Islam

Show Details for the week of June 27th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • A Muslim perspective on secularism and governance – an interview with Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im
  • Islam in Retrospect: Recovering the Message – an interview with Maher Mahmassani

More about this week’s guests:

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im (from Sudan) is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory Law, associated professor in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion of Emory University. An internationally recognized scholar of Islam and human rights and human rights in cross-cultural perspectives, Professor An-Na’im teaches courses in international law, comparative law, human rights, and Islamic law. His research interests include constitutionalism in Islamic and African countries, secularism, and Islam and politics. Professor An-Na’im directed the following research projects which focus on advocacy strategies for reform through internal cultural transformation:

  • Women and Land in Africa
  • Islamic Family Law
  • Fellowship Program in Islam and Human Rights
  • The Future of Sharia: Islam and the Secular State

These projects can be accessed through Professor An-Na’im’s professional website »

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naʿim argues that the coercive enforcement of shariʿa by the state betrays the Qurʿan’s insistence on voluntary acceptance of Islam. Just as the state should be secure from the misuse of religious authority, shariʿa should be freed from the control of the state. State policies or legislation must be based on civic reasons accessible to citizens of all religions. Showing that throughout the history of Islam, Islam and the state have normally been separate, An-Naʿim maintains that ideas of human rights and citizenship are more consistent with Islamic principles than with claims of a supposedly Islamic state to enforce shariʿa. In fact, he suggests, the very idea of an “Islamic state” is based on European ideas of state and law, and not shariʿa or the Islamic tradition.

12a2eefMaher Mahmassani has written two books and numerous articles in anthologies and law journals, in Arabic, English and French, on matters ranging from Islamic law to finance, investment and family law. He earned his doctorate in 1972 and taught law in Beirut at the Lebanese University Law School and the Arab University Law School. For over two decades, he was Chief Counsel for the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia at the International Finance Corporation. He also served as General Counsel of Middle East Airlines, The Arab Investment Company and Solidere, the private sector company in charge of rebuilding the downtown area of Beirut, which was totally destroyed in the 17-year civil war. He now resides in McLean, Virginia.

From the book description online:

“Islam, in many of its current guises, no longer resembles its original Message. In a world of intractable conflicts plagued by political Islam and Islamophobia and where other forms of fundamentalism within the major religious creeds are on the rise, as well this book serves as a reminder. It aims to recover and reaffirm Islam s underlying and guiding principles. Setting out to distinguish the divine from the human in order to elucidate the pristine nature of the divine Message, Mahmassani reasserts Islam s universal, secular, and progressive character.index

In Part One of this comprehensive and meticulously researched volume, the author places the Message of Islam within its historic, geographic, and cultural contexts. Focusing on the primacy of the Holy Qur’an among the sources of Islam, he examines the controversies which have surrounded the Prophetic Tradition Sunna and Hadith as a source of Islam, demonstrating the full scope of Islam s universality. In Part Two he goes on to clarify Islam s secular nature by reconsidering inherited beliefs about the relationship between Islam and the state, and Islam and Sharia a law, revealing Islam s inherent humanism. This leads, in Part Three, to reflections on the progressive nature of Islam, and on the importance of the role of the mind in understanding and taking full benefit of religion as an engine of progress. In particular, the author focuses on human rights, including issues of human dignity, freedom of faith, and gender equality.

Islam in Retrospect: Recovering the Message is a rich contribution to continuing efforts to reform perceptions of Islam. Scholars and students in the fields of Islamic studies, religion, and the humanities, teachers, policy makers, and general readers will find this carefully constructed sourcebook invaluable for its fresh outlook and approach to understanding Islam and Muslim Scriptures in the light of today s world. As Mahmassani affirms, Islam, as a divine message, has been and continuously remains perfect.”

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Show Details for the week of June 20th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week is an extended interview with Barry Lando in which we discuss the terror attacks in Paris and Orlando in a broader context of history, international events, media coverage, and the relationship between government and media. This is the kind of exchange this show is known for – a freeform conversation about an important topic that moves beyond the media’s norm of decontextualized sound-bytes and ahistorical sensationalism.

More about this week’s guest:

79641e0e9451a1416658b671cef8769bBarry Lando was a producer for 60 Minutes for over 25 years, most of those producing stories for Mike Wallace. Lando produced the first interview with the Ayatollah Khomeini after the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, which aired 14 days after the hostages were captured. Another famous story he produced was on the 1990 Temple Mount riots. Wallace said of Lando and another producer, “if it wasn’t for [Marion Goldin] and Barry there would be no 60 Minutes.”

Lando pioneered the use of hidden cameras for investigative television reporting. He was awarded a George Polk award for Television Reporting in 1977. Lando and Wallace won a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award in 1990 for the segment “40,000 a Day.” Lando also won two Emmys at 60 Minutes.

In 2004, Lando collaborated with Michel Despratx to produce a documentary for Canal+ called “Saddam Hussein, the Trial the World Will Never See.” Lando’s 2007 book, Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, From Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush, covered 85 years of Western intervention in Iraq. Lando has written for The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the International Herald Tribune, and Le Monde. 

His most recent book is The Watchman’s File. You can read excerpts of that book here. During the interview, specific reference is made to Barry’s recent article TERRORISM: PARIS & ORLANDO-AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS

You can follow Barry Lando on Twitter

Show Details for the week of March 21st, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Flint Water Crisis: What Did the EPA Know? We discuss the crisis with Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
  • Donald Trump’s rhetoric and the AIPAC agenda, what’s the difference? We discuss the issue with Rabbi Brant Rosen

More about this week’s guests:

9114030Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is author of No Fear: A Whistleblower’s Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. As senior policy analyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she became a whistleblower when the EPA ignored her complaints about a U.S. company harming the environment and human health in its vanadium mining in South Africa. Denied promotion, she sued and won a jury verdict finding EPA guilty of discrimination. Coleman-Adebayo is a founder of the No FEAR Coalition and EPA Employees Against Racism. Under her leadership No FEAR organized a grassroots campaign that won passage of the “Notification of Federal Employees Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act,” AKA the No Fear Act. Coleman-Adebayo serves on the board of directors of the National Whistleblower Center and was inducted into the Project on Government Oversight’s Hall of Fame. She is an editor and columnist for the Black Agenda Report. She recently wrote the following articles for The Guardian: Flint’s best hope for justice? The streets and Water crises like Flint’s will continue until the EPA is held accountable (co-written with )

Websitewww.marshacoleman-adebayo.com

Quote from her recent article on BlackAgendaReport.com: “EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder are scheduled to appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday, March 17, to provide testimony on the poisoning of Flint, Michigan’s water. Public outcry has finally empowered Congress to demand that McCarthy and Snyder provide an accounting of their role in the poisoning of thousands of citizens. The essential question for this hearing is the same as that of the Watergate Hearing: what did they know and when did they know it? EPA electronic traffic between the former Region 5 Administrator and McCarthy must be subpoenaed. McCarthy and Snyder had perhaps hoped that the public would be silenced with sending former EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman careening under the bus. The ultimate authority for water regulations rests with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act. In fact, the CWA provides for criminal penalties for violations of this Act. Flint, Michigan falls within the federal jurisdiction of Region 5 and, until her resignation in February in disgrace, was under EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman. …EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was aware that there were problems with Hedman’s leadership prior to the Flint crisis. …This is a sickeningly familiar story at the EPA, an agency governed by fear, recrimination, retaliation and discrimination. It is likely that EPA Administrator McCarthy will argue that the Flint disaster was the result of ‘a few bad apples’ and that with Administrator Hedman’s resignation the problem has been addressed. Nothing could be further from the truth. The EPA is rife with managers who have been allowed to engage in criminal behavior without fear of accountability. Far from dealing with root causes, McCarthy stands on protocol over the well being of her own employees. She will always side with her in-house group of managers who are in bed with their corporate masters — this is one of the lessons of the Flint poisoning crisis.”

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hqdefaultRabbi Brant Rosen is the co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinic Council. The group recently put out a statement, “Trump’s Islamophobic Rhetoric Goes Hand in Hand with AIPAC’s Agenda,” which states: “Many of the most alarming statements and policy proposals Donald Trump has made are already reality in Israel, and supported by AIPAC. Israel already refuses to open its doors to Syrian refugees (many of whom are of Palestinian origin), allows privileged immigration status for one religious group over others, is building highly militarized walls … and allows a demagogue leader to get away with using blatant racism to get votes.” Also see: “On Israeli election day, Netanyahu warns of Arabs voting ‘in droves.’

Rosen is the Midwest Regional Director of the American Friends Service Committee. In August 2015, he founded Tzedek Chicago, a new ‘non-Zionist’ synagogue in Chicago. Rosen previously served as the rabbi of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois from 1998 to 2014. He is a former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. In 2009, he co-founded the Jewish Fast for Gaza, or Ta’anit Tzedek with Rabbi Brian Walt. Rosen is also an active environmentalist. Under his leadership, the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation built their new building with an environmentally sustainable design in 2008, becoming the first house of worship to ever receive a Platinum rating by the U.S. Green Building Council. He was the recipient of Chicago Magazine’s Green Award for his environmental leadership in 2009. Rosen’s blog Shalom Rav explores “the intersection between Judaism and social justice, with a particular emphasis on Israel/Palestine.” In 2012, Just World Books published his book, “Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity,” which featured his posts and numerous reader comments from Shalom Rav. Rosen is also the author of the blog Yedid Nefesh, where he posts his poetry and thoughts on Judaism and spirituality. He has contributed to The Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Forward, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and other media outlets.

Website: http://rabbibrant.com/

Show Details for the week of March 14th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week

  • Assessing the gap between rhetoric and policy – just how “extreme” is Trump’s discourse? We discuss the topic with Arun Kundani
  • A journey from Zionism to peace activism with Miko Peled

More about this week’s guests:

5wmyicxArun Kundnani is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror (2015) and The End of Tolerance: Racism in 21st Century Britain (2007)He is a lecturer at New York University. His writings are available online at kundnani.org — including his articles “The Guantánamo in New York you’re not allowed to know about,” and “The belief system of the Islamophobes.” You can see him here on CNN in discussion with Trump supporters.
He recently wrote the draft paper: “Islamophobia: Lay Ideology of U.S.-Led Empire,” in which he analyzes Islamophobia as an ideology that “offers an everyday ‘common sense’ explanatory framework for making sense” of crisis such as terrorists attacks. He argues that it does so “in ways that disavow those events’ political meanings (rooted in empire, racism, and resistance) and instead explain them as products” of a “Muslimness.”
Arun states that this Islamophobia within U.S. and Western culture in effect pretends that there is a fixed “other” that must be opposed. He argues: “This maneuver is also an act of projection in the psychoanalytic sense: the racist and imperialist violence upon which U.S.-led capitalism depends cannot be acknowledged in liberal society so it is transferred onto the personality of the Muslim and seen as emanating from ‘outside’ the social order. Imperial violence is then only ever a proportionate response to the inherently aggressive and threatening nature of the fanatical Muslim enemy. In these ways, a Western self-image of innocence and beneficence can be maintained by screening out resistance to the U.S.-led system of global capitalism.”
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220px-miko_peledMiko Peled was born in Jerusalem in 1961 into a well known Zionist family. His grandfather, Dr.  Avraham Katsnelson was a Zionist leader and signer on the Israeli Declaration of Independence. His father, Matti Peled was a young officer in the war of 1948 and a general in the war of 1967 when Israel conquered the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and the Sinai.Miko is the author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. His book has been newly revised and the new edition is expected to be out on April 19, 2016. You can read more about Miko online at mikopeled.com
About the book:
In 1997, tragedy struck when his beloved niece Smadar was killed by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem. That killing propelled Peled onto a journey of discovery. It pushed him to re-examine many of the beliefs he had grown up with, as the son and grandson of leading figures in Israel’s political-military elite. This powerful memoir details Miko Peled’s transformation into a courageous and visionary activist in the struggle for equal rights and a hopeful, lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians and a new epilogue describes his extraordinary travels that have opened new paths of solidarity in the last few years.In her foreword, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alice Walker writes, “There are few books on the Israel/Palestine issue that seem as hopeful to me as this one.”

Show Details for the week of February 29th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Reporting from Syria and not just on Syria – an interview with Eva Bartlett
  • The difference between a tactic and a strategy for dealing with ISIS – an interview with Ambassador Edward Djerejian

More about this week’s guests:

419011_a4xyh05rEva Bartlett is a Canadian freelance journalist and activist who has lived in and written from the Gaza Strip, Syria, and Lebanon. She has visited Syria four times in the last 2 years (April and June 2014, February and December 2015). You can read other articles by Eva, or visit Eva’s website. She has a lengthy article published on DissdentVoice titled Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria

You can follow here on twitter here and read her articles about Syria here. The interview attempts to dissect the divergent narratives presented about Syria in the media and to get an eyewitness account from somebody who has actually been there. It is sure to cause some controversy.

edjerejian_webEdward Djerejian is a former United States diplomat who served in eight administrations from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton (1962–94.) He served as the United States Ambassador to Syria (1988–91) and Israel (1993–94), Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Press Secretary of Foreign Affairs (1985-1986), and was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1991-1993.) He is the director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and is the author of the book Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East. You can read his full bio here and follow him on twitter here

The main focus of the interview is Ambassador Djerejian’s policy brief on ISIS titled A STRATEGY TOWARD DEFEATING ISIS in which  he argued that recent attacks were an opportunity for a U.S.-led coalition to come together to defeat a common enemy. Full text available online in English (CME-ISIS-111915) and Arabic (CME-ISIS-Arabic-122115).

During the interview I asked Ambassador Djerejian for his response to the speech President Obama gave in which he outlined the U.S. response to the terror threat posed by ISIS: Full text of President Obama’s speech in reaction to the shootings in San Bernardino, CA You can also read Ambassador Djerejian’s June 2, 1992 speech mentioned towards the end of the interview: Meridian House Speech.

Show Details for the week of January 11th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

More about this week’s guests:

robert-parry-headshotRobert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. He is the founding editor of Consortium News (founded in 1995) as the Internet’s first investigative magazine. He saw it as a way to combine modern technology and old-fashioned journalism to counter the increasing triviality of the mainstream U.S. news media. Robert’s best known stories about Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare (CIA manual provided to the Nicaraguan contras) and the CIA and Contras cocaine trafficking in the US scandal in 1985 continue to be very important and you should read them NOW if you have not already done so. He was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984. He has written six books:

  • Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, The Press & Project Truth (1992)
  • Trick or Treason: The October Surprise Mystery (1993)
  • The October Surprise X-Files: The Hidden Origins of the Reagan-Bush Era (1996)
  • Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq (2004)
  • Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush (2007)
  • America’s Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes to Obama (2012)

19255Najam Haider, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion, completed his PhD at Princeton University (2007), M.Phil. at Oxford University (2000), and BA at Dartmouth College (1997).  His courses bridge the gap between the classical and modern Muslim worlds with a particular emphasis on the impact of colonization on Islamic political and religious discourse.  Prof. Haider’s research interests include early Islamic history, the methodology and development of Islamic law, and Shi‘ism.  His first book entitled The Origins of the Shi‘a was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011 and focused on the role of ritual and sacred space in the formation of Shī‘ī identity.  His second book (Shī‘ī Islam – Cambridge 2014) offered a comprehensive overview of three branches of Shī‘ī Islam – Zaydī, Twelver, and Ismā‘īlī – through a framework of theology and memory.  His current project focuses on the link between early Islamic historical writing and Late Antique and Classical Rhetoric.

Website:

http://www.najamhaider.com/

Select Publications:

  • Shī‘ī Islam: An Introduction (Cambridge 2014)
  • Law and Religion in Classical Islamic Thought, eds. Michael Cook, Najam Haider, Intisar Rabb, Asma Sayeed (Palgrave: 2013).
  • “The Geography of the Isnād: Possibilities for the Reconstruction of Local Ritual Practice in the 2nd/8th Century,” Der Islam 90 (2013):306-346.
  • “A Kufan Jurist in Yemen: Contextualizing Muhammad b. Sulayman al-Kufī’s Kitāb al-Mutakhab,” Arabica 59 (2012): 200-17
  • The Origins of the Shi‘a: Identity, Ritual, and Sacred Space in 8th century Kufa (Cambridge 2011)

Show Details for the week of December 7th, 2015

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This week’s episode of The Monitor features two guests discussing issues related to the Middle East. Our first guest, Amr Hamzawy, discusses the Egyptian political scene. Our second guest, Paul Gottinger, talks about the impact of the “War on Terror” on the number of terrorist attacks around the world.

More about this week’s guests:

hamzawyAmr Hamzawy is a visiting scholar at Stanford University, and associate professor of Political Science at Cairo University. He is a former member of the People’s Assembly in the Parliament of Egypt and the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights. He previously served as a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His research focuses on democratization processes, political movements and civil society in Egypt as well as contemporary debates in political thought and governance in the Arab world. He holds a B.Sc. in political science from Cairo University, M.A. degrees in developmental studies from the University of Amsterdam and the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, and a Ph.D. in political science from the Free University of Berlin. You can find him on Twitter: @HamzawyAmr

Amr spoke at Rice University’s Baker institute last week. You can watch the talk and Q&A session below.

 

rm-qb8grPaul Gottinger is a journalist based in Madison, WI, USA. He can be reached onTwitter @paulgottinger. He recently wrote an analysis of the”war on terror”: “Despite 14 Years of the U.S. War on Terror, Terror Attacks Have Skyrocketed Since 9/11,” which states: “Terror attacks have jumped by a stunning 6,500 percent since 2002, according to a new analysis by Reader Supported News. The number of casualties resulting from terror attacks has increased by 4,500 percent over this same time period. These colossal upsurges in terror took place despite a decade-long, worldwide effort to fight terrorism that has been led by the United States.

“The analysis, conducted with figures provided by the U.S. State Department, also shows that from 2007 to 2011 almost half of all the world’s terror took place in Iraq or Afghanistan — two countries being occupied by the U.S. at the time.

“Countries experiencing U.S. military interventions continue to be subjected to high numbers of terror attacks, according to the data. In 2014, 74 percent of all terror-related casualties occurred in Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Syria. Of these five, only Nigeria did not experience either U.S. air strikes or a military occupation in that year.

“The U.S. invasion of Iraq destabilized Iraq and Syria, creating the conditions for the emergence of ISIS, which now controls large parts of the two countries. The invasion of Afghanistan has not been able to wrestle large sections of the country from the Taliban, leaving Afghanistan in state of perpetual war. And the air war to oust Muammar Gaddafi has left Libya in a state of chaos.

“The instability caused by these wars, along with the atrocities perpetrated by U.S.-led forces, which can be exploited for terrorist recruitment, have played a significant role in the increase of terrorism worldwide.”