Eastern Kentucky Grad Working to Change Face of Islam

RICHMOND — To many in the Western world, the face of Islam may be that of a suicide bomber or members of an angry mob shouting “Death to America.”

Those are not the only faces of Islam, however, and Rushda Majeed, who graduated from Eastern Kentucky University in 2004, is working as program director for the American Society for Muslim Advancement to change the perception of Islam in America and abroad as well as help shape its future.

Majeed, a native of India who holds a master’s degree in international relations from Columbia University, returned to her alma mater Thursday night to deliver a lecture for EKU’s “Creative Inquiries” Chautauqua series.

The definition of Islam is “submission to the will of God,” she said, and that means “being compassionate and kind to other human beings, include others who may not be like you.”


US Media Needs to Repair Image of Muslims

he image of American Muslims is in serious disrepair. A January 2010 Gallup poll found that almost half of Americans hold anunfavourable view of Islam. About the same number of Americans harbour personal prejudice towards Muslims, according to the poll.

These numbers become especially troubling when we consider that two-thirds of the Americans polled admit to knowing little to nothing about Islam.

Why are many Americans distrustful of a religion and people they know very little about?


Lebanese Muslims and Christians Celebrate the Annunciation Together

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Lebanese Christians and Muslims are celebrating today, 25 March, the Feast of the Annunciation, an official national holiday sanctioned by the Government of Lebanon. All public buildings, schools, banks and university are closed. The government has also encouraged private businesses to do the same.

The Feast Day of the Annunciation commemorates the moment when the Archangel Gabriel revealed to the Virgin Mary that she would become the mother of Jesus, the Saviour.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri extended his warmest greetings to the nation, saying that it was the responsibility of clergymen to make this day a spiritual and national occasion for all Lebanese.


Predominantly Muslim Egypt Renovates Christianity’s Oldest Monastery

In Egypt, longstanding tensions between the Muslim majority and Christian minority periodically erupt in violence. The most fatal of the past decade was adrive-by shooting at a church on Coptic Christmas Eve in January that killed six Christians and a Muslim security guard. But amid the escalating sectarian divide, the Egyptian government says it is committed to maintaining the country’s diverse religious history by preserving historic religious sites.

Last month, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities announced the completion of a five-year renovation of St. Anthony’s monastery, the oldest Christian monastery in the world, touting it as a symbol of the country’s religious tolerance and harmony.


Poet Lashes out at Muslim Hardliners In Poet’s “Emirates Idol”

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – It was a startling voice of protest at a startling venue. Covered head to toe in black, a Saudi woman lashed out at hard-line Muslim clerics’ harsh religious edicts in verse on live TV at a popular Arabic version of American Idol.

Well, not quite American Idol: Contestants compete not in singing but in traditional Arabic poetry. Over the past episodes, poets sitting on an elaborate stage before a live audience have recited odes to the beauty of Bedouin life and the glories of their rulers or mourning the gap between rich and poor.

Then last week, Hissa Hilal, only her eyes visible through her black veil, delivered a blistering poem against Muslim preachers “who sit in the position of power” but are “frightening” people with their fatwas, or religious edicts, and “preying like a wolf” on those seeking peace.


Moderate Western-educated Islamic Scholar Named Egypt’s Top Cleric

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s president named a moderate, Western-educated Islamic scholar the country’s new top cleric on Friday, the state news agency reported.

The appointment makes Ahmed el-Tayeb the new grand sheik of Cairo’s Al-Azhar, the pre-eminent theological institute of Sunni Islam, the faith’s majority sect. He takes over from Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, who died of a heart attack last week after heading Al-Azhar for nearly 14 years.

El-Tayeb, who was in his hometown of Luxor in southern Egypt when he received news of his appointment, said he “highly appreciates the great trust” President Hosni Mubarak has bestowed on him, the Middle East News Agency reported.


Reading Nigeria’s Christian-Muslim Violence

Recently over 500 Catholics died at the hands of a Muslim mob in Northern Nigeria. It would be easy to understand the killings simply as an expression of a wider Muslim intolerance of Christians. But comment by local Catholic bishops suggested a broader context.

The Bishop of Jos, where the massacre took place, situated it in a struggle between Muslims and Christians over which religion was more powerful. The Archbishop of Abuja spoke of wider social, economic and tribal roots. In communal fighting in January, too, many people had been killed, the majority Muslim. The present violence may have been planned as a revenge attack, both tribal and religious in character.


Islamism: Why the West Gets it Wrong

“The west is ill at ease with Islam“, a BBC colleague remarked, long before 9/11. “Even communism was more familiar.” Communism, after all, came from within the western intellectual tradition. Islam, in contrast, is alien as well as threatening.

Our mistake is to see Islam as monolithic. We think of the Saudi brand as the norm – as if cutting off hands, outlawing the building of churches and denying women the right to drive were the norm across the vast sweep of the Muslim world. After 30 years’ experience travelling in the Muslim world – most of that time as a regional specialist with the BBC World Service – I’m still constantly startled by how many ways there are of being a Muslim in the modern world.


Sheik Mohammed Tantawi dies; Egypt’s top Sunni Islam cleric

By Associated Press

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Egypt’s top cleric, Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, known for promoting the government agenda against female genital mutilation and the face veil, died March 10 after suffering a heart attack while visiting Saudi Arabia. He was 81.

Dr. Tantawi was the grand sheik of Cairo’s Al-Azhar, the preeminent theological institute of Sunni Islam, the faith’s mainstream sect.

Dr. Tantawi left a mixed legacy across the Muslim world, where he was touted as a moderate scholar and supporter of women’s rights but also criticized as an appointed civil servant who merely followed the line of Egypt’s government.


Muslim Women Take Charge in Palestinian Towns

RAMALLAH, West Bank — At 35, Leila Ghanem is the first woman to become a Palestinian governor, the latest in a group of trailblazing women leaders who are slowly winning acceptance in this traditional society.

Ghanem, a former intelligence agent, joins a cluster of women in senior positions in the West Bank district of Ramallah, a political and economic hub known for its relatively liberal social attitudes, where she was appointed governor earlier this year. The mayor of the district’s main city is a woman, as are four ministers in the Palestinian Cabinet, two Islamic court judges and the head of a Palestinian financial oversight agency.

Ghanem is a woman of few words who is proud of her reputation as a no-nonsense official.