September 2009

I am pleased to note that the Middle East Institute today published its online “Viewpoints” with reflective essays by eight scholars on the thirty-year anniversary of Edward Said’s seminal Orientalism. I brought the scholars together and have the lead article. To find the pdf of the issue, click here.

Hofstra University Announces Middle Eastern and Central Asian Study Day
A Series of Presentations Focused on Faculty Research

Who: Hofstra faculty who have conducted research on Middle Eastern and Central Asian (MECA) studies
What: MECA Study Day
When: September 16, 2009
Where: 310 C.V. Starr Hall and 117 Berliner Hall, South Campus
Why: To highlight and learn about the research Hofstra faculty have done on MECA studies

Hofstra faculty from a variety of departments such as fine art, art history, anthropology, history, comparative literature, economics, political science and religious studies will give presentations on their research in MECA studies. Topics from their research will include archeology, women’s issues, history and the contemporary Middle Eastern and Central Asian world. These talks are free and open to the public.

MECA Schedule

Western and Central Asia in the Middle Ages
9:30 – 11:15 a.m., C.V. Starr Hall, 310
Moderator: Dr. Stefanie Nanes, Department of Political Science

• Greeting by Dr. Bernard Firestone, Dean of Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
• Opening remarks by Dr. Daniel Martin Varisco, Department of Anthropology

• Dr. Aleksandr Naymark, Department of Fine Arts/Art History
Amazing Sogdians: Masters and Creatures of the Silk Road

• Dr. Anna Feuerbach, Department of Anthropology
The Damascus Steel Sword

• Dr. Daniel Martin Varisco, Department of Anthropology
The Sultan’s Green Thumb: Yemeni Agriculture in the 14th Century (more…)

[Webshaykh’s Note: Revisionism is found in all religions. I recently came across a blog posting that seeks to restore the marital status of Muhammad to one wife at a time, although it appears to be more an attack on at-Tabari, Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham. I post the commentary not because I agree with it, but as an example of the variety of views held by Muslims in representing the Prophet Muhammad.]

THE PROPHET (S) HAD ONLY ONE WIFE AT A TIME by Dr. Shabbir Ahmed, The Quran as it Explains Itself, August 30th, 2009


Contrary to the Imamist propaganda, the exalted Prophet had no more than one wife at a time. And Hazrat Ayesha was a sister, not daughter of Hazrat Abu Bakr. The Prophet (S) did not marry for three years after Hazrat Khadijah’s demise in Makkah three years before Hijrah. Hazrat Ayesha was the widow of a martyr, Saleh bin Saleh Al-’Ataib. She was 48 years old at the time of marriage to the exalted Prophet. Sahaba Kiraam including Hazrat Abu Bakr strongly recommended that the Prophet (S) and she got into the solemn union of marriage. The blessed wedding took place in 622 CE when Muhammad (S) was 52 years old. Kitab-e-Dalail-e-Nabawwut Syedna Muhammad (S), by Abdul Jabbar Fatimi, written 150 years before Tabari, the first ever ‘canonized’ historian. Azwaaj-in-Nabi wal-Ashaab, by Sheikh Hammad bin Hakam. The rest is nothing but slanderous imagination of the Zoroastrian “Imam” Tabari and the Jewish biographer Ibn Ishaq and his Parsi follower Ibn Hisham. (more…)

A vendor of headscarfs waits for customers in the 4th day of Ramadan at a market in Jakarta, Indonesia on August 25, 2009. (Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images)

The Boston Globe published a series of excellent photographs of Muslims around the world as they prepared for Ramadan this year. There is a total of 39 photographs and these are well worth looking at. Click here to go to the website.

Some fascinating photographs of Jordanian Bedouins are online at The photographs were taken by Rami Sajdi, who has a number of webpages on Jordanian Bedouin.

Muslims Widely Seen As Facing Discrimination

Views of Religious Similarities and Differences

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, September 9, 2009


Eight years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Americans see Muslims as facing more discrimination inside the U.S. than other major religious groups. Nearly six-in-ten adults (58%) say that Muslims are subject to a lot of discrimination, far more than say the same about Jews, evangelical Christians, atheists or Mormons. In fact, of all the groups asked about, only gays and lesbians are seen as facing more discrimination than Muslims, with nearly two-thirds (64%) of the public saying there is a lot of discrimination against homosexuals.

The poll also finds that two-thirds of non-Muslims (65%) say that Islam and their own faith are either very different or somewhat different, while just 17% take the view that Islam and their own religion are somewhat or very similar. But Islam is not the only religion that Americans see as mostly different from their own. When asked about faiths other than their own, six-in-ten adults say Buddhism is mostly different, with similar numbers saying the same about Mormonism (59%) and Hinduism (57%). (more…)

Digging up the Saudi past: Some would rather not

by Donna Abu-nasr, AP, August 30th, 2009

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Much of the world knows Petra, the ancient ruin in modern-day Jordan that is celebrated in poetry as “the rose-red city, ‘half as old as time,’” and which provided the climactic backdrop for “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

But far fewer know Madain Saleh, a similarly spectacular treasure built by the same civilization, the Nabateans.

That’s because it’s in Saudi Arabia, where conservatives are deeply hostile to pagan, Jewish and Christian sites that predate the founding of Islam in the 7th century.

But now, in a quiet but notable change of course, the kingdom has opened up an archaeology boom by allowing Saudi and foreign archaeologists to explore cities and trade routes long lost in the desert.

The sensitivities run deep. Archaeologists are cautioned not to talk about pre-Islamic finds outside scholarly literature. Few ancient treasures are on display, and no Christian or Jewish relics. A 4th or 5th century church in eastern Saudi Arabia has been fenced off ever since its accidental discovery 20 years ago and its exact whereabouts kept secret. (more…)


by Hasan Mahmud,, November 20, 2008.

On October 30, 2008, the United Nations condemned the stoning to death of Aisha Duhulow, a 13-year-old girl who had been gang-raped and then sentenced to death by a Sharia court for fornication (Zina). She was screaming and begging for mercy, but when some family members attempted to intervene, shots were fired by the Islamic militia and a baby was killed.

Local Sharia courts in Bangladesh regularly punish raped minor girls and women by flogging and beating them with shoes.[1] Similar cases of punishing raped women are Mina v. the State, Bibi v. the State and Bahadur v. the State.[2] Sharia courts in Pakistan have punished thousands of raped women by long term imprisonment.[3]

You might think that such horrific barbarity cannot be the real Sharia law; that it is a misapplication of the law by ignorant clergy. Sadly, neither is true. (more…)

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