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Islam and the West ( 14 Nov 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Islam in the West to become Islam of the West: UK Muslims come with new terminology

Muslims and the West by Maulana Waris Mazhari

Melting pot cracks as Muslims reject Christian names in France

By Charles Bremner and Marie Tourres in Paris

Mosque vote in Henrico County angers Muslims, they allege bias by MELODIE N. MARTIN

 

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Islam in the West to become Islam of the West: UK Muslims come with new terminology

 

Istanbul - The time has come for Islam in the West to become Islam of the West, and put the last nine years of madness and suffering in the past, according to the president of the Islamic society of Britain, or İSB.

Zahoor Qureshi spoke alongside five other British Muslim representatives at Bahçeşehir University last week, saying their visit is important for sharing ideas, seeking advice and engaging in discussions about the radicalization of Muslims in the West.

"We want people like ourselves who live in Britain and people like yourselves who are no doubt European, to play a role in what the EU decides about its future and what Britain decides about its future," said Aftab Ahmad Malik, a visiting fellow at Birmingham University.

Regarding the criticism that the Muslim faith has received since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Malik said at no point did Muslim councils agree with what happened.

"The British government and the Muslim community in Britain have decided that it is better if we can engage and it is better if we can talk," said Malik.

Shaista Gohir, director of the Muslim Women’s UK network, said certain adaptations needed to be made in Muslim traditions in order for them to be integrated into a Christian Europe. The example she gave was to achieve equality between men and women. She said men and woman in Britain have equal status and equal opportunities, but in Muslim councils men are dominant.

Source: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/domestic/10362705.asp?scr=1

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Muslims and the West

By Maulana Waris Mazhari

(Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)

The issue of strained relations between Muslims and the West is a long-standing one, and it has taken a new turn following the attacks of 9/11. In recent years, much has been written on the subject by both Muslim as well as Western scholars. Following the publication of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilisations in the late 1990s, a large number of Western scholars have concluded that reconciliation between Muslims and the West is impossible and that a clash between them is inevitable.  Influential Western think-tanks have aggressively pursued this line of thinking, as have extremist religious and political forces, particularly Christian evangelicals and Zionist organisations, all across Europe and America. In this context, the crucial question arises as to how the situation can be changed, as indeed it must. Do Muslims have any proper strategy or programme in this regard? My answer is firmly in the negative.

Despite the massive anti-Western movements and sentiments that have characterised much of the Muslim world since the last one hundred and fifty years, the fact remains that Muslim intellectuals, particularly the ulema, have only a very superficial understanding and knowledge of the West. In actual fact, there has been no serious attempt on the part of Muslim scholars to properly study and evaluate Western thought, civilization and history. Today, our religious scholars’ views about the West are about the same as the West had about Muslims and Islam several centuries ago in the wake of the Crusades. Many Muslim scholars have the same sort of stereotypical understandings of the West as the West had about Muslims at the time of the Crusades. Our religious scholars believe, and this is what they tell their followers, that the West simply stands for drunkenness, sexual license, immorality and all other sorts of wanton desires and pleasures. Because of this approach we have not been able to learn from the good things that the West has to offer, not even about aspects of the Muslim scientific heritage that the West had taken from us and had then built on. Instead, in many Muslim circles hatred of the West is considered to be the biggest sign of religiousness. This mentality was formed in the colonial period, and it should have been done away with the end of the European colonial empires. However, instead of that happening, it has been greatly reinforced and strengthened, and has now become so deep-rooted that Muslim reformers find it virtually impossible to combat.

Scores of institutions for the study of Islam and Muslim culture and history have been established in the West, and several Western universities have special departments concerned with these fields. They have produced a massive amount of literature. In contrast, there are probably not even two or three scholarly institutions in the Muslim world devoted to the study of the West using modern scholarly methods. Universities in Muslim countries should have set up departments of Western studies, and there should have been private- and government-funded institutions for the study of the West, but, unfortunately, these do not exist. We desperately need such institutions, to study Western history and culture in a critical yet dispassionate way, so that Muslims can understand what the limitations or drawbacks of contemporary Western civilisation are and also its virtues, which they could adopt.

Today, most Muslims have a double-standard approach to the West. On the one hand, many of them are vociferously opposed to the West and insist that Muslims should stay away from Western culture as far as possible. At the same time, many of them fervently desire to migrate to the West! I have been twice to America, where I met several Muslims who brand America as ‘the Great Satan’ but still continue to live there for the economic benefits and opportunities that America provides them. They show-off their American passports or, if they do not as yet have them, are impatiently awaiting the day when they would receive American citizenship. Why, one must ask, these double-standards? If these Muslims are so anti-America, why don’t they leave that country and return to what they consider as dar ul-Islam, ‘the abode of Islam’, where many of them came from?

I believe that there are numerous aspects of Western culture and society that reflect the virtues that characterised the early history of Islam. In contrast, look at many Muslim countries, where groups that want to serve the cause of Islam are under severe restrictions. It is unfortunate that almost the whole focus of Muslim groups in the West is on seeking to get recognition for Muslim cultural identity, often to the point of excess. Take, for instance, the case of women’s dress. Hijab or modest dress is adequate, but some Muslims in the West make a big hue and cry demanding that the face-veil (naqab) be allowed, and some even go beyond that, unmindful of the fact that this might lead to further escalation of anti-Muslim sentiments in society. Some extremist self-styled Islamic groups in the West, such as the Hizb ut-Tahrir, even raise the simplistic slogan of establishing an Islamic Caliphate in the West, completely forgetting that the liberty to do all this is not available even in the so-called dar ul-Islam.

The real conflict between Muslims and the West today is in the realm of ideas. Militarily, Muslims were defeated by the West two centuries ago, and, far from seriously hoping to militarily overwhelming the West, Muslim countries are thoroughly dependent on them for military aid. To effectively defend themselves, Muslims must first intellectually understand the West, and for this we need a group of Occidentalists, counterparts of the West’s Orientalists. But, unlike the classical Orientalists’ approach to the Orient, these scholars should not be blindly critical of the West, but should, in an objective fashion, examine both the drawbacks and the virtues of the West. Most Orientalists, as Edward Said so brilliantly brought out in his magnum opus Orientalism, did not adopt such a balanced approach, and actually served as tools of Western imperialism, but the sort of Occidentalists that we require must seek to objectively evaluate the West.

 

Islamophobia in the West

Some time ago, I met a Muslim professor who teaches in an American university, and I asked him about the future of Muslims in America. He seemed very pessimistic about this, and even said that Western powers might one day ask their Muslim citizens to leave. Personally, I do not think that this would be an easy task. Muslim and Western countries are too inter-dependent for this to happen. This is why it is imperative for them to seriously work to counter the present climate of hatred and mistrust between Muslims and the West. Unfortunately, the simplistic approach and egotism of some Muslim groups in the West and the propaganda of some Christian and Jewish religious and semi-religious forces are giving a tremendous boost to Islamophobic sentiments across the West. The practice of the Prophet Muhammad was to seek to create normal or settled conditions and for this to accept the terms and conditions set by his opponents so that the climate of hatred and conflict could be done away with. This is also what Muslims must seek to do, without compromising on the necessities of their faith. Muslims must also desist from viewing the West and Western culture in stark, Manichaean terms. They must seek to learn from the good things that the West has to offer while abstaining from its draw-backs, for everything that is good, no matter what its source, is of value to the whole human community.

Maulana Waris Mazhari, a graduate of the Dar ul-Ulum Deoband, is the editor of the New Delhi-based Tarjuman Dar ul-Ulum, the official organ of the Old Boys’ Association of the Deoband madrasa. He can be contacted on mazhariwaris@gmail.com Source: http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslims_and_the_west/0016927

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Melting pot cracks as Muslims reject Christian names in France

By Charles Bremner and Marie Tourres in Paris

They are born in France and called Louis, Laurent or Marie but they want to become Abdel, Said or Rachida. Such requests from immigrants’ children for name changes are mounting in the French courts and worrying a state that lays store on melding a single national culture.

In a sign of a new assertiveness, children with families from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco are reversing the old custom in which immigrants from the old colonies gave French names to their children.

Driven by a feeling that they do not belong to their Gallic Christian names, the applicants are meeting resistance from judges who are reluctant to endorse what they see as a rejection of France.

Under France’s strict administrative laws, an official change of first name requires court consent. Until 1992 parents could only register their babies with names from an approved list.

“The way I look is out of sync with my name,” said Jacques, 25, who wants to adopt a name from his parents’ native Algeria. He rejected the standard view that a French name overcomes the persisting reluctance of French employers to recruit nonwhite minorities.

“There is a double-take when I send a job application and then turn up for the interview. They hesitate, as if the person they have summoned could not be me,” he said.

There is abundant evidence that, despite antidiscrimination laws, French employers discriminate against job-seekers with foreign names. Nadine, who is in her forties, failed to convince a Paris court to let her go back to Zoubida, the name she had before naturalisation. “I want to return to my roots,” she told Judge Anne-Marie Lemarinier, according to Le Monde newspaper.

“My name change makes me feel guilt towards my family.” The judge replied: “Madame, I can understand that you want to identify with your community but the law does not have to bend to people’s moods.”

Frédéric Grilli, a Melun lawyer who acts for applicants, said that there was a connection between the desire to claim Maghebrin (North African) identity and France’s three-year-old ban against girls wearing Muslim headscarves in state schools.

Dominique Sopo, president of SOS Racism, a campaign group, said that France’s policy of integration was failing. “It rejects, stigmatises and consigns to the ghetto. This incites a retreat into community identity,” he told The Times.

“There is an enormous gap between political speeches on integration and the reality. But who can believe that changing a name can change something? It is sad to have got to that point.”

Identity crisis

— A young Vietnamese man in America changed his name to “Bonus” because when he arrived in the US he bought “bonus packs” of chewing gum to get him through his day working several jobs

— Sikhs called Singh or Kaur have to change their names before migrating to Canada as they are too common – Singh is given to Sikh baby boys, Kaur to girls

— Last year a couple were forbidden from naming their baby “4real” in New Zealand, where the law bans names that may cause offence or lead to bullying

Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article5158566.ece

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Mosque vote angers Muslims

Supervisors cite technical issues in rejecting plan, but group alleges bias

By MELODIE N. MARTIN, Nov 14, 2008

After learning that the Muslim community's pleas for a mosque in Henrico County were refused, Naveed Malik called each supervisor who voted against it "to give them an earful."

A Henrico resident and a Muslim, he goes to a makeshift mosque in a hotel conference room each Friday to pray rather than make the half-hour drive to the Islamic Center of Virginia in Chesterfield County.

"This is tremendously disturbing to me. It's a place of worship," Malik said. "When the next election comes, I'll make sure what resources I have will defeat those who voted against it."

Like Malik, other members of Henrico's Muslim community say they are disappointed by the Board of Supervisors' 3-2 vote Wednesday against allowing a one-story, domed, 10,500-square-foot mosque and community center to be built on 3.6 acres on Impala Drive in the Dumbarton area.

"I don't believe the county is saying no to a mosque in the county," said Imad Damaj, president of the Virginia Muslim Coalition for Public Affairs. "But I think they missed an opportunity of saying, 'Yes, we can be inclusive. Yes, we can work with you,' and go beyond splitting hairs of issues of zoning."

Mike Surani, a representative of the group of 11 investors from the Muslim community that owns the site, took a more critical view.

"We think the decision was blatantly racist and discriminatory," Surani said.

Surani said the group plans to file a complaint against the zoning decision in Henrico Circuit Court and pursue a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on the grounds of discrimination on violation of their First Amendment rights.

Just after voting with supervisors Richard W. Glover and James B. Donati Jr. to deny the rezoning, Board of Supervisors Chairman David A. Kaechele told the audience that the decision was based on technical issues. County planners had said that rezoning the site from office to residential use, and the existence of a stream and wetlands there, conflicted with the county's land-use plan for the area.

"Mr. Glover and all of us agree we would like you to find a home in Henrico County and I can assure you that the planning staff would be glad to assist in that regard. . . . Discrimination is far from our thoughts and we wish you the best to find this home," Kaechele said.

Supervisors Patricia S. O'Bannon and Frank J. Thornton voted in favor of the rezoning.

The group purchased the site at an auction in January and was under the impression it could be easily rezoned for a mosque, Surani said.

John Mizell Jr., an attorney representing the group, cited examples from recent years when the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors made exceptions to the county land-use plan for Mennonite and Episcopal churches. He added that the site has remained vacant since 1984, when a previous owner rezoned it from residential to office use.

"I think this is a relatively modest deviation from the land-use plan and I ask for consistency," Mizell said yesterday.

Of an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 Muslims in the greater Richmond area, between 4,000 and 5,000 live in Henrico County, Damaj said.

Contact Melodie N. Martin at (804) 649-6290 or mmartin@timesdispatch.com.

http://www.inrich.com/cva/ric/living.apx.-content-articles-RTD-2008-11-14-0147.html

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-the-west/islam-in-the-west-to-become-islam-of-the-west--uk-muslims-come-with-new-terminology---/d/987


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