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City of Brass

City of Brass

the 12th Annual Brass Crescent Awards – nominations open

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

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It’s that time of the year again!

What are the Brass Crescent Awards? Created in 2004 by Shahed Amanullah and Aziz Poonawalla, they are named for the Story of the City of Brass in the Thousand and One Nights. Today, the Brass Crescent – bloggers, artists, writers – is the modern equivalent of 1001 Tales – our stories are not about genies and sultans, but our faith, our culture, and our identity. The Brass Crescent Awards exist to promote our modern storytellers, who are forging a new synthesis of Islam and modernity, and are the intellectual heirs to centuries of philosophy that were the hallmark of Islamic civilizations past. Islam transcends history, and the Brass Crescent is forging history anew for tomorrow’s Islam.

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This year the BCA are revamped with categories more focused on how people use the web in the social media era. Of course we still have Best Blog, but there are new categories like Best Instagram Feed and Best Hashtag. The blogsphere isn’t the only footprint of Muslims online anymore and the BCA has been evolving right alongside.

Here are the category descriptions this year in full:

BEST MUSLIM BLOG: Even in the age of social media, blogs are still alive and relevant. Which one does everyone still need to read? This category honors the most indispensable, Muslim-authored blog there is. Period.

BEST FEMALE BLOGGER: The woman’s voice is often unheard, unless we make extra effort to listen. And online spaces are filled with talented and important voices. Which blogs best represents those voices and are deserving of attention?

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BEST ARTICLE OR BLOG POST: Even in a world of social media, people still tend to share links to actual articles or posts that connected with them in some way. Which article or blog post provoked the most discussion this year?

BEST WEBSITE: Some of the best platforms to express Muslim identity are traditional websites that convey information in both traditional and innovative ways. Which websites did the best job this year in contributing to Muslim online spaces?

BEST MOBILE APP: Mobile apps allow you to take an experience with you, and can connect you with communities, information, and events. Which mobile apps are designed to best enhance the Muslim experience?

BEST CAMPAIGN OR INITIATIVE: We now have multiple tools to help organize people, raise funds, and bring awareness to situations that need our attention. Which campaign best exemplified Islamic values and made the most difference?

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BEST TWITTER HANDLE: Twitter has become a powerful tool to project ideas, organize for change, and influence the influencers. Which Twitter feed has done this in creative, consistent ways over the past year?

BEST HASHTAG: Hashtags can be used on any social media platform to convey so much more than the sum of their letters: a social campaign, meta commentary, or layers of sarcasm. Which hashtag grabbed the attention of the world?

BEST TWEET: Sometimes a sentence of 140 characters or less can travel the world and touch millions of people in only a matter of hours. Which tweet from last year made an impact that generated a vital conversation?

BEST PHOTO OR GRAPHIC: Whether it is an unfiltered iPhone 6 photo, a filtered Instagram post, a creative infographic, or a Photoshopped composite, which one of these spoke the proverbial thousand words to its viewers?

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BEST MEME: They are so simple to make – a photo with words on top and bottom – but they convey ideas and humor effectively over social media. Which ones really strike a nerve or funny bone among digital Muslims?

BEST PODCAST OR VIDEO BLOG: It’s one thing to put out great online content – it’s another thing to do it on a regular basis and keep people continually entertained and/or informed. Which podcasts, video blogs, and YouTube channels make the cut?

BEST VIRAL VIDEO: These days, anyone can take a GoPro, a laptop, and a copy of FinalCut/Premiere and make something amazing. What short video took creativity to a new level, spread like wildfire, and made people laugh or think?

BEST INSTAGRAM FEED: Instagram is not just for foodie pictures anymore – it is used by journalists, small business owners, and celebrities. Which Instagram feed is the most creative and engaging online photo feed?

Nominations are open until September 10th so get your picks in!!

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Obvious: The Iraq War created ISIS

posted by Aziz Poonawalla
Iraq War Consequences by Steve Sack

Iraq War Consequences by Steve Sack

This is something that is so obvious, it is in danger of never being said, in which case those who led us into war will try to pretend it isn’t true as they argue the case for the next one. Simply put – the Iraq War (a war of choice, irrelevant to 9-11, sold to the public on the basis of weapons of mass destruction that never existed) is directly responsible for the rise of ISIS:

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In the broadest view, Isis seems the product of a catastrophic war – the Anglo-American assault on Iraq. There is no doubt that the ground for it was prepared by this systematic devastation – the murder and displacement of millions, which came after more than a decade of brutalisation by sanctions and embargoes. The dismantling of the Iraqi army, de-Ba’athification and the Anglo-American imprimatur to Shia supremacism provoked the formation in Mesopotamia of al-Qaida, Isis’s precursor. Many local factors converged to make Isis’s emergence possible last year: vengeful Sunnis; reorganised Ba’athists in Iraq; the co-dependence of the west on despotic allies (al-Sisi, al-Maliki) and incoherence over Syria; the cynical manoeuvres of Assad; Turkey’s hubristic neo-Ottomanism, which seems exceeded in its recklessness only by the actions of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

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The failure of the Arab Spring has also played a part. Tunisia, its originator, has sent the largest contingent of foreign jihadis to Iraq and Syria. Altogether an estimated 17,000 people, mostly young men, from 90 countries have travelled to Syria and Iraq to offer their services to Isis. Dozens of British women have gone, despite the fact that men of Isis have enslaved and raped girls as young as 10 years old, and stipulated that Muslim girls marry between the ages of nine and 17, and live in total seclusion. “You can easily earn yourself a higher station with God almighty,” a Canadian insurrectionist, Andre Poulin, exhorted in a video used by Isis for online recruitment, “by sacrificing just a small bit of this worldly life.”

Ironically, had we done nothing in Iraq, the Arab Spring might have succeeded – in Iraq first. And that might have resulted in different outcomes in Egypt, in Syria…

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Eid at the State Department

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I am honored to be invited to celebrate Eid al Fitr at the State Department again this year. And I am relieved that this time, it’s actually taking place after Ramadan, which means I can actually attend for the first time! :) I am looking forward to meeting Secretary Kerry and thanking him for his tireless work, congratulate him for his leadership in the Iran negotiations, and praising him for his clear assertion at Davos that there’s nothing inherently Islamic about violent extremism.

I’ll land in DC tonight and will hopefully have time to write my thoughts :) stay tuned…

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The Empire State goes green for Eid

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

As is tradition, the Empire State Building – the most beautiful skyscraper in the world – was illuminated in green to mark Eid al Fitr. Of course, in 2015, this is announced via the official twitter account :)

Ignore the knee-biter islamophobes and just take a moment, as a proud American and a proud Muslim, to appreciate the beauty of this building and the graciousness of this tradition.

(Also, there are some nice photos of the ESB Eid colors on Flickr)

Related: The Fourth and the First

Previous Posts

the 12th Annual Brass Crescent Awards - nominations open
It's that time of the year again! What are the Brass Crescent Awards? Created in 2004 by Shahed Amanullah and Aziz Poonawalla, they are named for the Story of the City of Brass in the Thousand and One Nights. Today, the Brass Crescent - ...

posted 5:13:45pm Aug. 21, 2015 | read full post »

Obvious: The Iraq War created ISIS
This is something that is so obvious, it is in danger of never being said, in which case those who led us into war will try to ...

posted 1:48:22am Jul. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Eid at the State Department
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posted 11:01:00am Jul. 21, 2015 | read full post »

The Empire State goes green for Eid
As is tradition, the Empire State Building - the most beautiful skyscraper in the world - was illuminated in green to mark Eid al Fitr. Of course, in 2015, this is announced via the official twitter account ...

posted 1:21:00am Jul. 20, 2015 | read full post »

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