Observed Trends in the Muslim Blogosphere

Originally posted at MuslimMatters.org

With the Brass Crescent Awards coming to a close, and the launch of the new Muslims Bloggers Directory, I feel it’s a good time to take a closer look at the world of Muslim blogging.

I’ve had the honour of working on several online initiatives alongside MuslimMatters these past couple of years. In particular, the website Ijtema.net, which, since its launch back in 2007, has aimed to promote the ‘best of the Muslim blogosphere’.

Our initial approach to achieve this goal was to act as a type of human filter of the Islaminet: our team of editors would link to Muslim-authored content that we found interesting, in the hope that our readers would too. I guess that they did, as we were nominated for a BCA last year under the category “Best Group Blog” – though we were beaten by some unknown entity called “MuslimMatters.org”. Anyone ever heard of them?

However, as the number of Muslim blogs we followed became greater and greater, and the spare time of our editors became less and less, we knew we could not sustain our efforts for much longer. We decided to close the site, albeit temporarily, and focus on a new, hopefully more efficient strategy.

That eventually led to the launch of the Muslim Bloggers Directory – a freely accessible, categorised collection of links to Muslim blogs, vlogs, and other multimedia channels, with a custom search engine allowing visitors to search through the actual content of listed sites.

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Not Another Marriage Topic!

“Yes, another marriage topic!” says our own iMuslim. She’s sharing an interesting idea from a friend, to help ease the “Is it a yes? Is it a no?” confusion in the marriage proposal hunt!

Now, how we do it in my community, is that after some initial discussion between parents and go-betweens over the phone, the guy and his family comes round to visit the girl and her family. After munching on samosas and tea for anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour, the girl and the guy usually get to spend some time with one another to ask questions. Depending on the family and their customs, they may sit alone in an open part of the house, or sit in the corner while their family pretends not to listen in.

After this ‘interview’ period, the guy goes back to his family, there may be some more samosa munching, but usually the boy’s family goes home soon after.

What follows is usually an agonising wait while the guy’s family makes their decision. It might be a day. It might be a week. They may never respond (yes, it happens! How rude?). True, it is only agonising if the girl is actually interested… else, who cares, right? Anyway, this whole waiting period usually results in unnecessary stress for the girl’s family, which may lead to squabbling and other unpleasantness.

But, there is another way, my friends.

Islam Expo News

As I mentioned the week before last, I planned to represent Ijtema.net at the Emerald Lounge, which took place last Sunday evening at the Islam Expo in London. I was greatly looking forward to promoting our little site, and maybe meeting some of the readers; I even printed off signs, and everything. Look:

ijtema_stand.jpg

Unfortunately, when the time came for me to do my ‘thang’, I did not actually end up spending much time at the Ijtema table, due to urgent and unforeseen circumstances. So anyone who was actually interested in taking up my offer of “free publicity” may have been let down. If you are reading (which would be a miracle), I am sorry!

However, the night was not a complete waste of time. I finally met our Arts Editor, Teakster – though how he chose to introduce himself is a story best left untold (let’s just say that this is his punishment for embarrassing me in public!). He was this >< close to being sacked by yours truly – but after he was named Best Artist at the Emerald Arts Competition, I was reminded how fortunate we are to have him on the Ijtema team, and all was forgiven. Alhamdulillah! Congratulations once again, bro!

Anyway, to make up for my poor networking skills, I’d appreciate it if the existing readers would take the time to inform their friends and family of Ijtema.net – especially to ask them to subscribe to our content, either via RSS, or via e-mail (for those who are still grappling with the whole “feed” thing).

Speaking of which, we will soon be publishing a super guide to RSS feeds – just as soon as we fix a bug in our template, insha’Allah.

That’s all the news I have for now… if you have any photos or stories from the Expo, please get in touch – we’d love to share them!

Wa’salam

iMuslim

Ijtema.net @ Islam Expo

Just a quick message to tell the readers that I will be representing Ijtema.net at the Islam Expo this weekend, in London, insha’Allah.

More specifically, we will have a stand at the Emerald Lounge, which will be open from 6.45 pm onwards, on Sunday evening. The organiser, brother Rooful, informs me that for a small fee of £10 (which covers the catering) you can attend the Emerald Network event without having to book tickets for the entire Expo.

For those of you in the UK, I hope to see you there, insha’Allah!

Keep Praying

Another exclusive Editor entry written for the readers of Ijtema. Sorry it’s been a while since the last one. Insha’Allah, we’ll try to be more regular in the future.

As Muslims, we believe in the power of prayer. That Allah hears our silent whispers; our pain-filled cries. Night or day. In public or in private. He hears us, and He helps us.

But sometimes we forget. Not even out of a sense of despair, but rather, due to a misunderstanding of the manner in which prayers are answered. Sometimes, we expect it all to be very black and white: you pray for a promotion, you get the promotion. You pray for a child, you’re granted a child.

But what happens when you don’t get what you want?

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The Muslim Bashing Must End

This is the second offering in our newly introduced series of original content written by Ijtema editors. A warning to the readers: in keeping with the tendencies of the blogosphere, this entry is a rant in every sense of the word, and was written in the “heat of the moment” after witnessing some quite horrendous behaviour. So please excuse the emotional tone. I pray it’s a rant worth reading, though.

I’m getting pretty fed up with Muslim-on-Muslim bashing. No, i’m not referring to the Shia versus Sunni violence prevalent in Iraq, nor the Sufi versus Salafi rhetoric found on countless forums and blogs spread across the net. Rather, I am referring to this kind of talk:

“Oh, the Muslims are so stupid…”

“Oh, the Muslims are so lazy…”

“Oh, the Muslims are so backward…”

Blah! Blah! Blah!

All from the mouths of everyday Muslims.

Don’t you guys get it?

YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT YOURSELVES.

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