City of Brass

City of Brass

je ne suis pas Charlie #IamNotCharlie

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I am not charlie

I fully support the right, and I also deeply appreciate the sentiment, of the cartoonist Luz, who is one of the survivors of the despicable attack on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that was attacked by Al Qaeda last week. Here is Luz’s (translated) statement in full:


I invoked all the talents of the magazine, all those who were not there any more, all those were still there, I said to myself, we must do a drawing that above all makes us laugh, and not one on the emotional charge we are victims of.

I had the idea of drawing this character of Mohammed, as it’s my character, because he existed, at least in people’s hearts, and in any case he exists when I draw him.
He is a character that got our offices burned, and a character who at first got us treated as the great white knights of the freedom of the press because the offices had burned down. Then a year later when we redrew the character we were treated as dangerous provocative and irresponsible. So this character led us to be called either white knights or provocateurs, whereas we are above all cartoonists who draw little people like children do.


The terrorists were once kids, they drew like us, like all kids, then one day they perhaps lost their sense of humour, perhaps their child soul able to see the world from a bit of a distance, because that’s Charlie – being able to draw the world from a small distance. So I drew saying to myself: “I am Charlie”. That was my idea but it wasn’t enough.
The only idea left was to draw Mohammed, I am Charlie. Then I looked at him, he was crying. Then above, I wrote: “All is forgiven”, and then cried. We had the front page, we had finally found this bloody front page. This was our front page.

This was not the front page the world wanted us to draw, it was our front page.

This is not the front page that the terrorists want us to draw, as there are no terrorists in it, just a man who cries: it’s Mohammed. I am sorry that we drew him again, but the Mohammed we drew is a Mohammed who is crying above all.


I can’t bring myself to reprint the image of Mohammed (SAW) that Luz has drawn, as is my right and according to my religious values. However. The reason I am appreciative is that the image of the Prophet (SAW) that he has drawn is not the image that the terrorists have in mind. It is not the image that the Islamophobes have in mind. It is, in a real sense, the image of the Prophet (SAW), in emotion, that I have in mind. Qualities of humanity and empathy, of wisdom and of tolerance – the very qualities that hundreds of millions of Muslims celebrate every year on Mawlid al Nabi, as we celebrated last week.

And the terrorists hate that version of Mohammed (SAW) most of all. They hate the version of Mohammed (SAW) that is an inspiration to Muslims, that Muslims love. They want to paint a version of the Prophet (SAW) that is a slave to their needs and goals, political and selfish and hateful.


Which is why, I regret that I can’t join in the viral sentiment of Je suis Charlie (“I am Charlie”) – because the image of the Prophet SAW, though penned by Luz with truly noble intentions, will be and has already been co-opted by those who in action support the terrorists’ interpretations of my religion and my Prophet SAW – the Islamophobes. I support Charlie Hebdo’s right to free speech unequivocally – including their right to be tools. And I don’t begrudge or take offense at the mad rush to buy the new issue of Hebdo with Luz’s cartoon on the cover – but I have no illusions that those copies are bought in the name of free speech alone.

Related – muslims in Paris also are not Charlie. In fact, many people are not Charlie, nonmuslims and muslims alike.


Merry Milad and Happy New Year

posted by Aziz Poonawalla
Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask Allah to confer blessing upon him and ask Allah to grant him peace

Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels ask Him to do so. O you who have believed, ask Allah to confer blessing upon him and ask Allah to grant him peace

This year, Milad al Nabi is closer to the New Year than Christmas! By the Fatimid calendar, Milad (or Mawlid) is today, 3rd January 2015 – which fittingly also coincides with the perihelion of the Earth.


However you reckon the date, this is the time of year where hundreds of millions of Muslims remember with love and joy the memory and guidance of their beloved Prophet, Mohammed Rasulullah SAW.

Mohammed! As Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA said, it is a name that the mouth feels joy in speaking aloud. A Muslim’s love – mohabbat – fr the Prophet SAW is a sign of sincerity, of piety, of shukr (gratitude). What a wondrous gift was Mohammed to mankind! It is with mohabbat for Mohammed that Muslims the world over, for centuries, have prayed salawat – upon Mohammed, be Peace.

Mohammed Rasulullah SAW

Merry Milad to all and to all a good night!

(Of course, there is controversy over this sentiment. For those interested in the debate over Milad, please see my post, Reflection on Milad al-Nabi)


Have a very Muslim Merry Christmas

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Quran 5:46

And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous. — Qur’an 5:46

And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. — John 1:5


The Islamic new year has begun a couple months ago already, but it is still December to which I associate the closing of the year. The shortest day and the longest night just passed, and it is Christmas Eve. The holiday spirit and the traditions surrounding the holidays have their own cultural significance, one which all Americans share, regardless of whether we are Christian or Muslim or something else or nothing else. However, as a believer, I am grateful for this opportunity to celebrate the birth of the Prophet Jesus AS – and I note that the birth of the Prophet Muhammad SAW is right around the corner this year as well. These Abrahamic convergences always make me happy :)


I think that the idea of a War on Christmas is nonsense – if anything, Jesus won. In Texas they even have legal protection for saying Merry Christmas. However, imaginary persecution aside, I do believe that there is a need to put Christ back in Christmas, especially with regards to taking action – charity and forgiveness, values that the Prophet Isa AS urged his followers to uphold year-round, not just for a few weeks before and after the solstice. Muslims have every right to publicly embrace Jesus AS as a Prophet and saying “Merry Christmas” is one way to assert that co-ownership.


The Prophet Jesus – Isa Nabi AS – was indeed a guidance and light unto mankind, which the darkness comprehends not. I will celebrate Christmas by praying salawat upon him and striving to uphold his teachings.

Merry Christmas!

(and don’t forget folks. Santa is a Muslim. Really. It explains everything.)


Vote now in the (delayed slightly) Brass Crescent Awards!

posted by Aziz Poonawalla


Voting in this year’s Brass Crescent Awards is now underway, after a few months’ delay. Here’s the explanation from the official site:

We would like to sincerely apologize for the delay in this year’s voting. The reason for the delay was that we did not have sufficient blogsphere nominations as we needed, which can be reflected in the fewer categories available for voting this year. Consolidating the categories required some careful thought in order to stay as fair as possible to our nominees.


In truth, the number of nominations has been dropping for several years, as the nature of online conversations has shifted away from the blogsphere and towards social media. The Brass Crescent Awards are over a decade old, and we are striving to ensure that they remain as relevant for the decade ahead.

To that end, we would like to solicit your thoughts, on what changes we can make to help improve these Awards and make sure we remain effective in our goal of promoting the voice of Muslims online, in whatever medium they choose to express themselves. Bear with us and please let us know what you think – there is an additional spot for you to write whatever comments and thoughts you may have on how the Awards should evolve, right below the voting for each category below.


Thank you for making the Awards every year such a success. With your help, we will make sure that the Brass Crescent Awards remain a success in the years to come.

As mentioned, the categories have been condensed – they are:


Vote now in each of the categories at! In addition, there is also a field for you to leave your own comments about the future of the Awards. Make your voice heard!

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