March 31, 2009

Corri Fetman's Sexual Harassment Case

Corri Fetman's back in the news; if you don't remember who she is, she's the Chicago divorce attorney who advertised her law firm on the idea that it's better to divorce now in order to marry your trophy husband/wife. She later appeared in a nude Playboy pictorial and wrote the "Lawyer of Love" column for the magazine. (I wrote about her back in 2007; see Life's Short. Get a Divorce. Be a Pathetic Loser. (be sure to read the comment on that post) and Life's Short. Your Marriage Doesn't Have to Be.)

Anyway, it turns out that Fetman was allegedly sexually harassed by a former executive at the magazine. According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

Corri Fetman, 45, who authored the Lawyer of Love column, alleged Thomas Hagopian, an executive for the digital branch of Playboy Enterprises, bombarded her with sexually explicit email messages and phone calls, groped her and took away her column last July when she repeatedly rebuffed his advances.


Ms Fetman's suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, seeks more than $US4.5 million ($A6.6 million) in damages for, among other things, "gender violence" and emotional distress.

Now, based on what I've read in the article, I agree that she probably has been sexually harassed, and that shouldn't have happened. As her attorney said in the article, "Sometimes attractive women get unwanted attention," and that's completely true. On the other hand, I have very little sympathy for her. I mean, really, what did she expect? That she could pose nude publicly and there would be no consequences? That men would respect her for her mind when she has no respect for her body? Where was your modesty and humility the past two years, Corri?

CSM: Ten Terms Not to Use with Muslims

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article on ten terms not to use with Muslims. I am including the ten terms in the excerpt below, plus the second paragraph, the second sentence of which I think is very important to remember. More below.

I have learned much from my Muslim friends, foremost this: Political disagreements come and go, but genuine respect for each other, rooted in our respective faith traditions, does not. If there is no respect, there is no relationship, merely a transactional encounter that serves no one in the long term.


1. "The Clash of Civilizations." Invariably, this kind of discussion ends up with us as the good guy and them as the bad guy. There is no clash of civilizations, only a clash between those who are for civilization, and those who are against it. Civilization has many characteristics but two are foundational: 1) It has no place for those who encourage, invite, and/or commit the murder of innocent civilians; and 2) It is defined by institutions that protect and promote both the minority and the transparent rule of law.

2. "Secular." The Muslim ear tends to hear "godless" with the pronunciation of this word. And a godless society is simply inconceivable to the vast majority of Muslims worldwide. Pluralism – which encourages those with (and those without) a God-based worldview to have a welcomed and equal place in the public square – is a much better word.

3. "Assimilation." This word suggests that the minority Muslim groups in North America and Europe need to look like the majority, Christian culture. Integration, on the other hand, suggests that all views, majority and minority, deserve equal respect as long as each is willing to be civil with one another amid the public square of a shared society.

4. "Reformation." Muslims know quite well, and have an opinion about, the battle taking place within Islam and what it means to be an orthodox and devout Muslim. They don't need to be insulted by suggesting they follow the Christian example of Martin Luther. Instead, ask how Muslims understand ijtihad, or reinterpretation, within their faith traditions and cultural communities.

5. "Jihadi." The jihad is an internal struggle first, a process of improving one's spiritual self-discipline and getting closer to God. The lesser jihad is external, validating "just war" when necessary. By calling the groups we are fighting "jihadis," we confirm their own – and the worldwide Muslim public's – perception that they are religious. They are not. They are terrorists, hirabists, who consistently violate the most fundamental teachings of the Holy Koran and mainstream Islamic scholars and imams.

6. "Moderate." This ubiquitous term is meant politically but can be received theologically. If someone called me a "moderate Christian," I would be deeply offended. I believe in an Absolute who also commands me to love my neighbor. Similarly, it is not an oxymoron to be a mainstream Muslim who believes in an Absolute. A robust and civil pluralism must make room for the devout of all faiths, and none.

7. "Interfaith." This term conjures up images of watered-down, lowest common denominator statements that avoid the tough issues and are consequently irrelevant. "Multifaith" suggests that we name our deep and irreconcilable theological differences in order to work across them for practical effect – according to the very best of our faith traditions, much of which are values we share.

8. "Freedom." Unfortunately, "freedom," as expressed in American foreign policy, does not always seek to engage how the local community and culture understands it. Absent such an understanding, freedom can imply an unbound licentiousness. The balance between the freedom to something (liberty) and the freedom from something (security) is best understood in a conversation with the local context and, in particular, with the Muslims who live there. "Freedom" is best framed in the context of how they understand such things as peace, justice, honor, mercy, and compassion.

9. "Religious Freedom." Sadly, this term too often conveys the perception that American foreign policy is only worried about the freedom of Protestant evangelicals to proselytize and convert, disrupting the local culture and indigenous Christians. Although not true, I have found it better to define religious freedom as the promotion of respect and reconciliation with the other at the intersection of culture and the rule of law – sensitive to the former and consistent with the latter.

10. "Tolerance." Tolerance is not enough. Allowing for someone's existence, or behavior, doesn't build the necessary relationships of trust – across faiths and cultures – needed to tackle the complex and global challenges that our civilization faces. We need to be honest with and respect one another enough to name our differences and commonalities, according to the inherent dignity we each have as fellow creations of God called to walk together in peace and justice, mercy and compassion.

Of the ten terms, I agree very strongly with numbers 2 through 6 (Secular, Assimilation, Reformation, Jihadi, Moderate); also, with number 9, Religious Freedom. Here's why:

  • "Secular" - To a Muslim, there is very little positive about this word. I've heard many non-Muslims complain over time that there must be some secular Muslims out there somewhere, not knowing that "secular Muslim" is a contradiction in terms. A Muslim does not lead a secular life; if only non-Muslims knew how often the name of God passes a Muslim's lips. About to start up the car? Bismillah! Just burped? Alhamdulillah! Something wonderful just happened? Masha'allah! Not sure if something's going to happen? Insha'allah! To be a Muslim means to lead a religious life; if non-Muslims can accept that then we can move forward together.
  • "Assimilation" - This seems to be a term favored by the far right. At the very minimum, "assimilation" seems to mean for them a shared common language; hence the popularity of the "English Only" movement in several states around the U.S. Beyond that, to be honest, I'm not really sure what people expect when they want others to "assimilate." Does that mean going to the bar for drinks? Eating pork chops for dinner? Neither of those are going to happen with Muslims, obviously. The way the term is bandied about, it seems like "assimilation" really means "conformity." You must be just like everybody else. And if "we're" engaging in sinful behavior, don't rock the boat! Come and join in, too!
  • "Reformation" - This is another common plea from non-Muslims: if only Muslims would reform their religion. Here's a clue: it ain't gonna happen! Actually, I find the suggested word ijtihad to be almost as offensive as "reformation." Too many weak Muslims pray for a renewal of ijtihad because they can't take their Islam straight. Ijtihad, when spoken of by non-Muslims and weak Muslims, has largely become synonymous with "reformation," with secularism.
  • "Jihadi" - This is a perfect example of people twisting the meaning of words into something completely the opposite of its original intention. Jihad in Islam is such a positive force, and non-Muslims have completely perverted that positiveness. For more on the subject, see here.
  • "Moderate" - "Moderate Muslim" isn't necessarily a bad term per se, but the real problem is that for most non-Muslims, a "moderate Muslim" really means a "secular Muslim." The way non-Muslims talk about Muslims, there's little to no difference between an observant Muslim (one who prays, fasts, etc.) and the al-Qaida types. That's what makes "moderate Muslim" such an offensive term. It doesn't help matters when governments promote this type of thinking, such as in the recently leaked British documents that "define" who is an extremist Muslim. (According to the British criteria, I qualify as an "extremist," an idea I find patently absurd.)
  • "Religious Freedom" - Finally, the author's description of "religious freedom" as how American Protestants perceive it is spot on. Muslims ask for minor changes here and there to accommodate our lifestyle and non-Muslims become upset! Consider the recent case of a Domino's Pizza in the UK that recently switched to halal toppings, the first in the country to do so. "It's a disgrace. ... I can appreciate them having it as an option but to have it completely halal is just not on. I'm all for racial and religious tolerance but if anything this is intolerant to my beliefs and discriminatory against me. Instead I had to travel two miles out of my way to another branch – I was appalled." "This is a global pizza chain that is isolating western values and choice. It's alienating people and that's just not on. I'd been coming here for ages but now I'll go elsewhere because I can't get a pepperoni pizza, which is what I always have." (Actual comments from the original article.) The whining! It's amazing! At least here in S'pore, more and more restaurant chains continue to switch to halal foods. But in the intolerant West, religious freedom really means Christian freedom. Thank God for the East.

Update: Although I cross-posted this essay on Street Prophets back on March 31st, the discussion about the diary seems to have finally reached its conclusion (insha'allah!) nearly two weeks later. The essay received a total of 140 comments to date (a personal best; the most comments any of my previous diaries over at SP had gotten was a mere 60). So give that discussion a look-see if you're interested, but be sure to budget at least a half-hour's reading time. ;)

March 28, 2009

US Unemployment Rates - February 2009

The February US regional and state unemployment figures were released on March 27th. The figures, overall, continue to be bad, although some of the over-the-month rate changes between January and February were not as severe as they were the month before. One state, Nebraska, also had a declining unemployment rate. On the other hand, the number of states with double-digit unemployment rates has increased to seven. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Overall, the "official" national unemployment rate (U-3) increased by 0.5%, from 7.6% to 8.1%, over January's number. For the past twelve months, the national rate has increased 3.3%.
  • For the most inclusive unemployment rate measured (U-6), the increase was 0.9%, from 13.9% to 14.8%. For the past twelve months, U-6 has increased by 5.8%.
  • In terms of monthly change, the states with the largest increases were North Carolina and Oregon, with changes of 1.0% each. One state, New Jersey, had a 0.9% increase, while four states had 0.8% increases. Those states are Georgia, Hawaii, New York and West Virginia.
  • On an annual basis, three states have increases over 5.0%: North Carolina at 5.5%, Oregon at 5.4%, and South Carolina at 5.3%. Michigan and Nevada are tied for fourth at 4.6%.
  • The states with the lowest annual increases are Iowa at 1.0%, Wyoming at 1.1%, Nebraska at 1.2%, and North Dakota at 1.3%.
  • A total of seven states now have double-digit unemployment rates, up from four in January. The state with the highest unemployment rate is Michigan, at 12.0%, up 0.4%. South Carolina comes in second with a rate of 11.0% (up 0.6%), and Oregon places third with a rate of 10.8% (up 1.0%). In fourth place is North Carolina with a rate of 10.7%, also up 1.0%. Tied for fifth place is California and Rhode Island, both with a rate of 10.5%, up 0.4% for California and 0.2% for Rhode Island. The seventh place state, Nevada, also has double-digit unemployment with a rate of 10.1%, up 0.7%.
  • The states with the lowest unemployment rates continue to be Wyoming (3.9%, up 0.2%), Nebraska (4.2%, down 0.1%), North Dakota (4.3%, up 0.1%), South Dakota (4.6%, up 0.2%) and Iowa (4.9%, up 0.1%).
  • In terms of non-farm payroll employment (i.e., number of jobs), the states with the biggest decreases since January were California (-116,000), Florida (-49,500), and Texas (-46,100).
  • For annual changes in non-farm payroll employment, the states with the biggest decreases are California (-605,900), Florida (-399,400), Michigan (-277,000), and Ohio (-222,100).

The PDF version of the Bureau of Labor Statistics press release can be found here.

March 27, 2009

Kameelah Rasheed: I Am Not Asking For Your Approval

Kameela Rasheed has an interesting essay at in which she tells the world that she doesn't need their approval in order to wear hijab. In the middle of the essay is an anecdote about a "conversation" (really a monologue) she had with a South African man who tried to "reason" with her that by covering herself she was denying him his "need" to see her, her hair, her body. In this world, where scantily clad women are the norm for advertising, where cable news has become cable nilf, where even female politicians rely upon sex appeal, is it any surprise men "need" women to be "accessible?"

While most comments at this institution were reserved for private discussions, the college experience as well as my time in Johannesburg, South Africa provided an opportunity to understand what literally annoyed people about my Hijab. While in Yeoville, a hybrid inner-city/suburb of Johannesburg, I was approached by a man who was intent on liberating me from not only my gender oppression, but from my racial confusion. Apparently, 'I am not free' in Hijab and Islam is not an African religion. I had committed not only the ultimate sin of embracing a faith that 'forced' me to be modest; I had chosen a faith that had no roots in Africa. Let's not bother with the contrary historical facts, as that is the least of our concerns.

What I found of the utmost importance in this monologue (yes, because I was unable to get a word in edgeways) was that he conceptualised my channels of freedom via the ritualistic removal of my Hijab and his penetration or sexual conquest. I never knew that my freedom toolbox included an instruction guide - I will keep this in mind.

As he continued to speak in a series of poorly phrased insults, I realized that this was no longer about gender oppression or black authenticity; it was about the politics of accessibility to certain bodies. He repeated almost in a hypnotic fashion, 'I cannot see you… I cannot see your essence'. In wearing Hijab, it was his argument that I was making myself inaccessible to men, and particularly to him. Choosing to place myself off the radar was not a choice I could exercise.

In fact, I was required to make myself available and accessible to his gaze as well as the gaze of other men. Thus, the crime I had committed was not one of accepting my subjugation as a Muslim woman and 'confused African woman', but of refusing to situate myself in his myopic discourse of liberation that ultimately puts me at his mercy. If I was mistaken in this assumption, it was further validated by a number of men in Johannesburg and in America who have told me similar tales of my inaccessibility, as a reason why I should not wear Hijab.

They started with a narrative of genuine concern for my oppression and devolved into a shallow desire for a free pass to accessibility. It was not always about what was said, but the delivery of these diatribes. In many of these situations, these men used aggressive and paternalistic tones. They attempted to silence me by raising their voices. They worked to discredit my line of defense by telling me I did not know enough. Most of all they were surprised that I was able to put together a sentence and to give as well as I was given. It was a reminder that the covering of my head is not a covering of my mind or my mouth.

HT: my hijab = my *diamond* crown

March 23, 2009

Just Do It!

This is a three-part series of commercials from Thailand that promote the benefits of daily exercise. All three commercials are rather humorous. Check it out!

March 20, 2009

Ken Lee

I came across this video the other night and found it hilarious. The singer is a woman named Valentina Hasan, who tried out for Season 2 of Music Idol, the Bulgarian version of Pop Idol/American Idol. Her performance reminds me the most of American Idol's William Hung. (Remember him?)

However, let's give credit where credit's due. I think the natural reaction for such a performance would be to hide under a rock somewhere and pray for anonymity. However, from watching several later videos (such as the one below), it's obvious that Valentina has continued to practice her music. While the quality of her singing's still not that good, she's worked on learning the lyrics to Without You, and can sing the song much better now than she originally could.

Juan Cole on The Colbert Report

Juan Cole of Informed Comment has been on a tear over the past few days, talking to a lot of the media about his new book, Engaging the Muslim World. Dr. Cole was recently on The Colbert Report, and I've embedded the video clip for the interview below. Be sure to read his post, Blogging Colbert, about what it's like to be on the show; it's quite an interesting read.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Juan Cole
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

March 19, 2009


A couple days ago I had to go to the hospital due to severe chest pain. (Nothing to worry about. The problem isn't my heart but one of my nephews who likes to lie on his uncle like the latter is a recliner. ;) My sternum and ribs apparently can't take the weight of his head.) Anyway, in my moment of intense pain at home, I had a couple of symptoms happen all at once, especially nausea and cottonmouth.

So Milady and I went to a nearby hospital where a doctor and two interns decided to examine me. The doctor asked for my symptoms, and I mentioned the cottonmouth.

She looked very surprised. "Cat-in-mouth???"

One of the interns corrected her. "No, cottonmouth."

"Cottonmouth???" As if she had never heard of the condition before.

"Dry mouth," I said, hoping that she finally understood me.

Some time later the thought occurred to me that "cat-in-mouth" is probably just as appropriate to describe the symptom as "cottonmouth." ;)

March 14, 2009

Jon Stewart vs. Jim Cramer - The Interview

I'll have more commentary on this interview later, insha'allah. In the meantime, I'm presenting almost all of Thursday night's show; the three interview segments are the longer, unedited versions that are available from The Daily Show website; note that there is some mild profanity that wasn't bleeped out as it normally is.

Die Die Must Buy!

Another amazing video out of Hong Kong, where a woman throws a tantrum after being told the restaurant had no more shark fin soup available. This follows the recent tantrum thrown by another woman in Hong Kong who missed her Cathay Pacific flight to San Francisco. For more on that story, see here and here.

March 12, 2009

The Daily Show on Earmarks (and Cramer)

I hadn't planned on putting up another video about tomorrow's appearance of Jim Cramer on The Daily Show ; however, because I wanted to put up the second video below, I thought I'd add this one to the post as well:

Jon Stewart brought up the topic of budgetary earmarks tonight in the show's third segment. I wanted to post this video because it brings up an important point about earmarks that I wrote about last September when John McCain tried to use earmarks as a campaign topic (see Economist's View: John McCain's "Big" Economic Plans). As I mentioned last year:

The NY Times also notes that "earmarks ... make up less than 1% of the federal budget.

What most people don't realize is that these Republicans and media hacks (*cough* Faux News *cough*) who complain about the cost of so-called "pork" are using a minor issue to score cheap political points. One million dollars here, two million dollars there, it sounds like a lot of money, but in the larger scheme of things (the US Federal Budget in 2008 is nearly three trillion dollars ($2,979 Billion, to be more precise)), those earmarks turn out to be a drop in the proverbial bucket. Moreover, as Jon mentions in the clip, "It's not pork when it's a project in your state."

But that doesn't stop hypocritical politicians like Lindsey Graham (see the video) and David Vitter from complaining about earmarks publicly while using the system to insert their own earmarks into the federal budget. As President Obama noted:

Now, let me be clear: Done right, earmarks give legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their district, and that’s why I have opposed their outright elimination. I also find it ironic that some of those who railed the loudest against this bill because of earmarks actually inserted earmarks of their own – and will tout them in their own states and districts.

US Unemployment Rates - January 2009

The January US regional and state unemployment figures were released on March 11th. The figures, overall, continue to get worse, although there was one minor bright spot in the District of Columbia. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Overall, the "official" national unemployment rate (U-3) increased by 0.4%, from 7.2% to 7.6%, over December's number. For the past twelve months, the national rate has increased 2.7%.
  • For the most inclusive unemployment rate measured (U-6), the increase was 0.4%, from 13.5% to 13.9%. For the past twelve months, U-6 has increased by 4.9%.
  • In terms of monthly change, the states with the largest increases were North Carolina, Oregon, and South Carolina, all with a 1.6% increase; four states had a 1.4% increase, California, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, while three states had a 1.3% increase, Alabama, Maine and Washington.
  • On an annual basis, two states tied for the largest increase, North Carolina and South Carolina, both at 4.7%. The next three are Oregon (4.6%), Indiana (4.4%), and Michigan (4.3%).
  • The states with the lowest annual increases are Iowa at 0.9%, Wyoming at 1.0%, and North Dakota and West Virginia at 1.2%.
  • The state with the highest unemployment rate is Michigan, which increased 1.4% to 11.6%; South Carolina comes in second with a rate of 10.4% (up 1.6%), and Rhode Island places third with a rate of 10.3% (up 0.9%). California also has a double-digit unemployment rate of 10.1%, up 1.4%.
  • The states with the lowest unemployment rates continue to be Wyoming (3.7%, up 0.3%), North Dakota (4.2%, up 0.7%), Nebraska (4.3%, up 0.3%) and South Dakota (4.4%, up 0.5%).
  • In terms of non-farm payroll employment (i.e., number of jobs), the states with the biggest decreases since December were California (-79,300), Michigan (-60,800), Ohio (-59,600) and Texas (-50,600).
  • The one bright spot in terms of non-farm payroll employment was an increase in the number of jobs in the District of Columbia, up 5,800 (perhaps due to the change in administration and a corresponding ripple effect through the local economy).
  • For annual changes in non-farm payroll employment, the states with the biggest decreases are California (-494,000), Florida (-355,700), Michigan (-263,800), and Ohio (-214,600). Wyoming is the only state that continues to have a positive annual change in employment, up 7,000 jobs for the year.

The PDF version of the Bureau of Labor Statistics press release can be found here.

March 11, 2009

Jon Stewart vs. Jim Cramer

Jon Stewart at The Daily Show has continued to criticize CNBC over its stock-picking "prowess." While original target Rick Santelli waits for the storm to blow over (don't visit Sacramento any time soon, Rick), Jim Cramer decided to take on Jon. Big mistake! :)

The next day, Cramer appeared on several programs to complain about Stewart's segment of him. Stewart once again responded. The even better news: Cramer's scheduled to appear on The Daily Show later this week. That should be an interesting interview. ;)

Here's the Moment of Zen for March 9th...

...and the Moment of Zen for March 10th:

2008 ARIS Results for Muslim Americans

The third American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) report was released the other day. This survey was conducted by Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar of Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut) from February 2008 through November 2008. The previous two surveys were conducted in 1990 and 2001. What I've done is look at the data and written conclusions by the authors with respect to Islam/Muslims in the United States. I've covered all of the sections where Muslims are discussed with the exception of "composition of racial and ethnic groups," which I felt didn't provide any meaningful data. One other major section, Geography and Religion, was also ignored as all non-Christian religions were lumped together into one category, "other religions," which didn't provide any meaningful data either.

The format of my post will be a listing of the individual data categories along with the respective numbers, followed by the authors' conclusions in blockquotes. My commentary will be italicized.

The full report can be obtained from the ARIS website in pdf format.

My summary:

The ARIS report has found the Muslim American community to be both young and well educated, more so than the country's national average. However, the rate of growth in the community and the significant decrease among those adult Muslims who have a college degree suggests that there has been a reverse brain drain among immigrant Muslims. These Muslims appear to have returned to their home countries, probably in response to the post-9/11 climate of fear and distrust of Muslims.

Table 3: Self-Identification of US Adult Population by Religious Tradition:
1990: 527,000; 0.3%
2001: 1,104,000; 0.5%
2008: 1,349,000; 0.6%

The Muslim population doubled during the 1990s but its growth in numbers now seems to be slowing. The size and proportion of the Muslim population has often been debated but the ARIS numbers closely resemble the recent findings of the General Social Survey and the 2007 Pew Religious Landscape Survey. (p. 7)

I suspect that the slowing in the Muslim growth rate is due to the departure of a significant number of the immigrant community for their home countries in the post-9/11 environment. The drop in number of adult Muslim college graduates (see results for Table 11 below) would seem to confirm this brain drain.

Table 7: Gender Composition of the Religious Traditions, 2008:
52% male, 48% female

The male gender bias found among the minority religious traditions such as Muslims and the Eastern Religions is due to the high proportion of young immigrant males in these groups. (p. 11)

Table 8: Age Composition of the Religious Traditions, 2008 (National Averages):
18-29: 42% (22%)
30-49: 45% (38%)
50-69: 12% (28%)
70+: 1% (12%)

The age profile of the minority Eastern religions and Islam, which as previously noted were disproportionately male, shows they are also very young with about 40 percent of their adult adherents under age 30. This reflects their largely recent immigrant origins. (p. 12)

Tables 7 and 8 don't really surprise me; Islam in America is a "young" religion not only because of the numbers of Muslim immigrants who have entered the U.S. over the decades but also because most native-born American reverts to Islam are relatively young as well. (I think it's rare to find most anyone who's converted to another religion after the age of 40.) I suspect the older categories, 50-69 and 70+, are mostly black American Muslims who came to Islam through the Nation of Islam in the 60s and 70s.

Table 9: Marital Status of the Religious Traditions, 2008 (National Average):
Single, never married: 36% (25%)
Single, living with partner: 11% (NA)
Married: 42% (56%)
Divorced/Separated: 10% (13%)
Widowed: 1% (6%)

Thus as Table 8 shows, traditions such as Muslim, Eastern Religions, and None, with many young adherents, would be expected to and do contain large proportions of single, never-married adults.

Cohabitation or “living with a partner” is more prevalent among younger people than older persons so we should expect traditions with a younger age profile to have greater proportions of those just “living together”. This appears to be true as this phenomenon is more prevalent towards the bottom of Table 9 and highest among the NRM [New Religion Movements], Muslim and None traditions while it is very low among the Mormon and conservative Protestant Denomination traditions. (p. 13)

Of all the categories I find the "Single, living with partner" to be the most confusing. I think when most people read "living with partner" they assume it means a man and a woman living together in a sexual relationship without having married ("living in sin"). However, I would be extremely surprised if this was the case for Muslim Americans. I suspect the real situation is that the vast majority of these people are living together in platonic single-sex arrangements in order to save on expenses. (I did the same for quite a few years, even after graduating from college.) Once again, the fact that most Muslim Americans are young, with almost half being either college-age or college graduates establishing their careers, would seem to bear this conclusion out.

Table 11: Percentage of College Graduates in the Population Age 25 and Over by Religious Tradition, 1990-2008 (National Average):
1990: 41% (21%)
2008: 35% (27%)

There was no significant conclusion written by the authors, other than to acknowledge the decline in the number of Muslim college graduates residing in the U.S. I think the reason for this decline is fairly obvious: After 9/11, the U.S. government made admission into American colleges and universities extremely difficult for foreign students, not just for Muslims but for everyone. (When I lived in Korea, almost all my students were heading to universities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.; only a handful tried to get into the U.S. Obtaining an American student visa at that time was nearly impossible.) Likewise, I suspect that most Muslim college graduates who are immigrants have had to leave the U.S. over the years due to difficulties in obtaining employment permits, Islamophobic harassment by American co-workers and managers, etc. However, it is interesting to note that, like the results found in the recent survey by Gallup (Muslim Americans: A National Portrait), Muslims are still much better educated than Americans in general.

March 10, 2009

Are You Annoyingly Happy?

Good news! Help is on the way!

I got a kick out of the list of "natural treatments for the gratingly upbeat" (at the 1:36 mark):
* Following the news
* Visiting rest homes
* Considering man's impact on nature
* Looking at bank account
* Thinking about how old you are, how little you've accomplished
* Interacting with Kinko's employees

From The Onion; HT: WTF Is It Now?!?

March 9, 2009

Map of Muslims in China

I came across this map a few weeks ago at Ibn Ayyub's blog, but neglected to mention it here. The map was created by Wang Daiyu, who writes the Islam in China blog and has recently created an Islam in China webzine. Both are very interesting if you've never visited there before.

Map of Muslims in China
The number of Muslims of Chinese descent in Singapore is very, very tiny. Per the "Census of Population 2000 - Demographic Characteristics" report, the number of Chinese Muslims here was 0.3% of the Chinese population as of 2000. That comes out to be roughly 7,500 Chinese Muslims over the age of 15. Milady has occasionally pointed out to me those Chinese Muslims whom she knows, but I haven't really had the chance to talk to them.

March 6, 2009

The Daily Show on the Financial Crisis

"If I had only followed CNBC's advice, I'd have a million dollars today, provided I'd started with $100 million."
-- Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

All of Wednesday's show was devoted to the current financial crisis. The first segment is the best (and several of the political blogs I read have put up this video as well). Idiot Rick Santelli of CNBC recently ranted about the possibility of "loser homeowners" getting financial relief on their "underwater" mortgages while conveniently forgetting that the financial industry has received over $2 trillion in bailout money. Stewart rips CNBC a huge one when Santelli "bailed out" of appearing on the show.

The second segment is on the stupid right wing meme that President Obama is somehow responsible for the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been plummeting over the past few months, once again conveniently forgetting how much the stock market had plunged in the last year (especially in the months of September and October) of the Bush misadministration. I did have a good laugh at the idea of a stock ticker running over Obama's eyes. ;)

The last segment is an interview Stewart has with Joe Nocera, financial columnist for The New York Times. Overall, I must say that I'm surprised that The Daily Show took as long as they did to cover the nonsense spewed at CNBC; a number of blogs on economics and politics that I read have been criticizing CNBC for a couple months now.

Update: As Think Progress reports, CNBC and Rick Santelli are clamming up, trying to wait out the storm created by Jon Stewart and The Daily Show by declining comment. In the meantime, Stewart appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and discussed the situation a little more:

March 5, 2009

Heldentica Font

Heldentica fontEver wonder how people create some of those funky fonts? Autobahn, a small Dutch graphic design company, has created three new fonts available for free download: Heldentica (pictured above, made from toothpaste), Tomatica (made from ketchup), and Gelvetica (made from gel). What's nice is that they show how the font was created step-by-step. Check it out!

HT: Advertising is Good for You

Rush Limbaugh: Ugly Bonehead Eastern European Gangster

Is Rush getting all the skewering he deserves? I don't think so. ;)

March 2, 2009

The Illustrated "Plain Vanilla Islam"

I thought I'd try to go through the idea of "plain vanilla Islam" once more, incorporating some of my responses to BamBam's comments from the other day (see here and here), but illustrating my points in a simple way that, insha'allah, will make everything more clear.

For me, Islam is like plain vanilla ice cream. The fundamentals of the religion are simple and easy to understand. And in my travels around the world, I've met Muslims from about two dozen countries so far: North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia. What I find remarkable is that the vast majority of these Muslims have the same understanding of the religion, despite the decentralized nature of the Islamic "hierarchy" (if you can call it that), the differences between cultures and ethnicities, and the distances between people.

Of course there are some differences, but these are primarily in the details. The different madhahib (schools of thought), especially among the Sunni, all have the same basic understanding of Islam, regardless of whether one is Shafi'i...

...or Maliki...

...or any other madhahib. The essence of Islam remains the same.

Likewise, those among the Shia, the Ja'fari and the Zaydi...

...and those who practice real Tasawwuf (Sufism), also have the same basic understanding of Islam.

The questions that arose, that triggered the various posts and comments I've written, were: "What do you think of the label “western Islam”? Do you think it exists or will exist?" And my original response (part of it, anyway) was:

Does “Western Islam” exist or could it exist in the future, insha’allah? I would certainly hope not! Islam doesn’t need any innovations of that sort, especially if it’s along the lines of the disaster that was “progressive Islam.” Islam, as it was created and continues to be practiced, serves the needs of Muslims worldwide best without any need for bida. I know that for some people, the temptation to meddle with Islam by attaching other man-made doctrines is strong, but a desire to create a westernized version of Islam is not only wrong, it’s irrelevant.

"Progressive Islam," which has mostly died a merciful death, was a perversion along the lines of Fish Ice Cream: sure you can make it like that, but who would want to eat it? (The classic joke about Clamato, told by the late Richard Jeni, also comes to mind.)

Likewise, BamBam's suggestion that perhaps the Nation of Islam (NOI) might be considered "Western Islam" is, to me, also a misguided idea. No orthodox Muslim whom I know of would consider the NOI (or the Submitters, the Ahmadiyya, etc.) to be within the fold of Islam. In economic terms, these groups are comparable to inferior goods, goods that serve a similar purpose to normal goods, but aren't the genuine article.