Thursday 29 December 2011

A Few Good Muslim Men

Human Rights Attorney Engy Abdelkader writes for the Huffington Post (27th December 2011) aboue the Muslim men who challenge the stereotype about misogynistic Muslims by giving numerous examples of men who have taken steps to improve the situation of women:

"A Few Good Muslim Men - Honoring Those Who Honor Women

If the stereotypical Muslim woman is an oppressed one, then the archetypal Muslim male is responsible for her condition. In news stories, popular entertainment media and even video games, the image of the violent, misogynistic or abusive Muslim man is present time and again.
To be sure, bad apples exist in every religious, ethnic and racial group. But there is a dearth of positive Muslim portrayals to counteract such negative images on TV or the big screen. As a result, your everyday regular Omars and Mohammeds are sometimes viewed with suspicion and fear.

As 2011 draws to a close, we take a moment to recognize the following Muslim men -- fathers, brothers, husbands, academics, advocates and religious leaders -- selected by others for their individual contributions to the lives of women and, thus, humanity at large:

Asim Rehman (36, New York): Asim is in-house counsel who volunteers his time representing domestic violence victims. Asim's wife describes him as a "fabulous" partner who encourages her intellectual pursuits. Asim has turned down professional opportunities requiring relocation so that his wife can remain in her NYC post, which she loves. The couple is expecting their first child and Asim "cooks, cleans and grocery shops without complaining." His wife says she "can't imagine a better partner than Asim."

Shyam K. Sriram (32, Georgia): A college professor, Shyam is known for his stance against violence against women and girls. In less than one year, he helped a fledgling initiative -- Muslim Men Against Domestic Violence -- become a viable one. Muslim Men Against Domestic Violence trains Muslim men how to teach others that violence against women and girls is Islamically impermissible.

Abed Awad (42, New Jersey): Abed was recognized by his colleagues for the work he has done on behalf of Muslim women both as a past Board Member of KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, and on the legal front. An accomplished attorney with his own practice, he has earned a reputation for defending women's rights in religious divorces and other family law disputes.

Davi Barker (30, California): An artist and writer, Davi's wife -- an activist, attorney and community leader -- described him in this way: "He is exactly what I dreamed of when I thought I wanted to marry a man who lived his life and marriage through his faith. Religion, and more specifically 'love and mercy' dictate everything he does in our relationship. His support is what makes my work as [head of a civil rights organization] possible. From being understanding when I have a difficult case or am coming home late regularly to helping with the graphic design for [my organization] and carrying more than a fair share of chores around the house ... I couldn't do this without him."

Imam Mohamed Magid (40ish, Virginia): Imam Magid is the Imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS Center) located in Sterling, Va. He is also President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Imam Magid was referenced by a congregant who characterized him as, "One of the biggest advocates out there for women's rights." He conducts domestic violence prevention training seminars for other Imams around the country and serves on the Board of Directors of Peaceful Families, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ending domestic violence in Muslim families.

Omar Sharif (29, California): Omar was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda who spearheaded numerous small business projects which placed women at the forefront.
Mohamed Tantawi (38, New Jersey): Mohamed's wife says of him: "He's a great pediatrician, he does most of the cooking (and well too), he sings at Carnegie Hall. Most importantly, he does all that is in his power to preserve our family dynamic, one in which he is an active partner."

Ahmad Hussain (28, California): Currently in Nashville, Tenn., completing his surgical residency, Ahmad was also suggested for inclusion on this list by his wife, a filmmaker in California. She remarked about the breadth of sacrifices Ahmed has made for her. For instance, when she indicated her willingness to sacrifice her filmmaking career which requires her to spend half her time in Los Angeles in order to stay with him in Tennessee, he was adamantly opposed to her doing so: "He said he wouldn't be happy with himself if he kept me from becoming a filmmaker. He said it makes him happy to see me doing these things. ... I know it kills him -- he's tired, he's lonely, he's hungry -- but he can't be convinced."

Abdul H. Abdullah (67, Georgia): Abdul is the Chief Financial Officer of Baitul Salaam Residence for Abused and Neglected Women and Children. In addition to contributing his time and money to the organization, he also allows battered women to seek refuge at his private family business when they are in trouble.

Taraq Chand (late 60s, New Jersey): A father of four daughters and one son, he has taught his children that Islam supports women's rights. As a result his daughters are all professionals: a doctor, chemical engineer, pharmacist and soon-to-be-lawyer.

Sheikh Abdala Adhami (Washington, D.C.): Sheikh Adhami is an Islamic scholar who has been serving the Muslim community in the U.S. for more than 20 years. A Washington, D.C. native, he was praised by several women including a New Jersey Muslim mom who described him in the following manner: "Simply a magnificent person, he spoke endlessly on women's rights in Islam, with the notion that women should know their rights and men should know in order to protect these rights, and any infringements on those rights are seen as a crime in God's eyes. He spoke of the many prominent women throughout Islamic history... and how men would travel far and wide to study at their feet. He lectured on how women, even at the time of the Prophet [Muhammed], owned their own businesses and how this money was solely theirs -- to be shared with her family at her discretion, and any money she gave to her family was a charity... [His message] was in stark contrast to what we hear from the Taliban. It brought a peace and comfort and nourished a true connection with one's Lord -- and that is what religion is supposed to do."

Nabile Safdar (35, Maryland): An accomplished doctor who recently returned from a volunteer mission to Haiti where he provided much needed medical care, Nabile is a father to three young daughters. He delivers religious sermons to his local community preaching against spousal abuse while urging men to treat women with dignity and respect.

Ezat Yosafi (Connecticut): Born in Afghanistan, Ezat was recognized by his daughter, posthumously. She attributes her professional accomplishments as an attorney to her father's guidance and advice. He passed away in Connecticut in 2008.

Furqan Ahmed (27, New Jersey): Furqan's wife says that he is "someone who has made law school a more tolerable experience. ... It is not easy to be married to a law student as law school ... involves such a dedication of time and effort. But he really pushes me to do more and presses me to follow up with law firms. ... I think it is really helpful to have someone who is a partner in all aspects."

Ali Hussain (63, Massachusetts): Ali's daughter notes, "He's coached me in multiple ways with my career, helping me overcome hurdles, to be confident in new situations, maintain integrity, be bold yet gracious in asserting my needs. He also encourages [my sisters and me] to dream big and sometimes dreams for us even bigger than we do."

Prophet Muhammad (posthumously): He is considered by Muslims to be the seal to a long line of God's prophets and messengers beginning with Adam. The Prophet Muhammad's private relationships were based on open communication and mutual respect. He never asked anyone to wait on him and participated in household chores and childcare; he used to mend his own clothes, play with children and perform chores around the home. He promoted and nurtured the education of women (e.g. Aisha bint Abu Bakr). He never raised his hand against anyone in his household. He chastised the Muslim men who dared to strike their wives. In the words of the woman who praised him, "He was kind and respected women and asked men to do the same."
While the Muslim men included above are deserving of our collective support, recognition and accolades, this list is by no means an exhaustive one. Rather, these men are representative of many more Muslims whose names are not included here but whose lives and contributions are similarly noteworthy.

If I may humbly suggest, perhaps this year Hollywood can make the following addition to its collective list of new year resolution: more positive portrayals of the American Muslim community. After all, an image of the Muslim advocate effectively representing the rights of his (or her) female Muslim client in a religious divorce or the imam educating his congregation of Muslim women's equal social status is a truer realization of art imitating life.
On the subject of accolades, a note about Muslim culture. "Mashallah" is a word frequently heard used between Muslims. It literally means "whatever God wills." And it is often said in response to hearing about a person's good deed or impressive accomplishment.


The original article is here.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

America's Dark Age of Islamophobia - "Un-American"

The Philadelphia Enquirer carries an article by Tony Norman called "America's dark age of Islamophobia" which discusses Islamaphobi in America (and the fact that it is un-American):

"Muslims really thought they were doing the world a favor by pulling Europe and its mostly illiterate Christians out of the Dark Ages. But just because they foisted algebra, trigonometry, optics, astronomical charts, the classics, Arabic numerals, advanced surgical techniques, perspective in art, the lute, and artichokes on the world - while the Christian kings of Europe were smothering free inquiry - we're not about to give them any credit a thousand years later.
Particularly in America, we remain ignorant of Islamic contributions to Western life. We suffer from a profound cultural amnesia when it comes to remembering our millennia-long debt to our Muslim brethren. But as the song goes, what has Averroes done for us lately?

Americans are so used to thinking of Muslims as an exotic "other" that many fail to realize they're an inextricable part of who we are and have been since the nation's earliest days. Unfortunately, too many non-Muslims see them as Manchurian candidates crouching in the shadows with explosive vests, waiting for the signal to wage terror on America's malls. If you ask the average American citizen about Islam's role as an incubator of Western ideas, expect stares of incomprehension.

If this ignorance were restricted to the margins of society, it wouldn't be half as embarrassing. But Islamophobia, like its twin brother, anti-Semitism, has a way of injecting itself into the cultural discourse. Contempt for Muslims remains an acceptable prejudice for millions who continue to equate the religion with terrorism."

You can read the full article here.

American Politics and Islam-Baiting

Guernica magazine has an interesting article by Stephan Salisbury called "Islam-Baiting Doesn’t Work: It Failed in Campaign 2010 and Will Do Worse in 2012"

During the 2010 midterm election campaign, virtually every hard-charging candidate on the far right took a moment to trash a Muslim, a mosque, or Islamic pieties. In the wake of those elections, with 85 new Republican House members and a surging Tea Party movement, the political virtues of anti-Muslim rhetoric as a means of rousing voters and alarming the general electorate have gone largely unchallenged. It has become an article of faith that a successful 2010 candidate on the right should treat Islam with revulsion, drawing a line between America the Beautiful and the destructive impurities of Islamic cultists and radicals.

But as the 2012 campaign ramps up along with the anti-Muslim rhetoric machine, a look back at 2010 turns out to offer quite an unexpected story about the American electorate. In fact, with rare exceptions, “Islam-bashing” proved a strikingly poor campaign tactic. In state after state, candidates who focused on illusory Muslim “threats,” tied ordinary American Muslims to terrorists and radicals, or characterized mosques as halls of triumph (and prayer in them as indoctrination) went down to defeat.

Far from winning votes, it could be argued that “Muslim-bashing” alienated large swaths of the electorate—even as it hardened an already hard core on the right.

The fact is that many of the loudest anti-Muslim candidates lost, and for a number of those who won, victory came by the smallest of margins, often driven by forces that went well beyond anti-Muslim rhetoric. A careful look at 2010 election results indicates that Islamophobic talking points can gain attention for a candidate, but the constituency that can be swayed by them remains limited, although not insignificant."

The article goes on to analyse how Islamaphobia as a campaign tactic has been largely inneffective. You can read the full article here.

Call to Action to Eradicate Domestic Violence

The Canadian group Young Muslims has made a "Call to Action to Eradicate Domestic Violence" in which they list six ways that Muslims can help to end this problems:

"Prominent Canadian Muslim organizations, community leaders and activists have joined together to issue a Call to Action to Eradicate Domestic Violence. This Call highlights six ways Canadian Muslims can intensify their efforts to abolish all forms of domestic violence.

As Muslims, we base our ethics and behaviour on the teachings of the Quran and the authenticated example of the Prophet Muhammad, who never hit a woman and taught the men that “the best amongst you is he who treats women the best”. The Quran unequivocally emphasizes the sanctity of all life, forbids all forms of coercion in matters of religion, and reminds us all that each of us is accountable for our actions directly to God, the only Judge.

There is no room within these teachings for any person, by virtue of gender or position within the family, to seize control over the life and bodily security of another. Domestic violence and, in the extreme, practices such as killing to “restore family honour” violate clear and non-negotiable Islamic principles, and so we categorically condemn all forms of domestic violence."

The webiste also lists all of the Muslim organisations and Imams and community leaders that have signed up to the pledge. You can see the details of the campiagn here.

image source

Monday 12 December 2011

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Tawakul Karman: Islam No Threat to Democracy

Reuters (9 December 2011) carries a quotation from the Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakul Karman of Yemen:

"Islam and other religions do not threaten democracy, Yemeni activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakul Karman said on Friday.

"All the religions, they respect democracy. They respect human rights, they respect all the values that all of us carry," said Karman, 32, who will jointly receive the Nobel award on Saturday with two Liberians, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee.

The problem was not with religions themselves, said the Islamist journalist, but with the intolerant interpretation made by some of their followers.

"The only problem is the misunderstanding from the people who act -- Islam, Christian, Jewish or any other religion -- (as if to say) 'this is the religion."

You can read the full article here.

image source

64th International Islamic Congregation in India

Indian newspaper The Pioneer reports on the 64th Alami Tablighi Ijtema or International Islamic congregation:

"Around 10 lakh people across the world participated in the three-day congregation considered to be the third biggest annual Islamic congregation after Haj pilgrimage and a meeting in Bangladesh.

During the Ijtema, world famous Islamic scholars like Moulana Saad-ul-Hasan, Moulana Ahmad Laat, and others delivered sermons on the life and practice of Prophet Mohammad and Islamic Shariat (law). They urged devotees to improve their lifestyle adopting the path shown by Prophet Mohammad and Islamic Shariat, which provides total life style.

Atique-ul-Islam, member of the organising committee said that around 10 lakh people, including about 20,000 Jamaats (groups) from all over the country and 300 delegates from more than 20 countries, including Thailand, Cambodia, Afghanistan, England, Australia, Russia, Poland, Indonesia, Malaysia, UAE, Iran, Canada, America, Sri Lanka and China participated in the Ijtema."

You can read the full article here.

Friday 9 December 2011

Tufaan: Muslims and the Hurricane Katrina Experience

Tufaan is a documentary about the Hurricane Katrina experience. It talks about Muslims who experienced it and who were involved in the relief work after the disaster.

The website for the documentary states:

"Muslims are portrayed in the media as people who cause disasters. What they don’t portray are the Muslims who are always in the forefront of relief efforts whenever disasters strike. Tufaan wants to shed light on stories that were never covered in mainstream media.

Tufaan, which is Arabic for “Great Storm” is documentary relating personal stories from some of the survivors and relief workers of Hurricane Katrina. This documentary tells their stories of loss, despair, confusion, happiness and hope starting from the events leading up to the hit of the hurricane, to the destructive aftermath.

Tufaan will be the first of its kind– highlighting the different Islamic values that can be learned through these difficult situations.

Meet the heroes who helped the people and the stories they had to tell. And most of all, prepare for tomorrow."

You can find out more information from

Thursday 8 December 2011

Ameena Matthews and The Interruptors Documentary

In its "Top 10 of Everything 2011", at No.5 The Times magazine has the amazing Sister Ameena Matthews from The Interrupters documentary:

"Do-gooder groups, no less than Hollywood movies, benefit from star quality; and CeaseFire, the group of reformed criminals that intervenes in Chicago street disputes to prevent violence, has Ameena Matthews, a petite charisma machine in a Muslim headscarf. To Steve James' horrifying, inspiring documentary, she lends her magnetic watchability. Her job is to stanch the impulse in some kids to go, as she says, from "zero to rage in 30 seconds." When one young man tells her he fights every day, she smiles and says, "You're too handsome to do that." The daughter of the notorious gang leader Jeff Fort, now serving a 155-year prison sentence on a domestic-terrorism conviction, Matthews channels her father's seductive eloquence into crisis management. The Interrupters, which, like James' Hoop Dreams, was preposterously denied an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary, has a full posse of heroic figures trying to stop crime on the spot. But Matthews is the prime galvanizer. Addressing mourners at the funeral of a teenager who died in gang violence, she says, "We got a responsibility to bring up our community to be vibrant. Whatever it is that's going on, cease the fire, call the truce."

See the original article here.

image source

Saturday 26 November 2011

Female Role Models in Malaysia

The New York Times (21 November 2011) reports on a new contest in Malaysia to find female Muslim role models:

"While official religious leadership in this predominantly Muslim country has traditionally been male, women in Malaysia are carving out new roles, including that of female preacher. Now, television has taken up the theme, starting rival preaching contests on separate channels: “Solehah” (pious female in Arabic), and “Ustazah Pilihan” (ideal female preacher in Malay).

“We need women preachers, rather than men,” said Siti Adibah Zulkepli, 21, after her appearance on “Solehah.” “Because they don’t face what we are facing — health problems, how to manage the house, how to manage the children. The woman knows better.”

Women in many Muslim countries have been engaged in religious education behind the scenes. In Malaysia, where women are on the rise in business, politics and academia, the new television shows have shone a spotlight on women’s growing role in religious leadership.

Contestants on “Solehah,” who are selected by auditions around the country, study Islam and get coaching in public speaking and personal grooming. During one recent episode, the women produced videos on high school drop-outs and acid attacks and were then asked to comment before a live studio audience on how these issues could be addressed, using Islamic references.

“Ustazah Pilihan” focuses more on a search for “muslimah,” or female Muslim role models. Modeled on a popular TV contest for male imams that premiered last year, it eliminates one contestant a week. Publicity material for the show stresses the “importance of assuming responsibilities as a Muslim woman, not only as a wife or mother but also as an educator, who can shape and nurture potential leaders of the future.”

Read the full article here.

Friday 25 November 2011

PBS Documentary: Cities of Light - The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain

Cities of Light: The Rise & Fall of Islamic Spain, a two-hour documentary film, journeys into one of World History's most fascinating and important periods. With a fresh focus on the many contributions to Western civilization made by Islamic institutions and culture, the film also consistently cleaves to an even-handed presentation of the triumphs and shortcomings, achievements and failures of a centuries-long period when Muslims, Christians, and Jews inhabited the same corner of Western Europe and there built a lasting society that was both part of Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East.

From the days of Charlemagne to Christopher Columbus, Islamic Spain represents one of the most productive intercultural relationships in Western history down to the present day. The lemon tree, the water wheel, the astrolabe and Aristotle's lost philosophy all arrived in Europe through Islamic Spain. Churches and temples that strongly resemble Muslim mosques, the pinnacle of Hebrew literature's Golden Age, the roots of modern medicine and mathematics, and the transmission of Greek philosophy into Western Europe are just a few of the collaborative achievements that form the legacy of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim cultures interacting on the Iberian Peninsula over seven centuries.

Cities of Light was produced by Unity Production Foundation and Gardner Films.
For more information on the documentary go to

Thank you to Tayyib for the link.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Muslims Proud to be British

The Guardian (23 November 2011) carries an article on a new report from think tank Demos:

"The finding in Demos's report A Place for Pride that 83% of Muslims said they were proud to be a British citizen, compared with the national average of 79%, has been met with surprise in some parts of the press. Clearly many British citizens have both a strong religious identity and a strong national identity. Yet it also seems clear that many people see these identities as mutually exclusive. Why is this the case?

That 83% of Muslims are proud to be British does in fact make sense. Many British Muslims come from families that have sought the opportunity and refuge offered in this country. The Demos report suggests that "People who are religious are more likely to be patriotic than are those who self-define as atheists or nonbelievers"; 88% of Anglicans and Jews agreed that they were "proud to be a British citizen". Many British Jews have a family history of refugee status and it follows that this leads to a sense of pride in their British identity. People with a strong religious identity are also often part of a strong community, and benefit from the co-operation and collective goodwill that can come with this. Patriotism, the report suggests, isn't only concerned with Queen and flag, but also with community values.

There is a lot of misinformation about the British Muslim community. In 2009 the Gallup Coexist Index found that only 36% of the British public thought that British Muslims were "loyal to this country" as opposed to 82% of the British Muslim community. The surprise at the findings of Muslim pride in Britain is rooted in a prejudice that leads people to believe that it is paradoxical for someone to hold both their religious and national identities as important. Lazy caricatures of Islam as contradicting many of the rights and values that are seen as quintessentially British – particularly freedom and democracy – only exacerbate this problem."

You can read the full article here.

Monday 21 November 2011

OBE for Dr Musharraf Hussain

The Muslim Weekly reports on the OBE received by Dr Musharraf Hussain:

"A Halifax man who is director of an Islamic school has been awarded an OBE for his services to community relations.

Musharraf Hussain, pictured, won the gong in the latest honours list and will be invited to Buckingham Palace to receive it.

Dr Hussain, who was born and lived in Halifax until the age of 18, now lives in Nottingham, where he is a member of the Muslim Council of Britain, an iman and the principal of an Islamic school.

Dr Hussain was picked to be part of a team sent to Iraq to try to help when Liverpool man Ken Bigley was taken hostage in 2004.

Dr Hussain is director of the Karimia Institute in Nottingham – a centre for worship, education, training and self-development that works on projects ranging from community development to adult classes and interfaith work."

You can read the full article here.

Swiss Minarets Politician Now Muslim

The Muslim Observer (17 November 2011) reports:

"Renowned Swiss politician Daniel Streich, who previously campaigned against Swiss minarets, embraced Islam a few years ago.

A member of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and a well-known politician, Daniel Streich was the first man who had launched a drive for imposition of ban on mosques minarets, and to lock the mosques in Switzerland. The proclamation of Streich’s conversion to Islam created a furor in Swiss politics, and caused a tremor for those who supported ban on construction of mosques minarets.

Streich had propagated his anti-Islamic movement far and wide in the country, sowed seeds of indignation and scorn for Islam among the people, and paved the way for public opinion against pulpits and minarets of mosques.

But now Streich has become a servant of Islam. His anti-Islam thoughts finally brought him so close to this religion that he embraced it."

You can read the full article here.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

The All-American Id

The New York Times Global Editions blog India Ink (7 November 2011) posts on the "All-American Id":

"In countries with significant Muslim populations, Id-al-Adha—Bakr-Id, or Festival of the Goat, as it’s known throughout South Asia—is synonymous with qurbaani, or the sacrifice of animals. But you’d be hard-pressed to find Muslim families in the United States ferrying sheep home in the backs of their SUVs, securing them to their white picket fences and slaughtering them on their driveways. In the motherland, the ritual is as standard a practice as baking Christmas cookies is here, but most Muslims I know in America have never witnessed the practice themselves.
Instead, my family, like countless others, has outsourced our qurbaani to—where else?—India, where the meat is then widely distributed to the needy on our behalf. And then we eat doughnuts.

Id-ul-Fitr, at the end of Ramadan, is enthusiastically anticipated by hungry Muslims counting down the days to the finish line that marks the culmination of the month of fasting. But it’s harder for those of us not participating in the hajj pilgrimage to muster the same level of enthusiasm for this Id—ironic, considering it’s perhaps the greater of the two, and most symbolic of the very core of the faith. The word Islam means submission, and today we celebrate Abraham’s submission to the will of God when he was asked to sacrifice his son. When he agreed without hesitation, a lamb was sent in his son’s place; today, Muslims honor that devotion by sacrificing lambs, goats or cows.

For the full article and more on the writers take on Eid in America, click here

Tuesday 8 November 2011

A Bialy Shop’s Unlikely Muslim Saviors

The New York Times (3 November 2011) reports on the actions of two Muslims brothers to save a Jewish Bakery from the 1920's:

"When the owner of Brooklyn’s oldest bialy store, Coney Island Bialys and Bagels, announced last summer that he was closing up shop, fans began mourning the impending loss of a 91-year-old piece of Jewish culinary history.

But the shop has been saved, and from an unlikely corner — at least as far as geopolitics are concerned. The new owners? Peerzada Shah, 43, and Zafaryab Ali, 52, a pair of Muslim immigrants from Pakistan.

The new shopkeepers have a sanguine approach to their possibly groundbreaking foray into cross-cultural culinary terrain. “Not too many people in this business are Pakistani,” Mr. Ali said. “Just a few. So I am happy, very glad.” Jews and Muslims, he said, “live together in New York. We never have a problem.”

Minutes later, Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president, walked into the shop, crying, “Salaam Aleikum!”

“Brooklyn has the largest Pakistani population in America,” he told Mr. Shah and Mr. Ali. “We also have the largest Jewish population in America. So what could be a better Brooklyn story?”

“It’s a Brooklyn story of how the world can someday be at peace,” Mr. Markowitz said."

Read the full article here.

New Vision for Islam at the NY Met Museum of Art

The New York Times (28 October 2011) reports on a new exhibition at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art opening soon which displays some of the world’s most precious Islamic artifacts:

"Over the past decade, many Americans have based their thoughts and feelings about Islam in large part on a single place: the blasted patch of ground where the World Trade Center once stood. But a rival space has slowly and silently taken shape over those same years, about six miles to the north. It is a vast, palacelike suite of rooms on the second floor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where some of the world’s most precious Islamic artifacts sit sequestered behind locked doors.

When the Met’s Islamic galleries first opened in 1975, they were presented as a cultural monolith, where nations and cultures were subsumed under one broad banner, as if Islam were another planet. Haidar and her colleagues have tried to emphasize the diversity of Islamic cultures across time and space. One result of that altered emphasis was the gallery’s new name. The “Islamic Wing” is gone, replaced by the “Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia.” It is a mouthful, but it makes a point.

“Not one world, but many; not another world, but our own,” Haidar said, repeating the mantra that has guided her thinking about the new collection over the years.

The collection is full of deliciously heterodox crossovers, like an image of the blue-skinned Hindu god Krishna that was painted for Akbar, the Muslim ruler of north and central India, in the late 16th century. There are Persian bowls alongside the Chinese models that inspired them. There is Muslim art from Spain and south Italy.

Last month, Haidar got a taste of public reaction when dignitaries in town for the United Nations General Assembly asked to see the new galleries. One of them was Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, who was a model guest, admiring the art and chuckling at a wooden panel from Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein. But he stopped short when Haidar showed him a 10th-century Muslim prayer mat that was found on the shores of Lake Tiberias. The date suggested a very early Muslim presence in what is now Israel. Netanyahu asked if it was really that old, Haidar recalled, and she assured him that the carpet had been scientifically dated. But he kept staring at it quizzically. “ ‘I don’t know,’ he finally said, ‘it just doesn’t look that old to me.’ ”

You can read the full article here.
You can learn more at the Museum website here.

Women & Islam: The Rise and Rise of the Convert

The Independent (6th November 2011) reports on a new study by Swansea University for Faith Matters called "A Minority Within a Minority" which reports on reverts to Islam in the UK:

"As Muslims celebrate the start of the religious holiday of Eid today and hundreds of thousands from around the world converge on Mecca for the haj, it emerged that of the 5,200 Britons who converted to Islam last year, more than half are white and 75 per cent of them women.

In the past 10 years some 100,000 British people have converted to Islam, of whom some three-quarters are women, according to the latest statistics. This is a significant increase on the 60,000 Britons in the previous decade, according to researchers based at Swansea University.

Kevin Brice, author of the Swansea study A Minority Within a Minority, said to be the most comprehensive study of British Muslim converts, added: "White Muslim converts are caught between two increasingly distant camps. Their best relationships remain with other converts, because of their shared experiences, while there is very little difference between the quality of their relationship with other Muslims or non-Muslims.

"My research also found converts came in two types: some are converts of convenience, who adopt the religion because of a life situation such as meeting a Muslim man, although the religion has little discernible impact on their day-to-day lives. For others it is a conversion of conviction where they feel a calling and embrace the religion robustly.

"That's not to say the two are mutually exclusive – sometimes converts start out on their religious path through convenience and become converts of conviction later on."

You can read the full article and same case studies about the experiences of some reverts here.
The original research report can be found here (PDF).

Friday 7 October 2011

Letters in the Independent: Islam on Rights and Responsibilities

The Independent (20 August 2011) published a letter by Professor Robert A Hinde of St John's College, Cambridge entitled "Islam has lessons on rights and duties, and our responsibilities":

The recent riots indicate that we have not got the correct balance between citizens' rights and their duties. Perhaps we have something to learn from Islam.

The Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights (1981) differs in some ways from the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) that are controversial. But one difference is highly significant in the present context.

Apart from a vague reference to acting in a "spirit of brotherhood" (Article 1) and to undefined "duties to the community" (Article 29) the UN Declaration has no reference to the responsibilities that must accompany rights.

By contrast, the Islamic Declaration mentions, among others, the duties to protest against injustice, to defend the rights of others, to protest against oppression, to search after truth and to respect the religious feelings of others. It also gives the poor entitlement to a share in the wealth of the rich and insists that all means of production should be utilised in the interests of the community.

For a harmonious society, citizens must recognise that rights cannot exist without responsibilities and that they, by enjoying the benefits of citizenship, carry responsibilities to the community.

Reciprocally, of course, the community has the responsibility to ensure that citizens have the opportunity to exercise their rights.

The original letter is here.

Islam a Closer Look

Young Muslims Canada's latest project is "Islam a Closer Look".  The site says:

" is a pilot project with a specific focus – to succinctly and creatively dispel common myths that are fueling Islamophobia. Our objective is to break the cycle of fear.

This sample site provides a glimpse of our approach and vision. We have created 2 professional videos, 4 web friendly articles as well as lists of useful books and websites. A fully completed website would feature 25 videos addressing widespread misconceptions as well as 50 articles and various online and print resources for further study. The content would also be fully accessible through social networking sites such as FaceBook and YouTube."

FBI Stops Islamophonbic Training

The Independent (17 September 2011) carries an article about FBI training which was stopped because it was anti-Muslim:

"The FBI has announced that a lecture at the bureau's training academy that was critical of Islam has been discontinued.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation employee who gave the lecture contended, among other things, that the more devout a Muslim man was, the more likely he was to be violent.

An FBI spokesman, Christopher Allen, said that following the outcry about the lecture, policy changes had been made to ensure that all training was consistent with FBI standards.

Since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, the FBI has stressed the importance of working with leaders in the Muslim community as an important part of the battle against terrorism.

A federal law enforcement official said the bureau should have more carefully scrutinised the content of the lecture before it took place. The lecture was given on just three days in April."

Original article here.

Sunday 31 July 2011

9/11 Hate-Crime Victim Tries To Save His Attacker

NPR reports on the story of Rais Bhuiyan, the Bangladeshi Muslim working in a Texas gas station who was shot in the face soon after 9/11:

"Just 10 days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Rais Bhuiyan was working at a gas station in Dallas when he was shot in the face by a man named Mark Stroman.

Stroman was on a shooting spree, targeting people who appeared to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent. Stroman is due to be executed July 20; Bhuiyan, the only survivor of the attacks, is fighting to save his life.

When Stroman entered the gas station, Bhuiyan initially thought it was a routine robbery.

"I opened the cash register, offered him the cash, and requested him not to shoot me," Bhuiyan tells weekends on All Things Considered host Laura Sullivan. "In reply he asked me, 'Where are you from?' And the question seemed strange to ask during a robbery. And I said, 'Excuse me?' And as soon as I spoke, I felt the sensation of a million bees stinging my face, and then heard an explosion.

Bhuiyan required medical attention for years after the attack. The bullet hit him on the right side of the face, leaving severe injuries, particularly to his right eye.

"I had to go through several surgeries and finally the doctor could save the eye, but the vision is gone, and I'm still carrying more than 35 pellets on the right side of my face," he says. "Once I touch my face, my skull, I can feel it's all bumpy. It took several years to go through all these painful surgeries one after another one."

Despite the difficulties, Bhuiyan looked to his faith in order to find forgiveness.
"According to my faith in Islam, there is no hate, no killing. It doesn't allow anything like that," says Bhuiyan. "Yes, Mark Stroman did a horrible thing, and he brought a lot of pain and disaster, sufferings in my life. But in return I never hated him."

 Bhuiyan has created a website called World Without Hate to educate others about hate crimes as a means of preventing them. He's also working with Amnesty International and Stroman's defense attorney, who has filed several appeals on Stroman's death sentence.

 "I strongly believe executing him is not a solution. We will just simply lose a human life without dealing with the root cause, which is hate crime," Bhuiyan says. "In Islam it says that saving one human life is the same as saving the entire mankind. Since I forgave him, all those principles encouraged me to go even further, and stop his execution and save another human life."

You can read the full article here. Rais Bhuiyan's website World Without Hate is here.
Thank you to Sister Samana Siddiqui at Positive Muslim News for the link.

Stroman has since beeen executed despite Bhuiyan's efforts to help him, but the Huffington Post writes about the affect of Bhuiyan's actions on him:

"After a lifetime of bitter prejudice that drove him to kill innocent strangers, Mark Stroman died with a message of peace.

Before his trial in 2002, Stroman, an avowed white supremacist, dubbed himself the "Arab slayer" and called the shootings "patriotic" retribution for the terror attacks.

 But by the time prison authorities at the Texas death chamber in Huntsville strapped Stroman to a gurney and prepared to execute him, he had undergone a remarkable shift in perspective.
 "Hate is going on in this world and it has to stop," Stroman said in his final moments. "Hate causes a lifetime of pain."

 A key inspiration for Stroman's radically altered point of view was the extraordinary effort made to spare his life by one of his victims: Rais Bhuiyan, a Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh who was shot in the face by Stroman while working as a cashier at a Dallas convenience store. Bhuiyan survived the attack, but was blinded in one eye.

 Late last year, after undertaking a pilgrimage to Mecca, Bhuiyan realized that his devout Muslim faith called on him to not only forgive Stroman for the attack, but to attempt to spare him from execution."

The full Huffington Post article is here.

Jameel Award Announces Finalists

The Jameel Prize is an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition. Its aim is to explore the relationship between Islamic traditions of art, craft and design and contemporary work as part of a wider debate about Islamic culture and its role today. The Independent writes about the award:

"Ten artists, chosen from over 100 nominations, will be exhibiting their work at London's Victoria and Albert Museum this month.

Shortlisted by specialists with a knowledge of contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition, the artists are competing for the chance to win the Jameel Prize, worth £25,000 which is only awarded every two years.

The Jameel Prize is an initiative of Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel with the aim of exploring the relationship between Islamic traditions of art, craft and design and contemporary work as part of a wider debate about Islamic culture and its role today."

The original article can be found here.  Further details about the Jameel Prize can be found at the V&A Museum website here.

Monday 27 June 2011

Missing Pages: Muslims Who Saved Jews During WW2

Missing Pages is a campaign by Exploring Islam Foundation to highlight the role Muslim's have played in helping Jews through the period of the Holocaust and before.  The Missing Pages website tells the stories of Muslim's and their families who hid Jews and helped them to safety:

Isak Kormaku:
We lived in the town of Elbasan. I was twelve years old, and my two other brothers are younger. It was just a few steps from here that our father sheltered six Jews in a stone house much like the one we lived in.

It is in the Koran that in the name of God we help all humans. They were Raphael Cambi, Chaim Isaac and Leon Isaac with his wife and two children. The Isaac family spoke Serbo-Croatian, as did our father. In 1945, they all left for Yugoslavia.
Leon Isaac came back for a visit in 1948. He and his family were living in Macedonia. To show his gratitude for saving the lives of his family, he wanted to give my parents a restaurant in Macedonia and offered to pay all their expenses for ten years. Our mother did not want to live in Macedonia so we stayed in Elbasan. After 1949, we lost contact with the Isaacs. The communists then imprisoned our father.
We have never sought recognition, but we are glad for this opportunity to have our father remembered. It is in the Quran that in the name of God we help all humans.

Mehmet Yshref Frasher:

My father was a scholar. He owned a printing press and was well known in our country. My great grandfather was a member of the government before King Zog. Our family is well respected with a long tradition of learning.

All through the Nazi years we were never afraid to save lives. All through the Nazi years we were never afraid to save lives. In 1943, we sheltered Sebita Meshon Gershon, his wife Berah, and their two daughters Hana and Stela. They left for Yugoslavia at the end of 1944. We sheltered Jakov (Jasha)
Altarac in our other home in Kamez. He came from Poland and had escaped from an Italian camp in Burrel in 1943. We also sheltered Joseph Lazar Gertler from Germany who had likewise been interned in Burrel by the Italians. Our neighbours never knew.
My father received a warm letter from Joseph Gertler from London in 1956. In 1990 I made contact with Hana and Stela Gershon who were both living in Brazil, and with Jasha Altarac who was in Israel.
After the war, the communists arrested and imprisoned my father. He was guilty of being an intellectual. We lived the Quran’s teaching to take care of the other.”

Edip Pilku:
My brother and I were young boys during the war. My father, Njazi Pilku, was a devout Muslim who had designed mosques here in Albania. In 1942, my parents sheltered a Jewish family in our home in Durres, hiding them for almost four years between there and our seaside home. They were the Gerechters – father, mother, and daughter – from Hamburg, Germany.

My parents sheltered a Jewish family in our home for almost four years They had sought asylum in Albania after Kristallnacht. They had been interned by the Italians, and were later arrested several times by Albanian collaborators, before they were rescued by my father. My mother, Liza Pilku, was German, so the Nazis often visited our seaside home. We introduced the Gerechter family as our relatives from Germany. Naturally, they were terrified.
Once in Durres, the Gestapo cordoned off the streets and searched with dogs for Jews. My mother came out of her house and scolded the Gestapo in German. She told them never to come back, to remember that she was German too. The Gestapo left.
After the war we lost all trace of the Gerechters. The communists took power and forbade contact with anyone from the outside world. My father was arrested in 1944. In 1945 the communists killed him. Our seaside home was confiscated.
Since the fall of the communists we have made contact with the Gerechter’s daughter, now Johanna Neumann, who lives in America. Johanna gave written testimony of her family’s rescue, and my parents were recognised by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.”

The wescite also features a book by Norman Gershman entitled  ‘Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II’ about the code of honour in Albania called Besa that instructeed Muslims to protect others from danger at all costs.

The book forms the basis for a moving documentary "Besa: The Promise"

Yoou can find out more at the website here or at the Gods House Film website here.

Saturday 25 June 2011

The Growth of Islamic Finance

The Independent (15 June 2011) carries an article entitled "The specialist sector where the sky is the limit" about the growth of Islamic Finance, or more specifically the marketi value of an MBA in Islamic finance:

"The Islamic finance industry is growing rapidly. There are currently an estimated 270 Islamic banks globally, with total assets of $265 billion. The global economic crisis has encouraged its increasing popularity as an alternative financial system where risk is shared between lenders and borrowers, and any form of interest is banned.

Along with the spread of Islamic finance comes a demand for graduates who are familiar with this specialised market.

Though there are just four Islamic banks operating in the UK, the leading auditing firms – PriceWaterhouseCooper, KPMG, Ernst & Young and Deloitte have established independent Islamic finance divisions, and HSBC, Deutsche Bank, UBS and other financial services companies are, meanwhile, entering the Shariah compliant market.

Thom Polson, a director of the Geneva- based Islamic Wealth and Asset Management consultancy, did a Masters in Islamic banking at Bangor Business School and has some advice for MBA students. “Do a taster course in Islamic banking if you have any ambitions to work globally. In the Middle East Islamic banking is growing almost as fast as the skyscrapers.”

You can read the full article here.

Unity in Iraq

Local Iraqi leaders across the spectrum – Arabs and Kurds, Christians and Muslims – jointly pray with Christian Iraqis in a church in Kirkuk. The event was a public bid to reduce tensions in the disputed northern city of Iraq.
Photograph: Marwan Ibrahim/AFP/Getty Images (image source)

Muslim Dads in Utah

The Salt Lake Tribune has  a feature about Muslim fathers in Utah called "Utah’s Muslim dads lead by example, and stress choice, not force"  which describes the family life of a number of Muslim fathers living in the state:

"Sometimes portrayed as unyielding disciplinarians, many American Muslim fathers say the opposite is true. Yes, many expect their children to pray and abstain from dating, alcohol and pork, but they try to lead by example rather than force. Above all, they aim to rear good people.

In Islam, every day is supposed to be Father’s Day and Mother’s Day in the sense that children should always honor and appreciate their parents.

Shiekh Maqbool Ahmed sits down to dinner with his wife, three children and daughter-in-law almost every night.His two unmarried children, ages 21 and 28, still live in his Kaysville home.  The key to rearing successful children is setting a good example, Ahmed said. Forcing them to follow rules and customs doesn’t work. They must be taught to want to follow the faith.  "We instill in the children that Allah is watching you," Ahmed said. "If I am not there to watch you, if your mother is not there to watch you, if your friends are not there to watch you, Allah is watching you."

Sajid Faizi and his son place caps on their heads and his wife and daughters don head scarves, or hijabs.  The 47-year-old Cottonwood Heights father kneels in front of the family, leading them in prayer for about 10 minutes, facing toward the home’s large front window, toward Mecca.

Though Sajid Faizi is often working, he couldn’t be more dedicated to his family, says his wife, Shazia, who started Utah’s first Muslim Girl Scout troop.  "The kids and us and me," Shazia Faizi said, "that’s his first priority."

When Ahmed, an Arabic language instructor at the University of Utah, prays, his 2-year-old daughter, Laila,is usually "kind of floating around."  "She kind of knows what’s going on," said Ahmed, 35, "but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know it’s a prayer."   She just thinks it’s "fun." That’s the same word Ahmed, who also has a 7-month-old son, uses to describe fatherhood in general.

"I’m enjoying being a father immensely because my role in the household is more of the fun role. I’m getting the better part of the deal," jokes Ahmed, who is also working on earning a doctorate from the U. in syntax."

You can view the full article here.

Monday 6 June 2011

Ride 4 Haiti

Muslim hands is working with the Cyclists’ Touring Club to raise funds for Haiti by having cyclist Javed Saddique ride the 1,400 miles across the UK from Lands End to John O'Groats this summer.

The route will be covered from 4th July to 24th July with opportunities along the way for families and individuals to join in.

Muslim Hands teams were amongst the very first to reach Port au Prince in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, racing against time to supply food, water and medical aid to those most in need.  The Ride 4 Haiti describes some of the work being carried out:

"Despite appalling conditions, distribution networks were secured: staff and volunteers hit the ground running and aid was being delivered within 2 days of arriving.

As most of the world’s media moved on, Haiti quietly struggled to cover even the most basic needs of survivors. Time for Muslim Hands to step up its operation:

The second team, focusing on Relief and Rescue is dispatched to the earthquake zone on 25th January 2010. Led by Captain (Dr) Sohail Nasti, a specialist in disaster relief and recovery, they work closely with the UN to provide vitally-needed aid to the worst-stricken areas. Here are his words:

Helping to create order from chaos was the key challenge: how best to provide the most appropriate aid to vulnerable families.

Supported by donors in the UK, the MH teams worked flat out around the clock coordinating aid efforts in different areas."

Find out more or download a sponsorship form here.

Muslims donate $26,000 to the Greater Chicago Food Depository

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago has been supporting charities the city through a donation to the Greater Chicago Food Depository:

"Under the visionary leadership of Zakat Chicago, a committee of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, on May 5, the Greater Chicago Food Depository received a check for more than $20,000 to provide supplies for food pantries across Chicagoland. The Northern Illinois Food Bank received another $6,000 for food for the needy in the collar counties.
"Zakat Chicago has been supporting local food pantries for three years, but this year we decided to take this route to ensure that all the money is spent on food and the system is more centralized," said Maqsood Quadri, board member of CIOGC who played an instrumental role in this project. "At a time when hate against Muslims is on the rise across the nation, it is crucial to be proactive in letting our neighbors know that Muslims are helping anyone who needs assistance."

Find out more here.
Thanks to Samana Siddiqui at Positive Muslim News for the link.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Bernard Hopkins Becomes Oldest Boxing Champ

Muslim boxer Bernard Hopkins became the oldest boxing titlist in any division in any era on Saturday with a unanimous decision over Jean Pascal in Montreal, Canada. Hopkins won the World Boxing Council (WBC) light heavyweight belt by winning all three cards after 12 rounds, by the scores of 116-112, 115-114, and 115-113. At the ripe old age of 46, no one had won a boxing title at such an advanced age since then 45 year old George Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994. Saturday's fight was a rematch of the first Hopkins-Pascal fight that took place this past December and ended in a draw.

Hopkins improved his record to 52-5-2. He is now likely to defend his belt against former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson who won in a unanimous decision in Saturday's undercard against Adrian Diaconu. However, Dawson lost his title against Pascal in August. Another possible opponent is undefeated super middleweight champion Lucian Bute, who originally hails from Romania but now resides in Canada.

Article source here.

Friday 20 May 2011

Beautiful Recitation of Al-Fatihah

I came across this beautiful recitation of the first surah of the Quran called Al-Fatihah by Shaykh Fahd al Kanderi, possibly at Masjid al-Kabeer in Kuwait ( I am not 100% sure on the masjid - correct me if I am wrong).

Thursday 5 May 2011

At Our Mothers Feet Campaign

The Muslim Agency for Development and Enterprise have launched their "At Our Mothers Feet" campaign.  The website states:

"Every day, 1000 mothers die during pregnancy or childbirth because they can’t access the healthcare and support they need. That’s 358,000 mothers dying every year.  99% of these deaths occur in the developing world. Yet 8 out of 10 times, it’s possible to prevent a mother dying. All it takes is access to free healthcare and assistance from a trained health worker during childbirth.  Thousands more could be saved by communities supporting the rights of women – this means promoting education for all and empowering women and girls to make healthy choices.

Mothers have the highest status in Islam. They are the core of our families and our ummah. Without them, society would be unable to sustain itself or develop. Islam celebrates their central role in society and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us to serve and look after our mothers – ‘Be at your mother’s feet and there is Paradise’ (Ibn Majah).

Muslim communities have the power to make a difference. Our faith inspires us to take action, and our communities and charities have strong links with many countries where maternal mortality rates are highest, including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Bangladesh. This means that we have the opportunity to influence attitudes, share life-saving knowledge and help provide vital healthcare to women around the world.

We want to show that we are at our mothers’ feet by celebrating motherhood and coming together to make our local and global communities aware of what needs to be done to prevent these needless deaths.

We want to show charities that we will support them in helping to provide the resources they need to make maternal health a priority."

You can visit the website here for ways you can do your bit
image source

Discussing Green Deen

Guernica Magazine has published a conversation between Imam Khalid Latif, Imam of the Islamic Center at NYU and Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, authour of “Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet”. The conversation is an interesting and useful one, giving lots of good advice and food for thought about the importance of being a green Muslim. Below are a few excerpts from the magazine, I would definitely encourage readers to visit the site and read the full piece:

"What we know from our deen, the path or way of Islam, is that we are not the owners of anything in the universe. 

The conviction that the earth is a mosque is rooted in some core, ethical Islamic principles that we should comprehend when attempting to live a green deen

The earth is 70 percent water, and the somber trust that we have with our creator, to be stewards, khalifah of the earth, means we will be held accountable for our actions. These actions include those related to water. If the earth is a mosque, then 70 percent of our mosque is water. Our mosque is oceans and springs and rivers, lakes and springs and wells. It is our right to benefit from water. Indeed, we need it for sheer survival. However, we negate that right if we contaminate, poison, or withhold water from plants, animals, fellow humans, all of whom also need water for survival.
I say, we can “turn your Green Deen ‘blue’ by setting up a water recycling station in your mosque so the water used for wudu,” wudu is a ritual ablution before you pray, “can be used to water the plants and grass outside.

So the other section that I want to jump to is waste. What I discovered when I was thinking about this was that, really, what we’re talking about is consumption and over-consumption and the patterns of consumption and how do we use things and let them go and, then, what we do with them? What happens to things? What happens to ourselves when we use and consume things? Because things define who we are.

Islam teaches that we come with intrinsic value, we do not need to produce or acquire anything to be valuable, we are innately valuable from birth to death. We all have the noble beginning and noble end, our soul has value because it is made by God. And when we recognize our own value and nurture the relationship with the creator, we begin to take better care of ourselves, we see ourselves as a beautiful part of creation."

You can read the full discussion here.

image source

Wednesday 30 March 2011

CNN Documenary: Unwelcome: Muslims Next Door

This documentary, presented by Soledad O'Briens takes us to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a small, close-knit town of 104,000 people where there are 140 churches and 1 mosque. When plans for a new Islamic Centre are announced, a local campaign to block permission ensues leading to Court hearings. The documentary gives airtime to people from both sides, meaning that in this instance, Muslim's get the chance to speak for themselves.

Sister Ponn Sabra, of American Muslim Mom was invited to a private screening of the documentary and her thoughts are here.

Moroccan Craftsmen in The NY Met

The China Daily carries an article entitled "An Islamic fantasia by authentic craftsmen" about the New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition showing Moroccan craftsmen at work recreating a medieval Maghrebi-Andalusian-style courtyard in one of it's galleries:

"A group of highly regarded Moroccan craftsmen came essentially to take up residence at the Met. Beginning last December, they worked some days in their jabador tunics and crimson fezzes (known as tarbooshes in Morocco) to build that 14th-century Islamic fantasia, a courtyard with tile patterns based on those in the Alhambra palace in Granada. Above the courtyard rise walls of fantastically filigreed plaster, leading to a carved cedar molding based on the renowned woodwork in the 14th-century Attarin madrasa, or Islamic school, in Fez.

The courtyard has taken on an unforeseen importance for the museum; for the Kingdom of Morocco itself; and for a constituency of Muslim scholars and supporters of the Met. They hope it will function as a symbol of the fact that aesthetic and intellectual commerce remains alive between Islam and the West.

The Moroccans are in essence living historians who have carried on patterns and designs preserved in practice for generations. But they have never attempted a job requiring this level of historical attention or artistry."

You can view the full article here.

Saturday 26 March 2011

Muslim Taxi Driver Returns $100,000 Worth of Jewelry & Cash

The Muslim Observer (24 February 2011) writes about a New York taxi driver who returned $100,000 worth of jewelry and cash after left in his cab:

"Muslim taxi drivers across the US continue to be the best ambassadors of Islam by living out their faith. This is evident by the number of recent cases where they have returned expensive items left behind by their passengers. In the latest instance New York taxi driver Zubiru Jalloh returned $100,000 worth of jewelry and cash after they were left in his cab.

John James forgot his bag with the valuables in the backseat of the taxi last week. Zubiru Jalloh was able to reunite with James the next day to return the goods. For his honesty, Jalloh was given $10,000. James said the taxi driver reluctantly took the money.

James John, who thought he had lost his valuables and his family’s jewelry, told the New York Times: “He is just a quiet citizen doing his business, earning his leaving and respecting his family, and I intend to entertain him and his children and his wife when I return from Maryland.”

You can read the original article here.

Muslims in the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament

The Muslim Observer (17 March 2011) reports on the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament and the number of Muslims taking part:

"First, in the most difficult region, the East region, there is the largest collection of Muslim players. One of the toughest teams in this region is Syracuse, and they rely on the services of freshman big man Baye Moussa Keita from Senegal. Their fellow Big East Conference teams in this region, West Virginia and Villanova, also sport players from the Muslim world: Villanova with center Maphtao Yarou from Benin and West Virginia with Turkish forward Deniz Kilicli. But the team in the East Region with the most prominent Muslim representation is the number seven-seeded University of Washington, with guard Abdul Gaddy and seven-foot center Aziz N’Diaye.

In the West Region, Turkish guard Dogus Balbay is an important player for the University of Texas who are considered dark-horse favorites to reach the Final Four. University of Cincinnati center Ibrahima Thomas, from Senegal, plays a prominent role for his team. And French-Muslim forward Mehdi Cheriet plys his trade for number two seed San Diego State University.

The Muslim presence is most sparce in the Southwest Region, with Louisville center Gorgiu Dieng, from Senegal, being the only one in this region. And two more Muslims will be competing in the Southeast Region, with Nigerian center Talib Zanna for power-house University of Pittsburgh, and Mathis Keita for Gonzaga. Keep an eye on these teams and these players as the main rounds of the tournament get going."

You can read the original article here.

Muslim Charities Assisting Japan

Muslim charities are moving to assist victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Islamic Relief is working with a local Japanese NGO in Aoba, Wakabayashi and Miyagino (estimated to have the largest number of evacuees from the tsunami). So far the charity has distributed cooked food, hygiene kits, sanitary goods, vegetables, rice, and water tanks) benefiting 1,200 people. You can donate here.

Muslim Hands volunteers are based in Nagata (near Tokyo) and are conducting aid missions to the destruction zones near the areas of Isinomaki and Iwaki. You can donate here.

Muslim Aid is monitoring the situation closely and has been in contact with partners in the region to discuss the needs of the affected people. You can learn more and donate here.

Bengali Innkeeper assists Japanese

The Japan Times writes about about Akter Hossain, owner of the Hotel Asian Garden and Hotel Lake Garden in Tochigi who has offered to house up to 400 Japanese made homeless by the recent earthquake:

"Akter Hossain, owner of the Hotel Asian Garden and Hotel Lake Garden in Tochigi Prefecture, contacted the Foreign Ministry on Friday, offering completely free accommodations and food for quake evacuees at his two hotels.

"The Japanese government has helped the people of Bangladesh so much in the past," Hossain, 44, told The Japan Times. "As a Bangladeshi, I have seen many natural disasters and this time, I wanted to do something for Japan."

Hossain, a 25-year resident of Japan, said he had canceled all reservations at the two hotels in Nikko and was on his way to Tochigi Friday night, bringing 200 kg of rice with him. He said he hadn't set any time frame and believes the people will leave "when the crisis has passed."

You can read the full article here.
(Thanks to Samana Siddiqui of Positive Muslim News for the link)

Monday 14 March 2011

Carly Fiorina Speech: "There was once a civilisation"

The Hewlett-Packard website carries the transcript of a speech by Carly Fiorina, Chief Executive of the company from 1999 to 2005:

"There was once a civilization that was the greatest in the world.

It was able to create a continental super-state that stretched from ocean to ocean, and from northern climes to tropics and deserts. Within its dominion lived hundreds of millions of people, of different creeds and ethnic origins.

One of its languages became the universal language of much of the world, the bridge between the peoples of a hundred lands. Its armies were made up of people of many nationalities, and its military protection allowed a degree of peace and prosperity that had never been known. The reach of this civilization’s commerce extended from Latin America to China, and everywhere in between.

And this civilization was driven more than anything, by invention. Its architects designed buildings that defied gravity. Its mathematicians created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of computers, and the creation of encryption. Its doctors examined the human body, and found new cures for disease. Its astronomers looked into the heavens, named the stars, and paved the way for space travel and exploration.

Its writers created thousands of stories. Stories of courage, romance and magic. Its poets wrote of love, when others before them were too steeped in fear to think of such things.

When other nations were afraid of ideas, this civilization thrived on them, and kept them alive. When censors threatened to wipe out knowledge from past civilizations, this civilization kept the knowledge alive, and passed it on to others.

While modern Western civilization shares many of these traits, the civilization I’m talking about was the Islamic world from the year 800 to 1600, which included the Ottoman Empire and the courts of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and enlightened rulers like Suleiman the Magnificent.

Although we are often unaware of our indebtedness to this other civilization, its gifts are very much a part of our heritage. The technology industry would not exist without the contributions of Arab mathematicians. Sufi poet-philosophers like Rumi challenged our notions of self and truth. Leaders like Suleiman contributed to our notions of tolerance and civic leadership."

You can read the full transcript here.

Muslim Superhero: Silver Scorpian

Time magazine (8 March 2011) carries an article about a new superhero. The differeence this time is that "The Scorpian" is Muslim and disabled:

"A collaboration between Los Angeles–based comic-book company Liquid Comics and the Open Hands Initiative — a nonprofit stemming from President Obama's pledge to extend America's "open hand of friendship" to the rest of the world — the Silver Scorpion is the brainchild of a group of young disability advocates from the U.S. and Syria. Brought together at the first international Youth Ability Summit in Damascus in August 2010, the attendees, who are all disabled, were asked to create a superhero who reflects what they have always wanted to see in a comic book. The kids had never met before. They spoke different languages and came from different cultures and backgrounds, but they immediately clicked.

The idea was to come up with a character that readers from East to West could relate to. And so the Silver Scorpion was born. He's the alter ego of teenager Bashir Bari, who comes from a fictional Arab city and loses his legs in an accident triggered by gangsters. Confined to a wheelchair and consumed with anger and grief, Bashir retreats into isolation — until he witnesses the murder of a mysterious metalsmith and is unknowingly chosen as the new guardian of an ancient power that allows him to manipulate metal with his mind. As the series continues, readers will be introduced to various other superheroes — some disabled, some not — who must join forces to combat an evil force that threatens the peace and stability of their world. To do that, they learn to overcome adversity in the face of physical, social and gender limitations. The message is simple: just because we're different doesn't mean we can't work together toward a common good."

You can read the full article here.
You can also see Time magazines article on Muslim Superheroes "The 99" here.
Finally, there is the Niqabi Muslimah superhero created by Marvel Comics for the X-Men called Dust (real name Sooraya Qadir) - wiki page here (I really don't know what to make of this one)

image source