repertory: islamophobia rewind

She makes a good point here, namely, stop bitching about the vulgarity of American culture vis a vis Islam and Arabs and make your own art or cultural product. Fight bad product with better, fight prejudice and lies with truth and beauty, but stop wasting time recycling the old hashed and mashed Leftist cant dogma of American cultural biases. Its only going to reinforce the tendency. It may even be a first nature that can’t really be changed, an animal style reflex that cannot be totally mastered. For the most part, the classic example of Hollywood is taking the gritty material of Otto Dix’s Weimar Germany and transforming it into romantic comedy kitsch of Cabaret. Marxist rants won’t stop the production cycle.

Pierre Mignard. Marie-Anne de Bourbon. Image:

(see link at end)….Whatever the case, however, this incendiary and amateurish film has sparked the media’s interest, as most news outlets continue citing the film as the likely motivation for the riots.

If this is in fact the case, as it was when a Danish newspaper published cartoons portraying the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, it’s worth discussing. As an Iranian-American Muslim living in the United States, I’ve been on the receiving end of countless hateful remarks on account of my religion. As a rule, I ignore the ignorant comments. By refusing to engage such bigots, I save myself a great deal of grief while practicing one of the highest teachings and callings of my faith: peace. The root of the word “Islam” is “salam” or peace. Thus, for the great majority of Muslims, the recent actions of a small group of rioters against American outposts in Benghazi, Cairo and Sana’a are highly offensive. They do not represent our faith, and in fact, they denigrate it more than any silly film ever could.

Jean-Baptiste Greuze. The punished Son. 1778. The father is dead and the son is punished, because he can never reconcile with the father again….

By reacting violently to films and other forms of peaceful, albeit narrow-minded, expression, we as Muslims only draw attention to works that would otherwise receive little or no mainstream media interest. The film that apparently sparked the current outrage wasn’t produced by a major studio or directed by a well-known director, but thanks to the riots, suddenly it’s all over the headlines. Likewise, had the aforementioned Danish cartoons been published without all the hullabaloo, very few people outside of the tiny country of Denmark would have even seen or heard about them. But alas, we have. None of this attention was the result of any concerted promotional efforts by the artists involved. Rather, it was the strong opposition to these works that won them recognition.

While I fully believe that the best way to respond to offensive compositions is to pay them no heed, sometimes that’s simply impossible. The current instance is a case in point. In such situations, we must ask ourselves—both as Muslims and as responsible global citizens: What is the most effective and responsible way to respond to an offensive film or cartoon or other form of expression that has gained popularity for one reason or another? What kind of response most respects and represents our beliefs and ideals as Muslims?

Certainly, violence is neither an effective nor responsible reaction. In fact, it’s both counterproductive and un-Islamic. In this case, the most productive and powerful response is also the most viable one: fight bad art with better art; fight ugliness with beauty; fight lies with truths.

Rather than take the defensive, we need to be proactive. We must create our own works of art—our own films, cartoons, satires, songs and writings—to challenge and subvert the Islamophobic messages of less transcendent works.

Today, the world is full of artists doing exactly that—from Khalil Bendib to K’Naan to Zahra Noorbakhsh to Mos Def to G. Willow Wilson to Maz Jobrani to countless others. We need to follow their lead and rec

ze that art matters, that it can change the world and that it can even eclipse violence.

In the words of Theodor Adorno, “Every work of art is an uncommitted crime.” So too, every affront to free expression is the enemy of peace, and by extension, the enemy of Islam.Read More:

But, the dumb film “innocence” is part of the vomit surrounding American mass culture, Adorno’s “culture industries” that neutralize any and all critical content to assimilate it into the usual cultural habitat: The Society of the Spectacle, the kind of Western disturbance and abuse of the idolatry concept that is ostensibly alien to Islamic culture. Its not a leap of faith, or difficult to connect the dots between Hollywood as PR marketing agent for the larger military and industrial complex it is subservient to. American Orientalism and the demonizing, dissing of the Arab is part and parcel of the military entertainment complex that really overpowers consciousness and reduces anything to comic farce that may remind it of its deep flaws, immorality, and absurd raison d’etre blown completely out of proportion to its basic responsibility of protecting it citizens.

The writer, Melody Moezzi’s second premise on Islam being a peaceful religion is a more debatable and subjective issue.Within certain contexts, she is likely right.  A Hitchens, Sam Harris or any other of the Atheist clean up hitters would assert that all religion is violent with Islam leading the pack. The medieval thinker Maimonides had no issue with Islam’s monotheism and avoidance of idolatry,although the word “peaceful” was not part of his narrative on the general characteristics of the faith….


(see link at end)……this will not do as history. Maimonides, born in 1135, did not flee “Europe” for the “Arab world”: He fled his native Córdoba in Spain, which was then in the grip of religious-political terror, choking under the yoke of a Berber Muslim dynasty, the Almohads, that was to snuff out all that remained of the culture of conviviencia and made the life of Spain’s Jews (and of the free spirits among its Muslims) utter hell. Maimonides and his family fled the fire of the Muslim city-states in the Iberian Peninsula to Morocco and then to Jerusalem. There was darkness and terror in Morocco as well, and Jerusalem was equally inhospitable in the time of the Crusader Kingdom. Deliverance came only in Cairo — the exception, not the rule, its social peace maintained by the enlightened Saladin.

Moses Maimonides [1135 -1204], Jewish rabbi, physician, and philosopher, was fleeing the Muslims, the intolerant Almohads who conquered Cordoba in 1148. The Almohads persecuted the Jews, and offered them the choice of conversion to Islam, death, or exile. Maimonides’ family and other Jews chose exile. But this did not bring any peace to the Jews who had to be on the move constantly to avoid the all-conquering Almohads. After a brief sojourn in Morocco and the Holy Land, Maimonides settled in Fostat, Egypt, where he was physician to the Grand Vizier Alfadhil, and possibly Saladin, the Kurdish Sultan.

Maimonides’s The Epistle to the Jews of Yemen 3 was written in about 1172 in reply to inquiries by Jacob ben Netan’el al-Fayyūmi, the then head of the Jewish community in Yemen. The Jews of Yemen were passing through a crisis, as they were being forced to convert to Islam, a campaign launched in about 1165 by ‘Abd-al-Nabī ibn Mahdi. Maimonides provided them with guidance and with what encouragement he could. The Epistle to the Jews of Yemen gives a clear view of what Maimonides thought of Muhammad the Prophet, “the Madman” as he calls him, and of Islam generally. This is what Maimonides wrote:

You write that the rebel leader in Yemen decreed compulsory apostasy for the Jews by forcing the Jewish inhabitants of all the places he had subdued to desert the Jewish religion just as the Berbers had compelled them to do in Maghreb [i.e.Islamic West]. Verily, this news has broken our backs and has astounded and dumbfounded the whole of our community. And rightly so. For these are evil tidings, “and whosoever heareth of them, both his ears tingle (I Samuel 3:11).” Indeed our hearts are weakened, our minds are confused, and the powers of the body wasted because of the dire misfortunes which brought religious persecutions upon us from the two ends of the world, the East and the West, “so that the enemies were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side.” (Joshua 8:22).

Maimonides points out that persistent persecutions of the Jews by the Muslims amounts to forced conversion:

…the continuous persecutions will cause many to drift away from our faith, to have misgivings, or to go astray, because they witnessed our feebleness, and noted the triumph of our adversaries and their dominion over us…

He continues: “After him arose the Madman who emulated his precursor since he paved the way for him. But he added the further objective of procuring rule and submission, and he invented his well known religion.” Many Medieval Jewish writers commonly referred to Muhammad as ha-meshugga’, Madman—the Hebrew term, as Norman Stillman notes, being “pregnant with connotations.”

Maimonides points to one of the reasons for Muslim hatred of Jews:

Inasmuch as the Muslims could not find a single proof in the entire Bible nor a reference or possible allusion to their prophet which they could utilize, they were compelled to accuse us saying, “You have altered the text of the Torah, and expunged every trace of the name of Mohammed therefrom.” They could find nothing stronger than this ignominious argument.

He notes the depth of Muslim hatred for the Jews, but he also remarks on the Jewish tendency to denial, a feature that he insists will hasten their destruction: ….Read More:

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