Muslim-American veteran defends her faith and her country

seattle muslimMujaahidah Sayfullah is one of thousands of Muslim-American military veterans. But her perspective differs from many. She converted to Islam after serving in the Army and sees the world differently than when she wore a soldier’s uniform.

For Mujaahidah Sayfullah, Veterans Day is a time to express appreciation for those who protect the country and its freedoms.

“I’m very fortunate to have all my limbs,” said Sayfullah, who served in the U.S. Army for six years in the 1990s. “We have a lot of wounded warriors, and I like to acknowledge those who endured a lot more damage than I did.”

“There was no divide because we were all soldiers,” she said. “In the military you become like family, and there are no barriers with regards to race or socio-economic status. The only divide is rank.”

 

Sayfullah is one of thousands of Muslim-American military veterans. Their ranks include the likes of Khalid Lites, a third-generation Army veteran who lives in Shoreline. But Sayfullah’s perspective may differs from others, including the 4,275 Muslims the Pentagon reports are in active duty. She converted to Islam after serving.

She sees the world differently now than when she wore an Army uniform.

She’s been called names by strangers, thrown out of a courtroom for wearing a hijab, or traditional Muslim head scarf, and gotten suspicious looks, she said, at the V.A. hospital.

She grew up “spoiled rotten,” she said, in a Southern Baptist household in Tacoma. Her name was Teressa McCullough. She shocked her family when she enlisted at a recruiting office and shipped out to basic training in South Carolina.

“I just wanted to see the world and serve the country,” she said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SEATTLE TIMES

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The Power of Storytelling: Creating a New Future for American Muslims

ap-american-muslims-trump-1-jt-161114_31x13_1600The Muslim American storytellers of the 21st century need to mine our rich Islamic and American identity and history to tell new stories that will benefit and add to the ever-growing multicultural mosaic that is America.

By Wajahat Ali

In 7th-century Arabia, the storyteller was valued more than the swordsman. The audience sat on the floor surrounding the gifted orator as he captivated the eager listeners with beautiful poetry narrating their history. In the 21st century, the art form may have evolved to include motion pictures, TV shows, theater productions, novels, and standup comedy, but they all serve the same function: storytelling.

Ideas and principles are most effectively communicated and transmitted when they are couched in a narrative. Stories, whether they concern the etiquette and biography of prophets or the trials and tribulations of America’s founding fathers, inform and influence a cultural citizenry of its values and identity.

Similarly, the story of a biracial man with an Arabic name and a Kenyan father elected to the highest office in the land reminds the world that indeed America can live up to its cherished principles of freedom and racial equality, and her citizens are capable of reflecting a magnanimous and egalitarian spirit bereft of prejudice.

If a person were to read these stories comprising the core values of Islamic and American history, one would assume their respective cultural fabrics resemble a generous, messy, lively, colorful mosaic perpetually adding and experimenting with new colors, styles, and hues to beautify its narrative.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS 

There Is No “Other” America

BY OMID SAFI (@OSTADJAAN),  COLUMNIST

the crowd goes wild

Taken at the 09/14 Donald Trump rally at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

“It is not American.”

That’s what most of my friends tell me when I tell them about the latest horrific comments made by Donald Trump, who at the moment appears to be heading towards being the Republican nominee for the highest office in the land. Even by the admittedly outrageous standards of Donald Trump, this seemed beyond the pale. Shooting Muslims by bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. This, not in an anonymous hate group website, but under the full glare of spotlights, from the mouth of the leading Presidential candidate, in a political rally.

This is America.

During a recent rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, Donald Trump talked about how he would protect Americans. To make his point, he told the story ofJohn Pershing, a U.S. general who took some 50 Muslims captive in the Philippines in the early 1900s:

“He took fifty bullets, and he dipped them in pig’s blood. And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the fiftieth person he said ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years there wasn’t a problem, okay?”

As if the moral of the story was not clear enough, the GOP front-runnerreiterated the message for the mob crowd:

“We better start getting tough and we better start getting vigilant, and we better start using our heads or we’re not gonna have a country, folks.”

This is where we are as a nation. This is our America.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ONBEING.ORG

Why Christians should want Islam to be taught in schools

islam-in-schoolsA Californian mother’s rant about Islam being taught in schools has gone viral in yet another embarrassing display of the rampant ignorance that plagues so many of our friends across the pond, desperate to protect America’s non-existent Christian heritage.

Tara Cali of Bakersfield, California, posted a photo online of her son’s homework assignment which asked students to name the five pillars of Islam and summarise Islamic beliefs and practices.

“My son will not be a part of this in any sort of way. This is bad teaching material. He will NOT partake. If you have a problem with it, call our lawyer,” Cali wrote over the homework sheet, listing six Bible verses instead.

“How about Christian practices? That sheet has never came home, this year or last! [sic]” she added. Under a QR code that students were invited to scan to hear the call to prayer from a Mosque in Istanbul, Cali simply wrote, “Seriously?”

It’s the kind of response that you’d hope would be laughed at and ignored, but Cali’s Facebook post has been liked 38,000 times, and shared by more than 123,000 people. Some of the comments below accuse the government of brainwashing children and implying that Christianity is being pushed out of schools, while Islam is actively encouraged.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY

The Real Muslim American Threat? It’s Against Us (Muslim Americans)

48022560.cachedA parade of white extremists has been nabbed recently for plotting to kill Muslims. Have you read about it? Didn’t think so.
There’s a growing threat in America involving Muslims. The FBI has even recently issued a warning to alert local law enforcement about it. But our politicians and media continue to ignore it.

The threat I’m speaking of is not “radical Islam,” as the right loves to call it. Rather I’m talking about the threat of “radical Americans” who are plotting to kill Muslim Americans and to stoke the flames of hate versus Muslims in hopes that others will be inspired to do just that.

Now some may be asking “What threat against Muslim Americans?” I can fully understand that reaction, given how little our media cover plots to kill Muslims. It appears to many in the media, Muslim lives simply don’t matter.

So let me bring you up to speed on what is going in the world of “radical Americans.” Just last Friday, Glendon Scott Crawford was convicted in federal court of trying to develop a “weapon of mass destruction” to kill Muslims in his upstate New York community near Saratoga Springs. Scott, an industrial mechanic at General Electric, was constructing a “death X-ray machine” to kill Muslims because he viewed them as the “enemies of Israel,” per the indictment.

Just so it’s clear, no one has claimed that Crawford was mentally ill. He was simply a man who so despised Muslims that he wanted to use his electrical skills to kill them with radiation. He had even successfully tested, with FBI undercover agents, the remote trigger for the device. Thankfully, he will be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY BEAST 

Are there more taboos about pop culture or Islam?

Star-Wars-Original-Trilogy-Artwork(CNN)It seems that every other week, a new incident takes place to remind us that there are many who will respond to critiques of Islam in a violently disagreeable manner.

Rightly, our response is always to reject vigilante, criminal violence of all kinds — regardless of how affronted they feel. There are, at the same time, other taboos with regards to Islam in our societies in the West – with dramatically fewer consequences, but still concerning.

On Saturday May 16, some of those fault lines showed themselves again: at a “National Security Action Summit,” Republican presidential hopefuls and others raised the fears of “civilizational jihad,” complaining about how “Christians can’t come into this country but Muslims can.” That wasn’t about radical Islamists like ISIS or al Qaeda-style ideology: but about Muslims en masse, and Islam as a religion.

I recently ran afoul of that same sentiment, in a highly unexpected way. CNN recently published a satirical piece I wrote about the relationship between Star Wars and Islam, and whether there was more of a relationship between the two than Islam and ISIS. It was clearly a sardonic offering, just from the bio that preceded the piece (unless the description of me as a Jedi knight is to be taken seriously), let alone the rest of the piece. Tens of thousands of hits, and a translation for the Spanish version of CNN later, there was a plethora of reactions at this ironic piece looking at how easy — and incorrect — it was to ascribe to Islam and Muslims the extremism of a few.

Much of that reaction was positive, with many sending messages privately and publicly about the humorous, while not mocking, engagement with a serious and delicate subject. But it was the negative responses that were particularly instructive. Unsurprisingly, some of those were ISIS supporters, who are not exactly known for appreciation of humor.

But contrary to what one might expect, the most vitriolic opposition wasn’t from radical Islamists who couldn’t take a joke. Islam is discussed in media, academia, and public life in a variety of ways, usually in relation to the “How Islamic is extremism” question.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN 

Most Muslim Americans See No Justification for Violence

ABU DHABI — Muslim Americans are the staunchest opponents of military attacks on civilians, compared with members of other major religious groups Gallup has studied in the United States. Seventy-eight percent of Muslim Americans say military attacks on civilians are never justified.

military target civilians.gif

These findings are among the many featured in a new report released Tuesday by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, Muslim Americans: Faith, Freedom, and the Future, based on Gallup surveys conducted throughout 2010. Building on Gallup’s early 2009 report on America’s Muslim community, Muslim Americans: A National Portrait, this analysis tracks changes since 2008, delves into current social and political research topics, and provides a series of data-driven policy recommendations.

In sharp contrast with Americans who identify themselves with other faith groups, Muslim Americans are more likely to say military attacks on civilians are never justified (78%) than sometimes justified (21%). Respondents from other faith groups, particularly Mormon Americans, are more likely to say military attacks are sometimes justified than never justified. The opinions of Americans who don’t identify themselves with any religion are more in line with those of Muslim Americans, but they are also more divided.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GALLUP POLL SERVICE