Burqas, Baseball and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America

JumpingRopeAmerican Muslims often find themselves caught between those two aspects of their identities — American and Muslim.

Research shows that anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia have increased over the last decade, making it even harder for Muslim Americans to create connections or to feel part of the larger fabric of American life.

Many Muslims, however, are seeking to create those connections. Some do so by organizing interfaith events. Others take to the media in an attempt to dispel stereotypes. Still others write books.

Among the book authors is Ranya Tabari Idliby. She first came to the public’s attention when she co-authored The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew: Three Women Search for Understanding. That book focused on how Idliby and her co-authors Suzanne Oliver and Priscilla Warner worked to educate their children about their three faiths.

Now, Idliby has a new book out.

Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America is labeled a memoir, a reflection on Idliby’s life as an American Muslim.

But it’s also a letter to her children.

Idliby spoke with Muslim Voices Managing Editor Rosemary Pennington about what it was like to write such a personal story.

Rosemary Pennington: This is your second book dealing with faith and identity — why do you feel compelled to write about this issue?


Holy Land bishops urge Christian-Muslim unity against extremism

.- The Holy Land’s bishops have said that Christians and Muslims need to unite against extremism, stressing that people of all beliefs are at risk.

“Christians and Muslims need to stand together against the new forces of extremism and destruction,” the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land said in an April 2 statement posted on the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

“All Christians and many Muslims are threatened by these forces that seek to create a society devoid of Christians and where only very few Muslims will be at home,” the assembly continued. “All those who seek dignity, democracy, freedom and prosperity are under attack. We must stand together and speak out in truth and freedom.”

The assembly’s bishops urged the pursuit of “a society in which Muslims and Christians and Jews are equal citizens, living side by side,” in which “new generations can live and prosper.”

They downplayed notions that Islamic extremism threatens only Christians.

“There is no doubt that the recent upheavals in the Middle East, initially called the Arab Spring, have opened the way for extremist groups and forces that, in the name of a political interpretation of Islam, are wreaking havoc in many countries, particularly in Iraq, Egypt and Syria.”


Call for Muslim-Christian dialogue in C. African Republic

central-africaWorld Bulletin / News Desk

A body representing Christian anti-balaka militia on Thursday called for dialogue with other ethnic groups in the Central African Republic to help bloodshed in the restive country.

At a press conference in the capital Bangui, the executive committee of anti-balaka called on the interim government to include all anti-balaka groups into one body.

It called on the international community and the interim government to secure their food needs and medical care until a disarmament program is activated.

Muslim seleka militia leader, Gen. Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, welcomed the call, saying “Any initiative for peace in the Central African Republic is welcomed”.

“Peace has always been a top priority for us,” he added.

Dhaffane said he is ready to join the dialogue initiative by the anti-balaka militia, reiterating his opposition to violence committed by members of the seleka and anti-balaka militias.

“I will abide by any initiative for peace in order to create a favorable atmosphere for the return of displaced people to their homes,” Dhaffane said.

“This is why it is necessary for us to achieve national reconciliation to pave the way for election,” he added.


Study: Muslim Americans too diverse for labels

By: huffingtonpost.com


The recently formed U.S. Council for Muslim Organizations is intended to represent and serve the American Muslim population, which numbers roughly 2.75 million. But what does this mean for a group that is heterogeneous in race, ethnicity, political attitudes and even religious beliefs?

In 2011 Pew Research interviewed 1,033 Muslim American adults 18 years old and older on their backgrounds, beliefs, lifestyles and more, and the findings revealed a group that is highly diverse and often difficult to classify.

Racially, thirty percent of Muslim Americans report their race as white, 23% as black, 21% as Asian, 6% as Hispanic and 19% as other or mixed race.


Socio-economically, Muslim Americans fare comparably to the general public, but do have a slightly higher percentage that reports the lowest income bracket. Muslim Americans are about as likely to report household incomes of $100,000 or more as the general public, but 45% of Muslim Americans report a household income of $30,000 or less, compared to 36% of the general public who report the same.

Muslim Americans come from around the globe. Foreign-born Muslim Americans come from at least 77 different countries around the world. Sixty-three percent of Muslim Americans are first-generation immigrants, while 37% were born in the U.S. Seventy percent of those born outside of the U.S. are citizens (compared to 47% of foreign-born, on the whole, who are citizens.)


Politics divides Nazareth’s Muslims and Christians

Though Nazareth is known for its Christian community, Israel’s biggest Arab city is home to a Muslim majority. Tensions between the two religions have been on the rise since a mayoral election turned ugly.


Until last year, Ramez Jaraisi and Ali Salam were close friends. The incumbent Christian mayor and his Muslim deputy ran the city together in a successful partnership; their different religions were largely insignificant.

But when the two men stood against each other in last October’s election, everything changed. After a tight race, with just a handful of votes separating them, allegations surfaced of electoral fraud. Israel’s attorney general ordered a new election earlier this month, which Ali Salam won.

In the city’s souk, or covered market, shopkeepers say the rumors and dirty campaigns around the election affected business. “Trade was a bit slow and the atmosphere was tense,” says Mohammed, who runs a women’s clothing store.

Down the road, another shopkeeper says most people don’t care about religion, but that the election stirred up trouble: “I believe religion is politics – in Nazareth the politicians try to use it this way, they want to get into the Knesset or high places by making conflict between Christians, Muslims and even Jews. They shouldn’t do it – it’s not allowed – but how can they win their war?”


Bid to boost feminism among Muslim women

Islamic feminist voicesFor many feminists the hijab is a glaring symbol of male oppression and the patriarchal power of religion. But now there is a small but growing number of Muslim women looking to take their places in Britain’s rapidly expanding women’s movement.

A new project to connect Islam to feminism has been launched to tackle long-standing concerns that religious Muslim women are excluded from the women’s rights debate.

In what is a deeply controversial area for many in Islamic communities and for many mainstream feminists, the linkup between a Muslim charity and the project is seen as a pioneering step to bring women from different cultural backgrounds together in the battle for sexual equality.

The social enterprise Maslaha, established by the Young Foundation to work on improving social conditions in Muslim and minority communities, said the programme had attracted a huge response in the past few days.

“An awful lot of Muslim women have felt excluded from the debate about women’s rights and this project really focuses on bringing ordinary women into a debate about Islamic feminism that has so far only really been heard in academic circles,” said Latifa Akay of Maslaha.

She said the online resource islamandfeminism.org was bringing out some extraordinary responses from British Muslims who reported feeling previously isolated.

“This is really taking off. Islamic feminism is not a new thing, which will probably surprise most people, but Muslim women have the same core concerns as white, secular, British women: the workplace, discrimination, childcare.


My Muslim daughter is suspected of being Christian because she likes Christmas

imagesIt was in America where Reza Aslan - who will be discussing his book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth at Writers at York on Wednesday – really reached the public consciousness.

YouTube will preserve forever the total incomprehension of Fox News presenter Lauren Green as to why Aslan, an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, who also happens to be an Iranian-American Muslim, would have any possible interest in Christianity.

Thousands of miles away in Bradford, the narrow-minded, macro world view embodied by Fox struck me immediately, as I had already seen it being enacted at a micro level in the playground of my daughter’s school in Bradford.

For the last few years since joining the school, where the children are in main from a Pakistani Muslim background, my daughter has on a number of occasions either been told that she’s not a Muslim, or been asked if she is half Christian.

The comments and questions stem from her love of singing Christmas carols. The confusion for some of her classmates has obviously arisen from the fact that although she looks like them, her penchant for Christmas carols and enthusiastic handing out of Christmas presents mean that in some ways she doesn’t behave like them. The obvious explanation that has occurred to these children is that either she is not a Muslim full stop, or that she must have one parent who is Christian – hence the enthusiasm for Christmas. This is a playground version of the same dynamic being played out on the Fox News interview; the failure to understand why someone who identifies themselves as being a Muslim would want to have anything to do with Jesus.


Building the Church in Arabia Is About More Than Just Buildings

Mideast-Bahrain-Church-Project.JPEG-0f871-550x355King Isa Al Khalifah of Bahrain has given land to the Catholic Church to construct a 2,500-seat church in the Middle Eastern island nation, to be called Our Lady of Arabia. Bishop Camillo Ballin, the apostolic vicar of the northern Arabian Peninsula, traveled to the United States this month to raise a portion of the $30 million needed for the construction of the Church.

Bishop Ballin spoke with Register correspondent Christopher Crawford on March 14 in Washington, D.C., about the challenges facing the Church in the Muslim-dominated region.

Please start by telling our readers about the history of the Church in northern Arabia.

Many people have started to come from India, Asia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries. They started to come for work and to have a better life. So now the Catholic community is by very far the [largest religious] community. We are in good relations with the Protestants, with the Anglicans. There are not even conflicts between us and the Muslims. Certain tensions are among the Muslims themselves; not between the Muslims and the Christians.


Christians and Muslims join forces to combat modern slavery

download(Reuters) – The Roman Catholic Church, Church of England and al-Azhar, the Cairo-based seat of Sunni Muslim learning, came together on Monday for a rare display of interfaith action among them in calling for an end to modern slavery within 20 years.

Their joint statement setting up the “Global Freedom Network” they declared that “physical, economic and sexual exploitation of men, women and children” trapped 30 million people worldwide in slavery.

As well as establishing a world day of prayer for victims of slavery, the faiths agreed to “slavery-proof their supply chains and investments and to take remedial action if necessary” and press governments and companies to do the same.

Relations between the Vatican and the Church of England are cordial, even though they differ over women bishops and gay issues, while Rome’s ties to al-Azhar are thawing after three years of frosty separation.

Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, who signed the document for the Vatican, said Pope Francis had described human trafficking and modern-day slavery, raging from forced sex work to indentured agricultural labor, as a “crime against humanity”.


The Muslim Threat

180224653-sen-ted-cruz-and-sen-rand-paul-wait-to-speak-at-the.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlargeYesterday I wrote about the danger of demonizing Muslims. I cited remarks fromseveral Republican politicians who argued a couple of years ago that no mosqueshould be allowed near the site of the 9/11 attack in New York.

Today I looked at a speech given last night in California by Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La. Jindal’s speech, which asserted a religious right to practice anti-gay policies in private business activity,echoed the argument made 14 years ago by Bob Jones University in defense of its policy against interracial dating. The resemblance is uncanny. You can read the whole article here.

But Jindal’s speech raised another problematic theme as well: the idea of a war between Islam and Christianity. Here’s what he said:

In nation after nation, Christians are being slaughtered by radical Islamists for their beliefs. … Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that “The cross is laid on every Christian. It begins with the call to abandon the attachments of this world. … When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” And today, around the world, many Christians are living out that calling. That is a shooting war over religion, not a silent one.

In targeting Islam, Jindal is hardly alone. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another likely Republican candidate for president, asserted two years ago that “Sharia law is an enormous problem.” And last fall, a third likely candidate, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, told an overwhelmingly Christian audience at the Values Voters Summit:

Today I want to tell you about a war the mainstream media is ignoring. From Boston to Zanzibar, there is a worldwide war on Christianity. …

Ever since 9/11, commentators have tried to avoid pointing fingers at Islam. While it is fair to point out that most Muslims are not committed to violence against Christians, this is not the whole truth and we should not let political correctness stand in the way of the truth. …

We send billions of dollars a year to Pakistan and Egypt. We helped put new Islamic regimes in place in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama now sends arms to Islamic Rebels in Syria. In Egypt the mob attacked our embassy and burned our flag. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough.