Interview with Founder of Black Lives Matter

Aug 05

Alicia Garza, founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, was recently interviewed by Bloomberg.  Too many people still understand racism from the narrow lens of morality, and accordingly, only recognize intentional, conscious racism as noxious. They are, however, blind to the structures that de jure racism has bequeathed us.  As she puts it, “[R]acism is a set of interlocking dynamics: One in three black men can expect to spend some time incarcerated; women are the fastest-growing population in prisons and jails—and 30 percent are black; black folks are on the low-earning end of the economy. Lots of people who are great people are implementing and ­protecting systems, practices, structures that fundamentally exclude, disenfranchise, marginalize black people.”  Undoing these structures is the great challenge facing the US today.  I am hoping that with a Hillary win in the fall, the necessary changes in the Supreme Court can be made to allow us to adopt the broad remedies necessary to undo the legacy of Jim Crow in the US.

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Strategic Voting in Monday’s Federal Election

Oct 16

Regarding the upcoming Federal election this Monday, it is crucial that Canadians opposed to Harper and his Federal Conservatives avoid vote splitting.  This means that they should look to which of the non-Conservative candidate in the voter’s riding has a better chance of defeating the Conservative candidate.  This link helps voters determine whether their riding is a swing riding, i.e., in a competitive race where, if the liberal and NDP voters coordinated, they could defeat the Conservative candidate.  This document also dispels much of the confusion that surrounds strategic voting in the GTA, and is directed specifically toward the concerns of Muslim voters in the GTA.

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Constructing Authority in Early Islamic Legal History

Aug 03

Anyone who is a student of early Islamic history is familiar with the numerous controversies surrounding the rise of Islam and whether Muslim accounts of early Islamic history can be deemed to be generally reliable or whether Muslim histories of the early community should be dismissed as little more than pious accounts of sacred history.  The recently deceased Patricia Crone was probably the most famous of the “revisionist” historians who adopted an extremely skeptical stance toward the early Muslim sources.

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“What Killed Egyptian Democracy?” — An Egyptian Friend Says “I would say a deep-seated corrupt anti-intellectual culture permeating a mafia state controlled by armed thugs.”

Jan 25

Earlier this week, the Boston Review published an essay of mine titled “What Killed Egyptian Democracy?”  An Egyptian friend of mine, an academic who completed his Ph.D. in the US and then returned to Egypt to teach, sent me his own reaction to my essay.  I reproduce it below (name omitted):

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Salah al-Din al-Idlibi on the Age of ‘Aisha (R) When She Married the Prophet (S)

Jul 27

Last night, I had the honor of breaking my fast with a leading contemporary muhaddith, the Syrian scholar Salah al-Din al-Idlibi.  At the time, I did not know his stature as a modern scholar of hadith, but left the evening truly impressed with his demeanor, impressive command of the sources and the objective tone to which he answered the numerous questions which were directed to him by his dinner companions.  One of them was a recent convert who had a host of obscure questions related to theology and hadith, all of which he handled with extreme adeptness.  One of the questions we discussed was the age of al-Sayyida Khadija when she married the Prophet (S).  In a manner that I can only describe as iconoclastic, he explained why he thought it was extremely implausible that she was 40 when the Prophet (S) married her.  He pointed out this report was based on a poorly-documented report (da’if), and that there were other reports that put her age in the much more plausible range of the mid-20’s which would have made her about the same age as the Prophet (S) at the time of their marriage.  He justified his view based on the implausibility of a woman bearing six children, born separately, after the age of 40.  This discussion offered me the opportunity to raise the problem of age generally for the first generation of Muslims, especially since the Arabs before Islam did not have a regular calendar, and the question of Aisha’s age.  I mentioned that there was a hadith in Sahih Muslim which stated that she participated in the Battle of Uhud by tending to the wounded and bringing water to the soldiers.  I said it seemed implausible that a girl of 10 could be doing these things, especially since we know that the Prophet (S) prohibited ‘Abdallah b. ‘Umar from participating in that battle, even though he was a teenager at the time.  In any case, he mentioned to me that he had written a short essay on the question of ‘Aisha’s age and that he would send it to me in due course.

When I woke up this morning, I found that he had sent me, as promised, the short essay he had written on the issue.  In it he concludes that based on all available historical reports, ‘Aisha was fourteen at the time her marriage was contracted to the Prophet (S) and that she did not begin her married life until she was eighteen. He concludes that the narration in Bukhari and Muslim in which she reports that her marriage was contracted at the age of six and the she entered the Prophet’s (S) house at 9 is in all probability a mistake (wahm) in transmission, perhaps from Aisha herself if she reported it in her old age.  I found the analysis very considered and persuasive.  For those interested, here is a link to the essay, which I reproduce with his gracious permission.

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Morsi’s First Six Months — an Appraisal (Part II)

Jan 30

Part II of my discussion of Morsi’s performance after six months is now up on

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