New Clear Vision

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Archive for the ‘Ahmed Afzaal’

Deciphering Political Language

June 22, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Ahmed Afzaal, Culture, Politics

Finding Genuine “Peace, Stability, and Security”

by Ahmed Afzaal

(Editor’s Note: This week on NCV, as part of a thematic series, we are featuring articles focusing on the Israel-Palestine conflict and attendant issues, hoping to stimulate a dialogue and suggest potential ways forward.)

For many Americans, the Israeli-Palestinian issue has become an unfathomable mystery enveloped in a dense fog of confusion. In order to clear some of the fog, I would like to enlist the help of a particular expert. The person I have in mind is George Orwell (1903-1950), the English author and journalist best known for his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948).

Why should we make Orwell our guide? One reason for choosing Orwell is that his writings offer one of the most enduring lessons for democratic citizenship, a lesson that many of us are in the process of forgetting. Orwell would tell us that an attitude of suspicion towards those in power, especially the politicians and the news media, is nothing short of a civic virtue. The citizens’ refusal to take the claims of the powerful at face value is a sign that democracy is alive and well. (more…)

Read, Don’t Burn

April 08, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Ahmed Afzaal, Community, Culture, Current Events

Out of Darkness Comes Light

by Ahmed Afzaal

Last year, a small crisis was created by Mr. Terry Jones, pastor of a nondenominational church Gainesville, FL, when he announced his plans to burn a copy of the Qur’an on the anniversary of September 11, 2001. Public outcry, not to mention the disapproval of General David Petraeus, eventually persuaded Mr. Jones to abandon his plan.  Those of us who thought that the story had reached its conclusion have just been proven wrong, as Mr. Jones has once again found his way back into the news after he actually carried out what he had threatened to do last fall.  This time around, the pastor conducted a mock trial of the Qur’an in which the jury, consisting of twelve members of his church, found the Islamic scripture guilty of “crimes against humanity,” including the promotion of terrorism.  (more…)

Healthy Boundaries

February 28, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Ahmed Afzaal, Community, Culture

Searching High and Low for Common Ground

by Ahmed Afzaal

Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and 2012 presidential hopeful, is being taken to task in the blogosphere for some comments he recently made on Fox and Friends. The controversial remarks appeared in the context of his criticism of two Protestant churches that are allowing local Muslims to worship in their facilities. In defending his position, Mr. Huckabee provided more ammunition to his opponents when he suggested that Islam was “the antithesis of the Gospel of Christ.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on Mr. Huckabee to apologize for his offensive remarks.

The word “antithesis” means the exact opposite of something; in the science of rhetoric, it denotes the counter-claim that directly contrasts the original proposition (called thesis). I cannot be fully certain of what Mr. Huckabee meant; however, when I read his statement that Islam was “the antithesis of the Gospel of Christ,” I understood it to mean that these two religious traditions stood in a starkly contrasting relationship of thesis and antithesis; that they were being seen as more or less incompatible and mutually exclusive, lacking in any common ground. (more…)

Nonviolence, from Mecca to Montgomery

February 14, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Ahmed Afzaal, Culture, Politics

The Convergence of Thought in Islam and Dr. King’s Teachings

by Ahmed Afzaal

As recent political events suggest, invaluable resources for creating a more just and peaceful world can be found in the Islamic religious tradition. In this essay, I will present one possible model of how to identify some of these resources, by highlighting the Islamic relevance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

For a Muslim, encountering the legacy of Dr. King can elicit an intense experience of déjà vu. His goals and approach, his confidence that he’s doing God’s work, his trust in the success of his mission, his refusal to hate his opponents — all of these can sound eerily familiar. In some powerful yet subtle way, there seems to be a not insignificant overlap between certain aspects of the Islamic tradition and the ideas and activism of Dr. King. Muslims who are in tune with the highest values of their own heritage can hear many an echo of the Islamic religious tradition as they listen to Dr. King’s voice.

I fully expect the above judgment to sound meaningless, if not absurd, to many readers. After all, what possible connection could there be between the theology and ethics of a black Baptist minister from the American South and the teachings of the Islamic religious heritage? Indeed, at first glance there appears to be absolutely no common ground between them. (more…)

Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

January 24, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Ahmed Afzaal, Culture, Politics

Asking the Right Questions

by Ahmed Afzaal

Ever since the atrocious events of September 11, 2001, the question has been raised and discussed countless times: Is Islam a religion of peace? I do not wish to add yet another answer to the already huge pile of responses that have been produced by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Instead, I would like to argue that the question itself is not — or is no longer — worthy of any serious consideration by intelligent people. I propose to examine this question one last time in order to expose its fatal flaws, before suggesting that we banish it forever. I would then like to propose what I believe is a more constructive and fruitful way of inquiring into the issues involved.

Is Islam a religion of peace? Whenever I hear this, I want to ask a counter-question: Who wants to know? It so happens that the overwhelming majority of people who ask this question do not care about getting an informed or accurate answer. They do not raise this question because they believe they are lacking in the knowledge of the Islamic tradition, and that the response will help them overcome their ignorance by giving them new insights. The question is typically raised by those who are already sure of being in possession of the right answer. (more…)

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