Thursday, September 29, 2011

NY Law School Symposium "Sharia in America" Umar F. Moghul (Audio Day 2)

FINALLY! For those who are interested, the last three speakers of the "Sharia in America" Symposium will be completed and posted .

Part 8 of 10 - Aug 26, 2011 (Day 2) of an 8 hour Symposium at NY Law School Law Review On "Sharia in America:Principle and Prospects". The purpose was to examine the place of Islamic Law in The United States.

Notes from Professor Reza's intro of Professor Umar F. Moghul (Sharia Finance)

Professor Moghul was recruited late for the Symposium. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law and a full-time practitioner from the firm of Murtha Cullina LLP. where he   is Chair of Islamic Law and Investment Practice. Professor Moghul has published articles on how Islamic Finance is practiced here in the U.S.and the legislation that addresses it.

Our speaker, Professor Umar F. Moghul

Notes from Professor Moghul's 20 minute presentation 

He assumes that by now (in the symposium)we have an understanding of the Social and Political Climate and as to how Sharia Finance is done...

Moghul continues in his opening Statement: 

Among the challenges that have come about to Sharia in this environment of Islamophobia, is a (..unclear...) challenge to Islamic Finance; to Islamic Investment Transactions in the U.S. as far as implementing or enforcing Sharia Finance into the United States. This does not mean that the U.S. not not welcome Sharia Finance...on the contrary, the U.S. has been an important market although perhaps not a large market, globally speaking....

Points he feels need to be addressed in his presentation:

" First, Islamic Finance is part of Islamic Law which is then part of Sharia, a term which he does not translate as  Islamic Law. It's much more than Law....

If he were to try to translate Sharia, it is the proper balance maintained between religious and temporal  aspects of the religion. The ultimate purpose, the higher purpose of Islam as a religion, thus Islam as Law, is worship of the Divine ....( at this point the slides begin)....

This purpose of Obedience and Worship of the Divine kind of comes in to Islamic Finance as well... Socially Responsible Investing. Gambling, Pornography typically are prohibited as targets of investment. (he mentions riba - interest)

Another misconception is how Islamic Law applies to people of other faiths. He submits it is not wholly applicable to people of other faiths. How this applies to Islamic comes up if one of the parties is Islamic ( as in multi-family apartment buildings). The problems come up due to lack of information and lack of education....

....within the broad purpose of Sharia Law is to prevent harm, securing benefits, preservation and protection of 5 specific values, that include life and religion ( specific to property) which is one of the 5 objectives of Sharia

He the continues discussing 
  • Markets (foreign and retail)
  • Sharia seeks fairness Protect Integrity
  • Sukuk (Islamic certificate/bond)
  • Alternative Investment
  • Compatibility and Compliance within the framework of the Law
  • Legal tensions- venues and resolution
  • Courts and arbitration- who decides
  • flexibility with those who have knowledge of Islamic law

The Q and A (is about 25 minutes. The first brief question is basically off-mic)

This is just after lunch break and the group didn't seem focused on asking questions, so those who are asking questions are often Professor Stilt, Professor Reza, Professor Quraishi and Professor Vogel.

Professor Moghul gave long responses in the Q and A (what follows are some of my notes )

Q: classical contract; substance over form; western credit crisis 
A: Greed, desires create debt- must live within our means 
  • Many faiths are working in Sharia Finance. Finds this wonderful 
  • We gain respect/get along 
  • Islamic investment tends to be in real estate

Q(Prof Stilt) 
Private ownership is not foreign to Islamic law
Profit is encouraged

Q ( Prof Vogel)
Bank buys home, sells it to him at a mark-up, why is this so unique?
Islamic Law and Intellectual Properties (explain)

Q - Moslem World escaping collateral obligations (Norway, Canada)

Q - ( Asifa Quraishi)

AUDIO of Professor Moghuls's presentation (with slides)and the Q and A: (because the audience microphone wasn't always used, this caused an occasional rustling noise when I had to reposition the hyper-sensitive audio recorder to catch the questions)

Two slides at 20:32 and 20:44 were actually from Prof. Reza's presentation that follows this.
The Sharia Symposium continues with two more speakers. Professor Sadiq Reza (Criminal Law) then concludes with a Plenary Discussion.  
AND please follow link below to a fabulous article on the symposium written by Alyssa Lappen "Sharia Lobby Shifts into Fifth Gear" 


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Turkish Days Street-Fest NYC (9-25-11)

Thoughts on a busy day in search of Muslim Culture in Manhattan.  

It began at 41st street and 7th avenue, as I walked to the 26th Annual Muslim Day Parade (around 11:00 AM). Had to pass through Times Square and came upon ANOTHER street closure for ANOTHER Street Festival.

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But this one had a unique theme: Turkish Days Street-Fest (Taste the Turkish Hospitality)by celebrating the Great Seljuq Empire

The Empire was a medieval Turko-Persian /Sunni Muslim empire originating from the Qynyq branch of Oghuz Turks from 1037–1194. According to the Seljuqs, they brought to the Muslims "fighting spirit and fanatical aggression".[33]

The Seljuqs also played an important role in the development of the Turko-Persian tradition,[23] even exporting Persian culture to Anatolia.[24][25] The Seljuq rule gave impetus to the Turkification of Iran[26] The Seljuqs Turkified Azerbaijan between the 11th century and 12th century.[27]

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Since I was on my way to observe my 5th (of 26) Annual Muslim Day Parades, at 38th and Madison Ave,  I thought it odd that this Turkish Street Fest was happening on the same day as  Parade. Perhaps all is not well between the Turks and the rest of the Muslim Community.

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FYI: My post on the Muslim Day Parade (here) revealed a much  smaller parade, attended by a few schools and families who came mostly from Indonesia, the NY Black Muslim Community and the Russian-Muslim countries like Azerbaijan. Other than the obvious  "Flag of Fakestine", the other flags were often a mystery, even to the parade participants. When asked, many were unable to tell me what country the flag they carried was from. 

Also, there seemed to be a lot of the main-stream Muslim-players missing (City and National). Low-key for sure but, even so, the families seemed to enjoy themselves; AS did those at the Turkish Days Street Fest.

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Returning to the Turkish Days Street Fest, it seemed like all the Turks (Muslim at least) were at this Festival. It was nicely done. Refreshing, compared to the usual food-fests that go up and down the avenues of NY. There were costumes and Turks with smiles, smiles, smiles for everyone and history...

The History of Turkey 

 the expansion of the Turkic peoples across most of Central Asia into Europe and the Middle East between the 6th and 11th centuries AD (the Early Middle Ages). Tribes less certainly identified as Turkic began their expansion centuries earlier as the predominant element of the Huns... by the 6th century and by the 10th century most of Central Asia was settled by Turkic tribes. The Seljuk Turks from the 11th century invaded Anatolia, ultimately resulting in permanent Turkic settlement there and the establishment of the nation of Turkey.

The "history" of Turkey seemed to imply that Turkey 'owns' the ancient history of the region by skating around the Muslim conquest.  

They had a number of very attractive walls through out the Street Fest, beginning with The Lydia Kingdom.

[The ancient kingdom in Anatolia from (1200-546 BC) Lydia arose as a Neo-Hittite kingdom following the collapse of the Hittite Empire in the 12th century BC. Lydia finally fell to Turkish beyliks, which were all absorbed by the Ottoman state in 1390 AD. The area became part of the Ottoman Aydın Province (vilayet), ending up as the westernmost part of the modern republic of Turkey.]

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But, whose history is this? Persian, Greek, Christian, Jewish, Armenian. Whose? 

Is this really Muslim history? You might presume Muslim, with that Star and Crescent emblazoned  on The Big Apple....

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Continuing with Turkish Days Fest Theme is The Trojan Civilization

The IX City of Troy, was the last city on this site, Hellenistic Ilium, was founded by Romans during the reign of the emperor Augustus and was an important trading city until the establishment of Constantinople in the 4th century as the eastern capital of the Roman Empire. In Byzantine times the city declined gradually, and eventually disappeared.

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 The Hittite Empire

 The Hittites established a kingdom centred at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c. the 14th century BC...the  Hittite language was a member of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family.

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The Roman Empire(Byzantine)

In the centuries before 600 CE, the Roman Empire was the most influential power in many regions that would later become Islamic.  Within 30 years of Muhammad claiming he had received his first revelation from God, these three civilisations - the Byzantine, Persian, and Arab - would collide as the Muslim Arabs brought down the Sassanid Empire and took a large swath of Byzantine territories in North Africa and Mesopotamia.  In 1453 the Muslims would finally defeat the Byzantine Empire with the sack of Constantinople.

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The Ottoman Empire

A Turkish ( Muslim) empire that lasted from 27 July 1299[8] to 29 October 1923. At the height of its power, in the 16th and 17th centuries, it controlled territory in southeastern Europe, southwestern Asia, and North Africa (see List of Ottoman Empire dominated territories).[9] 

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The booths had displays of women's handscrafts, calligraphy, Tughra Books (Tughra publishes books on Islam as a religion, Islamic history and art, Islamic spirituality and traditions. Formerly The Light Publishing, Tughra Books is dedicated to high-quality publications that contribute to the proliferation of peace and common understanding throughout the world.) an ANT store ( no it's not a typo) Antstores is your one stop shop for all book needs about Islam, Muslims, Islamic Art and Turkish.

When I returned after the Muslim day Parade, this Fest was going strong.
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You could check out the food(kebab, pastry, meatballs) and a coffee lounge (men and women had separate lounges); a school, a disaster relief charity, a newspaper, an airline and the Cultural Center.  They all had booths. Also, Arts and Crafts ( copper, marble, silver) All packed in to one city block. ( pictures are in the slide show below)

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With some ethnic costumed flare from this man as well as a fez

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Didn't realize until I took these pictures that the Turkish Muslim women have such a distinct look by how they wear their head-scarves (do they call  them hijabs?)

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It was all very pleasant,very family (and tourist) friendly. 

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Though these characters  seemed a bit imposing...

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This group was quite friendly and seemed to be popular for photo-ops

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A nice place to hang for the afternoon

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YET, from the day I learned of Turkey's persistent denial of the Thracian Genocide I became aware that this genocide denial is no little 'thing'. They have erased inconvenient elements by sugar-coating Turkey's Islamist history. The wounds of the Muslim Conquests run deep but the Turkish Cultural Center was here to promote a pretty peaceful region for tourism.

In  April 2010 , after leaving left a Memorial Ceremony to the victims of the Thracian Genocide, a genocide  committed by the Turks, I first discovered (only a block and a half north) the Turkish Cultural Center. That year they seemed to ignore the memorial . No apologies. Just didn't happen.



However, in 2011, with the memorial ceremony was once again a block and a half from the Turkish Cultural Center ,"someone" wasn't too happy about the ceremony. I saw a man steal these two pictures (in the center) of the Genocidal Turks ( Enlarged photos of “Enver’ Pasha and Mustafa Kemal.)

Steal the pictures. Erase the history

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Anyone who passed through the Turkish Days Street Fest, took with them the puffery and joys of the Islamic State of Turkey. "Fly Turkish Airlines, The Wings of Champions."

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The Slide Show of Turkish Days Street Fest

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

26th Annual Muslim Day Parade 2011

The pictures are Before the Parade, The Prayers, The (very familiar) Parade ....we've observed for 5 years.... and then the Street Fair at Madison Sq Park (the final destination of the parade.) It's the same parade every year. Same floats. Same Banners. Basically the same people IN the parade with hardly anybody watching from the sidewalks .... as it goes downtown. and....the parade seemed noticeably smaller this year.

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The theme was "Proud To Be a Muslim-American ". Hosted by Bridges TV. Their Press Release said that, "The channel has come under new ownership", with no mention of course, that this is the very same  TV Station whose founder  murdered his wife by decapitation. (a most inconvenient example of Sharia)

BEFORE THE PRAYERS ... as Families and Schools arrived, while they waited for the prayers to begin,everyone took some pictures...

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Signs, flags and banners:

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 With a concerted effort to stick with the theme, American Patriotism blended with their Proud display of Islam

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THE PRAYERS: The prayers on Madison Ave were very low key this year. Very little hoop-la surrounding the set up of the tarps and the Imam saying prayers at the mic was surrounded (not easily seen) I understand, in the past, they were upset when female photogs got too close to the Imam. Guess they took care of that!

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The Men

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The 'Great Divide" between the men and women

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 The Women

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I discovered one poster of protest on a pole at 38th and Madison (I understand there had been more.) But, by parade-time they had been removed  all except this one)

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THE PARADE: It began (as always)with the NYPD Mounted Police and the NYPD Police band playing "This Is My Country" (I always find that a bit heavy-handed)

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The Parade's Main Banner

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Followed by this group of young men who always yell "Takbir, Takbir" all the way downtown (Non-Stop)

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Followed closely by this:

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And this group of young women proclaiming they are not oppressed.

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And of course, the little children marching with their families. No yelling, just being lovely little children....

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THE GRAND MARSHALLS (from their Press Release " Grand Marshals for this year's parade will be Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm Shabazz, and Imam Souleimane Konate, Secretary General of the Council of African Imams. The theme for the 2011 event is "Proud to be a Muslim-American."

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Robert Jackson in the blue shirt (Muslim Convert and the NYC Council's only Muslim) announced to  a previous Muslim Day Parade crowd how great it was that Harlem is the MECCA of NYC.

AND finally, at then end of the parade, the kids on the "Bridges TV " Float yelling "Allah Akbar" (as did other groups of kids in their age-group)

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We then walk in to the blocked-off street next to Madison Sq Park. Clearly, this is where they should have started. Everyone is here. Just have a Street Fair!

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DAWA (practically the first table)

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The Farrakan OUT REACH table, where I found a few of the uniformed (presumably) Muslim Police talking with a very friendly Farrakan-type. After they left, when I approached to take my pictures, the now not-so-friendly Farrakan-fellow, ordered me to stop taking pictures of the books.

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Muslim Converts Table....

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And then the staged area

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Personal Observation: Why must the NYPD stand guard on Madison Ave (starting at since 4 AM I was told) 'guarding' everything til 6 PM??  when  there are no crowds:NO one is watching this parade. In the 5 years I've watched the parade: NO Crowds. The Parade participants seem to love gathering at the Park so, why not start there? Have a Street Fair. (And put the NYPD to better use )

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Next post will be pictures from a Turkish Days Street Fest that was off Times Sq. Perhaps this had an impact on the parade this year since all of the Turkish Muslims seemed to be at that Fair.

Slide show:

And their Press Release/Promo:

NEW YORK, N.Y., Sept. 21, 2011 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) -- One of the oldest Muslim-American organizations in the USA, the Muslim Foundation of America, in conjunction with multi-cultural television channel Bridges TV, has announced details for the 26th annual United American Muslim Day Parade, taking place in New York City at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 25, 2011.

Highlighted by a 15-block parade, live entertainment and speeches from members of the Muslim community, the parade will start at 37th Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan and proceed downtown to 23rd Street for the live show, bazaar and a variety of ethnic foods. International TV distributor SoundView Broadcasting of Long Island City, NY will televise the entire event throughout America via Bridges TV on Verizon FIOS, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Buckeye, Cox and Selco.

Grand Marshals for this year's parade will be Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm Shabazz, and Imam Souleimane Konate, Secretary General of the Council of African Imams. The theme for the 2011 event is "Proud to be a Muslim-American."

The live stage show will feature Palestinian-Jordanian comedian Said Durrah, celebrated composer/vocalist Amir Vahab, various Nasheed artists and a performance by characters from the popular educational video series "Cam Ali."

About The Muslim Foundation of America:
For twenty-five years, the non-profit Muslim Foundation of America (MFA), has organized the United American Muslim Day Parade in Manhattan on the last Sunday of September. Each year, the parade has grown in scope and significance, fulfilling its stated purpose of celebrating pride in a shared Muslim heritage, bringing together all ethnic and religious groups to promote a clearer understanding of Islam and establish interfaith cooperation between all Muslims and other religious and community groups.

About Bridges TV:
Bridges TV is an established American multi-ethnic English-language TV channel offering a broad range of lifestyle programming aimed at fostering greater understanding between all religions and cultures. The channel has come under new ownership, having recently been acquired by SoundView Broadcasting. SoundView is a provider of media and broadcast services for over 25 international television channels from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Africa, Egypt and the US to audiences in the United States, Canada, Europe and the UK

More information online: