Islam news roundup: Arab televangelists; Being photographed, video taped is un-Islamic; Death of Islam?

Being photographed, video taped is un-Islamic: TNSM chief

An Islamic cleric who last month admitted that “There is no room for democracy in Islam” now says that being photographed or video taped is un-Islamic.

Get this: the cleric’s photograph is printed alongside the report in Pakistan’s Daily Times, which notes that the cleric shared his opinion during a TV appearance.

Talking to a private TV channel, he said any duplicated image of a person, whether a “still picture or video” was un-Islamic.

Referring to the various systems of governance, he said democracy, communism, socialism and fascism were all un-Islamic. He also said there was no need for a constitution in the country in the presence of the Quran and Sunnah, adding these were the “biggest laws” available to humanity.

– Source / Full Story: Being photographed, video taped is un-Islamic: TNSM chief, Daily Times, Pakistan, May 4, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Sufi Muhammad heads up Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed [Movement for the Enforcement of Mohammed’s Law], considered to be a front group for the Taliban.

Ex-Spy Sits Down With Islamists and the West

Talking to Islamists is the new order of the day in Washington and London.

The Obama administration wants a dialogue with Iran, and the British Foreign Office has decided to reopen diplomatic contacts with Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group based here.

But for several years, small groups of Western diplomats have made quiet trips to Beirut for confidential sessions with members of Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamist groups they did not want to be seen talking to. In hotel conference rooms, they would warily shake hands, then spend hours listening and hashing out accusations of terrorism on one side and imperial arrogance on the other.

The organizer of these back-door encounters is Alastair Crooke, a quiet, sandy-haired man of 59 who spent three decades working for MI6, the British secret intelligence service. He now runs an organization here called Conflicts Forum, with an unusual board of advisers that includes former spies, diplomats and peace activists.

– Source / Full Story: New York Times, May 1, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

• A court in Australia has rejected the argument of a Muslim man who claimed his marriage was invalid because it was potentially polygamous. The judge also rejected a second line of argument by the man, that the wedding was only a ceremony to welcome the mother of his children into the Islamic faith and was not a marriage. Consequently, the court ruled that the marriage was valid and that the wife’s application for orders relating to their children and property should proceed.

The Arab equivalent of televangelists preach a moderate brand of Islam in Cairo, and it’s catching on with young Muslims. Critics say they’re promoting Islam “lite,” a watered-down version of Islam that ignores the inherent clashes between the religion and western life. Listen to NPR’s All Things Considered report.

Veteran singer Yusuf Islam has become the second musician to accuse Coldplay of stealing the melody used in their hit track Viva La Vida.

The star – formerly known as Cat Stevens – claims the rockers have taken elements of his epic 18 minute song Foreigner Suite, which was released in 1973, and incorporated them into their 2008 single.

A solid majority of Jewish Israelis worry that President Barack Obama’s outreach to the Arab and Muslim world will come at their expense, a new poll showed Monday. … The poll of 610 people was conducted last week by Bar-Ilan’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and the Anti-Defamation League, a U.S.-based Jewish advocacy group.

Predicting the death of Islam

A book review of The Crisis of Islamic Civilization by Ali A Allawi.

A grim assessment of Islam’s survival prospects concludes this book-length essay by a prominent Iraqi politician who recently served as minister of defense and finance in the American-backed Iraqi government.

Unless Muslims can restore Islam as a “complete way of life” embracing the public as well as the private sphere,

The much heralded Islamic “awakening” of recent times will not be a prelude to the rebirth of an Islamic civilization; it will be another episode in its decline. The revolt of Islam becomes instead the final act of the end of a civilization.

These are the last words of Ali W Allawi’s book and might serve as Islam’s epitaph, for the restoration of the Islamic civilization he proposes seems fanciful. Allawi dismisses the notion that Islam might evolve into a personal religion of private conscience. Islam, he insists, offers an all-or-nothing proposition. Muslims either will “live an outer life which is an expression of their innermost faith” and “reclaim those parts of their public spaces which have been conceded to other world views over the past centuries”, or “the dominant civilizational order” will “fatally undermine whatever is left of Muslims’ basic identity and autonomy”.

– Source / Full Story: Predicting the death of Islam, LOCATIONDATE — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Publishers Weekly writes, as noted in the book’s listing:

Allawi (The Occupation of Iraq), former minister of defense and minister of finance in Iraq’s postwar governments, offers his version of the causes and consequences of the decline of Islamic civilization and proposals for its rejuvenation.

The author argues that the West’s violent encroachment on the Muslim world in the 19th and 20th centuries shattered local institutions and economies and disrupted any natural evolution of Islamic society; furthermore, current efforts to modernize the faith amount to draping an entire civilization in ill-fitting, inorganic ideas.

Allawi calls for a return to the creative and artistic heritage of Islam and a restoration of balance—between the physical and the spiritual… between men and women; between rights and duties—while suggesting that the time to find balance may soon run out.

The writing is erudite and the conclusions fascinating, but Allawi’s dismissive attitude toward Western societies and their mass rejection… of the cardinal virtues, not least wisdom and moderation, as well as a reluctance to accommodate anything other than a faith-based understanding of human reality might limit his audience.

– Source: listing, The Crisis of Islamic Civilization
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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday May 4, 2009.
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