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Daily Bloggerback
Best of Blogs: January 23, 2006

From the left, the right, the in-between: we include the political,
the social, the cultural and the undefinable, and on the weekend, a few bloggers' fictional fancies, too.

Featured Blog I: X-Rated
A Film Censor in Gaza

[Her majesty's Humorist-In-Chief reminds us why there's no statute of limitations on laughs.]

An email arrives from Jim Leitzel of Vice Squad: "Your point about not wanting to offend Islamic fundamentalists is a serious one -- as maybe you know, bloggers are being named as fatwa targets. The Aussies are a safer bet." I met quite a few religious headbangers when I was in Gaza. I think I have a rough idea of how far you can go with them i.e. not very far. Even quite innocuous things in English textbooks used to set them off. One morning my employer gave me a list of videos they had ordered from the UK, and asked me to check if anything in there would be unsuitable for Islamic countries. It was lucky I did check, as it turned out: one of the films was Life is Sweet, in which Jane Horrocks has chocolate spread licked from her quivering tits. With Palestinian audiences this would have gone down like a rat sandwich. Someone would have taken it home, father would have said, "Where did you get this pornography?" and next day our offices get burnt down by an angry horde. "Rape, murder, it’s just a kiss away," to quote the poet Mick Jagger. Harry Hutton's full post...

Featured Blogger II: Muslim on Muslim Violence
Reviewing Reza Aslan Take on Islam’s Internal Crisis

[Last spring the Iranian scholar Reza Aslan published "No God but God" (Random House), a historical study of Islam in which he argues that the global war on terror has it wrong. Islam is not at war with the West, but within itself. The West is a by-stander to Islam's internal battle between the forces of enlightenment, which have a long tradition in Islam pre-dating that of the West, and the forces of Taliban- and Wahhabite-like fundamentalism, which are a perversion of the Prophet Muhammad's religion. Metatone at the always interesting European Tribune provides an objective, thorough summary of the book for those unable to take on 300-some pages.]

Aslan starts with the notion that he hopes to impart an understanding of Islam. Thus he notes that he is not concerned to portray fully the "history" so much as the "story." Not all religious truth is bound in historical details and it is the myths and narrative that inspire faith and action as much as pure historical fact. In overview, the book aims to make a reasonable construction of the early times of the Muslim faith in 6th and 7th century Arabia and then trace out the reinterpretations of that time that gave rise to the Sunni "mainstream" and the sects of Shi`ism and Sufism. Following the differing reactions of various branches to colonialism he hopes to show us something about the present day. He finally contends that there may be something of a Muslim "Reformation" going on and this may parallel the upheavals of the Christian Reformation. In my diary about Mark Steyn I complained that there was a regrettable tendency to paint Islam as a large, monolithic entity. I feel this seriously distorts a lot of policy discussions about terrorism and the Middle East. The mention of a mainstream and two major sects should remind us (and this level of difference is presented in most of our media) that Islam is not a monolithic entity. Read Metatone's full review

 

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