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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

Should U.S. Facilitate Tourism in Turkmenistan?

Stephen Schwartz  •  November 18, 2014  •  TheWorldPost [Huffington Post and Berggruen Institute on Governance]

The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) is a branch of the U.S. State Department. Since 2001, AFCP has granted millions of dollars to countries around the world, for conservation of historic religious and other structures and institutions. The Fund was established by Congress under Public Law 106-553 with administration by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The aim of AFCP was to create "a new approach to American public diplomacy... the Ambassador's Fund is the only cultural preservation program in the U.S. government to provide direct 'small grant' support to heritage preservation in less-developed countries." Some grants, however, are not small. Through ECA, AFCP has issued public reports on its grant awards since 2001.

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Saudi Arabia Challenged on Women Driving by Protest

Stephen Schwartz  •  November 17, 2014  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

As Saudi Arabia undergoes its slow process of change, the matter of women and motor vehicles remains crucial. On October 24, Saudi women were summoned by a social media campaign to take to the roads in cars they own, typically, but do not drive.

The demonstration was called to mark the anniversary of last year's protest by female drivers. On that occasion, at least 60 Saudi women operated cars in public. Since the desert monarchy is the only country in the world that forbids women from driving, a small number created a large sensation.

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"Sheikh Google's" Radical Islam

Irfan Al-Alawi  •  November 16, 2014  •  Gatestone Institute

As informed Muslims know, present-day radical Islamists have proven adept at using the internet – far more than have their moderate and Western opponents. "Internet savvy" jihadism appears as evidence of the youthful constituency of the extremists. They have grown up with the internet, video games, and other online diversions. When fanatical ideology takes hold of them, the internet is one of the obvious places for the process to begin.

In an important 2003 article in The Weekly Standard, entitled "The Islamic Terrorism Club," Stephen Schwartz, wrote about some of the more obnoxious pro-jihad Arabic-language websites then operating from Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The jihad-net expanded considerably in the decade that followed.

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Jailed Iranian Ayatollah Calls Regime 'Worse and More Evil than ISIS or the Taliban'

Stephen Schwartz  •  November 11, 2014  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Ayatollah Seyed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi has been imprisoned in his native land since 2006. In a statement on November 7, he announced a hunger strike from his cell in Tehran's Evin House of Detention, notorious for the political and spiritual dissidents held and abused there.

Boroujerdi's meditations appeared on the occasion of Ashura, which recalls the murder in the 7th century of Imam Hussein, grandson of Muhammad and an opponent of the reigning Islamic caliphate, at the Battle of Karbala in Iraq. Ashura and the remembrance of Karbala--a time for mourning rather than a holiday--are especially prominent in Shia Islam.

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Ashura In the Shadow of New Terrorism

Stephen Schwartz  •  November 3, 2014  •  The Huffington Post

The Muslim religious observance of Ashura - the 10th day of Muharram, the month that commences the Islamic lunar year - began on the evening of Sunday, November 2, 2014, and extends through Monday, November 3, by Western reckoning.

Ashura marks the death at the battle of Karbala, in Iraq in 680 CE, of Imam Husayn, grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and 72 of Husayn's followers. The first ten days of Muharram are dedicated by many Muslims, but especially by adherents of the Shia tradition, to sorrow for the tragedy of Karbala.

While Ashura is a day of grief, rather than a festival, in Turkey and among the Bektashi Muslims of the Albanian lands, fasting for Ashura is followed by consumption of a special pudding, also called Ashura, made up of grains, nuts, fruits, and sweeteners.

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The Kurds in Turkey and the Fight for Kobani

Veli Sirin  •  October 26, 2014  •  Gatestone Institute

The world has watched the town of Kobani on the Turkish-Syrian border, where the Wahhabi terrorists of the so-called "Islamic State" [IS], also known as ISIS, ISIL, and, in Arabic, the "Daesh," are fighting the Kurdish peshmerga, a word meaning "those facing death." The Turkish authorities, under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Islamist Justice and Development Party [AKP], have stood among the ambivalent observers of the battle for Kobani.

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Is Latvia Putin's New Target?

Stephen Schwartz  •  October 22, 2014  •  First Things Online

In May 2014, I attended an interfaith conference in Kosova where I met Janīs Priede, an associate professor in the department of Oriental Studies at the University of Latvia, located in the national capital, Riga. Having watched, from the Balkans, the Russian annexation of Crimea and further attempted partition of Ukraine during the first half of the year, I expressed my concern to Prof. Priede that Latvia, a member of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), could be the next object of aggression by Vladimir Putin. He agreed.

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Saudi Wahhabism and ISIS Wahhabism: The Difference

Stephen Schwartz  •  October 21, 2014  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Recently, some media commentators have argued that, rather than the product of a simple confrontation between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Syria and Iraq, the rise of the so-called "Islamic State" should be perceived as an eruption into those countries of Wahhabism, the only interpretation of Islam recognized as official in Saudi Arabia.

David Gardner of the Financial Times, for instance, blamed Saudi Arabia indirectly for the growth of ISIS, writing, "Jihadi extremism does present a threat to the kingdom. But in doctrinal terms it is hard to see in what way it 'deviates' from Wahhabi orthodoxy." Others have implied or alleged that Saudi Arabia helps finance ISIS.

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review of Mecca: The Sacred City

Stephen Schwartz  •  October 20, 2014  •  The Weekly Standard

Since Islam emerged more than 14 centuries ago, Mecca, near the western coast of the Arabian peninsula, has drawn the interest of the world. For Muslim believers, the city and its sacred mosque—which encompasses a high, cubical structure, the Kaaba—are the focus of spiritual devotion as the qibla, or direction of prayer, and a destination for pilgrimages. For non-Muslims, Mecca has long been enigmatic, as it has been closed to them since early in Islamic history. Ziauddin Sardar, a British Muslim of Pakistani background, has written an extensive history of Mecca. His panorama is somewhat limited, with attention focused on the great mosque and the Kaaba.

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Malala Yousafzai and the Future of Islam

Stephen Schwartz  •  October 16, 2014  •  The Huffington Post

The award of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize to Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year old Pakistani female and youngest-ever Nobel laureate, in tandem with India's Kailash Satyarthi, 60, a prominent activist for children's rights in his own country, has various contexts.

One such involves Pakistani-Indian conciliation in the face of shared challenges. As the Nobel Committee affirmed, it "regards [the dual Prize] as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism."

"Extremism" touches on a wider aspect of the 2014 Peace Prize: the future of millions of women in the Muslim global community, or umma.

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Jews and Muslims Share A Holy Week

Stephen Schwartz  •  October 6, 2014  •  The Huffington Post

This year – 2014 in the Common Era (C.E.) calendar, 5774-75 in the Hebrew calendar, and the Islamic lunar year 1435-36 – saw a coincidence between the Jewish and Muslim holy days. The 10 Jewish "Days of Awe" were observed from Rosh Hashanah on September 24 to the fast of Yom Kippur on the night of October 3-4. The Muslim observance of the Hajj pilgrimage commenced in Mecca on October 1-2 and the beginning of four days of Eid Al-Adha – the "feast of sacrifice" at the end of the Hajj – was set on the same night as Yom Kippur, October 3-4.

In the "northern" Islamic tier between the Balkans and Central Asia, Eid Al-Adha is known as Kurban Bayram, a translation of "feast of sacrifice."

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On Interfaith Dialogue
Interview with Yoginder Sikand, Author from India

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz  •  October 1, 2014  •  CIP

Sikand: What, in your view, should be the basis of interfaith dialogue — the basic common consensus that brings people of different faiths together to dialogue in the first place?

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Pope Francis in Albania: Four Lessons

Stephen Schwartz  •  September 26, 2014  •  The Huffington Post

On September 21, Pope Francis made a one-day visit to Albania, a short air trip across the Adriatic Sea from Rome but a land neglected typically by global leaders. The excursion was the first by the Pope to a European country since his elevation, according to the Catholic News Service (CNS). He has gone to Brazil in 2013, the Holy Land in May 2014, and South Korea in August 2014.

Four lessons deserve to be gleaned from the Pope's Albanian visit.

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#BurnISISFlagChallenge in Kosova

Stephen Sylejman Schwartz  •  September 25, 2014  •  Gatestone Institute

On September 8, about 20 members of the Kosova Democratic Youth, a wing of the Democratic Party of Kosova (known by its Albanian initials as the PDK), set fire to an "Islamic State" [IS] flag in Prishtina, the country's capital. In doing so, they participated in a campaign that began in Lebanon and has swept Arab countries, called the #BurnISISFlagChallenge, and inspired apparently by the "ice-bucket challenge" to support medical research. The PDK is the dominant political force in the Balkan republic, and is led by veterans of the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA) in the 1998-99 war.

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Uyghur American Association condemns harsh sentencing of Ilham Tohti
International community should call for Ilham Tohti's immediate release

The Uyghur American Association  •  September 24, 2014  •  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) condemns in the strongest terms the life sentencing of Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti and considers the verdict and punishment handed down to Mr. Tohti a clear indicator of China's derision for international standards of justice. UAA asks all concerned governments to strongly protest Mr. Tohti's treatment and to pressure China for his immediate release.

UAA believes the sentencing is intended to silence peaceful Uyghur dissenters to Chinese state repression and confirms the government's disregard for meaningful Uyghur participation in solving regional tensions.

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Indian Sufis Welcome Statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Al-Zawahiri

All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board  •  September 20, 2014  •  All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board

The All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) has welcomed cautiously the statement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said in an interview on Friday, September 19, that he was confident the Al Qaida conspiracy to establish a South Asia wing, i.e. through Qaedat Al-Jihad, will fail in India, as Indian Muslims would never dance to the tune of and never accept the philosophy of the terror group.

Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichowchhwi said in a statement released from the central office of AIUMB that in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Prime Minister Modi said rightly that the terror groups do not target a community but humanity as a whole.

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More Arbitrary Repression in Iran

Stephen Schwartz  •  September 16, 2014  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

The Islamic Republic of Iran remains the worst global example of capricious interference by Muslim theocrats in the personal and spiritual lives of its citizens. On September 9, as reported by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), seven young Iranians went on trial. Their supposed crime? Producing a dance video of the Pharrell Williams's pop hit "Happy" and uploading it to YouTube.

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Turkish President Erdoğan's Expansive Ambitions

Veli Sirin  •  September 9, 2014  •  Gatestone Institute

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected Turkey's first directly elected President on August 10, representing the Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish initials as AKP). He had served the Islamist AKP as Turkey's Prime Minister continuously since 2003. He was sworn in as President on August 28.

As pointed out by Daniel Dombey reporting from Istanbul in London's Financial Times and published the day the Erdoğan presidency began, "Mr. Erdoğan remained prime minister right up until taking the office of president: both offices provide their holder with immunity from prosecution. Turkey's official register also held off publishing the results of his election as president -- which according to some of his opponents would have necessitated his resignation as prime minister -- until the day of his inauguration."

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Reporters Without Borders Demands Protection for Kosovar Investigative Journalist
Visar Duriqi Targeted by Islamists

Stephen Schwartz  •  September 5, 2014  •  The Huffington Post

The atrocious murders of American journalists James Foyle and Steven Sotloff exemplify the strategy of global terror pursued by the so-called "Islamic State" (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS or ISIL).

On Wednesday, September 3, the worldwide monitor of media freedom, Reporters Without Borders, based in France, demanded that authorities in the Kosova Republic protect Visar Duriqi, a well-known Kosovar investigative reporter, from a similar menace.

Kosova has a Muslim majority but is a secular state, and its Islamic tradition is moderate. Yet it has been targeted by radical preachers and their financial patrons.

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Schwartz Letter to Financial Times: "Wahhabism Exists"

Stephen Schwartz  •  September 3, 2014  •  Financial Times [London]

Wahhabi comments are biased

From Mr Stephen Schwartz.

Sir, The assurances of the Saudi ambassador to the UK, Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, (Letters, August 28), that the kingdom of the two Islamic holy sanctuaries, Mecca and Medina, is "fighting extremism" are welcome. But his comments about the official Saudi Wahhabi sect of Islam are opaque and biased, especially to Muslim observers.

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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

© 2014 Center for Islamic Pluralism.

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