There's been an interesting discussion started by Umar Lee entitled "Rand Institute Muslims," in reference to the American think-tank that outlined a strategy on how to make Islam "more civil and democratic." (http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/2005/MR1716.pdf_)
It's beginning to cause a stir (http://ginnysthoughts.wordpress.com/2009/01/17/rim-rand-institute-muslims-%C2%AB-umar-lee/), which is bordering on the personal.
One detailed response to the Umar Lee post, already broadcasted by Deenport.com, has come from Indigo Jo (http://www.blogistan.co.uk/blog/mt.php/2009/01/18/response_to_umar_lee_on_shaikh) , where he describes his motivations to respond:
"I have shied away from "debating" Umar over his ramblings about "masculinity" the last couple of years, but when I see these same attitudes paired with slander of scholars, I cannot continue to keep quiet."
It is good that people are not choosing silence anymore, in light of ongoing events.
This is my original comment on Indigo Jo's response, which he has not yet published:
An interesting topic, with perhaps more issues raised than can be handled in one blogpost.
While Umar Lee may have gone overboard in casting Hamza Yusuf as the king of 'RAND Muslims,' I think he raises some valid issues.
It's important for Muslims to remember, that any leader we have in these times is not above questioning. There are traditions from Rasulullah
These are real prophecies, not to be dismissed or overlooked while we consult our Maliki and Shafi'i manuals of fiqh on obscure matters. We should ask ourselves why the stalwarts among the `ulema are deemphasizing these aspects of the deen, in favor of efforts to canonize and bring an ecclesiastical framework to Islamic knowledge.
The reason why this should be a cause for concern, and a vital discussion for us, lies in the nature of leadership itself. For example, Malcolm X may not have been a scholar or faqih, but he led by his example in standing up for the truth, even when it was bitter and politically inconvenient. And his efforts, galvanized many Muslims in America against obvious injustices. The authorities feared his agitations would bring about an uprising, and he was assassinated while speaking the truth to power. Many still remember his example today, and became Muslim through him.
There is historical precedent for this kind of an uprising against injustice - from Salahuddin Ayubi (ra). And many others who we may come to know, once we truly learn about our history.
Your response to Umar Lee, while methodical and in my opinion, with good adab (manners), has a kind of finality to it, that smacks of the Salafi/Wahabi refutations. I feel this should not be about defending Hamza Yusuf, despite our love for what he's done. It should raise further questions.
It was from Hamza Yusuf that I learned, that Imam Shafi'i (ra) used to make a du'a before engaging in debate, that Allah place the truth on the opponent's tongue, so that he would be able to accept it.
We should respect Umar Lee's opinions, and not sweep our dirty laundry under the carpet in the name of 'defending our scholars.'