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Total number of comments: 7 (since 2014-07-05 01:54:31)

Ali A. Olomi

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  • Death Sentence for Morsi: Egypt's Junta takes another step toward being N. Korea
    • The US continues to replicate the same framework in the Middle East over and over again: vocalize support for democracy, financially and politically back autocracts and dictators. Egypt's military regime has sentenced its democratically elected president to die and given a life sentence to Sultan, an American citizen. What does the US do? Continue to give financial aid and political cover for the regime. Our supposed ally has imprisoned one of our own citizens and sentences their own president to death.

      US foreign policy is a disaster.

  • Top Ten Ways Islamic Law forbids Terrorism
    • An excellent article by Professor Cole! One of the most important parts is point 4. Why does our media continue to lend weight to terrorists claiming to speak for Islam, but ignore the actual scholars who have been denouncing terrorism?

  • Cairo Erupts as Mubarak, Adly Declared Innocent in Deaths of Protesters
  • Must Muslim Americans Condemn ISIL? Must Turkish Jews Condemn Gaza War?
    • Excellent article and point. Western Muslims are not obligated to speak out about ISIS or extremism anymore than Christians are to speak out about the Westboro Baptist Church. Yet, regularly conservative pundits and politicians ask--with a sense of incrimination--why Western Muslims are not speaking out. It is a bizarre attempt at trying to pigeon-hole Muslims as either "with us or against us." Muslims as a whole are not responsible for the actions of ISIS. Yet, despite this Muslims do speak out and scholars, laypeople, and religious leaders alike have condemned the group just like they did Bin Ladin, Al Qaeda, and the attacks on 911. They just don't get air time, or aren't as sensational as stories of beheadings.

      I think this article by Professor Cole really hits the nail on the head on this issue.

  • "Obama to outline campaign against ISIS" (Juan Cole at Chris Hayes, "All In")
  • The Pretender-Caliph and Islamic History: The Truth about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
    • An interesting and insightful article by Professor Afsaruddin. However, I wonder if the reliance on orthodoxy Sunni political theory is the way to go. The historical approach accounts for variations and ruptures, or in other words the difference between reality and theory. In theory, the caliph was elected by shura and received bayat from the people. But in practice that did not always happen. For example, right after Abu Bakr al-Siddiqi there was a break in the caliphate. Abu Bakr himself appointed Umar rather than Umar being elected. Yet Umar is still considered one of the rashidud caliphs.

      Additionally, neither the Umayyad, nor the Abbasid relied on election, but were hereditary. Professor Afsaruddin dismisses the Umayyad as merely kings, but most historians still refer to them as caliphs.

      The historical approach to the caliphate acknowledges its nature as constructed and evolving over time, rather than a static institution, unchanging and fixed from the get go.

      Overall though, I certainly agree with the tone of Professor Afsaruddin's article and her aim. Muslims have mostly rejected Al Baghdadi's claims and he's received rebukes from many major Islamic scholars and institutions. He certainly does not live up the ideal of what a caliph is believed to be, as Professor Afsaruddin rightly notes, but he does represent a fascinating attempt by extremists at redefining the caliphate in their own image.

      aaolomi@ucla.edu

  • The Debacle of the Caliphates: Why al-Baghdadi's Grandiosity doesn't Matter
    • A great analysis by Professor Cole. While I certainly agree that 99% of Muslims do not care about Al Baghdadi's claim I don't think the caliphate as an institution can entirely be disregarded. Firstly the caliphate while does have some religious functions in that is meant to be governed by Sharia law, is ultimately a political body rather than religious. A caliph is not equivalent to the pope. In other words the religion of Islam carries on without a caliph and has for some time.

      That said, the caliphate is symbolic and is an essential memory/history of Muslims around the world. Rightly or wrongly, Muslims view the very concept of the caliphate as being associated with a golden age and a time when Islam was dominant. Additionally, the caliphate has eschatological and prophetic meaning as many Muslims believe that the end times is signified by the establishment of a righteous Islamic state ruled by a caliph with the coming of the Madhi.

      So while I agree with the overall message of Professor Cole's piece, I also think that the caliphate as a symbol still has important meaning for Muslims. Which makes the claims by this murderous criminal all the more frightening.

      aolomi@ucla.edu

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