My Experience at ProgressiveIslam.org
Please make sure to read Call to Action as the issues discussed there are more important than my being offended.
“This morning, I decided to test a new Friday routine. Since the guest preacher from Egypt doesn’t deliver his sermons in English, I figured there was little point in listening to him. While I can understand the words in Arabic, sermons in my native language delivered by native speakers have a far greater rhetorical impact on me. The subjects of sermons, too, are just as important. Preachers who have experience in the kind of lives we lead can use metaphors that strike us like lightening and instill in us an immediate understanding. I remember fondly some of the sermons in my home city by a Blackamerican preacher who had converted in the 1950’s, Imam Mansour. Because of his colorful metaphors, I would see rows of heads nodding with grins, because we all had been there and knew the exact nuances of what he was telling us. I don’t experience that in this city, but for one memorable episode when a Blackamerican imam form a different city stood on the pulpit and spoke plainly, telling us in a fairly good fashion that he knew “what the game is, and I’ll tell you, you young Muslims, the gig is up!” Only a few heads nodded in knowing agreement, while perhaps the majority immigrant audience was struggling to understand what a “gig” was (and no, its not short for Gigabyte in this case).”
A great article by OmarG that tackles a major problem within the Muslim community. The article is posted at ProgressiveIslam.org and I have to admit that I was so excited to see a site called “ProgressiveIslam.org” and let me fill you in on how they describe themselves.
“Welcome to ProgressiveIslam.Org, an online community and a super blog for Muslims of all theological orientations and any one else with an interest in issues relating to Islam, empowerment, freedom, equality and authenticity, to gather and engage in creative, thoughtful and intelligent discussion and debate.
ProgressiveIslam.Org is an online town commons created for individuals to gather and engage each other through sharing news, insights, opinions, stories, art, and scholarship. Just like at an old town commons, ProgressiveIslam.Org offers its resources to the community to build practical connections by providing space for social networking, education, activism, and forums for debate. It is our sincere hope that through this space and others like it we can avoid the tragedy of the commons by working with each other toward a unified community of diverse Muslims.”
I asked myself, so what makes it progressive and found the answer to that as well:
“We are not an organization, at least not in the typical sense of the word. We are a team of progressive Muslims, working together in a deliberate absence of formal structure. So, rather than having a mission statement or by-laws or boards of directors and advisers or a specific goal in mind, what we have is a ‘niyya’, an intent.”
So, why did this comment (my first comment on this site) spark one contributor of this site and another commentor to accuse me of discrimination?
I liked this post. I have read some articles of Abu El-Fadl (who dawood has informed me is recovering, inshallah, from a brain tumor) and see great hope in his views. I hope to read more of his books in the future.
If you think attending a khutba in a foreign language is bad, try attending a parent teacher conference where the Arabic teacher doesn’t speak English. So, there I am with 3 teachers all speaking between each other in Arabic and me wondering if they are actually going to inform me of my daughters’ progress. Mahsallah, the youngest is so pretty was about all I was able to get out of them. Not to mention that when I cracked a joke about I should start talking to myself in Bosnian I got the evil eye by the interpreter and she growled “well, it is the language of the Quran, you know.”
Now, I was offended and I tried to remain calm at the first accusation:
Samaha- My mother was Bosnian, my dad Egyptian. sadly, she never
thought her language/culture passing on. The predominance of Arabic
and English in our household came not so much from my father’s
chauvinism as from my mother’s lack of interest in passing on her own
Incidentally, our love of Arabic had nothing to do with a Muslim
supremacist stance. My parents were both largely indifferent to
religion. It was part of being educated and being able to read a
rich literary tradition that preceded Islam, to say nothing of
of the rich local variants that enable us as humanists to enter worlds
created by cultural agents with much to contribute in a globalized
world. Reducing such a rich varied language to ethnic politics
in American mosques seems provinicial, to say nothing of the persistent
anti-Arab chauvinism it reveals.
whether my defensiveness came accross in the following comments, I can not say for sure. I did try to remain civil. Hell, I was not only condemning some of the “arab chauvenism” but also condemning “bosnian lack of religion”. I tried making light of the situation, but to no avail. I tried bringing the subject back on track but to no avail. I’ll let you judge for yourselves.
The truth of the matter is that I am deeply hurt by being accused of discrimination. Sure, I have “issues” with Arab foreign policy. I have “issues” with certain groups that have come to Bosnia to “spread their one and only version of Islam”, but NEVER have I concluded that these types are “Arabs” and clumped ALL Arabs into a whole. My children have multi-cultural dolls for heavens sake. Their best friends are Arabs, Pakistanis, Palestinians, etc. My best friends are the same.
But, somehow because I feel that an Islamic school in America should have English speaking teachers and Friday sermons should be held in English, somehow I have turned into a bigot. Somehow, because I found it rude of three teachers (2 of whom speak perfect English) to speak Arabic and have a jolly time laughing while I sat there oblivious to what they were saying, somehow I am a bigot. God help us all.
Somehow, I thought I’d get an apology or more “contributors” of Progressive Islam would show up and voice their disagreement, but none of that happened. Needless to say, I won’t be going back.