Any new music projects going on?
Well, yes and no. We broke up in 93, and did one reunion in 99. However, we're considering doing some new stuff again next year - so maybe.
Lyric-wise you’ve been branded as fascist, intolerant and offensive… What’s your views on that?
C'mon, the Vegan Reich lyrics really aren’t that offensive :)
In terms of a Vegan Reich possible tour, would you try to change VR’s philosophy/politics in order to get more acceptance and/or avoid boycotts or would you just stick to the book? What is the response you expect ? An Us vs. Them?
I will never let Vegan Reich be a mouthpiece to make people Muslim. It did not start as that, and it is not what it is for. If people see I'm Muslim but don’t try to force it on them, it makes them respect Islam and me better. No one likes being forced to do anything.
In terms of the Changing of views in the band…from Animal Lib. to Hardline to Muslim (as for a while the name changed to Vegan Jihad)…and now back to the beginning again…Wouldn’t that be hypocrisy? Or at least paradoxical?
What I was trying to say, is that very often, at certain points in our lives - we profess one ideology or another, grow, change, merge etc into stances - that may seem counter than earlier ones, or at least different - but that if any of us our honest with ourselves, very often, we always hold many ideas within us at one time. And sometimes they may be real variances, other times just perceived.
Tell us a bit about your conversion to Islam…how it affected you, how did you experience it ? How was having new rules in your life? Were you considered a weirdo/fanatic back then … ?
I've been a practising Muslim for 12 years now. Becoming a Muslim actually made me MUCH more tolerant of things/actions which I might not have agreed with when I was younger. Since the Quran says there is no compulsion in religion - it truly is not up to me to dictate someone’s moral behaviour, or my version or understanding of what morality is to them, so long as that behaviour is not oppressing me.
Certainly, we as Muslims have a code of rules that we chose to abide by to some degree or another, and I am for instance, not that strict on those, you might say I’m a pretty liberal Muslim - but for other people, it is not my place. What I mean by this is, for instance, I don’t drink. But I'm not gonna go to some non-Muslim and kick their ass for drinking. People's relationship to God, or belief or non-belief in God is their business. I cannot compel someone to believe as I believe. The only time Muslims are required to fight people, is when those people are unjust and oppressive. So anyway - my point is that things may not be as they appear from the outside, a lot of people think conversion to Islam would probably make someone fanatical - which for most people I know, is quite far from the truth.
How you cope with living in the XXI century with a VI century belief system?
I don’t think it is fair to say that people who converted to Islam are people have not incorporated modern awareness into their lives, by the simple fact that they have become Muslim. This is really a western stereotype of Islam. That is not accurate! Certainly, there are many Muslims, who live in the past. But, entire segments of Muslim society, have always believed in progressing with the times. Shi'a Islam, in fact, by the very nature of how it views the Quran, always maintains a current up to date interpretation of things. Now, there will arise different views of what up to date means, and thus you will find both liberal and conservative rulings even within the same country - but what I am saying is, Islam is in no way more stuck in the past than any other society/religion/belief etc.
Just as say, the Anarchist movement or Communism, must adapt to changing aspects of society, as the working class dies out in some countries, arises in others etc. - as the nature of things changes, all ideas must adapt to this reality. But at the core of any belief is a set of standards by which each group adapts according to its root belief. What I mean is, a Communist may adapt to a changing world, but still believes in basic economic principles that they try to adhere to in that adaptation. An Anarchist in 2006 America has entirely different set of circumstances than say a Spanish Anarchist in 1930-36. Most Anarchists in America are far from syndicalism, and much more individualist for instance. But at the root, they have a base definition at least, which they try to develop within their thoughts. We as Muslims also have different opinions, many of which we argue about amongst ourselves - but nonetheless, we all are trying to keep up with the reality of modern times, and in general, are doing a fine job at it.
Speaking of all this modernism/traditionalism etc - have you read any of Rene Guenon's work? Very interesting read on the flaws in modernism. Highly recommended.
This one is a bit off-track…you were not born as a Muslim…, what is then your ethnic background?
My family from Mexico traces its European roots (as opposed to its indigenous roots) back to the Al-Andalus. Someone from that region came over during the expulsion, not really sure if a Spanish Jew or Muslim, and then came to Mexico and intermarried etc.
The Andalus was one of the most enlightened places ever at a certain point in history - the way Islam should be but unfortunately is not.
Ok, so in terms of Islam, tell us a bit about an hot topic!!! Sex and mutah in Shiism, ….!!!
Ah, mutah :) it is a good example of why I think Shi'a Islam is more advanced than Sunni.
Your views on Ramadan?
The best time of the year… for me at least. a time to remove oneself from worldly passions, purify the soul, curb carnal desires etc - focus on humility, spiritual pursuits etc. and yes - in the evening, eating some very good foods;)…basically - no food from about 5 in the morning to about 7 at night. And also, I add extra prayers called Tarawih prayers that i do in the middle of the night. An exhausting but rejuvenating period - helps refocus all my energy and spiritual pursuits after a year immersed in the madness of Dunya (earthly affairs with biz and so on). Also, it is good for even the most wealthy of Muslims to remember what it is like to be poor, and also, to spend their money on the poor during the month, to help out the less fortunate around us.
As a Muslim how do you relate to opposite sex socially? And the ‘impure/pure’ connotation that often is charged on Muslims?
Do you mean casual touch, as in avoiding a hug or shaking hands? First of all, it should be known that this is not a standard absolute practise with all Muslims - and not one that i practice. Friends of mine who are women, I hug goodbye, even ones that are born Muslims, middle eastern women etc. this comes down to how strict one is i suppose, though there are arguments there amongst us Muslims as to what is ok or what is not.
You’ve mentioned the importance of rituals, but what about the possible emptiness of this same rituals? The possibility of no spiritual presence/essence within the form…
Hope you enjoyed the interview as much as we did, any last words?
I enjoyed the discussion... cos at the end of the day, I’m not trying to make anyone be Muslim or anything else. It is sort of how I am anarchist still and Muslim at same time. Hahaha…
None of us have proof of one theory or another. Everything is faith. Even Atheism…