Welcome to Moozweek, a round-up of Muslim and Islam related news from the past week, and that perhaps you haven’t seen.

This week in Moozweek: RIP, Retribution, Counter Violence. Profiling. Rohingyas. Gay Rights. Threads. Vote-istan.


RIP Reformer…


Asghar Ali Engineer

Asghar Ali Engineer, a prominent Indian muslim scholar at a seminar in Pune University. (2010) Photo courtesy AshLin via Wikimedia Commons (http://bit.ly/184xvEk)

This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Scholar-activist Asghar Ali Engineer, a prolific writer and Islamic reformer who was nearly killed by extremists, died Tuesday May 14 at 73.

Born in India, Engineer was the son of a Bohra clergyman, and was trained early in Islamic scripture and law.  He went to work as a civil engineer but retired in 1972 to devote himself to religious activism. In 1980, he founded the Institute for Islamic Studies, and in 1993, the Center for Study of Society and Secularism, both in Mumbai. Engineer focused most of his energies on diffusing communal violence in India, progressive interpretations of Islam, women’s rights, and the poor. He published more than 50 books.     

“Scholarly, courageous and secular, Asghar Ali Engineer spent his life combating regressive beliefs and practices while presenting a modern, humanistic interpretation of Islam,” wrote Jyoti Punwani in the Mumbai Mirror.


Tsarnaev claims “retribution”…

The surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, wrote on the inside of the boat in which he was captured that he and his older brother Tamerlan planted the bombs as “retribution” for “U.S. attacks” on Afghanistan and Iraq. Does that mean the U.S. should reconsider its foreign policy? Here are two different views, one from Glen Greenwald at The Guardian, and the other from Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe.


Countering violent extremism…

The Muslim Public Affairs Council and the New America Foundation will host a briefing on countering violent extremism and online radicalization on May 28 in Washington D.C. Panelists include Imam Suhaib Webb of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Rabia Chaudry of the Safe Nation Collaborative, counter-terrorism consultant Mohamed Elibiary, and Rashad Hussain, U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.  


Profile this but not that…

Muslim groups are urging U.S. Senators to include safeguards against religious profiling in immigration reform bill S.744, which is currently being considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill does specify exemptions against racial and ethnic profiling, but not profiling based on religion or national origin.   


Ahmadi Leader in U.S…


Ahmadiyya leader Mirza Masroor Ahmad

Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad Khalifatul Masih V in Canada. (2005) Photo by Sirius86 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (http://bit.ly/17B3YV5)

This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

The leader of a small Islamic sect long persecuted by fellow Muslims but that continues to preach non-violence, made his first ever visit to the west coast of America this month. Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the “khalifa” of the Ahmadiyya movement, founded in India in 1889, has been in California for the last two weeks, where followers from all over the United States and abroad have come to see him.

There are about 80 million Ahmadis throughout the world, including 15,000-25,000 in the United States. They believe in non-violence and separation of church and state, but are also considered heretics by many Muslims because of their belief in a prophet who came after Muhammad, who traditional Muslims believe was the final prophet.



More sorrow for the Rohingya…


As Cyclone Mahasen bears down on Myanmar, Human Rights Watch is urging the government there to evacuate tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, already displaced by ethnic cleansing by Arakanese Buddhists, who now live in refugee camps located in flood-prone paddy fields along the country’s coastal areas.

“Vulnerable Muslim populations are at risk not only from the cyclone, but from violence at the hands of ethnic Arakanese communities and the very local security forces who were responsible for their displacement in the first place,” said Brad Adams, who heads Asia operations for Human Rights Watch.

Refugee Rohingya Muslims sitting on the ground

Displaced Rohingya people in Rakhine State photo courtesy Foreign and Commonwealth Office via Flickr (http://bit.ly/11Ij3TP)

This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.


Honoring Turks for Gay rights…

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission honored two Turks for their work “making a significant, lasting, and heroic impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people worldwide.”

The group honored Yasemin Oz, a human rights layer and legal advisor for different LGBT groups in Turkey, and Dr. Binnaz Toprak, a Turkish parliamentarian who in February made an unprecedented motion demanding a government inquiry into the situation of LGBT people in Turkey and protections for them against violence.


A common thread…

It’s easy to forget how intertwined our lives are with so many Muslims around the world, and that are actions here can have an impact on those relationships. Consider Bangladesh, the calamity-stricken nation of 150 million people, 90 percent of whom are Muslim, and where a garment factory collapsed in April, hilling 1,127 people. Many of the clothes made in those factories were made for American companies like Wal-Mart and foreign companies with stores in America, like Swedish retailer H&M.

While Bangladeshis and the Bangladeshi government no doubt have the biggest responsibility to protect each other, shouldn’t we also wonder whether as buyers of these clothes we have a responsibility to pay a higher price for them, to cover safety improvements in Bangladeshi factories and elsewhere? And by neglecting to do so, what kind of message do we send to the world about ourselves? 


History in Pakistan…

The world’s second-most populous Muslim majority nation completed a historic election this week, one that saw a democratically-elected government finish its five year term without falling to a coup or some other undemocratic interruption. The winner was Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League Party, who beat out cricket legend Imran Khan, who favors negotiations over military force to deal with the Taliban.

On May 25, Sharif will become Pakistan’s prime Minister for a third time. He also presided over two scandal-ridden administrations from 1990-1993, and 1997-1999, the second time being ousted by General Pervez Musharraf, who is now under arrest for murder.

Despite being beset with corruption, Taliban threats, poverty, and a lack of infrastructure, at least a few observers, like Adil Najam, believes the country may have turned a corner.


Salam Foodies…

Need some new food? Consider “The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey,”  a new book by Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt. According to a recent New York Times review the recipes “rely on chiles, sour plums and much of what’s sitting on your spice rack.”    


Quote of the week…

“The anti-Shariah movement, in reality is a movement of opportunists who use the growing fear and animosity of Islam and Muslims to gain cheap political points by introducing such legislation. Only a very small handful of people are obsessed with passing such legislation.” Faizan Syed, executive director of the St. Louis chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations. I interviewed him this week for a story about anti-Shariah bills being considered by legislatures in different states, including his, Missouri.

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