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Arabic is easy for the brain

By Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, PhD
07th September 2010

On Saturday morning I woke up to find my inbox inundated with emails linking to an article on the BBC's website entitled Reading Arabic "hard for brain" with an embedded picture of little Muslim girls in hijab reading the Arabic alphabet. Parents, somewhat concerned about the potential strain upon their children's brains, were inquiring about the validity of the claims made in the article. Having looked at the original research paper in the journal Neuropsychology (Language Status and Hemispheric Involvement in Reading: Evidence From Trilingual Arabic Speakers Tested in Arabic, Hebrew and English written by Raphiq Ibrahim and Zohar Eviatar, published by the American Psychological Association 2009, Vol. 23, No. 2, 240–254), upon which the news item was based, I think there is a need for some clarifications that were, in the pursuit of sensationalism and perhaps anti-Arabic bias, ignored by both the researchers and the BBC science correspondent who authored the article, Dr Katie Alcock. I apologise in advance for the use of technical jargon but it is inescapable in this instance. This is a blatant and malicious attack posited within a scientific framework and therefore it requires, at least in part, a discussion in scientific terms. I will try to simplify my language as much as possible. Read more...

Obama, the Biggest Threat to Al-Aqsa in 90 Years?

By Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, PhD
11th November 2009

Owing to the fog of multiple and conflicting pictures painted to depict Barack Obama, confusion remains in the minds of many as to what the new President of America really represents and where exactly his loyalties lie. As the weeks and months of his presidency pass by, inconsistent messages and contradictory positions on major issues have become a standard feature of the regime. An executive order is signed to close Guantanamo Bay and end the military trials of its inmates, but then the military trials are revived and Guantanamo remains open. Renditions are ruled out in public, but then ruled in by stealth. The war in Iraq was to be ended in 2009, but instead of any substantial withdrawal of troops, we have the construction of the "small-city-larger-than-the-Vatican" sized US Embassy in Baghdad. Indeed, war continues, as in the previous administration, to feature at the top of the White House agenda, with thousands more troops committed to war in Afghanistan - but then Obama receives the Nobel Peace Prize. Read more...

2012 Update

Barack Obama pushes the Democrats to reinsert references to the USA's 'God-given' potential and the explicit recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel into the party's platform despite significant opposition from delegates. Read more about this story here and here. Subscription/registration may be required for external sites.

For an Arabic version of this article please click here

A Ramadan Veiled in Hostility

By Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, PhD
18th October 2006

The month of Ramadan is revered universally by Muslims who spend it in prayer, fasting, giving charity and seeking forgiveness and spiritual growth. As usual in Britain, Muslims have been allowed to fast and pray the lengthy night prayer in mosques around the country, and some local authorities have decorated small portions of their cities with fairy lights in preparation for the festival of Eid. However, this year's Ramadan will also be remembered for events that are more solemn. Sadly, Ramadan 2006 will be etched into the minds of Muslims for its extraordinary politics and the daily headlines that have targeted the Muslim community with a sustained barrage of psychological hostility. Read more...

Faith, Reason and Infallibility:
Memory failures and Odd reflections

By Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, PhD
16th August 2006

A lecture by Pope Benedict XVI entitled Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections at the University of Regensburg on Tuesday 12 September 2006 has caused another uproar among Muslims worldwide and the tension seems set to increase read more...
(Arabic version)

Enough dissecting of Muslim hearts! Time to search for the real roots!

By Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, PhD
14 February 2006

Not content with the daggers driven through the hearts of Muslims in the form of disparaging cartoons, the media - including the BBC - appears to be making up for not republishing them by contributing to the pain with a relentless campaign of dissections of the Muslim heart to prove that we ought not to be upset. Our feelings, they seem to suggest, are merely a result of denial and political manipulation. Little do people realise that this controversy was designed with the specific purpose of causing widespread uproar among Muslims and repulsion for Islam in Europe. read more...
(URDU version - ARABIC version)

It’s a Question of Love, Newsnight, not Fear!

By Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, PhD
03 February 2006

As Muslims across the world voice their displeasure at cartoons in Europe depicting the Prophet of Islam (on whom be peace) as a terrorist, and journalists repeat the well-worn mantras of “wake-up call”, “freedom-of-speech in danger”, “Muslims must conform to our norms”, and "secularist traditions under threat", many are still wondering, "What is all the fuss about?” read more...

Is this the Mountain that will Break the Back of Civilisation as we know it?

By Shaikh Riyad Nadwi, PhD
01 February 2006

Homosexuality has made the headlines in the past month with unprecedented frequency, from a series of high profile public celebrations over civil partnerships (so-called “gay marriages”) to Oscar-nominated blockbusters and a chain of political career meltdowns following forced confessions of homosexual behaviour. Behind the smoke screen of lame excuses (e.g. lack of honesty in politics), the tendency to shy away from endorsing this behaviour remains as alive as it was in the 1950s when Sir John Wolfenden popularised the idea that homosexuality could only be a “condition” rather than the result of conditioning. The major difference today is that instead of changing man-made laws, all energies are focused on challenging God’s laws and warnings. read more...

The Beast You Seek Thrives in Your Zoo Dr Dawkins!

By Shaikh Riyad Nadwi, PhD
20 January 2006


Our local zoologist, Professor Richard Dawkins, has once again tried to breach the boundaries of his mental cage with selective science and arrogant certitude in a two part Channel Four documentary, to argue that religion is “The Root of All Evil”, “the elephant in the room” ignored by everyone. It is a result of, he said, “the process of non-thinking”. What follows is a series of thoughts that occurred to me, a believer in God, upon viewing the programme.read more...

Is the BBC lost in its own Moral Maze?
By Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, PhD
14 November 2005

In my article earlier this year (19 July 2005), I questioned the BBC’s persistence in keeping the anti-Muslim Melanie Phillips on the panel of the Radio Four programme, The Moral Maze. Four months on and her poisonous spin continues to fill the airwaves twice a week. On Saturday my car radio accidentally tuned into the programme and to my astonishment I heard Ms Phillips, while defending the 90 day detention proposal, argue that if a Muslim is found to have shaved off his body hair, it probably means he is preparing for a suicide operation.read more...

Rev. Sookhdeo blames Islam! In aid of Israel?
By Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, PhD
30 July 2005

Anyone reading this week's lead article in The Spectator entitled 'The Myth of Moderate Islam' (30 July 2005) is likely to conclude that Muslims are about to dominate the world through violence and will soon take over or destroy Britain.

...It is obvious, apart from the deception aimed at those who are unfamiliar with the demographic realities of the Muslim population in Britain, that Rev. Sookhdeo is attempting to exploit the recent tragedies in London to foment religious and racial tension. This comes as no surprise since we know that the Reverend has made a career for himself over the last decade by peddling 'Israeli-conceived' fallacies and tactics against Islam and Muslims. read more...

By Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, PhD - Jan 04

"We are, as a state, entitled to draw a line, particularly around state institutions, schools and particularly around minors… [but] I have no objection absolutely to an adult woman wearing a headscarf or indeed girls wearing them in their own homes or out or in the mosque or whatever." (Dr Evan Harris, 29th January 2004, BBC Radio Five Live) (click to listen to Dr Evan Harris)(80k)

Sh Riyad responds to Dr Evan Harris's comments in his Hijab and spin articles. read more...

This is Britain Mr Taheri, even Benador’s spin will not suffice!
By Shaikh Riyad Nadwi, PhD
28 July 2005

Yesterday, The Times published an article by one Mr Amir Taheri calling on Muslims to stop using 'their bodies as advertising space for al-Qaeda'. According to him, 'Growing a beard has nothing to do with Islam' and 'Muslim women should cast aside the so-called hijab, which has nothing to do with Islam'. Now if you are wondering, as I imagine many would be, who this Mr Taheri is and whence his authority to issue such a fatwa, the answer can be readily found. I believe it is necessary to look at some of his earlier pronouncements and the people who have created the mirage of authority around him. read more...

It’s the ‘attacks’ on Islam, stupid!
By Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, PhD - 19th July 05

Over the last ten days we have witnessed impassioned debates and frantic searching for the underlying factors that may have caused four seemingly ‘normal’ young men to blow up commuters – and themselves – in London. The explanations offered by politicians, journalists and pseudo-scholars range from the simplistic (‘they-hate-freedom’, ‘mere-criminality’ and ‘literalism’) to the opportunistic (‘Islam-is-the-problem’, ‘death-cult-ideology’ and ‘frustrated politics’). Unconvinced by these, and rightly so, the British public continue to seek answers to this global phenomenon that has now become a local problem for British citizens. Some argue justifiably that there are many people in this country with profound concerns and frustrations over the injustices in Palestine, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya and Iraq but they do not explode bombs in cities to make their point. So what is it that causes people to make the leap from frustration to terrorism? read more...

By Amina Al-Haddad - 14 July 2005

In recent times, a great deal of media coverage has been devoted to the phenomenon of so-called ‘honour killings’, whereby mainly women, but also sometimes men, are killed by close acquaintances for having done something that has humiliated their family. The media portrayal of this subject has covered both the occurrence of the phenomenon in developing countries, and its occurrence – or the threat of its occurrence – among Muslim communities in the West. read more...

Questions for the BBC Producers
by Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, Phd - 13th July 2005

Muslims of Britain have remained unanimous and consistent in their condemnation of the London bombings. Muslim scholars, the length and breath of this country, have drawn inspiration from the words of the Quran to criticise those responsible for this tragedy. Why then does the BBC persist in propagating the offensive verbosity against the Quran by the likes of Irshad Manji? (Newsnight 12/07/05) Is it to provide further justification for what is increasingly being perceived as the West’s onslaught on the Quran and Islam?

Statement on the bombing of London
by Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, Phd - 7th July 2005

The appalling acts of violence against innocent civilians such as we have seen this morning in London is condemned both in the revealed Words of the Quran and the received wisdom from the Prophet Muhammad.

On behalf of the Muslims of Oxford and all Muslims in this country, I extend my sincere condolences to the families who have suffered in this tragedy and pray for patience and protection for all those who live in this land that has offered us sanctuary and freedom to practice our faith read more...

I want to believe you Mr Klaidman but your retraction has the opposite effect - May 17, 2005

“Revelations of sadism in Abu Ghurayb were examples of rogue elements in a highly disciplined force, invading to teach Muslims civility and freedom,” we were told. Last week, Newsweek announced to the world that a copy of the Quran was flushed down the toilet in Guantanamo Bay. A week later, after violent demonstrations in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Yemen and Pakistan, Newsweek editor Daniel Klaidman tells the BBC (Radio 4, 16.05.05) that although he had ‘relied on a source that was very credible and reliable in the past’ and that he had ‘run it by the Defence Department’ he now thinks that he may have made a mistake’. He is also keen to remind the listeners that the source (a high government official) ‘still believes that the information was in the Southern Command report’ but the Pentagon is denying it. read more...

Immigration and the clichéd question: 'Are you thinking what we are thinking?' - April 24, 2005 By Shaikh Riyad Nadwi, PhD

Following the Conservative campaign one may be forgiven for seeing the party's primary slogan 'Are you thinking what we’re thinking?' as a hackneyed gimmick to attract potential voters, in the same vein as Labour’s 'Forward not Backward' and the Lib Dems' 'The Real Alternative'.

On closer inspection, however, the Conservative slogan stands apart as something more than just a slogan with which to convey a succinct and easy-to-remember message. Indeed, the slogan is void of any substantive content while embodying an interesting psycholinguistic feature. It is a feature that only becomes apparent when accompanied by another question, which is 'When do people feel the need to ask such a question?' read more...

The Spectator’s selective silence exposes hidden agenda - April 17, 2005

The Spectator magazine has once again published an article by Anthony Browne (‘Church of Martyrs’, 27 March 2005) in which he attempts to create community tension between Muslims and Christians in Britain by using spurious statistics, hearsay and fabrication. He is at pains to tell us how objective he is “…I do believe that all persecution is wrong” and “As a liberal democrat atheist, I believe all persecuted people should be helped equally, irrespective of their religion”, yet in his supposedly global survey of Christians being persecuted, there is one country whose omission is conspicuous: Israel. The Christians living in Israel do not exist for the Spectator, and Mr Browne does not tell the world why the first suicide bomber in the intifada was a Christian. Nor does he mention the fact that the largest Christian Cathedral in Africa was built in 1970 in a Muslim country, Egypt.read more...

This is about Israel, not anti-semitism - March 4, 2005
By Ken Livingstone - London Mayor

Not to speak out against this injustice would not only be wrong. It would ignore the threat it poses to us all. read more... [external link]