Although the population of Muslim students is growing, there are only about 30 Muslim chaplains at colleges across the country. This semester, the University of Michigan became the first public university with an endowed position for a Muslim chaplain.
“Muslims need to rely on somebody through times of hardship,” says Mohammed Tayssir Safi, who was recently hired to serve as the university’s Muslim chaplain.
Safi will help an estimated 1,700 Muslimstudents maintain their beliefs on campus.
The transition to college can be a difficult one for Muslim students who often come from tight-knit immigrant communities centered around mosques. Keeping their faith can be challenging since college life glorifies alcohol and premarital sex, which are forbidden by Islam.
At a gathering of Muslim students at a Middle Eastern restaurant Safi says, “There’s not a solid environment where a Muslim feels, perhaps, safe is the right word. Not from violence, but safe as in they feel safe and at home in being able to express themselves and who they are.
FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR
By Kiran Khalid, CNN
(CNN)–The Muslim community in Des Moines, Iowa, is as small as it is diverse. The members of the four mosques here are from Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, among other nations. Although the roots of the Muslims here may be worlds apart, the community is a tight-knit group. That’s why what happened at their mosques here is alarming to so many of its members.
“That was really surprising, very sad that somebody would come or the FBI or Homeland Security would send somebody here to pretend to be Muslim and try to find out what goes on here. I feel there is no need for that,” said Dr. Hamed Baig, president of the Islamic Center of Des Moines.
Baig is talking about 42 year-old Arvinder Singh. Baid says he saw Singh a couple of times at his mosque, and that Singh would have been welcomed like all newcomers interested in learning about Islam. But it wasn’t until recently that members of the community discovered that Singh, who was raised a Sikh, was allegedly sent into their mosques to spy for the FBI.
FULL STORY FROM CNN
Islam has become an important part of American discourse leading up to the 2012 federal elections and candidates everywhere appear eager to take a position on Islam for political gain.
Across the country, rising Islamophobia has made it difficult for some Muslims to build mosques and practice their faith, although their right to do so is enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In the current race for the presidential nomination, some presidential candidates are invoking Islam and Muslims in a negative fashion in an attempt to bolster their popularity with populations they perceive to be suspicious of Muslims or Islam. For example, if elected, former presidential candidate Herman Cain promised not to appoint Muslims to his cabinet.
This is representative of recent trends. In 2010, some Republican congressional candidates used the proposed Park 51 Muslim community centre, famously branded as the “ground-zero mosque,” and fear of sharia, the principles from which Islamic law is derived, to rally voters to their cause. And elected Congressional leaders, such as Peter King (R-NY), have used their committee appointments to argue that American Muslims are deeply radicalized, a fact repeatedly debunked by several surveys and reports.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST
It’s interesting to observe what qualifies as beyond the pale in American politics. For bigoted newsletters written two decades ago, Ron Paul is deemed by many to be disqualified from the presidency. I don’t fault anyone for criticizing those newsletters. I’ve done so myself
. They’re terrible
. So is the way he’s handled the controversy. But isn’t it interesting that Paul has been more discredited by years-old, ghostwritten remarks than has Newt Gingrich for bigotry that he’s uttered himself, on camera, during the present campaign? It’s gone largely ignored both in the mainstream press and the movement-conservative organs that were most vocal condemning Paul.
That’s because Muslims are the target. And despite the fact that George W. Bush was admirably careful to avoid demonizing a whole religious faith for the actions of a small minority of its adherents — despite the fact that Barack Obama too has been beyond reproach in this respect — anti-Muslim bigotry in America is treated differently than every other kind, often by the very same people who allege without irony that there is a war in this country against Christians.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC