Eteraz.org: A conversation with Jamal Miftah

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Blogger Ali Eteraz has posted an interview with Jamal Miftah about his banning by the Islamic Society of Tulsa (IST). (See my previous entries on the topic here and here.)

(Eteraz describes his website, eteraz.org, as "the first interactive blog for Positive Muslim Activism." "Eteraz is an online forum whose goal is to mobilize people of conscience throughout the world to identify, discuss, and take action on political and religious issues involving Islam and the Muslim world. Eteraz seeks a humanist vision of Islam for the future and looks to illuminate the wisdom and spirituality that made Islam a great religion historically by creating community, promoting informed opinions and more than anything else, moving its members to real world action." In Urdu, the word "eteraz" means "heartfelt disagreement." The site's structure is similar to that of RedState.org, where anyone can start a diary, and editors can choose to elevate certain diary entries to the main blog. In recent entries readers are encouraged to be thoughtful about where they give end-of-year zakat (alms), voting is opened for awards to honor the best of the Islamic blogosphere, and a call to write letters to the Tulsa Whirled in support of Jamal Miftah.)

In the interview, Miftah says that he doesn't fear reprisals from the Muslim community for his op-ed, but he does fear al-Qaeda sympathizers. He mentions the verses from the Koran which he cited in the original draft of the op-ed, but which he removed at the insistence of the Whirled. He talks about his relationship with the IST's leadership and gives some insight into the internal workings of the mosque, and he talks about his feelings and his plans:

Nor is Miftah excessively bitter. He certainly feels betrayed and angered by the fact that he was called numerous names by the IST and pushed out. However, instead of taking any aggressive actions, he has simply reiterated to the mosque leadership that he is not going to rescind his article; he is not going to apologize for what he said; and in fact, he is going to wait for them to apologize to him for mistreating him. What troubles him most is that he enjoys going to the mosque and feels the right to worship has been taken unfairly from him. "There's just one mosque. There's no place for me to go to say my prayers. A mosque is Allah's house and no one has the power to take that." When I asked what would happen if he was never welcomed back, he stated that he hoped enough funds could be raised for a smaller mosque that he could attend.

Eteraz draws a couple of lessons from the interview, including one about mosque leadership style:

It is clear from what Miftah described to me, that the Islamic Society of Tulsa does not elect its leaders; it merely appoints them. In those situations, dissent and disagreement, can only be dealt with in an authoritarian manner, namely, banning. The Islamic Society of Tulsa needs to consider its own democratic reform.

Eteraz is hopeful that CAIR will encourage such reform in American mosques. I wonder if knowing that one of the Tulsa mosque's leaders is a CAIR board member would cause his hope to dwindle.

I wonder, too, whether the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT)'s ownership of the IST property contributes to its authoritiarian style of governance. See Dubya at JunkYardBlog notes that the Episcopal Church USA uses centralized ownership to enforce conformity with its liberal "orthodoxy" -- defy the hierarchy and lose your church building. (You can ask the good folks of Tulsa's Church of the Holy Spirit how that works. They're now meeting in a converted house on 41st east of Garnett.)

(The Presbyterian Church USA is doing the same thing, using centralized building ownership to prevent dissenting (Bible-believing) churches from leaving the denomination. In fact, one PCUSA presbytery is even allowing the sale of a church building to be used as mosques, evidently to make sure it doesn't fall into the hands of evangelicals.)

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TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.batesline.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/2606

» A note from Jamal Miftah from BatesLine

Yesterday I received a nice note from Jamal Miftah, the Pakistani immigrant who wrote a bold op-ed piece condemning al-Qaeda and terrorism in the name of Islam, and has suffered expulsion from the local mosque as a result: I am Jamal Miftah and the unf... Read More

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 28, 2006 12:42 PM.

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