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The Gates of Ijtihad Archives

is ISIS Islamic? Wrong question.

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

There is an excellent longform essay on ISIS published in The Atlantic, “What does ISIS Really Want?” that lays out an excellent case fore ISIS being genuinely different in ideology, motivation and ethos than Al Qaeda. The real question boils […]

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the State of the Ummah, 2014/1436

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I tuned into President Obama’s 2014 SOTU for a while last week – mainly because my daughter was tasked to watch 15min minimum for school, a limit to which she adhered to precisely – and was struck by how futile […]

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Merry Milad and Happy New Year

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

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 […]

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Have a very Muslim Merry Christmas

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

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 […]

Saudis propose to relocate the Prophet’s (saw) tomb from Masjid al-Nabawi

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The above photo of the Mecca clock tower, or as I like to call it, “Big Bin”, was during my hajj a few years ago. It is part of my general observations of the “Meccahattan”-ization of the holiest place in […]

Video: (muslim) Mehdi Hasan interviews (atheist) Richard Dawkins at the Oxford Union

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is an excellent debate between the most emphatic atheist of our time, Richard Dawkins, and political journalist Mehdi Hasan. Hasan is brilliantly prepared for the debate and treats Dawkins with utmost respect, but methodically defends belief and religion as […]

Siri knows about Milad #creepingsharia

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Ask Siri today the following question and you will get the following answer: (via Ayesha Mattu on Twitter – try it yourself!)

a quote for Eid ul Fitr (Nelson Mandela)

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The season of Eid is upon us, and I’d like to share this quote from Nelson Mandela that came my way early this morning: “There is nothing like returning to a place unchanged to find the ways you yourself have […]

Curiosity Rover lands on Mars – magnificent!

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Last night I returned from masjid at just the right time to tune into the live stream of the final ten minutes of the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars. The description of how the rover landed is astonishing […]

Muhammad Asad and Islam as a rational faith

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

There’s a lengthy essay by Talal Asad of his father, Muhammad Asad (b. Leopold Weiss 1900 d. 1992), a convert to Islam from Judaism and one of the 20th century’s great Islamic thinkers. I found this part particularly resonant about […]

a religion of Peace vs a religion of Justice

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself: “In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected […]

a lifetime between one adhaan and one salaat

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

“When we are born adhaan is given but no salat. When we pass away salat is prayed but no adhaan. The adhaan given at the time of our birth is the adhaan for the salat prayed at the time of […]

Ramadan: the month of Jihad

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Jihad is one of those words that we Moderate MuslimTM types tend to shy away from. This is a shame, and a self-imposed tragedy, because jihad is a beautiful word and an inspiring, noble concept. It is the embodiment of […]

Why do I fast?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by Aamer H. Jamali. Every year around this time, as I begin preparations for Ramadaan in my personal and professional lives, I am asked that perennial question: “Why do you fast?” I am asked this […]

Jamaat-i-Islami in Pakistan and the rape/adultery fallacy

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I found this argument by Munawar Hassan of the political party Jamaat-i-Islami to be unbelievably disgusting and fundamentally blasphemous in the way he invokes the Qur’an to justify blatant misogyny: Here is the most disturbing part of Hassan’s comments: Anchor: […]

a Valentine Milad

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This year sees a happy convergence – it is Valentine’s Day and also the birthday of the Prophet SAW*. Sadly, both occasions are burdened by controversy in the muslim world. Valentine’s Day is seen by some as a Western plot […]

a agnostic Jew reads the Qur’an

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a great, great TED talk by Lesley Hazleton, who in the course of researching an upcoming biography of the Prophet Mohammed SAW decided to undertake a reading of the Qur’an. It is a marvelous (and brief) talk, only […]

my contribution to the moonsighting debate

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

My friend Wajahat Ali is hosting the GOATMILK DEBATE series, and asked me to contribute against the motion that “muslims should adopt monsighting for Ramadan”. The initial entry, in favor of the motion, was posted earlier by Irfan Rydhan and […]

Conservatism’s shari’a, liberalism’s ijtihad

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

An interesting meta-debate by intellectual conservatives over conservatism’s future is playing out. It started with David Frum’s Waterloo essay, which led to his political excommunication. Julian Sanchez observed that this represented an epistemic closing of the conservative mind, a thesis […]

an American Imam replies to an American Jihadist

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad is the imam and director of the Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento, CA. His biography reveals him to be an authentically American Imam, who has benefited from scholarship in the Islamic world and life experience […]

Islam Online – status update

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by Dilshad D. Ali. We here in the U.S. are holding our breath, living off of Facebook updates, Tweets, and email messages from colleagues in Cairo as to what is happening at the Islam Online […]

Islam Online goes offline

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by Dilshad D. Ali. Yesterday, marking that it was the 15th of March, I recalled the Shakespearean play “Julius Caesar” and posted on my Facebook wall, “Beware the Ides of March.” Little did I know […]

Reflection on Milad al Nabi

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Milad mubarak! Like hundreds of millions of muslims worldwide, I honored the Prophet Mohammed SAW last week, finding the anniversary of his birth (by most authoritative sources, 12 Rabi ul Awwal) a time to reflect on my love for him […]

Canadian and American Imams issue fatwa against terrorist attacks

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Last week, a group of twenty Imams from across the United States and Canada, all affiliated with the Islamic Supremem Council of Canada, issued a fatwa (religious edict) declaring that any attack on America or Canada is equivalent to an […]

an interview with Anwar al Awlaki, Imam of the Sith

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Anwar al-Awlaki is a radical islamist who today espouses violence against civilians in the name of Islam. But it is interesting to note that he was not always thus; during his tenure as one of the imams at the Dar […]

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 […]

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 […]

discourse on the nature of doubt

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

In the context of a critique of President Obama for his speech at Notre Dame, Daniel Larison engages in a theologic examination of the nature of doubt, invoking the doubt of the apostle Thomas. In response, E.D. Kain at LOG […]

debating apostasy and capital punishment

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

As occurs regularly, a fantastic discussion has been unfolding at Talk Islam, initially about the comments by the Harvard muslim chaplain on the matter of the death penalty for apostasy. The story begins with a private email from the chaplain, […]

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 […]

pondering the omnipotence paradox

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Consider the classic omnipotence paradox, expressed as a logical conundrum thus: Posit an omnipotent God who created the Universe. Can God create a stone He cannot lift? If the answer is yes, then there exists a stone that God cannot […]

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 […]

does religion cause violence?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Sunny Hundal makes a very insightful comment: Conflict has always been part of human nature; what we have are codes of conduct that make sense and sound good in theory but always end up being fitted around people’s own political […]

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 – […]

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 […]

Eid ul Adha mubarak – ??? ?????

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 […]

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 […]

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 terrorists must not win

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by Zeba Iqbal, a real estate development advisor who lives and works in NYC. In her free time she is active in supporting and promoting causes that are close to her heart. As a Muslim American […]

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. […]

Christians do takfir on Obama

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Takfir is what excommunication is called in Islam – the process of declaring someone to be outside the faith. This is a pernicious concept because it is usually used by self-appointed guardians of the faith to try and impose their […]

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 […]

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 […]

Alayk as-salaam, ya shere Ramadan

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Ramadan is a rare opportunity for the believer, in which all acts of piety are multiplied a thousand-fold. As Ramadan draws to a close, our consciences weigh more heavily with the thought of all the opportunities wasted in which we […]

Autumn Equinox

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Allah is He Who … has subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law)! Each one runs (its course) for a term appointed. — (Qur’an 13:2 – Yusufali) I am reminded of this ayat by yesterday’s Astronomy Photo of […]

Laylatul Qadr

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

[Yusufali 97:1] We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:[Yusufali 97:2] And what will explain to thee what the night of power is?[Yusufali 97:3] The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.[Yusufali 97:4] Therein come […]

The fish market

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Steven Waldman makes an interesting point, quoting a hadith of the Prophet SAW, “Do not buy fish in the sea, for it is gharar .” and suggests that this could be applied to financial transactions like sub-prime mortgages. That’s a […]

in motion, the believers reflect the heavens

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

If you think about it, the question of time and date is central to the daily religious routine of a muslim. We need to know when to pray five times a day, we need to know what time to start […]

translations of the Qur’an

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Fasting is the iconic act of piety in Ramadan, but for me the dominant association is actually the Qur’an. The fast is more of a background, passive act of faith. But reading the Qur’an, immersing yourself in its rhythm and […]

ahlan wa sahlan, ya Shehre Ramadan

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Last night at sunset, according to the Fatimid lunar (Hijri) calendar, marked the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. Today I am observing the first fast. These are controversial statements, because the majority of muslims adhere to the hadith […]

child abuse

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I am pleased to see that Mr. Syed Mustafa Zaidi of Manchester, UK has been found guilty of child abuse. Zaidi, a Shi’a muslim, forced two young boys to participate in a ritual self-flogging exercise during the holy month of […]

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posted 9:34:01am Apr. 17, 2015 | read full post »

Bomb blast in Karachi targets Dawoodi Bohra community
This happens almost every day in Pakistan - fanatic hirabists commit arrogant blasphemy and murder ...

posted 8:22:26am Mar. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Proof denies faith
On Reddit, someone posted the following question: "What convinces you that the Quran is the literal Word of God?" I think this is precisely the ...

posted 9:33:46am Mar. 13, 2015 | read full post »

Proud to be American, proud to be Muslim
This is a guest post by Safiya Dahodwala. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS graced the land of America for the first time as the 53rd Dai (spiritual leader) of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. It has been nearly a decade since his predecessor, ...

posted 12:58:00pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »

is ISIS Islamic? Wrong question.
There is an excellent longform essay on ISIS published in The Atlantic, "What does ISIS Really Want?" that lays out an excellent case fore ISIS being genuinely different in ideology, motivation and ethos than Al Qaeda. The real question boils ...

posted 11:34:08pm Feb. 17, 2015 | read full post »

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