will Insha Allah reach over 140 million people during one month, Insha Allah.
In case that doesn't motivate you, do it for the simple fact that it will upset at least one right wing nut case:
"I have no problem with the ad itself, but I have a very, very real problem with those behind it," Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, said Tuesday. He is urging the Metropolitan Transit Authority to reject the ads. (Source: CNN)
How Can You Help? Adopt a Subway!
$5000 for 104 Subway Cars
$1000 21 Subway Cars
$480 for 10 Subway Cars
$48 for 1 Subway Car
Donate Now!

Additional Information:
The Subway Project Promotional Video
Right Wing Nutcases at the New York Post Fear Mongering, Again

Monday, July 21, 2008


Everyone recognizes this image...very powerful and inspiring.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hypocrisy of ICC

By Paul Craig Roberts

National Public Radio has been spending much news time on Darfur in Western Sudan where a great deal of human suffering and death are occurring. The military conflict has been brought on in part by climate change, according to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Drought is forcing nomads in search of water into areas occupied by other claimants. No doubt the conflict is tribal and racial as well. The entire catastrophe is overseen by a government with few resources other than bullets.

Now an International Criminal Court prosecutor wants to bring charges against Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

I have no sympathy for people who make others suffer. Nevertheless, I wonder at the International Criminal Court’s pick from the assortment of war criminals? Why al-Bashir?

Is it because Sudan is a powerless state, and the International Criminal Court hasn’t the courage to name George W. Bush and Tony Blair as war criminals?

Bush and Blair’s crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan dwarf, at least in the number of deaths and displaced persons, the terrible situation in Darfur. The highest estimate of Darfur casualties is 400,000, one-third the number of Iraqis who have died as a result of Bush’s invasion. Moreover, the conflict in the Sudan is an internal one, whereas Bush illegally invaded two foreign countries, war crimes under the Nuremberg Standard. Bush’s war crimes were enabled by the political leaders of the UK, Spain, Canada, and Australia. The leaders of every member of the “coalition of the willing to commit war crimes” are candidates for the dock.

But of course the Great Moral West does not commit war crimes. War crimes are charges fobbed off on people demonized by the Western media, such as the Serbian Milosovic and the Sudanese al-Bashir.


The International Criminal Court is a bureaucracy. It has a budget, and it needs to do something to justify its budget. Lacking teeth and courage, it goes after the petty war criminals and leaves the big ones alone.

Continue at CounterPunch

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Money CAN buy Happiness

...if spent on someone else!

Check out this interesting study which proves something many of us probably knew all along:

Spending as little as $5 a day on someone else could significantly boost happiness, the team at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School found.

Their experiments on more than 630 Americans showed they were measurably happier when they spent money on others -- even if they thought spending the money on themselves would make them happier.


"Regardless of how much income each person made, those who spent money on others reported greater happiness, while those who spent more on themselves did not," Dunn said in a statement.

Dunn's team also surveyed 16 employees at a company in Boston before and after they received an annual profit-sharing bonus of between $3,000 and $8,000.

"Employees who devoted more of their bonus to pro-social spending experienced greater happiness after receiving the bonus, and the manner in which they spent that bonus was a more important predictor of their happiness than the size of the bonus itself," they wrote in their report, published in the journal Science.


"These findings suggest that very minor alterations in spending allocations -- as little as $5 -- may be enough to produce real gains in happiness on a given day," Dunn said.

This could also explain why people are no happier even though U.S. society is richer.

Now you know what to do when you're having one of those days - spend some money! Not on an expensive shopping spree (that will only leave you feeling guilty - trust me!) but on someone else.

What better way to prepare for Ramadan than trying to get into the habit of giving sadaqah (no matter how small) on a daily basis?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Arranged Marriage

Anybody have a camcorder Muslamics can borrow? (Check out the application form, and the request will make sense!)
Arranged Marriage TV

The Emmy-nominated producers of PROJECT RUNWAY and TOP CHEF presents ARRANGED MARRIAGE!

Lifetime Television and Magical Elves, the production company behind such hits as Project Greenlight (HBO), Top Chef (Emmy-nominated) and Project Runway (Emmy-nominated / Peabody Award-winning), are teaming up to introduce America to an ancient practice that may have a great deal to teach our modern relationships.

It's a way of finding a lifelong mate that works in many cosmopolitan cultures of today, and over the course of their first year of marriage, four couples will show us how our own culture can embrace and make love work - when marriage comes first.

We are looking for four people who will ask their closest loved ones - whether family or friends - to team up and choose a spouse for them; they know you, they love you, they want what's best for you; they may even have better judgment about who would make a good lifetime partner for you.

You must be ready to commit to marriage. Your loved ones will match you with someone based on shared goals, values, experiences and the commitment to making it work. It will be a leap of faith that this choice will be the basis for a healthy, loving, sturdy relationship, and you must be willing to make the leap.

True Love

If I asked you; have you ever felt true love, what would you say? Would you think about your spouse? Your children? Parents? Siblings? Or even friends? What would your answer be?

Although these examples are realities of life, the true love that I speak of is one that fills all hearts, without an atom’s weight left untouched.


For love of Allah (Swt) is a sentiment, a sincere feeling of the heart that fills the servant with benevolence and affection for their Creator. When such an immense love enters the heart, it takes over the servant’s soul to the extent that one becomes overwhelmed and completely in awe of their Lord. It creates a realisation so intense, that comprehension seems too inconceivable, an honour so great, it almost renders it beyond worldly belief and yet it remains, most certainly, an achievable goal, by many means.

‘There is a servant, who has left his own soul behind,

who is attached to his Lord’s remembrance,

who is steadfast in fulfilling His rights;

who looks to Him with his heart,

his heart burning with the lights of His Divine awe.

The Almighty has raised for him the veils of the Unseen.

When he talks, it is for the sake of Allah;

when he utters, it is about Allah;

when he moves, it is by the command of Allah;

when he rests, it is with Allah.

He is for Allah, by Allah, with Allah.’

(Abu Bakr al-Kattani, sited in ‘The Exquisite Pearl: The journey to Allah & The home of the Hereafter’ by Ibn al-Qayyim)

From The Greatest Love of All

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Muslim women denied French citizenship

Why? "Insufficient assimilation" !

The 32-year-old woman, known as Faiza M, has lived in France since 2000 with her husband - a French national - and their three French-born children.

Social services reports said the burqa-wearing Faiza M lived in "total submission to her male relatives".

Faiza M said she has never challenged the fundamental values of France.

Her initial application for French citizenship was rejected in 2005 on the grounds of "insufficient assimilation" into France.

She appealed, and late last month the Conseil d'Etat, France's highest administrative body which also acts as a high court, upheld the decision to deny her citizenship.

BBC News

What ever happened to "Liberity, Equality and Fraternity"?!

I would be very interested to see the criteria the French courts use to judge "assimilation". Length of skirt? Number of boyfriends? Color of eyes?

Violence Against Women

Zahra posted on this story earlier in the week and I came upon this article in regards to the same story recently. I appreciate the article and the larger message it’s attempting to send. It isn’t necessarily attacking or blaming Islam, but addressing the larger issue of the unequal/unfair treatment of women in many societies. What good does it do that our beautiful religion guides us away from such atrocities and teaches us to honor women, when we do nothing to end such acts of violence and instead help to perpetuate them if not by our complacency alone? The issue of violence against women is not a problem that plagues one country or the other…it is a problem that exists everywhere.

It hasn't received much notice in Canada but, last Sunday in Georgia, Sandeela Kanwal, 25, was strangled with a bungee cord. Police arrested her father in connection with what the media call an "honour killing."

The victim was reportedly unhappy with her arranged marriage, which took place in Pakistan three months ago, and so, on July 1, she filed for divorce. On July 5, she was dead. Not surprisingly, the U.S. cybersphere is having a blogoblast, with the usual suspects going on about how Muslims should be kicked out of the U.S. of A. before they take over.

It's very much a rerun of what we saw here last December, when Mississauga teen Aqsa Parvez was killed. Both her father and older brother face murder charges in her strangling death, which occurred after the girl had repeatedly flouted their restrictive ideas of how she should dress.

Meanwhile, south of the border, the more progressive pundits blame the misogyny inherent in so many societies in Asia and the Middle East, where, according to the United Nations, some 5,000 women every year are executed by their fathers, brothers or other male relatives, supposedly to preserve the family's good name.

If it were funny, it would be ironic. I mean, how do you restore your reputation if you go around strangling your daughters and sisters? It's confounding how this works.

Conceivably, men in these societies are guilty of all kinds of crimes against their religion and their states, whether we're talking gambling or drinking, burglary or murder, and yet their families don't seem to feel the need to stab them or stone them to death. Unless they're gay, of course.

If this honour thing applied to all, prisons would close. If families cleaned up their own trash, the state wouldn't have to. Yet only the act of bringing recalcitrant women to heel is a matter of honour.

Paradoxically, the very fact of killing them is an admission that, as man of the house, you're a failure since you couldn't make your females submit. This is partly why so many men here kill themselves after killing their partners, at a rate of four women a day dead in the U.S. they, too, feel like failures.

Thankfully, considering the billions of people who live in the countries where these so-called "honour killings" are committed, the murders are relatively rare. (And yes, occasionally they have crossed religious lines.) In fact, but for a few feminist journalists, they were never even part of the Western discourse before 9/11.

I say "so-called" because that term "honour killing" diminishes the crime, which is femicide. It all but excuses the killer on cultural grounds.

What's more, it attributes motives, and the media should not do that. We don't report domestic homicides with phrases like "It was a she-talked-back-at-him-once-too-often killing" or "She wanted to leave him killing," do we? With "honour killing," we buy into a political agenda. Indeed, it distracts from the real issues: patriarchy and control.

The fact is, much of the world is deeply misogynistic. In far too many countries, women are mere chattel, the property of men, passed from their fathers to their husbands.

But, if you want to make this about Islam and, Allah knows, so many do, then consider: If women are indeed the inferior sex in Islam, then it stands to reason that allowances would be made for their weaknesses. And, if men are their betters, wouldn't their religion hold them to a higher standard?

You'd think. But it's not about that. The real "honour" here is about power, and who has it. Sometimes, when women defy men, they take that power, and some men will stop at nothing to get it back.

Source here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Love & Marriage: from the Single Jewish Female Perspective

This could just as easily have been the insight of a single Muslim female:
People often compare dating to interviewing for a job. In the Orthodox Jewish world, this notion is taken almost literally.

Upon returning from post-high-school studies in [apartheid] Israel, young Orthodox women (such as myself) meet with recruiters, commonly known as shadchanim (matchmakers). After determining whether the young woman wishes to marry a "learner" (a man studying full time in yeshiva), an "earner" (a professional) or a combination of the two, the shadchan collects the prospective bride's "shidduch résumé," detailing everything from education and career plans to dress size, height, parents' occupations and synagogue memberships. The shadchan then approaches a suitable single man or, most likely, his parents -- who add the woman to their son's typically lengthy "list."

Before agreeing to a noncommittal first date, the man's parents begin a thorough background check that puts government security clearance to shame. Phoning references isn't enough -- of course they'll say good things -- so they cold-call other acquaintances of the potential bride, from camp counselors to college roommates. The questions they ask often border on the superficial: "Does she own a Netflix account?"; "Does she wear open-toed shoes?" (The correct response may vary depending on how Orthodox a woman the man is looking for.)
. . .
Sensing this shift of power, mothers of sons who remain in the matchmaking system increase their demands: Any prospective daughter-in-law must be a size two, or a "learner" son must be supported indefinitely by the girl's parents. For men, "it's a buyer's market," says Michael Salamon, a psychologist and author of "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (2008). "And the pressures of dating are creating all kinds of social problems, such as eating disorders and anxiety disorders. It's frightening."

I used to shrug off this talk. Genocide in Darfur is a crisis; being single at 23 is not. But the communal pressure is hard to ignore. Orthodox Judaism, like most traditional faiths, is geared to families; singles lack a definitive role.

Then there's what social worker Shaya Ostrov calls the "popcorn effect." During the first two to three years following high-school graduation, 70% to 80% of Orthodox women get married; weddings then peter off. "The system works for a very limited period of time," says Mr. Ostrov, the author of "The Inner Circle: Seven Gates to Marriage." Friends of mine compare dating to musical chairs; nobody wants to end up an "old maid," and so they get engaged, hoping doubts will prove unfounded. "Young women," notes Sylvia Barack Fishman, professor of contemporary Jewish life at Brandeis University, "are often made to feel that they are damaged goods if they have not married -- and married well -- by their early 20s."
. . .
The core of the problem is that young marrieds don't know how to accommodate each other, says Mr. Salamon. And singles need to start asking the right questions. "Family history has nothing to do with whether you'll make a good husband or wife," he says. The rigid, interview-style questioning is only wreaking havoc: "They're looking for some sort of guarantee. But who can guarantee happiness?"

Full Story: Wall Street Journal
"Hat tip": Mansur Wadalwala

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hussam Ayloush For President, Vote Now!

Object to FISA Legislation NOW

Cowed by the Bush administration's pre-election scare tactics, the Senate passed privacy-stealing FISA legislation that undermines your Fourth Amendment rights.

Congress has not only legalized the Bush administration's secret NSA spying program, it has given the government even more power to listen to our phone calls and read our emails than even the Bush administration illegally claimed for itself under its secret program. And, by granting telecoms immunity, it has made it highly unlikely that we will ever learn the extent of the administration's lawless actions.

It's outrageous, unconstitutional and un-American. You can join the ACLU in sending that message by signing your name to a full-page ad in a major national newspaper. Let Congress know that if they won't stand up for freedom, you and the ACLU will!

The more voices we add, the more powerful our message will be. We need tens of thousands of Americans who are committed to defending the Constitution to speak up and stand with us right now.

By signing, you will add your name to the ACLU's print ad and on the ACLU's website for purposes of this ad. You'll also get updates on the fight for freedom by receiving ACLU email newsletters.

Sign the Petition ASAP:
American Civil Liberties Union

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jerks Like This...

. . .father, sadden me beyond words. I mean, what the heck happened here?
A Pakistani man is charged with killing his 25-year-old daughter in Georgia because she wanted out of an arranged marriage, police said.

Somber and tearful, Chaudhry Rashid, 54, of Jonesboro, an Atlanta suburb, made his first court appearance Tuesday in connection with the death of Sandeela Kanwal.

He was advised through an iUrdu nterpreter of the murder charge, and of his legal rights. Court records indicate that a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for July 24.

He was arrested early Sunday, after his wife called police at about 2 a.m. She reported that she had been awakened by screaming but couldn't understand the language, a Clayton County police report said. She said she was afraid and left the house to call police.

Officers found Kanwal dead in an upstairs bedroom of the home, according to the police report.

Rashid's wife told authorities Kanwal recently had been married in Pakistan -- an arranged marriage, she said. The young woman's husband was living in Chicago, Illinois, police said, but Kanwal remained at her father's home and worked at a metro Atlanta Wal-Mart for a brief time.

"The victim was not interested in marrying, nor remaining married to her husband," the police report said, citing information authorities received from Rashid's wife. "This was causing a great deal of friction between the victim and her father," so much so that the two had not spoken in two months, the report said.

Police found Rashid sitting behind a vehicle in the driveway, and he seemed "distraught and possibly mournful," the report said. He told police, "My daughter is dead." But when asked how she died, Rashid did not answer -- "he just dropped his head."

Ligature marks were found on Kanwal's body and police found an iron and cord by the doorway of her bedroom, where she was found. A necklace was found downstairs next to what appeared to be a prayer table.

"Apparently she and the father had argued over the marriage and the fact that it was arranged, and at some point during the altercation he did end up killing his daughter," said Clayton County police spokesman Tim Owens.
Full, sad, story: CNN

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wedding Weekend

It's a three day weekend, with four weddings and a bridal shower. One of those celebrations was for my younger brother, the others were of good friends.

It's easy during such joyous moments to let the suffering of our our brothers and sisters abroad casually slip our minds. This story of an Afghan wedding reminded me of that and moved me to tears:
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (CNN) -- At least 20 people were killed and more than 60 injured in Afghanistan when a U.S. plane dropped a bomb on a wedding party as celebrants fired into the air, an Afghan defense spokesman said Monday.
. . .
Many of the wounded from the bombing in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan were taken to a nearby hospital in Kandahar. Among the wounded were a 7-year-old girl and a 6-year-old girl, both of whom were said to be the only surviving members of their families.

Wedding guests were celebrating and firing up into the air just before the bomb struck, Dr. Gulbudin said.

Source: CNN
Additional Information: IHT

During the summer wedding season, let's please remember to make dua. Make dua for the happy new couples, but also make dua that one day, soon, our brothers and sisters abroad could enjoy the ease and happiness we so often take for granted.

A poem by Babar Ahmad

Babar Ahmad is a British citizen who was first arrested in December 2003 in the UK for six days, during which he was physically and emotioanlly abused, and then released without charge.

Babar was rearrested in August 2004 on an extradition warrant from the US based on a claim that he tried to solicit suport for "acts of terror" in Afghanistan and Chechenya through websites and emails.

Babar's case is currently with the European Court of Human Rights which has requested a hold on the extradition.

More here

I did not know about Br. Babar's case until I received an email with a heartfelt poem he wrote - may Allah (swt) grant him and his family the faith and strength to get through this ordeal:
Down Memory Well
Babar Ahmad

Last night I lay awake unable to sleep,
As I let my soul wander too deep.
My heart was in doubt about Your Promise,
No-one could give me solace.

My soul left my body and my body left my cell,
As I pulled up my pail from Memory Well.
I journeyed back to the time of my birth,
Not knowing then what it was worth.

What I discovered was a chest of treasure,
As I realized You had blessed me without measure.
I remembered all the good You had done for me,
In all my years when my body was free.

I was hungry and You fed me,
I was bare and You clothed me.
I was alone and You gave me company,
By blessing me with friends and family.

When I was sick You cured me.
When I was hurt You healed me.
When I was sad You cheered me up.
When I was broken You fixed me up.

I veered off the path but You brought me back.
I lost my footing but You set me on track.
I went astray but You gave me direction.
I felt afraid but You gave me protection.

When the pack of beasts savaged me that day,
And the racist devils mocked how I pray,
I asked You for death but You gave me life.
I asked it to end but You gave me respite.

As I lay in pain in the cell that December,
You sent me a gift I will always remember.
A dream unlike I had ever seen before.
A vision that made my spirit soar.

What I saw that winter's night,
Turned my darkness into light.
Even as I bled to the bone,
I knew then that I was not alone.

You set me free so my body could heal,
And my heart and soul could recover their zeal.
You were preparing me for what lay ahead:
A path of peril, fear and dread.

Once again You blessed me with captivity,
And made me into someone I never dreamed to be.
O Allah! I never sought all this attention,
That I got because of my detention.

The more they defamed me the more You honored me.
The more they detained me the more the blind could see.
The harder it got the more You helped me.
The darker it got the more You enlightened me.

As I then gazed at my memories in the pail,
I began to see beyond the veil.
I truly was an ungrateful servant,
Whose woes appeared ever so fervent.

As my feelings of sorrow turned into shame,
I realized I had only myself to blame.
How dare I moan about my pain,
When others far worse did not complain?

My throbs of doubt transformed into certainty,
As I fell asleep with my soul in serenity.
I had quenched my thirst from Memory Well,
And pulled myself out from my own hell.

O Allah, forgive me for my ingratitude!
O Allah, ignore my shameful attitude!
You were always there when I wanted You to be,
And I know now that You will never abandon me.

Babar Ahmad MX5383, HMP Manchester
September 2007, Ramadan 1428

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Know your Hadith - Part VI (final)

After starting with some basics definition, discussing why sunnah is a source of legislation, summarizing the teaching methodology of our beloved Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), looking into the spread of hadith during his time, and then during the time of the companions and their followers, we finally come to answering a critical question - how and when was hadith written down (preserved in writing)?

As with the previous parts, this post will not provide an exhaustive study, but rather highlights based on the Dr. Muhammad Ajaj Al Khatib's book - Usool al-Hadith.

If you don't have time to continue reading the post here's the short answer: Hadith was written down individually as early as the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and continued to be transmitted in writing (as well as verbally). However, the first formal order by a khalifah (caliph) to collect Hadith in writing was at the turn of the second century (after hijrah) during the time of Umar ibn Abdul- Aziz.

Part of the confusion regarding the writing of hadith is due to the presence of conflicting ahadeeth on this matter. There are authentic narrations which prohibit the writing of hadith and others which encourage it.

For example, there is an authentic hadith narrated by Abu Saeed al-Khudariy in Sahih Muslim in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) clearly prohibits the writing of hadith and orders the companions who have written any words from him other than Qura’n to erase them.

On the other hand there is hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-As in Sunnan Ad-Dirami in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) clearly orders him to write hadith. There is also another hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah in which one of the ansar complains to the Prophet (peace be upon him) about his lack of memorization, at which point the Prophet (peace be upon him) advises him to "aid his memorization with his right hand."

To reconcile the above ahadith (and others like them), scholars have provided the following explanations:

1. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) prohibited the writing of Hadith during the early days of Islam to avoid confusion between Hadith and Qura’n.

2. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) allowed the learned companions such as Abdullah ibn Omar to write hadith since they were not at risk of making a mistake in writing it or confusing it with Qura’n.

3. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) allowed companions with weak memory to write hadith.

During the time of the companions (may Allah be pleased with them), there were times when they would prohibited the writing of hadith due to their fear of Muslims confusing it with Qura’n or getting preoccupied with it (and neglecting Qura’n), and there were other times where it was made permissible due to the absence of the above prohibitive circumstances. At the end of the day, all companions had the same intention: preserving hadith. The situation was similar during the time of the followers (tabi`een) - may Allah be pleased with them.

Around 100 years A.H., the fifth righteous Caliph Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz formally ordered the collection of hadith. Omar feared the loss and distortion of hadith due to the death of many of the companions, and to the new phenomenon of fabricated ahadith which began in that time due to political and sectarian disputes.

Shortly after that, many scholars began classifying ahadith based on their chain of narration or topic. As such, the turn of the second hijri century was not the beginning of the collection and preservation of hadith, but the beginning of its classification.

As for the earliest examples of written ahadith, the most famous is Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-As's as-Sahifah as-Sadiqah (the Truthful Scroll) which included a thousand hadith (according to ibn al-Athir) which he wrote directly from the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him). This document was cherished by Abdullah ibn Amr and passed on to his family after his death.

May Allah (swt) reward all the great scholars who have dedicated their lives to the collection and teaching of the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and give us the honor of being of those who studied, understood, and applied it.

P.S. I have tried my best to ensure this series of posts is as accurate as possible. Any mistakes are from myself. Please let me know if you find any - jazakum Allah khairan.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Number of Abortions Rising in Middle East, Experts Say

BEIRUT -- Unmarried and pregnant, Ranya gathered up her courage and confided to a friend that she was considering a drastic step: an illegal abortion.

She braced for criticism. But to her surprise, her friend disclosed that she had had one too.

Ranya asked another friend, who also said she'd had an abortion. And another gave her the phone number of a doctor in Beirut who would perform the procedure on the sly. The doctor used no anesthetic. The pain lingered for days, but the guilt engulfed her weeks later.

"It doesn't make me feel guilty because of Islam," said Ranya, 29, a short, brown-haired artist, struggling with her words. "It's a very complicated guilt to explain. I tend to philosophize things. I feel guilty in a weird way. It crosses my mind all the time."

Despite legal and religious restrictions against abortion in much of the Arab world, changing social values and economic realities as well as demographic shifts have contributed to an apparent increase in the number of the procedures in the Middle East.

"There's definitely an increase compared to 10 to 15 years ago," said Mohammed Graigaa, executive director of the Moroccan Assn. for Family Planning. "Abortion is much less of a taboo. It's much more visible. Doctors talk about it. Women talk about it. The moral values of people have changed."
. . .
"I think abortions are going up for just for one reason: Sex is becoming more permissive," said Wissam Ghandour, a Lebanese obstetrician and scholar. "I assure you that the majority of girls getting married now are non-virgins and sexually active."

In addition, Arab youths receive little in the way of birth control or sex education, say family planning experts in the Middle East, many of whom work discreetly to provide reproductive health services in conservative Muslim societies that hold women's maternal roles as sacrosanct.

"If access to contraceptives was widely and freely available, abortion wouldn't be necessary," said an official at a Western family planning organization in Yemen. She spoke on condition of anonymity for fear her organization would be targeted. Abortion, she said, is "a last resort."

According to most interpretations, Islam strictly forbids abortion after the fetus has reached 4 months, and allows it before then only in cases of violent rape or when birth poses an extreme threat to the physical or psychological health of the mother.
. . .
According to a poll released this month by, 53% of Egyptians, 57% of Palestinians and 55% of Iranians oppose their governments' policies of making abortion a crime.
. . .
Moroccan family planning experts estimate that 600 abortions a day are performed in the North African country, most involving unmarried women. Only a small percentage are victims of rape or sexual abuse, they say.

Despite the lack of frank public discussion of volatile issues such as abortion in the Arab world, there are signs that some taboos are slowly crumbling. Women are talking about abortions.
. . .
But botched procedures are still widespread.

In the spring of 2007, Iraqi obstetrician Donya Taher was on call, roaming her Baghdad hospital, when she was called to the emergency room.

The patient was bleeding heavily, and her blood was turning pinkish. They loaded her up with 10 pints of blood, six pints of plasma and a heavy dose of antibiotics.

"She was dying," Taher recalled. The woman and her husband, both in their early 20s, said she had had a back-alley abortion. They already had two children and couldn't afford a third.

As soon as the woman recovered, the couple slipped away.

"We wanted to know who did this to her," Taher said. "But she wouldn't tell us. Whoever it was should be punished."

Taher was enraged but not surprised. She said that only a few doctors perform relatively safe abortions in Baghdad, a capital city of at least 5 million people. Although she has not detected any noticeable increase in the number of botched abortions, there is a steady stream of injured in the emergency room, she said.

"They use the feces of animals. There are many unscientific methods, herbal medicine," she said. "Sometimes it will cause septic shock."

Source: LA Times

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

World's Top 10 Public Intellectuals Muslims

Foreign Policy:

Rankings are an inherently dangerous business. Whether offering a hierarchy of countries, cities, or colleges, any such list—at least any such list worth compiling—is likely to generate a fair amount of debate. In the last issue, when we asked readers to vote for their picks of the world’s top public intellectuals, we imagined many people would want to make their opinions known. But no one expected the avalanche of voters who came forward. During nearly four weeks of voting, more than 500,000 people came to to cast ballots.


No one spread the word as effectively as the man who tops the list. In early May, the Top 100 list was mentioned on the front page of Zaman, a Turkish daily newspaper closely aligned with Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. Within hours, votes in his favor began to pour in. His supporters—typically educated, upwardly mobile Muslims—were eager to cast ballots not only for their champion but for other Muslims in the Top 100. Thanks to this groundswell, the top 10 public intellectuals in this year’s reader poll are all Muslim. The ideas for which they are known, particularly concerning Islam, differ significantly. It’s clear that, in this case, identity politics carried the day.

Granted, the poll's results are not the most objective, but they are still very interesting. For one thing, I was surprised to see how little I know about Muslim intellectuals - I didn't recognize the names of half the people on the list! If you're like me, take a few minutes to get to know the top 10 intellectuals - whether or not your support their thinking or ideology:

1. Fethullah Gulen
2. Muhammad Yunus
3. Yusuf Al Qaradawi
4. Orhan Pamuk
5. Aitzaz Ahsan
6. Amr Khaled
7. Abdolkarim Sorouch
8. Tariq Ramadan
9. Mahmood Mamdani
10. Shirin Ebadi