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Anouar Majid
Anouar Majid, photo  by Robin Holland
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October 12, 2007
The Muslim individual right now in the 21st century does not live with the same amount of difference that people in the United States, for example, live with. And so it's crucial for Muslim societies to cultivate difference in their midst. And that means critical differences...so that people could engage in solid meaningful philosophical debates and conversations.

-- Anouar Majid

Anouar Majid is a professor of English at the University of New England. His most recent book, A CALL FOR HERESY: WHY DISSENT IS VITAL TO ISLAM AND AMERICA, calls not only for difference and dissent within the Muslim world, but within the United States -- where the ideals of the American Revolution have "gradually been eroded by the rise of a financial system which replaced the robust notion of the citizen with a conception of the consumer."

Majid's work examines the place of religion and Islam in postcolonial theory and the culture of globalization. In UNVEILING TRADITIONS: POSTCOLONIAL ISLAM IN A POLYCENTRIC WORLD, Majid stressed again that global understanding is a two-way street and that "the West must find a way to embrace Islamic societies as partners in building a more inclusive and culturally diverse global community." Majid's FREEDOM AND ORTHODOXY: ISLAM AND DIFFERENCE IN THE POST-ANDALUSIAN AGE, a book that looks at half a millennium of history and cultural contact to trace the evolving roots of discord and extremism.

Anouar Majid is also a novelist, the author of SI YUSSEF. In late 2003, he co-founded and started editing TINGIS, the first Moroccan-American magazine of ideas and culture.

American Revolution 101

Anouar Majid is a fan of the American Revolution. "The legacy of the American Revolution....is America's best gift to human civilization." 19th century history textbook

Majid's analysis focuses on the delicate negotiations made by those setting up the new nation between politics and faith: "a democracy in a political culture of freedom...supported or under-girded by a sort of religious morality." It's a system, he contends, that "would be extremely useful to Muslim society today, trying to combine, wrestling with how to create or maintain religious piety, to maintain their own spirituality while at the same time, creating cultures of freedom for everybody including for non-Christians and atheists and people with different political and cultural practices."

Questions of the correct proportions of church and state — and the religious intentions of the founding fathers have not faded from the American political debate. Especially in election years — references to the Barbary Treaties, "One Nation Under God," "The Danbury Letter" and the Bill of Rights are common.

>More on church and state in American history

But the debate over what caused — and what resulted from the American Revolution ranges beyond matters of religion. Whether it was a revolt by middling businessmen against economic constraints or an all-out battle for the rights of man depends on the interpreter. Historian Alan Brinkley has noted how the story we tell ourselves about the Revolution has changed from one where ideals were paramount to a class-based battle over economic interests...and back again.

Guest photo by Robin Holland

Published on October 12, 2007

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References and Reading:
Anouar Majid

TINGIS
Dr. Anouar Majid edits this online publication, subtitled A Moroccan-American Magazine of Ideas and Culture. Tingis was the wife of the giant Antaeus and later of Hercules. The city of Tangier was named in her honor.

"Piracy, Terrorism and the Question of Islam"
Dr. Anouar Majid discusses the United States' first major contact with the Muslim World in the Barbary War and the parallels to our own time. You can watch video or listen to audio of the talk originally given at Boston's Old South Meeting House in 2004.

WAFIN
Majid was a frequent contributor to this online network of Moroccan-Americans. His articles touch on the problems of nostalgia to an evaluation of the career of Edward Said.

American Revolution

A Guide to the American Revolution
Explore the history of the American Revolution through the documents of the day in this online collection from the Library of Congress. Resources include first-person travelogues of colonial life, online exhibits of the process of drafting the Declaration of Independence and an interactive timeline highlighted by original documents.

LIBERTY! The American Revolution
This companion site to the PBS series includes a chronicle of the revolution as well as perspectives on the life of those living in the colonies at the time — and how the rest of the world viewed the battle between the colonies and Britain.

National Discussions of Our Revolutionary Origin
A project of H-NET, the Humanities and Social Science Online and the National Endowment of the Arts, the site gathers resources, essays and a bibliography on the American Revolution. But of most interest are the archived discussions of scholars and researchers about every aspect of the revolution from feminism in the American revolution to the effectiveness of boycotts as a strategy.

The Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom
Information on the landmark statute drafted by Thomas Jefferson from the U.S. State Department. The Virginia statute states in part: "Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."

America and the Barbary Pirates
This article by Gerard W. Gawalt written for the Library of Congress details "An International Battle Against an Unconventional Foe" that troubled the Early Republic. Students of the separation of church and state point to the article 11 of the Barbary Treaties, signed in 1797 as an indication of the intent of the "founding fathers." "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion..."

Wahhabism

Teachings of Muhammad bin Abdul Wahab
Site from the Saudi Ministry of Information.

"Battle for the Middle East," RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY
Lucky Severson's August 7, 2006 interview in Washington, D.C. with Vali Nasr, a professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California covers theological and political divisions within the Muslim world.

FRONTLINE: Saudi Time Bomb?
Analysis of wahhabism, the dominant version of Islam in Saudi Arabia by Mai Yamani, an anthropologist who studies Saudi society; Vali Nasr, an authority on Islamic fundamentalism; Maher Hathout, spokesperson for the Islamic Center of Southern California; and Ahmed Ali, a Shi'a Muslim from Saudi Arabia.

Analysis: Inside Wahabi Islam
This 2001 report by the BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy notes that the term wahhabism is often used freely in the international media.

"For Conservative Muslims, Goal of Isolation a Challenge"
Caryle Murphy, THE WASHINGTON POST, September 5, 2006. An examination of Salafism and "an ultra-conservative brand of Salafism" — wahhabism.

THE ECONOMIST: Saudi Arabia
A collection of articles and analysis on Saudi Arabia. The Economist Intelligence Unit contributes up-to-date economic figures, background on political and religious structures and projections.

International Opinion

The Pew Global Attitudes Project
The site hosts a series of worldwide public opinion surveys that encompasses a broad array of subjects ranging from people's assessments of their own lives to their views about the current state of the world and important issues of the day. More than 150,000 interviews in 54 countries have been conducted as part of the project. The Project recently update on research on America's image in the world.

Program on International Policy Analysis
The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) studies public opinion on international issues. PIPA is a joint program of the Center on Policy Attitudes (COPA) and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), University of Maryland. The site publishes extensive research by region, topic and on views of the U.S. around the world...and the U.S.'s view of the world.

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ANOUAR MAJID
Bill Moyers talks to Professor Anouar Majid about diversity in the American tradition and its implications for Muslim society.

HONORING DORIS LESSING
A Bill Moyers essay on recent Nobel Prize in Literature recipient, Doris Lessing.

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