Monthly Archives: September 2010

Quote Found on Blog

Found this on Bowman in Arabia, a blog by a young American calculus teacher in Jordan:

Whether it’s fair or not, we will be judged by people like this. What’s that? It’s not right that a religious zealot with weird facial hair, twisting an otherwise peaceful religion to make hateful, condemning comments, via a face-to-camera video proclamation, backed by a small extremist band of followers, should come to represent millions and millions of people – the vast majority of whom completely disagree with him?

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Filed under arab, arabian, Islamic relations, religious conflict

Yoga: Good Exercise or the Gateway to Hell?

A couple articles, one recent, one older, about religious authorities’ concerns about the growing popularity of yoga. Here are some quotes. I’ve replaced some words. See if you can tell which ones concern Muslims and which ones concern Christians.

During the class I sat in on, yoga’s Hindu roots were mentioned, albeit briefly. A spiritual experience was on offer for those who wanted it.

This is the point where some [religious people] in [given country] worry about yoga. They think it is encroaching on their way of life.

One [Christian/Muslim] student told me that she combined yoga techniques with prayers. That concerns some [Muslim/Christian] experts.

[Religious people] who practice yoga are embracing, or at minimum flirting with, a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives into a “post-[religion], spiritually polyglot” reality.

When [religious people] practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their [religious] commitments and their embrace of yoga.

We are not called to escape the consciousness of this world by achieving an elevated state of consciousness, but to follow [religious figure] in the way of faithfulness.

The ruling is not legally binding but many of [given country’s][religious people] abide by [such rulings].

Yoga begins and ends with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with the [religious] understanding. [Religious people] are not called to empty the mind or to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the Word of God — an external Word that comes to us by divine revelation — not to meditate by means of incomprehensible syllables.

“[Religion] is a complete way of life. [Religion] is able to cater to the needs of [Christians/Muslims]; spiritual needs, intellectual needs and other needs, material needs. So there is no need to bring in elements from outside,” he added.

I’m going to throw in a third piece for fun. A blog I found while searching.

I recently overheard several conservative [religious] ladies at my gym discussing Yoga. They have decided not to participate, having concluded that it smacks too closely to dangerous paganism for their personal comfort.

But wait, there’s more.

The [religious authorities] told [religious people] on Thursday that some aspects of yoga, Zen and other forms of Oriental meditation can “degenerate into a cult of the body” and are not a substitute for [religious] prayer.

A document issued by the [religious denomination’s guardian of orthodoxy], said genuine [religious] mysticism is not a question of technique and warned [religious people] not to confuse the pleasure derived from some forms of meditation with a relationship with God.

And an article from England, from 2007:

[Teacher], who lives in [town], added: “I explained to the [house of worship] that my yoga is a non-religious activity.
“Some types of adult yoga are based on Hindu and Buddhist meditation but it’s not a part of the religion and there is no dogma involved.
“This is a class for mums and children which has yoga-inspired moves – but as soon as I mentioned the word yoga the [house of worship] staff completely changed their attitude.”
[Religious authority] defended the decision, saying: “We are a [religious] organisation and when we let rooms to people we want them to understand that they must be fully in line with our [religious] ethos.
“Clearly yoga impinges on the spiritual life of people in a way which we as [religious people] don’t believe is the same as our ethos.
“If it was just a group of children singing nursery rhymes, there wouldn’t be a problem.
“But she’s called it yoga and therefore there is a dividing line we’re not prepared to cross.”
[The leader of the house of worship] said: “Any alternative philosophies or beliefs are offering a sham – and [here] we want people to have the real thing.
“The philosophy of yoga cannot be separated from the practice of it, and any teacher of yoga (even to toddlers) must subscribe to the philosophy.
“As [religious people] we believe that this philosophy is false and not something we wish to encourage.
“Yoga may appear harmless or even beneficial, but it is encouraging people to think that there is a way to wholeness of body and mind through human techniques – whereas the only true way to wholeness is by [religion-specific thing].”

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Serendipity & Videos

So there I was, avidly perusing the entries in the 2010 Dance Your PhD Contest, and wishing the clips were YouTube clips rather than Vimeo, since I can’t embed Vimeo competently. So I started searching on YouTube on some esoteric scientific titles, then I saw in the suggested videos one with some Arabic in the title, which I played, but it was lame, but there were more suggested videos, so I clicked on this one. And it’s pretty good. But it has nothing to do with anybody’s PhD, just a funny guy’s story of his conversion.

Meanwhile, here’s a PhD dance video about language. Unfortunately, this is only the link.

Dance as a vehicle for prejudice reduction and second language acquisition from Fuad Elhage on Vimeo.

If you go to the Gonzolabs page of PhD dance videos, I recommend my favorites (so far):

The Quantum Ruler: Using Quantum Mechanics to make better measurements.”


Cationic antimicrobial peptides derived from human seminal plasma inhibit HIV-1 infection.”

Plus check out the entry by a former(?) fellow Arabist, “The Concord of Collective Nouns and Verbs in Biblical Hebrew: A Controlled Study.”

Enjoy. 🙂

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Filed under arabist, art, Islamic relations, language, movies and shows

Sounds Backwards to Me

According to this story, our government is mulling coming up with some actual, legal reason to try a US citizen in a court of law in case they don’t just kill him outright ahead of time.

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is considering filing the first criminal charges against radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in case the CIA fails to kill him and he’s is captured alive in Yemen.

Cue the Lee Greenwood song. “I’m proud to be an Americaaaaannnn, where at least I know I’m free.”

Because US citizenship means something…unless you’re of Arab descent. Or Turkish descent. Just ask Furkan Dogan.

Furkan Dogan, four shots to the head

Well, at least this article refers to Awlaki as a US and Yemeni citizen. Lately I’ve seen a few articles referring to him as “US-born,” as if he doesn’t quite make the cut for full citizenship. Looks to me likehe lived about half of his life in the United States. I have relatives who have been out of the US for longer than that, but I bet no matter what happens, the US newspapers will always refer to relatives of mine as “US citizen.”

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Filed under arab, Our glorious war on terror, outrages

Caption Fail

terry jones koran qur'an burning fail caption

Made me giggle.

Found here at Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion.

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Filed under bigoted idiots, religious conflict

Another Quote From Devil’s Game

I’m still slowly making my way through Devil’s Game, How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, by Robert Dreyfuss. Some sections kind of drag, and it’s so chock full of information that you get overloaded.

This jumped out at me, though, given the various arguments I’ve heard made against Muslims in the last few years. Somehow the throwing of acid in girls’ faces always gets brought up. I don’t know which anti-Islam screecher pushes the acid-in-the-face angle, but I keep hearing it.

[US National Security Advisor 1977-1981] Brzezinski, and then [Director of Central Intelligence 1981-1987] Casey, embraced the Pakistan-Saudi axis. But both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had their favored clients in Afghanistan.

For Pakistan, it was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the militant Islamist whose group was called the Islamic Party (Hizb-i Islami). Hekmatyar had a well-earned reputation for being a brutal fanatic:

Gulbuddin was the darling of Zia and the Pakistan intelligence service. Like other mujahideen leaders, he had been working with the ISI [Pakistan intel service] since the early 1970s, when Pakistan had begun secretly backing fundamentalist students at the University of Kabul who were rebelling against Soviet influence in the Afghan government. Back then Gulbuddin was very much a part of the emerging global wave of Islamic radicalism. By all accounts, he was responsible for the practice of throwing acid in the faces of Afghan women who failed to cover themselves properly.

Hekmatyar’s specialty was skinning prisoners alive. Sigbhatullah Mujaddidi, an Islamist of somewhat less radical stripes, called Hekmatyar a “true monster.” But Representative Charles Wilson, a Texas Republican who was the leading congressional advocate for the Afghan jihad, approvingly noted that Zia was “totally committed to Hekmatyar, because Zia saw the world as a conflict between Muslims and Hindus, and he thought he could count on Hekmatyar to work for a pan-Islamic entity that could stand up to India.”

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Filed under books, hijab, Islamic relations, Our glorious war on terror

This Reminds Me of Something

Found this at another blog, forgot to note where, but it was one of the commenters to this post at Sadly, No!


Filed under arab, Our glorious war in Iraq