Ancient Quran discovered in England will ‘rejoice Muslim hearts’

old-koran-found-university-birminghamIn what has been termed a ‘startling’ discovery, the UK’s Birmingham University has unveiled parts of what may be the world’s oldest known version of the Quran, Islam’s holy text.

Though the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Fitr just came to an end, many Muslims may find that they have yet another reason to rejoice.

In what has been considered a “startling” discovery, the UK’s Birmingham University unveiled what may be the world’s oldest remnants of the Quran, Islam’s holy text.

Researchers conclude that the Qur’an manuscript is among the earliest written textual evidence of the Islamic holy book known to survive,” the university wrote in an official statement. “This gives the Qur’an manuscript in Birmingham global significance to Muslim heritage and the study of Islam.”

The results suggest the manuscript was written less than 20 years after Prophet Muhammad’s death, as he is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632.

“They could well take us back to within a few years of the actual founding of Islam,” wrote Professor of Islam and Christianity David Thomas and Professor of Interreligious Relations Nadir Dinshaw, both of Birmingham University.


Man Already Knows Everything He Needs To Know About Muslims

(Note:  this is a piece from the satirical magazine “the Onion.”  As such it should not be taken at face value, but rather as a sad commentary on the way too many Americans have chosen to approach Islam and their Muslim neighbors).  


SALINA, KS—Local man Scott Gentries told reporters Wednesday that his deliberately limited grasp of Islamic history and culture was still more than sufficient to shape his views of the entire Muslim world.

Gentries, 48, said he had absolutely no interest in exposing himself to further knowledge of Islamic civilization or putting his sweeping opinions into a broader context of any kind, and confirmed he was “perfectly happy” to make a handful of emotionally charged words the basis of his mistrust toward all members of the world’s second-largest religion.

“I learned all that really matters about the Muslim faith on 9/11,” Gentries said in reference to the terrorist attacks on the United States undertaken by 19 of Islam’s approximately 1.6 billion practitioners. “What more do I need to know to stigmatize Muslims everywhere as inherently violent radicals?”

“And now they want to build a mosque at Ground Zero,” continued Gentries, eliminating any distinction between the 9/11 hijackers and Muslims in general. “No, I won’t examine the accuracy of that statement, but yes, I will allow myself to be outraged by it and use it as evidence of these people’s universal callousness toward Americans who lost loved ones when the Twin Towers fell.”

“Even though I am not one of those people,” he added.

When told that the proposed “Ground Zero mosque” is actually a community center two blocks north of the site that would include, in addition to a public prayer space, a 500-seat auditorium, a restaurant, and athletic facilities, Gentries shook his head and said, “I know all I’m going to let myself know.”

Gentries explained that it “didn’t take long” to find out as much about the tenets of Islam as he needed to. He said he knew Muslims stoned their women for committing adultery, trained for terrorist attacks at fundamentalist madrassas, and believed in jihad, which Gentries described as the thing they used to justify killing infidels.


10 Misconceptions About Islam That Muslim Americans Are Tired of Hearing

“Can you grab that bottle of Sriracha on the top shelf?” my mother asked, as we made our way down the “ethnic” aisle at our local grocery store. It was around 5:30pm, my father was almost home from work, and my mother and I were out getting last minute ingredients for dinner. As we waited in the checkout line, waiting to pay for our goods, I hear a voice behind me, “You here to steal something?”

I turn around to find a tall man, broad shoulders, a baseball cap pulled low over his forehead, looking straight at my mother. I stand there bewildered, wondering if this was an acquaintance of hers trying to be funny or make some sort of weird joke.

“Are you here to blow something up? Why are you wearing that?” he barks again, referring to my mother’s hijab and abaya. At this point, everyone within earshot tenses up and I find myself flooding with both embarrassment and panic. What was this guy trying to get at? We were just at the grocery store trying to get home on time, and this man, who we had never seen before, was going out of his way to harass my mother.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t an isolated incident. My mother, petite as she may be, has no problem holding her own and isn’t new to being singled out and hassled for her choice of Islamic clothing. She clearly and eloquently explained her religious garb to the man, told him to not yell at her, and swiftly sent him on his way.

Growing up, I’ve had plenty of these experiences. Whether it was strange looks at my mother or jokes about my Arabic name, life as a Muslim in post 9/11 America isn’t the cutest feeling. The constant villainization of Muslims in mainstream media makes it difficult to do even simple things such as buy groceries or get through airport security without crude jokes or dangerous assumptions, and with the murder of three innocent Muslim kids in Chapel Hill this past year, it’s clear that stereotyping can lead to even fatal consequences.

Fortunately we live in the age of technology and open information—we don’t always have to be victims of ignorance and perpetuate harmful stereotypes. Misconceptions can be overcome with a simple but powerful thing, knowledge: here are ten common misconceptions about Islam and Muslims to help you break the cycle.

1. Muslim women have no rights
This is definitely a hot-topic and complicated issue but one of my favorite misconceptions to tackle.


An Open Letter to Franklin Graham

franklin-grahamYour father is my hero.  #1 on a long list of potential heroes. I’m sure it gets tiring being compared to him. But I think you’re stuck – you’re his son.

I don’t know you personally, Franklin.  I admire your work through Samaritan’s Purse. I admire your courage to at least attempt to take up your father’s mantle of preaching the good news of Jesus Christ.  I’m in your camp.  I believe the Bible is true and the only way to know God as Father is through a personal relationship with Jesus.  I believe in the power of the Cross and Resurrection and that life in Jesus is the only real life.

We’re on the same team – which is why your recent words on Facebook hurt me so much.

I’m pretty sure you know what you wrote, but let me quote it here – just for the others who might read our correspondence:

“Four innocent Marines killed and three others wounded in Chattanooga yesterday including a policeman and another Marine–all by a radical Muslim whose family was allowed to immigrate to this country from Kuwait. We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled. Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized–and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad. During World War 2, we didn’t allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now? Do you agree? Let your Congressman know that we’ve got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates. Pray for the men and women who serve this nation in uniform, that God would protect them.”

I am sorry to say it this stongly, but it’s a nearly unthinkably ignorant post.  We are “under attack by Muslims at home and abroad?”  Really?  So we’re at war with Muslims here in the U.S.?  If so, then when this Muslim man killed those Marines, it was simply an act of war.  Four Marines versus one Muslim.  Which of course, is a ridiculous way to view this.

And your comment that “they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad,” is about as dumb a thing as I’ve ever heard someone say. Who are “they” exactly Franklin?  Define “they.”  Maybe start with defining who “Muslims” are according to you. Which Muslims exactly are you referring to? Because you don’t say in your post. You just say that we are “under attack by Muslims.”


Why You Need More Muslim Friends

muslimwomanI can remember when I was scared of Muslims.

I don’t think I would have ever uttered those words, but subconsciously, they were true.

As a good, Bible-Believing-Evangelical-Christian (that’s all one word, right?) who could recite the two greatest commandments to love God and love others before I was out of diapers, how had this fear developed in me?

Well, it’s easy. Stories we are told about Muslims are often related to terror, oppression and violence. And, to be honest, it is far more comfortable to remain in a place of isolation and ignorance than it is to engage in the intentional work of education, experience and relationship.

Further, I used to think the only way to meet Muslims was to fly half way across the world and enter into a reality completely foreign to my own. “They” are somewhere over there and “we” are over here, so let’s just agree to keep our distance and allow our politicians and power brokers to work things out.

That all changed for me when my wife and I joined a faith community committed to Jesus’ invitation to love our neighbors. We quickly realized loving our neighbors required we know our neighbors. And, living in a city that is home to tens of thousands of international refugees, we discovered that “they” don’t only live across the world, “they” are at “our” baseball games, in our neighborhood and our parks. It wasn’t that our Muslim friends had just moved in, it was that we hadn’t had the eyes to see them, let alone enter genuine friendships.


When Ramadan ends and charity begins

ap_ramadan_charity_ss_jp_1208117_sshFor Muslims, Ramadan is a month of reflection. We are encouraged to enrich our knowledge of the faith in this Holy Month. In observing my 6th Ramadan as a balik-Islam, allow me to share my reflections on the faith and current issues that confront our world.

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar when the Qur’an was believed to be revealed. In this month, fasting was commanded among believers for them to feel the material condition of poverty. The end of Ramadan is marked by the day of breaking of fast known in Arabic as Eid’l Fitr. Fasting is instrumental in encouraging the believers to perform the next pillar of Islam – Zakat or charity. (READ: Feast of Ramadan ends but not lessons of fasting)

These pillars of Islam highlight the central goal of the Qur’an to establish an ethical, egalitarian social order. Therefore, when the objective of the Qur’an has already been realized, Ramadan and Zakat should cease to exist. To accomplish the message that “wealth should not circulate only among the rich” (Surah Al Hashr 59:7), Zakat as a form of tax was then levied. It was imposed to fund the activities of a state. The main purpose of Zakat is to ensure equal distribution of wealth – the materialization of the Qur’an’s economic policy. Yet today, it seems that this higher purpose was forgotten as Zakatcame to be narrowly understood as a parochial tradition of alms-giving.

Economic equality in the age of austerity

Prophet Muhammad reportedly said that one cannot be a believer unless he wants for his fellow what he wants for himself. Like other faith traditions, the embeddedness of the self in society cannot be more emphasized in Islam. Human action and piety (taqwā) then becomes meaningful only within a social context. This makes it incumbent upon believers to look at the present conditions in the exercise of their belief. A friend who grew up in the Middle East once shared that one cannot compare the spirit of giving in Saudi during the time of Ramadan.

Which led me to ask, after about a millennium and a half of practice, how near have we gone in closing the gap between the rich and the poor?

Zakat must not be seen only within the confines of giving food and cash to the homeless down the streets, but believers must go beyond and inquire on the structures that perpetuate such conditions and exercise collective piousness to eliminate these structures. How do states today perform their job in distributing resources and wealth to the people? A look into the current political and economic situation of the world must guide our conscience in performing Zakat today. The recent furor on the Greek debt crisis and the austerity measures imposed on the Greek people reminds us of the situation of most of the countries in the world.


Chattanooga Muslims mourning, anxious after shootings

July 18 at 7:15 PM
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — As the death toll rose to five, a handful of governors ordered National Guardsmen to take up arms in response to the brazen attacks on two Tennessee military sites.

In Chattanooga, a city that prides itself on strong ties between people of different faiths, some Muslims feared the community’s perception of them had changed after the shooting rampage Thursday. A 24-year-old man and fellow Muslim killed four Marines and wounded three others, including a sailor who died Saturday from his wounds.

Mohsin Ali, a member of the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga, said he hoped the local community didn’t dissolve into turmoil the way others have in the region over the building of mosques and other matters. Peaceful coexistence has largely prevailed here.

“We, our kids, feel 100 percent American and Chattanoogan,” said the Pakistani-born Ali, who is a child psychiatrist. “Now they are wondering if that is how people still look at them.”

Valencia Brewer, the wife of a Baptist minister, knows how she’ll try to see Muslims as the days after the horrific shooting turn to weeks.

 “I think the way you have to look at it is this was an individual person. You can’t point at all Muslims because of this,” she said.

Ali and Brewer were among more than 1,000 people who attended a memorial service Friday night at a Baptist church for the victims. Ali, one of the speakers, railed against alleged shooter Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez as a “murderer” who committed a “cowardly and cruel” act.