Trump doesn’t understand what Sharia is

Sally Kohn is aSally Kohnn activist, columnist and television commentator. Follow her on Twitter: @sallykohn. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN)It’s clear that Donald Trump has no idea what Sharia is. Earlier this month, Trump proposed what he described as “extreme vetting” to ban immigrants who “believed Sharia law should supplant American law.” But while this irrational fear-mongering might play well to some of his supporters, it is detached from reality.

Perhaps Trump isn’t interested in the truth. The rest of us should be, though, because understanding the truth about Islam is the best way to fight extremism within it. The alternative is to misunderstand and misrepresent the majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, the very people who have the greatest stake in the fight. (Remember, the vast majority of victims of Islamic extremist attacks are Muslims.)trump
So, what exactly is the truth about Sharia, and how does that help us combat extremism? In short, there is a difference between personal, spiritual Sharia and the political incorporation of Sharia into law. And within both, there are progressive interpretations as well as more fundamentalist conservative interpretations. So the word Sharia doesn’t mean one thing.
“Every practicing Muslim — whether traditional or conservative or progressive — in some way follows Sharia,” says Wajahat Ali, a Virginia-based writer and creative director of Affinis Labs. “There’s no book called Sharia. You can’t rent it. It’s subject to human interpretation and is malleable, thus explaining how Muslims have existed for 1,400 years in nearly every society.”

London Muslims go to church in solidarity with Christians: ‘We will not let hatred win’

st-john-on-bethnal-green-welcomes-muslims-to-sunday-serviceLeading members of Britain’s Muslim community have attended a London church service to show solidarity with their Christian neighbours.

The Muslim men and women joined the congregation of St John on Bethnal Green for Sunday eucharist yesterday to demonstrate friendship and community in the wake of the brutal murder of Father Jacques Hamel in France.

The London diocese said the service was organised by Faith Matters, an integration campaign group, and the Rector of St John’s, the Rev Alan Green, “to confirm the importance of life within both faiths and to come together in the spirit of solidarity, empathy and care for the dignity and lives of each other.”

Among the Muslim guests were Dr Mamadou Bocoum, an imam, a lecturer in Islamic Studies and board member of the Muslim Law Council, Rabina Khan, a Tower Hamlets councillor, and Mohammed Amin, the first Muslim to become a partner with accountants Price Waterhouse in the UK.

St John’s has a long history of interfaith work in east London.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY

Minnesota boy, bullied for being Muslim, takes on Trump

cb0e61-20160819-cair01A boy who has said he wants to be the first Muslim president is taking on Donald Trump, ahead of Republican presidential nominee’s appearance in Minneapolis scheduled for Friday.

Yusuf Dayur, 12, said Trump says things that fuel ill-will toward his fellow Muslims. Trump’s campaign is instilling fear in people, Dayur said, “who do not really know what Islam stands for and do not really know what the Muslim community believes.”

At a speech in Maine earlier this month, Trump said the U.S. does not do a good job of vetting refugees, which he says raises safety issues in Minnesota.

Donald Trump
“Creating an enclave of immigrants with high unemployment that is both stressing the state’s — I mean the state is having tremendous problems — its safety net, and creating a rich pool of potential recruiting targets for Islamic terror groups,” Trump said.

• Earlier: In speech, Trump targets Somalis in Minnesota, Maine

In Minnesota, 10 young men of Somali or Oromo descent have been charged with conspiring to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS. Six pleaded guilty, three were convicted and a 10th is believed dead. In addition, more than 20 young men traveled to Somalia to join the ranks of the terror group al-Shabab starting in 2007.

But those figures represent a small fraction of the tens of thousands of Somali-Americans who call Minnesota home.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO 

Nigerian Christians and Muslims open historic peace centre

christian-and-muslim-leaders-in-nigeriaNigerian Christians and Muslims gathered on 19 August to open the International Centre for Inter-Faith Peace and Harmony (ICIPH).

The centre is located in Kaduna, where more than 20,000 people have died in various conflicts over the last three decades. Amid a growing number of interfaith initiatives in Nigeria, the new centre has a unique goal: to systematically document interfaith relations to inform national and international policy-making.

Key local Nigerian organisations, the Christian Council of Nigeria and Jama’atu Nasril Islam, led the effort to open the centre, which was preceded in 2014 by a consultative forum held in Abuja that drew about 40 Muslim and Christian leaders.

Many supporters were recognised at the grand opening, among them Dr Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, primate of the African Church and president of the Christian Council of Nigeria, Sultan of Sokoto Sa’adu Abubakar, and Dr Khalid Aliyu, Secretary General of Jama’atu Nasril Islam.

Prince Ghazi of Jordan and Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja were also among those who envisioned the centre’s goals and outcomes.

Malam Nasir EL-Rufai, governor of Kaduna State, formerly opened the centre. He shared his experience of the way that religious leaders, both Christian and Muslim, sometimes speak and act in ways that hinder interreligious peace, so he was very pleased to support the centre as a physical symbol helping Muslims and Christians work together more effectively.

Abubakar also voiced his support for the centre, and spoke about how God wants there to be religious diversity in Nigeria. Onaiyekan said he believed the centre could potentially become a model for conflict resolution in other parts of the world.

FULL ARTICLE FROM EKKLESIA.UK 

Nigeria’s Subversive Love Stories

Nigeria Subversive Love Stories

In this photo taken Sunday, April 3, 2016, Suleiman Maharazu, centre, the owner of Maharazu Bookshop, sells books to young girls in his shop in Kano, Nigeria. In the local market, stalls are signs of a feminist revolution with piles of poorly printed books by women, as part of a flourishing literary movement centered in the ancient city of Kano, that advocate against conservative Muslim traditions such as child marriage and quick divorces. Dozens of young women are rebelling through romance novels, many hand-written in the Hausa language, and the romances now run into thousands of titles. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

KANO, Nigeria — Nestled among vegetables, plastic kettles and hand-dyed fabric in market stalls are the signs of a feminist revolution: Piles of poorly printed books by women that advocate forcefully against conservative Muslim traditions such as child marriage and quick divorce.

They are part of a flourishing literary movement centered in the ancient city of Kano, in northern Nigeria, where dozens of young women are rebelling through romance novels. Hand-written in the Hausa language, the romances now run into thousands of titles. Many rail against a strict interpretation of Islam propagated in Nigeria by the extremist group Boko Haram, which on Sunday posted video showing dozens of the 218 girls militants abducted from a remote school in April 2014.

“We write to educate people, to be popular, to touch others’ lives, to touch on things that are happening in our society,” says author Hadiza Nuhu Gudaji, whose views have gained a recognition unusual for women in her society.

Gudaji’s novellas are so popular that she is invited to give advice on radio talk shows. She describes how she was able to influence the future of a 15-year-old who called in, begging the novelist to persuade her father not to force her into marriage.

“We said: ‘The father of this girl, you are listening to us, you hear what your girl is saying,” Gudaji recounts. “‘If you force her, maybe the marriage will not end so well, maybe the girl will run away and come to a bad end.'”

A few weeks later, the girl called to say thank you, and that she was back in school — a striking example of the kind of power the author wields.

The novellas are derogatorily called “littattafan soyayya, meaning “love literature,” Kano market literature or, more kindly, modern Hausa literature. Daily readings on about 20 radio stations make them accessible to the illiterate.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

3 Olympic Athletes Show the Positive Power of Islam

ATHLETICS-OLY-2016-RIO

Britain’s Mo Farah celebrates winning the Men’s 10,000m during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 13, 2016. / AFP / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Before the Opening Ceremony, mentions of Islam in relation to the 2016 Rio Olympics were often linked to terrorism and security. But as the Games come to an end, fears of a terror attack have been eclipsed by the athletic exploits of Muslim athletes, and prevailing stereotypes have been outpaced by the images of Muslim excellence.

Mo Farah, Sarah Ahmed and Ibtihaj Muhammad offer examples of Muslim athletes who flourished on the Olympics’ stage amid suspicion, racism and Islamophobia in Rio.

The Power of Prayer

On Aug. 13, Somali British long distance runner Mo Farah sought to claim back-to-back gold medals in the 10,000-meter run. In the middle of the race, the favorite locked his legs with another runner and fell on the track. He bounced right back up, strategically wove his way past the pack and claimed gold.

After he crossed the finish line, Farah fell on the track again—this time to pray. He bowed his head before a stadium of adoring spectators. That performance was just as dramatic as racing past Kenya’s Paul Kipngetich Tanui to win this third gold medal.

Farah’s prayer can help counter the damaging stereotypes of Muslims held by many around the world. For Farah, and scores of Muslim athletes, faith is not incidental, but central to their excellence in sport. “I normally pray before a race,” Farah said. “I read du’aa [Islamic prayers or invocations] think about how hard I’ve worked and just go for it.”

The Weight of Gendered Stereotypes

A young woman in a head scarf can often conjure up images of frailty and disempowerment. But Egyptian weightlifter Sara Ahmed is anything but. She can out-lift most women in the world and has the kind of physical power few possess.

Donning all black with a red headscarf, the colors of her nation, the diminutive Ahmed lifted a combined weight of 255kg (562lbs) to claim the bronze medal in the 69kg weight class. The feat, given her nationality and ethnicity, was unprecedented. Ahmed became an instant icon in her native Egypt, becoming the first female medalist in the nation’s 104-year history in Olympics’ competition and the first Arab woman to win an Olympic medal in weightlifting.

As she bowed her head to receive her medal, Ahmed represented world-class power, strength and Muslim womanhood, disrupting tropes that have enabled headscarf bans in France and trite oppression narratives in America and elsewhere.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIME MAGAZINE 

The hospital that unites Christians and Muslims

19796746801471598210TANGUIETA: “The coexistence among Christians and Muslims, here in Benin, is serene: I often say that, if the relationship between the faithful of these two religions was like this everywhere, we would not see the dramas that cause so much bloodshed in many areas of the world today!” These are the words of Brother Fiorenzo Priuli, 70 years old, a surgeon, and a beacon for thousands of patients in Africa; a WHO (World Health Organization) consultant for AIDS and infectious diseases, who was awarded the Legion of Honor by the President of the French Republic. Of himself, he says: “I am grateful to the Lord who has called me to collaborate with him in the wonderful work of treating those who suffer and protecting life.” For more than 40 years, he has lived in a small town in the north of the country, Tanguiéta, where he runs the St John of God Hospital, a centre of excellence in African medicine, founded in 1970 by the Hospitaller Order of the Brothers of St John of God, known as the Fatebenefratelli. At the time, it offered 82 beds; now there are 415.

The history of this great hospital, which has also become a university centre, speaks of the beautiful bond that is manifest between human beings of different religions when they share responsibility towards an injured human, and ally themselves, giving their best to lift up the lives that have been downtrodden by illness: strong ties that transcend the boundaries of states.

A common goal: Healthcare
The hospital physicians, including interns, number 25, while the paramedic and administrative staff consists of three hundred people. “Many are Muslim (such as my deputy in the operating room, who recently married a Catholic nurse) and the relationships between all of us are excellent,” says Bro Fiorenzo. “We work together day and night, driven by a common goal: to try to provide the best possible assistance to the thousands of patients who come here, often after facing long and exhausting journeys. Every year, we have 18,000-20,000 new patients (of which 5,000 are children) who come from neighbouring countries (Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria): 14,000 are hospitalized, while others receive outpatient care.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HERALD, MALAYSIA ONLINE