Featured Blog, I: Paleo-Islam
Apostasy This Time
Ibrahim M. Abusharif, From Clay / February 26, 2006
Another fire to put out. This time an Afghani (formerly a Muslim) speaks of his religious makeover, and now faces death because of apostasy rulings found in Islamic sacred law. The story leads the network and cable news and print behemoths, receives comments from the White House and just about every Rev. and collar in America. I can see that, but, man, slow news day? I don’t make light of the situation. If a man wants to change his religion, so let him. For God’s sake, they change gender these days. Note to the UN and the State Department: Include valium in the aid packages over there.
As for apostasy laws, they do exist. But Islam is not the only religion here, nor is it alien to secular systems. And you ask: so what? What kind of argument is that? Is this McApologetics? Good questions. I mention this because I think it only adds perspective in the light of the monster-making process of all things "Islamic." When you believe that the patent to "issues" belongs to one folk, then the mind is doomed to delve into all kinds of fear-fantasies and inspire legislatures to make all kinds of damned "laws" and wars. I make the analogy between apostasy in the original Islamic concept with American law of treachery and sedition, which are punishable by death. The apostasy law has more to do with “treachery” and “sedition” than a spiritual choice. Back in the day, when Islam was young and enemies abound, those who didn’t want to see their idols dethroned in the city of Abraham (Mecca) and those who felt intimidated that God would send a prophet from Ishmael’s pedigree (especially in the post-Jesus world) tried to do anything to damage or destroy the small community of believers. They made alliances, attempted to assassinate the Prophet Muhammad (numerous times), waged battle, and other tricks to do the deed. There were hypocrites among “the believers,” and they would be Muslim by day and plotting maniacs by night, allying themselves with those who, on their own accord, chose enmity as their reception to Islam and its folk. They would change their “faith” for political expedience and promises in order to do some impolite things to a budding nation. Their aim was not subtle.
Also, in the aftermath of the passing of the Prophet, some Arab tribes (especially in the eastern half of the Arabian Peninsula) decided to edit out a core tenet of the faith and withhold their charitable requirement, and thus impale the very economic basis of a contiguous people and nation. The battle against them was called the "War of Apostasy." It’s comparable to a movement to refuse to pay taxes to the Feds, but still want to live in America. Imagine that on a large basis, such that the very economic legs of the nation would not only wobble, but collapse and put an end to the American entity. Do we remember the Civil War and its economic rationale?
It’s important to note that apostasy rulings have rarely been used in the heyday of Islamic civilization, which ranged from the western frontiers of China, the Indian subcontinent, to North and Sub-Saharan Africa, and the western shores of Spain. There’s absolutely nothing in the élan or sacred paradigms of Islam that makes a choice an anathema to Muslims. I mean, listen: read history by real historians. And if you have the money, fly out to North Africa and the Middle East and look at some of the oldest Christian and Jewish communities on the face of the earth. The few episodes of animosity were a matter of human frailty (pandemic always) and not rooted in the deep soil of the Islamic way of thinking. (The recent tensions of the last century in the Muslim world were inspired more by the secular juntas of the Arab east, patterned after European fascist or socialist political systems (the Baath Party of Iraq is an example) than by Islam and its laws.) Then compare that with Spanish extermination and expulsion of Muslims and Jews, sanctioned and approved of by Rome. There’s more to cite, like the conquerors in the New World, who were given the right to "subdue" the natives in the "name of Christ," which was permissible because the natives were "infidels." Read the rest at From Clay...
Featured Blog, II: Brawl Nostalgia
The Fight Before the Hangover
Andraste, Horse's Ass Pub/March 22, 2006
This is the story of my first and ONLY bar brawl.
When I was in my 20's I lived in a student ghetto west of Boston, called Allston. These were my hard-drinking days (much as I joke about drinking now, my current habits are nowhere NEAR the levels I consumed then), just out of college, working shite jobs in retail, not really making enough money to own...oh, you know, extras, like furniture for instance. But at that stage in a person's life, towns like Allston are perfect. More bars per block than is really necessary, plenty of shops, public transportation, a few decent restaurants, diners, greasy breakfast joints. Not a pretty place, or particularly clean, and DEFINITELY not quiet, but okay for a dipsomaniac in her mid-20's, who didn't really care about getting her beauty sleep.
At this time, I used to do much of my boozing at an absolute DIVE called Gerlando's. The place no longer exists, but if it did, I would make the trip into Allston on a weekly basis, it was that amazing for people watching and hiding out from the big bad sun. I used to joke that it was the type of place that Starsky & Hutch would go in, looking for Huggy Bear. No windows, dark brown paneled walls, carpet...well, it wasn't a carpet, really. More of layer of "nicotine on a sinew base.*" A jukebox, pool table, darts, and a fascinating bunch of regulars. Some townies, some students, a few ex-cons...just about everybody had that gawdawful Massachusetts accent. You know the one I mean, "Don't listen to fucken Chaaahhhhlie, he's retaaaahhhhded.**"
One Sunday afternoon, I think it was St. Patrick's Day, I was there with my drunken pals, eating corned beef & cabbage, drinking copious amounts of cheap beer, playing pool, throwing darts, avoiding sunlight. Pretty much your normal Sunday for us started at noon (when the place opened) and ran until at least after dark, sometimes till last call. (I wasn't joking about avoiding the sun. Perhaps that's why I still look so young.) So by this time, we'd been at it for a good 5 hours when this shrew came in with her posse. I won't use her real name, let's call her... Roseanne. Yeah, Roseanne, because she was white trash and advertised it.
Anyway, to cut to the chase: She starts fucking with the pool line-up board, insulting my friends, insulting the bartender, stealing people's bar stools, and making a general nuisance of herself. Then, when I said something like, "Come on now, no one's having any fun with this..." she called me "a fucking ugly bitch."
I slammed my beer down on the bar, and the place went silent, like in an old western film. Read the rest at horse's ass pub...