27 August 2004

Muslim WakeUp: Progressive Muslim Voices

Muslim WakeUp, a site I just discovered via One Hand Clapping, has a couple of stories with nice ironical twists.

The first concerns a young Muslim woman, whose singing is banned in North America but welcome in Southeast Asia.
If anyone needed a reminder about how far out of sync the American Muslim establishment is even from most Muslims in the world, then this is a good example.

A few months ago, Ani, a Los Angeles-based American Muslim artist who has produced some of Malaysia's top music albums and worked with top performers from around the world, decided to make an album that expresses her faith as a Muslim and a message of empowerment for young people and women. The album (whose title and title track was inspired by our website) is called Ummah Wake Up, and MWU! was the only American Muslim site to feature it.

She reached out to American Muslim distributors, American Muslim music festivals, American Muslim websites. The response she got almost across the board was, Sorry, but women's voices are awra, religiously prohibited due to their allegedly harmful effects on public morals. Effectively, her work was banned by North American Muslim institutions, including the recent Muslim Fest in Canada.

Now Ani is in Malaysia where she is embarking on a major media blitz there and headlining several concerts, including a huge stadium show to celebrate Malaysia's National Day on Monday and a benefit Concert for Palestine on Saturday, September 4th at Kuala Lumpur's Renaissance Grand Ballroom where she will be joined by Raihan, the country's top nasheed group. Then she's off on a similar itinerary in Indonesia.

In both countries, Ani will be appearing on over a dozen major TV and radio programs promoting her album's official release in Malaysia and Indonesia....

So once again, what's good enough for some 200 million Muslims "over there" is not good enough for 6 million or so Muslims "over here." Shame on the self-appointed Islamic morality police in Los Angeles and Toronto and Indiana and Illinois. Ummah Wake Up indeed!
The other article, entitled Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: The Hollywood Pagan Islamic Sajdah, explains an Olympic moment misunderstood by many non-Muslims.
Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco won the Gold in the 1,500 meters race at the Athens Olympics....

But we are not here to talk of sports. The San Francisco Chronicle sports page has a large headline about the event that reads "A Gift from God." There is also a giant picture of El G doing a post race sajdah. The picture caption says that Hicham is kissing the track. He is not!

So here is a little trivia for the non-Muslim readers of MWU! Muslims perform a particular prayer ritual five times a day called the salat (or namaz in Persian/Urdu/Turkish speaking areas). The sajdah is one of the physical motions that make up the salat. The movements of the salat are performed in simple cycles. You can think of movement as a very simple cycle similar to yoga's sun salutation. Strict Muslims would probably find this analogy a little annoying.

The sajdah is performed by men just as Mr. El G is doing in the picture. The women do a slightly different version, keeping their elbows and butts a little lower. The forehead and often the bridge of the nose touch the ground. The lips never do.

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