Friday, March 06, 2009

Meanwhile in San Francisco...

Talk About Embracing Islam?
San Francisco is Bussing It!
(Image from Zomblog)

I don't know much about the pseudonymous fellow who calls himself "Zombie" and goes around Berkeley and San Francisco taking photos of various anti-war demonstrations, but he's currently put up a couple of photos from San Francisco that show buses with ads for Islam.

In my Bay Area days, the buses didn't advertise for Islam, but I occasionally saw signs put up by Sufi Muslims along the beautiful Junipero Serra Freeway that runs up the peninsula from San Jose to San Francisco. Those signs offered converts such things as miracles wrought by true hairs from "The Prophet's Beard," which the Sufi group that had put up the sign supposedly possessed. (Hmmm, I wonder if . . . but let's not get into the ethics of cloning.)

The ad above reveals a much more streamlined appeal, and I have to admit that it's quite straightforward about the meaning of Islam: "Submission." That's precisely what the word "Islam" means in Arabic.

There's some irony in such buses rolling through the Castro District's gay community, despite the resonance of the word 'submission' among some gay subgroups, for the Islamic understanding of "submission" wouldn't go over well if shariah were imposed in San Francisco.

Zombie notes that this proselytizing bus-ad campaign is sponsored by CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), which usually presents itself as a civil rights group, and the ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America), which is "noteworthy":
Why is this noteworthy? Because ICNA is not your run-of-the-mill Muslim group, but rather is the North American branch of Jamaat-e-Islami, the fundamentalist Pakistani political party whose goal is the imposition of sharia law, and who are closely affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the primary fonts of Islamic fundamentalism in the modern world.
Jamaat-e-Islami is not the sort of organization that most San Franciscans would care to see in power . . . not that this is about to happen anytime soon in the Bay Area, of course.

I suppose that I should clearly state here that I have no objection to religions advertising themselves -- so long as such religions have no objection to critical scrutiny.

So, let's scrutinize.

Zombie asks if people in other cities have seen these bus ads. Well, I can unequivocally state that I've seen none in Seoul . . . but I do recall hearing something about such ads in London.

Perhaps my London readers can confirm this?

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At 5:42 AM, Blogger S. Arsalan Bukhari said...

Hey, I volunteer with the NW chapter of ICNA as well as other organizations which are constantly maligned by extreme right-wing web sites like Front Page, and extremist bigots like Steve Emerson, Daniel Pipes, and David Horowitz.

The fact is that these are American institutions whose membership comprises of the American Muslim mainstream. We do tons of work to create interfaith understanding, and unfortunately this work is undermined with bigots assert that we are out to "rule" or "impose 'shariah'"

I'd love to talk more about why I volunteer for these organizations:)

At 5:44 AM, Blogger John B said...

It should be noted that, according to Wikipedia, homosexuality in Islam is as complicated and nuanced an issue as homosexuality is pretty much everywhere else. Your comment on the irony of passing through the Castro district might have been a little too snarky.

At 7:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Mr. S. Arsalan Bukhari, thanks for visiting.

I'm glad to hear that you are not in favor of shariah. I also wouldn't care to live under that sort of legal system.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:08 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Snarky? John, you are hunting too assiduously for a snark!

I consider it light irony.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:04 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

I have not seen bus signs in Philly. Did see the usual ubiquitous Nation of Islam soldier selling his wares today.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hathor, that reminds me. In Berkeley during the early 80s, I also recall seeing the "Black Muslims Bakery." It was not far from where I lived.

So, I didn't see evidence only of Sufis, after all. And I shouldn't forget the ubiquitous Iranian students.

Nice word, "ubiquitous" . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:29 PM, Blogger writtenwyrdd said...

When even some Red Crescent donations were reportedly (I'm not fact chasing before commenting)sent to Al Qaida, I can see why some people would be nervous about such ads in a "Horrors! They're plotting to take over the world!" sort of way.

At this point I suspect that the FBI and CIA are probably tapping phones and going through trash cans and financial exchanges for all the groups and their members, so it's not likely the ICNA are plotting to impose fundamentalist views on the public. I rather doubt they could, given the American penchant for resisting being dictated to. A herd of cats, that us! :)

Another interesting post!

At 8:11 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I suppose that nearly any Muslim group would be in favor of shariah, which turns all 'tolerated' non-Muslims into second-class citizens, so I'm not especially enamored of Muslim proselytizing . . . even among a herd of cats like us.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:15 AM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

"...despite the resonance of the word 'submission' among some gay subgroups..." - Jeffery


At 5:49 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Happy to be appreciated, Daddio.

Jeffery Hodges

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