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Citizen of the Blogosphere

I was interviewed last spring by blogger Reb (Rebecca Robinson) for her graduate school project, which looks at political Islam and its relation to the Moroccan blogosphere. We talked for quite a while, and she is beginning to post excerpts of the interview on her blog. The first excerpt argues that because Islam encourages free thought and individual responsibility, it is compatible with democracy. I’ve written about this before here, and less directly, here and here. Here is the quote Reb pulled from our interview.

    The Qur’an emphasizes an individual’s personal responsibility for his actions. The idea is that God gave us the Qur’an as a complete understanding—well, it’s not a complete understanding, but it’s all that human beings would need to understand about God…so we are required to interpret it for ourselves…because another thing that the Qur’an emphasizes is that no one is going to stand in for us on Judgment Day. We are each going to face God alone based on our own actions. It’s like the Christian idea that all people are created equal in the eyes of God—this is the basis for the democratic system. So I don’t see any contradiction between Islamic ideas and democracy or the responsibilities of individuals within a democratic system to define right and wrong. I don’t think the imam can do it for us, and I don’t think the Qur’an has answers to every possible situation…. It’s sort of like when Christians ask “What would Jesus do?” They use that analogy, but Jesus didn’t do everything possible. He did some things, so they say, “What would he do in this other situation that we don’t have any record of him being in, based on the situations that we do know about?” It’s the same thing. The Qur’an doesn’t give instructions for every possible situation. We have to be our own judges. I think this is consistent with a democracy. I think the religious influence from the mosque about specific customs and festivals…that’s a private affair that is separate from the running of the state. When you get to the bottom of the state, each individual has his conscience based on his moral system just like a Christian, a Jew, or even a pagan would.

If you are a Moroccan blogger (or blog about Morocco) and would like to participate in Reb’s project, feel free to contact her by e-mail. You can also find more information about her project in this interview she did with Jillian York of Global Voices.

Oh, and I got an award! The real honor isn’t the award itself, but that it was offered to me by the always discerning Homeyra, who blogs about culture and politics from Tehran. Don’t miss this chance to get to know Homeyra and the other folks she considers Kick Ass Bloggers. (There are five of us.) Trust me, Homeyra’s friends should be yours as well.

I’m supposed to pass this award on, so I will tag Hicham, Reda, Mounir, Bouba and Ayoub. All of these bloggers have inspired me repeatedly with their thought-provoking posts. If some of them have been sleeping lately, it’s not my fault! And here’s the obligatory link to the originator of the Kick Ass meme.


Comment from Reb
Time: August 21, 2008, 18:19

Thanks for all your help with my project!!! Also, I have been following most of the bloggers you listed and I agree that they kick ass!

Comment from Hisham
Time: August 24, 2008, 10:57

Hi Bee!
Thank you for the tag… I’m blushingly honored. Your blog is definitely a master kick ass!
Reb’s project sounds great. If I can help in any way, please let me know.

Comment from Mounir
Time: August 24, 2008, 20:17

Hi bee,
you ll find my answer in the past here

Comment from eatbees
Time: August 26, 2008, 14:46

Mounir, I remember reading that post when you wrote it, thanks for reminding me! Also be sure to check out Hisham’s excellent ideas about “agnostic Muslims” and how to be a freethinker while holding onto cultural identity here.

By the way, I managed to get a friend to help me translate your article about Arab-Americans and the U.S. elections into English. I’m still not sure what to do with it, but I think that sometime before the election I will hold a “debate” with it, quoting your ideas in a blog post to see whether I agree or disagree, or have something to add.

Comment from bouba
Time: September 5, 2008, 18:20

thank you for the tag.. i second Hishams thoughts.
your blog is huge school and a great place to hang out and learn.
i can’t wait to learn more about Reb’s project… that is a great trail. keep it up, my friends.

Comment from eatbees
Time: September 5, 2008, 18:48

Welcome back Bouba! It’s been a long time!

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