Lapses and Scourges

I’m not able to make a comment on a blog where I offended the blog owner. As a Muslim, I think it is important to apologize to your brothers and sisters if you say something that is harmful. I have offended my both Yursil and Aaminah on her blog post, Response to Some Responses to Yursil’s Series of Posts. Yursil’s original post can be found on his blog with the first in the series titled, Surburban Capitalist Islam-List of Beliefs. I did not comment on Yursil’s blog because I had little problem with his critique of various institutions and practices. But I did discuss his response to my weighing in on a conversation that spun off from his series. It was never my intention to injure anybody’s spiritual family member in her own house. Writing in a public forum, I assumed that all parties were aware of the various critiques. Although my intention was to explain my position, it was a lapse on my part. I assumed the author was aware of the ongoing debate because the post was a response to the responses. Although my comment was a side note, I did believe that by proxy the blogger shared similar views about my historical perspective and academic training with Yursil. Finally, I assumed Yursil would be aware of my public comments about our public exchange on Marc’s post here. Commenting on my own blog is by no means an attempt to further the offense, but rather to make a public apology following a public reminder. I hope I’m not a scourge or silencing anyone’s voice by doing so.

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8 thoughts on “Lapses and Scourges

  1. BismillahirRahmanirRahim
    Salamu’alaykum,

    Apology not necessary.

    Actually I was travelling to celebrate the birth of the Holy Prophet (AS). A five hour drive in the snow to get close to something of the Prophet (S), specifically a lock of his hair.

    I had little access to internet and didn’t know about anything until I returned.

    Alhamdulillah.

    As far as your specific mention:

    In comments on Marc’s blog, Yursil states that he does not know much about how Islam developed in places like Egypt, Morocco, or West Africa. When I addressed some of his assumptions, he stated that the main problem with my perspective was that I had no spiritual training before going immersing myself in the academy. Because I lack spiritual authority in his book, my analysis is rendered useless. How is this beneficial for understanding indigenous Muslim models, authentic models that worked in different times and in various locales?

    My comment/question about Islam in Egypt, etc, was a directional device for the conversation. I wanted to hear what was so transformative, in Marc’s opinion, about their development that gave America such leeway in developing an Islamic culture on its own terms?

    But yes, I am familiar on how Islam developed in places like Egypt, Morroco, Turkey, Pakistan.

    In case you don’t read my blog often, I delve quite often into my primary sources readings and translations of the history of the various Muslim empires.

    As far as your spiritual authority, your spiritual authority was not at all my point. In fact, I didn’t mention your spiritual authority. What I said was “This is why a firm understanding of Islamic spirituality is necessary *before* entering into history.”

    So the point was about some basic knowledge of the history of spiritual sciences within Islam. One could possibly accomplish at least a little bit of this outside of the tradition itself, by reading Nasr, Chittick, Armstrong, Lings, etc.

    The point was that while you were clearly not aware of the practice of Khalwat, translated it into merely ‘cell’, and omitted the fact that the practice of such seclusion is widespread from India to Malaysia to Turkey to Egypt, you felt comfortable enough to relegate the practice of some Egyptian Sufis to a ‘questionable’ state originating from Christian monks.

    Visiting graves is also a practice throughout the Muslim world, which spans many cultures, interestingly enough its strongest in area which had/have strong beliefs about reincarnation, something that one would think preempt any ‘grave-worshiping’ practices (if they were the source)..

    And you were ready to toss in a number of other practices as ‘questionable’ without the scholarly or spiritual authority to do so.

    The resounding similarities between what we hear from Salafis is quite interesting. In fact, it sounds like the de-facto Salafi argument in new clothes to me.

    So can we all buy into this academic stance of implicit dismissal of authenticity of these practices by claiming they are imitating Christian monks or some common pre-Islamic tradition?

    Not me.

    What is interesting is that while we listened to the same Salafi rhetoric in new clothes, it was not met not with complete disapproval of the practices themselves, but now with their existence and categorization as accepted innovations being license for Americans to do as-we-like with Islam. Which is, generally, what we are doing.

    And this is exactly what I am tackling.

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  2. Yursil,
    Thanks for accepting my apology.
    Contrary to your perception, I was aware of khalwah. I stated that on Marc’s blog. But I was talking about the practicing of people bricking themselves up into tiny cells, which was something that they did in Egypt and some Christian monks did it too.

    You said this:

    As far as your spiritual authority, your spiritual authority was not at all my point. In fact, I didn’t mention your spiritual authority. What I said was “This is why a firm understanding of Islamic spirituality is necessary *before* entering into history.”

    Then you said this:

    And you were ready to toss in a number of other practices as ‘questionable’ without the scholarly or spiritual authority to do so.

    The second comment basically states that I do not have the scholarly credentials or spiritual credentials to comment on certain practices. That raises an important question: What type of scholarly or spiritual authority do you need to say that worshipping a spirit is wrong?
    If you think my argument about cultural borrowing from the pre-Islamic period, or even my critique about the Hamadsha, reflect a Salafi rhetoric and an academic stance, then that is your perspective. If you believe that I’m using those examples to give license for American Muslims to compromise their faith, then what can I say?

    I hope you take this in the right way. I’m writing this not from an angry place, but really because I have so much work piled up and I don’t see how this quibbling is beneficial to either of our spiritual development. I see no need to defend my stance. Nor am I going to clarify my position within the framework of this conversation.

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  3. I wanted to hear what was so transformative, in Marc’s opinion, about their development that gave America such leeway in developing an Islamic culture on its own terms?

    By default, your argument presumes that there does not exist such leeway, and in fact, American Muslims must appeal to some as yet named authority to have any latitude or make any headway lest they run the risk of “going astray”.

    I delve quite often into my primary sources readings and translations of the history of the various Muslim empires

    If that is the case, then you should know that the model of development is a plural one, not a singular one. Islam has developed in American, not on an imperial model, as you claim the other Muslim empires did, but on a social historical one, unique in its own right, and thus deserves to be seen on its own terms, not on how it adds up to “Eastern” methods.

    This is why a firm understanding of Islamic spirituality is necessary *before* entering into history.

    Your very statement, though you say you did not intend to address Margari’s historical/spiritual knowledge, infers that she is indeed lacking in that area. As someone who has studies with Muslim scholars as well as in Western academia [which is not as bankrupt as Aminah would like us to believe], demonstrates that she does have the credentials to make such claims. I see that as a very sly way of dismissing her point without addressing what it is asking.

    The point was that while you were clearly not aware of the practice of Khalwat, translated it into merely ‘cell’

    I do not believe that she encapsulated the word khalwah solely to mean “cell”, but rather she brought up a valid point that the practice of bricking oneself is found in pre-Muslim practices. Was this saying that this is part and parcel of all Sufi practices? No. And it is precisely for this point that we do not indict all Muslims in Egypt or Morocco, because some Muslims commit questionable acts, as a bankrupt “project”. This same methodology is seldom extended to the American context where it is presumed that Islam here is innately tainted.

    you were ready to toss in a number of other practices as ‘questionable’ without the scholarly or spiritual authority to do so

    And just where does this religious, spiritual authority reside? How is it that she cannot possess such authority yet you possess the wherewithal to point out exactly who does and does not possess it? From what center does your authority emanate from? Perhaps by your standards, you do not view her as an authority figure, but that does not mean that she is not regarded as a source of knowledge and authority in other circles. Lamppost Productions recently approached my wife about teaching a webinar under the direction of ‘Abdullah ‘Ali, a recognized authority in the broader American Muslim community. My wife has taught and lectured classes on women’s spirituality in Islam at the Quba Institute, under the observation and authority of Mufti Imam Anwar Muhaimin. I will continue to attest that the issue is one of scope with you. Your arguments take on more than is due to them, where personal experience and proclivity become ontological truths for all times and all spaces. Perhaps in Naqshabandi circles neither my wife nor I would be considered authority figures but that does not mean that we are not regarded as such in all arenas. I was just approached within the last month about taking the position of full-time imam at a masjid here in Philadelphia. I doubt I would be asked to do so unless I was seen as a valid religious and spiritual authority figure in the community. And it is the community that grants authority, not individuals. That’s how Muslim Tradition works.

    As for your slight-of-hand attack on my wife by attempting to label her a Salafi…, I really don’t think you want to start drawing comparisons to Salafis, because I could write for days on the xenophobic, elitist, and intolerant tendencies on many Sufi groups I’ve come into contact with and how in many ways, they bear a strong resemblance to the close-minded tendencies you believe Salafis have. In fact, in my opinion, it has become convenient for many groups to use Salafis as a straw man and a throwaway word in which you can marginalize people simply because you disagree with them. Both my wife and I have written on numerous occasions that, while we disagree on the scope of your arguments, we still find aspects of them valid. Seldom is the same offered in return.

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  4. Assalaamualaikum-

    Insha’Allah I hope that what I have to say does not cause any type of fitnah.

    I have silently read all of the initial posts on all of the blogs and the comments that spun from these postings. Because of my own positioning as an African American Muslimah invested in an urban, poor Muslim community I admit that I lean more towards Marc’s critique and questions about what was written about “American Islam”.

    That being said I admire that you (Margari) have apologized for possibly offending your brother & sister. At the same time-after all that I have read (particularly in exchanges in the comments of Marc’s blog) I feel that you are also owed an apology.

    I was particularly dismayed by the not so subtle attacks on your educational and spiritual background & the questioning of your right to speak as a member of that “terrible” entity called academia.

    No one can defend the corporatizing of the American academy or the exclusion & silencing of certain groups. And I do think the loudest critiques of the academy are those intellectuals who find themselves within academia- Not because they hope to be academic superstars but because they are committed to their scholarship; are rigourous in the application of their disciplines; and teach with all of their passion for pennies.

    In my bumpy sojurn in the academic world I have been mentored by incredible women and men of color who not only deal with the disdain & prejudice of academic insiders but who are also constantly being questioned, ridiculed and delegitimated by their own people.

    This is what disheartens me about the things that were directed at you- Margari. You deserve respect & admiration for the things you have achieved through struggle ,Masha’Allah.

    I really pray that we can cease these type of attacks and side swipes.

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  5. As-Salaamu alaykum wa Rahmahtullah Margari,Marc, AND Yursil!

    I’ve been a big time fan of Margari’s blog about 2 years,right around “Leap Day 2008-Feb.29”.
    Around the same time,through Margari’s blog I also beacame a fairly regular reader of your site,Yursil.
    By the way Yursil,I’ve gotten alot of benefit and knowledge from your site;here’s what’s funny about that though,for the most part my “Islamic Education” has come from what I myself would term “moderate Salafis” e.g.-Bilal Philips,Jamaal-ud-deen Zarabozo,Yusuf Estes,etc.
    And last,but definately NOT least Marc.
    Somewhere in late summer/maybe early fall of 2008 Margari took a break from blogging for whatever reasons.I’m a little embarrassed(as a man,and especially to YOU Marc) to admit that I had become somewhat of an “addict of Margari’s blog;but HEY brother,you can’t blame me for having good taste!☺
    I do remember seeing your site Marc,by following some of Margari’s threads.When Margari went on her extended break from blogging,I had to “get my blog-fix” elsewhere.At that point,I was able to free up some time to get into several other blogs.Also at that time I became a big-time “Manrilla” blog addict!!!☺
    The “Ma’rifah” blog is my favorite of all time-hands down.
    MORE AUDIO-Marc,and Jazak Allah Khayr,
    Rooted On Clouds

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  6. I wasn’t including Marc as a”moderate Salafi”-(I know he wouldn’t describe himself that way)in my previous comment,I just meant “last but Not least” regarding Marc as the final person being greeted.
    Thanks,
    Rooted On Clouds

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  7. I have seen many blogs and have don research on many but most of them lack of good substance but I would say that you are doing a great job and keep the good work on

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