Saturday, December 30, 2006

‘Haj Highlights Islamic Tolerance, Equality’
Syed Faisal Ali, Arab News
MINA, 31 December 2006 — The face of true Islam and its worldwide diaspora was evident during the Standing on the plains of Arafat, the climax of Haj, on Friday. The pilgrims that converged here represented a living testimony of the sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood.

“There are hundreds and thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world,” said Ibrahim Abu-Nasser, a pilgrim who came from the United States. “They are of all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans ... Islam is the only religion which not only preaches but follows the principle of equality. It embodies compassion, charity and self-righteousness.”

Qassim Najeeb, a British haji, agrees. “The whole world, particularly the modern West, needs to understand Islam better because this is the one religion that erases from society racism and disparity. Everyone here is considered guests of Allah and hence equal in everyway,” he said.

“The West, which is suffering from a resurgence of racism, is trying to create awareness about casteless and colorless society. But this message was given 1,400 years ago by our Prophet,” Najeeb said.

Essamuudin Abdul Razik, a North American pilgrim, said he believed that Islam was the answer to all social ills.

“I wish those who spit venom get to see this concept in practice here so that they get a feel for Islam,” he said.

Indian-American pilgrim Asad Alam said all Muslims could feel at home equally on the plains of Arafat.

“Going to Haj shows how universal Islam is. People of all colors and ethnic groups speaking different languages felt at home in Arafat, greeting and helping each other like brothers,” Alam said. “There is a mindset in the West that Muslims are intolerant and rigid in their behavior, beliefs and thoughts. But on the contrary, they are very tolerant and accommodating in all walks of life.”

Ekram Saleh, an Egyptian-born British national, said he believes that Islam created the concept of social security through Zakah, the compulsory tax Muslims must pay to help the needy.

“It entails that every Muslim has certain obligations toward society,” said Saleh. “Have you ever seen people giving away food and drink in any other religious congregation? I was spellbound to see the way food and beverages are being distributed free of cost in Arafat. It is a sight worth seeing,” Saleh said.

All of the Western pilgrims agreed that there exists a profound misunderstanding of Islam in the West.
Pilgrims Stone Satan at Jamrat Bridge With Ease
Arab News Team
MINA, 31 December 2006 — More than two million pilgrims stoned the Jamrat Al-Aqaba, one of the three walls representing Satan, without incidents yesterday.

The smooth organization was thanks largely to the renovation of the bridge that has been expanded to increase capacity.

Masses of faithful, still clad in the white ihram garb, completed the largest human movement on earth and flocked to Mina. They came from Muzdalifah, a few kilometers from the plains of Arafat, where they spent the night praying and collecting 70 pea-sized pebbles for the stoning of the devil.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan, deputy prime minister and minister of defense and aviation, yesterday wished a happy Eid Al-Adha to the citizens, pilgrims and all Muslims.

The message read out by Minister of Culture and Information Iyad Madani on Saudi radio and television said: “Dear brothers and sisters, we wish all blessings and well-being for all of you, your country and your nation. May Allah’s peace, mercy and blessings descend upon you. We praise Almighty Allah for enabling hundreds of thousand of Muslims to perform Haj this year, gathering here from all corners of the world, surpassing race, color, gender and language and reflecting brotherhood and equality.”

On the roads to Jamrat, hundreds of security officers prevented people from sitting on the sides. They did not allow the pilgrims to carry their baggage with them. In the past this excess baggage turned out to be death traps, hindering the smooth flow of pilgrims.

Arab News journalists observed pilgrims attempting to move in the opposite direction of the pedestrian traffic flow but their attempts were foiled by the security forces.

Ahmad Al-Salank, an Egyptian working in Mina, said he has performed Haj for five consecutive years.

“This year, it is very well-organized. Hats off to the Saudi authorities.” He added: “Last year I was at the same place at the same time, I can tell you truthfully it is much smoother stoning this year.”

Yahyia Abdullah, a Yemeni who has performed Haj a number of times, said: “Shaded pedestrian corridors and passages leading in and out of Jamrat go only one way, while last year it was a two-way traffic lane.”

Hasa Faez, a 47-year-old Kuwaiti performing his second Haj, said organization is much better this year. “They’ve done a good job,” he said. “The whole Ummah needs to applaud them.”

Among the first to stone the devil was Ali Al-Shammary, a Kuwaiti. “Three million people walking in one direction... It was incredible,” he said. “This is the way to follow. If we can choose one direction here we should choose one direction in worldly affairs, too.”

Shazia Rahman from the UK was relieved beyond words. “I am happy that I could complete this important ritual with ease.”

Asked what was she thinking when she was stoning the devil, she said, “This is what our beloved Prophet, peace be upon him, has done and this is what he has asked us to do... We are bound by his words. And there is no greater pleasure than following in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad.” Mariam Bandung, an Indonesian woman who stoned the devil along with her husband, said: “I was doubtful about accomplishing this particular ritual... I had a choice of letting my husband perform this task for me. But then I mustered enough courage at the last minute and am very happy that I did it... I stoned the Satan with all my might.” She was all praise for the Saudi authorities for the new high-tech bridge. “This is marvelous,” she said. “I prayed for the well-being of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and all citizens of Saudi Arabia. Thank you all.”

Another woman, Shireen Niazi from Karachi, was ecstatic after stoning the devil. “All this is symbolic... In essence it means that we have finally said goodbye to the world of vices... It is a symbolic victory of an individual over the corrupting influence of Satan,” she said.

M. Kushaf from Kampala, Uganda, who is performing the pilgrimage along with a large group, said Haj required mental preparation. “Pilgrims should be encouraged to familiarize themselves with all aspects of Haj, memorizing and learning the meaning of the prayers involved, which are recited in Arabic,” he said.

“The more you know about Haj and its obligations and prohibitions the more comfortable and at peace you will feel during the whole process.”

According to him, overcoming the stresses of Haj is a metaphor for what must be done in life. “The aim is to always seek the peace of Allah,” he said. “It teaches us that all of life is a spiritual quest.”

The stoning of the devil evoked passion among some pilgrims. They were seen throwing rocks, shouting insults or hurling their shoes at the wall.

After the stoning, pilgrims offered sacrifices, usually by slaughtering a sheep. Most sacrifices are done at a number of abattoirs run by the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the meat is sent to poor countries.

— With inputs from Zainy Abbas, Galal Fakkar, Siraj Wahab, Syed Faisal Ali and Samir Al-Saadi
Herman Badillo Dises His Own Kind
From: Vivirlatino
For those that are of the mindset that any Latino politician is better than no politician at all, may I present to you Herman Badillo.

"Education is not a high priority in the Hispanic community . . . Hispanics have simply failed to recognize the overriding importance of education.Hispanics have failed to assume responsibility for their children's welfare . . . Hispanic parents rarely get involved with their children's schools. They seldom attend parent-teacher conferences, ensure that children do their homework or inspire their children to dream of attending college."
The first native-born Puerto Rican (I'm so ashamed to say) elected to Congress wrote this in his new book, One Nation, One Standard.

Having had experience first hand working with Latino parents in the NYC public school system, including an overwhelming amount of non-English dominant parents (and being a Latina parent with a child in public school) I am personally and collectively insulted. What has he been doing hanging with Lou Dobbs or Arnie?But wait it gets better. Look how is promoting the book:

In this surprising and controversial manifesto, you will learn:

* Why Hispanic culture’s trouble with education, democracy, and economics stems from Mother Spain and the “five-hundred year siesta” she induced in Latin America.

* Why the Congressman who drafted the first Spanish-English bilingual education legislation now believes that bilingual education hurts students more than it helps.

* Why “social promotion” — putting minority students’ self-esteem ahead of their academic performance and then admitting them to college unprepared — continues to this day, despite the system’s documented failures and injustices.

* How self-identifying as “Hispanic” or “white” or “black” undermines achievement, and what lessons we can learn from Latin American countries, where one’s race is irrelevant.
Race is irrelevant in Latin America? Is there another Latin America I've missed? I make no bones about the fact that I think Badillo is one of the biggest vendepatrias/sell outs of the community. This book shouldn't be on anyone's list for Navidad and in fact I would support an all out ban and protest of this book.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

James Brown, the ‘Godfather of Soul’, Dies at 73
The New York Times
December 25, 2006
James Brown, the ‘Godfather of Soul’, Dies at 73

James Brown, the singer, songwriter, bandleader and dancer, who indelibly transformed 20th-century music, died early today at Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, where he been admitted on Saturday with pneumonia, his agent, Frank Copsidas, said. Mr. Brown was 73 years old and lived in Beech Island, S.C., near the Georgia border.

Mr. Copsidas said in an interview that Mr. Brown had participated in his annual Christmas toy giveaway in Atlanta on Friday, but had been hospitalized after a dentist he saw on Saturday for a routine visit advised him to see a doctor.

Mr. Brown's condition did not seem to be life-threatening, Mr. Copsidas said. On the contrary, after cancelling performances planned for mid-week, Mr. Brown on Sunday night got his doctor's approval for going ahead with a show on Saturday in New Jersey and one on New Year's Eve at B.B. King's nightclub in New York.

He said Mr. Brown used one of his best-known expressions to convey his determination to perform, saying, "I'm the hardest working man in show business, and I'm not going to let them down.''

Mr. Brown died at 1:45 am today as a result of congestive heart failure caused by the pneumonia, Mr. Copsidas said.

Over a career that lasted more than 50 years, Mr. Brown did not only call himself "the hardest working man in show business." He also went by "Mr. Dynamite," "Soul Brother No. 1," "the Minister of Super Heavy Funk" and "the Godfather of Soul," and he was all of those and more.

Mr. Brown's music was sweaty and complex, disciplined and wild, lusty and socially conscious. Beyond his dozens of hits, Mr. Brown forged an entire musical idiom that is now a foundation of pop worldwide.

"I taught them everything they know, but not everything I know," he wrote in an autobiography.

The funk Mr. Brown introduced in his 1965 hit, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," was both deeply rooted in Africa and thoroughly American. Songs like "I Got You (I Feel Good)," "Cold Sweat," "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine" and "Hot Pants" found the percussive side of every instrument and meshed sharply syncopated patterns into kinetic polyrhythms that made people dance.

Mr. Brown's innovations reverberated through the soul and rhythm-and-blues of the 1970's and the hip-hop of the next three decades. The beat of a 1970 instrumental, "Funky Drummer," may well be the most widely sampled rhythm in hip-hop.

Mr. Brown's stage moves -- the spins, the quick shuffles, the knee-drops, the splits -- were imitated by performers who tried to match his stamina, from Mick Jagger to Michael Jackson, while they were admired by the many more who could not. And especially during the 1960's, Mr. Brown was a political force; his 1968 song, "Say It Loud -- I'm Black and I'm Proud," changed America's racial vocabulary. He was never politically predictable; in 1972, he endorsed the re-election of Richard Nixon.

Mr. Brown led a turbulent life, and served prison time as both a teenager and an adult. He was a stern taskmaster who fined his band members for missed notes or imperfect shoeshines. He was an entrepreneur who, at the end of the 1960's, owned his own publishing company, three radio stations and his own Lear Jet (which he would have to sell to pay back taxes). And he performed constantly -- as much as 51 weeks a year in his prime.

Mr. Brown was born May 3, 1933 in a one-room shack in Barnwell, S.C. As he would later tell it, midwives thought he was stillborn, but his body stayed warm and he was revived. When his parents separated four years later, he was left in the care of his aunt Honey, who ran a brothel in Augusta, Ga. As a boy, he earned pennies buck-dancing for soldiers; he also picked cotton and shined shoes.

He was dismissed from school because his clothes were too ragged.

He was imprisoned for petty theft in 1949 after breaking into a car, and paroled three years later. While in prison, he sang in a gospel group, and after he was released he joined a group led by Bobby Byrd, calling itself the Gospel Starlighters for church music, the Avons for pop, and eventually, as a rhythm-and-blues group, the Flames. Mr. Brown played drums with the group and traded off lead vocals with other members. But with his powerful voice and frenzied, acrobatic dancing, he soon emerged as the frontman.

In 1955, the Flames recorded "Please Please Please" in the basement studio of a radio station in Macon, Ga. A talent scout heard it on local radio and signed the Flames to a recording contract with King Records. A second version, recorded in Cincinnati in 1956, became a million-selling single. Nine follow-up singles were flops until, in 1958 a gospel-rooted ballad, "Try Me," went to No. 1 on the rhythm-and-blues chart. Mr. Brown followed up with more ballads, although the Flames' stage shows would turn them into long, frenzied crescendos. His trademark routine of collapsing onstage, having a cape thrown over him and tossing it away for one more reprise, again and again, would leave audiences shouting for more.

In 1960, Mr. Brown's version of "Think" put a choppy, Latin-flavored beat -- hinting at the funk to come -- behind a sustained vocal and pushed him back into the R&B Top 10 and the pop Top 40.

Mr. Brown had his first Top 20 pop hit in 1963 with "Prisoner of Love," a ballad backed by an orchestra. But before those sessions, he had done a series of shows at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and the one on Oct. 24, 1962, was recorded. Released in 1963, "Live at the Apollo" -- with screaming fans and galvanizing crescendos -- revealed what the rhythm-and-blues circuit already knew, and became the No. 2 album nationwide.

James Brown and the Famous Flames toured nonstop through the 1960's. They were filmed in California for the "The T.A.M.I. Show," released in 1965, which shows Mick Jagger trying to pick up Mr. Brown's dance moves.

By the mid-1960's, Mr. Brown was producing his own recording sessions. In February, 1965, with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," he decided to shift the beat of his band: from the one-TWO-three-FOUR backbeat to ONE-two-THREE-four. "I changed from the upbeat to the downbeat. Simple as that, really," Mr. Brown said in 1990.

Actually, it wasn't that simple; drums, rhythm guitar and horns all kicked around the beat from different angles. Through the 1960's and into the 1970's, Mr. Brown would make his funk ever more complex while stripping harmony to a bare minimum in songs like "Cold Sweat." He didn't immediately abandon ballads; songs like "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," a No. 1 R&B hit in 1966, mixed aching, bluesy lines with wrenching screams.

Amid the civil rights ferment of the 1960's, Mr. Brown used his fame and music for social messages. He released "Don't Be a Dropout" in 1966, and met with Vice President Hubert Humphrey to promote a stay-in-school initiative. Two years later, "Say It Loud -- I'm Black and I'm Proud" insisted, "We won't quit movin' until we get what we deserve." When Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in 1968, Mr. Brown was due to perform in Boston. Instead of canceling his show, he had it televised, and Boston was spared the riots that took place in other cities. "Don't just react in a way that's going to destroy your community," he urged.

By the late 1960's, Mr. Brown's funk was part of pop, R&B and jazz: in his own hits, in songs by Sly and the Family Stone and the Temptations, and in the music of Miles Davis. It was also creating a sensation in Africa, where it would shape the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti, the juju of King Sunny Ade and the mbalax of Youssou N'Dour. Musicians who left Mr. Brown's bands would also have a direct role in 1970's and 1980's funk; the saxophonist Maceo Parker, the trombonist Fred Wesley and the bassist Booty Collins were part of George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic, and Mr. Parker also worked with Prince.

Through the early 1970's, Mr. Brown's songs filled dance floors. His self-described "super heavy funk" gave him No. 1 R&B hits and Top 20 pop hits with "Give It Up or Turnit a Loose" and "Mother Popcorn" in 1969, "Super Bad Pts. 1 & 2" in 1970, "Hot Pants" and "Make It Funky" in 1971, "Get on the Good Foot Pt. 1" in 1972 and "The Payback Pt. 1" in 1974. He provided soundtracks for blaxploitation movies like "Black Caesar" and "Slaughter's Big Rip-Off," and performed at the 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle" boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire.

The rise of disco -- a much simplified version of Mr. Brown's funk -- knocked him out of the Top 40 in the late 1970's. But an appearance in "The Blues Brothers" in 1980 started a career resurgence, and in 1985, Mr. Brown had a pop hit, peaking at No. 4, with "Living in America," the song he performed in the movie "Rocky IV"; it won him his second Grammy Award for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording. That year, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of its first members.

Meanwhile, hip-hop had arrived, with Mr. Brown's music often providing the beat. L.L. Cool J., Public Enemy, De La Soul and the Beastie Boys are among the more than 100 acts that have sampled Clyde Stubblefield's drumming on "Funky Drummer" alone. In 1984, Mr. Brown collaborated with the influential rapper Afrika Bambaataa on the single "Unity." He kept recording into the 21st century, including a 2002 studio album, "The Next Step."

Mr. Brown maintained a nearly constant touring schedule despite a tumultuous personal life. During the 1970's the Internal Revenue Service demanded $4.5 million in unpaid taxes; the jet and radio stations were sold. His oldest son, Teddy, died in a car accident in 1973.

In 1987, intoxicated on PCP, he burst into an insurance seminar adjoining his own office in Augusta, Ga., then led police on a car chase across the South Carolina border. He was sentenced to a prison for carrying a deadly weapon at a public gathering, attempting to flee a police officer and driving under the influence of drugs, and was released in 1991. In 1998, after discharging a rifle and another car chase, he was sentenced to a 90-day drug rehabilitation program. He was officially pardoned by South Carolina in 2003, but arrested again in 2004 on charges of domestic violence against his fourth wife, Tomi Rae Hynie, a former backup singer. "I would never hurt my wife," he said in a statement at the time. "I love her very much."

She survives him along with their son, James Brown II, and three other children, according to The Associated Press.

In 1999, Mr. Brown made a deal to receive $30 million in bonds against advance publishing royalties. This year, however, he sought to refinance the bonds with a new loan. The banker who had made the original deal, David Pullman, objected to the terms and Mr. Brown filed a lawsuit against him in July.

But Mr. Brown's status as an American icon had long since been assured. He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992 and a Kennedy Center Honors in 2003, the same year that Michael Jackson presented him with a BET Award for lifetime achievement. In a 1990 interview with the New York Times, he said, "I was always 25 years ahead of my time."

John O’Neil contributed reporting.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Shaykh Sudais leading Isha Salah

This the one of the imams of the Holy Mosque leading the the night (Isha') prayer.
Shaykh Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Muhammad ibn Saalih al-Uthaymeen (1925-2001 CE) was one of the most prominent Islamic scholars of the latter half of the twentieth century. Born in Saudi Arabia, the Shaykh memorised the Qur'an at an early age and studied under the some of the most knowledgable scholars of the time including: Shaykh Abd ar-Rahman as-Saa'di, Shaykh Muhammad Ash-Shanqeeti, and Shaykh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baaz. During his many years of study, he became world renowned for his superior knowledge in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), eventually compiling over fifty books on the subject.

He was the Shaykh, the faqeeh, the scholar of Najd, Abu Abdullah, Muhammad ibn Saalih ibn Muhammad ibn al-Uthaymeen at-Tamimi an-Najdi. Shaykh Uthaymeen, as he was most known, was born in the city of Unayzah, in the Qaseem Region of Saudi Arabia on 27th Ramadhan 1347 AH (After the Hijrah of the Prophet Muhammad). 1347 AH corresponds to 1925 in the Gregorian calendar.

(2) Education

He received his education from a number of well known scholars such as: Shaykh Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Naasir as-Saa'di (1307H - 1376H), Shaykh Muhammad Ameen ash-Shanqeeti (1325H - 1393H), and Shaykh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baaz (1330H - 1420H), along with many more.

(3) Career

When he entered into teaching, a great number of students from inside and outside Saudi Arabia benefited from him. He was known for his own unique style of interpretation and explanation of religious points. He is from among those scholars who served Islam without any type of religious prejudice and kept themselves away from the limitations of blind-following. He is distinguished in his great exertion of effort in religious matters and analogical deductions which clearly prove the religious understanding he possessed, and the correct usage of the principles of religion he adopted.

In giving religious verdicts, Shaykh Uthaymeen's Fataawa (i.e, rulings/verdicts) are based on the Manhaj (methodology) of the Salaf which is evidenced from Qur'an and Sunnah. He has about fifty compilations to his credit.

The Shaykh delivered lectures in the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah for over 35 years. His lectures encompassed various subjects including Aqidah (monotheism), Fiqh (jurisprudence), Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) and Tafsir (explanation of the Quran) as well as books of theology by scholars such as Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim. Recently, before his death, he taught religious Fundamentals at the Sharee'ah Faculty of Imam Muhammad ibn Sa'ud Islamic University, Qaseem Branch. He was also a member of the Senior Scholars Committee of Saudi Arabia, and was the Imaam and Khateeb of the grand Mosque of Unayzah city.

Along with late Shaykhs Muhammad Nassir ad-Deen al-Albani (d. 1420H), Abdul 'Azeez ibn Abdullaah ibn Baaz (d. 1420H) and Muqbil Ibn Haadee al-Waadi'ee (d. 1422H), Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Uthaymeen was one of the greatest Salafi scholars during the early part of the 15th century in the Hijri calendar.

He was awarded the King Faisal International Award in the service to Islam on February 8th 1994.

(4) His works
Shaykh Uthaymeen's well-known works include:

Tafsir (Explanation of the meanings of the Qur'an):
Tafsir Ayat al-Kursi
Tafsir Juz Amma
Tafsir Surah al-Baqarah
Tafsir Surah al-Kahf

Hadith (Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad salla Allahu alayhi wa salaam):
Kitab al-Ilm
Sharh Riyadh as-Saaliheen
Mustalahah Hadeeth

Aqeedah (Islamic creed):
Aqeedah Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah
Qawaa'id Muthla fi Sifaati Allah wa Asmaa'ihil Husna
Qawl Mufiid ala Kitab al-Tawhid
Sharh al-Aqeedat Al-Hamawiyyah
Sharh al-Aqeedat Al-Waasittiyah
Sharh Kashf ash-Shubuhaat
Sharh Lum'at al-I'tiqad
Sharh Usool al-Iman (link to English translation)
Sharh Usool al-Thalaathah (link to English translation)

Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence):
Fataawa Arkan Islam
Majmoo' al-Fataawa
Ash-Sharh al-Mumti, an explanation of Zaad al-Mustaqni'
Umdat al-Ahkam

His works are well-known for their quality and thoroughness. Most of his books are easily understood by the layman while still provide the depth desired by students of knowledge. All points and statements he makes in his books are founded on Qur'an, authentic hadith, and the understanding of the righteous companions of the Prophet Muhammad salla Allahu alayhi wa salaam.

(5) Character and Death
Shaykh Uthaymeen was famous for his simplicity, modesty, along with exceptional mannerisms towards all those he encountered, as well as his exceptional manners in approach to topics free of dogmatic arguments.

The Shaykh had many students from many countries who benefited greatly from him over the years. Many students from all over the world still continue to benefit from his books and tapes.

He is among the pre-eminent scholars of the era after 1400H. Shaykh Uthaymeen died on Wednesday 15 Shawwal, 1421 AH (10 January 2001 C.E.) at the age of 74. He was buried in Makkah along with his peers among the scholars, including the late Shaykh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baaz (rahimullah).

(6)External links

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Fasting In the First 10 Days of Dhul-Hijjah

صيام عشرة ذي الحجة لمن أراد الحج
Al ‘Alaamah Muhammad bin Saaleh al 'Uthaymeen
الشيخ العلامة محمد بن صالح العثيمين

Question: A person fasts the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah. Then intends to make Hajj. Should he fast during these days or not? And is it a condition that you have to fast all of the days or can you fast some of the days (for the one fasting on a voluntary basis)?

Answer: Fasting during the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah is not obligatory. One can fast if he wants to and if he wants, he does not have to fast. This applies to him whether he is traveling to make Hajj or remains in his country. This is because every fast that is optional, then the person has been given a choice. So based upon this, if he is to remain in his country and wishes to fast, then he can do so. However if he travels and finds it difficult to fast, then he does not keep the fast. As it is not correct for the one who finds it difficult to fast on a journey, to then fast. This applies to both obligatory and voluntary fasts. However (if he does fast whilst on Hajj) then he does not fast on the day of 'Arafah. As the Messenger of Allah-Sallaahu 'Alaihee wasallam-did not fast on the day of 'Arafah. And it is narrated from him that he-Sallaahu 'Alaihee Wasallam-prohibited fasting the fast of 'Arafah in 'Arafah.

السؤال: من كان يصوم عشرة ذي الحجة فأراد أن يحج فهل يصومهن أم لا؟ و هل يشترط أن تصام جميع الايام العشرة أم يجوز صيام بعضها لمن أراد التطوع؟
الـجــواب: صيام عشرة ذي الحجة ليس بفرض فان شاء الانسان صامها و ان شاء لم يصمها سواء سافر اِلى الحج أم بقي في بلده لان كل صوم يكون تطوعاً فالانسان فيه مخير و على هذا فاذا كان في بلده و أحب أن يصوم فليصم فاذا سافر ورأى المشقة في الصوم فانه لا يصوم لانه لا ينبغي لمن شق عليه الصوم في السفر أن يصوم لا فرضاً و لا نفلاً و لكن في عرفة لا يصوم لان الرسول عليه الصلاة و السلام كان مفطراً في يوم عرفة و قد روى عنه أنه نهى عن صوم عرفة بعرفة.

Fataawa Ash-Shaykh Muhammad bin Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen. v:2 / p: 671-691.
فتاوي الشيخ محمد بن عثيمين: 2/ ص.671-691
Translated by: Abu Sumayyah Abdur-Raoof Muhammad
المترجم: ابو سمية عبد الرءوف محمد

Friday, December 15, 2006

It's Time To Stop Shaming Latinas
The Puerto Rico Herald featured this article. It is an article about the way Latinas are stereotyped. It was written after several articles have appeared about Latinos(as) converting to Islam. One big doubt I have that the author of this particular article never considered is that the sisters who were interviewed may have mentioned many factors relating to their conversion, and the reported simplied focused in on the most controversial things mentioned (ie., body and stereotypes)

With some Latinas opting to join Islam to gain respect as women it's time for Hispanic media to cool it on the hot and sexy stereotypes that is their standard fare.
It's Time To Stop Shaming Latinas
By Marisa Trevino
January 25, 2005
Copyright © 2005 DAILY BREEZE.
All rights reserved.
As anyone knows, religion is a personal subject. It ranks high on that list of things you never discuss openly if you want to keep peace in the family.

When someone makes a decision to convert to a particular religion, you expect their reasoning to be based on how spiritually fulfilled their newfound religion makes them feel, not that they won't be seen as sex objects any more.

Yet, that was the reason several Latinas gave to a Christian Science Monitor reporter recently in a story about how more Latinas are converting to Islam.

As it stands now, the Islamic Society of North America says there are only about 40,000 Latino Muslims in the United States. And of the 20,000 who choose Islam as their religion every year, Latinos account for 6 percent, says the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The anecdotal evidence is pointing to more young Latinas opting for the head-to-toe fashion statement. The reasons they gave the reporter echoed along the same theme: Islam made them feel better about their bodies and themselves. Why?

Maybe because everywhere these young girls look -- on billboard advertisements, music videos, and print advertisements -- Latinas are not only portrayed as hot and sexy, but as expecting men to notice they are.

It is a stereotype of the worst kind.

An infamous advertising campaign last year by Tecate beer enforced such an image with the tagline "Finally a cold Latina." Some Albuquerque high school Latinas saw the billboard every day on their way to school.

These kids exercised their conscience, did their homework and campaigned successfully to persuade Tecate to pull its billboards.

Perhaps the worst offender when it comes to promoting archaic depictions of Latinas as dim-witted, over-sexed bombshells can be found on Spanish-language television.

Comedy shows and comic relief characters on telenovelas show the same kind of "old-world Latina stereotypes" that U.S.-born Latinas have been trying to escape.

Yet, we won't be able to forge new images for ourselves and change how others see us unless networks like Univision and Telemundo start becoming more discriminating in what shows they bring over from Mexico and South America, where most attitudes toward women are still in the Stone Age.

That fact is obvious within 15 minutes of any telenovela where the "attractive" women are dressed suggestively or, if it's a beach scene, with practically nada. The camera always has a way of lingering several seconds too long on someone's bulging bust line or bare backside.
The most common misconception that these Spanish-language networks operate under is that by providing familiar programs to their Latino viewers, many of whom are recent arrivals, that they are bringing a little bit of home to the homesick.

Has it occurred to the two networks that it isn't just bleak economic conditions that immigrants are escaping? At least for women, it is a chance to start over in a more progressive country.

And what about the U.S.-born Latinas or those who spent their formative years here?

The message these kinds of shows send them is that Latinas will never escape the old stereotypes because it makes for either a good laugh or ratings eye-candy.

To top it off, not everything translates well either. Shows funny in Mexico and South America can be offensive to U.S. Latinas. Puerto Rican media unions and community groups are petitioning the FCC to deny a license renewal to the island's largest television station, operated by Univision, because of "cultural insensitivity."

It's time that the Spanish-language networks realize that the U.S. Latina is a new breed that demands smart, realistic, original programming and doesn't make us want to hide ourselves with shame.

Marisa Trevino is a contributing columnist with Hispanic Link News Service and author of Latina Lista.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Eurotrash Making Marks on Subways

Most guests enjoy city's landmarks,
but cops say European groups like
MOAS are sullying our subways.

By Pete Donohue

New York Daily News
December 10, 2006 (Front Page)

Subway graffiti is back - and Europeans are to blame.

And taggers like Biser, responsible for 70% of graffiti, cops say, are just doing it for pix to boost Euro-reps.

Most of the major graffiti attacks on trains are being carried out by twentysomething Europeans who want to leave their marks where the graffiti culture was born, experts said.

They come from Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark and Norway to spray-paint their murals and elaborate tags - called "pieces" - on trains, fully aware that the Transit Authority will scrub them clean within hours.

The Euro-taggers don't care that New Yorkers won't see their work on the rails: their main goal is to take photographs and videos of their handiwork to bolster their reputations on the other side of the Atlantic.

And taggers like Biser, responsible for 70% of graffiti, cops say, are just doing it for pix
to boost Euro-reps.
"The majority of the heavy graffiti is being done by foreigners," said recently retired NYPD Transit Bureau Lt. Steven Mona, who until September 2005 was the commanding officer of the Citywide Vandals Task Force.

"We've always had foreigners, but in the last five years we've seen an increase."
When Mona and his team reviewed last year's graffiti hits, they estimated that 70% were carried out by Europeans.

That includes the graffiti group "MOAS," or Monsters of Art Scandinavia, which painted its initials on trains stored on "layup" tracks on Utica Ave. in Brooklyn.

Another tag spotted on a train hit on Utica Ave., "Biser," is identified on the Internet as being from Germany.

The NYPD wouldn't reveal the nationalities of arrested graffiti vandals. But another expert said the phenomenon is well-known.

Sgt. Bobby Barrow, who retired from the squad last year after nearly two decades in the Transit Bureau, agreed the bulk of the big hits are being done by tourists whose idea of a vacation is slinking around the city's tunnels and desolate railyards.

"There's a huge subculture to this," Barrow said.

Lady Pink, who started spray-painting trains in the 1980s and became the city's most famous female graffiti writer, said New Yorkers are bored with tagging trains.

"Painting to take a photograph, for us who live here, is kind of the wussy way out," she said.
"The point is to have it run [on the tracks and be seen]."

In 2002, a 24-year-old man from Poland and a 25-year-old German were caught with cans of spray paint and a videotape showing each defacing subway cars.

The two men spent short stints in jail but were released. They never showed up at their next court appearance.

"New York City is not a Disneyland for vacationing Euro-vandals," said Queens City Councilman Peter Vallone, chairman of the Public Safety Committee. "Judges need to send a message by setting bail at arraignment."

The Daily News reported last week that subway graffiti has taken off this year, with vandals heavily tagging and scratching 162 cars - more than triple the number defiled in 2004.

The 162 subway cars each required at least eight hours of cleaning or repairs, according to the TA, which classifies each incident as a "major hit," including spray-painting train exteriors or scratching drivel onto train windows.
Originally published on December 11, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dueling Views on Diplomacy Pit Baker Against Rice

The New York Times
Published: December 8, 2006

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 — Many of the blistering critiques of the Bush administration contained in the Iraq Study Group’s report boil down to this: the differing worldviews of Baker versus Rice.

Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III was the architect of the “new diplomatic offensive” in the Middle East that the commission recommended Wednesday as one of its main prescriptions for extracting the country from the mess in Iraq. Ever since, he has been talking on television, to Congress and to Iraqis and foreign diplomats about how he would conduct American foreign policy differently. Very differently.

At a midday meeting with reporters on Thursday, Mr. Baker insisted that the study group had “rejected looking backward.” But he then proceeded to make a passionate argument for a course of action he believed Condoleezza Rice, the current secretary of state, should be pursuing — while carefully never mentioning Ms. Rice by name.

The United States should engage Iran, Mr. Baker contended, if only to reveal its “rejectionist attitude”; it should try to “flip the Syrians”; and it should begin a renewed quest for peace between Israel and the Palestinians that, he maintained, would help convince Arab moderates that America was not all about invasions and regime change.

Meanwhile, Ms. Rice remained publicly silent, sitting across town in the office that Mr. Baker gave up 14 years ago. She has yet to say anything about the public tutorial being conducted by the man who first knew her when she was a mid-level Soviet expert on the National Security Council. She has not responded to Mr. Baker’s argument, delivered in a tone that drips with isn’t-this-obvious, that America has to be willing to talk to its adversaries (a premise Ms. Rice has questioned if the conditions are not right), or his dismissal of the administration’s early argument that the way to peace in the Middle East was through quick, decisive victory in Baghdad.

Aides to the 52-year-old Ms. Rice say she is acutely aware that there is little percentage in getting into a public argument with Mr. Baker, the 76-year-old architect of the first Bush administration’s Middle East policy. But Thursday, as President Bush gently pushed back against some of Mr. Baker’s recommendations, Ms. Rice’s aides and allies were offering a private defense, saying that she already has a coherent, effective strategy for the region.

She has advocated “deepening the isolation of Syria,” because she believes much of the rest of the Arab world condemns its efforts to topple Lebanon’s government, they said; and in seeking to isolate Iran, they said, she hopes to capitalize on the fears of nations like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan that Iran seeks to dominate the region, with the option of wielding a nuclear weapon.
Ms. Rice makes no apology for the premium she has placed on promoting democracy in the Middle East, even though that is an idea that Mr. Baker and his commission conspicuously ignored in spelling out their recommendations. “I don’t think that the road to democracy in Iraq is at all utopian,” she said in April.

It is plenty utopian to Mr. Baker, who has made clear his view that the quest is entirely ill-suited to the realities of striking a political deal that may keep Sunnis and Shiites from killing each other, and that may extract American forces from Iraq.

Mr. Baker said nothing on Thursday about looking for Jeffersonian democrats in Iraq; he would be happy with few good “Iraqi nationalists” who can keep the country from splintering apart.

“They start from completely different places,” said Dennis Ross, the Middle East negotiator who worked for Mr. Baker years ago and left the State Department early in the Bush administration.
“Baker approaches everything with a negotiator’s mindset. That doesn’t mean every negotiation leads to a deal, but you engage your adversaries and use your leverage to change their behavior. This administration has never had a negotiator’s mind-set. It divides the world into friends and foes, and the foes are incorrigible and not redeemable. There has been more of an instinct toward regime change than to changing regime behavior.”

To some degree, the Bush administration has softened that approach in its second term, and Ms. Rice’s aides contend that much of what is recommended in the Baker report, including a regional group to support the country, is already under way.

Mr. Bush himself seems uncertain how to handle his always-uncomfortable relationship with his father’s friend. It was Mr. Baker who in 2000 ran the strategy for winning the Florida recount, but he has also made little secret in private that he regards the administration as a bunch of diplomatic go-cart racers, more interested in speed than strategy and prone to ruinous crashes.

The administration has sent out word that it regards Mr. Baker’s recommendations as more than a little anachronistic, better suited to the Middle East of 1991 than to the one they are confronting — and to some degree have created — in 2006 three years after the Iraq invasion. It is a criticism that angers Mr. Baker, members of the study group say.

Iran and Syria illustrate the differing approaches of Mr. Baker and Ms. Rice. “If you can flip the Syrians you will cure Israel’s Hezbollah problem,” Mr. Baker said Thursday, noting that Syria is the transit point for arms shipments to Hezbollah. He said Syrian officials told him “that they do have the ability to convince Hamas to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist,” and added, “If we accomplish that, that would give the Ehud Olmert a negotiating partner.”

Ms. Rice’s allies argue that if it were all that simple, the Syrian problem would have been solved long ago. Stephen J. Hadley, national security adviser and Ms. Rice’s former deputy, said recently that the problem “isn’t one of communication, it’s one of cooperation.” Now that Mr. Baker has taken his differences public, the mystery is this: is he speaking for Mr. Bush’s father? “We never figured that out,” said one fellow member of the panel. “There was always this implication that there was a tremendous amount of frustration from the old man about what was happening. But Jim was always very careful.”

The elder Mr. Bush was careful, too. Asked if he wanted to offer his insights to the panel, he declined.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Latino Conversion to Islam: From Black-Consciousness to Arab Influence
by, Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani
I have been thinking about several things in relation to dawah and Latino conversion to Islam. This had led me to some unanswered questions. Chief amongst them is, “Under what factors and environment does Islam thrive? I will give a brief description of the history of Latino conversion, as I see it and raise a few questions with which I hope any and all of you can give some insight.

Latino conversion seems to have occurred in basically two phases. The first is the 1960s till the mid-1990s phase. The second is the mid-1990s till present.

The first phrase of Latinos who converted to Islam were mostly Caribbean Latinos with a strong African identity. Conversion to Islam was a continuum of the Civil Rights/Black Power movement. Latinos in the 60s and 70s were at the forefront of these movements. Latinos in New York came to “Black consciousness” with lead to “Islamic consciousness.” This process was one which may or may not have passed through an intermediary phase of “Latino consciousness.”

The first Latinos who became Muslim in New York were mainly Puerto Ricans who had been part of such groups as the Nation of Islam, Malcom X’s (Malik Ash-Shabazz) group, The Five Percenters, Black Panthers, and the Young Lord Party (originally part of the former Chicago-based gang the Young Lord Organization). Due to the close proximity of Puerto Ricans to African-Americans-culturally, politically, racially, and more important demographically Latinos became informed about Islam. This is and important point that cannot be over looked. Puerto Ricans actually lived next to African-Americans in many (not all) places of New York City, such as Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx.

For them Islam was a natural development and product of the era of struggle from which they came. Besides the political factor, history played a big role in informing these early Latino Muslims about a Muslim past coming from two lines of Puerto Rican history- namely Africa and Spain.

The second part of the first phase was basically looking towards the movements of the 60s and 70s and had converts who looked toward that era with a sense of pride and honor. Those who converted may or may not have participated in the then defunct organizations. Hip-hop (which Puerto Ricans were co-founders) was also a factor, and direct descendant of the Civil Rights/Black Power and the wider Black Consciousness movements of the 60s and 70s, that played a big role in the conversion of Latinos.

During the mid-90s, with the explosion of cyber space and the internet, many Latinos got connected to others people around the world. Latinos were now in communication with Muslims on the ‘net. This included Muslims both in the United States and abroad. This lead to people have more access to Islam due to this new medium. The technical age still continue till the present tend to be a principal medium and factor which has lead to many Latinos in the country.

After September 11, 2001, many Latinos wanted to learn more about Islam. This led many to go out and speak to Muslims and/or go to the internet. This phase also saw a greater diversity in the ethnic, nation, and racial background of Latinos converting to Islam. We also saw the hegemony of Puerto Rican Muslims and New York Latinos being broken down. There was also the rise of places such as Union City, New Jersey that saw great amount of Latinos converting to Islam.

Many during this period coming to Islam live near or at least know one Muslim. In New Jersey, Latino share neighborhoods with Arabs. During this period many come to learn about Islam not through African-American but through into action with foreign Muslim (mostly Arabs).

Okay, well this is my analysis and I would like to hear what you all have to say about this. My main question is “Does Islam thrive more when Latinos are exposed to Arabs (and other foreign Muslims) as opposed to exposure to African Americans (Muslims)?” What are the main factors you think lead to conversion in our times? Perhaps you can help out by simply telling me how you or a Latino friend became Muslim (please include you city.

Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani

Friday, December 01, 2006

In the Name of Allah, most Compassionate, most Merciful
When I Covered My Head, I Opened My Mind

By Sharrifa Carlo

As a non-Muslim living in Western society, the idea of modesty was not exactly foremost in my mind. Like all other women of my generation and mind-set, I thought such ideas were antiquated and excessive. I felt pity for the poor Muslim woman who had to "wear all that junk," or "walk around in bed - sheets" as I used to call it

I was a modern woman, educated and liberated. Little did I know the awful truth. I was more oppressed than any Muslim woman in the most culturally oppressive village in the Muslim world. I was oppressed not by an inability to choose my clothing or to choose my life-style, I was oppressed by an inability to see my society for what it really was. I was oppressed by the idea that a woman's beauty was public, and that lustful admiration was equal to respect.

It was when Allah guided me to Islam, and I put on the hijab, that I was finally able to step out of the society in which I lived and see it for what it really is. I could see how the highest paid women were those who exposed themselves to public display, like actresses, models and even strip-tease dancers. I was able to see that the relationship between men and women was unfairly stacked in the man's direction. I knew I used o dress to attract men. I tried to fool myself by saying I did it to please myself, but the painful reality was that what pleased me was when I was admired by a man I considered attractive.

I now know that there is no way for a person to know that he is dirty if he has never been clean. Similarly, I was not able to see that I was oppressed until I stepped out of the darkness of this oppressive society into the light of Islam. With that light shined on the truth, I was finally able to see the shadows that had been so obscured by my Western philosophies. It is not oppression to protect yourself and society; it is oppression to voluntarily throw yourself into the quagmire while denying it is dirty.

I am grateful to Allah that He allowed me to recognize that when I covered my head, I was taking away from people any means for judging me other than my mind, my soul and my heart. When I covered my head, I took away the incentive for exploitation based on beauty. When I covered my head, I made people respect me because they saw that I respected myself, and when I covered my head, I finally opened my mind to the truth.

Teach, Don't Preach
One of the factors which attracted me to this great deen of ours was the fact that so much of it can be understood based on logic and reason. that is why I feel that many Muslims parents do themselves a great disservice by not explaining more to their children. The old, "Because I say so...", or because you are an Arab, Pakistani, Somali, (fill in your cultural preference)..." never has worked and never will work. Human beings have a natural desire to understand what they do and why they do it, that is why Islam is such a great religion, because it satisfies all of our basic intellectual and emotional needs; it does this simply because it is the truth, and the truth is always easy to understand and defend.

When we teach our children, we should use the same sound reasoning and logic that we use to convince ourselves that a particular deed is beneficial. Thus, as we accept it, so, inshallah, will they because it will be understandable. Of course we preface every instruction with the understanding that we do what we do to please Allah and Allah only, even if we can not understand it, but alhamdulillah we have a means to understand the majority of what we do and avoid as Muslims.

For instance, we know that we don't eat pork because Allah commands us in the Glorious Quraan to avoid it. Then, we know that our beloved Prophet (Sal Allahu alayhi wa salam) commanded us to avoid it. We need to tell this to our kids, and as they grow and increase in their understanding we need to show it to them. This teaches them some important lessons. It shows them Allah's commands; it shows them the importance of the Prophet's (Sal Allahu alayhi wa salam) commands, and it shows them the basics of researching into the deen. Then, once we set this as our base, we need to explain to them the wisdom of this command. Talk about the diseases associated with eating pork. Discuss the unsanitary living/eating habits of this animal. Essentially, teach them those things which help you to avoid this sin. Teach them to use their faith and their mind in unison as tools towards achieving the ultimate goal of reaching Jannah
Black Orientalism
This will be the first of several articles I will be posting about an orientation that has been termed 'Black Orientalism.' This particle article is by the acclaimed politcal scientist Dr. Ali Mazrui.

BLACK ORIENTALISM: Further Reflections on “Wonders of the African World” by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

by Ali A. Mazrui

To all those who have responded to my Preliminary Critique of Gates' AFRICAN WONDERS:
I have received an avalanche of responses since my "PRELIMINARY CRITIQUE OF GATES" went into the Internet. I am grateful for all your comments.
Some ninety percent of the comments that I have received are angry, if not outraged, by Gates' television series.

In fairness to Skip Gates, he himself may be receiving many more positive responses from an entirely different constituency. I have no doubt there is a significant market for WONDERS OF THE AFRICAN WORLD, but probably not at many African Studies Centers in major U.S. universities. Africanist scholars seem to be overwhelmingly critical.

Edward Said, the brilliant Palestinian professor at Columbia University, made his mark when he published his book ORIENTALISM, referring to the strange combination of cultural condescension, paternalistic possessiveness and ulterior selectivity shown by certain Western scholars towards non-Western societies in Asia, "the Middle East" and Africa. Indeed the concept of the Middle East, which is so Eurocentric, was itself born out of Orientalism.
The question which has been raised by Skip Gates' television series is whether it signifies the birth of BLACK ORIENTALISM. Are we witnessing the birth of a new Black paradigm which combines cultural condescension with paternalistic possessiveness and ulterior selectivity? The condescension in Gates' television series might have been at its worst in Ethiopia and over the Ark of the Covenant. The paternalistic possessiveness was in Great Zimbabwe and in the wonders of the manuscripts in Timbuktu. The selectivity not only knocked out virtually the whole of North Africa; it also knocked out Nigeria, Africa's most populous country. Nigeria as the center of the three of the largest and most historically dynamic cultures in Africa-the Yoruba, the Hausa and Igbo-never qualified as one of the "WONDERS OF THE AFRICAN WORLD", in spite of Skip Gates' close relationship with Wole Soyinka, Black Africa's only Nobel Laureate for Literature. Gates' selectivity also got the white man off the hook for the Atlantic slave trade!

Did Gates boycott Nigeria in his TV series because dictator Sani Abacha was in power? Then why did Gates film in Sudan which had a regime widely regarded as more repressive? At any rate Sudan’s policies had killed many more people than Abacha’s in Nigeria. Gates’ refusal to include Nigeria in his TV series was a colossal lapse in credibility and in judgement!
What has BLACK ORIENTALISM got to do with circumcision ceremonies and rites of passage?
One or two sisters who wrote to me were worried by my remark that Gates was playing to "the Western feminist gallery' when in a casual sentence he went too far in condemning female genital surgery. Some Western feminists are aware that some of the greatest defenders of female circumcision in Africa are WOMEN themselves. We must all convince each other that this particular tradition must end. I personally have publicly spoken against it in Africa itself where it matters. See, for example, my highly publicized lecture on "The Black Woman" given for THE GUARDIAN newspaper in Nigeria on July 4, 1991, and published among other places in RESEARCH IN AFRICAN LITERATURES (The Ohio State University, Columbus, Vol.24, No.1, Spring 1993).
But cultural reform requires persuasion, education and example. Cheap rhetoric and denunciations are not very helpful.

What has BLACK ORIENTALISM got to do with linguistic authenticity?

My Egyptian and Lebanese respondents in the United States have drawn my attention to the fact that Skip Gates may have been taken for a ride by his interpreter of Arabic when Gates was interviewing a Nubian woman whom Skip refers to as "Ozayya Suleiman" (judging by Skip's pronunciation). The person who praised the Aswan Dam and the relocation of the Nubians was not Ozayya Suleiman speaking in Arabic, but the interpreter in English putting pro-Government words into Ozayya Suleiman's mouth. It was the interpreter who was trying to please the intelligence officer of the government!! Apparently Gates did a grave injustice to the older Nubian woman by assuming she was the one who was trying to please the Government's representative. This interpretation has been given to me by my Egyptian and Lebanese respondents. I have to double-check it further in person.

Where does religion fit into BLACK ORIENTALISM? A couple of respondents asked if my TV series THE AFRICANS: A TRIPLE HERITAGE (1986) had not had a pro-Islamic agenda. I shall always be grateful to Skip Gates for allowing me in the 1990s to challenge Wole Soyinka when he made the same charge in Gates' magazine TRANSITION. Please consult the magazine's issues Nos.54 of 1991 and 57 of 1992. Soyinka and I thrashed that question in full.
Although the phrase "triple heritage" is mine, the interpretation of Africa as a confluence of three cultures was partly Kwame Nkrumah's. It was Kwame Nkrumah, founder President of Ghana, who saw Africa as an interplay of indigenous culture, ISLAM and what Nkrumah called Euro-Christian civilization. Before Nkrumah, Edward Blyden in the nineteenth century had published his book, CHRISTIANITY, ISLAM AND THE NEGRO RACE. My TV series was standing on the shoulders of those Pan African giants.

Where does RACE fit into BLACK ORIENTALISM? We must not drift into the fallacy of regarding Skip Gates' point of view as THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE. Skip himself is such an individualist that he would be horrified by such a conclusion. Even more horrified would be African-American Pan-Africanists and Afrocentrists. Almost none of them regard Gates' voice as their voice. On the contrary, Skip has denounced them in the columns of THE NEW YORK TIMES deliberately against the pictorial background of the Star of David, (God knows why!). I have talked to some very angry anti-Gates African-Americans recently. His attack on African-American nationalists and Pan-Africanists was later widely publicized and circulated by a Jewish organization.

Skip Gates has always been very gracious to me personally. He even consulted me on the chapter about the Waswahili for his BOOK, though he did not consult me in any capacity about the television series. For the single chapter he accepted some of my criticisms and rejected others. Did he accept minor editorial criticisms and reject major ones? The truth lies somewhere in-between.

I am a member of the OAU Group of Eminent Persons on Reparations for Black Enslavement. I and eleven others were "sworn‑in" before the Presidents of Africa at a summit meeting of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Dakar, Senegal, in 1992. As an OAU Group of Eminent Persons on such a momentous topic, we are supposed to explore the modalities and strategies of campaigning for reparations from the Western world for the enslavement and destitution of the Black people. Our Chair in the Group was the late Chief Moshood Abiola of Nigeria.
Now Skip Gates' television series virtually tells the world that the West has no case to answer. Africans sold each other. Presumably if there are to be any reparations in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, it would have to be from Africans to Africans. Skip Gates succeeded in getting an African to say that without the role of Africans in facilitating it, there would have been no trans-Atlantic slave trade at all.

To my astonishment when watching "Wonders of the African World", I heard a Ghanaian tourist guide at a slave fort (Elmina) tell African-American tourists that they were sold into slavery by Africans. Is this the policy of the Ghanaian government to tell tourists that it was not the white man but the Black man who was responsible for the Atlantic slave system? If not, why is not the guide sacked? He was saying to African Americans "We Ghanaians sold you!"
The Ghanaians I have spoken to since Gates' television series are convinced that the Ghanaian guide at the slave fort was given an "inducement" to blame the slave trade on Africans! Who is behind this rewriting of the history of the slavetrade? I am sure Gates was as surprised as I was when he heard such frankness from a Ghanaian tourist guide.
But even if some Africans were collaborators in the slave trade, why is Gates presenting the story as if the victims were only the Diaspora Africans (exported) while Africans in the ancestral continent were ALL villains? IS BLACK ORIENTALISM racially masochistic?
What about the families of the captured Africans who did not see their loved ones come back home? What about the Africans who were victimised by slave raiders but were never exported? What about African resistance to slavery? What about the Africans who were not involved in the slave trade at all either as victims or as villains? Why is Skip Gates presenting us with a simplistic picture of continental Africans (villains) selling their brothers and sisters (Diaspora African victims), and provoking what he regards as the curse on Africa for selling its children? In reality only a small minority of the inhabitants of Africa could have sold and exported fellow Africans. So why is Africa as a whole presented in such stark evil ways? Why does Henry Louis Gates Jr. virtually let the white man off the hook on the Atlantic slave trade apart from a throw-away sentence? What is going on? What is the agenda? I hope the idea of Black Orientalism is not to sabotage all claims for reparations for Black enslavement.
What has BLACK ORIENTALISM got to do with the Jewish experience? It partly depends upon the style of the Black Orientalist. In history Jews suffered as slaves, benefited as slavers, and were also among the abolitionists and liberators.

Some of you have expressed surprise that I included a reference to Jewish capital in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. There were several reasons. Gates has sometimes used Jewish symbols in his attacks on Pan-Africanists and Afrocentrists. Secondly, Gates has used a significant part of this television series to expose ARAB participation in the slave trade. Why not complete the Semitic picture and refer to JEWISH participation in the trade? Thirdly, I regarded it as odd that in a television odyssey in Africa Gates should remember to wear what some regarded as a "Jewish shirt" (or at least a shirt with Hebrew written on it) but never once wear an African shirt as his own informal attire! After all, many African Americans wear such shirts right here in the United States routinely. (Gates was ceremonially dressed in Sudan and in Kente regalia for a Ghanaian occasion, but he managed a few snide remarks and jokes in the process.)
Jews were a minority of the Western financiers of the slave-trade. Jews did not invent Western capitalism. They were sucked into it.
But Gates deliberately tries to irritate by juxtaposition. Gates goes out of his way to tell us that in 1970 he came to Africa for the first time through Israel. Was that supposed to be a metaphor? He proceeds to tell us that Tanzania was a culture-shock in discomfort (after Israel?). The juxtaposition of Israel with the discomforts of Tanzania was startling and unnecessary. Skip Gates did not have to tell us that he had a bad “home-coming” to Africa after passing through Israel – a place of happier “home-coming” for returning Jews. What card was Skip playing? A compliment to Israel? Or an insult to “Black Zionists” wanting to return to Africa?

However, I do sympathise with the respondent who insisted that it was not JEWISH capital in Europe which was used in the slave trade. It was just CAPITAL. Similarly, it was not Arab and Asante slavers who sold Africans--it was just SLAVERS! Perhaps we should dis-ethnicize evil when we can. In any case, most Jews were probably against the slave trade all along.
Some of my friends think that because I did a television series of my own, I should have remained silent on the series by Skip Gates. But I was an African long before I did a television series for the BBC and the PBS. I am responding to Skip Gates' TV series first and foremost as an African. But secondarily, I am responding to it as a senior and elder Africanist. Skip is a friend. But he knows he and I have huge differences. If he feels he has a right to criticize Africa and abuse the Swahili people and still love Africa, I feel I have a right to criticize Skip Gates and still count him as a friend!!!