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Fast-Food-Islam: How Wahhabism Feeds Our Intellectual Retardation

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  • Tarek Fatah
    =============================================== What Tony Blair Doesn t Want You To Know British MP George Galloway speaks in Toronto Date: Sunday, October
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 1, 2003
      ===============================================
      "What Tony Blair Doesn't Want You To Know"
      British MP George Galloway speaks in Toronto
      Date: Sunday, October 19, 2003 at 2PM
      Location: Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave. Toronto
      ===============================================
      August 28, 2003

      Fast-Food-Islam: How Wahhabism Feeds Our Intellectual Retardation

      By Adam Misbah'ul Haqq
      MuslimWakeup.Com
      http://www.muslimwakeup.com/mainarchive/000192.php

      In the mid part of the twentieth century fast food franchises popped up all
      over the country. It was a time of assembly lines, burgers, fries and the
      ideologies of “progress” and “create the demand and fuel the supply,”
      ideologies which helped shape the contemporary age.

      This was the first time in history in which the laws of supply and demand
      were so atrociously manipulated as to produce a complete economy based upon
      want as opposed to need. We now live in the age of consumerism where the
      customer is told they are right but are influenced and manipulated to the
      extent that their standards are reduced to what the market provides for
      their consumption.

      In the early eighties major corporations lobbied to market their products to
      the captive audience of children, where the expectations of quality where
      thumped over the head by profit margin and quantity. People stood in line to
      purchase a burger wrapped like a present, thin french-fries fried in grease,
      and a cup of sugar, water, syrup and carbonate with a straw sticking out for
      a few dollars. During the seventies, eighties and nineties the fast food
      industries grew into multi-national conglomerates and could be seen popping
      up in almost every country, industrialized or not.

      This is a place where the burgers arrive as frozen patties injected with
      artificial beef-flavoring which are later rolled through an oven press for
      mass-consumption, a place where cheap toys are fiercely marketed to excited
      and bewildered children who drag in their naive and bewildered parents for a
      quick and simple “all-American meal.” The gimmicks of attracting children
      and exploiting their undeveloped discriminative faculties were brought to
      near mastery by the early nineties. It was the wave of the future, and even
      though a journal of health recently stated that 80% of the country’s health
      problems were directly related to the American diet, the burgers were still
      walking out the doors, and those super-sized fries continued to disappear
      into the stomachs of hungry consumers.

      In Islam a similar occurrence has emerged. A sort of fast-food-Islam,
      mimicking the Western phenomenon, began to emerge in the seventies shortly
      after the Saudis started raking in billions in petro-dollars.

      It was a period of serious transformation within the Muslim world. After a
      decade of Wahhabi influence in the Middle East the Muslim world began seeing
      the proliferation of highly dogmatic literature which sought to explain to
      the colonized peoples what “Islam” really was and who the “real” authorities
      in Islam were--namely, the Saudis and those “scholars” who signed on to
      their policies.

      The literature that resulted from this occurrence soon made its way in
      various shapes and sizes into an uneducated American-Muslim population in
      the eighties and nineties. This material, which for the most part hails from
      the Arabian Peninsula or is funneled out of the numerous publishing houses
      owned by the Wahhabi press in the Middle East, is, for the most part,
      designed for children. One could easily argue that intellectually, only a
      child or young adult could really gain anything from this literature because
      the way in which the material is laid out and the topics are examined
      disengages the reader from the tradition by telling them that they basically
      have nothing to offer the interpretive process in Islam, but that they
      should simply follow what the “noble” Saudi scholars tell you Islam is.

      No longer do we have scholars who spent their entire lives studying and
      contemplating the principles, concepts and teachings of the Prophet,
      teaching what they have discovered in highly sophisticated halaqahs in
      mosques and in their homes. Instead we have books like, “Islam: The Simple
      Religion” and “What Islam Says About Free-Mixing.” These books, written by
      either engineers or Wahhabi scholars, are very popular because they can be
      read in one sitting. They allow us to avoid any debt we may feel we have to
      investigate what God wants of us, or any debt we might feel toward our rich
      and diverse intellectual tradition.

      All of the sophistry of our past can be swept under the rug of the
      contemporary feel-good fast-food-Islam literature. For the first time in
      Islamic history we have an institution (The Saudi Council of Esteemed
      Religious Scholars, or whatever they call themselves) which can tell us (the
      lay people) what Islam is and how to follow it. Employing the materialistic
      philosophy of Wahhabism, a gloomy and puritanical religio-political movement
      which emerged about two hundred years ago in the Najd province of Arabia, a
      philosophy which concentrates on outward acts of worship and the dogmatic
      theology of its founder, the Saudis have perfected, for the time being, the
      art of legitimizing their own draconian rule by redefining the normative
      standards in our tradition with an authoritarian religious discourse.

      This institutionalized ideology, which never existed in the pre-modern
      period, has crippled any intellectual advancement in the contemporary age
      and has subsequently set the Muslim community even further behind its
      Western counterparts than it was at the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Even so,
      the production of this childish religious literature, literature that quotes
      endlessly verses from a crude translation of the Qur’an, the medieval
      rulings of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taimiyah, and loads of Sahih Muslim and
      Sahih Bukhari, continues to sell in the various Islamic bookstores which
      populate the web. Most of these bookstores have established a successful
      Internet market and sell this literature for a very inexpensive price.

      Any book which might value over twenty dollars and which might purport a
      high level of accountability to the sources will be passed over. Any title
      which exhibits the high standards usually employed by contemporary Western
      scholars will be disregarded as “too expensive” and one of the colorful and
      simple fast-food books will be purchased. Looking for an “easy-read,” the
      contemporary Muslim will normally buy one of the pamphlet books instead of
      investing their money in material that challenges the intellect and upholds
      basic scholastic ethics. A brief examination of these titles and the
      conventional wisdom that one can find in them rivals the most marginalized
      Christian fundamentalist literature available in the West today.

      So why are Muslims buying this material? Is it their superficial and
      romantic attachment to the tradition which compels them to read these
      pamphlet books in order that they feel comfortable in their “Islamic skin?”
      Is it a lack of access to quality literature, or possibly the inability to
      discern between research and scholarship, and dogma and rhetoric? What
      compels Muslims in the contemporary age to spend their hard earned money on
      Wahhabi propaganda in the disguise of objective religious literature?

      The answers to this challenging question are as numerous as the reasons why
      Islam as a religion and alternative to materialism and world-worship has
      been fundamentally retarded (here meaning the inability to experience
      growth) in its intellectual progress. Gone are the early centuries where
      Muslims soaked up every bit of knowledge from within and without their
      tradition and used whatever beneficial knowledge they came across to not
      only strengthen their belief and conviction, but to further the cause of
      Islam as well. Now we have, unfortunately due to our deathly ill
      intellectual tradition, successfully empowered the very dogmatists who have
      cheapened Islam into a veritable fast food happy meal to tell us what Islam
      is and how we ought to follow its precepts. The very philosophy of this
      non-critical, faith-blind and anti-spiritual parody of Islam is identical to
      many of the contemporary Christian religious philosophies in the sense that
      “religion” is primarily reduced to an extra curricular activity, or
      something that does not complicate your worldly life.

      Much of this material reflects the over-simplicities and generalizations
      common amongst all supremacist ideologies. The emphasis of this material is
      of course the positive law of the shari’ah, the greatness of Muslims and the
      wretchedness of the “other,” the subjugation and humiliation of women, and
      the idea that the only way to approach God is through a literalist
      construction of the text, a construction that is the sacred precinct of the
      Saudi scholars only, but a construction that we can read and adopt as our
      “religious identity.”

      This literalist construction of the text is always the same. It is a
      rhetorical articulation of doctrine, sprinkled with ayahs from the Qur’an
      and a selective isolation of hadith reports, almost always from the Sahih of
      Muslim or the Sahih of Bukhari, and if you’re lucky Abu Dawud or Tirmidhi
      are thrown in for good measure. In the same way that frozen patties are
      rolled on a conveyor belt through an oven and slapped onto a bun by a
      teenager making minimum wage, these books are sewn together by miscellaneous
      authors with no credentials other than their attendance at the Wahhabi
      institutions such as Medina University, or they are constructed on the
      computer by publishers seeking to profit off of the easy access to paper and
      the audience ready to invest money in anything which claims to speak for
      Islam.

      The content of this material reeks of intellectual bankruptcy. If one wanted
      to produce one of these titles, all you would have to do is purchase a copy
      of a piece of software called “Alim.” Alim is marketed as an encyclopedia of
      the sources which Islam is based upon. Now, let’s say you want to write a
      book and call it, “Greed in Islaam.” All you would need to do is type
      “greed” in the search engine of the Alim software, and it will bring up all
      of the ayahs from the Qur’an and any hadith report from the “sound
      collections” pertaining to greed. Now you have to write short and simplistic
      paragraphs, punctuating them with the search results of the “Alim” software,
      and you have your very own “authoritative” book called “Greed in Islaam.”
      This book can be marketed with bright colors in any of the Islamic
      bookstores that live online.

      This fast-food-Islam has already cost us a generation and a half of Muslims.
      The same health problems which afflict the American fast-food population
      afflict the intellectual progress of the Muslim fast-food-Islam population.
      In an age where Islam is facing humiliation after humiliation at the hands
      of fundamentalists with the intellects of cave-men, in an age where we think
      that stoning a poor woman in Nigeria constitutes our Islamic civilization,
      in an age where the most important features in Islam are hijabs and miswaks,
      it is in this age that we must strive to overcome this despotic element
      which has oppressed our minds and usurped our legacy.

      Our striving must include the raising of our expectations in our religious
      scholarship. Before we can raise these expectations, and until
      fast-food-Islam ceases to command such a ready market, there can be no real
      progress in our tradition. All of the flashy and colorfully gaudy books that
      are shipped off to America from the Middle East can never revive our near
      dead scholarly tradition but can only further destroy it. In the end we will
      have cheapened our tradition and transformed it into a tool for profit,
      advocating an underdeveloped religion of institutionalized dogma and
      childish simplicity as the final message of God.


      In the mid part of the twentieth century fast food franchises popped up all
      over the country. It was a time of assembly lines, burgers, fries and the
      ideologies of “progress” and “create the demand and fuel the supply,”
      ideologies which helped shape the contemporary age.

      This was the first time in history in which the laws of supply and demand
      were so atrociously manipulated as to produce a complete economy based upon
      want as opposed to need. We now live in the age of consumerism where the
      customer is told they are right but are influenced and manipulated to the
      extent that their standards are reduced to what the market provides for
      their consumption.

      In the early eighties major corporations lobbied to market their products to
      the captive audience of children, where the expectations of quality where
      thumped over the head by profit margin and quantity. People stood in line to
      purchase a burger wrapped like a present, thin french-fries fried in grease,
      and a cup of sugar, water, syrup and carbonate with a straw sticking out for
      a few dollars. During the seventies, eighties and nineties the fast food
      industries grew into multi-national conglomerates and could be seen popping
      up in almost every country, industrialized or not.

      This is a place where the burgers arrive as frozen patties injected with
      artificial beef-flavoring which are later rolled through an oven press for
      mass-consumption, a place where cheap toys are fiercely marketed to excited
      and bewildered children who drag in their naive and bewildered parents for a
      quick and simple “all-American meal.” The gimmicks of attracting children
      and exploiting their undeveloped discriminative faculties were brought to
      near mastery by the early nineties. It was the wave of the future, and even
      though a journal of health recently stated that 80% of the country’s health
      problems were directly related to the American diet, the burgers were still
      walking out the doors, and those super-sized fries continued to disappear
      into the stomachs of hungry consumers.

      In Islam a similar occurrence has emerged. A sort of fast-food-Islam,
      mimicking the Western phenomenon, began to emerge in the seventies shortly
      after the Saudis started raking in billions in petro-dollars.

      It was a period of serious transformation within the Muslim world. After a
      decade of Wahhabi influence in the Middle East the Muslim world began seeing
      the proliferation of highly dogmatic literature which sought to explain to
      the colonized peoples what “Islam” really was and who the “real” authorities
      in Islam were--namely, the Saudis and those “scholars” who signed on to
      their policies.

      The literature that resulted from this occurrence soon made its way in
      various shapes and sizes into an uneducated American-Muslim population in
      the eighties and nineties. This material, which for the most part heralds
      from the Arabian Peninsula or is funneled out of the numerous publishing
      houses owned by the Wahhabi press in the Middle East, is, for the most part,
      designed for children. One could easily argue that intellectually, only a
      child or young adult could really gain anything from this literature because
      the way in which the material is laid out and the topics are examined
      disengages the reader from the tradition by telling them that they basically
      have nothing to offer the interpretive process in Islam, but that they
      should simply follow what the “noble” Saudi scholars tell you Islam is.

      No longer do we have scholars who spent their entire lives studying and
      contemplating the principles, concepts and teachings of the Prophet,
      teaching what they have discovered in highly sophisticated halaqahs in
      mosques and in their homes. Instead we have books like, “Islam: The Simple
      Religion” and “What Islam Says About Free-Mixing.” These books, written by
      either engineers or Wahhabi scholars, are very popular because they can be
      read in one sitting. They allow us to avoid any debt we may feel we have to
      investigate what God wants of us, or any debt we might feel toward our rich
      and diverse intellectual tradition.

      All of the sophistry of our past can be swept under the rug of the
      contemporary feel-good fast-food-Islam literature. For the first time in
      Islamic history we have an institution (The Saudi Council of Esteemed
      Religious Scholars, or whatever they call themselves) which can tell us (the
      lay people) what Islam is and how to follow it. Employing the materialistic
      philosophy of Wahhabism, a gloomy and puritanical religio-political movement
      which emerged about two hundred years ago in the Najd province of Arabia, a
      philosophy which concentrates on outward acts of worship and the dogmatic
      theology of its founder, the Saudis have perfected, for the time being, the
      art of legitimizing their own draconian rule by redefining the normative
      standards in our tradition with an authoritarian religious discourse.

      This institutionalized ideology, which never existed in the pre-modern
      period, has crippled any intellectual advancement in the contemporary age
      and has subsequently set the Muslim community even further behind its
      Western counterparts than it was at the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Even so,
      the production of this childish religious literature, literature that quotes
      endlessly verses from a crude translation of the Qur’an, the medieval
      rulings of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taimiyah, and loads of Sahih Muslim and
      Sahih Bukhari, continues to sell in the various Islamic bookstores which
      populate the web. Most of these bookstores have established a successful
      Internet market and sell this literature for a very inexpensive price.

      Any book which might value over twenty dollars and which might purport a
      high level of accountability to the sources will be passed over. Any title
      which exhibits the high standards usually employed by contemporary Western
      scholars will be disregarded as “too expensive” and one of the colorful and
      simple fast-food books will be purchased. Looking for an “easy-read,” the
      contemporary Muslim will normally buy one of the pamphlet books instead of
      investing their money in material that challenges the intellect and upholds
      basic scholastic ethics. A brief examination of these titles and the
      conventional wisdom that one can find in them rivals the most marginalized
      Christian fundamentalist literature available in the West today.

      So why are Muslims buying this material? Is it their superficial and
      romantic attachment to the tradition which compels them to read these
      pamphlet books in order that they feel comfortable in their “Islamic skin?”
      Is it a lack of access to quality literature, or possibly the inability to
      discern between research and scholarship, and dogma and rhetoric? What
      compels Muslims in the contemporary age to spend their hard earned money on
      Wahhabi propaganda in the disguise of objective religious literature?

      The answers to this challenging question are as numerous as the reasons why
      Islam as a religion and alternative to materialism and world-worship has
      been fundamentally retarded (here meaning the inability to experience
      growth) in its intellectual progress. Gone are the early centuries where
      Muslims soaked up every bit of knowledge from within and without their
      tradition and used whatever beneficial knowledge they came across to not
      only strengthen their belief and conviction, but to further the cause of
      Islam as well. Now we have, unfortunately due to our deathly ill
      intellectual tradition, successfully empowered the very dogmatists who have
      cheapened Islam into a veritable fast food happy meal to tell us what Islam
      is and how we ought to follow its precepts. The very philosophy of this
      non-critical, faith-blind and anti-spiritual parody of Islam is identical to
      many of the contemporary Christian religious philosophies in the sense that
      “religion” is primarily reduced to an extra curricular activity, or
      something that does not complicate your worldly life.

      Much of this material reflects the over-simplicities and generalizations
      common amongst all supremacist ideologies. The emphasis of this material is
      of course the positive law of the shari’ah, the greatness of Muslims and the
      wretchedness of the “other,” the subjugation and humiliation of women, and
      the idea that the only way to approach God is through a literalist
      construction of the text, a construction that is the sacred precinct of the
      Saudi scholars only, but a construction that we can read and adopt as our
      “religious identity.”

      This literalist construction of the text is always the same. It is a
      rhetorical articulation of doctrine, sprinkled with ayahs from the Qur’an
      and a selective isolation of hadith reports, almost always from the Sahih of
      Muslim or the Sahih of Bukhari, and if you’re lucky Abu Dawud or Tirmidhi
      are thrown in for good measure. In the same way that frozen patties are
      rolled on a conveyor belt through an oven and slapped onto a bun by a
      teenager making minimum wage, these books are sewn together by miscellaneous
      authors with no credentials other than their attendance at the Wahhabi
      institutions such as Medina University, or they are constructed on the
      computer by publishers seeking to profit off of the easy access to paper and
      the audience ready to invest money in anything which claims to speak for
      Islam.

      The content of this material reeks of intellectual bankruptcy. If one wanted
      to produce one of these titles, all you would have to do is purchase a copy
      of a piece of software called “Alim.” Alim is marketed as an encyclopedia of
      the sources which Islam is based upon. Now, let’s say you want to write a
      book and call it, “Greed in Islaam.” All you would need to do is type
      “greed” in the search engine of the Alim software, and it will bring up all
      of the ayahs from the Qur’an and any hadith report from the “sound
      collections” pertaining to greed. Now you have to write short and simplistic
      paragraphs, punctuating them with the search results of the “Alim” software,
      and you have your very own “authoritative” book called “Greed in Islaam.”
      This book can be marketed with bright colors in any of the Islamic
      bookstores that live online.

      This fast-food-Islam has already cost us a generation and a half of Muslims.
      The same health problems which afflict the American fast-food population
      afflict the intellectual progress of the Muslim fast-food-Islam population.
      In an age where Islam is facing humiliation after humiliation at the hands
      of fundamentalists with the intellects of cave-men, in an age where we think
      that stoning a poor woman in Nigeria constitutes our Islamic civilization,
      in an age where the most important features in Islam are hijabs and miswaks,
      it is in this age that we must strive to overcome this despotic element
      which has oppressed our minds and usurped our legacy.

      Our striving must include the raising of our expectations in our religious
      scholarship. Before we can raise these expectations, and until
      fast-food-Islam ceases to command such a ready market, there can be no real
      progress in our tradition. All of the flashy and colorfully gaudy books that
      are shipped off to America from the Middle East can never revive our near
      dead scholarly tradition but can only further destroy it. In the end we will
      have cheapened our tradition and transformed it into a tool for profit,
      advocating an underdeveloped religion of institutionalized dogma and
      childish simplicity as the final message of God.
    • Tarek Fatah
      Friends, With recent upheaval in Saudi Arabia, the focus is once more on the ideological basis of this medieval kingdom; a country named after one person and
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 13, 2003
        Friends,

        With recent upheaval in Saudi Arabia, the focus is once more on the
        ideological basis of this medieval kingdom; a country named after one person
        and ruled by his 5,000 offspring.

        In this article published on the on-line magazine MuslimWakeup.Com, writer
        Adam Misbah'ul Haqq draws a parallel between the rapid rise of Wahhabism and
        the growth of American consumerism. He says Wahhabism is an
        "institutionalized ideology, which never existed in the pre-modern period,
        has crippled any intellectual advancement in the contemporary age and has
        subsequently set the Muslim community even further behind its Western
        counterparts than it was at the fall of the Ottoman Empire."

        Read and reflect.

        Tarek Fatah
        -----------------------------
        Fast-Food-Islam: How Wahhabism Feeds Our Intellectual Retardation

        By Adam Misbah'ul Haqq
        MuslimWakeup.Com
        http://www.muslimwakeup.com/mainarchive/000192.html

        In the mid part of the twentieth century fast food franchises popped up all
        over the country. It was a time of assembly lines, burgers, fries and the
        ideologies of “progress” and “create the demand and fuel the supply,”
        ideologies which helped shape the contemporary age.

        This was the first time in history in which the laws of supply and demand
        were so atrociously manipulated as to produce a complete economy based upon
        want as opposed to need. We now live in the age of consumerism where the
        customer is told they are right but are influenced and manipulated to the
        extent that their standards are reduced to what the market provides for
        their consumption.

        In the early eighties major corporations lobbied to market their products to
        the captive audience of children, where the expectations of quality where
        thumped over the head by profit margin and quantity. People stood in line to
        purchase a burger wrapped like a present, thin french-fries fried in grease,
        and a cup of sugar, water, syrup and carbonate with a straw sticking out for
        a few dollars. During the seventies, eighties and nineties the fast food
        industries grew into multi-national conglomerates and could be seen popping
        up in almost every country, industrialized or not.

        This is a place where the burgers arrive as frozen patties injected with
        artificial beef-flavoring which are later rolled through an oven press for
        mass-consumption, a place where cheap toys are fiercely marketed to excited
        and bewildered children who drag in their naive and bewildered parents for a
        quick and simple “all-American meal.” The gimmicks of attracting children
        and exploiting their undeveloped discriminative faculties were brought to
        near mastery by the early nineties. It was the wave of the future, and even
        though a journal of health recently stated that 80% of the country’s health
        problems were directly related to the American diet, the burgers were still
        walking out the doors, and those super-sized fries continued to disappear
        into the stomachs of hungry consumers.

        In Islam a similar occurrence has emerged. A sort of fast-food-Islam,
        mimicking the Western phenomenon, began to emerge in the seventies shortly
        after the Saudis started raking in billions in petro-dollars.

        It was a period of serious transformation within the Muslim world. After a
        decade of Wahhabi influence in the Middle East the Muslim world began seeing
        the proliferation of highly dogmatic literature which sought to explain to
        the colonized peoples what “Islam” really was and who the “real” authorities
        in Islam were--namely, the Saudis and those “scholars” who signed on to
        their policies.

        The literature that resulted from this occurrence soon made its way in
        various shapes and sizes into an uneducated American-Muslim population in
        the eighties and nineties. This material, which for the most part hails from
        the Arabian Peninsula or is funneled out of the numerous publishing houses
        owned by the Wahhabi press in the Middle East, is, for the most part,
        designed for children. One could easily argue that intellectually, only a
        child or young adult could really gain anything from this literature because
        the way in which the material is laid out and the topics are examined
        disengages the reader from the tradition by telling them that they basically
        have nothing to offer the interpretive process in Islam, but that they
        should simply follow what the “noble” Saudi scholars tell you Islam is.

        No longer do we have scholars who spent their entire lives studying and
        contemplating the principles, concepts and teachings of the Prophet,
        teaching what they have discovered in highly sophisticated halaqahs in
        mosques and in their homes. Instead we have books like, “Islam: The Simple
        Religion” and “What Islam Says About Free-Mixing.” These books, written by
        either engineers or Wahhabi scholars, are very popular because they can be
        read in one sitting. They allow us to avoid any debt we may feel we have to
        investigate what God wants of us, or any debt we might feel toward our rich
        and diverse intellectual tradition.

        All of the sophistry of our past can be swept under the rug of the
        contemporary feel-good fast-food-Islam literature. For the first time in
        Islamic history we have an institution (The Saudi Council of Esteemed
        Religious Scholars, or whatever they call themselves) which can tell us (the
        lay people) what Islam is and how to follow it. Employing the materialistic
        philosophy of Wahhabism, a gloomy and puritanical religio-political movement
        which emerged about two hundred years ago in the Najd province of Arabia, a
        philosophy which concentrates on outward acts of worship and the dogmatic
        theology of its founder, the Saudis have perfected, for the time being, the
        art of legitimizing their own draconian rule by redefining the normative
        standards in our tradition with an authoritarian religious discourse.

        This institutionalized ideology, which never existed in the pre-modern
        period, has crippled any intellectual advancement in the contemporary age
        and has subsequently set the Muslim community even further behind its
        Western counterparts than it was at the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Even so,
        the production of this childish religious literature, literature that quotes
        endlessly verses from a crude translation of the Qur’an, the medieval
        rulings of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taimiyah, and loads of Sahih Muslim and
        Sahih Bukhari, continues to sell in the various Islamic bookstores which
        populate the web. Most of these bookstores have established a successful
        Internet market and sell this literature for a very inexpensive price.

        Any book which might value over twenty dollars and which might purport a
        high level of accountability to the sources will be passed over. Any title
        which exhibits the high standards usually employed by contemporary Western
        scholars will be disregarded as “too expensive” and one of the colorful and
        simple fast-food books will be purchased. Looking for an “easy-read,” the
        contemporary Muslim will normally buy one of the pamphlet books instead of
        investing their money in material that challenges the intellect and upholds
        basic scholastic ethics. A brief examination of these titles and the
        conventional wisdom that one can find in them rivals the most marginalized
        Christian fundamentalist literature available in the West today.

        So why are Muslims buying this material? Is it their superficial and
        romantic attachment to the tradition which compels them to read these
        pamphlet books in order that they feel comfortable in their “Islamic skin?”
        Is it a lack of access to quality literature, or possibly the inability to
        discern between research and scholarship, and dogma and rhetoric? What
        compels Muslims in the contemporary age to spend their hard earned money on
        Wahhabi propaganda in the disguise of objective religious literature?

        The answers to this challenging question are as numerous as the reasons why
        Islam as a religion and alternative to materialism and world-worship has
        been fundamentally retarded (here meaning the inability to experience
        growth) in its intellectual progress. Gone are the early centuries where
        Muslims soaked up every bit of knowledge from within and without their
        tradition and used whatever beneficial knowledge they came across to not
        only strengthen their belief and conviction, but to further the cause of
        Islam as well. Now we have, unfortunately due to our deathly ill
        intellectual tradition, successfully empowered the very dogmatists who have
        cheapened Islam into a veritable fast food happy meal to tell us what Islam
        is and how we ought to follow its precepts. The very philosophy of this
        non-critical, faith-blind and anti-spiritual parody of Islam is identical to
        many of the contemporary Christian religious philosophies in the sense that
        “religion” is primarily reduced to an extra curricular activity, or
        something that does not complicate your worldly life.

        Much of this material reflects the over-simplicities and generalizations
        common amongst all supremacist ideologies. The emphasis of this material is
        of course the positive law of the shari’ah, the greatness of Muslims and the
        wretchedness of the “other,” the subjugation and humiliation of women, and
        the idea that the only way to approach God is through a literalist
        construction of the text, a construction that is the sacred precinct of the
        Saudi scholars only, but a construction that we can read and adopt as our
        “religious identity.”

        This literalist construction of the text is always the same. It is a
        rhetorical articulation of doctrine, sprinkled with ayahs from the Qur’an
        and a selective isolation of hadith reports, almost always from the Sahih of
        Muslim or the Sahih of Bukhari, and if you’re lucky Abu Dawud or Tirmidhi
        are thrown in for good measure. In the same way that frozen patties are
        rolled on a conveyor belt through an oven and slapped onto a bun by a
        teenager making minimum wage, these books are sewn together by miscellaneous
        authors with no credentials other than their attendance at the Wahhabi
        institutions such as Medina University, or they are constructed on the
        computer by publishers seeking to profit off of the easy access to paper and
        the audience ready to invest money in anything which claims to speak for
        Islam.

        The content of this material reeks of intellectual bankruptcy. If one wanted
        to produce one of these titles, all you would have to do is purchase a copy
        of a piece of software called “Alim.” Alim is marketed as an encyclopedia of
        the sources which Islam is based upon. Now, let’s say you want to write a
        book and call it, “Greed in Islaam.” All you would need to do is type
        “greed” in the search engine of the Alim software, and it will bring up all
        of the ayahs from the Qur’an and any hadith report from the “sound
        collections” pertaining to greed. Now you have to write short and simplistic
        paragraphs, punctuating them with the search results of the “Alim” software,
        and you have your very own “authoritative” book called “Greed in Islaam.”
        This book can be marketed with bright colors in any of the Islamic
        bookstores that live online.

        This fast-food-Islam has already cost us a generation and a half of Muslims.
        The same health problems which afflict the American fast-food population
        afflict the intellectual progress of the Muslim fast-food-Islam population.
        In an age where Islam is facing humiliation after humiliation at the hands
        of fundamentalists with the intellects of cave-men, in an age where we think
        that stoning a poor woman in Nigeria constitutes our Islamic civilization,
        in an age where the most important features in Islam are hijabs and miswaks,
        it is in this age that we must strive to overcome this despotic element
        which has oppressed our minds and usurped our legacy.

        Our striving must include the raising of our expectations in our religious
        scholarship. Before we can raise these expectations, and until
        fast-food-Islam ceases to command such a ready market, there can be no real
        progress in our tradition. All of the flashy and colorfully gaudy books that
        are shipped off to America from the Middle East can never revive our near
        dead scholarly tradition but can only further destroy it. In the end we will
        have cheapened our tradition and transformed it into a tool for profit,
        advocating an underdeveloped religion of institutionalized dogma and
        childish simplicity as the final message of God.


        In the mid part of the twentieth century fast food franchises popped up all
        over the country. It was a time of assembly lines, burgers, fries and the
        ideologies of “progress” and “create the demand and fuel the supply,”
        ideologies which helped shape the contemporary age.

        This was the first time in history in which the laws of supply and demand
        were so atrociously manipulated as to produce a complete economy based upon
        want as opposed to need. We now live in the age of consumerism where the
        customer is told they are right but are influenced and manipulated to the
        extent that their standards are reduced to what the market provides for
        their consumption.

        In the early eighties major corporations lobbied to market their products to
        the captive audience of children, where the expectations of quality where
        thumped over the head by profit margin and quantity. People stood in line to
        purchase a burger wrapped like a present, thin french-fries fried in grease,
        and a cup of sugar, water, syrup and carbonate with a straw sticking out for
        a few dollars. During the seventies, eighties and nineties the fast food
        industries grew into multi-national conglomerates and could be seen popping
        up in almost every country, industrialized or not.

        This is a place where the burgers arrive as frozen patties injected with
        artificial beef-flavoring which are later rolled through an oven press for
        mass-consumption, a place where cheap toys are fiercely marketed to excited
        and bewildered children who drag in their naive and bewildered parents for a
        quick and simple “all-American meal.” The gimmicks of attracting children
        and exploiting their undeveloped discriminative faculties were brought to
        near mastery by the early nineties. It was the wave of the future, and even
        though a journal of health recently stated that 80% of the country’s health
        problems were directly related to the American diet, the burgers were still
        walking out the doors, and those super-sized fries continued to disappear
        into the stomachs of hungry consumers.

        In Islam a similar occurrence has emerged. A sort of fast-food-Islam,
        mimicking the Western phenomenon, began to emerge in the seventies shortly
        after the Saudis started raking in billions in petro-dollars.

        It was a period of serious transformation within the Muslim world. After a
        decade of Wahhabi influence in the Middle East the Muslim world began seeing
        the proliferation of highly dogmatic literature which sought to explain to
        the colonized peoples what “Islam” really was and who the “real” authorities
        in Islam were--namely, the Saudis and those “scholars” who signed on to
        their policies.

        The literature that resulted from this occurrence soon made its way in
        various shapes and sizes into an uneducated American-Muslim population in
        the eighties and nineties. This material, which for the most part heralds
        from the Arabian Peninsula or is funneled out of the numerous publishing
        houses owned by the Wahhabi press in the Middle East, is, for the most part,
        designed for children. One could easily argue that intellectually, only a
        child or young adult could really gain anything from this literature because
        the way in which the material is laid out and the topics are examined
        disengages the reader from the tradition by telling them that they basically
        have nothing to offer the interpretive process in Islam, but that they
        should simply follow what the “noble” Saudi scholars tell you Islam is.

        No longer do we have scholars who spent their entire lives studying and
        contemplating the principles, concepts and teachings of the Prophet,
        teaching what they have discovered in highly sophisticated halaqahs in
        mosques and in their homes. Instead we have books like, “Islam: The Simple
        Religion” and “What Islam Says About Free-Mixing.” These books, written by
        either engineers or Wahhabi scholars, are very popular because they can be
        read in one sitting. They allow us to avoid any debt we may feel we have to
        investigate what God wants of us, or any debt we might feel toward our rich
        and diverse intellectual tradition.

        All of the sophistry of our past can be swept under the rug of the
        contemporary feel-good fast-food-Islam literature. For the first time in
        Islamic history we have an institution (The Saudi Council of Esteemed
        Religious Scholars, or whatever they call themselves) which can tell us (the
        lay people) what Islam is and how to follow it. Employing the materialistic
        philosophy of Wahhabism, a gloomy and puritanical religio-political movement
        which emerged about two hundred years ago in the Najd province of Arabia, a
        philosophy which concentrates on outward acts of worship and the dogmatic
        theology of its founder, the Saudis have perfected, for the time being, the
        art of legitimizing their own draconian rule by redefining the normative
        standards in our tradition with an authoritarian religious discourse.

        This institutionalized ideology, which never existed in the pre-modern
        period, has crippled any intellectual advancement in the contemporary age
        and has subsequently set the Muslim community even further behind its
        Western counterparts than it was at the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Even so,
        the production of this childish religious literature, literature that quotes
        endlessly verses from a crude translation of the Qur’an, the medieval
        rulings of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taimiyah, and loads of Sahih Muslim and
        Sahih Bukhari, continues to sell in the various Islamic bookstores which
        populate the web. Most of these bookstores have established a successful
        Internet market and sell this literature for a very inexpensive price.

        Any book which might value over twenty dollars and which might purport a
        high level of accountability to the sources will be passed over. Any title
        which exhibits the high standards usually employed by contemporary Western
        scholars will be disregarded as “too expensive” and one of the colorful and
        simple fast-food books will be purchased. Looking for an “easy-read,” the
        contemporary Muslim will normally buy one of the pamphlet books instead of
        investing their money in material that challenges the intellect and upholds
        basic scholastic ethics. A brief examination of these titles and the
        conventional wisdom that one can find in them rivals the most marginalized
        Christian fundamentalist literature available in the West today.

        So why are Muslims buying this material? Is it their superficial and
        romantic attachment to the tradition which compels them to read these
        pamphlet books in order that they feel comfortable in their “Islamic skin?”
        Is it a lack of access to quality literature, or possibly the inability to
        discern between research and scholarship, and dogma and rhetoric? What
        compels Muslims in the contemporary age to spend their hard earned money on
        Wahhabi propaganda in the disguise of objective religious literature?

        The answers to this challenging question are as numerous as the reasons why
        Islam as a religion and alternative to materialism and world-worship has
        been fundamentally retarded (here meaning the inability to experience
        growth) in its intellectual progress. Gone are the early centuries where
        Muslims soaked up every bit of knowledge from within and without their
        tradition and used whatever beneficial knowledge they came across to not
        only strengthen their belief and conviction, but to further the cause of
        Islam as well. Now we have, unfortunately due to our deathly ill
        intellectual tradition, successfully empowered the very dogmatists who have
        cheapened Islam into a veritable fast food happy meal to tell us what Islam
        is and how we ought to follow its precepts. The very philosophy of this
        non-critical, faith-blind and anti-spiritual parody of Islam is identical to
        many of the contemporary Christian religious philosophies in the sense that
        “religion” is primarily reduced to an extra curricular activity, or
        something that does not complicate your worldly life.

        Much of this material reflects the over-simplicities and generalizations
        common amongst all supremacist ideologies. The emphasis of this material is
        of course the positive law of the shari’ah, the greatness of Muslims and the
        wretchedness of the “other,” the subjugation and humiliation of women, and
        the idea that the only way to approach God is through a literalist
        construction of the text, a construction that is the sacred precinct of the
        Saudi scholars only, but a construction that we can read and adopt as our
        “religious identity.”

        This literalist construction of the text is always the same. It is a
        rhetorical articulation of doctrine, sprinkled with ayahs from the Qur’an
        and a selective isolation of hadith reports, almost always from the Sahih of
        Muslim or the Sahih of Bukhari, and if you’re lucky Abu Dawud or Tirmidhi
        are thrown in for good measure. In the same way that frozen patties are
        rolled on a conveyor belt through an oven and slapped onto a bun by a
        teenager making minimum wage, these books are sewn together by miscellaneous
        authors with no credentials other than their attendance at the Wahhabi
        institutions such as Medina University, or they are constructed on the
        computer by publishers seeking to profit off of the easy access to paper and
        the audience ready to invest money in anything which claims to speak for
        Islam.

        The content of this material reeks of intellectual bankruptcy. If one wanted
        to produce one of these titles, all you would have to do is purchase a copy
        of a piece of software called “Alim.” Alim is marketed as an encyclopedia of
        the sources which Islam is based upon. Now, let’s say you want to write a
        book and call it, “Greed in Islaam.” All you would need to do is type
        “greed” in the search engine of the Alim software, and it will bring up all
        of the ayahs from the Qur’an and any hadith report from the “sound
        collections” pertaining to greed. Now you have to write short and simplistic
        paragraphs, punctuating them with the search results of the “Alim” software,
        and you have your very own “authoritative” book called “Greed in Islaam.”
        This book can be marketed with bright colors in any of the Islamic
        bookstores that live online.

        This fast-food-Islam has already cost us a generation and a half of Muslims.
        The same health problems which afflict the American fast-food population
        afflict the intellectual progress of the Muslim fast-food-Islam population.
        In an age where Islam is facing humiliation after humiliation at the hands
        of fundamentalists with the intellects of cave-men, in an age where we think
        that stoning a poor woman in Nigeria constitutes our Islamic civilization,
        in an age where the most important features in Islam are hijabs and miswaks,
        it is in this age that we must strive to overcome this despotic element
        which has oppressed our minds and usurped our legacy.

        Our striving must include the raising of our expectations in our religious
        scholarship. Before we can raise these expectations, and until
        fast-food-Islam ceases to command such a ready market, there can be no real
        progress in our tradition. All of the flashy and colorfully gaudy books that
        are shipped off to America from the Middle East can never revive our near
        dead scholarly tradition but can only further destroy it. In the end we will
        have cheapened our tradition and transformed it into a tool for profit,
        advocating an underdeveloped religion of institutionalized dogma and
        childish simplicity as the final message of God.
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