Month: June 2014

Ramadan Reflections: Day 1

After reading Kazim Ali’s, Fasting For Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice, I decided to start my own Ramadan journal.

For a while, I was debating whether or not to make a public Ramadan blog. What is the purpose of this blog? What is my intention? It certainly is not to show the world how pious or spiritual I am, because I think I am far from it. My intention with this blog is twofold- one, to help get out of the frustrations and anxieties I have of my first Ramadan as a Muslim, and the other- to hopefully show others that they are not alone in their struggles.
A few days ago, I shared this blog post I had written about two years ago about “why I haven’t converted to Islam yet”. In this post, I discuss my love and affinity for a lot of the ritual and spiritual practices of Catholicism, which I was not prepared to leave- at the time. After sharing this post, I received a message from a (non Muslim) friend who told me this post resonated with them in many ways. They later asked for some book suggestions that I read on my journey to eventually accepting Islam. I found this to be one of the best pieces of news I had received in a long time. Was this the correct way of doing dawah, I wondered? In what ways can I help others understand my faith, without making it feel like I am trying to convert them or being arrogant about my beliefs?

I remember this video featuring Ta’aleef Collective founder Usama Cannon, who discusses “Revisiting Dawah”. One verse in  from the Holy Quran is mentioned (among others),


And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful. (Surat ‘Āli `Imrām, 3:104)

In this verse, we are forced to think on a few key points (which Cannon mentions in his reflection), 1) How do we “do” da’wah? 2) what is the purpose of this da’wah?

I begin to think immediately about why I began this journey to Islam in the first place, several years ago.

The real reason I finally decided to take shahada (to “bear witness” and say “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger”) and become Muslim is the example I saw in a few amazing Muslims I got to know during my years at university. Between sharing spaces in political protest, to expressing our true feelings about what “Interfaith” means to us, this community really exposed to me the truth behind the veil of mass-media produced image of what “Islam” really is.

It was through the good deeds and passions of this group of people that I was forced to ask myself, maybe their faith has something to do with the way they do activism? maybe Islam has some qualities in it that allow people to have this sort of worldview? 

SubhanAllah ( Glorious is God), whether or not it is faith that drove all of these individuals to do what they did, the idea and force of Islam brought me closer to the deen on my own. I feel so incredibly humbled to be Muslim, to be loved by God and to try every day, to stay on the straight path. I am nowhere near the perfect Muslim, I have so much more to learn, and I hope this Ramadan will be a time of seeking knowledge, of meeting new people in the many communities I am blessed to be a part of, and of self-reflection.


Algerian Anarchists in France pt 1

Screen shot 2014-06-23 at 12.53.44 AMSail Mohamed Ameriane ben Amerzaine (October 14, 1894 – April 1953) 

Sail was based in France, and wrote for French anarchist journals, agitating about colonial conditions and the plight of Algerian workers in France for three decades until the early 1950s. He is one of the few known Algerian anarchists (anarchist in the strictly Western tradition).

Born in a small village in Kabylia, a mountainous region east of Algerias, populated for many millenia by ethnic Berbers, the native people of Algeria before the arrival of Arabs in the mid-7th century. After imprisonment during World War 1 for military in-subordination and desertion, he settled near Paris and joined the Union Anarchiste, the principal anarchist organization in France at the time. From the early 1920s to his death in 1953, he continuously wrote articles denouncing the misery and repression of French colonialism in Algeria and the only slightly better condition of Algerian emigres in France, while also organizing committees to defend the rights of the latter.

As well, Sail joined the French anarcho-syndicalist union, the CGSTR (Revolutionary Syndicalist General Labor Confederation) in 1929, orgazined there a separate section of Algerians, and published Terre Libre, with anarchist Andrew Proudhommeaux from 1934. He volunteered for the International Group of the Durruti Column in Spain in 1936. Wounded in Saragossa, he returned to France and continued his activism, including demonstrating against French repression of Messali’s ENA.

Arrested and imprisoned several times in the 1930’s and ’40s by French authorities, upon each release he returned to militant anarchist organizing among Algerian workers and writing for anarchist journals. After apparently escaping a detention camp during the German occupation, Sail helped produce conterfeit papers. Following the liberation of France, he sought to organize committees of Algerian anarchists and wrote further articles for the UA’s successor, the Federation Anarchiste.

Sail is pictured in the middle, bottom row

Sail is pictured in the middle, bottom row


He viewed traditional rural Algerian society, especially in Kabylia, as culturally embracing though without Western anarchist terminology or anarchist principles of mutual aid, decentralist community organization, and individuality of expression- much like the description of anarchist cultural tendencies in Spanish society before Bakunin’s emissaries arrived in 1868 with the newly formulated explicit anarchist ideology.


(the above is taken from several excerpts of David Porters’, “Eyes to the South: French Anarchists & Algeria, 2011)