Genes, marriages, cousins and upset British Muslims

Recent headlines in British newspapers announce another controversy about Islam and Muslims. This time it is not a novel or another stupid cartoon to challenge the very much stressed British Muslim population, but instead a branch of science: genetics. Indeed, Prof Steve Jones, one of Britain’s most eminent geneticists, who lectures at University College London, has warned at The John Maddox Lecture at the Hay Festival that the level of inbreeding among the nation’s Muslims is endangering the health of future generations. Continue reading

Five years of Contemporary Islam

I was a very young scholar, in the second year of my PhD, when I noticed how difficult it was to find an international academic journal that focused on social scientific, and multidisciplinary, approaches to contemporary Islam and Muslim lives. I then moved from reading articles to publishing them, and again, I discovered that although my first publications appeared in reputable journals, they were certainly not in those devoted to the study of contemporary Muslims. I then appreciated how important it was to have such an international forum for scholarly debate. I started to plan to found a journal. Continue reading

Muslims in Singapore, Multiculturalism and clapping hands

On the 14-16 July 2010, MUIS (Islamic Religious Council of Singapore), in collaboration with Oxford University, University of Melbourne and the Department of Malay Studies at National University of Singapore, has organized the International Conference on Muslims in Multicultural Societies. According to the main organizer, the conference was aimed to

profile Singapore’s best practices in general and more specifically the Singapore Muslim community’s contribution to the state and in promoting Islamic values that embraces diversity. Additionally, this conference serves as a platform for other Muslim communities to share their experiences – models, systems and processes, and exchange ideas for further development of Muslims in multicultural societies. Continue reading

“Islam is evil”. “No! Islam is peace”: The fallacy of the ‘scripturegnosis’ argument

The debate, despite enlightenment and modernization, remains the same as that which Dante advocated in the Divine Comedy: is Islam evil or a religion of peace? On one side of the argument, and siding with Dante, is Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician and self-declared ‘Islamophobe’ in the real meaning of the word (fearing Islam as religion). Of course, for both Dante and Wilders (who is facing trial in his own country), Islam and the Qur’an are, in the very words of Wilders, ‘bad’ and ‘evil’. Wilders also used adjectives such as ‘retarded’, ‘fascist’ and ‘anti-democratic’ – thus dangerous and worthy of being banned. Different variations on a theme of ‘Islam is evil’ can also be found in the work of several authors, for example Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’or and Magdi Allam among many others. Continue reading

A note on the new Centre for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies (University of Western Sydney)

On the 16th of July, UWS launched a new Centre for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies as part of its partnership with NCEIS (National Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies). I have received emails and queries about my involvement and position with the centre, as well as questions about its program and agenda. Since I have been mentioned as one of the ‘senior academics’ appointed to the new centre, and since some academic colleagues were aware of my intention and efforts for the past two years to start a centre along the same lines, I feel that I need to clarify the current situation and my collaboration on this project with my friend, and co-editor of the book series Muslims in Global Societies, Prof. Bryan Turner. Continue reading