This is an American Mosque?

I am not a Muslim, but I am an American who understands the incredibly promising and exciting future that is possible for American Muslims. Many of my fellow Americans probably consider the mosque like the one in this story to be an aberration or throwback in American Islam. Based on the reading I've managed to do1, it is far more typical than not. These mosques consider themselves to be firmly in the mainstream of American Islam; notables from mosques like these have been invited by President Bush to the White House. They are American Islam's fastest growing segment. Mosques like these consider themselves moderate compared to the rest of Islam, apparently because they've condescended to use the pulpit or the ballot box, rather than the sword, to spread these practices in America. Quite simply, they have no problem with the Constitution, provided it is ammeded to conform to Islam.
Excommunication From the Mosque?
They want to ban my daughter from the Islamic center I helped found 23 years ago.
By Zafar Nomani

"I am the patriarchy that feminists discuss in women’s studies courses. I am the status quo. I am the old guard...But now I stand strong beside my daughter as the leaders of our mosque put her on trial to ban her from the mosque. The mosque management committee has informed my daughter that 35 members of the congregation have signed a petition to “expel” her from the mosque for “actions and practices that are disruptive to prayer, worship and attendance” at the Islamic Center of Morgantown and “actions and practices that were harmful to the members of our community.” Her crime: speaking out against gender inequity, hate and intolerance at our mosque. This kind of retribution is unprecedented in my lifetime of working within the Muslim community, but it is emblematic of the way that extremists and traditionalists try to squash dissent within the Muslim world." Accessed July 24, 2004.
The woman's father shares his mingled awe and love of a daughter he'd come to see with new eyes, and his grief that he'd been so long in recognizing the wrongs he'd permitted her to suffer. At one point, the father tells of breaking into tears in front of his longtime colleagues on the mosque's Board of Trustees.
“Have mercy on me,” I pleaded. “My daughter has returned to Islam. Welcome her.”

They were untouched. “Everything will be okay for you,” they tried to reassure me. Ibid.
You see, his daughter had traveled to all the major centers of religion in the world in search of herself. Finally, she'd followed the Haj to Mecca, and come to understand that Islam is her spiritual home. Yet to his colleagues, she was simply not an issue. I wonder if she might not have been invisible to them, or a object in the shape of a woman so broken as to be thrown away without thought. They seem more concerned about the mental health of the father, particularly why he was becoming so agitated at what ought to be a non-event, the excommunication of his daughter for her dangerous, Western ideas.

The next time you read a college textbook or newspaper article's poignant morality tale of, say, an American Christian fundamentalist church that clings to outdated doctrines or practices, just to spite (or so the standard script seems to imply) our brave, new, secular society that but for "them" would already have ended the dominant patriarchy, remember this story.

This woman's struggle is, literally and figuratively, the struggle we all must face in the worldwide war of ideas which we must win, but in which we still haven't fully acknowledged. It is the struggle in which all of us, of all major American religions or political persuasions, are on the same side. The differences in our customs, mores, and conduct of our everyday lives as Americans are as nothing compared to the differences between Islam and the Islamists.

This simple story of a father's love for his independent, educated daughter, is far more real and meaningful that all the rallies, protests, policies, campaigns, laws, and court decisions we pretend to care so much about in this most political of seasons.

Take a moment. Help this woman. Help her father. Help find a way for Islam to defeat the Islamists.

1. Where do I get my information? Why do I assert all this? For starters, try and go from there. No, Pipes is not a hatemonger; his enemies seem willing to do and say anything to avoid genuine debate with him; his honest opponents find him engaging, if a bit stark in tone and stubborn in his conclusions. I disagree with some of his positions, but as far as I can tell his research is excellent and his commitment to ethical scholarship is strong.

And let the downvoting begin.

When I look back on my relationship with Katie, it is with a smile. I know that she broke up with me and it has taken me three months to get over her. But I still feel very deeply for her. It helps of course that I'm still very much friends with her though not as close.

It has got to the stage however where I realise that I don't want to get back together with her. If you'd asked me that question two months ago I would have said yes without batting an eyelid. But now I have come to understand that it just wouldn't be healthy. There is part of me that just wants to go out with her for a week again and then dumping her to show her how much she hurt me. Fucking bitch.

I've also come to the realisation that our relationship was not really about affection. That is to not say we didn't like each other. I cared for her alot and still do, and I think (and hope) that Katie did/does as well. But in reality I now see that it was more about convenience.

Katie lives on the same floor as me in the Halls of Residence. We first kissed during the second week of the first term. I think what happened was that we were both lonely. We didn't really know anyone in the hall and it was nice to make some friends who didn't know me as the little nerdy kid like it was at high school.

Convenience. It is a horrible way to describe a relationship.

I've also realised that I need a girlfriend. Not because I'm desperate - just lonely. I miss having someone to confide in. Tell someone exactly what I think and not have them go and tell everyone about it.

Maybe I should just suck it up and ask out that cute girl with the red hair in astronomy class...

Update (29/7/04): Well it turn out my cute girl with the red hair (her name is Sofie if you must know) already has a boyfriend. Fortunately I didn't come upon this information after asking her out or anything awkward like that - just saw her kissing him. Probably end up like I don't like her because she won't like me knowing the way that my mind works. Just means I'll have to drink myself to a stupor at the party on the weekend.

I'm going to meet her today

When I turned 18 my parents bought me a skydive. You take a little lesson, then you jump out of a plane with some parachute bundled up on your back. At first your nervous, then you're in freefall and it's like nothing else. Nothing has ahold of you, not land, nor gravity, nor anything else. It's like you're in orbit, with wind. It's total freedom with no control except when to stop.

We have a mutual friend she and I. He's now become that married guy who tries to hook up his single friends. And since he (like me) only has a few friends this was bound to happen. I thought, hey, a setup, could be fun, can't hurt at least.

Sure, you think you know how things are going to go. Jump out of plane, float around like you see on TV, open chute, land. Cake right? Hell no. There's so much to remember. You have to make yourself not flip around. You have to control the urge to look down. Looking down can kinda hypnotize you, seeing the ground come rushing straight at you. The instructor said "Never look where you're going." Most of all you're supposed to remember to look around at the horizon, move around, enjoy yourself. Freefall doesn't last long.

We exchanged ICQ numbers 2 days ago. I've done little but talk to her in that time. She's stayed up late, and I've gotten up early. I've told her nearly every weirdness about myself that I could think of. The little compulsive quirks. The years I've spent as a shut in. That I don't drive. Sometimes I forget that I'm weird, that most people own pants for example, so I don't mention it, it's my normal. I have only shorts, is showing up in shorts going to be bad? I've told her all this and she still talks to me, she still wants to meet me.

So many things can go wrong. You could just plain forget to open the chute because you're having so much fun. Your chute might get tangled. It might not open at all. You could get lost on the way down. Hit powerlines. If anything goes wrong, you can panic. That makes it so much worse.

I'm trying not to think about things that can go wrong, previous failures. I'm being sure to be me in all that I am. Before I tried to ease people into me, and that just doesn't work. Before I tried to be someone else. Now I am only me. Don't think about it, just act natural. Don't think about where I want it to go, just deal with things when they go wrong, and hope.

I am going to meet her tonight.

I am so afraid

Flying or falling?

I am a champion of delinquent payments,
A jack of all trades not worth knowing.
I hang overdraft notices on the wall like degrees.

I have a Masters in Excess Spending.

I am the third grade poet laureate,
Forever failing Math exams,
Held back by the dizzying confines of

I am an emotional disaster
In dire need of government relief funds,
Of National Guardsmen with sandbags
And makeshift retaining walls
To keep me from affecting any more
Poor sons-of-bitches.

I am Hank Williams’ ghost
Playing tic-tac-toe
With Phil Ochs
On Ronald Reagan’s tombstone.

I am learning Russian in order
To better understand
What my neighbors are surely
Saying about me.

I would commit the most appalling acts
If they meant working nine-to-five
With benefits.

I am an anal retentive anarchist
Selling hope to infants
And sedatives to their mothers.

I am the month of August,
Sticky with sweat.

I am a suicide gone bad
And a homicide waiting to happen.

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