Wholly American, Wholly Muslim
All across this country—and the world, in fact—there are numerous people who seek to define Islam and Muslims in a specific and (frequently) negative manner. Islamophobes have, in fact, staked their careers on this task. There are also criminals, so-called Muslims, acting in the name of Islam in such a wrong way that provides a “definition” of the religion wholly inconsistent with its principles. The actions of these criminals are just that: criminal and twisted and do not reflect the truth. Islamophobes claim that these deviants are, in fact, only representing the truth, and any claim to the contrary is a “lie.”
Hence the importance of Muslim voices owning their faith. These voices define Islam; they represent the truth. This is why the “I Speak For Myself” series is so important. Starting with the first book, I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim (White Cloud Press, 2011), American Muslim women got the chance to tell the world their story, in their own words. Now, it is the brothers’ turn with All American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim, edited by Wajahat Ali (a Patheos contributor and former blogger) and Zahra T. Suratwala.
Islamic Sharia and Jewish Halakha Arbitration Courts
by Sheila Musaji
FROM: THE AMERICAN MUSLIM
We have been slowly working to put online all of the articles from the print issues of The American Muslim published between 1989 and 1995. Recently, one such article Native American Courts: Precedent for an Islamic arbitral system by Issa Smith which was originally published in our 1993 print edition went online.
This was quickly noticed by Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, and his posting about the article provoked a number of Islamophobic postings on his site.
Last years dispute over establishing Sharia arbitration courts for family law in Canada prompted so much controversy, and ultimately led to the banning of all faith based arbitration in Canada, and this years hysteria over a speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury – it comes as no surprise that there is such strong feeling about what seems like a non-issue.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech was certainly not treason, craven, bonkers, a reason to “sack” him, or as Christopher Hitchens has said, a reason to say “To Hell With the Archbishop of Canterbury”. The Archbishop certainly wasn’t saying as John Gibson suggested on Fox News: “What the archbishop was proposing — in effect — was the unfairness of Sharia law toward women be institutionalized for Muslim women under British law.” And, the Archbishop is not as Robert Spencer called him, the “Archdhimmi” of Canterbury.
As an American Muslim I would be opposed to any suggestion that Sharia replace our American legal system for American Muslims or any other Americans, and I would be the first to fight any such possibility.
Muslim Women Find Empowerment in America
ATLANTA — Around Sept. 11, 2001, not long after she founded the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, Soumaya Khalifa heard from a group whose name sounded like “Bakers Club.’’ It wanted a presentation.
Tweet 1 person Tweeted thisYahoo! BuzzShareThisThe address was unfamiliar, but she went anyway. The group turned out to be the Bickerers Club, whose members love to argue. Islam was their topic du jour, and their venue was a tavern. Khalifa laughed and made the best of it.
Khalifa, who was born in Egypt and raised in Texas, wears a head scarf but also juggles, comfortably, the demands of American suburbia: crowded schedule, minivan and all.
She is one of a type now found in most sizable US cities: vocal Muslim women wary of the predominantly male leadership of their community and increasingly weary of suspicions of non-Muslims about Islam.
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Anti-Islamic Resolution Undermines Secular Society
by Ussama Makdisi
Islamophobia has reached America. In Austin today, a resolution by members of the Texas State Board of Education to rectify “pro-Islamic/anti-Christian bias” in “past Texas Social Studies textbooks” is being put to a vote.
The board determines Texas public school curriculum standards for well over 4 million public school children. There is nothing wrong with honest debate, but there is something wrong with xenophobia, fear-mongering and patently obvious distortions of basic historical truths in the name of education and objectivity. The resolution egregiously takes different quotations out of context from different textbooks and strings them together to create the misleading impression of a pro-Muslim narrative. Above all, there is the appeal to anti-Muslim sentiment by claiming that Middle Easterners desire to “buy into [sic] the U.S. public school textbook oligopoly.” As absurd as this allegation is in fact, it nevertheless evokes the conspiratorial idea that foreigners are attempting to brainwash unsuspecting Americans. Substitute the word “Jews” or “Reds” for “Middle Easterners” and you get the idea. The same Texas State Board of Education voted earlier this year to introduce major changes to the social studies curriculum in line with the prejudices of its extremist members: McCarthyism was effectively whitewashed, and the secular democratic basis of the United States was downplayed in favor of a “Judeo-Christian” view of America. Moreover, teachers were instructed not to teach a balanced view of the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Palestinians were the only national group associated with “terrorism” and Islam was the only religion associated with “fundamentalism.” Needless to say, it is not Texas educators who are the forefront of this radical revisionism; it is demagogic individuals who are blatantly politicizing education and exploiting a wave of anti-Muslim bigotry and ignorance that is sweeping across America.
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The Mosque in America: A National Portrait
This report presents findings from the Mosque Study Project 2000, the largest, most comprehensive survey of mosques ever to be conducted in the United States. The purpose of the Study is twofold: to provide a comprehensive, detailed portrait of mosques, which can be subsequently used by mosque leaders and Muslim scholars to envision ways to strengthen mosques. Secondly the Study provides a public profile of mosques that will hopefully further the understanding of the Muslim presence in America.
The Mosque Study Project 2000 is sponsored by four organizations: Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Society of North America, Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed), and Islamic Circle of North America. A research committee of Ihsan Bagby (Shaw University) and Lawrence Mamiya (Vassar College) and Mohamed Nimer (Director of Research, CAIR) developed the research design and the questionnaire. Dr. Bagby oversaw the data collection. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University did the data entry, and Paul Perl and Bryan Froehle of CARA provided the data analysis and a preliminary report of the findings. The sponsoring organizations will work together to make the study relevant to local mosques through various means including mosque workshops, publications and a national conference.
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Towards a Younger, Hipper Islam
When talking to those of my generation and younger from the Muslim American community, an oft-mentioned challenge is a disconnect from the Islam one knows and believes in and the messaging received in places of worship.
This seems to be changing tremendously here in the U.S. due to one simple thing: time.
The practice of Islam in America is practically as old as the country itself, however the institutionalization of it – in the form of community centers, places of worship and even organizations based on Islamic principles – is really only several decades young.
In what can best be described as generational evolution, young American Muslims born and raised in the U.S. (unlike many of their immigrant parents) are searching for ways to bridge cultures they love equally: that of country and faith.
Those bridges are being found in the human capital of the generation itself, through men and women whose first language is English, who watch “Avatar” and “Lost” and study Quran, and who believe that vice and virtue can be explained in rap music, poetry or even through examples in the storyboards of Hollywood films. Many believe that these new “bridges” are the Muslim community’s best hope for combating extremism.
Profile of Muslims in America
By Abdul Malik Mujahid
Estimates of Muslim population in the US range from less than three million to nine million. The World Almanac 2001 states that there are about 5.8 million Muslims in the USA.
1. One Muslim sociologist, however, after an exhaustive review of all the research regarding the number of Muslims in the US estimates that there are 6.7 million Muslims in the USA.
2. William B. Milam the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan states that there are seven million Muslims in America.
3. The lowest numbers given are by the Kosmin study. According to its population survey essentially aimed at finding out the Jewish population of America, Muslims are only one percent of the population. Therefore, less than three million people in America today are Muslims.
4.About 79% of all Muslims fall between the ages of 16 and 65. Muslims’ average household size is 4.9 persons.
5. A very significant part of the Muslim community in North America is in prison since 30% of all incarcerated African-Americans are Muslims who have accepted Islam in prison in the tradition of Malik Shabaz (Malcom X) and Imam Jamil Al-Amin (the former H. Rap Brown).
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New Boundaries: Evangelicals and Islam After 9/11
by Richard Cimino
Throughout 2002 and early 2003, evangelical Protestant leaders had shown themselves to be the most caustic critics of Islam in the U.S. In separate instances and within a few months, evangelist Franklin Graham called Islam a “very wicked and evil religion,” while Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell criticized Islam and its founder as being violent and sympathetic to terrorism.
What Goes First for American Muslims?
“Step out of the shadows of your own world, and step forthrightly into a participatory America — an America you have helped build, strengthen, and prosper,” notes Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the US Congress. “I want to see an America that embraces our faith as its own — if we step out of the shadows.” Muslims in the US live inside interlinking social and cultural circles, one inside the other, the biggest of which is the global Muslim community and the smallest can be the different religious sects and groups within the one Muslim community in a district in one of the American states.
New website written by American Muslims about the unique issues Muslims in America face in terms of preserving their identity in light of the challenges of a secularized pluralistic society. A quick perusal of the articles indicates that the issues are similar to those faced by Christians.
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Islamic Schools and Commercialism: Problems and Solutions
by Inayet Sahin
Islamic schools in the United States assist parents in raising Muslim youth. They strive for growth and excellence, both in the areas of academia and religion, integrating the curriculum with Islamic ideology and philosophy. Teachers and the administration work hard in helping Muslim youth cultivate their Islamic identity and contribute to the salad bowl we call America. The curriculum used, the structure, and the schedule of most schools follow the public school model. Although Muslim schools usually are spared the issues of drugs, alcohol and teenage pregnancy, they share in the problems that the society and the market economy impose on education. This statement encompasses many varied and vast issues that have been expounded upon by hundreds of scholars, in thousands of books and articles. In this paper, I will attempt to bring together comments and studies on commercialism in our schools, its effects on efforts in creating meaningful experiences in the classroom, and the potential harmful affects on spiritual growth.
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Between Faith and Country: Muslims in America
The Sept. 11 attacks started an intense debate among American Muslims. Five years later, it isn’t over.
In Chicago, that most American of cities, tens of thousands of Muslim Americans gathered for a conference in early September. They simultaneously debated questions about Western-style dating, the application of Islamic law, the role of Muslim Americans in the war on terrorism, and even perspectives on torture.
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Muslims and the Destiny of America
by Eboo Patel
(from The Washington Post)
Most Muslim events are held in anonymous rooms in suburban hotels, silently sending the message that American Muslims ought not concern themselves with the great issues of our time and place. Much of the talk is about the old days in other places – Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, the Palestinian territories. Most of the talkers are aging men with long beards (“uncles”, we call them), first generation immigrants who tell long stories about pure places far away. Their identities were formed in those settings. Their memories of other times on distant shores are sweet.
And who can blame them? Every immigrant community – Jews, Italians, Irish, Chinese, Mexicans, Poles, Russians, Indians – knows this story. Who hasn’t heard granddad’s tales of the homeland?