Diseases of the Heart–Narcissism

I just read that today’s college students are more narcissistic than their earlier counterparts (Study: College Students More Narcissistic ). It reminds me of a talk that Dr. Robert Frager, a noted pyschologist and Sufi, gave last year about the diseases of the heart. During that lecture, I remember a deep fear sinking into the pit of my stomach. It was not for me, even though I have a whole bunch of personal work, but for a friend that I no longer speak to. Frager mentioned that a person with a diseased heart hates criticism even when the criticism is to help them actualize the person they are truly meant to be. Frager also stated that this type of person is afraid of intimacy and therefore cannot get close anyone. After hearing this talk, I really wanted to be there for my friend. I really wanted to have a real conversation about what I learned. But it never happened. Which is best because I probably would have been attacked regardless of my intentions. It makes me sad, because I truly believe in that person and believe that they can make a world of difference if they stopped surrounding themselves by people who only gave them adulation and ignored their shortcomings. We are often able to see the flaws in others, but rarely in ourselves. Yet I am one of those hyper self-critical people; I am aware of my flaws, but find it difficult to overcome them. I know narcissism when I see it, because I’ve developed antibodies for it. And one only has such antibodies if they have been afflicted with this pathology at one point or another. I state this humbly. There is no benefit in me being self-righteous.


use their looks to get what they want, is able to plan and work towards goals successfully, loves themself, optimistic, sparkling, achiever, self promoting, self assured, success driven, thinks they can charm anyone, ambitious, elegant, thinks they are better looking than most people (which they may or may not be), believes that they are special, more a leader than a follower, believes that other people are envious of them, loves to win awards, fits in most places, seductive, purposeful, believes in success through appearances, assertive, goal oriented, would love to have buildings and monuments named after them, believes they deserve all the good things they have, likes to be popular

Narcissism – Global Advanced Trait Descriptions

NARCISSISM (n. sing.)

A pattern of traits and behaviours which signify infatuation and obsession with one’s self to the exclusion of all others and the egotistic and ruthless pursuit of one’s gratification, dominance and ambition.

Narcissism is named after the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus who was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. In punishment of his cruelty, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, he pined away and changed into the flower that bears his name to this very day.

WHAT IS NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder)?

The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has been recognized as a seperate mental health disorder in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM) in 1980. Its diagnostic criteria and their interpretation have undergone a major revision in the DSM III-R (1987) and were substantially revamped in the DSM IV in 1994. The European ICD-10 basically contains identical language.

An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts. Five (or more) of the following criteria must be met:

Feels grandiose and self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion

Firmaly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions)

Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation -or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply).

Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special and favourable priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations

Is “interpersonally exploitative”, i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends
Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others

Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her
Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.

The language in the criteria above is based on or summarized from:

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Sam Vaknin. (1999). Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited, first edition. Prague and Skopje: Narcissus Publication. (“Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited” http://www.geocities.com/vaksam/faq1.html )

More Data About Pathological Narcissists

Most narcissists (75%) are men.
NPD (=the Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is one of a “family” of personality disorders (formerly known as “Cluster B”). Other members: Borderline PD, Antisocial PD and Histrionic PD.
NPD is often diagnosed with other mental health disorders (“co-morbidity”) – or with substance abuse, or impulsive and reckless behaviours (“dual diagnosis”).
NPD is new (1980) mental health category in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM).
There is only scant research regarding narcissism. But what there is has not demonstrated any ethnic, social, cultural, economic, genetic, or professional predilection to NPD.
It is estimated that 0.7-1% of the general population suffer from NPD.
Pathological narcissism was first described in detail by Freud. Other major contributors are: Klein, Horney, Kohut, Kernberg, Millon, Roningstam, Gunderson, Hare.
The onset of narcissism is in infancy, childhood and early adolescence. It is commonly attributed to childhood abuse and trauma inflicted by parents, authority figures, or even peers.
There is a whole range of narcissistic reactions – from the mild, reactive and transient to the permanent personality disorder.
Narcissists are either “Cerebral” (derive their narcissistic supply from their intelligence or academic achievements) – or “Somatic” (derive their narcissistic supply from their physique, exercise, physical or sexual prowess and “conquests”).
Narcissists are either “Classic” – see definition below – or they are “Compensatory”, or “Inverted” – see definitions here: “The Inverted Narcissist” – http://www.geocities.com/vaksam/faq66.html
NPD is treated in talk therapy (psychodynamic or cognitive-behavioural). The prognosis for an adult narcissist is poor, though his adaptation to life and to others can improve with treatment. Medication is applied to side-effects and behaviours (such as mood or affect disorders and obsession-compulsion) – usually with some success.

The narcissistic individuals that I know usually have a hubris whirling around them. There are many narcissists who are attractive, and use their looks and charm to manipulate others. Then there many narcissists that are highly attractive individuals, not in the physical sense, but have alluring qualities that appeal to others in a non-sexual way. They draw people to them because they are purpose driven and charismatic. They wouldn’t want to live their lives any other way. They like to be in the center of action–making things happen. Some of us get sucked in because we want to help, but they are selling a pipe dream that is corrupted by their own misguidance. Sometimes we can navigate their social pathologies and get something done, but often their larger than life egos get in the way. Mental illness and diseases of the heart are unlike other diseases. You can’t contract them. But I have never seen a narcissist cured. It is especially tragic to see Muslim narcissists because our traditions have diagnosed this disease and have a treatment to help treat those who are afflicted.

Some narcissists are humbled, but it is usually in old age, maybe after a stroke or something, but that is after leaving a whole path of destruction in their wake. They cause a world of hurt and have little empathy for those they leave damaged. They don’t recognize that they are sick, nor do the people who are loyal to them and condone their behavior. Those who are hurt by narcissists need to recognize that the perpetrators are truly sick individuals. Instead of being angry, we should feel sorry for them and their self delusions.

It is important for all of us to understand this disorder because narcissists are usually quick to place themselves in positions of leadership or power in our communities.

Al-Bukhari and Muslim have reported on the authority ofAbdullah ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Truly, Allah will not take away knowledge by snatching it away from people, but by taking away the lives of the people of knowledge one by one until none of them survive. Then the people will adopt ignorant ones as their leaders. They will be asked to deliver judgements and they will give them without knowledge, with the result that they will go astray and lead others astray.”

When ‘Ubadah ibn as-Samit was asked about this hadith he said: If you want, I will tell you what the highest knowledge is, which raises people in rank: it is humility.”

He said this because there are two types of knowledge. The first produces its fruit in the heart. It is knowledge of Allah, the Exalted – His Names, His Attributes, and
His Acts – which commands fear, respect, exaltation, love, supplication and reliance on Him. this is the beneficial type of knowledge. As ibn Mas’ud said: “they will recite the Qur’an, but it will not go beyond their throats. The Qur’an is only
beneficial when it reaches the heart and is firmly planted in it.”

Some communities are able to isolate the narcissists. And other narcissists display behavior that is so transgressive and destructive that everyone has enough sense not to place them in positions of power. Still narcissists often have a circle of followers. They may be the dissenters in a community, raising a ruckus for whatever reason. Sometimes, they are productive and can be useful vehicles for doing good works. Though if not reigned in, they can reverse all those positive gains. Often, those that are under direct influence of these sick individuals are left hurt and feel manipulated. Sometimes the machinations of a narcissist can have ruinous effects and be detrimental to the mental stability of those who try to help them and their causes. In their pain, the victims develop other diseases of the heart:depression and despair or jealousy and envy.

Umar bin Al-Khattab, Radi-Allahu unhu, narrates: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions. And every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.”

It is important that we recognize the diseases of the heart, such as narcissism, as they manifest themselves in our communities. Narcissists often warp shari’ah to suit their own purposes by bending the rules and apply them according to their whims. They participate in events or do certain things (frequenting the masjid, giving talks, hosting events, leading ‘movements’) to win adulation and respect from members of the community as opposed to doing it from the goodness of their own hearts.

They do shocking things just to be in the center of attention. And because they are our brothers and sisters, we often have a high toleration for them. It is important to recognize narcissism as a disease and not try to make sense of the absurdities and inconsistencies that exist in their lives. We can’t rationalize the irrational. We’ll drive ourselves crazy trying to make sense of their madness. Instead, we just have to chalk it up to the disease and then move on.

I am writing this because I believe each one of us has been affected by someone who is narcissitic. We may have loved ones, a father, brother, son, mother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend, husband, or wife, who is one. If you don’t know of one, then you should really assess your own behavior and see if you have narcissistic traits. Here’s the Online NPA test . If you find yourself rating high on the test, perhaps you should do some serious work on purifying your heart and curing yourself of this debilitating disease. So, whether you are Sunni, Shi’i, Sufi, or Salafi, and even for those who are not Muslim, there is something that we can learn from tassawuf, purification of the heart.

Diary of a Lax Muslim Woman pt. 1

I wanted to reflect on a number of issues that many of us struggling Muslims face as we try to reconcile our own personal challenges, diseases of the heart, weakness of character, and our desire to be near our Lord.

Devout Muslim scholars, and their followers, have taken various stances on lax and non-practicing Muslims. In some texts, non-practicing Muslims are considered hypocrites. But to me, the Arabic term for hypocrite, munafiq, has such harsh connotations that I don’t think the term fits a non-practicing Muslim. But for the most part, Muslims accept somebody else as a believer and member of the community upon declaration of faith ( saying: “There is no Deity but the One God (Allah is the word for God in Arabic) and Muhammad is his messenger.”)

But let me reflect on the term hypocrite or munafiqun. From what I understand in the early history of Islam. The hypocrites, who are referred to in the Quran, were the groups of people in Medina who joined the Muslim community. They took Shahada, but did not believe in Muhammad’s (s.a.w.) message. Some joined the Muslims for financial or political gain and secretly they worked with the Meccans who wanted to stomp out the Muslim community. Muslims believe that the hypocrites are damned to the lowest depths of hell, lower than those who outright rejected Muhammad’s (s.a.w.) Message.

Main Entry: hyp·o·crite
Pronunciation: ‘hi-p&-“krit
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English ypocrite, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin hypocrita, from Greek hypokritEs actor, hypocrite, from hypokrinesthai
1 : a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
2 : a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings
– hypocrite adjectiv

Here’s a definition of hypocrite that I picked up from USC MSA Compendium

a hypocrite, one whose external appearance is Islam (praying, fasting, “activism”, etc.) but whose inner reality conceals kufr – often unbeknownst to the person themselves. (See Al-Baqarah: 8-23). A Munafiq is more dangerous and worse than a Kafir.

According to Sahīh Bukhārī, the Prophet said, “Whoever has the following four (characteristics) will be a pure hypocrite and whoever has one of the following four characteristics will have one characteristic of hypocrisy unless and until he gives it up. 1. Whenever he is entrusted, he betrays. 2. Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie. 3. Whenever he makes a covenant, he proves treacherous. 4. Whenever he quarrels, he behaves in a very imprudent, evil and insulting manner.”

So, the lax Muslim may reflect #2 of the English definition of hypocrite. Some devout Muslims are completely intolerant of lax Muslims. I have always wondered why it was so threatening for some people. But I will explore those issues throughout my blog. Definition of lax:

Pronunciation: ‘laks
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin laxus loose — more at SLACK
1 a of the bowels : LOOSE, OPEN b : having loose bowels
2 : deficient in firmness : not stringent
3 a : not tense, firm, or rigid : SLACK
b : having an open or loose texture c : having the constituents spread apart
4 : articulated with the muscles involved in a relatively relaxed state (as the vowel \i\ in contrast with the vowel \E\)
synonym see NEGLIGENT

Some people still believe that a non-practicing, sinning, or selectively practicing Muslim is a hypocrite. But there is a better Arabic term for a Muslim who openly violates Islamic law, Fasiq or fajir, an evil doer. But I remember reading a famous text, I’ll leave the name out for those who are still a fan (despite disregarding the appalling consequences if you follow the logic to its fullest extent). I remember the author finding hypocrites everywhere. Hypocrites could be secular Muslims, hypocrites could be non-practicing Muslims, hypocrites could be Muslims who wanted reforms in the way Islam was instituted in public life. But this mid-20th century definition of hypocrite, and eventually the takfir movement, would come to have dire consequences for the state of our Muslim community. The kind of hard core takfiring going on reminds of me of the Kharijites.

During the time of the Righteous Caliphs, a small group of fanatical Muslims believed that if you sinned you were no longer a believer, and therefore an apostate. They took this to the extreme and believed that a sinner could be executed. Their fanaticism led them to assisinate, the Prophet Muhammad’s (s.a.w.) nephew and son and law, Ali Ibn Abi Talib. They believed he sinned because he gave up his position as leader of the Muslims in arbitration. So, they murdered one of the best of among us. Through their terrible actions, the Kharijites, as they are known in historical record, sparked discussion by some of the best scholars. Many asked:”What makes somebody Muslim?” Shahada got you the club card, but how does one stay a member? Scholars came up with different positions. Only the Kharijites really took the stance that sinning, whether eating pork, drinking wine, or fornicating, equated disbelief. Some scholars argued that only Allah knows if someone is a true believer and it is not for humanity to judge. Others argued that a sinning Muslim was a hypocrite. The dominant position, and most reasonable opinion, seems to be that there are gradations of faith. There are weak Muslims and strong Muslims. Faith can change at a given time, for example Imam Ghazali (d. 1111) wrote about his own crisis of faith. From that crisis of faith, he returned and became the consolidator of sunnism. His works still inspire us to this day.

I hope to reflect on my journey from devout Muslim, to fallen Muslim, and my several attempts to find myself and my way again. I hope it will be an honest and informative blog. While I hope to keep it real, I will try my best not to reveal anyone else’s faults. I will only expose my own in hopes that some of you will avoid the pitfalls that I have been trapped in. For those who have navigated the treacherous dunya without backsliding or falling off, perhaps you can learn a lesson too. My main lesson that I hope to teach yall is the lesson of tolerance because Allah is truly the Best of Guides.

5 Stages of Being Single in Your Thirties

In her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, Swiss-born psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross outlined the five stages of grief of someone who is dying:
• Denial and isolation: “This is not happening to me.”
• Anger: “How dare God do this to me.”
• Bargaining: “Just let me live to see my son graduate.”
• Depression: “I can’t bear to face going through this, putting my family through this.”
• Acceptance: “I’m ready, I don’t want to struggle anymore.”

The list was praised and criticized by grief experts. Some said the stages got people expressing their emotions; others said the stages were too rigid.

I thought these stages are adaptable to some of us sisters who’re still single in our thirties:
• Denial and isolation: “This is not happening to me. The most perfect guy in the whole universe will come rescue me.”
• Anger: “All men suck!”
• Bargaining: “hmmm maybe I’ll settle for this trifling brotha that’s in my face right now. Even though he is shiftless right now, we can work through our issues”
• Depression: “I can’t bear to going through this, I’ll be one of those crazy ladies with tons of cats.”
• Acceptance: “I’m ready, I don’t want to struggle anymore…if it happens it happens.”

Darfur and the lack of American Muslim Interest

At first, Black America thought it was only in America. But in reality, the world doesn’t really give a shit about black-on-black violence. Ten years ago, the international community didn’t do squat and allowed machete wielding mobs kill 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. At that time American Muslims were concerned with 10,000 white Bosnians who were slaughtered by white Serbs and Croats.The Muslims were also concerned over the sactions against Iraq and escalating violence in Chechnya. So, now in the midst of a hellish war in Iraq and Afghanistan and threats against Iran, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, between 300,000 and 450,000 Africans have been killed in the past 4 years. 2 million people are internally displaced countless women raped and tortured. That is 2 million displaced in a country of 40 million (5% of the population) and the region of Darfur had a population of 6 million (1/3 of the population).

“The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines the term as: Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

The conflict in Darfur has been going on for almost four years. Throughout this I have been pretty appalled by the lack of response by the American Muslim community to the continuing crisis in Darfur. Now, Muslims remain silent because they are too preoccupied with conspiracy theories. Let me qualify that, some of us Muslims do care. And we are savvy enough to see through the bullshit conspiracy theories and opportunistic organizations (with anti-Muslim and anti-Arab leanings) that are basking in this shameful tragedy (crying crocodile tears as they press their political agenda). There are some very energetic and concerned students from the Islamic Society of Stanford University that organized an information meeting this past Friday evening. Many Muslims have been silent on this issue because of accusations that Israel has funded and armed the rebel groups in Darfur. Others are silent because the most outspoken organizations advocating sanctions against Darfur are linked to Zionist groups. Carl G. Estabrook’s article Is Humanitarian Interventionism Humane? points out that not a single Darfurian spoke at the events last year. And Muslims voices were silenced during the events.

For those interested in the history of the region, New York Review of Books has a review of two recent books on the conflict here . Read the reviews and check out the books. Ignorance is not an excuse at this point.

Here are excerpts from letters and emails that I have written to community members (any mistakes are my own, feel free to comment if you have corrections):

Nov 2006

Yoooooooooo, I’m glad someone spoke up. But the Muslim community’s reponse has been really wack. I remember going to an event held at SCU and met some of the Lost Boys. Muslims were in denial about Sudan’s policies against Southern Sudan. It was still that us versus them mentality. It was still sweeping our dirty secrets under the rug. Some Muslims claimed it was a conspiracy, that Zionists were trying to make Muslims look bad. That is so ridiculous when you look at what has gone on. It is so ridiculous to dismiss people’s real life stories. These people wanted to turn a blind eye to the camps. They wanted to turn a blind eye to the thousands of stories of children who fled for their lives. They wanted to believe that these stories were all hype. The reaction made my stomach hurt. It seemed like I could barely get a response by my Muslim friends when I sent out information that the Sudanese was now targetting Muslims. Oh, now we sort of care because the victims are Muslim. And years later, after all the publicity, we get a few obscure leaders who take a strong stance????
A few Islamic organizations have been stepping up, such as Islamic relief.

Islamic relief provides a timeline for the conflict in Darfur up to 2004:

Another Email:
Feb 2006

There are many human rights violations in Africa, and throughout the world, that people don’t care about. That is because they don’t know about it. We don’t know because our media is myopic. Also, people in America don’t really care because they are racist and it doesn’t matter if brown people, let alone black people kill each other. They believe that ethnic groups and “tribal people” are always fighting. That was the theory that Clinton accepted in the 90s. That theory influenced him and therefore he did nothing as a million people died. As for us Muslims, we tend to focus only on issues as they relate to the Muslim community. My hope is that we break out of our own myopia.

We should hate injustice whenever it crops us. We should all care, whether it is in Uganda, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, and Chechnya, etc. Do we have a moral obligation to do, say, or at least feel something? It is wrong for a government to target civilian populations. Do I think that sanctions will end the violence? No, more will die. I do believe that we need peace keeping troops, whether from the UN, African Union, or even if the Muslims could get themselves together and we should send some observers there. My primary problem is that few people are coming up with a solution to end the killing, raping, and maiming. I remember how Muslims were deeply concerned about Bosnia in the 90s.Bosnia was an incredibly complex region and there are still UN troops there. Some people claim that the US got involved only when they saw al-Qaeda operatives in Yugoslavia defending the besieged Bosnians. Whether or not they were actually tied to al-Qaeda, there were at least some Americans who did go to Bosnia and Chechya to help them. But I digress…

I especially care about this isse, because it exposes the hypocrisy of the Muslims who are committing atrocities. It makes Muslims look like racist Arab imperialists who hate Black Africans. This is especially problematic because of the long history of raiding and enslavement of black Africans by Muslims. This conflict, as well as other acts by earlier opportunists, turns people away from Islam who would have otherwise been inclined to do so. I know we have many other conflicts in the world, but even if we aren’t able to right a wrong can we not at least hate it with our heart. Instead, we focus on why Americans would be interested in the conflict. It is sad when we only focus on the atrocities committed against us while we look away when Muslims kill each other over sectarian and ethnic differences.

I know that I am deeply flawed. But I do believe that I will be held accountable by allowing atrocities to occur without so much as being moved to lift a finger, write a letter, or even feel bad about my own inadequacy to correct that wrong.

Another letter:
Feb 2006

I do not think we as a community have adequately addressed the way that race and ethnicity plays out in this conflict. And when we talk about race in the Middle East, we must not use the racial framework in America. Brazil would be a better model, or Latin American countries such as the Dominican Republic. And because this issue is complicated, it is even more important hat we examine the tribalism, regionalism, and classism in our societies.

It is important to not be dismissive of the ways we in the West, and the Muslim world, perceive African identities. Commentators have noted how African lives have been devalued in the press. A similar process is going on in the ways Westerners devalue the lives of Arabs and other “Brown” peoples. For instance, we can compare the press coverage of the UK bombings in summer 2005 when the lives that were loss were European. The most frequent comment you hear in the US is that “Those people have been killing each other for thousands of years.” This, of course, is untrue. It is a racial essentialism about Arabs. It gives Americans comfort to draw upon this racist trope in order to avoid accepting our complicity in the unprecedented violence in the Middle East.

So, back to my point. I do believe that perceptions of African Muslims did, and still has, impact on how Muslims identify with the conflict. Fact is, many Muslims in the Middle East believe that African Muslims are second rate Muslims. Some of this is largely tied to language. Although Muslims in the West are increasingly aware of the high level of Islamic scholarship in Africa. However, African Muslims are often perceived as Muslims who mix their Islam with animist practices and superstition. (Similarly, many immigrant Muslims in America have questioned my Islam even when I wore hijab because they assumed I was in Nation of Islam and therefore not a real Muslim).

There are a number of Arab Muslims who believe that only Arabic speaking Muslims are real Muslims. I myself had this shocking revelation while I was in Morocco. The perception of African Muslims no doubt, plays a role for some who hold that bias. This leads the discussion to the role of Arabism. (This notion is not limited to race since in North Africa, Berber speaking groups were often perceived as less Muslim than their Arabic speaking brethren). I have two examples of Arabism in this conflict, the role of the Arab Union and Gadafi’s role in the development of the Janjaweed’s racist ideologies.

First, the Arab Union really downplayed the conflict. They completely sided with Khartoum and ignored the realities of Darfur. Why? Why did they not take their fellow AU member to task? Well, Arabism played bigger role than doing the right thing. While Ghadafi talks about North African and sub-Saharan unity, he has funded Arab supremacist groups and privileged pastoral nomads over settled black populations. Reports have indicated that he funded and trained some of the Janjaweed because of his dream for Arab unity in the region of Chad and Darfur.

Here is an article the does discuss the formation of the Janjaweed:

This is not an attack on Arabs, but rather, a critique in the way the rhetoric of Arab nationalism has been deployed in ways that marginalize Black Africans in multi-racial and multi-ethnic societies. Here is another interesting article that critiques the simplistic binary of Black African/Arab:


I also would like to clarify. This is not to imply that we, as a community, are hypocritical because we focus on the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Palestine. But, we do have a problem if our hearts are not moved by the suffering of our brothers and sisters because they do not look like us or are not in the Muslim heartlands. The conflict in Darfur has gone on for four years and only recently did I see Muslims more outspoken about it. For some, it is not on the top of their agenda. I am glad that Saudi organizations have been raising money to alleviate the suffering (it is promising to hear that). I am grateful that Islamic Relief is there (and we have an organization without an alterior motive to donate to). But aid organizations are now getting attacked and they are starting to pull out because it is not safe for them. My hope is the the UN, African Union, and Arab Union will do something so humanitarian aid can continue and that the displaced can be repatriated.

Finally, I would like to say that I’m disgusted with the news coverage on the issue. First, it was Aljazeera who did an amazing job breaking the news in 2003. But since then, you will rarely see a picture of a janjaweed to get a sense that this is truly a black-on-black issue and Muslim-on-Muslim issue. Instead, the media portrays this in a racial dichotomy (African versus Arabs). But contrary to what supporters of the Khartoum government argue in their apologetic statements, just because the groups are in the same “race” does not preclude genocide. Serbs and Bosnian Muslims are both Slavic Europeans and Hutus and Tutsis are both Africans, Ashkenazi Jews are Europeans, as are the Germans. So that flimsy excuse holds no weight.