My talk at Hartford Seminary

Apr 30

Last night, I gave a talk at the Hartford Seminary titled “Liberalism and Islam: Pitfalls and Potentials.”  The talk centered around two themes: how normative liberalism reacts to intolerant groups in its midst, and what are the religious obligations of liberal Muslim citizens in a liberal democracy generally, and the war on terror in particular.

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Torture, Islam and American Citizenship

Apr 26

Given my criticisms of US policy in the Middle East, the “War on Terror,” and its “lawfare” against US Muslims, one might reasonably question why I should remain a US citizen at all?  Indeed, I have sometimes asked myself “At what point would the limit be crossed?”  I guess the plain reason why I have never seriously contemplated renouncing US citizenship, and doubt that I ever would, is my deep conviction that substantial groups within US society share my deep opposition to these policies as well, and that the future belongs to us, not to those status quo forces that perpetuate atrocities in the name of the American people.  This otherwise disturbing article in Slate, which details the extent of the torture and international law-breaking practiced by the United States during the Bush Administration, crimes which the Obama administration foolishly chose to inter rather than investigate as the crimes that they were, strangely confirms my long-term view of the United States.  I hope my fellow American Muslim citizens, particularly the post-9/11 generation, understand that they have allies in the US; they should not think that all Americans are anti-Muslim paranoids; and that it is possible to work together with those Americans to bring a halt to these abuses, and the further entrenchment of the “creeping” surveillance and torture state.

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Muslims and the Possibility of “Critical Citizenship”

Dec 10

There is little doubt that religious commitments often conflict with political ones, at least in circumstances where religious commitments are considered to be transcendental, and at least some of them will ultimately be non-negotiable for their adherents. In Islam, the prohibition against intentionally killing other Muslims or waging war against them are examples of such commitments Muslims may have that can cause them to question the validity of certain political obligations.  This dilemma has become even more acute for American Muslims in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the decision of the United States government to fight a global war on “terrorism” which goes well-beyond the immediate perpetrators of 9/11.  In these circumstances, and particularly because many Muslims feel obligations of solidarity with other Muslims they are under attack, e.g., ‘Iraq, what is the responsible course of conduct for American Muslims?  In this essay published first in the Islamic Monthly, I put forward an argument that requires American Muslims to create a language of critical citizenship, one that incorporates Islamic moral concerns in a critique of US policy, but at the same time transforms Islamic moral concerns into more universal ones, with the hope of creating a political discourse that reconciles the political values of modern liberal citizenship with the political values of Islam.

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