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"Surely, those who believe, and the Jews and the Christians and the Sabians, whoever have faith with true hearts in Allah and in the Last-day and do good deeds, their reward is with their Lord, and there shall be no fear for them nor any grief."

— Qur'an 2:62

Latest from CIP

Macedonian Filmmaker Revives Memory of Earlier Refugees

Stephen Schwartz  •  September 29, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

The Balkan Republic of Macedonia, with two million residents, has a slender profile in world affairs. Although it went through a bruising internal political struggle earlier this year, as the months passed by, it has made international news only as a way station for the refugee flood from the Middle East, via Greece to its south and Serbia to its north, heading for Austria, Germany, and Sweden.

Macedonia has an older refugee history, which has been carefully and beautifully reconstructed by a domestic filmmaker. That chronicle involves the Sephardim. These were Spanish and Portuguese Jews expelled from their homes in the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the 15th century and resettled in the dominions, at that time, of the Ottoman sultan: Macedonia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Serbia, along with Turkey.

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Schwartz Letter to Financial Times: Muslim women heads of state

Stephen Schwartz  •  September 25, 2015  •  Financial Times [London]

Sir, Your writer asserts, in "Ameenah Gurib-Fakim set to make her mark as president" (Investing in Mauritius, Special Report, September 23), that Ms Gurib-Fakim is 'the world's first female Muslim head of state'. This is inaccurate. In Indonesia, Megawati Sukarnoputri was president from 2001 to 2004, and Atifete Jahjaga has been president of Kosovo since 2011.

Stephen Schwartz

Executive Director,

Center for Islamic Pluralism,

San Francisco, CA, US


review of Shi'i Islam: An Introduction

Stephen Schwartz  •  Fall 2015  •  Middle East Quarterly

Haider's volume is by no means an introduction to the Shiite tradition in Islam. Rather, it is the author's analysis of features of Shiism that have drawn his attention, emphasizing details that for a reader little acquainted with the sect will likely be difficult to follow and of little interest.

According to his Columbia University website biography, Haider is an assistant professor of religion at Barnard College, and his courses "bridge the gap between the classical and modern Muslim worlds with a particular emphasis on the impact of colonization on Islamic political and religious discourse." Haider is, therefore, not only fond of the more obscure aspects of Shiism but fashionably leftist and occasionally post-modernist in his approach.

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When Jewish and Islamic Holy Days Coincide

Stephen Schwartz  •  September 14, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

This year - 2015 by the common era (C.E.) calendar - includes an alignment at mid-September of the main holy days in the Jewish and Islamic calendars. At sundown on September 13, Jews observed the first of their High Holy Days, and their recognized commencement of the new year, Rosh Hashanah (first and second days of the month of Tishrei for the Hebrew year 5776). After 10 days, Jews will observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, beginning at sundown on September 22.

Muslims will participate in Hajj, during which pilgrims who are able to do so and can afford it, will travel to Mecca. The rituals in the holy city will begin on the eighth day of the hajj month, Zu'l Hijjah, for the Islamic hijri year 1436, corresponding to September 20, according to lunar observation. Hajj will end on the evening of September 24. Muslims will then celebrate Eid ul-Adha or Kurban Bayram, the feast of sacrifice.

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Death by Water in the Mediterranean

Stephen Schwartz  •  September 12, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

The photo of 3-year old Aylan Kurdi, drowned on a Turkish beach, elicited declarations of concern from media around the world. Aylan's brother Galip, 5, and their mother Rehanna died in the same incident. After four years of civil war in Syria, we were told, the horrific photograph would awaken the world's powers to the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and Iraq.

Don't bet on it. Four million Syrians have been forced by war to flee into neighboring countries, out of a total pre-war population of some 22 million, with 10 million more displaced internally. Atrocities have proliferated, from the gasoline-loaded barrel bombs dropped on civilian neighborhoods by the minions of dictator Bashar al-Assad to the ghastly public mass executions committed by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). The campaign by the ultra-Wahhabis of ISIS to destroy pre-Islamic cultural monuments of which they disapprove has also continued.

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The Crimes at Palmyra

Stephen Schwartz and Irfan Al-Alawi  •  September 3, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

The world, and especially moderate, traditional, spiritual, conventional and even conservative -- but few radical -- Muslims have watched in dismay as the spurious "Islamic State" (ISIS) has undertaken the systematic destruction of the pre-Islamic monuments at Palmyra in Syria. ISIS terrorists have blown up ancient temples that were designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1980.

The pretext for these despicable acts is, according to ISIS, that preservation of global cultural heritage encourages "idol-worship." That is absurd. The religion for which most of the structures at Palmyra were built no longer exists. ISIS and those like it attacked the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, using the same rhetoric. The WTC was, according to Al-Qaida, a symbol of the worship of money.

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review of The Life and Work of Sheh Tahir Kanaqi

Stephen Sylejman Schwartz  •  August 27, 2015  •  Illyria [New York]

Sheh Tahir Kanaqi, a representative of the Rufai [Sunni] Sufi order (tariqat), lived from 1908 to 1985. He is one of the most important representatives of the Islamic meditative tradition in the Albanian lands and the former Yugoslavia.

He was born in the village of Kraja, in Ostrosi e vogël, an Albanian region that was seized by Montenegro (Mal i Zi) in 1912. His beloved homeland, whence he directed his teaching, is near to Virpazar and overlooks Lake Shkodër. It is supremely peaceful and beautiful, although conflict between Albanians and Montenegrins has scarred the land repeatedly. But as a Sufi, sheh Tahir Kanaqi recognized as his spiritual duty the reconciliation of all human beings, the task to which he dedicated his life.

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review of American Apostles: When Evangelicals Entered the World of Islam

Stephen Schwartz  •  August 25, 2015  •  First Things Blog

The author of this book, a professor of history at the University of Delaware, is an academic of diverse interests, having published volumes on the maritime communities of colonial Massachusetts and the origins of fervent Protestantism in the American South. She is also married to a retired Pentagon official who survived the terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001.

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Robert Conquest, Stalinism, and the Soviet Muslims

Stephen Schwartz  •  August 11, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

On August 3, the Anglo-American poet and historian Robert Conquest died in California at 98. According to The Daily Telegraph in London, Conquest's father Roger was an American from Virginia, while his mother Rosamund was English, and Robert was born in the West Midlands of England.

Conquest was a genuine citizen of the world and the outstanding chronicler of the crimes of Stalinist Russia. He is probably best known for his path-breaking 1968 volume, The Great Terror: Stalin's Purges of the 1930s, on the massacres that ravaged the Russian political, intellectual, and military leadership. The study was a revelation to numerous leftists, as it detailed in unchallengeable facts the campaign by Stalin to destroy the leaders of the Russian army - when Russia faced, in Nazi Germany, the most dangerous enemy in the history of the nation.

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review of Trieste

Stephen Schwartz  •  August 10, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard

Daša Drndić, a Croatian, has gained respect in her country as a novelist, literary critic, and playwright. After teaching in Canada and completing a master's degree in communications in the United States, thanks to a Fulbright grant, she now teaches philosophy at the University of Rijeka.

With Trieste, a novel in the "neo-Borgesian" style—merging history, personal anecdotes, and fictional meditations—Drndić has written a great work, adding significantly to our knowledge of the Holocaust in German-occupied Europe. Centering her narrative in Trieste, the port at the north of the Adriatic Sea, she has produced a harrowing volume. Trieste is not for the faint-hearted, but it is a necessary and virtuous chronicle.

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Center for Islamic Pluralism Eid Al-Fitr Greetings, 1436/2015

Center for Islamic Pluralism  •  July 17, 2015  •  CIP

At the conclusion of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, hijri year 1436, common year 2015, the Center for Islamic Pluralism wishes a blessed Eid to Muslims everywhere. May the times to come liberate us from the plague of violent, extremist ideology, and bring peace between Muslims and other communities throughout the world.

Eid Mubarak!

Bajram Šerif Mubarek Olsun!


The Srebrenica Massacre, 20 Years On

Stephen Schwartz  •  July 9, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Twenty years have now passed since the brutal subjugation of the besieged town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia-Hercegovina, after which 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Serbs commanded by ex-Yugoslav army general Ratko Mladić. The terrible episode is itself worth commemorating, and its background also merits review for what it reveals about Western – and, especially, Clinton administration – policy toward the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.

When the Bosnian war began in 1992 – during the withdrawal of ex-Yugoslav forces from Croatia and after Bosnia-Hercegovina declared independence – Srebrenica was mainly Muslim, with members of that faith accounting for about 64 percent of the town residents, Orthodox Christian Serbs at 28 percent, and the rest identified as Catholic Croats, Yugoslavs, or "other."

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The Writings of Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi

Stephen Schwartz and Irfan Al-Alawi  •  July 8, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

In 2012, Raif Badawi, a blogger in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) who is now 31, was arrested in his native land and charged with offenses ranging from parental disobedience to cyber-crime and apostasy from Islam. Badawi had written in Arab media and established a website, "Free Saudi Liberals." When he was jailed, the site was closed by the Saudi regime.

His detention then was not the first action by the KSA against Badawi. As noted by Human Rights Watch, he was held for one day in 2008 after launching the "Free Saudi Liberals" site, and, in 2009, was banned from travelling abroad, with a freeze of his financial assets.

After a trial in 2013, Badawi was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. But the outcome of an appeal, in 2014, was worse: his punishment was increased to 10 years in jail and 1,000 strokes of a whip, with a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (about $267,000).

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On the sixth anniversary of unrest in Urumchi, Uyghur American Association calls for transparency
Uyghur families no closer to discovering truth about relatives killed and disappeared

by The Uyghur American Association  •  June 30, 2015  •  Uyghur Human Rights Project and Uyghur American Association

[Note: The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Uyghur American Association.]

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) calls on the Chinese government to respect the principle of transparency and provide comprehensive details on the fates of Uyghurs killed and forcibly disappeared during the July 5, 2009 unrest and the days following.

Official narratives of the unrest have avoided any discussion of human rights violations committed by Chinese security forces and a broad examination of discriminatory policies in East Turkestan as a contributing factor. Accounts offered by non-state sources have been censored and the individuals responsible for them punished.

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Kosova vs. Iranians and ISIS

Stephen Schwartz  •  June 30, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

On Wednesday, June 24, as reported by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), a foreign-funded news agency, the government of Kosova sent police to raid the offices of five Iranian-controlled non-governmental organizations in the Balkan country.

Kosova authorities said the five entities are suspected of money laundering and financing terrorism, and that action against them conforms to a state anti-extremist strategy. "The raids are tied to a case that is being investigated . . . , with the goal of preventing and fighting terrorism in the Republic of Kosova," an official representative said.

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Turkey: Hope and Fear

Stephen Schwartz and Veli Sirin  •  June 23, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

[Veli Sirin is European director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism.]

Two weeks have passed since the legislative elections of June 7 marked a major shift in the recent history of Turkey. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP in Turkish), headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, lost its parliamentary majority, declining to 258 out of 550 seats. Opposition parties of the left and right profited from AKP's setback. The secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), in the first category, rose to 132 members. The ultra-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), with an ugly history of political and ethnic violence under the name of the "Grey Wolves," nonetheless elected 80 deputies, an increase of 29. But the wonder of the polls was the emergence of the People's Democratic Party (HDP), a coalition of Kurds, secularists, leftists, heterodox Alevi Muslims, and former supporters of the AKP, with 80 lawmakers.

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The Bektashi Sufis Should Join the Kosova Sufi Union [BTK]

Stephen Sylejman Schwartz  •  June 22, 2015  •  Illyria [New York]

Baba Musa Qazim Bakalli, who died in 1981 aged 101, was one of the greatest personalities in the spiritual history of Kosova. Today his Bektashi Sufi teqe [meeting house, pl. teqet] in Gjakova, devastated by Serbs during the 1998-99 Kosova liberation war, has been restored magnificently, and the street on which it stands is named for him. When I visited the then-ruined teqe, in 1999, I was told by its current Baba, Mumin Lama, that the loss of the library at the facility, burned in the destructive attack, was especially hard to bear. Its irreplaceable holdings included a 1,000 page manuscript in which Baba Qazim described his visit, on foot, to India, whence he was drawn by curiosity about Buddhism.

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Ramadan in Kerala, India

Suhail Hussain  •  June 18, 2015  •  CIP

[In posting this article the Center for Islamic Pluralism wishes Ramadan Mubarak/Ramadan Karim to Muslims everywhere.]

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan brings days of spiritual joy, illuminating a special, devotional love and an affection for all of humanity. In the Indian state of Kerala, a clear truth encompasses the festivities of Ramadan. It joins the sacrifice of fasting with the glorification of Islamic mercy.

From dawn to dusk during Ramadan in Kerala worship takes place. Kerala Muslims are activists. The discourse of Ramadan reinforces the stability of the social order while expressing the encounter of Islam with modernity. Archetypal urdis or vernacular spiritual sermons, embodying the progress of enlightenment, begin with the first day of Ramadan. Religious students in south India supported this practice in an effort to make Ramadan a month of opportunity.

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Confronting FGM in Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan

Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz  •  June 17, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) exists in the Islamic Republic of Iran even while the redoubt of clerical dictatorship is absent from a recent survey of FGM in 29 countries, published by UNICEF. The UN agency examined states in Africa and the Middle East. The UNICEF document did not specify them in full, but named eleven. Four – Djibouti, Egypt. Guinea, and Somalia – are Muslim, and feature "universal" incidence of FGM, or a rate above 90 percent of all women.

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Macedonia Mischief
Nothing good ever came from rivalry and hatred.

Stephen Schwartz  •  June 15, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard


In Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell described, on his return to Barcelona after serving in the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, "an unmistakable and horrible feeling of political rivalry and hatred" in the Catalan capital. During a late-May visit to Skopje/Shkupi, capital of the independent Republic of Macedonia, something similar was in the air.

In April and May, Macedonia was in upheaval. Forty armed men raided a police station in Goshince, on the border with Kosova, April 21. That event was blamed on a marginal group calling itself the National Liberation Army, organized from among Macedonia's Albanian minority. On May 8, in the northern city of Kumanova, an outbreak of fighting left 8 police officers and 14 rebels dead. Macedonian authorities arrested 30 in the affair—18 from Kosova, 2 Macedonian Albanians living in Kosova, 9 citizens of Macedonia, and 1 Albanian citizen living in Germany.

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The Sheikh AlIslam Fil-Balad Al-Haram Al-Sharif
The Sheikh Al-Islam Fil-Balad Al-Haram Al-Sharif

Salaat ul-janaza [Funeral service] of Sayyid Muhammad ibn Alawi Al Maliki, The Grand Mosque in Mecca, October 2004
Salaat ul-janaza [Funeral service] of Sayyid Muhammad ibn Alawi Al Maliki, The Grand Mosque in Mecca, October 2004

Islam's past
Islam Past: Turkish mosque in Romania
Turkish mosque in Romania
Photos: Stephen Schwartz

Islam's present
Islam the Present Wahhabi vandalism at mosque in Kosova
Wahhabi vandalism at mosque in Kosova

Islam's future
Islam's Future: New mosque in Kazakhstan
New mosque in Kazakhstan

Audio Presentation
Yasawi Shrine
Seek healing in Sufism
by Yasawi Sufi Saparbai Kushkarov of Uzbekistan,
in Uzbek, Russian,
English, and Arabic

Video Presentation
Bin Yilin Turkusu - Saga of the Millennium
Bin Yilin Turkusu
(Saga of the Millennium)

Homage to Seyed Khalil Alinejad
"Homage to Seyed Khalil Alinejad"
Artwork © Jennifer Pawlak
No reproduction or reposting without permission of CIP.

Marje Sistani
Obey your country's laws, Marje Ali Sistani urges Muslims in West.

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
Stephen Suleyman Schwartz:
Why I Serve as Executive Director of CIP

© 2015 Center for Islamic Pluralism.

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