Juan Cole on Engaging the Muslim World

A past program in the Inside Islam radio series “Reaching Out to the Muslim World” covered President Obama’s promise to alter the course of the Bush administration’s war on terror in his inaugural address. Informed Comment blogger and Middle East historian Juan Cole joins host Jean Feraca Wednesday at 3 pm on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders for a live show about ways of “Engaging the Muslim World” with diplomacy and dialogue.

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Muslim Women and Soccer in “Football Under Cover”

Woman's Football TeamToday on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders the crew that also produces the Inside Islam radio series will air a related program about the German and Iranian women’s soccer teams at 3 pm Central. The show will focus on the documentary film Football Under Cover. For information on how to listen and to find out about today’s guests co-director David Assmann and producer Marlene Assmann, click here.

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Global Dialogue and Social Translation

Meedan, or “gathering place” in Arabic, is the name of a social translation and community-building project for English and Arabic speakers. The online network provides a free and interactive translation service to all who register. Registered users can also create profiles and connect with others based on similar interests, and/or location regardless of language differences. Comments, news articles, and blog posts are translated from the user’s native language using an evolving Machine Translation service.

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Islamic Music Videos and Rap on Egyptian TV

Special thank you to Riyaad M and Hussein Rashid for sending us rap groups to look into.

KNaan by Megan Cole (via Creative Commons)

Rapper K'Naan by Megan Cole (via Creative Commons)

Despite the debate over whether any type of music is permissible in Islam, different types of Islamic rap have popped up around the world. As I mentioned in a post last January, American rapper Lupe Fiasco, for instance, is Muslim but does not typically speak to Islamic issues or messages. Another example is rapper K’Naan. In fact, Muslim rap is not exactly new. The controversial Fun^Da^Mental has been on the scene since 1994.

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Heavy Metal in Baghdad Update

The first radio program in the Inside Islam series was “Heavy Metal Islam” on September 25, 2008. One of our guests on that show, Suroosh Alvi, co-directed a the documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad. In the film (which is now available to view online for free) we meet Acrassicauda, the only heavy metal band in Iraq. The band has now moved to New Jersey after being exiled in Turkey.

Acrassicauda resurfaced on NPR’s Fresh Air in an interview on March 17th. Since the time of the documentary, the world and band members of Acrassicauda have seen the country continue to crumble after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The new goals of the Obama administration in Iraq include restoring stability to the government and helping cope with the country’s refugee crisis.

Do you think that will mean that bands and other people who have left the country will return and help stabilize the country as well? What do you think about the situation in Iraq today? Do you believe that heavy metal is unislamic? Should heavy metal play a part in reconstructing Iraq as well? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or send us a message via email.

The Imagination Age and Digital Diplomacy

Second Life is a virtual world that users can enter from anywhere, create an avatar, and build communities with others. In “Understanding Islam Through Virtual Worlds,” a short documentary that follows dialogues about Islam happening in Second Life, hosts Rita J. King and Joshua S. Fouts enter a mosque, take the Hajj, and even visit the online office of a real-life charity. Below is a video of the documentary or you can watch it here in high definition.

Fouts and King feel that the project’s main goal is to tell the story of Islamic virtual realms and give people the chance to share their message with a larger audience. On their blog, Fouts says:

We had many tense discussions with Muslims and non-Muslims alike in virtual space around issues such as Islamic Law and Rape, perceptions about the evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood, free speech, women’s issues, the conflict in Gaza and the war in Iraq. Many Muslims are fed up with violence and virtual worlds offer a new opportunity, especially for people who live within oppressive regimes, to reach out and discuss these issues and even begin to seek creative solutions.

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Poetry Festivals and TV Shows

The Dubai International Poetry Festival was held the first week of March as a way to open the eyes of the world to poetry and increase global interconnectedness. The festival is significant in a larger religious struggle against fundamentalism and cultural repression in the region as well. Poetry is part of a debate of whether the arts are permissible expressions of worship in Islam.

Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, has in fact a long and vibrant tradition of poetry, music, and dance. The sufi poet Rumi may sound familiar to foreign ears, for instance. For this reason, sufi tombs are often important cultural epicenters of Muslim communities and have become symbolic of a centuries-long conflict with fundamentalists who have literal understandings of the Koran and want to repress mystical traditions, sometimes violently.

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Passionate Uprisings in Iran

Author Pardis Mahdavi wrote Passionate Uprisings from personal experiences during the seven years she spent observing politics and sexuality in post-revolution Iran. Mahdavi claims that the country is undergoing a momentous generational shift away from religious traditions toward democratic values. This changing image is missing from mainstream news in the west but in fact, Mahdavi says, people in the west have a lot in common with this new generation that embraces individual freedoms.

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Eco-Islam Next in Inside Islam Radio Series

Last December, we posted an overview of Eco-Islam development and related projects under way around the world. One commenter mentioned the name Seyyed Hossein Nasr and added that he has been speaking about “green” issues and Islam since the early 1960s. Since the next program in our Inside Islam radio series produced by Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders is about Eco-Islam as well, we thought it would be a great idea to ask him to tell us more about the movement.

On March 26, host Jean Feraca unearths the Eco-Islam movement with Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr as a guest for the live radio broadcast. We have created a radio show page here on Inside Islam with ways to listen and participate. So, if you have an idea for another guest, a specific project to highlight, or a comment to add, please leave us a message or send it by email. The page will be updated with your ideas and comments may even be read by Jean on the air.

What is your image of Pakistan?

Author Daniyal Mueenuddin

Author Daniyal Mueenuddin

What’s your image of Pakistan? A nuclear-armed, Taliban-infested, desperately poor nation of 170 million people on the edge of anarchy? A barbaric backwater where women get buried alive for refusing to be forced into marriage, or are condemned, like Mukhtar Mai, to be gang-raped for an offense allegedly committed by a younger brother? These are images that come to us from trustworthy journalists and reputable sources. Share your own impressions about Pakistan below.

So, how are we to square them with the Pakistani author Daniyal Mueennaddin who delivers in his hip debut collection of linked stories, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders: a Pakistan where Islam is hardly mentioned except in passing; where sophisticated urbanites routinely indulge in sex and drugs with impunity; and where everybody from the maid to the manager to the local judge cheats as a modus operadum.

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