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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

Islamist Politics and Turkey's Disunity

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

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

The Islamist atrocities in Paris on November 13 have overshadowed a different but relevant crisis in radical Muslim politics. In Turkey, on November 1, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regained its parliamentary majority. AKP had lost its control over the national legislature in June, when its representation fell from 327 to 258 out of 550. Erdoğan's followers have now clawed back to 317 seats.

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The Dayton Accords at 20
But there's little to celebrate.

Stephen Schwartz  •  November 23, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard

The Dayton accords, formally signed in December 1995, have reached their twentieth anniversary. Dayton is commonly portrayed as a "peace agreement" for war-torn Bosnia-Hercegovina and an outstanding achievement of Bill Clinton's administration. The accords were an achievement; the war ended. Yet close scrutiny reveals a shabby aftermath.

The Dayton negotiations halted combat between Bosnian Muslims (many of whom prefer to be identified as Bosniaks rather than by religion), Bosnian Serbs, and Bosnian Croats. The war began in the spring of 1992 and was mainly fought between Serb aggressors and Bosniak defenders, with the Croats ambivalent allies of the Bosniaks.

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The New Paris Horror and the Putin Trap

Stephen Schwartz and Irfan Al-Alawi  •  November 19, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

The November 13 terrorist assault on Paris, which left at least 129 dead and 451 injured, has had a similar aftermath as its predecessors. The September 11, 2001 attack on New York and Washington, the March 11, 2004 bombing of the Madrid metro system, the London Underground bombings of July 7 and July 21, 2005 - were all carried out by members of Al-Qaida or their sympathizers. The Mumbai terror onslaught of November 25-29, 2008 was committed by the Pakistan-based ally of Al-Qaida, Lashkar e-Taiba. Sundry episodes of homicide and destruction have been perpetrated by radical Muslims across the Middle East and in the West during the past 14 years.

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Francis in Sarajevo

Stephen Schwartz  •  November 2015  •  First Things

On Saturday, June 6, Pope Francis ­visited Sarajevo, the ­capital of partitioned Bosnia-Hercegovina. Although treated by international media as a typical papal tour, the event strengthened the potential of the Croat Catholic hierarchy in Bosnia to serve as agents of peace and reconciliation. This is notable in a nation torn asunder, during the 1992–95 Bosnian war, between Bosnian Muslims (also called "Bosniaks"), Bosnian Croat Catholics, and Bosnian Serbian Orthodox Christians. To an outsider, this heated and complex religious landscape is often difficult to understand.

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Blood and Ballots in Turkey

Stephen Schwartz and Veli Sirin  •  October 26, 2015  •  TheWorldPost [The Huffington Post and Berggruen Institute on Governance]

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

The Turkish Republic will hold new parliamentary elections for the second time this year on November 1, following the failure of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to maintain a legislative majority. Ballots cast on June 7 reduced the AKP's share of seats to 258 out of 550, the party's first loss of control over the governing body since 2002.

In addition, a new force, the People's Democratic Party (HDP), mainly comprising Turkish Kurds, won 80 seats in June. The traditional secularist Republican People's Party (CHP) gained 132, and the ultra-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) also elected 80 deputies.

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review of Hitler's Shadow Empire: Nazi Economics and the Spanish Civil War

Stephen Schwartz  •  October 26, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard

The Spanish Civil War is among the 20th-century military conflicts about which the most continues to be published, and in many languages. Often, new volumes on the three-year (1936-39) bloodbath recapitulate old themes: the ideological drama of fascist militarism versus a leftist republic; subversion of the republic by its alleged allies in Moscow; and heart-rending details of cruelty, on both sides of the trenches.

Hitler's Shadow Empire is one of few recent studies offering fresh information, specifically describing German trade in the Franco-controlled zone. While it is typically assumed that Nazi Germany, like Stalinist Russia, became involved in the Spanish Civil War for ideological reasons, Pierpaolo Barbieri, an economic analyst, shows that the motives of the two main powers were quite different. His research took him to the German and Spanish archives, as well as those of Italy, Germany's partner in supporting the Spanish Nationalists.

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Ashura Greetings – 10th of Muharram 1437 A.H.

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz  •  October 24, 2015  •  Illyria [New York]

The Center for Islamic Pluralism extends greetings to Muslim believers on the 10th of Muharram for the Islamic hijri year 1437, corresponding to October 24, 2015.

The 10th of Muharram is a time of sad reflection and atonement of sin for Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims in the Balkans, Turkey and Central Asia, and many spiritual Sufis.

It commemorates the death at the battle of Karbala in 680 CE of Imam Husayn, may Allah be well-pleased with him, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

At Karbala, Imam Husayn and his small band of followers were slain by the powerful supporters of the Umayyad caliphate. The martyrs led by Husayn called for an end to tyrannical rule by the Umayyads.

Today, Ashura has multiple dimensions in the real world.

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The vicious theology that links Saudi Arabia and ISIS

Irfan Al-Alawi  •  October 14, 2015  •  Lapido Media

If one were to judge all Muslims or all Arabs by the destruction of ancient monuments in Syria and Iraq by the so-called 'Islamic State', and to evaluate these crimes as intrinsic to Arab culture or Islam, one would be mistaken.

Many Muslim countries have preserved their pre-Islamic, non-Islamic, and old Islamic heritage.

Morocco, Jordan, and Indonesia are outstanding examples of lands whose governments work to protect their historical legacies.

Morocco's classical Islamic cities of Fez, Marrakesh, Rabat and Meknes are maintained in pristine condition.

The four were capitals of the Moroccan Berber empires.

Fez dates from the 9th century C.E., Marrakesh was built in the 11th century C.E., Rabat was founded in the 12th century C.E., and Meknes in the 17th century C.E.

Jordan is famous for the ruins at Petra, which were cut into rock and date from before the common era.

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A Rendezvous in Belarus

Stephen Schwartz  •  October 14, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

On November 8, the Nobel Prize for literature was bestowed on the Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich, aged 67. It was among the few instances in which the work of the laureate was focused outside the traditional areas of poetry, fiction, and drama.

The literary Nobel, which is awarded by the Swedish Academy, has, in recent decades, often been seen as a symbol of solidarity with dissidents. Most famously, the Prize was granted in 1958 to the Russian poet Boris Pasternak, for his novel Dr. Zhivago. But Pasternak was forbidden to go to Stockholm and was compelled to decline the honor.

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Kyrgyzstan Holds a Democratic Election

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

On Sunday, October 4, the Central Asian former-Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan held national elections to its 120-member parliament. The main incumbent party, the reforming Social Democrats (SDPK) were returned to power, and the ruling president, Almazbek Atambayev, who is their leader, gained a second term. But the previous administration was replaced, and the polling was certified and praised enthusiastically by international observers.

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Is the beleaguered Saudi kingdom headed for collapse?

Irfan Al-Alawi  •  October 7, 2015  •  Lapido Media

Repeatedly, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia faces predictions of deep social crisis. The bases for such forecasts – none of which has yet come true – are legitimate and numerous.

Saudi Arabia is a flagrant violator of human rights, especially of women and religious minorities such as Shia Muslims.

The rigidly purist Wahhabi ideology that originated in central Arabia 250 years ago has suffocated the traditional spirituality of Mecca and Medina and is established as the official Saudi form of Islam.

Wahhabism claims the mantle of Sunnism, an allegation contested by many conventional Sunnis.

In a metastasised form, Wahhabism is now visible in the horrific atrocities committed by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

The income gap between the Saudi royal family and ordinary citizens is egregious, although specific data are lacking because of the absence of transparency in Saudi society.

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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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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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