Dawa

Jonathan Brown’s Lecture on Slavery

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Here is an excellent lecture by Dr. Jonathan Brown on the subject of the abolition of slavery. It is a forerunner to his upcoming book Slavery and Islam which will be released on August 23, 2019. I have already preordered the book and intended on doing a full-length book review, inshaAllah. Continue Reading

Getting Drunk Was Considered a Sin in Medieval Christianity

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

TIL that getting drunk was considered a sin in Medieval Christianity. Alcohol itself was considered permissible, but drinking to the point of inebriation was considered a subset of the deadly sin of gluttony.  The full reddit thread on r/askhistorians can be found below, although I’ll quote the relevant parts:

 

Prevalence of Alcoholism in Middle Ages? from AskHistorians

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Americans today (I understand ideas about alcoholism and its treatment can be quite different) tend to think of alcoholism as an addiction or even a disease. This was not so in the Middle Ages. Inebrietas–inebriety or drunkenness–was normatively a sin, a subset of the Deadly Sin of gluttony or overconsumption.

We must separate the rhetoric of preachers from the daily lives of medieval people (including, presumably, many of those preachers). An evening at a formal or informal tavern was the heart of socializing for a lot of urban people. It’s not for nothing the tavern was derided as the “chapel of the devil”; it was the secular parallel for social life to the Church and religious civic gatherings. As with today, not everyone would get drunk, and even fewer of those would get drunk so often and compulsively as to compare to modern alcoholism. And of course, the role of alcohol in the display of battle prowess and noble/royal power is well known to anyone who read Beowulf in high school….

…But in the background, and increasingly pushed by preachers and didactic authors over the 14th through 16th centuries, was the point that drunkenness inherently represented overconsumption, a focus on the material world and personal pleasure that distracted from God. It was a sin. And in both prescriptive theoretical sources and actual criminal records, medieval people knew and experienced the costs of inebriety.

In theory, drunkenness would lead to other sins. It loosened the tongue and mind, resulting in a rise to wrath. Naturally in women in particular, it heated the body and aroused it to lust. It led the drunk person to forget about others, greed. And so on. Meanwhile, coroners’ rolls from England and court records from French and German cities attest handsomely to the fights, assaults, and murders inside taverns and spilling onto the streets outside.

This is still just alcohol consumption, though. What can we say about the compulsion to drink caused by a pattern of overconsumption? First, in the medieval imagination though not in practice, pattern inebrietas was gendered heavily male. In German popular literature, there were two stock “parents who waste their family’s money” figures. The woman is the haute palate, the one who must always have the richest food, the most expensive clothing while her children go hungry and threadbare. The man, however? The man spends every night at the tavern, drinking away his children’s bread. The latter, at least, had a basis in reality. Women in early modern Germany sometimes petitioned their cities for emergency financial support or for legal living-arrangement separation from their husband, because he was ruining the family financially through drinking every coin. Continue Reading

Jonathan Brown Does it Again

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

 

Jonathan Brown has written an excellent article on the issue of suicide bombing in Islam and the popular American perception. Very valuable read. Check it out here, inshaAllah:

Is Islam A Death Cult?

 

 

 

An Example of Alternative Media Influence

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In my article about Muslims in the media, I mentioned how a network of bloggers, Youtubers, and internet activists can change the cultural landscape and make minority ideas mainstream. Here’s a quote: Continue Reading

Why We Don’t Need More Muslims In “The Media”

بسم الله الرحمن الريم

One of the ideas that’s constantly parroted on the mimbar is that we need more Muslims in the media. This notion is almost entirely false.

The Future of the News

“The media” is dying. What I mean by that is that people are still getting their news – just not from “establishment” sources. More and more, a conglomeration of anonymous bloggers and indie news groups (including YouTube-based news groups) are the ones that people go to for their information. If you don’t believe me, ask any person under the age of 30 when the last time they watched CNN was and see how long it takes them to remember.

The mainstream media is laying off hundreds upon hundreds of workers; the machine is finally coming to a halt. The masses have extreme levels of distrust for mainstream news – especially after the false pretenses of the Iraq invasion, the whitewashing of the bailout for bankers and countless other lies that they have told . Even the most redneck, flag waving American is now aware of the political machinations which the machine swept under the rug for so long. People are tired of a fake, talking head, with contrived laughter and fake news.

Given the state of the media establishment, as well as the advent of the internet, a vacuum is being filled by increasingly powerful indie news groups. These sources can range from a single blogger, to a well-edited YouTube program. The most powerful of these alternative media sources are currently more influential than mainstream news sources. Examples of these include The Young Turks and Alex Jones / Infowars.

One key characteristic about these channels is that their hosts are completely real, will tell you their bias, where they stand and why. They will make no attempt to appear “objective” and will give you their honest opinion. This is what people want. They don’t want a talking head with an earpiece and a fake smile. They don’t want false introductions to guests, or showing bombs while that person is talking so as to circumvent our logical brain with psychological tactics that were discovered in the 50s. People want to see a real human being telling us what they think and with their agenda laid out on the table.

There are now several of these kinds of indie news stations on YouTube, with Jewish talent leading the charge. Here are some examples:

 

If these look impressive, realize that most of these amount to some guy sitting in his basement. Each of these channels has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and started out with probably under 5 people involved. Channels like these put out the content that influences millennial minds.

Perhaps more powerful than these YouTube channels are the blogs which people sift through on their phones while working some boring office job. The blogosphere has almost entirely replaced newspapers.

Networks and Nodes

A single blog or YouTube channel is not significant enough to influence public opinion. But a conglomeration of interrelated blogs, channels, and forums – all of which share similar beliefs; that is enough to change public opinion.

Currently the blogosphere is divided into several sub-spheres, which further divide into sub-sub-spheres almost ad infinitum. Most of the spheres out there are too insignificant to matter, but several of them have gained traction. These include: the leftist/progressive sphere, the feminist sphere, the manosphere, the alt-Right, the atheist sphere, the conspiracy theory sphere and more. This list is not exhaustive, but the above are what I currently understand to be the most powerful and relevant to Muslims today.

There is also a newly emerging Islamosphere, with its main hub being Muslim Matters. Muslim Matters deals with ideas rather than news and hence is the main medium through which ideas are currently being disseminated to orthodox Muslims in the Anglosphere.

This brings me to another important point; namely that there is a hierarchy inherent in any sphere. I believe the center of any sphere are the people who come up with the main ideas. You then have bloggers who agree with that idea and disseminate it in their own words; but some of whom are original thinkers who further develop those core beliefs or provide new insights. Finally, when enough of an idea network forms, some followers who have adopted the ideas promoted by that sphere will create news channels and artistic material (usually in the form of video satire, memes, etc.) which allow the central ideas and their implicit assumptions to disseminate to the masses. The masses in no way receive the fully reasoned argument for the position being promoted, but rather they consume a conglomeration of arguments, rhetoric, lies and/or misinformation (usually about opponents to the position being proposed), satire, etc. This is the manner in which the masses of people determine their worldview and it is an immutable law within any human society.

Within a sphere, a number of main nodes emerge: the main people who disseminate core ideas, and the main news channels that drive these ideas to the masses in a palpable way. The rest of the sphere feeds off of the main nodes.

Infiltration Is A Waste of Time

The current media strategy of Muslims is to infiltrate mainstream media outlets in hopes of being able to get a talking point or two in. This is a fruitless strategy that is counter to the Quran.

The primary problem is that it gives complete control to a non-Muslim authority who’s using the Muslim to promote his/her own worldview. They are the bosses, the ones in charge, and if you disagree with their agenda they will weed you out. Hence more often than not, Muslims who enter the mainstream media are either selected for already having liberal views, or they are forced to conform their expressed views to the workplace norm such that they become neutered and ineffective. I believe people promoting this course of action think that if we get enough Muslims in, then eventually Muslims will take managerial positions and hence be able to promote more increasingly Islamic views. This is laughable.

I also feel that this endeavor is largely motivated by fear. Is this really what Muslims have been reduced to? Instead of calling to our way of life, we are trying to placate non-Muslims out of fear that they will round us up like the Japanese and German-Americans in World War 2. Many Muslims don’t talk about this, but it is a latent fear within us, especially the older generation who have come from war torn countries.

مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعِزَّةَ فَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِلَيْهِ يَصْعَدُ الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ يَرْفَعُهُ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ يَمْكُرُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ ۖ وَمَكْرُ أُولَٰئِكَ هُوَ يَبُورُ Continue Reading