Saudi citizen arrested after non-Muslim journalist sneaks into Mecca

Gil Tamary of Israel’s Channel 13 sparked online fury after he filmed himself in Islam’s holiest city despite a ban on non-Muslims

A Saudi citizen who allegedly helped a non-Muslim enter the holy city of Mecca has been arrested, police in the kingdom said, after an online backlash against a journalist working for Israeli television.

The journalist, Gil Tamary of Israel’s Channel 13, posted on Twitter a video of himself sneaking into Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, in defiance of a ban on non-Muslims.

Mecca regional police have “referred a citizen” to prosecutors for alleged complicity in “transferring and facilitating the entry of a (non-Muslim) journalist”, a police spokesperson said in comments reported by the official Saudi Press Agency on Friday.

SPA did not name the journalist but said he was an American citizen, whose case has also been referred to prosecutors “to take the necessary procedures against him in accordance with the applied laws”.

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Despite growing behind-the-scenes business and security contacts, Saudi Arabia does not recognise Israel and did not join the 2020 US-brokered Abraham Accords that saw the Jewish state establish ties with two of the kingdom’s neighbours, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.


Seven Prominent Sites That Illustrate Islam’s History and Future in the Chicago Area

d you watch PBS’s The Great Muslim American Road Trip? (It’s still available to stream for free.) The three-part series follows a young Muslim couple as they explore the history and experience of Muslims in America on a cross-country road trip that began in Chicago, where they met with Maryam Ali, the daughter of Muhammad Ali. The boxer was one of the most prominent Nation of Islam members in the country, and he was a major force behind the establishment of the Masjid Al-Faatir mosque in Kenwood.

That’s obviously just one of many mosques and prominent Muslim sites in the Chicago area, which has been a center of Muslim movements that catered to African Americans as well as a new home for Muslim immigrants from the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa, and other parts of the world. The Washington Post called Chicago “ground zero in [a] U.S. Muslim renaissance” in 2013, due to the city’s wealth of energetic Muslim organizations and one of the “nation’s largest and most diverse” Muslim communities, which it numbered at around 400,000 people.

Here are seven important Muslim sites in the Chicago area that illustrate both Islam’s rich history here and its vibrant future.

Al-Sadiq Mosque

Al-Sadiq Mosque in Chicago's Bronzeville. Image: Google MapsThe Al-Sadiq Mosque in Bronzeville was commissioned in 1922 and is one of America’s oldest mosques. Image: Google Maps

It can be argued that the first recorded mosque in America was in Chicago, on the Cairo Street exhibit at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. But, while it had an imam and calls to prayer, it was mainly meant for tourists and was disassembled after the Fair.

But the Al-Sadiq Mosque in Bronzeville, commissioned in 1922, also has a claim to being one of the oldest mosques in the country. Its existence stems from a 1920 visit to Chicago by Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, an Ahmadi Muslim missionary. The Ahmadiyya sect originated in South Asia, and reached out to Black Americans who rejected Western Christianity as a manifestation of white supremacy before the Nation of Islam existed. Chicago served as the national headquarters of the movement until 1950.


How Leaders Can Better Support Muslim Women at Work

Summary.   Religion is often an uncomfortable topic to broach, but faith is an integral part of identity — avoiding or denying it prevents people from bringing their authentic selves to work. Many Muslims struggle to belong, often hiding facets of their identity related to their appearance, affiliation, association, and advocacy. Muslim women are more likely to be economically disadvantaged than other social groups in the UK, are three times as likely to be unemployed and looking for a job as non-Muslim women, and often experience twice the career impediments. It’s time for companies to include faith in their DEI efforts. The author presents five strategies for leaders to support Muslim women at work.

Although diversity, equity, and inclusion has become a priority for companies over the last several years, faith affiliation is often left out of the wider conversation. Muslims, in particular, face a plethora of challenges at work given their unique faith-related needs that make it difficult to adapt to the values and orientation of the dominant work culture.

Religion is often an uncomfortable topic to broach, but faith is an integral part of identity — avoiding or denying it prevents people from bringing their authentic selves to work. Many Muslims struggle to belong, often hiding facets of their identity related to their appearance, affiliation, association, and advocacy. Muslim women are more likely to be economically disadvantaged than other social groups in the UK, are three times as likely to be unemployed and looking for a job as non-Muslim women in the west, and often experience greater career impediments.

In my career, I often encounter people who find it surprising to see me own my space and often refer to my faith when talking about my achievements, as if my merits are an exception to my religious identity. It’s time for companies to include faith in their DEI efforts. Here are five strategies for leaders to support Muslim women at work.

Avoid faith stereotyping.

The media plays a massive role in shaping societal expectations and promoting images of Muslim women that perpetuate unrealistic, stereotypical, and limiting perceptions. These naïve and clichéd narratives are frustrating for professional Muslim women who continuously feel the need to defend their faith.


A new era: Chief rabbi meets Emirati sheik in historic moment

Appearing together in parliament, the Chief Rabbi and leading Islamic scholar Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah have hailed the Abraham peace accords as kickstarting a new era of interfaith relations.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said the 2020 agreement marked a “paradigm shift” in cooperation between Jews and Muslims.

Sheikh bin Bayyah, who founded the UAE-based Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, said that since the deal was signed: “The record of Israel is a move to a more peaceful existence.”

The meeting was an “exceptionally special occasion” held “in a spirit of friendship”, the Chief Rabbi added.

He said: “Let’s discuss the deepest elements of what might divide us and I have no doubt we will emerge strengthened knowing that there is so much that unites us. 

“One already sees that the sands of change have shifted and as a result there is a positive movement in regards to a new reality, that provides so many extraordinary opportunities for us as adherents of these two faiths and through us for the entire world. It is a thrilling moment, let’s make the most of it.”

Sheikh bin Bayyah said his aim in meeting with the Chief Rabbi was “peace with all nations and peoples.”

Emphasising the common links between Islam and Judaism, he said: “The Quran and the Jewish tradition affirms the quest to save one soul is the quest to save all souls…


‘Reasons for Our Hope’: Video Series Presents Christian Belief to the Muslim World

“In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger, the Church examines more closely her relationship to non-Christian religions,” begins the Vatican II declaration Nostra Aetate, written in 1965. 

In our own time, a group of scholars are putting these principles into practice in a format that the Council Fathers would never have anticipated: YouTube. 

Reasons for Our Hope, a joint project between the Oasis International Foundation and the McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame, is a YouTube series intended to advance mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims. In so doing, the series seeks to be respectful to Muslim believers (quoting Muslim philosophers and writers, closely studying the words of the Quran and Muslim traditions, and consulting Muslim scholars) while also being honest about the different worldviews that Christianity and Islam present. 

The collaborative project traces its roots to a 2017 symposium between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and its Muslim counterpart, the Al-Azhar Center for Dialogue, held in Cairo. At the symposium, Gabriel Said Reynolds, Notre Dame professor of Islamic studies, met Martino Diez, the scientific director of the Oasis International Foundation. Founded with the initiative of Cardinal Angelo Scola in 2004, Oasis aims to foster dialogue and understanding between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East, facilitating research, conferences and public conversation on the topic. 

Both Diez and Reynolds realized while attending the symposium that, among Christians, there was both a lack of knowledge about Islam and a lack of resources for attaining that knowledge. Similarly, many Muslims regularly encountered misinformation about Christianity and Catholicism. 

John Cavadini, director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, similarly noted the problems facing Muslim-Christian dialogue. A project that would aim to educate Catholics on theological differences between themselves and Muslims was a good fit for the McGrath Institute’s goal to “empower faithful Catholic leaders at all levels.”



Community network survey results reveal Muslims in NYC dealing with racism, threats at early ages

NEW YORK — Disturbing new numbers show that anti-Muslim activity appears to be growing in the city.

According to the Muslim Community Network, more than 26 percent of Black Muslims and nearly 32 percent of Asian Muslims experienced or saw a hate crime in the first half of this year.

And as CBS2’s Leah Mishkin reported Monday, the incidents can start as early as elementary school.

“It was like really difficult for me,” a teenager named Yyra said.

She was only 6 years old when another student threatened her because of her race and religion.

“He told me that he was going to one day come to my house and he was going to murder me as I was sleeping,” Yyra said.

In the fourth grade, she said that same student told her his father, who was a cop, would deport her family.

“He’d like accuse me of being a terrorist,” Yyra said.

The Muslim Community Network surveyed 116 city Muslims in 2019 and found that 43.5 percent of 10- to 18-year-old respondents said they experienced or witnessed a hate crime.

The Network wants the City Council to reintroduce and pass Resolution 1257, which would allow the Department of Education to introduce religious diversity courses into the curriculum.

“And provide professional development training to educators. The hate crimes is not just coming from youth to youth. It’s also educators’ lack of knowledge about the religions,” advocacy program manager Ajifanta Marenah said.

Of the 100 New York City Muslims surveyed in 2022, nearly half, 49 percent, said they were victims of a hate crime, and 76 percent said they witnessed a hate crime.

“People pulling off students’ hijabs, spitting on someone, mostly verbal abuse, calling someone a terrorist,” Marenah said.

Leaders stood on the steps of City Hall on Monday to shine a spotlight on the rise in hate crimes across the country and advocated for change.

“Not just hate crimes against Muslims, but anti-religious hate crimes across the board. Hate crimes against Jews, against our Sikh partners. Hate crimes against the Asian community,” Marenah said.


There is no one Islamic interpretation on ethics of abortion, but the belief in God’s mercy and compassion is a crucial part of any consideration

As a scholar of Islamic ethics, I’m often asked, “What does Islam say about abortion?” – a question that has become even more salient since the U.S. Supreme Court reversed 50 years of constitutional protection for the right to get an abortion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling on June 24, 2022.

This question really needs to be reframed, because it implies a singular view. Islam isn’t monolithic, and there is no single Islamic attitude about abortion. The answer to the question depends on what kinds of Islamic sources, scriptural, legal or ethical, are applied to this contemporary issue by people of varying levels of authority, expertise or religious observance.

Muslims have had a long-standing, rich relationship with science, and specifically, the practice of medicine. This has yielded multiple interpretations of right and wrong when it comes to the body, including ideas about and practices surrounding pregnancy.

Islamic frameworks for thinking about abortion

The typical framing of the question of whether abortion ought to be legal hinges upon American Christian debates about when life begins. Muslims who get abortions don’t always ask “when does life begin?” to ascertain Islamic positions on the matter. Rather, as my research in the Abortion and Religion project and forthcoming book “Women as Humans” has found, Muslims who get abortions generally consider under what circumstances abortion would be permitted in the Islamic tradition.


Some Muslims, Jews welcome court ruling allowing football coach to pray

Conservative Christians cheered the Supreme Court ruling last week that found the Constitution protects a high school football coach’s right to pray at the 50-yard line.

“A MASSIVE win” declared the evangelical ministry, Focus on the Family.

A “rightly determined” ruling, said the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm.

“A major victory for all Americans,” said Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.

The majority opinion, penned by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, found that the former football coach, Joseph Kennedy, had a constitutional right to pray after games and that the Bremerton School District in Washington state was wrong to restrict him after he refused to end the practice.

For conservative Christians, who have long criticized the separation of church and state as well as the neutrality principle, it was one more in a string of resounding court victories. Many among them believe a public school teacher should be able to exercise their religion freely and openly in public, including in the classroom.

But now, some-minority faith leaders who previously looked to separation of church and state as a judicial concept that can protect their equality, are rethinking their positions.

“Fighting religion altogether and trying to ban it will only make things worse,” said Imam Abdullah Antepli, associate professor of the practice of public policy and interfaith relations at Duke University and Duke Divinity School. “We should own religion and claim it and claim our religious liberties.”


Millions of Muslims observe Eid al-Adha amid high prices

Worshippers attend prayers marking the Muslim festival of sacrifice Eid al-Adha in Attecoube, an area of Abidjan, Ivory Coast July 9, 2022. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

MINA, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Millions of Muslims across the globe — including in countries like Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Kenya and Yemen — were celebrating Eid al-Adha on Saturday, one of the biggest holidays of the Islamic calendar.

Known as the “Feast of Sacrifice,” the revered observance coincides with the final rites of the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia. It’s a joyous occasion, for which food is a hallmark. Much of Asia, including Indonesia, India and Pakistan, will observe the holiday on Sunday.

But as Russia’s war in Ukraine sends food prices soaring and causes widespread hardship across the Middle East, many say they can’t afford the livestock for the ritual sacrifice. Desperation over the cost of living has undercut the typically booming holiday trade in goats, cows and sheep.

“Everyone wants to sacrifice an animal in the name of Allah, but they are not able to do so because they’re poor,” said Mohammad Nadir from a cattle market in Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan, where a few men haggled over bleating sheep.

Eid al-Adha commemorates the Quranic tale of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice Ismail as an act of obedience to God. Before he could carry out the sacrifice, God provided a ram as an offering. In the Christian and Jewish telling, Abraham is ordered to kill another son, Isaac.