ContentsNew Internationalist OCTOBER Issue 426
‘Islam in power’ is a contradiction in terms, said contributor Ziauddin Sardar, when I first mentioned this issue’s title to him.
The foundation for Muslim democracy, he maintains, lies in egalitarianism not in authoritarian theocracies. In fact, he contends, the whole idea of the Islamic state is un-Islamic, since the faith is a universalist not a nationalist movement. Grassroots decision making is much more in line with Islamic tradition than authoritarianism.
I was thinking about this the other day while attending a service at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford. The sermon was about the need for community consultation and consensus, whose Islamic equivalents are met in the concepts of shura and ijma. Later there was discussion about how to re-invigorate the church and make it relevant in the modern world. Issues around women bishops and gay rights were the elephants in the room.
I was reminded of issues the ‘Islamic world’ is contending with – ones that we explore this month. With dispatches from a Saudi feminist, an Iranian Jewish woman and a gay Iraqi Muslim activist, we hope to expand the concept of the larger ummah or community. And with a feature by Nafeez Ahmed on the
connections between Western intelligence agencies and Islamist extremists, we offer a peek at realpolitik.
On the way back from the service at Christ Church, I crossed paths with a Muslim man coming back from his isha prayers at the mosque. Ramadan mubarak, I told him, and he nodded back. Acknowledgement and inclusion of the other are pan-Abrahamic traditions that need to be revived on all sides.
And our special feature this month on green law is all about acknowledging the rights of the earth itself.
Here’s to the fine art of mutual respect.
Hadani Ditmars for the New Internationalist Co-operative
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Regular Features 2 Letters Feral bees; Tiananmen Square
uprising a success; and why Palestinians may one day be crisis consultants to the world. 3 Letter from Cairo
main FEATURE : Islam in power
4 Islam in power Hadani Ditmars calls for a return to
14 Travesty Where did the
Islam’s spirit of democracy and pluralism. 8 From the edge A gay Iraqi activist fights a fatwa, a feisty
Saudi feminist challenges sexist laws, and a Jewish Iranian writer remembers her Revolutionary childhood. 12 Islam – THE FACTS
controversial idea of the ‘Islamic state’ come from? Ziauddin Sardar traces its origins. 16 Knowledge is light Syed Tajammul Hussain’s artful approach
to Qur’anic verses. 17 Our terrorists Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed on the spooky
complicity between Western intelligence agencies and Islamist extremism. 20 More information on Islam Further reading and useful websites.
Maria Golia recalls why part of her Egyptian education involved learning how to break the rules. 25 Currents Time to stop the vulture funds’
feeding frenzy; Timor-Leste’s last displaced people camp closes; and a Colombian community fights eviction in the Andes. 27 Only Planet Gort and Klaatu are unimpressed
by humans’ gift to the universe, in Marc Roberts’ cartoon. 28 NI Prize Crossword PLUS: Big Bad World Money talks
in Polyp’s cartoon. 29 Making Waves Emmanuel Jal, celebrity rapper
and ex-child soldier, talks to Rowenna Davis about why he is championing African education. 30 Mixed Media The reality of indigenous life in
the Amazon features in a gripping new film; drug-addled drop-outs are unlikely heroes in Cecilia Szperling’s novel; and a welcome return for Cornershop. 32 Southern Exposure Motlhalefi Mahlabe photographs
slums in a South African township. 33 View from Kolkata Anthony Dias ponders the purpose
Front cover: Babak Sedighi / Panos. Magazine design: Ian Nixon. All monetary values are expressed in US dollars unless otherwise noted.SPECIAL Feature21 Greening the lawThe streets have traditionally been the home of environmental activism. But could campaigners be just as at home in the courtroom? Olly Zanetti considers the evidence.
of the hunger strike. 34 Essay: Toxic planet Our profligate use of deadly
chemicals is coming back to haunt us, writes Zoe Cormier. 36 Country Profile: Guinea