Wednesday, December 10, 2008

UPDATE: From "qualified imam" in Sydney to "Islamic scholar" in Christchurch ...

"imam" Afroz Ali has joined the ranks of the big league, sharing a stage with actual former politicians (Bob Carr and Andrew Bartlett) and an actual sitting MP Pru Goward, as well as other actually qualified people. You can read their biographies here. Here is what "imam" sahib says about himself:


Afroz Ali is the Founder and President of Al-Ghazzali Centre for Islamic Sciences & Human Development, based in Lakemba in south-western Sydney and a founding and executive member of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change. Afroz is a qualified Imam in the Islamic Tradition. He has studied in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the United States, Mauritania and Egypt and his worldwide work involves presenting workshops and training programs on Islamic Jurisprudence, Spirituality, Ecological Wellbeing, Ethical Rights and Responsibilities, and Personal and Corporate Citizenship. He mentors and trains community organisations in sustainability and personal development and advocates peace, acceptance, justice and interpersonal rights. Imam Afroz is the recipient of the International Ambassador for Peace award.
So Afroz founded this climate change group. That's a good thing. It's an issue that affects us all. Actual trained and qualified imams seem to be ignoring the issue. At least, we don't see actual imams involved in climate change activism.

But who gave him this Ambassador of Peace award? When did he start training people on "Islamic ... Spirituality" (i.e. irfan or tasawwuf)? Is he part of a tariqa (sufi order) and authorised by a murshid to do so? And what is this clumsy expression "interpersonal rights"? Is it the same as human rights? And who awarded Afroz the "International Ambassador for Peace" award? What is this award?

Afroz is no longer saying he has graduated or received degrees from Saudia, Yemen, the US, Mauritania or Egypt. Instead, he has merely studied in these countries. Afroz has learned to be relatively more honest in Australia, though such honesty doesn't extend to New Zealand.

In an upcoming session in Christchurch, hosted by the Nawawi Centre (and which I found on the University of Canterbury website), Afroz has this said about himself:

Islam and Muslim cultures: A primer for service providers
10am-4pm, 15 and 16 December — Refugee and Migrant Service Centre, 201 Peterborough St

Join Islamic scholar Imam Afroz Ali, from Sydney, for a two-day workshop seminar aimed at those in educational, health and legal sectors, as well as other service provider sectors, who work with Muslim clients. The workshop will provide a detailed workbook, and comprise of strategies, insights and effective tools to work with Muslims in light of their faith, Islam. The programme will highlight Muslim cultural matters that may affect your effectiveness as a service provider and how to develop a successful working relationship through sound knowledge of the practices.

Imam Afroz Ali provides such training to service and corporate sectors in Australia, and his insights and expertise will be highly valuable for your organization ...

Cost is $90 per person.
Islamic scholar? When did that happen? Is Afroz qualified as an Islamic acholar in the same manner as I am a qualified lawyer? Or as scholars like Bill Shepard or Anthony Johns are scholars of Arabic and Islamic studies?

So in Australia, Afroz is a mere "qualified imam", while in New Zealand (and at a cost of $90 a pop) he becomes an "Islamic scholar". Go figure.

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