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City of Brass

City of Brass

City of Brass Archives

Malaysia’s Monopoly on Allah

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Over the course of the past week, nine churches in Malaysia have been firebombed, by muslim extremists who object to the Christian community’s use of the word “Allah” in their prayers. The dispute came to a head on Dec 31st […]

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the River of Islam

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

In response to my post on the Air Tran Flight 297 debacle, Dave Price at Dean’s World complains: I worry that even liberal Muslims like yourself are more concerned with defending your faith than acknowledging its problems and reforming it. […]

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Jews and Muslims in Europe must make common cause

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The Swiss minaret ban is a kind of canary in the coal mine. It’s worth noting that though Islamophobia is driven by fear, whereas anti-Semitism is driven by hate, the functional expression of both in European society follows very similar […]

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Switzerland bans the minaret

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

All muslims are Taliban, Islamophobia is the new anti-Semitism, and Shari’a is the new Protocols of the Elders of Zion. That’s the operational reality that muslims in Europe must acknowledge, in the wake of a referendum to ban the construction […]

a convergence of thanksgiving, renewal, and sacrifice

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Today again marks the Day of Arafat, a day of spiritual renewal and rebirth. In honor of this day I am observing the fast from sunrise to sundown, with members of my family who have traveled thousands of miles to […]

Liberté, fraternité, but not égalité: a note from Istanbul.

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by my friend Joshua Treviño. The American relationship with religion in public life is not as simple as the phrase “separation of church and state” implies. The American concept of liberty is deeply rooted in […]

Sarah Palin on Islam and China

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I’ve been bluntly critical of Sarah Palin before when I felt it warranted, but I’ve never had anything but respect for her formidable intellect and political saavy. I think she’s easily the most credible challenger to President Obama in 2012 […]

photos from the “Islam on Capitol Hill” jummah prayer

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

These photos are being sent to me live by a friend who is attending the event on Capitol Hill. She reports that there were a small number of protestors in a line further behind, but they seem to have bailed […]

the final fast of Ramadan

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

???? ?????? ?? ??? ?????! Today is the final fast of Ramadan. Unlike last year, it looks like almost everyone will be celebrating Eid al Fitr together on Sunday, a happy convergence of the Ummah. But talking about Eid is […]

Be thankful this Ramadan

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by Taha M Raja. If you believe that the more thankful you are then you will receive more, then this Ramadan is a good time to fundamentally change the way we live. The past 25 […]

Rendezvous with Ramadan

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Today is the last day, in which I can indulge my body and my mind in their petty habits and frivolities. Today is the last day in which being simply human suffices as an excuse not to seek transcendence towards […]

the last Sturgeon Moon before Ramadan

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The last full moon before Ramadan rises tonight. It puts me in mind of the song “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s Pocahontas – especially the refrain, Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon Or […]

Women’s Islamic Initiative in Equality and Spirituality Conference (WISE)

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by Dilshad D. Ali. In 2006 I received an invitation from Daisy Khan, founder of the American Society for Muslim Advancement to attend the first ever Women’s Islamic Initiative in Equity and Spirituality Conference (WISE) […]

On Hadith and righteousness: a debate

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

A few years ago, blogger Yursil had an interesting and provocative post about hadith and the theological methodology of the Salafi and Wahabi sects of Islam: The opposite of Taqlid is the approach taken by the Ahl ul Hadith (People […]

The Iranian crucible: Islam + Democracy = ?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Several thousand Iranians marched on Tehran University today in protest of the election, on the anniversary of a student protest in 1999: The demonstration is taking place on the 10th anniversary of a student uprising that, at the time, posed […]

Iran: If scholars and politics collide

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by Haroon Moghul. Events over the last few days have deeply concerned me. Watching the Grand Ayatollah at the top of the Islamic Republic deliver a sermon in which he made no meaningful concessions to […]

muslim pseudoscience: prostration

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

It took a profound atheist like Douglas Adams to recognize and succinctly state what should be obvious to any believer: “proof denies faith“. The essence of faith is to believe, and proof essentially makes the process of belief irrelevant. Thus […]

Muslim Voices Festival in New York

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This week in New York City, the Muslim Voices Festival is going on until June 14th – it’s a huge artistic celebration of muslim artists and cultures and if you happen to be in town, make sure you check it […]

in NYC robbery, Mohammed spreads Islam at the point of a gun

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is one of those amazing stories of the raw power of simple piety and compassion: Storekeeper Mohammad Sohail was closing up his Long Island convenience store just after midnight on May 21 when — as shown on the store’s […]

muslim holidays in prison versus school

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

One thing missing from the arguments of most poliitical opponents of Judge Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court is actual data – such as her legal written opinions from decades of serving on the bench. The SCOTUS Blog has done […]

Amalek and Jihad

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by Jonathan Edelstein. The topic is especially relevant today, because Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu just made explicit his view that Iran represents a modern-day Amalek, so it is worth understanding just what the theologic […]

Muslims Against Torture

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The following statement of principles, A New Muslim Statement Against Torture, is reprinted from Religion Dispatches. It came about as a direct result of the general failure of the muslim-American community to join the national dialouge condemning torture when president […]

sky gods

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

In an unrelated post at Talk Islam, my friend (and staunch atheist) Razib of GNXP blog made an off-hand reference to “sky gods”. This is a term that atheists often use, in the context of dismissing belief in the divine. […]

Pakistan’s constitutional Islamism

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Ali Eteraz has a lengthy, lucid article on the root of Pakistan’s problem – namely, that it’s 1973 constitution has made it an Islamist state rather than a democratic one. Eteraz provides a lengthy historical background and context for how […]

Islam in Hawai’i

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I am attending the ISMRM conference in Honolulu this week, which is why I’ve been understandably distracted these past few days I was rather curious about the muslim presence here in paradise, and it turns out that Hawai’i has a […]

What is Shi’ism?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by Hussein Rashid In the contemporary period Shi’ah is the standard short form for Shi’ah Ali, the Partisans of Ali. The Shi’ah have a history that goes back as far as the time of Prophet […]

Easter in Islam: Christ is risen and will return

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Easter is celebrated to varying degrees in the Islamic world, ranging from outright illegal in Saudi Arabia to being openly celebrated in some of the Gulf States and the Far East. A natural question is, just where does Islam diverge […]

“The United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam”

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I posted the full transcript of Obama’s remarks to Turkey’s Parliament earlier but wanted to highlight a few passages that I think were particularly significant. For one thing, Obama strongly affirmed US support for Turkey’s EU membership: The United States […]

Shari’a versus the Taleban in Swat

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Shari’a law is (by definition) a system for rule of Law. It may not be the kind of Law that Westerners would want to be ruled by, but it is a system of Law nevertheless. Therefore, in a very simple […]

Gitmo guard converts to Islam

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I find this a fascinating story. Usually you hear about how prison inmates convert, but this is almost exactly backwards, not least because Gitmo is not a prison but more of an oubliette. From the story, Army specialist Terry Holdbrooks […]

Paul Harvey and Islam

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I was saddened to hear of Paul Harvey’s passing today. Harvey was an American radio icon – I was introduced to his program by my father,  for whom news radio 780 AM (Chicago) is essentially the only station in existence. […]

Will George Clooney convert to Islam?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Along with the entire nation of Pakistan, I’m fascinated by this story: He is Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor. She is an outspoken poet and journalist born into Pakistan’s greatest political dynasty. What, then, could spark a bigger media circus than […]

reflections on technology and the hajj II

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by my friend Aamer Jamali. This is the second post in a series. Having just returned from Hajj, a number of anecdotes stick out in my mind which best serve to illustrate the role that modern […]

reflections on technology and the hajj

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by my friend Taha Raja. Part one in a series. How has technology affected the Hajj? For many hard core believers, Hajj represents a pilgrimage that needs to be preserved for what it was envisioned […]

Pastor Joel Osteen warns about pork

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Pastor Joel Osteen gives an amazing sermon about pork and shellfish. He made changes to his own diet, not just for health reasons, but also to honor God: It’s a compelling and educational lecture about why pigs and shellfish are […]

Qur’anist reformers under persecution in Egypt

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

There is a school of Islamic interpretation called Qur’anism that I hadn’t heard of before, which adopts a Qur’an-centric approach to religious practice with a liberal mindset towards reform and political freedom. Naturally, they are being persecuted for it – […]

Hajj: a near-death experience

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The following is a guest post by my friend Aamer Jamali. Having recently returned from Hajj, I am bombarded by that well meaning question by all of my friends and loved ones… “How was it?”  Unfortunately, all I can answer […]

Belief-o-Matic results

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The Belief-o-Matic quiz here at Beliefnet is a really interesting resource that I think deserves some attention. I took the quiz, as did several others at Talk Islam (muslims and non-muslims alike), and we are discussing the results from the […]

Willow on American Islam

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

My friend (and accomplished writer) G. Willow Wilson spent several years living in Cairo after converting to Islam. In her Journal at Talk Islam she relates her observations about the differences in how Islam is lived in breathed in Cairo […]

Obama to Ummah: message to the muslim world

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I posted President Obama’s inauguration speech video and transcript earlier, but I just want to highlight the part where he directly addressed the muslim world: We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are […]

The Judeo-Christian debate

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

My friend Razib has started an interesting debate on the meaning and value of the concept, “Judeo-Christian” – his initial post attracted a vigorous discussion, a response from Ross Douthat at The Atlantic, and lively discussion at Talk Islam. Frankly […]

Islam and the Environment: A Conversation

posted by G. Willow Wilson

Recently at Talk Islam, we’ve been having a discussion about the Islamic attitude toward environmental conservation. It started when blogger Umar Lee, an anti-conservationist, posted this entry at his blog. When Talk Islam blogger Thabet called Lee’s attitude “ignorance dressed […]

Child Brides in Saudi Arabia?

Usually, nothing coming out of Saudi Arabia surprises me. Yet, this story shocked me to the core. According to a report by CNN, a Saudi judge recently refused to annul the marriage of an “eight-year-old girl to a 47-year-old man.” […]

an introduction to Ashura

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

(guest post by Hussein Rashid) A thanks to Aziz for opening the doors to his house to me. I shall endeavor to put everything back where I found it, and replace the juice. It seems appropriate to talk about Ashura, […]

headed to Mombasa for Ashara

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This Saturday, I will be leaving for Mombasa, Kenya with my wife and kids for a couple of weeks. We are headed there to observe the occasion of Ashara, the annual commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Husain AS on […]

and the light shineth in the darkness

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Andin their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Lawthat had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidanceand light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: aguidance and an admonition […]

The Hajj hoax

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

It seems that there was no plot against the Hajj after all, according to Saudi authorities: JEDDAH: The Ministry of Interior has denied reports published in a Washington-based online newspaper that Saudi officials had launched a massive crackdown on Al-Qaeda […]

infantilizing the Ummah

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This article in the Economist takes an interesting and detailed look at the religious practices of South Asia’s Sufi muslims. There is a large amount of syncretism between Hinduism and Islam in the region, as there is between Islam and […]

Incredible photos of Hajj and Eid ul Adha worldwide

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The Boston Globe has an astounding collection of high-resolution photographs from the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, as well as Eid ul Adha observances from throughout the muslim world. These photos are breathtaking, humbling, inspiring, and beautiful. It’s impossible to pick […]

of burkas, bikinis and postcards

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

In my essay The Burka and the Bikini, I argued, The bikini and the burka are so far to the extremes that they meet again. They both serve to reduce women, from a person, to an object. In the case […]

mubarak! hajjis come home – including a Congressman

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The hajjis have begun to arrive home. Among them were Rep. Keith Ellison, the first muslim elected to Congress and now the first US elected official to have ever performed Hajj. The Democrat from Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District traveled to […]

Christianity and Islam: evangelism as marketing

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

There’s an interesting discussion at Talk Islam about the basic difference in message tone between Christian evangelists trying to convert muslims and Islam’s appeal to potential converts who are presently Christian. In a nutshell, I invoke the Mac vs PC […]

(un) making Mecca

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

In the year 2020, the Grand Mosque complex housing the Ka’aba might look something like this: This is just one possible design that will be floated by star architects Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid, recruited by King Abdullah to vastly […]

Hajj ends – Zabihat and Jamarat

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Eid is by tradition a happy affair, but in India it is muted this year, in the wake of the Mumbai attacks. In addition to forgoing the slaughter of cows for the sacrifice (out of respect for the sentiments of […]

Aerial view of the tent city of Mina

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

While engaged in the rituals at Arafat and Mina, the pilgrims live in a vast tent city constructed exclusively for their use. Here’s an aerial view of that tent city from Google maps: View Larger Map (via Shi’a Pundit)

the Day of Arafat: renewal

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Today is the Day of Arafat, where the pilgrims arrive and engage in prayer while standing and facing towards the sun. Then in the evening they will depart for muzdalifah in time for Eid ul Adha the next day. The […]

giving aid and comfort to terrorists

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Rod Dreher approvingly quotes Steve Emerson about what an outrage it is that the various news channels omitted the adjective, “Islamic” from all descriptions of the extremists who terrorized Mumbai last weekend. Emerson argues that the omission is “craven” and “politically correct”: […]

The imminent Hajj: journey to Arafat

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The Hajj begins today. Millions of pilgrims gathered in Mecca are donning ehram and leaving for the journey to the Plain of Arafat today. Tomorrow, the pilgrims gathered upon Arafat will pray all day, while standing and facing towards Kaaba. […]

Oxford Islamic Studies Online: What is Shari’a?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

One of the singular best references about Islam, in all its complexity and diversity and nuance, is an online and free collection of essays and reference articles: Oxford Islamic Studies Online. It builds on the classical Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam, […]

Muslims and modernity

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

At Talk Islam, a great discussion has ensured (as tends to happen over there) about analogizing between Islam and other religions, especially when talking about “reformations” or about labels. Abu Noor points out, those both within and without Islam that […]

Talk Islam

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Earlier this year, a number of muslim bloggers including myself came together to found Talk Islam, a group blog project that is rapidly becoming the central nexus of the Islamic blogsphere. Over two dozen of the best-known muslim bloggers, writers, […]

Listen Islam: podcasts

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Over at Talk Islam there is a new feature called Listen Islam, which features podcasts between bloggers in the Islamsphere (and beyond) about various topics related to Islam. There are already two great podcasts posted, the first by myself and […]

Can you be a muslim and a christian?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is unusual, to say the least: A Seattle Episcopal priest who claims to be both Christian and Muslim has been restricted from public ministry and will be defrocked unless she “reclaims” Christianity by next April, the Episcopal Church announced.…Redding, […]

Yom Kippur

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement for the Jewish people. Yom Kippur is a sacred day in many respects, and has great relevance for Islam – after all, it was the Prophet Moses AS who initiated the observance […]

Previous Posts

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
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 ...

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 »

Ramadan Pearls roundup
Here is a link to all the posts in the Ramadan Pearls series I did during Ramadan: Criterion Non-existence Mystery Angels Objective Expectant Reed Veils Lend Good I hope you enjoyed these nuggets of wisdom as much as ...

posted 3:01:31pm Jul. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Eid Mubarak!
By the Fatimid calendar, today is Eid al Fitr, 1436! I've explained my position on the calendar vs. moonsighting debate in detail - and this year there is a lot more divergence on the date than usual. Crescentwatch nicely ...

posted 7:53:00am Jul. 17, 2015 | read full post »

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