Islam is an American religion too, Mr. President

la-1528926282-7g54hgucfx-snap-imageThursday night is Eid, when followers of Islam gather together with friends and neighbors to celebrate the end of Ramadan, a month of daily fasting.

Since 1996, when then-First Lady Hillary Clinton began the tradition, the White House has hosted an “iftar” — the daily fast-breaking dinner — during Ramadan. It has been a staple of both Republican and Democratic administrations, an opportunity to celebrate Ramadan with the American Muslim community, the leaders of its civic groups, its imams, its writers, artists and entertainers.

But not in the Trump administration. President Trump, whose animosity towards Islam and the Muslim community is well documented, didn’t host an iftar at all last year. This year, he honored the tradition with a dinner on June 6. But the representatives of American Muslim groups were not invited to the White House. Instead of community and religious leaders from across the United States, the guests included foreign ambassadors and dignitaries from Muslim-majority countries. It was as if the president hosted a White House Seder but with no American Jews invited.

In his remarks at the dinner, Trump avoided Ramadan’s devotional message of reflection and sacrifice. He used the occasion to reminisce about his visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he received a hero’s welcome and made deals that have fomented more enmity in the region, particularly between Iran and the Saudis.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LA TIMES 

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Thomas Jefferson’s vision of American Islam

jeffersons_quranThe month of Ramadan marks the time when Prophet Muhammad is believed to have first received revelations from God and has been celebrated at the White House since 1996. It was Hillary Clinton who started the tradition as first lady. However, last year, the Trump White House did not host the traditional reception. Neither did the State Department under Secretary Rex Tillerson, even though the holiday has been commemorated there since 1999.

Despite the relatively recent nature of these formal celebrations, the fact is that Islam’s presence in North America dates to the founding of the nation, and even earlier, as my book, “Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders,” demonstrates.

Islam, an American religion

Muslims arrived in North America as early as the 17th century, eventually composing 15 to 30 percent of the enslaved West African population of British America. Muslims from the Middle East did not begin to immigrate to the United States as free citizens until the late 19th century. Key American Founding Fathers demonstrated a marked interest in the faith and its practitioners, most notably Thomas Jefferson.

As a 22-year-old law student in Williamsburg, Virginia, Jefferson bought a Qur’an – 11 years before drafting the Declaration of Independence.

The purchase is symbolic of a longer historical connection between American and Islamic worlds, and a more inclusive view of the nation’s early, robust view of religious pluralism.

Although Jefferson did not leave any notes on his immediate reaction to the Qur’an, he did criticize Islam as “stifling free enquiry” in his early political debates in Virginia, a charge he also leveled against Catholicism. He thought both religions fused religion and the state at a time he wished to separate them in his commonwealth.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION  NEWS 

Letter: Why Islam Awareness Week is necessary on college campuses

(A LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA NEWSPAPER)

ows_147562250712923In the age of the “Muslim Ban” and increased Islamophobic hate crimes, Islam is at the forefront of political discourse. Although Muslims are at the center of attention in the media, the public and even at the dinner table, they are rarely involved in these discussions. From conservatives who try to restrict Muslims from entering the United States to liberals who strive to “save” Muslim women, debates and conversations about Muslims occur regularly, but Muslims are not being invited. Islam is discussed by CNN and Fox News, who constantly perpetuate false stereotypes and homogenize Muslims. Although we like to think university campuses are a space for critical thinking and open discourse, the ideas that are pushed by the mainstream media still make their way to schools like the University of Minnesota.

On our campus, there have been several instances of Muslims being targeted. In early November 2016, the Muslim Students Association’s panel on the Washington Avenue Bridge was vandalized with “ISIS” written boldly across the Islamic calligraphy. Just a few weeks earlier, several Muslim Students were personally targeted and had their names and information posted on flyers around campus. Muslim students have reported being harassed on the streets of Stadium Village.

Many false claims about Islam made on the news and by people in positions of power are echoed on campus, having a wider impact on students pursuing ambitious careers in many diverse fields. With the constant negative stereotypes of Muslims, spectators often take these claims as the truth. With disproportionately limited access to positions in media and political power, Muslims are being told what they believe in and what their religion is.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MINNESOTA DAILY 

Islam in America

Ten years ago, Rageh Omaar embarked on a unique journey across the United States to reveal the truly surprising, counter-intuitive, and little-known world of Islam in America.

From the major conurbations of New York City and Chicago, to the small town hinterlands of Texas and the west, Al Jazeera pulled together the history of Islam in the US and painted a vivid portrait of a vibrant, diverse and growing group of followers of Islam that is unlike any Muslim community in the world.

Since then, much has changed globally, with the rise of ISIL, and in the US, with the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of “the free world”. Among the numerous controversial decisions that have come to pass under the Trump administration is what has come to be known as the Muslim travel ban – a law temporarily barring entry to the US for travellers from six different Muslim-majority countries.

FULL ARTICLE  FROM AL JAZEERA  (VIDEO LINK ABOVE) 

Students of all religions wore hijabs to celebrate Islam Appreciation Month

5a72962988f03.imageSoha Samla doesn’t typically wear her Islamic hijab, but she wrapped a tan one around herself Wednesday to feel closer to God for the day.

Samla was one of about 80 people, some for the first time, who tried on hijabs of various colors and patterns. UF’s Islam on Campus put on the “Hijabathon” to kick off Islam Appreciation Month, said coordinator Sana Nimer. They invited students of all religions to wear a hijab for the day and take it home.

“Islam is not this big, scary boogeyman that people want to make it out to be,” Nimer said. “If you come talk to us, hopefully we can help you understand that and get rid of some misconceptions.”

The hijabs were donated by individuals and businesses, such as Haute Hijab, Abaya Addict and Hijab Culture, Nimer said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ALLIGATOR.ORG

Day of enlightenment: Seventh graders learn about Islam during Religious Diversity Journeys visit to Dearborn

5a6f8b81199cf.imageMore than 150 seventh grade students from across southeast Michigan visited the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn Feb. 25 to take part in Religious Diversity Journeys — a special program created to promote greater knowledge and understanding of the Detroit area’s diverse religions.

Religious Diversity Journeys is hosted by Interfaith Leadership Council of Metro Detroit, a faith-based organization made up of religious leaders from several different faiths who serve their communities by educating the public about religions.

The Islamic religion was the main focus of the program’s stop in Dearborn, which was attended by students who attend both public and private schools.

 During the program, students learned about the history and traditions of Islam, and also discussed the negative effects of prejudices surrounding Muslims.

The students also took part in an hour-long question and answer session with Sheikh Ibrahim Kazerooni of the Islamic Center of America,and were served Middle Eastern cuisine for lunch.

Wendy Miller Gamer, program director for Interfaith Leadership Council, spearheads the program, which launched four years ago.

She said 1,500 seventh graders and 600 parents have participated since then.

Gamer, who has been director for the council for about three months, said the program is an eye-opener for the students.

“I’m in my mid-40s, and these past few months have been the first times that even I’ve spent significant time in mosques,” Gamer said. “At the end of the day, I tell the students how lucky they are — to be teenagers — and to be able to spend a whole day learning in this mosque.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE PRESS AND GUIDE 

US: Muslims to become second-largest religious group

american muslimAbout 3.45 million Muslims were living in the US in 2017, representing 1.1 percent of the population [Julie Jacobson/AP]


Muslims are expected to become the second-largest religious group in the United States after Christians by 2040, according to a new report.

There were 3.45 millions Muslims living in the US in 2017 representing about 1.1 percent of the total population, a study by Pew Research Center found.

At present, the number of Jewish people outnumber Muslims as the second-largest religious group but that is expected to change by 2040 because “the US Muslim population will grow much faster than the country’s Jewish population”, the report said.

How many Muslims are there in the US? As of 2017, 3.45 million (or 1.1% of total population), according to new @pewresearchestimates. http://pewrsr.ch/2lP2MKc  pic.twitter.com/2WrynrD8WR

Jews outnumber Muslims in the US today, but by 2040, Muslims are projected to outnumber Jews. http://pewrsr.ch/2lP2MKc pic.twitter.com/VawIyPLO5E

View image on Twitter

American Muslims will total 8.1 million, or 2.1 percent, of the population by 2050.

The number of followers of Islam in the US has grown at a rate of about 100,000 per year because of the migration of Muslims and higher fertility rates among Muslim Americans, Pew Center found during its demographic and survey research.

“Since our first estimate [2007] of the size of the Muslim American population, the number of US Muslims has been growing rapidly,” it said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA