Archive for the ‘ Pakistani Britons ’ Category

VJ Syra, Most Wanted and MTV Pakistan

Taking a break away from all the current events, news, and politics to talk briefly about something completely different, my favorite MTV Pakistan VJ/Personality: Vy Syra Khan. The VJ of MTV Pakistan for the last couple years.

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Pakistan: The Voices of Reason Must not be Silenced by Fear

By Sadiq Khan for The Independent

The news that Salman Taseer, the powerful governor of Pakistan’s most populous province, had been gunned down by his own security guard for standing up against the country’s draconian blasphemy laws, came as a bleak reminder of political fissures that divide the country.

The sickening scenes of Taseer’s murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, being showered by rose petals as he entered court to lodge his guilty plea were starkly juxtaposed with images of candlelit vigils at the spot where he was shot 27 times in the back.  These contrasting responses to Taseer’s assassination are illustrative of a fundamental split between those who want to see Pakistan fulfill her potential as a thriving, liberal and tolerant democracy and those that want to terrorize and isolate Pakistani citizens under a misguided and perverted interpretation of Islam.

While denouncement of last week’s criminal act was muted amongst Pakistan’s clerics and politicians – including those from the Pakistan Peoples Party, to which Taseer belonged – British citizens of Pakistani descent have been vocal in our condemnation and our mantra is clear – this death due to terrorism, as with the 25,000 others in Pakistan in recent years, is not in our name. It is not in the name of Islam and it is not in the name of Pakistan.  And while saddened by this loss, the real tragedy of Salman Taseer’s murder would be if it stopped other progressive, liberal people in Pakistan speaking up for fear of violent repercussions.

Qadri, though responsible for his own deplorable actions, was spurred on by inflammatory rhetoric from extremists preaching hatred and inciting violence against all those who stand up for the pluralist founding ideals of Pakistan. It is not only in Pakistan where irresponsible political language has repercussions beyond the boundaries of discourse and spill over into violence, but in Pakistan there is a danger that the voices of reason will be drowned out by the increasing clamor of hate, or silenced in fear.

Moderation and liberalism in Pakistan must not be allowed to die with Governor Taseer. Right-minded politicians and religious leaders must speak up, knowing that the UK as well as Muslims and non-Muslims around the world, are behind them.  Addressing a distinguished audience at the memorial meeting for Taseer at the Pakistani High Commission in London this week, MPs from all major British political parties spoke in solidarity with Pakistan and I was encouraged by the various Pakistani leaders who attacked those who corrupt Islam’s peaceful message and sought to assure Christians and other minority groups that they will be defended and protected.

If a society is ultimately judged by how it treats its most vulnerable and marginalized, then Pakistan is at a crossroads. Those, like Salman Taseer, who believe in a modern, peaceful Pakistan, governed by the rule of law, under which all people are equal and all faiths are free to worship, need to speak out in defense of it and in condemnation of the alternative.

After being struck by a natural disaster that swept away the lives, crops and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people in Pakistan last year, there is the potential that Pakistan could slip into a political disaster of its own making. Salman Taseer paid the ultimate price in trying to ensure this didn’t happen, but let that not be in vain.

The Illiteracy of Hate

A News and Opinion Special Report by Manzer Munir for Paksitanis for Peace

Alleged Taliban Member pic courtsey of Boston Globe

The Taliban are not just simply a bunch of illiterate thugs and bullies for they too often prove to be even worse than animals and barbarians.

Nowhere else in the world has a country experienced a more tragic and callous attack as the one on Christmas day, the birth day of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, than the one Pakistan experienced. In an attack described by President Obama as an “affront on humanity”, the cowards attacked helpless women, children and men while they queued up in food and aid distribution site such as the WFP depot, people who mind you are already suffering from the ongoing war, once in a lifetime floods, and the poverty and radicalism of a generation of desperate, hopeless and increasingly uneducated young men brainwashed by the Taliban and other radical Muslim extremists.

I am still disturbed by the disdain for basic human life that this new attack proves about this radical and extreme enemy. I imagine another one of their brain washed ‘walking zombies’, this time purportedly a woman suicide bomber, a first, even for Pakistan, killed in excess of 43 people in Bajur Pakistan at a World Food Program rations and aid storage and distribution center.

The Pakistani authorities and several domestic and foreign NGO’s who provide food aid at various centers in the area are temporarily closing these centers in order to have increased security. This means that aid distribution will come to a crawl and up to several hundred thousand people will now have to suffer at the hands of the attacker and their backers, the Taliban who have claimed responsibility. The authorities will have to ensure the safety of aid organizations and their personnel for both Pakistani and non Pakistanis relief workers involved in getting food, water and medicine to many people who are either suffering from the war or from the floods.

This catastrophe, although not of near Biblical proportions, does present both a security and humanitarian problem to both the government of Pakistan as well the suffering citizens in the northwest areas of the country where; Taliban fighters take sanctuary from the war in Afghanistan to regroup and return to the fight in warmer weather after the winter months as we have seen in years past. In fact, the reach of the Taliban in Pakistan is now not only reputed to be in the headquartered areas such as in Quetta Pakistan among the restive Baluchi population, now they are so often found to be in major cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and many points in between as they use their religious cover to endear themselves to certain impressionable, weakened or illiterate individuals that are so commonly found in throughout the country. 

Here are the some of the depressing facts. Pakistan, a nation approaching 180 million people at current estimates, perhaps only boasts to having about 60-65% of the male population at a literate level and at best, the females to be only at 40-45% of the total female population. Sadly, what this means is that 4 out of 10 Pakistani males are completely illiterate while up to as many as 6 out of 10 women are not able to read or write. Poverty breeds extremism since there is no support from any government programs or hope for any solution.

Time and time again throughout history and not just of Pakistan’s, we can see that the role of the church, synagogue or mosque in building the community is deeper than that of any government initiatives or other measures. The poverty for these young men along with the lack of jobs like for those individuals who are either very poorly paid construction site workers, household labor or servants, or beggars and sewer workers, a job sadly almost seems to have been reserved for Pakistan’s Christian community members as many can attest in Pakistan of their unfortunate and depressing state. One does not need to remind the reader of the plight of Asia Bibi (also Aasia and Ayesa), the Christian Pakistani woman who is still awaiting her fate in Pakistani courts after more than a year and a half since first being accused of a BS blasphemy charge and being in jail ever since. 

The medieval mentality of these radical extremists is not something that needs to be described as the evidence is here in this latest attack . Certainly anyone alive in any part of the world outside Pakistan and Afghanistan with eyes, TV, radio or newspaper within their reach can see plenty of near daily reminders of the carnage that many natives of these lands see, and to what they have painfully become accustomed.

 The Pakistani and Afghani Talibans have by all the various reports in newspapers and media sources over the last several years have pointed out to the fact that these groups all have too often similar goals. Not only that, these groups all share the same characteristics. The anti-Americanism, the pro-Wahaabi or Orthodox version of Islam, the need for justice for the ‘suffering of the Palestinian people’ , and the anti-colonial and often times anti western sentiment amongst these groups. The radicalization of certain Muslim groups be they Hamas and Hezbollah in the Mideast or Lashkar e taiba, or any other militant outfit operating in this part of the world as mentioned in this quote a few days before he passed, the late Richard Holbrooke of the US State department said that there are a range of militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and that “an expert could add another 30.” His exact words are in quotations. 

The radical Muslim groups who take prey of the weaker, cannot think for themselves because they are scions of those abjectly illiterate segments of the society who are only educated in the madrassahs of Pakistan. This is the de facto way of educating Pakistan’s poorer children in little mosque schools which consist of nothing but Qu’ranic surahs and words of ‘wisdom’ or ‘interpretation’ by the local mullah of the said mosque/school. Most probably these children in many Pakistani madrassahs, especially the ones who live near the border areas within the NWFP or North West Frontier Province of Pakistan as this is the part of the country most affected by its close proximity to Afghanistan.

The people in this area of Pakistan, as well as their cousins in Afghanistan have been fighting one enemy or another for the better part of 100 years now. Whether to them the enemy be the British, during the height of the British Raj rule in India, or to the Soviets and the Red army and the Cold War, then in chronological order came the infighting after the Russian withdrawal as various Tajik, Afghani, Uzbek, Pakistani warlords came in to try and consolidate power to now us Americans and the Pakistanis who are our allies in this war.

Granted we do often hear that the Pakistanis can be doing more. By all accounts, the Pakistani government can do more in terms of fighting this war on terror. Numerous western reports and articles in respected dailies have alleged that small elements within both Pakistan’s Army as well as the spy agency, the ISI, have sympathizers to either the Taliban’s cause or they want to be on favorable terms with a powerful entity that most in Pakistan’s establishment believes that Pakistan will be dealing with and not a weakened Karzai once the US begins to draw down troops and end the war by 2014. If this is indeed true, then these ‘officers’ and supposed ‘leaders’ of Pakistan should realize that the colluding with the enemy, which in this case is the Taliban, is tantamount to treason, and the members of the armed forces of Pakistan as well as the intelligence community should not be assisting the enemies of all concerned: Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States. 

Of course we must not kid ourselves and assume that only alleviating the illiteracy and poverty of the Pakistani youth will and bettering the education system of the Pakistani poor, particularly that of the refugees and residents of the northwest areas near the Afghan border. No there needs to be a study and introspection by the people of these two countries where this hatred breeds. To to get out of this darkness, the population needs be provided not only safety when delivering food aid and or medicine but aldo most importantly give them a book, a pen, and a paper. And teach them how to fish for knowledge with basic comprehension and deductive reasoning skills that can reject a radical and violent view of Islam too often manipulated by the clergy. This is the only way we can come to end this illiteracy of hate.

Manzer Munir, is a proud and patriotic Pakistani American, an author, who plans to write a book on Pakistan, who is also a blogger and journalist, and as the Founder of Pakistanis for Peace  can be found at www.PakistanisforPeace.com, www.DigitalJournal.com ,www.Open.Salon.com, www.Examiner.com, as well at other websites as a freelance journalist and writer.

Muslim American Artists Strive to Bridge a Chasm

By Thalia Gigerenzer for The New York Times

When Wajahat Ali, a young Muslim American playwright from Fremont, needed to build an audience for his work, he produced his plays in cramped Pakistani restaurants in the East Bay and used Facebook to get the word out.

His play “The Domestic Crusaders” went on to open at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in 2005, and then moved to Off Broadway. Now, family members who were initially skeptical of Mr. Ali’s decision to pursue writing see great power in his profession.

Mr. Ali said his uncle had told him that he wished he had “made his son into a journalist,” because “after 30 years of living in this country, I turn on the TV and see myself as a terrorist.”

Mr. Ali is one of a growing number of Bay Area artists who are reimagining one of the country’s most complicated compound identities: Muslim American.

At a time when Islam has been heavily politicized, many Muslim artists say they hope the arts can expand understanding of their faith among non-Muslims as well as bridge American and Islamic traditions.

“We’re at a point where Islam is really being defined in this country, and it’s going to be through the arts,” said Javed Ali, founder of Illume, a Muslim online news, arts and culture magazine based in Newark that serves as one of the central nodes of the Bay Area Muslim American network.

Bay Area Islamic organizations, including the much-heralded Zaytuna College in Berkeley, have embraced the shift toward culture. In January, the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California will open a new gallery in the center to showcase Muslim artists.

The cultural center, in Oakland, decided to increase its arts programs six months ago, said Ali Sheikholeslami, its executive director. The center regularly hosts an event called “Islam and Authors,” which invites authors to discuss topics related to Islam.

“We want to break through common stereotypes and present the whole spectrum of Muslim reality,” said the cultural center’s marketing and development director, Jason van Boom.

Hatem Bazian, one of the Islamic scholars behind Zaytuna College, the first Muslim liberal arts institution in this country, echoed that thought.

“In American society,” Mr. Bazian said, “artistic expression is the way we narrate our story, so Muslims are beginning to draw their own narrative.”

The Bay Area’s Muslim population, estimated to be 250,000, is one of the most diverse in the United States.

Mr. Bazian, who is also a senior lecturer at the departments of Near Eastern and ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said the wide mix of ethnicities and large number of converts in the Bay Area’s Muslim population “creates synergies” that can be seen in new art forms that break ethnic molds.

Some local artists have taken an online entrepreneurial approach to Islam. Khadija O’Connell, a Hayward resident, started her Web-based arts and craft business, Barakah Life, in 2003 as a way to bring a modern, handcrafted aesthetic to Muslim items most commonly found in gaudy, imported styles.

Ms. O’Connell relies on online tools like blogging and Facebook to promote ideas like her pop-up crescent moon cards that would look at home on the popular crafts site Etsy.

“People used to adapt neutral Christmas ornaments, like stars, and hang them up for Ramadan,” recalled Ms. O’Connell, who converted to Islam in college. “I wanted to bring new traditions to Muslims living in the West.”

For local Muslim American artists whose art has been deemed “radical” by more conservative Muslims, the road has not been an easy one.

Audience members walked out of an early November U.C. Berkeley performance of the play “Hijabi Monologues,” which features the stories of Muslim women and contains sexual references. “I’ve spent more time and energy negotiating with the community whether music is haraam [“forbidden”] than putting out content,” said Anas Canon, a convert and the founder of the record label and Muslim artist collective Remarkable Current, which includes the Bay Area MC/spoken word artist Baraka Blue. The label’s music ranges from soul to hip hop and has collaborated with artists such as Mos Def.

When Remarkable Current, which is based in both Oakland and Los Angeles, recently held a masquerade-themed book-signing with a D.J. in an Oakland home, debate erupted online ostensibly over men and women in costumes interacting together. An impassioned Facebook note condemning the event unleashed heated comments from Muslims across the Bay Area.

In the wake of controversies like the one over a proposed Muslim cultural center near ground zero in New York City, some second-generation Muslims’ art is tinged with a sense of urgency.

“Our narrative has been stolen from us,” Wajahat Ali said, referring to the common depiction of Muslims in the American news media.

The tendency of his parents’ generation to push their children to prestigious professions like medicine and business discouraged creative voices, he said.

But Bay Area Muslim artists are fast creating new narratives. Mr. Ali’s play, which depicts a modern Pakistani-American family, is featured in McSweeney’s literary magazine this month.

For many years, Mr. Ali said, he had described the local arts scene as “latent, with a heartbeat.” But now, he said, “it’s dancing.”

Amir Khan Does Enough to Retain Title

By Lance Pugmire for The LA Times

Amir Khan stood on his greatest American stage Saturday, and the fact that he remained standing is why he retained his World Boxing Assn. junior-welterweight world title against Marcos Maidana.

Withstanding a brutal 10th-round assault by the tough, hard-hitting Argentine, England’s Khan convincingly answered allegations that he has no chin and otherwise produced a sensational display of speed and flurry punching to win a unanimous decision by scores of 114-111 (judges Jerry Roth and C.J. Ross) and 113-112 (Glenn Trowbridge).

“I’m a boxer, I know I’m going to get hit.” Khan, 24, said in the Mandalay Bay ring. “He’s a strong puncher. I took everything he gave me.”

Khan (24-1) knocked down Maidana in the opening round, unleashing a quick flurry that closed with a hard left to the body that brought an obvious groan of pain from the challenger.

Maidana (29-2), who had knocked out 27 opponents, couldn’t match Khan’s punching or foot speed, but he did catch the Briton of Pakistani heritage often, like in the second round, when he erupted with uppercuts and rights.

Maidana threw 767 punches to Khan’s 603, but landed only 156 to Khan’s 273. Khan won four of the first five rounds on the judges’ scorecards.

Maidana’s response was pressure that backed up Khan in the sixth and seventh rounds, and dimmed some of the champion’s earlier shine.

The eighth and ninth rounds went Khan’s way and he appeared en route to quieting the critics who still bark about his first-round knockout loss in 2008, producing a resilient, entertaining style that the sport has needed from a young star who previously fought in Europe and first came to the U.S. earlier this year.

This was more than that polite introduction; it was an all-out brawl that produced the epic 10th round in which Maidana appeared poised for a knockout in the first minute.

Maidana staggered the champion to the point he was grasping for support from anywhere — a ring rope, referee Joe Cortez, Maidana — to stay upright.

At one point, it appeared tears were coming from Khan’s eyes as Maidana battered him without abandon. All three judges scored the round 10-8 for Maidana, astounding given that Khan was not knocked down.

The sense afterward was that Khan was more thrilled by his display of toughness than his defensive lapses.

“I’m sure everyone watching my fight knows I’ve made mistakes,” Khan said. “But I worked hard and came back stronger than ever. He’s a strong fighter and punches hard. My chin was tested and I proved today I’ve got a chin.”

Maidana couldn’t get Khan in the 11th round, either, and the champion rallied late in the 12th round with impressive combinations, walking with his arms raised into the embrace of trainer Freddie Roach at the bell.

Trained by the Best, Amir Khan puts 140-pound Title on the Line

By Bob Velin for Usa Today

The way Amir Khan sees it, he’s spent a lot of time sparring with the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, and is trained by arguably the No. 1 trainer in the world.

So anything that Argentine power puncher Marcos Maidana throws his way Saturday night at the MGM Grand, well, Khan, who puts his 140-pound title on the line (HBO, 9:30 p.m. ET), has already seen it, or will know how to deal with it. You want speed? Few fighters are quicker than Manny Pacquiao, whom Khan sparred with in the Philippines when Pacquiao was training to fight Antonio Margarito in November. Khan says Pacquiao told him, “I’m the fastest guy he’s ever sparred with.”

How about power, Maidana’s forte? We know how Pacquiao re-arranged Margarito’s face that night in Cowboys Stadium last month. Khan’s trainer, Freddie Roach, who is also Pacquiao’s cornerman, says Khan more than held his own against Pacquiao, and, in fact, laid some pretty good licks on the eight-division world champion.

“Yeah, Freddie likes us to spar when we’re both 100%, and when we don’t take it easy on each other,” Khan said by phone last week. “It’s better for me to get that experience and see how far I am from being pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world, which is my ambition. So, yeah, I really did well against Manny, and it was a good, controlled spar. I controlled it when I wanted to control it.”

Maidana says he feels his power can overcome Khan’s speed. “The speed doesn’t bother me because I know I have 12 rounds,” says Maidana. “But I know one thing, when I hit him with one of the my hands, the fight is over.” Khan says Roach has brought out the best in him as a fighter.
“There were times when I used to fight with my heart too much, and I have to use my brains a little bit more,” says Khan. “I’ve got the boxing skills to do that, you know, with the background of the amateurs, and going to the Olympics and everything. Freddie’s taught me to use my brain and think about things more.”

Khan (23-1, 17 KOs) respects the punching power of Maidana (29-1, 27 KOs), but says, “(Maidana’s) a lot slower than me, he’s very predictable and I think somebody’s got to punch him at the right time.” They have one common opponent: Andriy Kotelnik, who handed Maidana his only loss in February 2009, while Khan scored a near shutout victory against Kotelnik in July 2009.

As for Maidana, Khan says he and Roach have worked on the 27-year-old Argentine’s weaknesses and they expect to exploit those weaknesses.
“I think with boxers at that level, they’re always going to (have) their habits. You’re not going to change,” says Khan. “He can try to change his tactics and stuff, but I think his habits are always going to be there. We know exactly what (Maidana) does wrong, and we’ve just got to capitalize on that. We’ve also been working on the stuff I do wrong. I’ll be watching fights with Freddie and I’ll make a lot of mistakes in fights so we’ve been correcting them as well. So (Maidana) can think I make this mistake and that mistake, but he’s going to be fighting a different Amir Khan on the 11th.”

Roach says Khan has changed his style since his shocking first-round knockout by Breidis Prescott as a lightweight in 2008, the only loss of his career, a loss that led some to believe that Khan does not have a strong chin. Roach says he’s a completely different fighter now. “The thing is, he knows how to set things up now,” says Roach. “He just doesn’t go in there and look for a one-punch knockout. He knows how to break a person down and he knows how to work behind his jab and … reach for the body. He’s just become a completely different fighter. We haven’t lost a round since we’ve been together (at the beginning of 2009). I mean, we haven’t lost one round.”

Khan says he expects to stay at 140 pounds for another 12-15 months before he moves up to welterweight. But first there are some outstanding junior welterweights out there he’d like to fight. “You’ve got Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander, there’s a lot of big names in that division,” says Khan, who just turned 24 this week. “Fighting them would be good for boxing, because that’s what people want, people want young fighters to fight (each other). They want explosive fighters instead of fighters past their peak.”

Both Khan and Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, which has Khan under contract, say his next fight will probably be in his native England. There had been talk that a good opponent for Khan to rebuild his popularity in England would be undefeated Brit lightweight John Murray (30-0, 18 KOs). Khan says that won’t happen because he and Murray are not on the same level. “I would get a lot of criticism for that because I’m a world-class fighter and he’s on a domestic level,” says Khan. “I want to fight world-class fighters, and I don’t think he’s in that category.”

Khan says when he moves up to welterweight, there’s no way he’d fight Pacquiao because they have become such good friends, and they share the same trainer. However, “with the strength and power and technique I have, I could fight a Floyd Mayweather,” he says.

God Bless Islam with Courageous Leadership

By Ebrahim Moosa for Religion Dispatches

As Muslim Americans and millions around the world celebrate the end of Ramadan 2010 what will they pray for? What was the spiritual harvest of the month of fasting, prayer, deep reflection, and discipline? Given the growing hostility directed towards Muslims in the United States and the horrible deeds perpetrated by persons aligned to Islam on 9/11 and elsewhere in the world, I for my part, will be making two prayers.

The first is to urge Muslims to affirm their solidarity with all of humanity. The words of this prayer come from a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad. It reads:

Oh Allah, Lord (Rabb) of all things. I testify that You alone are the Lord of the world, Lord of all things… I testify that all servants of God are one family… Make me and my family truthful to you in every moment of life in this world and the next. Oh powerful and generous one, hear and respond to my prayers…

My second prayer is that God bless Islam with a religious leadership that has a modicum of Solomonic wisdom and tons of moral courage.

Why these two prayers? I think many Muslims have forgotten the message of humanism and solidarity with all creation that are the cornerstones of Islam. All servants of God are part of a single family, the Prophet Muhammad taught. So how can faiths be at war, if only to serve earthly gods? Many of our religious leaders have forgotten that our theologies, teachings, and practices were means to serve a transcendent Creator; not for idolatrous ends. Many of the most prominent Muslim religious and moral authorities the world over—clergy, intellectuals, scholars, politicians—have, through silence and inaction, invited a plague of craven violence on a number of Muslim societies. In a manner of speaking, in many places, the asylum is in charge of the mosque. Religious leaders are more interested in cowing to public adulation through demagoguery than in showing courage and exhorting people to piety and sanity.

Check if the sermon in the`Id al-Fitr (End of Fasting) sermon at your mosque hinted at the cowardly acts of al-Qaeda who killed thousands on September 11 and elsewhere. Or if deeds of the Somalian Shabab who killed dozens of Ugandans watching a soccer World Cup match in the suburbs of Kampala caused outrage. Has anyone been able to keep track of the death toll inflicted in Pakistan by Taliban suicide bombers, who most recently killed more than 60 people in Quetta because they were Shi’a? Did anyone even notice that a radical Muslim group in India chopped off the hand of a Catholic professor in the state of Kerala in July for apparently offending the image of the Prophet Muhammad in an exam questionnaire?

`Id is a day of celebration with family and friends. But it is unconscionable if Muslims do not think seriously and act in unison about the deep moral crises afflicting our communities here and abroad. To think critically is not to bow to the hate of the Islamophobes, it is a sign of strength and faith. Those who claim that there are no “moderate” Muslim voices denouncing acts of violence committed by Muslims are wrong, and yes, there are many good things happening in Muslim societies that do not make the headlines. Yet it is delusional to think that the evil masquerading as faith does not erode the belief and values each Muslim.

To Muslim Americans I say, next time you wonder why young men like the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad become entangled in conspiracies to commit acts of violence in this country and abroad please ask the following questions: What is the qualification of the imam at your mosque? Is he enriched by the best of American and Islamic culture, in tune with his environment, or is he preaching a theology no longer even appropriate for people in Iran, Egypt, or Pakistan? Does he teach the tradition creatively and help people think imaginatively? Or does he focus on impieties and promote the virtues of paraphernalia like the dress code and the mandatory length of facial hairs? If the imam is as wise as the religious leader in the Canadian sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie, it will be a huge step up.

Mosque committees share their burden of responsibility too. Often they appoint preachers by applying the lowest and cheapest standard; theological diversity is frequently absent and enlightened thinking is considered too challenging and burdensome for them to contemplate. Will the smart Muslims in America and around the world stand up and be counted?

-Originally printed on Sep 9, 2010 for Religion Dispatches. Ebrahim Moosa is a professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University and an author of several books on Islam.

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