So here is the story. A plumber in Texas (some of the least rosy redneck territory out there where they gulp down tequila or whiskey with their tea partying) sells his old Ford truck and forgets to remove his logo. The auction house sends it along the chain of used cars and trucks, not knowing where it might end up. This is the automotive counterpart of banking derivatives and we know how great that was. Then one day there is a tweet from the Ansar al-Jil terrorist faction in Syria showing a new use for the old leaky-faucet-repair truck: a large gun mounted and firing (probably at nothing in particular and not hitting anything, but it makes a great propaganda shot). And there is the Texan Mark-1 plumbing logo for all to see in the twittering world and beyond. Forget the Alamo, this is really bad news.

This being Texas, the phones start ringing back at the plumbing office and this is a leak that is about as bad as any sewer overflow you can imagine in this redneck part of the woods… Damn terrorists no doubt causing true-blooded Americans’ pipes to get clogged. Terrorists in your bathroom no less… (more…)

by Kathryn Zyskowski, Cultural Anthropology

Click here to read the five articles and interviews with the authors.

This collection gathers together five articles previously published in Cultural Anthropology, by Naveeda Khan, Hayder Al-Mohammad, Carolyn Rouse and Janet Hoskins, Kenneth George, and Arzoo Osanloo. The collection also includes interviews with the authors, who reflect on their work, as well a commentary on the whole collection from Charles Hirschkind. The articles engage with everyday aspects of living, negotiating, and constructing the world among contemporary Muslims. Moving beyond a focus on the aesthetics of dress, gender relations, or the text in Islam, the collection crosses national boundaries and thematic areas, touching on the immense diversity of nations, peoples, languages, and ideas that fall under the category of Islam. A broad array of ethnographic material is included in the collection: gathering to eat soul food in Los Angeles, navigating a kidnapping in post-invasion Iraq, a child’s relationship to a jinn (spirit/ghost) during sectarian violence in Karachi, discourses around justice in media and conversation surrounding a young man’s death sentence in Iran, and debates about the production of Islamic art in Indonesia.
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Is it hard to image what President Obama has not been called. The tea party partisans say he is not an American; many Republicans think he is a Muslim (or Arab as though there is any difference). And he has let Muslim Brothers take over the government. He is obviously a socialist, if not a communist. And then there is what the Bible has to say about this American president (not to mention several others before him and quite a few defunct world leaders). So some prophecy sites on Youtube say he is the Beast of Revelation. After all, the secret service calls his presidential limousine “the beast.” Or the Antichrist. If he had a sex change operation, he would no doubt be a candidate for the “Whore of Babylon.” But then where would that leave Hilary Clinton? And now that we know that Michelle Obama is a man, it is really hard to find a revelation role for her or him.

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One of the most original and intriguing scholars of the Islamic era in recent times is Patricia Crone, who has been at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton since 1997 and is now emeriti. Her, co-authored with Michael Cook, Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World (1977) brought in a fresh and controversial angle to what had been a rather staid academic subject. She is currently battling cancer and a film is being made about this battle by her sister, a professional documentary maker. To find out more about this film, and how can you support it, click here.

There are many beautiful cities in the world, but Istanbul is near the top. Check out this online album of photographs.

MessyNessy has put a page about the Marsh Arabs with some fabulous pictures. Check it out here.

It was Iraq’s ‘Garden of Eden’; unique wetlands in southern Iraq where a people known as the Ma’dan, or ‘Arabs of the marsh’, lived in a Mesopotamian Venice, characterised by beautifully elaborate floating houses made entirely of reeds harvested from the open water.

Jive talking about humus… a fun video on Youtube.

[Go to the website for an audio interview with Nabil Matar.]

Nabil Matar, Henry Stubbe and the Beginnings of Islam: The Originall & Progress of Mahometanism­
Columbia University Press, 2014

by Elliott Bazzano, New Books in Islamic Studies, September 18, 2014

In Henry Stubbe and the Beginnings of Islam: The Originall & Progress of Mahometanism­ (Columbia University Press, 2014), Nabil Matar masterfully edits an important piece of scholarship from seventeenth-century England by scholar and physician, Henry Stubbe (1632-76). Matar also gives a substantial introduction to his annotated edition of Stubbe’s text by situating the author in his historical context. Unlike other early modern writers on Islam, Stubbe’s ostensible goals were not to cast Islam in a negative light. On the contrary, he sought to challenge popular conceptions that understood Islam in negative terms, and although there is no evidence that Stubbe entertained conversion, he admits many admirable characteristics of Islam, ranging from Muhammad’s character to the unity of God. The English polymath was well versed in theological debates of his time and therefore equipped all the more to write the Originall, given the benefit of his comparative framework, which in part explains why the first portion of his text devotes itself to the history of early Christianity. Strikingly, however, it seems that Stubbe never learned Arabic, even though he studied religion with a leading Arabist of his time, Edward Pococke. Indeed, one novelty of Stubbe’s work was precisely his re-evaluation of Latin translations (of primary texts) that were already in circulation. Stubbe’s contributions to scholarship also speak to the history of Orientalism—a word that did not yet exist at Stubbe’s time—or how scholars in the “West” more broadly have approached Islam. Stubbe’s Originall offers insights into present-day Western discourses that still struggle—at times with egregious incompetence—to make sense of Islam and Muslims. In this regard, Matar’s detailed scholarly account of Henry Stubbe and his carefully edited version of the Originall remains as timely as ever. Undoubtedly, this meticulously researched book will interest an array of scholars, including those from disciplines of English literature, History, and Religious Studies.

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