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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

In Kosova, U.S.-Funded Study Gets Response to ISIS Wrong

Stephen Schwartz  •  April 20, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Last month the Kosovar Center for Security Studies (KCSS), a think-tank in the Balkan republic, published a "Report Inquiring Into the Causes and Consequences of Kosovo Citizens' Involvement as Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq." The survey was financed by the U.S. Embassy in Prishtina, the Kosova capital, and naturally carried a disclaimer: "The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the Author [Shpend Kursani, a Cambridge graduate] and the Kosovar Center for Security Studies and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of State."

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A "Great Fear" in Kosova

Stephen Schwartz  •  April 14, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

The global Muslim community is suffering a deep crisis. The failure of the "Arab Spring" led, most prominently, to horrendous bloodletting in Syria. In this carnage, both the Damascus dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad, which is supported by the Iranian regime, and the ultra-Wahhabi "Islamic State" that opposes the civil resistance to Bashar, are guilty.

Syrian, Iraqi, and Turkish Kurds, mainly leftists in politics, have offered the only effective direct resistance to the "Islamic State," although the Kurds are helped by U.S.-led bombing. Obsessed with its opposition to Kurdish political and cultural demands, Turkey has allowed aid to flow to the "Islamic State." Qatar is accused similarly of assisting jihadists in Syria.

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Center for Islamic Pluralism Greetings to People of the Book on Their Holidays

Stephen Schwartz  •  April 3, 2015  •  CIP

The Center for Islamic Pluralism, reflecting the traditional and spiritual Islamic guidance of respect for the People of the Book – and specifically Jews and Christians – extends its greetings to them on their sacred observances. These are Passover (Pesach), the Hebrew celebration of deliverance from Pharaoh, which falls on April 3, 2015 in the common calendar, and the Christian Easter Sunday on April 5, 2015.

Moses (Musa aleyhiselaam) and Jesus (Isa aleyhiselaam) are outstanding figures in Islam. The praise of Musa in Qur'an closely follows that in the Jewish Torah. While Muslims do not consider Isa the son of almighty Allah, we recognize his birth as miraculous and his mother Mary (Mariam) as chaste when Isa was born.

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Zakir Naik, Radical Islamist Video Evangelist

Stephen Schwartz  •  March 27, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

[Note: This commentary was written with Dr. Irfan Al-Alawi.]

Zakir Naik, 49, an Indian Muslim by birth, and a medical doctor by education, is known widely in the Arab and South Asian Muslim communities. He represents a style of radical Islamist television preaching that most non-Muslims might identify with Christianity. Naik is an ostentatious caller to Islam who alleges he can easily bring members of other faiths into the Muslim fold.

In multireligious India, such claims are inflammatory and may easily lead to violence. The year 2010 saw Britain, whose significant Muslim minority is overwhelmingly South Asian, ban Naik from entry to the country. Canada then imposed the same bar on Naik visiting for Islamist revival events.

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Center for Islamic Pluralism Greetings on Sulltan Nevruz

Stephen Sylejman Schwartz  •  March 20, 2015  •  CIP

Muslims from the Balkans to Central Asia began celebration of Sulltan Nevruz on the weekend of March 20-21. Among Bektashi Sufis in the Albanian lands, Sulltan Nevruz marks the birthday of Imam Ali rahmetullah, fourth of the righteous caliphs who succeeded Prophet Muhammad sallahaleyhisalaam.

Nevruz will be observed this year on the 29th of Jumaada al-Awal 1436 in the hijri calendar and the 29th of Esfand 1392 by the Persian solar calendar.

Notably in Kurdistan, Sulltan Nevruz is a new year observance associated with the beginning of spring.

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Iranian Propagandists in Kosova

Stephen Schwartz  •  March 19, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Kosova Albanians, overwhelmingly Muslim, love America—which rescued them from Serbian aggression in 1999—and desire diplomatic relations with Israel. Kosova does not recognize the Palestinian Authority and does not belong to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The Islamic Republic of Iran, meanwhile, does not acknowledge Kosova's formal independence. How has it happened, then, that harsh voices are now detected against America and Israel, and for Iran, in the Balkan state?

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European Union Unblocks Membership Path for Bosnia and Herzegovina

Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina  •  March 17, 2015  •  Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina

[Note: The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The "Sejdić-Finci" decision referred to herein was the product of a complaint by Bosnian Roma representative Dervo Sejdić and Bosnian Jewish leader Jakob Finci against the imposition in the 1995 Dayton accords, which ended the war in Bosnia, of a restriction on executive political positions to members of the Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim), Serbian, and Croatian ethnicities. CIP supports equal citizenship for all Bosnians and welcomes the confirmation of the "Sejdić-Finci" decision.]

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Uyghur democracy leader Ms. Rebiya Kadeer's tenth anniversary of freedom
An opportunity to refocus efforts in realizing human rights for the Uyghur people

The Uyghur American Association  •  March 16, 2015  •  Uyghur Human Rights Project Uyghur American Association

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

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) honors the human rights work of Uyghur democracy leader Ms. Rebiya Kadeer on the tenth anniversary of her release from notorious Chinese prison Liudaowan. UAA also recognizes the tireless efforts of the United States government and human rights organizations in securing Ms. Kadeer's freedom.

Ms. Kadeer served as UAA president from 2006 to 2011 and is the president of the World Uyghur Congress. After her release, she founded the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation and has traveled worldwide communicating Uyghur human rights concerns.

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New Saudi King Displays Candor on Radical Islam
Unlike President Obama.

Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz  •  March 5, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Following the death of Saudi King Abdullah at the end of January, and the succession of his half-brother, now King Salman, 79, many observers of the desert monarchy have speculated on its future.

Almost immediately, King Salman has commenced an effort to clear the air regarding Islamist ideology and its association with terrorism. That's rather unlike President Obama. While he and some other Western leaders claim they are combating radical Islam, they habitually refuse to call it by its correct name. Instead, they employ euphemisms.

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Is Turkey's Erdoğan in Decline?

Veli Sirin  •  March 4, 2015  •  Gatestone Institute

Turkey's Islamist president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may have entered a decline after 11 years of increasing national political command.

Erdoğan proclaims Turkey to be a state of law and a defender of freedom of expression, even though its record in the persecution of journalists is among the world's worst, according to such international media monitors as Freedom House, in its 2014 survey, Democracy in Crisis: Corruption, Media, and Power in Turkey.

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U.S. expert: Involvement of Albanians in the Islamic State (IS) harms image of Kosova liberation war

Blerim Mustafa  •  February 27, 2015  •  Presheva Jonë [Presheva, Serbia]

The U.S. expert Stephen Sylejman Schwartz, Executive Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, headquartered in Washington, states to the Albanian news agency Presheva Jonë that the involvement of ethnic Albanians in the Islamic State (IS) negatively affects the reputation of Albanians.

"It contributes to evil stereotypes and false claims that the Kosova liberation war was a jihadist effort.

"As in other instances, Islamist radicals are doing the work of Serbia in undermining the reputation of Albanians."

Kosova and Albania are among the few countries in Europe where the majority of the population belongs to the Islamic faith.

Following the emergence of IS, several Albanians have joined the ranks of IS seeking to establish a caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.

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Schwartz Letter to Financial Times: Countries with a claim to the role Turkey seeks

Stephen Schwartz  •  February 26, 2015  •  Financial Times [London]

Sir, Sinan Ülgen asserts, in his article on Turkish relations with the European Union, that Turkey is "the only mainly Muslim nation with a secular democracy" ("Amid a tide of extremism, a mutual embrace that will protect both Turkey and Europe", February 23).

This claim is inaccurate. Bosnia-Hercegovina, although partitioned (with a 45 per cent Muslim plurality), Kosova (80 per cent Muslim), and Albania (70 per cent Muslim) are multi-party, elected democracies with secular constitutions and vigorous, independent media.

None of these three European Muslim communities must contend with civil-military competition for power, interference with freedom of expression, persecution of minorities, or rising radical Islam, such as are seen in Turkey.

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Libraries Burning: From Sarajevo to Mosul

Stephen Schwartz  •  February 26, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

I have been involved with words throughout my life. My father was a writer, publisher, and bookseller. I have been a writer, publisher, and bookseller. I have worked my way through three collections of rare books: one on Communism, one on literary and artistic modernism, one on Islam (with a small sub-set on Sephardic Judaism). I stored the first -- there is no longer a market for volumes of Lenin -- and sold the second so I could live in the Muslim Balkans. I remain surrounded by the last.

But I no longer purchase books for their own sake, or for their novelty. I keep books I will need. And I feel guilty about possessing valuable books when, for 23 years, I have been troubled by memories of their ravaging by ideological marauders.

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Bosnian Muslims Take on ISIS
A model for the Islamic world.

Stephen Schwartz  •  February 24, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Muslim political and religious leaders in Bosnia-Hercegovina, which is partitioned between a "Republic of Serbs" and a "Muslim-Croat Federation," have taken firm measures to stop agitation and recruitment for ISIS.

On February 7, according to the Al-Arabiya television network, Bosnian police raided the country's notorious center of Wahhabi fundamentalism, the northern village of Gornja Maoča. The law-enforcement action came after Bosnian Federation Television showed images of ISIS flags displayed in the settlement. (The ISIS ideology is an especially virulent form of Wahhabism.)

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'Mosque war' in the UK

Irfan Al-Alawi  •  February 20, 2015  •  Lapido Media

Most British Muslims, whether emigrants or born in the country, originate culturally in the Indian subcontinent – Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. Of some three million British Muslims, comprising close to five percent of the total national census, nearly 40 percent are British Pakistanis. In their identification with Muslim sects, the majority claim affiliation with Sunnism. Within that classification, almost half of British mosques belong to the radical-fundamentalist Deobandi and Wahhabi (so-called 'Salafi') factions.

Deobandis are inspirers of the Taliban and the separatist revival movement Tablighi Jamaat. Wahhabi doctrine underlies the Saudi monarchy as well as the brutal, supposed 'Islamic State' or ISIS/ISIL. The apparent preponderance of Deobandi mosques in the UK is a fact. These are often purpose-built mosques.


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Putin, Al-Sisi, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Holocaust Remembrance

Stephen Schwartz  •  February 18, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

In another of his pleasant encounters with world leaders, Russian president Vladimir Putin went to Egypt on February 8, staying until February 10. Meeting with Cairo's military strongman Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Putin bestowed on his host a macabre but perhaps characteristic gift: a Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle. According to media, the present was a token of cooperation in a billion-dollar arms sale by Moscow, which must contend with Western sanctions over Ukraine and a resulting economic downturn. Russia will assist Egypt further, in constructing its first nuclear power plant.

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Famous Communists and Islam

Stephen Schwartz  •  February 11, 2015  •  First Things Blog

For some time, an argument has been made that the liberal left, in refusing to examine the problems of Islam, has betrayed its Enlightenment roots. That is, while secular, feminist, and protective of free speech in dealing with its Western peers, the liberal left has been accused of abandoning its heritage in its quest for political correctness regarding Muslims.

In truth, however, the left has a distinguished background of courting Islam as a weapon against Western capitalism. Its most representative figures from the past did so frankly, as the following rehearsal of their statements demonstrates.

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'Freedom for the Ulema:' Interview With Husein efendija Kavazović
Reis-ul ulema of the Islamic Community of Bosnia-Hercegovina

Vildana Selimbegović  •  February 6-7, 2015  •  Oslobođenje [Sarajevo]

[CIP Note: This important interview with Husein ef. Kavazović, the current reis-ul ulema (chief cleric) of the Muslims of Bosnia-Hercegovina, comes at a vital moment. Bosnia-Hercegovina has been shocked by a series of brutal attacks against Imam Selvedin ef. Beganović, who directs a mosque in Trnovi, a small village in the northwestern Bosnian region of Velika Kladuša. Imam Beganović, our honorable brother, has suffered at least seven knife assaults because of his preaching against Bosnians participating in the terrorism of the so-called "Islamic State" in Syria and Iraq. In a reportage by Oslobođenje on January 22, 2015, the mayor of Velika Kladuša, Edin Behrić, denied that terrorism poses a security threat in the area or that an extremist training camp exists there. But Jasmin Šahinović, head of the municipal cabinet, admitted that Imam Beganović had been attacked because of his "anti-Wahhabi opinions." Šahinović concluded, "the mayor sympathized with the imam, whom he visited and supported as a citizen." Šahinović added that people called Wahhabis exist in other cities of Bosnia-Hercegovina, and that if someone breaks the law, they should be held responsible without exception. Recruitment for combat outside Bosnian borders is illegal. Please remember the heroic and virtuous Imam Beganović in your duas. Interview translated and edited by CIP. Original title: "Exclusion is Satanic."]

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Syriza in Athens and Putin in Moscow: An Unholy Alliance?

Stephen Schwartz  •  February 6, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

The sensational victory of the radical leftist Syriza movement in the January 25 Greek elections, with the populist coalition winning 149 of 300 parliamentary seats, has raised numerous questions across Europe and the world. Most of the controversy about this episode focuses on whether Greece will default on its debt, in a crisis for Europe; or leave the Eurozone altogether, which some would consider a catastrophe

Less attention has been paid to the troubling attitudes of Syriza and its leaders in foreign policy, although many hints have appeared in authoritative media.

Syriza has chosen to rule in alliance with 13 deputies from the rightist party of Independent Greeks, which gives the new government a majority. But why did a militant neo-Marxist phenomenon like Syriza find itself wedded to a conservative force like the Independent Greeks?

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review of Prayer in Islamic Thought and Practice

Stephen Schwartz  •  Winter 2015  •  Middle East Quarterly

Katz, associate professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University, has written a thoughtful and at times eye-opening examination of the role of prayer in Islamic societies, part of a series produced by the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton titled "Themes in Islamic History."

Katz's goal here is to restore "ritual to its proper place in the study of the sharia, and legal analysis in its proper place in the understanding of ritual." Thus, she surveys the classical schools of Islamic law, explaining their differences on the details of prayer. But while these distinctions are typically minor (dealing mainly with such matters as the position of the hands or the correct number of prostrations), some have wider implications that resonate today.

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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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