The Islamic World Doesn’t Need a Reformation

lead_960Various Western intellectuals, ranging from Thomas Friedman to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, have argued over the past decades that Muslims need their own Martin Luther to save themselves from intolerance and dogmatism. The Protestant Reformation that Luther triggered exactly 500 years ago, these intellectuals suggest, can serve as a model for a potential Muslim Reformation. But is there such a connection between the Reformation in Christendom and the “reform” that is arguably needed in Islam?

To start with, it’s worth recalling that Islam, in the form of the Ottoman Empire, helped Protestantism succeed and survive. In the 16th century, much of Europe was dominated by the Holy Roman Empire, which had ample means to crush the Protestant heretics. But the same Catholic empire was also constantly threatened and kept busy by “the Turks” whose own empire-building inadvertently helped the Protestants. “The Turk was the lightning rod that drew off the tempest,” noted J. A. Wylie in his classic, History of Protestantism. “Thus did Christ cover His little flock with the shield of the Moslem.”

More importantly, some early Protestants, desperately seeking religious freedom for themselves, found inspiration for that in the Ottoman Empire, which was then more tolerant to religious plurality than were most Catholic kingdoms. Jean Bodin, himself a Catholic but a critical one, openly admired this fact. “The great empereour of the Turks,” the political philosopher wrote in the 1580s, “detesteth not the straunge religion of others; but to the contrarie permitteth every man to live according to his conscience.” That is why Luther himself had written about Protestants who “want the Turk to come and rule because they think our German people are wild and uncivilized.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC 

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5 facts about Muslim Millennials in the U.S.

The Muslim population in the United States is younger than the U.S. population at large. FT_17.10.25_muslimMillennials_420pxIn fact, while Millennials make up 32% of all U.S. adults, they account for roughly half of American Muslim adults (52%).

Muslim Millennials were born from 1981 to 1999 and generally came of age after 9/11. Most have transitioned to adulthood, and attended or graduated college. Some have embarked on careers or begun raising families.

Here are five facts about Muslim Millennials:

1While U.S. Muslims overall are largely an immigrant population (58%), Muslim Millennials are somewhat less likely to have been born abroad than are older Muslim adults (52% versus 64%), according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. (Within the general public, 15% of all Millennials are immigrants.) Racially and ethnically, 40% of Muslim Millennials identify as white (including Arabs and people of Middle Eastern ancestry), 29% as Asian (including people of Pakistani or Indian descent), 17% as black and 11% as Hispanic. Muslim Millennials are less likely to be married than are older Muslim adults (36% versus 71%), though they are roughly as likely to be married as Millennials in the general public (30%). And although Muslim Millennials are less likely than older Muslim adults to have at least a bachelor’s degree (24% versus 38%), they are about as likely to have one as Millennials in the general public (27%).

FULL ARTICLE FROM PEW RESEARCH 

Rabat’s ‘American Peace Caravan’ Builds Interfaith Bridges to Curb Extremism, Islamophobia

Interfaith-Religious-Leaders-Fight-Extremism-Through-Dialogue-in-Rabat-‘Peace-Caravan_-640x426Rabat – As anti-Muslim sentiment appeared to have increased across the world, the agenda of the second edition of the American Peace Caravan has focused on new initiatives intended to dampen Islamophopia and extremism.

The event, which took place from October 24 to 26 in Rabat, aimed to build a bridge of co-existence between religions. The conference participants wanted to find concrete ways to allow Jews, Christians, and Muslims to cooperate more as a collective of ethical communities rather than ideologically-drive self-interested lobbies, according to a statement issued by the organizers.

The conference reunited imams, rabbis, and pastors from 20 countries, with the view to build peace by advancing human dignity and the common good.

The religious leaders renewed their vows to the fight against extremism and religious violence through dialogue and respect among all religions.

The second edition of the conference also highlighted a set of recommendations to eradicate Islamophobia, which was the result of a “clear lack of leadership,” according to a statement by the organizers.

The event, which was held in cooperation with the Forum for Peace Organization (FFP), took place at the headquarters of Morocco’s Ministry of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs.

The agenda of the three-day symposium included several workshops and discussions on different topics, including mutual vision amongst co-religionists and their impact on peace, the role of religion in public life and challenges facing co-existence and opportunities to enhance it.

The FFP statement has also praised Morocco for hosting “graciously” the event under the patronage of King Mohammed VI.

Speaking the opening session of the event’s second, Moroccan Minister of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Taoufiq, and President of the Forum for Peace Organization, Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, stressed the importance of religious leaders in espousing the values of peace and in the protection of minority rights.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MORROCO WORLD NEWS 

Our Town: A Christian and a Muslim walk into a studio

59f3bccc9a2ef.imageBob Prater and Emad Meerza debate anything from what to order for breakfast to what the intent of sharia is.

Prater and Meerza host the podcast “A Christian and a Muslim Walk into a Studio,” where both past Bakersfield religious leaders discuss what they term “hot-button issues” from their respective perspectives. Prater is a former evangelical pastor, who now leads a small group of Christians through change in their personal lives, and Meerza is the previous president of the Islamic Shoura Council of Bakersfield.

But they weren’t always best friends able to have calm banter about religion. After meeting on a radio talk show, where they were guests talking about the rift between Christianity and Islam, Prater asked to buy Meerza coffee.

“I said, ‘Why would I want to do that?’” Meerza said.

Reluctantly, Meerza accepted and after a few more thrilling coffee get-togethers, which often turned into debates, “A Christian and a Muslim Walk into a Studio” was born.

In the beginning, Prater asked the questions that many conservatives would want to ask, drilling Meerza on the horrific practices cited in the Quran.

But it got to a breaking point – Meerza said that the narrative was hurting him and Muslims.

“It’s in the Quran just as it’s in the Bible,” Meerza said. “We have to watch this propaganda machine hurt us; it’s insanity.”

Prater also received flak from the Christian community. He said some accused him of sympathizing with terrorists, aiding vetting (and abetting?), and that Muslims were evil and trying to take over the world.

“People aren’t interested in peace; they’re interested in conflict,” Prater said. “Fear sells. If we were like everyone else, we would make a lot of money.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM BAKERSFIELD LIFE 

Khizr Khan: the patriotic American Muslim who called out Donald Trump

5109It remains a defining image of last year’s US presidential election. Khizr Khan, speaking at the Democratic national convention with his wife, Ghazala, by his side, produced a copy of the constitution from his jacket pocket, held it up for all to see, and offered to lend it to the then Republican candidate Donald Trump. It also remains the most eloquent response to Trump’s bigotry.

Khan, who grew up in a small village in Pakistan, was talking about the sacrifice his son Humayun had made for his country – America. Humayun was killed aged 27 in Iraq 13 years ago, protecting his men from suicide bombers. He is buried at Arlington cemetery, Virginia, alongside so many other war heroes, and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

“We are honoured to stand here as parents of Captain Humayun Khan and as patriotic American Muslims,” Khan began. He continued: “Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law’.” Still addressing Trump, he asked: “Have you ever been to Arlington cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing – and no one.”

FULL ARTICLE WITH VIDEO FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK)

Wider Image: Mexico’s indigenous Muslims in Maya heartland

mexican-muslims-1413249755279SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (Reuters) – A trip to Mexico’s indigenous Maya heartland showed me how a vibrant Muslim community had sprung up in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.

In the southern state of Chiapas, home to a lush mountainous landscape, I photographed members of a small Muslim community made up of hundreds of mostly indigenous Tzotzil men and women, many of whom converted to Islam from Catholic or other Christian denominations.

The Muslim men here are distinguished by their prayer caps, or kufis, and the women by their hijabs which take the form of traditional Maya shawls.

Locals say the conversions to Islam here began in the late 1980s, around the same time Mexico’s Zapatista movement was gaining traction in Chiapas, as institutions including Christianity and capitalism came under increasing criticism.

According to the last census, some 83 percent of Mexicans are Catholic. And although Muslims make up less than 1 percent of Mexico’s 120 million population, a disproportionate number are indigenous clustered in and around San Cristobal de las Casas, a highland city in Chiapas that mixes both Maya and Spanish identity.

FULL ARTICLE FROM REUTERS

Muslim FBI agent who helped Canada wants to reclaim his religion from jihadis

OTTAWA — A Muslim FBI agent who helped Canadian authorities foil a terrorist plot says his religion is being desecrated by violent jihadis — and he wants the public to hear a different story.

tamerThe keys are educating people about the true tenets of Islam and including Muslims in the fight against those who warp the faith for their own ends, said the undercover agent, who has written a candid book as Tamer Elnoury, his cover name during the Canada-U.S. operation.

“Al-Qaida and ISIS are the only ones with a voice,” Elnoury said in an interview. “I wanted to start the conversation. Because at the end of the day, the only way we’re ever going to win this global war on terror is if we stand united against it, and we understand it, and we don’t just use the jihadi brush to paint every Muslim.”

An Arabic speaker, Elnoury has been doing undercover counter-terrorism work for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2008, a calling that has taken him around the world.

In 2012, he found himself posing as a wealthy American real estate player and al-Qaida backer to halt a plan to derail a passenger train that travels from New York to Toronto.

“American Radical” is his story of the investigation that led to terrorism convictions and life sentences in 2015 for Chiheb Esseghaier, a Tunisian citizen doing advanced research in nanotechnology in Montreal, and Raed Jaser, a stateless Palestinian who settled in Toronto with his family.

The look in Esseghaier’s eyes when he talked about killing infidels was something Elnoury had never seen before, he writes. “It was a look of hatred and death. It made me physically sick.”

Elnoury testified, using his pseudonym, during the rail-plot trial in Toronto, and was dismayed by the media focus on Islamic extremism.

“Nothing true about Islam,” he writes. In the media’s defence, he adds, all they heard were Esseghaier and Jaser’s interpretations.

Elnoury recounts how, despite the concerns of the Crown prosecutor, he wanted to squarely address the question in the witness box.

“These religious views that are presented are a complete desecration of my religion,” he told the court. “So it stands out to me when I am having a discussion about rationalizing killing innocent women and children.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIMES COLONIST (CANADA)