inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #0 of 281: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 12 Jan 05 07:41
    
Joining us today in Inkwell.vue are Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan (not
related), who'll be sharing with us their thoughts on Islamic economics and
politics, as explored in "New Civilisation" magazine, a political Islamic
magazine aimed at the western intelligentsia and designed to promote greater
debate and awareness in a post 9/11 world.

Sajjad is the editor of "New Civilisation." He's been studying and lecturing
on Islamic issues for more than 15 years and has debated them with United
Kingdom figures ranging from the deputy editors of the London Times and the
Economist to those in the world of academia. He holds a degree in
accountancy and economics from the Cardiff Business School.

Farooq is a contributing writer to "New Civilisation." He's worked as a
research analyst and for a strategy consultancy, and has researched areas as
diverse as sustainable development, biotechnology and nanotechnology. He is
presently chief creative officer for a media company. Farooq is a graduate
of the Surrey Institute of Art & Design University College and a member of
the global Islamic political party Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Leading the conversation is Gerry Feeney. Gerry is an application software
developer and information systems consultant with more than 25 years of
experience, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been the host of
<cross.>, the WELL's Christianity conference, since 1995. He's married, with
four grown children. He says he gets much joy and delight from watching
people of diverse backgrounds coming together to find common ground.

Welcome, Sajjad, Farooq and Gerry. Take it away!
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #1 of 281: Gerry Feeney (gerry) Wed 12 Jan 05 18:30
    
Thank you, Cynthia.

Hello, Sajjad and Farooq, and welcome to Engaged.  Before we begin
talking about _New Civilization_ magazine, I would like first to talk a
little about your background.  

For the sake of endeavoring to understand your perspective, I'd like
to ask you the following:  I understand that both of you live in
England.  Were you born there?  When did you, or your respective
families, immigrate, and from where?  Was English your first language,
or did you grow up speaking an ethnic language/dialect in your home? 
Are each of you Muslims from birth, or did you convert to Islam from a
different tradition than that of your parents?  How would you describe
the experience of living in the UK as a Muslim, overall, both before
and after September 11, 2001?
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #2 of 281: Farooq Khan (farooq) Thu 13 Jan 05 13:17
    
Thanks Cynthia. Hello Gerry.

I was born in England in a beautiful part of the country known as
Shotleigh Bridge which is near Durham in 1972. My father first came
here back in the 1960's to continue his education. He was a doctor and
graduated from a famous medical school in Karachi, Pakistan called Dow
medical college. He came to study at Glasgow University. During this
time there was a great demand for doctors in the nascent NHS and so my
father found work in England. It was a big decision as to whether he
should stay in England or go back to Pakistan. My mother also comes
from Pakistan and she studied Political Science, she was also going to
study medicine but then married my father and settled in England. They
didn't really plan to stay but things just turned out that way. It was
a difficult adjustment having to adapt to the British way of life. Like
all imigrants holding on to your values is a difficult thing and was a
source of conflict as I grew up.

English was spoken at home although my father insisted I learn Urdu
which I tried to resist for a long time. I think I gave my mother a few
headaches as she tried to teach me. I always found ways of evading
this home ritual!

I am Muslim by birth and my father took on the responsibility of
teaching me about Islam. He taught me the Quran and instilled within me
from a very early age the concern for the Muslim world. I remember as
a kid when Sadat was assasinated and giving my father a full report
when he came back from work. Politics figured strongly in my household
and this grew as we saw the plight of Muslims in Bosnia, Palestine and
the first Gulf war of 1991.
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #3 of 281: Farooq Khan (farooq) Thu 13 Jan 05 13:30
    
Growing up in England was difficult for a whole number or reasons. I
encountered some racism but on the whole it wasn't too problematic. I
fitted in because I excelled in sports and this broke down a lot of
barriers. However deep down I never felt I could fit in especially when
Bosnia and the Gulf war happened. I was at college during this time
studying for my A'Levels. It was really the first time in my life when
I began to question who I was. I grew up predominantly around
non-Muslims and the Gulf war affected my relationships with my friends
at the time, as well as my family. I felt torn between two cultures.
When I was at university I began to explore more and then came into
Islam. Before then I was antagonistic towards Islam but always felt a
connection with Muslims in Bosnia and Palestine. I would watch the news
with my father and he would just be demoralised watching the slaughter
like thousands of Muslims in the west. This really awakened my
generation.

After 9/11 I can see and feel that things have become much more
polarised. It is a worrying time for Muslims living in the west. There
are many dangers and Muslims are under attack from every corner. When
9/11 happened it shook the Muslim community. I remember watching it on
TV as it happened and was completely stunned. 
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #4 of 281: Farooq Khan (farooq) Thu 13 Jan 05 13:36
    
Growing up in Britain post 9/11 leaves my very uncertain and worried
about the future of not only the Muslim community in the west but the
whole Muslim world. The nature of the war in Afghansitan and now Iraq
sets a new precedent in western foreign policy. 
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #5 of 281: Sajjad Khan (sajjadkhan) Thu 13 Jan 05 15:37
    
Thanks Cynthia and Gerry

I was also born in England born to parents who were brought up in the
North West of Pakistan. My Grandfather traveled extensively first
working on the railways in Nairobi and then traveled to the UK in the
1960's bringing with him my father and uncles.

Like with most Asians in the UK our lives began quite modestly and
childhood in the UK was challenging but always comfortable. Parental
focus was inevitable on prioritising education and all three of us
(elder brother and younger sister)have gone on to become university
graduates eventually all passing professional examinations. The two
brothers doing accountancy and the sister now in Los Angeles a
qualified pharmacist.
 
Having parents from the North West of Pakistan means we had a proud
Pathan tradition and so Pashtu was and is still the main language
spoken in the house. Yet despite this, English remains the preferred
medium of communication between the siblings.

I am Muslim by birth and my mother took on the primary responsibility
of teaching me about Islam. She taught me the Quran but it was only at
university that I began to study Islam and its holistic nature more
deeply, a period which shaped my views around various subjects.

With respect to being a Muslim in Britain, the issue revolves around
three aspects in my opinion. Firstly on the individual level, generally
you can practice Islam as much as you want. Secondly on the societal
level, I would make two points. Firstly I have generally found most
people I have met to be fair and open minded whether in work situations
or in other arenas. However despite this you do witness many adverse
trends in society (social, economic, political, intellectual)that are
occurring, which by their nature you can not ignore. Finally on the
international level the policies of Western states before and after
9-11 has had a profound effect on Muslims wherever they have lived.
Coupled with our beliefs, it is these trends both in the societies we
live in and what we see on the international stage that has created the
impetus for many of us to engage in political activism. To quote
Charles De Gaulle 'Politics are too serious a matter to be left to the
politicians.' Post 9-11 the quote has added impetus and was the key
driver behind the vision for New Civilisation Magazine.
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #6 of 281: Gerry Feeney (gerry) Thu 13 Jan 05 20:12
    
Thanks, Farooq and Sajjad, for providing some additional background. 
I think it helps us to grasp a better vision of your circumstances and
frame of reference.  

> I felt torn between two cultures.

This is something I've heard often in interviews with young ethnic
Muslims living in Europe and the USA.  And I have the impression that 
it's not necessarily limited to Muslims, since I've heard similar
sentiments expressed by members of various other ethnic groups that
I've known in the USA, such as Filipinos, Mexicans, Chinese, etc.  

So, Farooq, is it accurate to surmise that, although you grew up as a
westerner, at the same time you feel a connection to the land, culture,
and religion of your parents?  And that this connection gave you a
_world view_ that is very different from that of most of your British
peers, even though their upbringing was in many ways similar to your
own?  Based on your comments about how you suddenly felt divided from
your friends as a result of the Gulf War of '91, and other events
concerning Muslims elsewhere in the world, I've been trying to imagine
your plight, and guessing that the primary difference between you and
your British peers is your world view.  Do you think that's a fair
assessment?  

Sajjad, I'm also wondering to what extent your experience was similar
to what Farooq has described.  Did you also find yourself parting
company with people whom you otherwise liked, because of your feelings
about world events?

What is it that a Muslim in the USA or Europe can see in other parts
of the world, that a non-Muslim typically fails to see?  Why do you
think the perspectives are different?
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #7 of 281: Gerry Feeney (gerry) Fri 14 Jan 05 05:55
    
> To quote Charles De Gaulle 'Politics are too serious a 
> matter to be left to the politicians.' Post 9-11 the 
> quote has added impetus and was the key driver behind
> the vision for New Civilisation Magazine.

I like that quote, Sajjad.  And with that, our discussion can segue to
the reason why we're here:  New Civilisation Magazine.

I have what appears to be the debut issue of _New Civilisation_, Vol.
0.1, Autumn 2004.  What first impressed me about it was its high
quality.  The magazine can also be subscribed to and read online at
http://www.newcivilisation.com/.

What can you tell us about the background of the magazine?  Who's idea
was it, and what resources were involved in organizing the effort? 
Who is the magazine's target audience?
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #8 of 281: Farooq Khan (farooq) Fri 14 Jan 05 07:47
    
>So, Farooq, is it accurate to surmise that, although you grew up as a
westerner, at the same time you feel a connection to the land,
culture, and religion of your parents?< 

Very much so but it wasn't just a connection with the Indian
Sub-Continent rather it was and is a connection with the whole Muslim
world. Many people find it difficult to understand why a Muslim in the
west feels such a strong connection with Muslims globally. One needs to
appreciate that the Islamic culture builds an identity that transcends
language, race and geography. Malcolm X realised this when he went on
hajj. He saw how Islam could solve the racial problems in America but
then was sadly assasinated. It wasn't just an abstract concept that
lead him to this conclusion rather it was something he experienced and
transformed him from being a nationalist to a Muslim.

>gave you a_world view_ that is very different from that of most of
your British peers, even though their upbringing was in many ways
similar to your own?<

I think world view is very accurate but its not just a concept rather
its something I and others experience. The west has tried to solve the
problem of racial and cultural divisions with limited success. The idea
of multiculturalism is a concept but cannot be realised, hence in
Britain, politicians and thinkers are rethinking the whole concept of
identity and scrapping multiculturalism.

I had a natural outlook to look beyond Britain like many Muslims
because of the concept of Ummah and brotherhood. Growing up I travelled
to countries like Turkey, Tunisia, Austria and Spain. One could always
feel a distinct difference in each country. In a Muslim country when
people found out you were Muslim then the hospitality would be even
greater. One could feel the genuine warmth and love of people whom you
have only just met, and can barely communicate with. Non-Muslims also
experience the same when they visit different parts of the Muslim
world. The experiences in 'non-Muslim' countries were very different.
One did not feel that same kind of warmth, which is different to
respect and courtesy. These life experiences and seeing the rich
history of Muslim Spain naturally meant that I always looked at the
world in a global perspective rather than a national or regional
perspective. 

>Based on your comments about how you suddenly felt divided from
your friends as a result of the Gulf War of '91, and other events
concerning Muslims elsewhere in the world, I've been trying to imagine
your plight, and guessing that the primary difference between you and
your British peers is your world view.  Do you think that's a fair
assessment?<

I remember the jingoistic propaganda and how my British peers began to
talk about killing Arabs and dirty Iraqis. It really provoked me to
think about my identity and awakened in within me strong feelings for
the plight of the Iraqi people. I debated with my British peers and
whenever someone attacked Islam I would defend Islam even though I did
not practice Islam, and was westernised whereby I did everything my
peers did. In this aspect I was seen as a rebel by my Muslim peers and
argued with them that the war in Iraq was needed. 
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #9 of 281: Sajjad Khan (sajjadkhan) Fri 14 Jan 05 10:28
    
>Sajjad, I'm also wondering to what extent your experience was
>similar to what Farooq has described. Did you also find yourself
>parting company with people whom you otherwise liked, because of >your
feelings about world events?<

To some extent yes, but I generally found most people sharing similar
disquiet about some of these same problems e.g. Palestine, Iraq and
Chechnya. No what I think differentiates people is the frameworks you
use to evaluate, judge and seek to solve the various conflicts at hand.
I think naturally Muslims due to having an alternative value system
look at some of these events completely differently, whereas if you're
brought up in a secular, liberal, capitalist society this tends to be
the lens you look at most things. The key point for me is to challenge
our 'sacred' frameworks whether they be divine or man made to ensure we
develop the strongest ideas possible. 

 
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #10 of 281: Sajjad Khan (sajjadkhan) Fri 14 Jan 05 11:11
    
>I have what appears to be the debut issue of _New Civilisation_,
>Vol.0.1, Autumn 2004.  What first impressed me about it was its high
>quality.  The magazine can also be subscribed to and read online at
>http://www.newcivilisation.com/.What can you tell us about the
>background of the magazine?  Who's idea was it, and what resources
>were involved in organizing the effort? Who is the magazine's >target
audience?

The magazine was conceived after the events of 9-11 as Islam and
Islamic political thought rose to the top of people's agendas. What we
noticed that despite the explosion of written materials on Islamic
politics, movements and the Muslim world, these were mostly written by
Non Muslims. Obviously Non Muslims have a crucial contribution to make,
but what was lacking was in depth material on Islamic political views
written by people who actually believed that these ideas were not
necessary a prelude to a barbaric medieval age. 

This is because Muslims in the last 150 years have failed to present a
coherent message to people who don't share their faith, preferring to
argue relatively minuscule things between themselves. Surprise surprise
Non Muslims are not necessarily convinced with a strategy which tells
them if they want to understand Islam they simply need to read the
Quran. President Bush passed a bill early in his first term called the
'No Child left behind' bill, Muslims unfortunately have implemented a
strategy of 'No stereotype left behind.' Criticisms and stereotypes
have been either ignored or the people that have made the criticism
have been accused of Islam bashing, a convenient way of suppressing
real debate. 

Hence some of us got together and concluded the need for a magazine
for interested Non Muslims which would be a focus of Islamic thinking
articulating positions on subjects ranging from pensions, to
globalisation from intellectual copyright to stem cell research. Yet
the magazine we also concluded needed to be inclusive and allow
contrary views, so that real debate could occur. We obviously don't
expect everyone to agree with us (that would be utopia), but our goal
is if people do disagree it will be a disagreement based on having
heard both sides of the arguments.  
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #11 of 281: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 14 Jan 05 11:15
    
(Note: offsite readers with questions or comments may send email to
 <inkwell-hosts@well.com> to have them added to this conversation)
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #12 of 281: Cthulhu Saves--in case he's hungry later (jmcarlin) Fri 14 Jan 05 12:48
    

I was wondering why, in this age of Blogs and other online resources, why
you chose in particular to produce a magazine with high production
values?  What do you see as being the advantages as well as disadvantages
of that medium? What role do you see the web site serving?

Many westerners judge Islam by reading an English translation of the
Quran. I believe that some make two errors. The first is one of
translation: assuming that what they read in English is what the original
Arabic says. I've found truly striking differences in English translations
of some passages.

The other is to ignore the overall message and the context of specific
passages, focusing instead on taking sentences out of context.  And I
think that happens to some Muslims as well. Do you think that my
perspective is reasonable? If you do, how should these issues be
addressed?
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #13 of 281: Sajjad Khan (sajjadkhan) Fri 14 Jan 05 14:57
    
Hi Jerry

We did consider whether to just go down the electronic route but
concluded that to maximise the impact, we should adopt both mediums.
The look and feel of the magazine is distinct and we wanted to crack
one of the stereotypes, that an Islamic political magazine would be low
tech and drab. With respect to the website, we have plans to add more
contemporary content on, in between the quarterly cycle of the
magazine. Maybe a discussion forum later as well.

Re the Quran, excellent point. The point about Arabic is important if
you really want to guage linguistic prose or derive legal rules. Trying
to extract a legislative opinion from an English translation is like
trying to catch a fish without bait. You might get lucky once or twice,
but in most cases you get nothing. Re the content point, you are right
to point out that Muslims also suffer from a form of literalism. We
also have the opposite problem of too much taqleed (blind imitation or
obedience to scholars). 

With respect to how we get around this, we need to increase awareness
and raise the quality of debate. The Muslim world especially Saudi
Arabia and Iran need to break the shackles of their closed stagnant
societies and implement an institutional framework which will promote
debate and scrutiny. A lot of the stereotypes or literalist opinions
held by Muslims would not stand up to any serious scrutiny or debate if
such an institutional framework was set up. Today if a Shia Ayatollah,
or a Mufti of Al Azhar gives a ruling, this normally ends the debate,
yet this should in my mind begin it. Historically when awareness was
high under the Islamic Caliphate a manifestation of such a framework,
most of these views were scrutinised and anything weak highlighted,
even if the opinion came from the caliph himself. Today in the absence
of a strong Caliphate any opinion regardless of its basis can be
broadcast as Islamic. Yet this approach will not necessarily deliver
moderate rulings or fundamentalist rulings, but it will delivery
rulings that have emanated from the heat of debate. Sometimes these
rulings will diverge from the values of western society (imposing a
western form of Islam is impractical), if so this still should be
viewed as a better state of affairs than the stagnancy and instability
of the current status quo.
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #14 of 281: Dennis Wilen (the-voidmstr) Fri 14 Jan 05 15:40
    
"A Western form of Islam is impractical"

What does this mean?  

That Islam cannot exist in the West because Islam demands a theocracy?

Or?
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #15 of 281: Sajjad Khan (sajjadkhan) Fri 14 Jan 05 17:29
    
Dennis, what it means is a form of Islam that some would like to see
exist, judging through the lens of the west's own historical construct
and value system. As opposed to what Islam may or may not be, based on
an understanding of its own texts, paradigms and sources. Making a pre
judgement of what you would like to see as opposed to doing an
objective study is my key point here.

Of course Muslims believe that their sources emanate from divine
origins and can be applied using the process of ijtihad (application of
existing rules to new modern realities), however I disagree with those
who say Islam demands a theocracy. For me theocracy implies a clergy
ordained by God to give instructions who can't be questioned, are
infallible and where criticism of them or their rulings is not
tolerated, even subject to punishment as we saw historically in
Christian Europe and as we see in Iran today. This is not my
understanding of Islam, especially as the practice of an official
clergy is alien to the Islamic tradition. There is in my view no
concept of 'holy' men! Just imperfect people whose opinions derived
from Islamic texts may or may not be right. Of course some Shia Muslims
have a different opinion on this and we may address this at a later
juncture. But in my mind how else do we explain why there are so many
schools of thought within Islam. Or that the five major ones Hanifi,
Shafi, Maliki, Hanbali and Jafari all debated amongst themselves
without any of them claiming to be 'the' chosen group. 
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #16 of 281: Cthulhu Saves--in case he's hungry later (jmcarlin) Fri 14 Jan 05 18:29
    

> Just imperfect people whose opinions derived
> from Islamic texts may or may not be right.

That is a wonderful ideal.  But there are issues when one considers the
practicle application of that ideal.

There are many divisions in Islam besides Sunni and Shi'a. There are also
groups like "Black Muslims" and those who believe that the Quran forbids
the traditional prominance given to Hadith http://www.submission.org. Even
between Sunni and Shi'a there are differences in such matters as temporary
marriage.

On the Well, Farooq has articulated a belief that a reconstituted
Caliphate would be the solution to many problems that Muslims face today.
But how in such a Caliphate would such matters as who is a true Muslim and
what are the laws about marriage be decided? And what would the fate be of
people who are declared to be not real Muslims (if that is possible)?
Would they be declared apostates? Or, perhaps, how would such judgements
be made?

There are other cases as well. I found the case of the "Rightly Guided"
Caliph Umar suspending the clear Quranic penalty for theft because of
famine interesting.  http://www.ummah.org.uk/what-is-islam/law/ijtihad.htm
If you accept that even clear Quranic penalties are subject to
interpretation and suspension, how would this work out in practice?
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #17 of 281: Sajjad Khan (sajjadkhan) Sat 15 Jan 05 03:12
    
>But how in such a Caliphate would such matters as who is a true
>Muslim and what are the laws about marriage be decided? And what
>would the fate be of people who are declared to be not real Muslims
>(if that is possible)? Would they be declared apostates? Or, >perhaps,
how would such judgements be made?

You point to significant differences and it would be insincere to say
that these do not exist. But having a spectrum of differences would not
be unique to an Islamic society. In western societies we have
liberals, neo-liberals, conservatives, neo-conservatives, religious
conservatives, left, right, centre, socialist, Christian democrats etc
etc. Yet largely what unites most of these groups is a common set of
core values and an agreed mechanism to resolve differences. People may
disagree with the end ruling whether it comes from a legislative organ,
or the head of government/state but they accept that differences need
to be resolved via that mechanism. The alternatives to this would be
anarchy or violence.  

Similarly the Caliphate has such an institutional mechanism. First of
all in matters of the branches of belief and private rituals, there is
no need to force any standardisation. This was tried in the past and
was a disaster. It is only in areas which impact on society and
societal relationships that there needs to be a common rule so that
courts can apply consistently, rules regarding property, child custody,
inheritance, taxation etc. These rules though executed by the head of
state will normally happen after due consulation with various experts
and other informed personnel. Of course some of these rules will
conflict with people's deeply held opinions from time to time, as they
did even during the early days, but the more crucial issue is that they
agree that there needs to be such a mechanism to avoid anarchy. 

>There are other cases as well. I found the case of the "Rightly
>Guided" Caliph Umar suspending the clear Quranic penalty for theft
>because of famine interesting. 
http://www.ummah.org.uk/what-is->islam/law/ijtihad.htm If you accept
that even clear Quranic >penalties are subject to interpretation and
suspension, how would >this work out in practice?

My own view of this incident is that this was more an application of
the rule then suspension. One of the several stringent conditions set
out before a punishment of theft is enacted, is that people accused of
theft should not be hungry or poor. As by definition a famine causes
both, the necessary conditions were not present for the punishment to
come into force. The bigger discussion of whether Islam needs a
reformation (Islah) or more application to everyday matters (Ijtihad)is
a much bigger subject and we can visit this in due course.
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #18 of 281: It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Sat 15 Jan 05 03:49
    
<The idea
of multiculturalism is a concept but cannot be realised, hence in
Britain, politicians and thinkers are rethinking the whole concept of
identity and scrapping multiculturalism.>

Congratulations on the launch of your magazine Farooq. Good on you,
mate.

Would you elaborate a bit on your quote above? Here in the States,
multiculturalism is the prevailing theme. Is this a difference in
definition of the term? And what are you in England coming up with for
solutions to a pluralistic society?
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #19 of 281: It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Sat 15 Jan 05 03:57
    
Also, would there be any way to have a second tier of subscription
service that allows for viewing the e-magazine online only, without the
hard copy? Or is that not financially feasible right now? Or am I just
not figuring out the options? It looks like I have to get the magazine
in order to see the premium content online. Thanks.
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #20 of 281: Chad Makaio Zichterman (makaio) Sat 15 Jan 05 11:09
    
>Would you elaborate a bit on your quote above? Here in the States,
multiculturalism is the prevailing theme. Is this a difference in
definition of the term? And what are you in England coming up with for
solutions to a pluralistic society?<

I think it is important to recognize that while multiculturalism is
certainly *a* strong theme in the United States, it has been
successfully constrained by conservative and liberal forces alike to
piecemeal token gestures (and even this level of "success" is
constantly under attack).  As it is practiced within the United States,
mutliculturalism is still a variation on an assimilationist approach. 
IOW, the "white" mainstream has come to either tolerate or embrace
(depending in which case is in question) certain holidays, traditions,
and beliefs as long as "whites'" politicoeconomic dominance remains
unchallenged by them.  A clear example of this in action is the already
mentioned dominance of non-Muslim opinion in attempting to understand
"the" Muslim view.

This stands in stark contrast to more substantive approaches like
cultural pluralism.  Under cultural pluralism, the recognized
traditions of many cultures (ethnic, religious, secular, regional,
etc.) are involved in a kind of continuous negotiation of cultural
space and representation *as approximate equals*, such that the default
challenge to be resolved is *not* how X or Y "alernative" culture will
make a place for itself within a larger context of one incumbent or
dominant cultural system, but instead how a vibrantly heterodox range
of them will do so among each other--essentially a lateral negotiation
instead of a vertical one.  Under this approach, first-hand expression
from within various communities isn't an optional extra seen
occasionally in times of crisis, but a vital prerequisite of normal
operation; you can't have peer-to-peer relationships across the typical
communal boundaries without regular exposure to the sentiment, life
experiences, and expression of interests of *actual* (rather than
proxy) members of various communities.
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #21 of 281: Cthulhu Saves--in case he's hungry later (jmcarlin) Sat 15 Jan 05 11:21
    

>  reformation (Islah)

That is a new concept to me. I had read that some in the west are calling
for an Islamic "reformation" and that some Muslims were opposed to this
saying it was a western attempt at imposing an idea. But I was not aware
that there is a similar Islamic concept. It's possible that the two mean
something different. But when you wrote about the problem of authoritarian
Iranian and Saudi regiemes imposing their opinions, it reminded me of the
Protestant reformation against similar behavior by the Catholic church.

I also went to Google to look around and found a couple of web sites.  One
http://www.islamictarbiyah.com/introduction/call.htm talks about person
reformation of the lower self (nafs). Another
http://www.bernama.com/events/ulama/rpp.shtml?pp/pe1007_2a introduces
tajdid (renewal) along with Islah.

I have a review copy of the magazine and have read through it. It's
clearly a British product since the article on "the BNP" was first, not
something that I recognized and the party is not one that I know anything
about. Do you plan to expand the scope of the magazine to include matters
relating to other English speaking countries such as the US, Canada, New
Zealand and Australia?

I was also disappointed by the article on Ghandi because it was so clearly
derived from another article I have no easy access to without buying an
issue online. I read some of the rebuttals but felt that perhaps they were
more responses to that presumed dialog than what Ghandi would actually
have said if were still alive. It sets Ghandi as a Western secularist
opposed to a vibrant Islam. Rather he had a view that real religion is
that what supports all formal religions. what Ghandi said is:
http://www.mkgandhi.org/religion1.htm "Religion which takes no account of
practical affairs and does not help to solve them, is no religion." And,
speaking of various religions http://www.mkgandhi.org/religionmk.htm
he the practical side of Islam:

  The Distinctive Contribution Of Islam

  Islam's distinctive contribution to India's National Culture is its
  unadulterated belief in the Oneness of God and a practical application
  of the truth of the Brotherhood of Man for those who are nominally
  within its fold.

  All Worship The Same Spirit

  The Allah of Islam is the same as the God of Christians and the Ishwara
  of Hindus. Even as there are numerous names of God in Hinduism, there
  are many names of God in Islam. The names do not indicate individuality
  but attributes, and little man has tried in his humble way to describe
  mighty God by giving Him attributes, though He is above all attributes,
  Indescribable, Immeasurable.

There was also one line "The issue for Islam is not therefore one of
reform..." which appears to be in conflect with the concept of Islah. Can
you clarify this point?
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #22 of 281: Farooq Khan (farooq) Sat 15 Jan 05 11:25
    
>Would you elaborate a bit on your quote above? Here in the States,
multiculturalism is the prevailing theme. Is this a difference in
definition of the term?<

There is no real fundamental difference in the meaning of the term
between Britain or the USA. What is clear that thinkers in the west are
rethinking multiculturalism because it hasn't achieved the envisioned
social harmony. Rather people have correctly sensed that
multiculturalism perpetuates divisions in society rather than
cohesiveness. In Britain Gordon Brown the Chancellor of the Exchequer
said:

"There is also a more substantive issue about the importance of
integration set against respect for diversity. Of course we live in a
multiethnic as well as multinational state but because a multiethnic
Britain should never ever have justified a crude multiculturalism where
all values became relative, surely the common values that we all share
should be reflected in practical measures"

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/labour/story/0,9061,1256548,00.html

There is a shift in the debate, and solution to achieving social
cohesiveness between diverse ethnic and cultural groups. The solution
now being proposed is that people's identity should be built upon the
core values of the state. So all people irrespective of their ethnic
and cultural background should adopt the values which underpin the
state, which are the core secular values. It is a shift away from
defining identity according to the ideals of the nation state.

This thinking is very much reflected in Philip Bobbitt's thesis about
the changing nature of the state where people's identity is centered
upon the market:

Blair, the pioneer of a new order: the nation state is dying, argues
Philip Bobbitt, author of an acclaimed book on how we are ruled. New
Labour's regime exemplifies its successor, the market state 

New Statesman,  Sept 30, 2002  by Philip Bobbitt

"But the state is not going away even if its current incarnation, the
nation state, is dying. The state will, as before, change the terms of
its constitutional order by changing its legitimating premise. We can
already glimpse the new "market state". In exchange for power, it will
maximise the opportunities of the society it serves."

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FQP/is_4607_131/ai_93208470/pg_2

In Europe the mutlticulturalism debate has been accelerated as a
consequence of 9/11 while in America race relations have always been
problematic. And to top it all globalisation has forced nations to
revaluate the concept of national identity.

>And what are you in England coming up with for solutions to a
pluralistic society?<

At this point in time we aim to widen the debate beyond secular
conceptions of identity. This is positive because it forces us to think
about the validity of the values and system which organise society. 
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #23 of 281: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sat 15 Jan 05 13:32
    
The most widespread agreed mechanism for resolving differences is
democracy, but apparently you hope for something else.  Is suspicion
about democracy widespread among the Muslims you know?  Why is this?
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #24 of 281: Cthulhu Saves--in case he's hungry later (jmcarlin) Sat 15 Jan 05 14:13
    

I wanted to bring up something about the web site. I mentioned this to
Farooq earlier, but seeing that nothing has changed, I wanted to bring it
up again here to get a more official response.

Supplying an email address and password to register for a free site is
common. Supplying a full postal address is not. I for one will not give
my address as a prerequisite for access to such a web site.

Worse, forceing me to agree to be spammed for "upcoming events and
articles" is beyond the pale. Not allowing an opt out of such emails when
signing up may be legal in the U.K, but it will earn that site the
opprobrium of many.
  
inkwell.vue.235 : Sajjad Khan and Farooq Khan, "New Civilisation"
permalink #25 of 281: Sajjad Khan (sajjadkhan) Sat 15 Jan 05 15:22
    
>Also, would there be any way to have a second tier of subscription
service that allows for viewing the e-magazine online only, without
the hard copy? 

Currently you have to be a subscriber to the hardcopy to access the
online premium content. However if there is sufficient demand we will
consider this suggestion.

>Supplying an email address and password to register for a free site
>is common. Supplying a full postal address is not. I for one will >not
give my address as a prerequisite for access to such a web >site.
Worse, forceing me to agree to be spammed for "upcoming >events and
articles" is beyond the pale. Not allowing an opt out of >such emails
when signing up may be legal in the U.K, but it will >earn that site
the opprobrium of many.

Thanks for the feedback, I will discuss this with my colleagues with a
view of getting this changed along the lines you suggest.
  

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