Tarnished Brass Crescent Awards

The nominations for the Third Annual Brass Crescent Awards highlighting the best blogs in the Islamsphere are now open through November 17, 2006 with the actual voting beginning on November 20.

The categories and their descriptions should make for some tough decisions but the Best Female Blog and the Best Middle Eastern/Asian Blogger definitely leave something to be desired and make me want to boycott the whole process.

The categories are:

BEST BLOG: This category honors the most indispensable, Muslim-authored blog there is. Period.

BEST NON-MUSLIM BLOG: Which blog writen by a non-Muslim is most respectful of Islam and seeks genuine dialogue with Muslims?

BEST DESIGN: Which blog has the most aesthetically pleasing site design, appealing to the eye, evoking Islamic themes, and/or facilitating debate and discussion?

BEST POST OR SERIES: Which single post or group of posts in the Islamsphere was the most original and important, above all the others?

BEST IJTIHAD: What blog post provided the best rebuttal to arguments of extremist ideology, and in so doing expose how those who commit evil in the name of Islam are actually profaning the faith?

BEST FEMALE BLOG: The woman’s voice in Islam is equal to the man’s, and in the Islamsphere we seek to make sure the female perspective is highlighted and given its rightful due. Which Muslim woman’s blog has done the most to explore the role that women play within Islam and society?

BEST THINKER: Who is the most stimulating, insightful, and philosophically wise among us? This category is intended to highlight a blogger who may not post daily, but when they do post, they really make an impact.

MOST DESERVING OF WIDER RECOGNITION: Which blog is a true diamond in the rough, one that everyone should be reading but who most just haven’t heard of (yet)?

BEST GROUP BLOG: Which multiple group blog in the Islamsphere has the best diversity of writers and the most interesting debate on Muslim issues?

BEST MIDDLE-EAST/ASIAN BLOGGER: The Islamsphere is truly a global phenomenon. In Iraq, despite the chaos and uncertainty, there is a sea change of free speech and expression, the vanguard of which are blogs. There are also bloggers in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Palestine, Jordan, and most other countries that host Muslims, all of whom have their own perspectives on faith, culture, and politics.

The antiquated Best Female Blog while laudable in wanting to highlight the voice of women only reinforces the stereotype that the default best blog category is a peculiarly male domain like most of the masajid in Britain and those on the subcontinent. It will be a true measure of the acceptance of the opinions of women when we or those who make the categories do not feel the need to separate women into their own category in order to make sure our issues are not overlooked.

Best Middle Eastern/Asian Blogger is the most ridiculous and unfortunate category of the bunch. While the claim of the category writers is that the Islamsphere is truly global in scope, the reality is that most people including Muslims see Islam as a reflection of their culture based in the Middle East/Asia (meaning the subcontinent) and of course the self-important western-based Muslims.

Side Note: I was once sitting with several immigrant west Africans when a woman who had been detained at the airport after this latest liquid bomb scare was asked by a reporter why she thought she had been detained she said, “because I’m brown” and all of the west Africans burst into laughter because they saw that comment as just another indication of the mentality among “brown” immigrants to try to distance themselves from blacks in hopes of attaining honorary white status.

Among the most ignorant and racist Muslims I have encountered are those from parts of the Middle East/Asia despite the fact that Islam is truly a universal message sent for all of mankind, some Muslims insist on thinking of the Muslim world as consisiting of their particular sphere. This is reflected in the inordinate amont of attention Muslims focus on Palestine and Kashmir, in the duas by the imams after jumu’ah and in witr always mentioning by default places in the Middle East and Asia (meaning the subcontinent) while other Muslim areas (when was the last time you heard about Kenya, Somalia, Gambia, Linxia, or Aceh) are often forgotten or only mentioned as an afterthought as a gesture of inclusion after we’ve remembered the really important places, and in the Best Middle East/Asian Blogger award which by its own description is somehow reflective of the “global phenomenon” of the Islamphere.

I say for next year axe the Best Female Blog category or at the very least replace it as Koonj mentioned with the Best Female Blogger category and rename the Best Middle East/Asian Blogger award to Best Blogger not based in the West or something similar that is shorter and more catchy. But let’s not pretend that Best Middle East/Asian Blogger is representative of the global nature of the Muslim ummah.


  1. you are product of a “diffusion”…you find asians/middle eastern racist yet your own words exude of a sense of superority? I as an asian could say how dare you make such an assumption? By doing so you clearly display your own hatred and discriminatory nature. Lol it is funny that you keep on mentioning masajid in Britian and Sub continent…well in case you find it hard to realize; masjid is a domain for men, for women it is merely ‘mubah’ to pray in masjid. Furthermore a woman cannot even step in masjid if she is on her menses. Wait did i mention that men and women are “NOT” equal??? pshhttt…hey I wonder if it is ok for women to be presidents of masajid; erm maybe she should be the head of state, and we’ll make sure she’s “white” since those darn backward asians and crazy middle easterns are misogynist and racist. lol…oh boy talk about it.

    ha ha it soo doesn’t come as a surprise to me that you have no qualms linking to the blogs of the likes of shaban mir (someone who openly attacks this “deen” especially hijaab)…May Allah azza wa jall keep muslimeen safe from such fitaan, ameen ya rabb.

    (hey let me know if my comments bother you I won’t bother commenting on your blog again).


  2. when i was in college, class debates were so uber-pc that many kids were silenced, not knowing how to express their thoughts without offending somebody. gradually, everyone learned the lingo of dialectics and color and post-colonial this and that. some of this pc stuff is okay, i think, but some times people need to be granted a little slack for the sake of hearing their message. i used to be get so riled up over things, like i would’ve gotten angry about “best female blog.” but now, i really don’t see the point of emotionalism. why must we all be fussing about it? all ya gots to do is send an email to them, giving your suggestions for next time. tell others. say this is what they’re saying, this is why i think my terms are better. some times people just either don’t think or don’t know better. so that’s why we need to be patient, advise, accept advice, and forgive.

    being married to someone with very different speech patterns than my own has taught me a little (i stress a little) about being patient when it comes to language. we need to focus on the point, the intention, and work together from there.

    so apple, be sure to let the folks over at the brass crescent awards know your position. others, too. and maybe next year, inshaAllah, no one will be offended, frustrated, or otherwise harumphed.

  3. Salaam,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts & do write in to Shahed & Aziz about them too as they’re very receptive to constructive criticism.

    Just FYI, the female blogger category was brought up last year too (by a male blogger) as unnecessary.

    Eventually, the winner & runner-up for Best Blog were *both* female authored.

    I believe its inclusion this year again is more a reflection of the hosts perception of the Muslim blogosphere being male-dominated (like so many of our institutions) and them wanting to make sure that women continue to be highlighted.

    Secondly, the Internet tends to be quite slanted toward the West, though most of the Muslim population of the world lives in North Africa/Middle East and South/East Asia.

    I believe this category is to prevent the awards from being too Western-centric.


  4. Interesting categories … but as there are no prizes for ‘people commenting on muslim-oriented blogs who know almost nothing about it’, guess I’m out of the running. Bummer.

  5. Alt Muslim is a pretty right-on site, albeit rather male (but certainly not exclusively so), and if you have issues with categories, I’m sure an intelligent discussion is possible. Threatening boycotts seems just a little excessive. Perhaps they ought to include a category of ‘Best Online Tantrum’. I think there is an outside chance you might get nominated for that one. 😉

  6. Hmm @nuqtah- some issues we have hey:P

    @apple- what about some like me? African but of Asian decent- can I still qualify? Or can we add a ‘Best African/Asian Blogger’ category as well!

  7. Yes, I agree with Julaybib. The Altmuslim and City of Brass folks are VERY open to ideas and discussion – that is after all why they do this whole thing, to foster open discussion.

  8. Z, I hear you. I left a comment over at City of Brass a few days ago but no response as of yet. I’m not really threatening or promoting a boycott although I myself might not vote rather my issues are with the two categories I mentioned because it seems indicative of a so-called liberal and progressive mindset which while perhaps well-intentioned is actually reinforcing antiquated stereotypes while using the cover of inclusion.

    In my studies and experience, liberals who pride themselves on their supposedly modern thoughts are often just as racist although they bury it under more layers as the stereotypical racist.

  9. Nuqtah: Not really sure what you are talking about but if you feel that a black person expressing intelligent thoughts about discrimination is racist, offensive, or indicative of racial superiority and a need to get back in place, I can’t really help you.

    Perhaps, you are unused to black people who have a sense of self-worth and are aware of and proud in a good but not arrogant sense of their heritage. I would suggest you spend some time in Africa or with immigrant Africans because what you think is a sense of superiority is actually just an expression of the reality of situation that not all of us are from the bush and trying to pass or act like other groups deemed superior to us.

    If you can keep to the house rules feel free to comment, if you are unable to do so then I suggest you leave.

    Edit: I just realized from reading the other thread that you thought I was white but in any event my offer still stands, I’ll send you my dad’s book The American Image of Africa: Myth and Reality if you want it because it deals with some of the issues you raised.

  10. bill, maybe you can get the brass western non-Muslim commenter award.

    Al-Hanbali: Apparently, best male blog is by default the best blog although someone didn’t get the message last year and a female blog won.

    Julaybib, I would prefer the most apple friendly blog award.

    bilal, I’ve always considered Africans of Asian descent as African especially those who live in the sub-saharan section so I don’t think you qualify for the ME/Asian Blogger according to the definitions.

    Baraka & koonj, open discussion is good so why do they keep adding that best female blog category and it’s sad that no one seems to have noticed in the last 2 years that ME/Asian Blogger is not inclusive of the “global Islamsphere”.

  11. about “liberals who pride themselves on their supposedly modern thoughts…”

    i totally agree with you on this one. i saw plenty of this in my college bubble in ohio. but i also think that this is not necessarily what’s happening over at city of brass. we just need to have open, inclusive dialogue so people can express themselves honestly and come to their own conclusions on this issue. i do think the two categories you mention are problematic, but it just needs to be discussed.

    i’m just generally tired of hearing fussing. maybe because my 3yo is quite fond of it. i like action!

  12. I agree, I have a good opinion about the brothers and what they are trying to do with the Awards. It just struck me as strange that in two years no has seen a problem with the incongruity of the ME/A award and the description which launched me into some other directions in my mind.

  13. “brass western non-Muslim commenter”….nope, sounds too much like ‘Best Western non-muslin comforter….’ which I’m pretty sure is a description of some kind of bed covering. I guess I’ll just go for the Most Likely to be Ignored award….

  14. I remember Shahed himself commented wondering if the Best Female Blogger category was needed.

    I do agree with Baraka though, in that the blogosphere and particularly the muslim blogosphere tends to be male/masculinist-dominated, dominated by political analysis rather than reflection. Maybe this is why the Female category remains. This is a problem that continues with muslim orgs in general. Palestine/war/important personage/current affairs analysis writers get the limelight far more than, say literary matters, aesthetic writing, and writing on “female” subjects such as childrearing and emotional/intuitive stuff. Of course this is a problem with the larger culture. … Still waiting for THAT to be addressed. Until then, we are subsidiary and “special” categories.

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