I just took a look at the Brass Crescent awards and I was very disappointed by what I saw. As I voted, I noticed very few of these blogs I recognized as worthy of praise or awards. This is not to put down those blogs that I support, or are definitely worth of praise, nor to imply that Muslimology should be on there (I dislike the idea of awards, messes with ones intentions)- just to say, that there are blogs more worthy of attention and praise. I think many of those blogs listed put in the effort, however I wonder if some of the ones nominated are actually worthy of an award or even a mention.
The Brass Crescent awards read like a filtered prolofeed of blogs. It’s pretty clear there is an agenda on part of AltMuslim media, one that is counter-intuitive to the “progressive” Muslim outlook which they supposedly advocate. The outlook is middle-class immigrant Muslim. What mention is there of the indigenous American Muslims or of converts, or of the endless controversies that are at the struggle of Islam today? Some of the blogs listed there promote the eradication of masculinity (yes, you read that right) and praising nonsensical Muslim punk rock?
What is telling is and will demonstrate my contention clearly is what was excluded (or missing) from the awards, and the blogs listed on there:
-No mention of AA and his illustrious disciples
-No mention of Wikileaks
-No mention of Palestinian activism (flotilla!!), Iran (Green revolution), Afghanistan, Obama, Iraq, etc etc.
-No mention of the Pakistani Earthquake among other catastrophes
-No mention of Huffington Post Muslim bloggers (Dr. Sherman Jackson, Yursil Kidwai, and many others)
-No mention of Lauren Booth, Abdul Hakim Murad and other’s pieces in British newspapers
-No mention of the Zakir Naik controversies
-No mention of Hamza Yusuf’s new blog (or Zaytuna College)
-No mention of the Osmanli Dergah controversy in Sydney, New York
-No mention of the plethora of spiritually inspirational blogs
-No mention of the Muslim documentaries and Islamic media explosion that has happened recently
-No mention of social services and initiatives set up to help the Muslim community
In short the blogs, are non-representative of the real Muslim blogosphere.
Makes you wonder what world they are coming from. If these awards and the Muslim blogsphere are so isolated that they make almost no mention of the above, then that tells you how much they are worth and how irrelevant and inconsequential these awards are. If the Brass Crescent awards are truly representative of the Muslm blogosphere, (which I don’t believe they are) then it means the blogs themselves are out-of-touch, ineffectual and don’t ameliorate our problems but only add to them.
The immediate objection one will get is- “Well the awards are democratic and based on votes.” Sorry, I’m not buying that. I highly doubt the vast majority of Muslims would promote the blogs listed there over the countless blogs that far more educational, and far more insightful and far more concerned with the well-being of Muslims. Is the right to vote the most popular blogs, more important than highlighting the most beneficial blogs?
We are Muslims- our first and foremost intention and goal is to help Muslims. And if that is the concern, we would be aware of the fact that the blogosphere is a community, one that is going to be concerned for each other, but first and foremost for the ummah, that bloggers are also connected through Facebook (why not Facebook Crescent awards?) and that the quiet bloggership that was once hidden away on the Internet has evolved sufficiently enough that it has gone mainstream with more Muslims writing and publishing in public newspapers. This is crucial and this requires encouragement- this requires awards! Not only that but there are many non-Muslims- many more than the 5 listed- who are advocating and doing much for our own community- more than I would say AltMuslim/Halalfire is (or for that matter- myself!) and they deserve recognition! That is an easy bridge-building opportunity for all of us. Lets reach out to them and create some allies!
Now, it seems to be that the spin of AltMuslim’s writing has always been sensationalistic, but only along the lines set down by Western standards, meaning your standard homosexuality, womens rights, racism, etc. recyclable issues that play easily into shaytan’s teeth. And looking at the religious blogs that are promoted or mentioned on the awards- they only hit the surface level of Islam (Islam-Lite) as if, by playing up these blogs and promoting them, and the very introductory basic aspects of Islam, AltMuslim has an easier time in making itself look sensationalistic and making their journalism look good.
Where is the importance of looking out for the communal good of Muslims? Shahed Amanullah I am sure is aware of the influence his network attracts because of its easy-wins of listing zabiha/halal restaurants but he needs to realize he has a platform that can do more good than it is currently doing. Implicitly, the message I seem to be getting is voting has a greater importance than advocating those things that will assist the ummah. Which has greater importance in Islam- and whats more greater need today for Muslims: a popularity contest or direction for the community? This distinction is crucial and if its not there- it means there is a clear immaturity in the understanding of responsibility that goes with the powerful reach of social media. When Allah asks him, you had the ability to steer Muslim attention and energy towards the good…what did you do?
I am not saying this because Muslimology is not listed on there- even if it were I’d ignore it since I prefer to stay out of the limelight. But I am saying this because there is a mentality out there among Muslims in leadership and positions of influence that simply does not carry out its duty. I would almost go as far as to say this “responsibility-free” mentality is what has created the Zardaris, the Mubaraks and the masjid tyrants that everyone is familiar with. It seems that responsibility is not being taken seriously. Bloggers will try their best, but when you highlight those that clearly do not deserve the attention, it shows how irresponsible one has become. Inexcusable.
The Brass Crescent awards get a dismal failing grade from me.
Ways to Improve the Brass Crescent awards
I don’t think these suggestions will be taken seriously by AltMuslim…but at least I’ll mention them.
Introducing awards or categories for the following:
-Best African blog (am I the only one who has wondered if there is a racist undertone to the awards?)
-Best Turkish blog (extremely crucial because Turkey is the bridge between the Muslim world and Europe!)
-Places we’ve never really considered or thought about blog (do we really know the ummah?)
-Doing exhaustive research into all blogs out there (many gems) and highlighting them and getting votes on them
-Awards for the best social service initiatives catered to Muslim needs (a number of these have come out recently)
-Awards for the most trustworthy charity
-Awards for the best refutations and best “resolved” debates
-Questions blog (Islamic questions, Muslim questions, there are many websites that deal with this)
-Best News Blog (there are a number of blogs that have been recently launched solely for this purpose)
-Muslim Poetry blogs
-Photo essay blogs
-Spiritual reflections blogs
-Book Muslim quotations, excerpts and summaries blog
-Best student-under-a-shaykh blog (a genre of writing that has carried Islam to us to this day)
-Best personal development blog
-Best personal struggles blog (it would be great to read about Muslims who have overcome addiction, abuse, poverty, etc.)
-Best productivity blogs
-Best Lecture/Khutbah transcripts blog
And there’s more you can think of…but I think that will only happen when Muslims really take on the responsibility Allah has charged with them and look out for one another. Care and concern for your fellow brother and sister in Islam is the heart of the Muslim blogosphere.