Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: ‘The Big Sick’ and Hollywood’s Muslim-American Renaissance

hollywoodreporter_garcia_ryan_2017_full1-h_2018The NBA Hall of Famer and THR columnist, a practitioner of Islam since college, is hopeful that the Kumail Nanjiani starrer and Aziz Ansari’s ‘Master of None’ are bringing an end to portrayals of the devoted as “rabid, merciless terrorists” onscreen.

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” an apple farmer observes in the opening to Robert Frost’s Mending Wall. That line, indeed that poem, is the spiritual essence of America: a country founded on a sacred mission to tear down walls that needlessly separate neighbors. There are all kinds of walls, from the $70 billion physical wall that Trump wants to build to walls that one-percenters build to keep their money in (they don’t call it Wall Street for nothing). But the most formidable wall of all is the Perception Wall of false images and ideas that nurtures fears and prejudices about other groups based on religion, ethnicity, national origin or gender identity.

Muslims have had a great run being portrayed as rabid, merciless terrorists. That’s what Americans saw in movies and television shows from True Lies to 24 to Homeland. That is the image of Muslims many Americans still cling to. Even with the many recent positive portrayals of Muslim-Americans in the arts, it takes time for images to dilute the poison that’s been mixed in for so long. Every time the news reports that a Muslim has been involved in a terrorist attack, the prejudice stored in our body sweats through the pores and reheats our fear. And yet, as of Nov. 6, there were 307 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2017, the majority by white Christian men. When a generic white man fires 1,100 bullets into a Las Vegas crowd, killing 58 and injuring 546, we have nowhere to go with our anger or fear. We can’t be on the lookout for every disaffected white Christian male. We can’t profile them. But we think we know what Muslims look like (though vigilantes have often mistakenly targeted non-Muslims), so our mistrust more easily takes a human form. We prefer our villains with a physical Cain-like identifier — dark skin, large nose, prayer hat, veil, foreign accent — to clarify that they’re not one of Us. The irony is most Americans are descended from a persecuted group.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Advertisements

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

What Christmas Means to This American Muslim

5a3dbcd821000018005f59d8Every Christmas, my wife, kids, and I make a road trip from Southern California to Texas to spend Christmas with my in-laws and my wife’s extended family. My wife’s parents and family members are Christians. One of my favorite things about visiting them during the Christmas holiday is the chance to be a part of such a warm, large, and loving gathering, typical of most Latino families. The food is amazing and our Christian family always makes sure to accommodate our Islamic dietary restrictions by ensuring there isn’t pork in any of the dishes.

My family’s story is the story of thousands of American Muslim families across our diverse nation who bond with their Christian family members every Christmas season and throughout the year.

For me, Christmas is always a reminder of the commonalities Christians and Muslims share. Honoring and revering Jesus is a part of our core Islamic teachings and it is a beautiful tradition I have enjoyed being a part of even before I began traveling to Texas with my wife and kids every Christmas.

I spent my childhood in Beirut, Lebanon, alongside Christian family members, neighbors, and close friends where we all lived in a close-knit community. My parents, practicing Muslims themselves, sent me to Catholic and Protestant schools to benefit from the high academics and to prepare me for our world’s diversity. Every Christmas, I was inspired by the love my Christian classmates and neighbors demonstrated for Jesus, a love Muslims have always sincerely shared.

After moving to the U.S. in my late teens, and even today, I am pleased to see that same love for Jesus shared amongst Christians in my community in the Greater Los Angeles area and the rest of the country.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

Muslims help with church’s homeless aid work so Christians can attend Christmas Eve service

ct-ctlh-ct-sta-muslims-help-christians-c-20171221When a group of Oak Lawn Christians mentioned they needed a hand, a group of Bridgeview Muslims offered theirs.

With Christmas Eve falling on a Sunday this year, Steve Hoerger, pastor of Salem United Church of Christ, had a dilemma.

Like several other area churches, Salem serves as a BEDS Plus overnight shelter, opening its doors one night a week to those in need. Every Sunday, Salem provides food and bedding to some 25-30 homeless women and children, Hoerger said.

But this Sunday also is the eve of a Christian holiday, among the biggest of the year. It is an evening on which Hoerger typically leads two Advent services.

Hoerger was explaining how “I didn’t know how we were going to be able to do both at the same time,” during a recent meeting of the Oak Lawn Clergy and Religious Workers Association, when a welcomed solution arose.

Karen Danielson, a member of the Bridgeview Mosque Foundation and a leader in interfaith collaboration, offered the services of Muslim volunteers.

“We said, ‘We’re there for you guys; the task is on us,'” Danielson said. “So on Christmas Eve we’ll provide meals for those coming into the church for homeless services, so the (church members) can be with their families and focus on their spiritual side.”

The Mosque volunteers will prepare and serve dinner that evening as well as bring supplies for breakfast and lunch on Christmas Day, Danielson said.

Hoerger said the homeless guests also will be welcome to attend service if they want, before partaking in the meal.

“The whole Christmas season is about light and I can’t think of a greater light than this kind of sharing across faith boundaries, especially in this time of darkness,” Hoerger said. “This is very much in keeping with the Advent, or Christmas, season.”

The takeaway message, Hoerger said, “is oneness and unity. We’re all one. That is the deepest place religion can go and, unfortunately, quite often it short circuits getting to that place. Too often religion becomes the barrier to that, when it really should be the facilitator.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE 

Donald Trump Has Never Stopped Lying About Muslims

It’s been just over two years since then-candidate Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” It’s not quite 11 months since his administration first announced the institution of a travel ban on visitors from several majority-Muslim countries. And it’s been two weeks since the president took time out from the debate over the Republican tax bill to share a series of violent anti-Muslim videos on Twitter. Indeed, Trump has used Islamophobia throughout his short political career, spreading hate and misinformation about Muslims to stoke his base and attack his opponents. Unsurprisingly, hate crimes targeting Muslims in the U.S. have risen two years running.

Here, for people of conscience who are concerned by the growth of Islamophobia in the U.S., are ten of the worst lies told by Donald Trump about Muslims:

10) Trump Mentions Non-Existent Terror Attack “Last Night In Sweden”

Trump

President Donald Trump speaks about tax reform Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, in St. Charles, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

During a February 2017 rally in Florida, Trump told a cheering crowd: “You look at what’s happening… We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?”

But there was no terror attack in Sweden. It simply never happened.

“Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?” tweeted former Swedish prime minster Carl Bildt.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

This Thanksgiving, American Muslims Are Thankful For Allies Publicly And Vocally Speaking Out, Showing Up

Two British Muslim Women Friends Meeting Outside OfficeThis Thanksgiving, I join millions of American Muslim families in thanking fellow Americans of all faiths and political affiliations who this year publicly and vocally spoke out and showed up again and again to stand up for our shared American values, and to educate millions by using media to talk about the lives, contributions, hopes, and dreams of their American Muslim neighbors.

Being an ally is done best when it’s public and vocal. The more public and the more vocal, the stronger the impact. After all, our voices have the power to change millions of hearts and minds for the better.

We all remember the afternoon when the first “Muslim Ban” was signed. We remember seeing live videos from an increasing number of airports nationwide showing tens of thousands of fellow Americans – Republicans, Democrats, and others – gathering at the airports. We were all united by our shared American values and our belief in the words of the Declaration of Independence, in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, in the 14th Amendment, and in the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and equal treatment under the law.

We are thankful to the thousands of attorneys who volunteered their time to help those facing obstacles resulting from the Muslim Ban. Some of these attorneys also launched the web site www.airportlawyer.org to continue to provide services free of charge at airports nationwide.

We are thankful to the members of Congress and local lawmakers who held press conferences and joined demonstrators in solidarity. We are thankful to the civil rights organizations, attorneys general and corporations that legally challenged the Muslim Ban.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

The real reason Muhammad Ali converted to Islam

mohammad-ali

Muhammad Ali’s conversion to Islam, in many ways, defined his career and legacy as a fighter with conviction. He went on to become an icon for American Muslims.

Just years following his conversion in 1964, he got in a fight that prompted him to write down some reflections on what drew him to the faith in the first place.

It wasn’t a fight in the boxing ring, but an argument at home with his wife, Belinda.

Ali was out of control, Belinda said. He had lost all traces of humility. He was acting like he was God. You may call yourself the greatest, she told him, but you’ll never be greater than Allah.

Like a schoolteacher, Belinda instructed Ali to sit down and write an essay. She asked him to write about why he became a Muslim. Ali obliged, taking out blank sheets of paper and a blue pen and beginning to write.

I think it belongs there — not only because it reveals a great deal about Ali’s character, but also because it teaches us about the religious life of one of the country’s best-known African American athletes and activists. His story reminds us that even the most powerful spiritual journeys can have humble beginnings.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST