Returning Soon

Apologies for the unexplained hiatus.  Normal blogging will resume shortly.

Eid Mubarak!

Whether you are celebrating today or tomorrow, we wish all our friends and readers a very happy and blessed Eid ul-Adha.

Brass Crescent Awards

Austrolabe has won the Best Group Blog category in the annual Brass Crescent Awards.

A big thanks to everybody that voted for us and congratulations to all the other winners and honourable mentions.

Brass Crescent Awards: Voting now open

Voting has begun for this year’s Brass Crescent awards and, for some reason, Austrolabe has been nominated in the Best Group Blog category. Jazak Allah khair to all those people (assuming, of course, that there was more than one of you) who nominated us.

Click here if you want to vote.

And then they came for the political scientists

Turkey is often held up by some unimaginative politicians and commentators as a successful reconciliation of Islam and secularism that the rest of the Muslim world should imitate. Perhaps the treatment of Turkish libertarian academic Dr. Atilla Yalya — no “Islamist” by any means — for simply referring to Ataturk as “this man” will give them cause to reconsider their support of the Kemalist state?

Continue reading →

The Future of Australian Islam?

On Sunday, ABC2’s Asia-Pacific Focus program featured a story entitled, The Future of Australia’s Muslim Community. Although ABC2 is a digital station and therefore not as popular as the free-to-air ABC channel, this program arguably offered one of the more interesting insights into the federal government’s relationship with particular groups within the Muslim community. Most notably, it explores the role of a sect known as al-Ahbash (Habashies) that, despite being a minority within the Muslim community and rejected by many Muslim groups, have managed to become, in the words of the program, the Australian government’s “preferred model of Islam”.

The transcript can be found here.

The key question, for me, isn’t whether al-Habash should be the “preferred model of Islam” but why should a secular government have any preference at all?

UPDATE: Due to relentless comments spamming by members of al-Ahbash I’ve had to turn comments off.

UPDATE 2: Yusuf Smith has posted a link to a very interesting summary and discussion of the group and their beliefs that was posted to Usenet some years ago by Idris Palmer.

UPDATE 3: Irfan Yusuf makes some disturbing allegations against a member of the Prime Minister’s Muslim Community Reference Group:

This favouritism has led to suggestions that the government is openly favouring projects of the al-Ahbash sect in distributing funds for its $30 million-plus program to combat extremism and promote harmony. Now a former member of the executive of the Islamic Charitable Projects Association (an al-Ahbash front body) and of the Prime Minister’s Muslim Reference Group now publicly boasting on Muslim e-mail lists of receiving otherwise confidential information by people he describes as “DIMA bureaucrats”.

Admin Note: Comments Plugin?

In light of a recent but now temporarily removed post in which three people decided to flood the moderation queue with abusive and profanity-laden remarks, I am wondering if anybody can recommend a Wordpress plugin for managing comments. Firstly, it needs to allow people to be banned based on IP address or email and, secondly, incorporate some sort of filter for profanity. If it allowed some users to be put on moderate and others to be allowed to post freely, that would be good too.

If anybody can recommend a Wordpress plugin to handle this, please let me know via the comments. Once I figure out a way to manage this increasingly frustrating issue, normal service will be restored insha’Allah.

Sheikh Taj offers ‘explanatory statement’

The latest development in the Sheikh Taj is that the sheikh has been admitted to hospital after an angina attack at Lakemba Mosque this afternoon.  Since then, he has released a statement which is available in PDF form at The Sydney Morning Herald or at the website of the Lebanese Muslim Association.

Visit Medina without leaving home

Hood Bradford has prepared a virtual tour of Medina using the popular Google Earth application. After downloading and installing Google Earth, simply download and open this file and you will flying over the City of the Prophet in seconds. Visit Hood’s site for a listing of all the sites currently included in the tour.

Latest Episode of the Ameer Ali saga

The former head of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils and current chairman of the Prime Minister’s Muslim Community Reference Group (MCRG) was interviewed by Stephen Crittenden on the ABC’s Religion Report this morning about his most recent controversy. It certainly makes interesting listening (listen/download here). Take particular note of the closing questions where one can hear someone else in the background seemingly telling Ameer Ali what to say.

As Crittenden says at the conclusion:

I don’t know about you, but I had the peculiar sensation that I was interviewing two Dr Alis there.

And after reading Dr Ali’s letter to The Australian and his letter to the Muslim community, one can understand how he feels.