Understanding 'Islam' and 'Terrorism' Through the Lens of Post-Orientalism

Wednesday, February 18, 2015



As a Muslim I have never been more confused about the role Muslims play in violence and terror in the context of the 21st Century. "Who is a Muslim?" is a question I am sure many have pondered on, even Muslims, dare I say. I am tired of trying to demonstrate that ISIS' ideology is not based on the Islamic faith that I have embraced and cherished all these years. Therefore, when I came across this passage from Post-Orientalism: Knowledge and Power in the Time of Terror I could not help but feel the need to share it because there are points in there that deserve thought and consideration.

As a Muslim who has absolutely nothing to do with the acts of violence done by other Muslims I feel disparaged by those who continue to demand the need for collective Muslim guilt. Why must I feel ashamed of something I did not do nor support? Why must another Muslim's definition of Islam have a debilitating impact on my life? Why must I live in fear of being inadequate simply because Western media have assumed authority over the representation of what constitutes Islam and Muslims? Why must I be subjected to this pressure and injustice?

"What we call 'Islam' is the historical outcome of a colonially ravaged people in search of an ideology of resistance. From the scattered memories of their ancestral faith Muslims have sought to narrate an ideology of resistance and then called it 'Islam'. We cannot, as does Mr. Fukuyama, neglect the last two hundred years of imperialism and the havoc it has wrought on Muslims and then make a transcontinental leap that 'Islam' is this, that, or the other thing. 
'Islam' is nothing except that which Muslims have actively imagined and institutionalised it to be. And Muslims have actively imagined and institutionalised their faith over the last two centuries under very specific historical circumstances, of which Fukuyama is either frightfully ignorant or deliberately dismissive. Islam has been an ideology of resistance as has socialism and nationalism or any number of its amalgamated ventures. Constitutional to that resistance has been the material basis of opposing tyranny at home and imperialism from abroad. 
It was simply a joke, had it not been so pathologically dangerous, to consider Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait as an "Islamic" movement. The Shi'i population of southern Iraq, the Kurdish population of the northern Iraq, and the entire Muslim population of Iran have lot to say to Fukuyama about the 'Islamic' incentives of Saddam Hussein." (Post-Orientalism: Knowledge and Power in the Time of Terror, Hamid Dabashi, 2009, pg. 234- 235)

Updates:
21/2/2015: I recently came across ISIS Isn't the Real Enemy. The "Game of Thrones" Medieval Mindset That Birthed It Is by Amir Ahmad Nasr. In my opinion, it's a worthwhile read.

14/11/2015: We do need a religious renewal, one that consists of pragmatic solutions and individual and collective determination to evaluate and address the threat of extremism. Here's an excerpt from another relevant article: "In the West, most people now think of ISIL when they hear “caliphate.” In this current, radicalized iteration, the phrase has come to suggest theocratic imperialism; an aggressive, ideological and murderous project. Yet the primary role of a caliphate in the Qur’an is put forth in a very, very different context. And early Muslims created their own caliphate to meet their circumstances. If modern Muslims want to be faithful to that tradition, they can best do so by showing some ingenuity. There has never been a more urgent need for religious renewal." (Only a real Islamic caliphate can stand up to the sham of ISIL by Haroon Moghul)

Moving Forward: Honouring the Lives of Deah Barakat & Yusor & Razan Abu Salha

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Our three winners: Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha and Razan Abu Salha.

Peace be upon you.

Many of you would have heard about the brutal murder of three outstanding individuals in Chapel Hill, North Carolina today. The late Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu Salha and her sister Razan Abu Salha (may God bless their souls) were killed mercilessly by Craig Stephen Hicks who turned himself in to the police and claimed he committed the crime due to a parking dispute. Given what Yusor's best friend, Amira, shared about her experience with Craig Hicks here I have no doubt he is a mentally and emotionally unstable man who deeply resented Muslims, not that the state of his mental health justifies what he did at all. Watching the family's media statement was absolutely heartbreaking. A lot of speculations are floating on social media and people want answers. Perhaps because emotions are high right now, which is understandable considering the socio-political climate in America (and the West, in general, at the moment). I believe many people can relate to Deah, Yusor and Razan because like many of us they were just living their lives as young and ambitious members of their community.

Hence, we need to ask ourselves, "What would Deah, Yusor and Razan do if they were in our shoes right now?"


Life in Wellington, So Far

Sunday, February 08, 2015


"You seem more you there. Is that strange to say? You seem happy," Feda wrote.

It's funny how people notice these things but she's right. I am happy and I do feel more like myself here. Perhaps people who have experienced living in two different countries (or even cities and homes) will understand how an environment can make a huge impact on a person's state of mind. Wellington is the best city I've lived in so far, apart from Kuala Lumpur, because that is my hometown after all. I know I've only been here for over two months but it feels right, you know?

If you follow me on Instagram you would have probably seen the array of photos I've posted. I realise I haven't posted many photos on my blog so here I am to share a few pictures depicting my life in Wellington so far.