October 2006


[President George W. Bush addresses the Iftar Dinner with Ambassadors and Muslim leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 16, 2006. White House photo by Paul Morse]


A State of Confusion: President Bush’s Personal Understanding of the Islamic World
by David Fideler

Shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, when discrimination and incidents of violence against Muslims in the United States increased, President Bush went out of his way to emphasize that Muslims were good American citizens and that Islam was “a religion of peace.” Bush met with prominent Muslim leaders as a show of solidarity, and began hosting a series of annual iftar dinners at the White House. (more…)

[A few of Jesus Montalvo’s 12 brothers and sisters in Mayaguez say he used to phone home from Iraq, asking them to sing him plenas — Puerto Rican ballads. This Christmas, their brother won’t be here to accompany them on the pandereta drum and the cuatro guitar. Those pictured (from left) are: Segismundo Lopez Montalvo, Leo Montalvo, Olga Montalvo and Clarissa Montalvo.]

Listening to NPR “Morning Edition” on my morning drive to the university, I learned that the death toll of U.S. servicemen this month in Iraq has reached 100. It is hardly more tragic just because a round number is reached. But it does give pause to those ardent defenders of our failed involvement in Iraq that insist we “are not there yet.” What is the threshhold of “there” that would convince unflinching “stay the course” advocates even when just about every marker indicates it is the wrong course? (more…)

A little shameless self-promotion pervades today’s post. Last Thursday I was interviewed by Dan Damon of the BBC World Service for their weekly program on religion. The topic was the history and variety of veiling within Islamic societies. Yesterday the program aired for all 42 million listeners to be edified. You can hear the whole radio program online by going to their program webpage at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/reporting_religion.shtml). (more…)

Many non-Muslims assume that Islam is a far more sexist religion than Judaism or Christianity, usually under the assumption that only the latter two faiths have been secularized into acceptable moral modernity. Media images of women covered in full-length chadors or wearing a solid niqab (face covering) with only slits for eyeholes, the legality of having four wives, Quranic passages torn out of context, misogynist traditions and medieval male musings: all of these suggest that Muslim women have few if any rights. Muslim women in most cases feel otherwise. Many are bemused that their sisters from other faiths are so unaware of the rights Muslim women have enjoyed (at least in legal theory) since the very beginning of Islam. But a problem still remains and that is the unflinching, culturally-induced male chauvanism that crosses the boundaries of established religions. A prime example from down under has recently surrounded a major Muslim figure in Australia. (more…)

One of the pedagogical blessings of cyberspace is a service called turnitin.com, which exposes students who copy passages verbatim from internet sites. With the proliferation of websites of mundane term-paper-quality papers for sale, the detective work that now surrounds grading term papers turns even the meekest of professors into forensic hounds. You might expect a temptation for a struggling student to cheat in history or psychology, but surely not on the topic of religion. Imagine assigning a paper on “A Biblical View on Plagiarism” and finding out that it is not a blessing to give the material received a passing grade because the students had less than divine inspiration. What might a pragmatic student be thinking by starting off such a paper with “In the beginning God created…” (more…)

by Tim MacIntosh-Smith
ARAMCO WORLD, January/February, 2006

[Note: The full article is available online at the superb Saudi Aramco World website. This is a brief excerpt, but check out the full article.]

The scent of basil is the first thing I notice when I wake on Fridays, then the hum of voices from below the window. (more…)

[Clocks ticking Iraq clock repairmen work at their shop on a Baghdad street (AFP/Karim Sahib) April 11, 2006]

In a commentary yesterday in the New York Times, columnist Nicholas D. Kristoff started off with a startling figure. “For every additional second we stay in Iraq, we taxpayers will end up paying an additional $6,300.” Most Americans make less than this in a month, which by my count for the 30-day variety has a total of 2,592,000 seconds. My math faculties start to break down with the thought of computing the cost per month of this war in seconds on the U.S. Budget. (more…)

It is not hard to find individuals who are obsessed with “Islam.” I am not referring to devout followers, but those who think the faith of Islam and its followers can be reduced to an evil anti-Western plot. One of the latest examples is a film, purporting to be a documentary but about as polemically propagandic as you can imagine. The film is called “Obsession” and it is billed as “Radical Islam’s War again the West.” Although the film has its own movie website and trailer, you are not likely to see it in a theater near you. But you are quite likely to hear about it at a college or public form near you, thanks to the efforts of its zealous promoters. Although it is not easy to find the source from the movie website, there is no doubt if you go to IsraeliActivism.com. (more…)

Next Page »