Redeeming Slavery: The 'Islamic State' and the Quest for Islamic Morality

In February 2015, journalist Graeme Wood caused a stir with “What ISIS Really Wants,” published in The Atlantic. Wood’s article focuses on the Islamic State’s apocalyptic religious vision, since analyzed more fully by Will McCants. Among other things, Wood asserts that the group is, as Bernard Haykel puts it, “smack in the middle of the medieval tradition,” which includes things that shock and repulse observers, Muslim and non-Muslim alike—including, it seems, savage violence and slavery. 
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Embracing the Veil–If Only For One Day (a.k.a, that time I ran a 5K in an X-Men costume)

“You’re scaring me, hovering over me like that,” said the stranger sitting at one end of the bench. I had a foot propped on the other end to stretch my hamstring. He and I had just finished a local fundraising 5K with a “Heroes and Villains” theme. I had chosen to run as Dust, a face-veil-and-abaya-wearing X-Men character who happens to be Muslim. I told him this and pointed out, “I’m a hero, not a villain.”
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My Neighbor’s Faith: Belief-O-Matic and Me

According to the Internet, I am 100 percent Reform Jew. This came as something of a surprise to me since I’m a Muslim.

Let me explain. In the wake of Sept. 11, I was invited to contribute an essay to a short book on Islam sponsored by the religion website Beliefnet. I poked around the site and came across the Belief-o-Matic quiz, which uses 20 theological and social questions to pinpoint “what religion (if any) you practice ... or ought to consider practicing.”
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just say yes: law, consent, and muslim feminist ethics

Muslim legal texts do several things simultaneously, some on purpose, some unavoidably. They respond to and express the social assumptions of their authors. They address scriptural texts and precedent. They respond to real social needs. They try to avoid internal contradictions – seemingly contradicting scripture, treating similar cases differently – in ways that leave their positions open to criticism and refutation.
Continue reading in A Jihad For Justice

Troubleshooting Post-9/11 America

American imperialism and the war on terror loom large in today’s popular romances. Military romances featuring spec-ops warriors and their terrorist enemies appeal to, reflect on, and sometimes critique patriotic ideals. Sheikh heroes and monstrous Muslim men provide seemingly opposed yet actually interdependent Orientalist fantasies of racialized Arab/Middle Eastern masculinity. Bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann, known for her inclusive characters and plotlines, addresses these themes in her Troubleshooters series (2000-present).
Continue reading at Journal of Popular Romance Studies

Men, Men Everywhere

I recently published an essay in the British quarterly Critical Muslim. In it, I chose books on Muslim thought and reform by three prominent, well-regarded male scholars and I counted mentions of individual women in their indexes, their texts, or both. I didn’t have to count very high. I looked at how often they cited – or didn’t cite – books by women in their notes and bibliographies. And then I wailed and gnashed my teeth. I didn’t really. But I wanted to.
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