Sunday, 19 January 2014

Thomas Jefferson and Islam?

The Bradenton Herald (19 January 2014) carries an interesting opinion piece on the views on Islam of the American founding father, President and author of the Declaration of Independence:

"In 1776, Jefferson inscribed these pivotal words among his private notes: "(N)either Pagan nor Mahometan (Muslim) nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion." They were written a few months after he composed the Declaration of Independence, when he returned to Virginia to draft new laws for his state.

Jefferson borrowed the precedent of "civil rights" for Muslims from the English philosopher John Locke's 1689 tract, "A Letter Concerning Toleration." Locke's ideas about the toleration of Muslims and Jews provoked attacks: One critic condemned him for having "the faith of a Turk." His enemies also charged, rightly, that he owned a copy of the Quran, which they termed "the Mahometan bible."

You can read the full article here.



Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2014/01/19/4941989/thomas-jefferson-muslims-and-the.html#storylink=cpy

Friday, 19 July 2013

SOAS Students Break Fast with Homeless

The Huffington Post (15 July 2013) reports on the effort of students from the School of Oriental and African Studies to share their iftar meal (to break their fast) with members of the community by setting up a "Ramadan Tent":

"Students from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) are welcoming the public to their "Ramadan Tent" during Islam's holy month. The university, in Bloomsbury, is being used as the site where iftar, the sunset meal which breaks the fast, will be served.

Omar Salha, an SOAS alumnus, says he came up with the idea because he wanted to connect with communities.
"We want this Ramadan campaign to challenge some of the misconceptions people have about Islam. But it's also about connecting with all communities on a more humanistic level. It's only right that as Muslims and Londoners we serve the wider London community in the spirit of Ramadan.
"Some residents from St Mungo's saw our advert in their residence and came," he continued, saying he was particularly keen to reach out to those ostracised by society. "They were reluctant to say who they were at the beginning, but later said they were happy that there are still people reaching out to them."
 "The purpose of Ramadan Tent is to understand and appreciate the importance of charity and remembering those less fortunate than us; to join in the practise of sharing and caring and charitable duties towards our family, our local community and our nation.
"To invite the homeless and the poor and not turn them away, even if all we can give is half a date; to say a good word, to smile, to safeguard our environment and pick up rubbish and above all else to keep peace and good relations between people."












Thursday, 18 July 2013

Boston Globe Annual Photography Feature

For the last few years the Boston Globe has published a great feature on Ramadan on its The Big Picture.  You can see the pictures for 2011 here, 2012 here and 2013 below and here.



























source for all images here

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Masjid Umar Helping Out in the Snow

The Leicester Mercury (22nd January 2013) received a letter recently from a member of the public:
"(An open letter to the community of the Masjid Umar mosque in Evington Road, Leicester).

I want to thank your community for the most amazing selfless act that happened on Friday night – it has truly moved me and has changed my attitude and I am feeling very humble today. Let me explain why.

Along with most of Leicester, I was crawling home at a snail's pace and was facing the long hill of Evington Road. What I saw in front of me was truly wonderful.

There were many Muslim men, wrapped up and facing icy winds and freezing temperatures, stopping the traffic to guide cars out of side roads, to make sure the traffic flowed and pushing the more modern computerised cars up the hill.

They were putting themselves in front of heavy vehicles that could have slid and crushed them – still they carried on.

I knew my old car would make it – no computer to tell it not to.

I chugged up the hill, but also saw your men pushing the less able and the whole event really opened both my eyes and my heart.

It didn't matter who was in these cars – black, white, any creed and any colour, all were assisted, without any prejudice.

At 52, I have grown up with prejudice in my heart.

My cousin was blown up in a market in Afghanistan, serving his Queen and country, so my prejudice was strengthened even further.

A bit of snow and community spirit has changed my outlook on many things. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Annie Ward-Pearson, Leicester".

You can read the original letter here (half way down the page)

Muslim Snow Patrol in Newcastle

The recent snowy weather in the UK caused disruption throughout the country.  Sky News (23rd January 2013) reports on members of the Islamic Diversity in Newcastle who have been clearing residential roads and drives in Newcastle's West End.


 


The Sky news website reports:

"IDC director Abu Tayeb said: “[Residents] have been really appreciative of the work that we’re doing.

“They’ve been a bit surprised at why loads of bearded men have come and tried to help them clear their drives.

“As Muslims we believe that it is our Islamic duty to look after our neighbours, especially in these very difficult conditions.

“We’re trying to remove some of those preconceptions people have about Islam and Muslims by showing that Muslims actually do good things and are trying to help our neighbours.”


You can see the full report here.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

BBC Documentary: Great British Islam

Great British Islam is a documentary about three Englishman who embraced Islam and the consequences they faced.  It also explores the legacy they left behind in Britain.



Iftar at the White House

President Obama recently hosted an iftar dinner at the White House.  The Examiner (11 August 2012) published a transcript of the speech given by the President at the dinner:


"As I’ve noted before, Thomas Jefferson once held a sunset dinner here with an envoy from Tunisia -- perhaps the first Iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago. And some of you, as you arrived tonight, may have seen our special display, courtesy of our friends at the Library of Congress -- the Koran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson. And that's a reminder, along with the generations of patriotic Muslims in America, that Islam -- like so many faiths -- is part of our national story.
This evening, we’re honored to be joined by members of our diplomatic corps, members of Congress -- including Muslim American members of Congress, Keith Ellison and Andre Carson -- as well as leaders from across my administration. And to you, the millions of Muslim Americans across our country, and to the more than one billion Muslims around the world -- Ramadan Kareem.
More broadly, we’ve seen the extraordinary courage of Muslim women during the Arab Spring -- women, right alongside men, taking to the streets to claim their universal rights, marching for their freedom, blogging and tweeting and posting videos, determined to be heard. In some cases, facing down tanks, and braving bullets, enduring detentions and unspeakable treatment, and at times, giving their very lives for the freedom that they seek -- the liberty that we are lucky enough to enjoy here tonight.
These women have inspired their sisters and daughters, but also their brothers and their sons. And they’ve inspired us all. Even as we see women casting their ballots and seeking -- standing for office in historic elections, we understand that their work is not done. They understand that any true democracy must uphold the freedom and rights of all people and all faiths. We know this, too, for here in America we're enriched by so many faiths, by men and women -- including Muslim American women.
They’re young people, like the student who wrote me a letter about what it’s like to grow up Muslim in America. She’s in college. She dreams of a career in international affairs to help deepen understanding between the United States and Muslim countries around the world. So if any of the diplomatic corps have tips for her -- (laughter.) She says that "America has always been the land of opportunity for me, and I love this country with all my heart." And so we’re glad to have Hala Baig here today. (Applause.)
They are faith leaders like Sanaa Nadim, one of the first Muslim chaplains at an American college -- a voice for interfaith dialogue who's had the opportunity to meet with the Pope to discuss these issues. We're very proud to have you here. (Applause.)


They are educators like Auysha Muhayya, born in Afghanistan, who fled with her family as refugees to America, and now, as a language teacher, helps open her students to new cultures. So we're very pleased to have her here. (Applause.)
They are entrepreneurs and lawyers, community leaders, members of our military, and Muslim American women serving with distinction in government. And that includes a good friend, Huma Abedin, who has worked tirelessly -- (applause) -- worked tirelessly in the White House, in the U.S. Senate, and most exhaustingly, at the State Department, where she has been nothing less than extraordinary in representing our country and the democratic values that we hold dear. Senator Clinton has relied on her expertise, and so have I.
The American people owe her a debt of gratitude -- because Huma is an American patriot, and an example of what we need in this country -- more public servants with her sense of decency, her grace and her generosity of spirit. So, on behalf of all Americans, we thank you so much. (Applause.)
These are the faces of Islam in America. These are just a few of the Muslim Americans who strengthen our country every single day. This is the diversity that makes us Americans; the pluralism that we will never lose."
You can read the full speech here.


U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan in the State Dining Room of the White House August 10, 2012 in Washington, DC. Credit: Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images  (image source).