Diversity Initiatives Are Failing the U.S. Muslim Community

Over the past decade, the Muslim community has become included in diversity initiatives in the United States. Hollywood is finally producing shows that feature Muslim characters, such as Hulu’s Ramy, Netflix’s Mo, and Disney+’s Ms. Marvel. Universities are adjusting dining hall hours to accommodate Muslim students who fast during Ramadan, and they are increasing the number of reflection spaces on campus to facilitate Muslim ritual prayer. Nike launched its Pro Hijab, a headscarf for Muslim women athletes, and Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad became its model. Muhammad also served as the inspiration for the first Muslim Barbie doll.

These initiatives enhance our sense of belonging as Muslims in the U.S.—but they are not enough to actually challenge Islamophobia.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIME ,MAGAZINE

Muslims in America Love Thanksgiving. Here’s Why

Frasat Ahmad, USA

This week, your Muslim neighbor Ahmad will be enjoying Thanksgiving just like you.

You may not know, but Muslims love thanksgiving. Not only does the thought of juicy turkey and sweet pumpkin pie entice our stomachs, but the spirit of Thanksgiving entices our souls.

Although Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday or observance and is not commemorated as such, Muslims in America are naturally drawn to this holiday because of the spirit of gratitude and service that it embodies. This American spirit of giving thanks is actually enshrined in Islam. In fact, Islam can be boiled down to two ideals: giving thanks to God and giving thanks to our fellow human beings.

The Qur’an tells us,

‘Worship God and be thankful to Him,’– The Holy Qur’an 39:67

Some may say that ritual prayer and worship suffice to give thanks to God. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) could not disagree more.

In a famous tradition, he states,

‘If you are not thankful to people, then you are not thankful to God.’– Sunan Abu Dawud 4811

Gratitude to our fellow brethren by way of community service, paired with prayer, is the truly Muslim means to give thanks to God. And it fits perfectly with the American spirit of Thanksgiving.

As Americans excitedly prepare to organise food drop offs to homeless shelters, donate groceries to food pantries, volunteer at food banks, or raise money for local charities, they will see that their Muslim neighbors stand in unison with them in these selfless acts of service.

This spirit of selfless service connects us all, whatever our background or religion.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS

Georgia candidate makes history as first known Muslim and Palestinian woman elected to state House

CNN — 

Ruwa Romman remembers the sadness she felt as an 8-year-old girl sitting in the back of a school bus watching classmates point to her house and erupt in vicious laughter.

“There’s the bomb lab,” they jeered in yet another attempt to brand her family as terrorists.

On Tuesday, the same girl – now a 29-year-old community organizer – made history as the first known Muslim woman elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, and the first Palestinian American elected to any office in the state.

After 10 months of relentless campaigning, the Democrat said she is eager to begin representing the people of District 97, which includes Berkeley Lake, and parts of Duluth, Norcross, and Peachtree Corners in Gwinnett County.

As an immigrant, the granddaughter of Palestinian refugees, and a Muslim woman who wears the hijab, or Islamic headscarf, the road to political office hasn’t been easy, especially in the very Christian and conservative South.

“I could write chapters about what I have gone through,” Romman told CNN, listing the many ways she’s faced bigotry or discrimination.

“All the times I am ‘randomly’ selected by TSA, teachers putting me in a position where I had to defend Islam and Muslims to classrooms being taught the wrong things about me and my identity… it colored my entire life.”

But those hardships only fueled her passion for civic engagement, especially among marginalized communities, Romman said.

“Who I am has really taught me to look for the most marginalized because they are the ones who don’t have resources or time to spend in the halls of political institutions to ask for the help they need,” she said.

Romman began in 2015 working with the Georgia Muslim Voter Project to increase voter turnout among local Muslim Americans. She also helped establish the state chapter for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN

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The Midterm Results Show Muslim Americans Are No Longer on the Fringe of U.S. Politics

The Nov. 8 midterms almost saw Dr. Mehmet Oz become the first Muslim U.S. Senator. The Republican TV doctor-turned-politician—who wasn’t exactly popular among a wide swathe of Muslim Americans—would have been a controversial first for the community. But Oz’s loss to Democrat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania masks what was otherwise a record-breaking election for the community of at least 3.45 million people.

Muslim Americans won at least 83 seats across local, state, and federal midterm elections as of Thursday morning, according to an analysis by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a civil rights and advocacy group, and Jetpac, a nonprofit focused on increasing Muslim political representation in the U.S. Almost 150 Muslim Americans had run this year for office, including 51 state legislative candidates across 23 states.

This year’s wins surpass the prior record of 71 that CAIR and Jetpac counted in 2020; they have been tracking this data for the last six years.

Beyond these topline figures, several Muslims became the first representatives of their communities to enter statehouses. Illinois had its first Muslim Americans elected to the general assembly: 23-year-old Nabeela Syed and 33-year-old Abdelnasser Rashid both won seats in the state house. Salman Bhojani and Suleman Lalani became the first Muslims elected to the Texas legislature. In Georgia, Palestinian American Ruwa Romman became the first Muslim woman elected to the State House. In total, Georgia elected four Muslim Americans to office.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIME MAGAZINE

Dialogue is ‘the oxygen of peace’

The Holy Father recalls his visit to Bahrain

At the General Audience in Saint Peter’s Square on Wednesday morning, 9 November, Pope Francis reflected on his recent Apostolic Journey to Bahrain, pointing to three keywords that sum up his experience: dialogue, encounter and journey. The Holy Father also expressed his closeness to the people of Cyprus after the passing of His Beatitude Chrysostomos II and renewed his invitation to pray for martyred Ukraine. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s words which he shared in Italian.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good morning!

Before I begin to speak about what I have prepared, I would like to draw attention to these two children who came up here. They did not ask permission. They did not say, “I am afraid”. They came up directly. This is how we have to be with God: direct. They have given us an example of how we should behave with God, with the Lord: go ahead! He is always waiting for us. It was good for me to see the trust of these two children. It was an example for all of us. This is how we should always draw near the Lord — freely. Thank you.

Three days ago, I returned from my trip to the Kingdom of Bahrain which I truly did not know. I did not really know what that kingdom was like. I would like to thank everyone who accompanied this visit through the support of their prayers, and to renew my gratitude to His Majesty the King, the other Authorities, the local Church and the people, for their warm welcome. And I would also like to thank those who organize these journeys. To make this trip happen, it takes a bustle of people. The Secretariat of State works a lot to prepare the discourses, to prepare the logistics, everything, there is a lot of activity… then the translators… and then, the Gendarmerie Corps, the Swiss Guards Corps, who are wonderful. It is a tremendous amount of work! To everyone, to all of you, I would like to thank you publicly for all that you do to ensure that the Pope’s journeys go well. Thank you.

It is natural to wonder why the Pope wanted to visit this small country with such a large Islamic majority. There are so many Christian countries — why not go to one of them first? I would like to respond through three words: dialogue, encounter and journey.

Dialogue: the opportunity for the long-desired Journey was afforded by the invitation of the King to a Forum on dialogue between the East and the West, a dialogue that seeks to discover the richness that other peoples, traditions and beliefs possess. Bahrain, an archipelago formed by many islands, helped us understand that one must not live in isolation, but by drawing closer. In Bahrain, which is made up of islands, they drew close, they brush up against each other. The cause of peace requires this, and dialogue is “the oxygen of peace”. Do not forget this. Dialogue is the oxygen of peace. Even for peace in our homes. If there is war there between husband and wife, they can move ahead in peace, with dialogue. In the family, too, dialogue; dialogue, for peace is preserved through dialogue. Almost 60 years ago, the Second Vatican Council, speaking about building an edifice of peace, stated that “it certainly demands that [men and women] extend their thoughts and their spirit beyond the confines of their own nation, that they put aside national selfishness and ambition to dominate other nations, and that they nourish a profound reverence for the whole of humanity, which is already making its way so laboriously toward greater unity” (Gaudium et Spes, 82). I sensed this need in Bahrain and I hoped that religious and civil leaders throughout the world might be able to look beyond their own borders, their own communities, to care for the whole. This is the only way to confront certain universal issues, for example, that God is being forgotten, the tragedy of hunger, the care of creation, peace. These things can be thought of all together. In this sense, the Forum for dialogue, entitled “East and West for Human Coexistence”, encouraged choosing the path of encounter and rejecting that of confrontation. How much we need this! There is such a need to encounter each other. I am thinking of the insanity of war — insane! — of which martyred Ukraine is a victim, and of many other conflicts, that will never be resolved with the infantile logic of weapons, but only with the gentle power of dialogue. But in addition to Ukraine, which is being tormented, let us think of the wars that have been going on for years, and let us think of Syria — more than 10 years! — let us think, for example, of Syria, let us think of the children in Yemen, let us think of Myanmar: everywhere! Right now, Ukraine is closer. What do wars do? They destroy, they destroy humanity, they destroy everything. Conflicts should not be resolved through war.

FULL ARTICLE FROM OSSERVATOREROMANO.VA

Allah Demands Religious Pluralism – OpEd

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Under the patronage of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Bahrain Dialogue Forum “East and West for Human Coexistence” was launched today with the participation of many representatives of religions from different countries. Pope Francis is also bringing his message of dialogue with the Muslim world to the kingdom of Bahrain for the next few days. 

At the same time Christians and Jews need to learn that the Qur’an is a major supporter of Religious Pluralism as being God’s will.

Since all monotheistic scriptures come from the one and only God, we should view other scriptures as potentially enriching our understanding and appreciation of our own scripture. But in the middle ages almost all readers thought of revelation as a zero sum sport like tennis rather than a multiple win co-operative sport like mountain climbing. 

In a zero sum game any value or true spiritual insight I grant to another scripture somehow diminishes my own. This was the result of the influence of Greek philosophy’s emphasis on the logic of the excluded middle. Something is either true or it is false. There is no other option. If two propositions contradicted one another, one or both of them must be false. 

This would mean that if my religion is true, yours must be false. In modern terms, light could not be both a particle and a wave at the same time. Yet we now know that light is indeed both a particle and a wave at the same time.

This medieval situation did not improved much in modern times. In the last two centuries university academics have written many studies of comparative religion which they claim are objective and not distorted by their religious beliefs. 

Unfortunately, academics who treat other religions academically usually do not believe that other scriptures are actually Divinely inspired. Indeed, many academics do not believe that even their own sacred scriptures are Divinely inspired. 

They use the same kinds of explanation to understand a revealed religion that they would use to explain secular history and literature. As a rabbi I follow a different model, one I learned from prophet Muhammad. 

For example, the Mishnah (an early third century compilation of the oral Torah, states, “Adam was created as an individual to teach you that anyone who destroys a single soul, Scripture imputes it to him as if he destroyed the whole world.” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5) And the Qur’an states,”one who kills a human being, unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, would be as if he slew the whole people, and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people” (Qur’an 5:32) 

Academics explain the similarity of the two statements by assuming that since the Jewish statement is several centuries earlier than the Qur’an, Muhammad must have heard it from a Rabbi or other educated Jew in Medina. 

But I believe Muhammad is a prophet of God who confirms the Torah of prophet Moses. Muhammad has no need to learn this statement from another human being. Academics might reply that the statement is not found in the written Torah; it appears in the oral Torah written by the Rabbis in the Mishnah more than 1000 years after Moses. 

FULL ARTICLE FROM EURASIAREVIEW

Oz Could Be the First Muslim U.S. Senator, but Some Muslim Americans Are Ambivalent

Unlike most Americans of his faith, Dr. Mehmet Oz is a Republican. His distance from their communities and some of his comments about Islam have unnerved fellow Muslims.

    In just a few days, Pennsylvania could elect Dr. Mehmet Oz to the Senate, which would make him the nation’s first Muslim senator.

    With an eye on that history, Muslims in the state have invited him to events at mosques. They have waited for him to talk about how his life has been influenced by his faith, which he once told an interviewer hewed to the mystical Sufi Islam of the whirling dervishes. They have wondered if he would note the significance of a Muslim’s being elected to such a high national office.

    But he has not done any of those things.

    As Dr. Oz clashes with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate, in a close race that could decide control of the Senate, he is approaching his Muslim background with what appears to be great ambivalence — and some Muslim Americans have similarly conflicted feelings.

    Dr. Oz’s personal and political identities make him an unlikely fit for the role of a history-making, barrier-breaking Muslim public figure.

    FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

    Bahrain to welcome ‘Father Pope’ for historic return to Gulf region

    Both Christians and Muslims are welcoming Pope Francis to Bahrain as “Father Pope” for his historic visit to the Gulf country, says Nivedita Dhadphale, a Bahraini communications expert.

    Bahrain to welcome ‘Father Pope’ for historic return to Gulf region

    Both Christians and Muslims are welcoming Pope Francis to Bahrain as “Father Pope” for his historic visit to the Gulf country, says Nivedita Dhadphale, a Bahraini communications expert.

    Nov 03, 2022

    Related News

    A priest walks in front of a poster of Pope Francis at Sacred Heart Church in Manama


    By Devin Watkins – Manama, Bahrain
    Pope Francis arrives in the Kingdom of Bahrain on Thursday for a 4-day visit to shine the spotlight on the twin themes of interreligious dialogue and closeness to Christians living in the Muslim-majority nation.

    “For Bahrain, this visit is very historic, because we have never had someone like the Pope come here in terms of promoting dialogue.”

    Nivedita Dhadphale, a consultant with Bahrain’s National Communication Centre, offered that description of the Pope’s 39th Apostolic Journey abroad, on 3-6 November.

    Open, welcoming society
    Speaking to Vatican News in Bahrain, Ms. Dhadphale said the country has a “long history of churches and places of worship of different religions.”

    The British-Bahraini communications expert has spent the last 30 years in Bahrain, but she still remembers being struck when she saw that Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, was celebrated openly, as well as public displays of Christmas decorations.

    “I’ve lived here for over three decades, and what I can say is that it’s a very, very open society and the people are very warm and they’re just welcoming.”

    Relations among various religions, said Ms. Dhadphale, who is of Indian origin and professes Hinduism, goes beyond tolerance of the beliefs of others.

    FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HERALD (MALYASIA)

    ‘A need for Islamic ecumenism’: An interview with Cardinal Fitzgerald

    A cardinal, with decades working and praying with Muslims, talks about interreligious conversation.

    When Cardinal Arthur Roche received the red hat on Aug. 27, he became the third living English cardinal.

    Many Catholics could name a second one: Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the current Archbishop of Westminster and president of the English and Welsh bishops’ conference.

    But they might struggle to name the third. That’s probably because he is living in retirement in a parish in the city of Liverpool. But he is an eminent churchman who is one of the Church’s leading experts on Islam, and he once led a Vatican dicastery.

    Days before Pope Francis’ trip to the Muslim-majority country of Bahrain, Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald spoke with The Pillar about the most pressing challenges in Catholic-Muslim relations, the need for “Islamic ecumenism,” and the impact of Benedict XVI’s Regensburg lecture.

    In a pithy email interview, the cardinal also discussed why he joined the White Fathers in his youth, his missionary work in Africa, and what it was like to serve at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Vatican body overseeing interfaith relations.

    Subscribe now!

    England’s three living cardinals (left to right): Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, Cardinal Arthur Roche, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, pictured on Aug. 28, 2022. © Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.

    Cardinal Fitzgerald, what is Christianity?

    At Antioch, the followers of the Way were called Christians for the first time. So Christianity is the following of Jesus Christ according to his teaching and the way of life that he indicated. Of course, we know the teaching of Jesus through Tradition (which includes the Gospels). According to Matthew 25, we shall be judged more on our lives than our beliefs.

    FULL ARTICLE FROM PILLAR

    Pope Francis uses Bahrain visit to foster Christian-Muslim dialogue 

    • King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa invited the pope to come to the country

    VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis intends to foster dialogue between Catholics and Muslims during his coming trip to Bahrain, and will launch a message of peace to the Arabian Gulf.

    The Pope will be in Bahrain from Nov. 3 to Nov. 6. The trip will begin with a visit at the Sakhir Royal palace to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who invited him to come to the country.

    This will be the tenth trip for Francis to a country with a Muslim majority and a tiny Catholic presence of nearly 80,000 out of a population of about 1.3 million.

    “It will also be a ‘sign’ for Shiite Islam, in the framework of a strategy of rapprochement with different branches of the Muslim faith the Pope is following,” Fr Giuseppe Ciutti, an Italian priest who spent time in Iraq and studies the relationship between Islam and Catholicism, told Arab News.

    Monsignor Paul Hinder, the apostolic administrator of the North Arabia apostolic region, which includes Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, said at a press conference that the Pope’s trip to Bahrain followed the path begun with the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Common Coexistence,” which Francis signed in February 2019 in Abu Dhabi together with Sheikh Ahmed al Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of al Azhar, a figure of reference for Sunni Muslims.

    Hinder believes that the Pope will carry out a “positive strategy” of rapprochement with the “different currents” of the Muslim faith and offer an invitation to continue along the path of dialogue with other religions.

    Bahrain will be the 58th country visited during his pontificate by Pope Francis, and he will be the first pontiff in history to set foot there.

    “It is an ancient land where different national, ethnic and religious groups coexist and therefore it is a precious step in the journey of fraternity the Pope has undertaken,” Bruni said.

    FULL ARTICLE FROM ARAB NEWS