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.