As promised a fortnight ago (sorry about the delay), here is the first instalment of a new series of entries, in which I aim to review the podcasts currently listed in the Islam section of the iTunes Store (iTS) directory (iTunes is currently the most popular client for subscribing to podcasts). For more information about podcasts and iTunes, read this FAQ written by Apple.
Before I begin, let me explain a little something that relates to the importance of these reviews. Users of the iTunes directory can search for podcasts of interest using the iTS search engine. The results appear in order of relevance, but also in order of their popularity, as determined by how many people are subscribed to the podcast using iTunes. That is, the more people that subscribe to a podcast via iTS, the higher up the search rankings that podcast will appear. So if you use the search term “Islam”, the most highly subscribed podcast channels that relate to Islam, will appear first in the search listings. This in turn gives these channels an edge when it comes to hooking new subscribers, compared to those channels that appear way down at the bottom of the list.
I am hoping that these reviews will help you make smart choices when it comes to deciding which podcasts to download, which will hopefully have a positive impact on the search engine rankings of worthy Islamic podcasts within the iTS directory, insha’Allah. Or at the least, it will stop you wasting your time and bandwidth on crummy mp3s that do not deserve a space in the Islam section!
Right now, I plan to tackle the list of podcast channels alphabetically – but I reserve the right to alter my strategy later on.
Channel Title: The Adventures of Chester Radio
Summary: One to avoid, unless you have the patience for the usual non-Muslim analysis of ‘radical’ Islam.
Creator/ Host: Josh Manchester (a blogger based at theadventuresofchester.com)
Supplied Info: Warfare, statecraft, Islam, and the great issues of the day.
Genre/ Style: Politics, Interviews
Last Podcast (title; date; info):
Interview with Fred Ikle; 10/11/2006; Fred Ikle, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in the Reagan Administration, discusses his new book, “Annihilation From Within.”
Podcast of interest (title; date; info):
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross on Islam and Terrorism; 24/10/2006; Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, former radical Muslim and now a terrorism consultant, discusses his background as described in his forthcoming book, “My Year Inside Radical Islam,” along with prison jihad; the media war; riots in Europe; Somalia; and Indonesia.
Though the channel title doesn’t give much away, it didn’t take me long to realize that the host of this podcast is an American, non-Muslim who is mainly concerned with discussions on “radical” Islam, the War on Terror, and other matters which tend to annoy regular Muslims. It is not worth going into a deep review, as it seems that the podcast channel (including the host blog) is no longer being regularly updated. But for what it’s worth, Josh has an eloquent style, and is not overtly hostile to Muslims or Islam – in fact, there was much mention of the benefits of ‘moderate’ Islam in the Gartenstein-Ross interview – though neither host nor guest ever bothered to explain what moderate Islam actually is (sigh).
The latter interview also drove me a little nuts with the blatant hypocrisy typically displayed by consultants who are hired to suggest methods for thwarting radicalism in the Muslim world. The absolute two-faced rhetoric of jihad = bad, evil, wrong wrong wrong, but American military intervention in Muslim lands = completely different & oh-so-gooood. PUR-LEASE! At one point, they were even claiming that the Middle East needed more media channels that were ‘friendly’ to American interests, as part of the ‘war of ideas’. Erm, last time I checked, that was called PROPOGANDA. Not so great when the Commies are using it, but just dandy for making Arabs more hospitable to American ideals (and interference). It is really enough to make me pull my own hair out!
Recommended audience: Obviously this podcast has nothing to do with Islam as a religion, but rather, is concerned with ‘political’ Islam, Islamism, or whatever you want to call it. Not recommended for the average Muslim, but maybe of interest to those who are wise in the ways of current affairs, just so you know the kinds of arguments and accusations we need to work against (though some arguments won’t be so relevant in 2008). However, to prevent increasing the channel’s popularity, I suggest that you download the audio files direct from the source: http://www.theadventuresofchester.com/archives/podcasts/
So that’s all from me this week. Please let me know if this review was useful, and feel free to provide some suggestions on how I can improve. See you next Saturday, insha’Allah!