The Celebrity Preacher Phenomenon

You may be familiar with certain Internet personalities known amongst Muslim audiences for their histrionic content. These figures are often shown reacting to anonymous anecdotes with advice from a (some might say ostensibly) Islamic perspective. While it has, rightfully, been subject to criticism for harping on drama, the modern celebrity preacher phenomenon, and the financial gain made from its underpinning sensationalism, continues to go under-investigated. Continue reading The Celebrity Preacher Phenomenon

Islamophobic Narratives: Meccan and Medinan Resistance

The Kunta federation played an important political and economic role in Maghribi history. Shaykh Bāy al-Kuntī founded a great number of zawiyas (religious schools) and sent missionaries to preach Islam in the Middle Niger and Western Saharan regions. Bāy al-Kuntī called people to jihad against the carnal soul, which the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ designated the greater jihad, as well as the return to the fundamental sources of Islamic jurisprudence. He believed he was the mujaddid (one who brings renewal) of the thirteenth century whom Allah called upon to restore the umma to its glorious past not only in West Africa but throughout the whole Muslim world. [1] The wide range of territories that encompassed his influence is said to be the largest area ever to come under the wing of an African Muslim without military conquest.  Continue reading Islamophobic Narratives: Meccan and Medinan Resistance

Horoscopes, Manifestation and Secular Religion

Manifestation ignores the will of God and reducing the human spirit to “energies” tells us enough about the extent to which we can reconcile these concepts with Islam. Some Muslims have tried to co-opt the essence of manifestation by adding in sha Allah to their self-affirmations. It is argued that, by adopting this oral practice, the remembrance of Allah as the ultimate bearer of fate is simply underlined with an extra source of motivation. In other words, “speaking things into existence” is a virtue that can be embodied with the help of God. The issue here is that God becomes secondary. Continue reading Horoscopes, Manifestation and Secular Religion

Reflections on Dualism in Blade Runner 2049

Is it possible to know what it is like to want to be desired or loved, without a soul? This thought-provoking question is grappled with throughout the film Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017). The protagonist Officer K (Ryan Gosling) is a Nexus-9 replicant who works for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and secretly yearns for real humanity, at least within his programmed limits. His love interest (Ana de Armas as Joi) is but a hologram, yet in her final moments, she attempts to utter the words “I love you.” Before she can finish, her virtual presence is wiped from existence, her data permanently destroyed. Continue reading Reflections on Dualism in Blade Runner 2049

Mukbangs and a Culture of Gluttony

Watching someone succumb to their food cravings in grotesque fashion has provoked different reactions; some are hypnotized by the concept, some are repulsed, and some are simply confused. But overall, eating shows have become more or less normalized. What does this say about a new global culture, where a trend in one part of the world can be catapulted worldwide by the strength of American content creation? What are the consequences? What does our Islamic tradition have to say about eating shows? Continue reading Mukbangs and a Culture of Gluttony

The Fine Line: A Film Critique of Doucouré’s “Cuties”

Even before Maïmouna Doucouré’s Cuties, or Mignonnes in French, was released on Netflix, it ignited international debate. The trailer alone provoked huge controversy for the film’s questionable use of minors, representation of minorities, and framing of Islam. Although raw emotion and knee-jerk reactions can be impulsively misleading and hinge on mob mentality, they may also be incredibly revealing. The instinctual response to a film says a lot about how well it conveys its message appropriately. Continue reading The Fine Line: A Film Critique of Doucouré’s “Cuties”