Commentary: How Islam is an agreement with MLK Jr.’s values

newsEngin.20855733_OPED_MLKDAY-BLACKVETERANS-CI believe that the best way to celebrate a national hero is to further the cause for which they fought. Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sacrificed his life fighting for racial equality and just treatment of everyone. Half a century later, we still find ourselves fighting this war and the dream remains unfulfilled.

Today, peaceful Muslims like myself also have a dream. I fully understand that there are many people around the world that consider Islam to be an intolerant religion. From my personal experience, I believe that one of the many reasons for the injustices to exist in any society depends a lot on individual bias and prejudice. If we try to be more accepting of the diverse views and ways of life among humans around the world, only then can we hope to see peace prevailing in this increasingly restless world.

The Islam that I practice is in complete agreement with the views of the great hero who we are celebrating this Monday. King famously stated, “I look to the day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

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More than 1,400 years ago, the prophet of Islam taught this profound notion as a basic principle of Islam. Prophet Muhammad — peace and blessings be upon him — had preached, “A white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”

The issue of reverse racism is also beautifully tackled here. This quote is a manifestation of complete racial justice and equality taught by Islam. As a Muslim, I am proud to say that my religion not only propagates equality but celebrates the diversity of races. The Holy Qur’an states, “And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your tongues and colors” (30:23).

I firmly believe that Islam — being a universal religion and for all times — addresses all the issues faced by every society. Today, the war for equality has many fronts. We need to tackle discrimination not only on the basis of color but of religion and gender, too.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MY STATESMAN (AUSTIN, TEXAS)

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How America Is Transforming Islam

MUSLIM WOMANBeing young and Muslim in the U.S. means navigating multiple identities. Nothing shows that more than falling in love.

Taz Ahmed is 38, single, Muslim, and Bengali. She describes herself as spiritual, but not particularly religious. When she was growing up, her immigrant parents hoped she would marry an I.T. worker they found for her in Oklahoma. “I’m like, ‘I don’t even know who this person is, what do you even know about him?’” Ahmed recently told me. “They’re like, ‘You’re asking too many questions. You don’t need to know this much information.’”

Like other U.S. Muslims of her generation, Ahmed has spent a lifetime toggling between various aspects of her identity. She got to prom night by promising her mother she’d go with a gay guy. She swapped marriage in her 20s for a master’s degree. She even followed a band as it toured the country—a coming-of-age story straight out of Hollywood, except that it was a Muslim punk group called the Kominas.

 

“It would have been so much easier if I would have just gotten an arranged marriage,” she said. “But my parents were really half-hearted about it.”

Certain big life moments tend to force a reckoning with cultural identities. And there’s nothing that invites more questions about identity and values than figuring out who to date and marry.

American culture often presents two opposing paths for young Muslims. On one side are people like President Donald Trump, who retweets unverified videos purporting to show Muslim violence; says things like “I think Islam hate us”; and claims there’s “no real assimilation” among even second- and third-generation Muslims in the U.S. On the other are movies like The Big Sick, which depicts the autobiographical love story of Kumail Nanjiani, a Muslim comedian who rejects religion and falls in love with a white woman, devastating his immigrant family.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC 

How did Victorian Muslims celebrate Christmas?

e8044ae19f00415c934078617b3365b9_18At 6am on December 25, 1888, the winter sun was yet to rise over the English city of Liverpool.

A Victorian terrace house was feverish with activity.

The soft glow of candlelight emanating from 8 Brougham Terrace revealed men and women busily putting up decorations and preparing food for the big celebration ahead, Christmas Day.

In one corner, a familiar Victorian scene of a woman playing the piano and directing hymn rehearsals, the singers’ voices muted by the howling of a bitter northeasterly wind as it rattled the thin panes of glass.

This was Britain’s first mosque and Muslim community preparing for their very first Christmas Day.

At 8am, having led the tiny congregation in the early morning prayer, the Imam finally opened the mosque doors.

Imam William Henry “Abdullah” Quilliam founded the mosque after embracing Islam in 1887, aged 31 years old.

He was greeted by more than 100 of the city’s poor, who had been invited to enjoy a charitable Christmas breakfast inside what locals called “Islam Church”.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

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”

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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 

Trump’s Demonization of Muslims Echoes a Dark Chapter in German History

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On the morning of November 29, 2017, the President of the United States re-tweeted a series of videos allegedly depicting Muslim acts of violence against Christians and Christian symbols. They had originally been posted by a member of the far right, nationalist Britain First group. It was an outrageous act of bigotry and hatred on the part of the President. It may also prove to be an act of incitement—a further act of incitement, I should say. After all, this was no isolated incident. It’s part of a clear pattern of hateful rhetoric and action directed at a specific religious community that has already contributed to a dangerous environment for American Muslims.

During his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” The reason he gave was terrorism. “We cannot let this evil continue,” he declared during a speech in Florida in September 2016. “Nor can we let the hateful ideology of radical Islam . . . be allowed to reside or spread within our country.” For Trump, as for many of his followers, there existed a fundamental connection between Muslims and terrorism (or “radical Islamic terrorism” as he made sure to call it at every opportunity).

Driving the connection home even more forcefully, he declared in August 2016 his intention to “screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles — or who believe that sharia law should supplant American law.” Sharia, or Muslim religious law, Trump was saying, and terrorism were inherently related. Terrorists are Muslims. Muslims are terrorists. Where could there be a place for such a demonized group within Trump’s American national community? What are the consequences of such a message being relentlessly driven home?

FULL ARTICLE FROM HISTORY NEWS NETWORK 

A Vision of Inclusivity: Islam and the Common Good of Humanity

Abdulaziz Sachedina  By Abdulaziz Sachedina

29akyol-inytWEB-master768A disclaimer is in place before I proceed to predict the future of millions of Muslims from various cultures and nationalities who adhere to Islamic tradition. I cannot claim to be comprehensive in my assessment, since I am dealing with different manifestations of religiosity among Muslims. My field work in various Muslim cultures warns me against overgeneralizations that can take away the peculiarities of different peoples that make up the Umma — community.

I am both an “insider” and an “outsider” to the tradition and to the community. As an insider, I face specific challenges in my assessment because of an inclination to look at my inherited perspectives and allegiances uncritically. The major challenge to me is to step outside my own community in ways that allow me to explore normative Islamic tradition and evaluate its ability to expand its hermeneutical horizons. How supple is the retrieval and interpretations that are sometimes implicit and at other times explicit in the scriptural sources for application in the modern age? How much of the tradition is relevant to the contexts in which the community finds itself? As an “outsider” academician, I am able to transcend my ties with the Muslim religious establishment and offer honest assessment of the future of the tradition and the community.

My extensive field work, which stretches for more than four decades, forces me to search for the future of Islam in peoples who profess that religion, that is, those men and women who have throughout history kept the flame of their hopes alight and have trusted the truthfulness of their creed and practice. And yet, I am cautioned against presenting them as a monolithic group. I must consider their differences in light of the religious practices and culture that suggest some kind of unity in their appropriation of the 7th-century Arabian religion. I cannot gloss over the diversity that exists among Muslims and their religious leaders about the special claims of Islamic scriptures on Islam’s adherents, societies, and those states that claim to be founded upon its political values. The future of Muslims will be determined by the aspirations and expectations they maintain regarding historical Islam — the religion and the culture that shaped its civilization. What is important to understand today is the relevance of this rich heritage that can speak to the Muslim peoples living under markedly different circumstances than their ancestors.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS

The Game of Thrones Christians Should Be Watching

79795Before the crown prince of Saudi Arabia stunned the world with his sudden arrest of dozens of fellow princes and millionaires on corruption charges, he stunned many Christians with his stated desire to moderate its version of Islam, commonly dubbed Wahhabism.

 Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932 as an alliance between Bedouin warriors of the al-Saud tribe and strict Salafi Muslim scholars following Mohamed ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Discovering oil six years later, it also became one of the Muslim world’s wealthiest nations. The combination has led many religious freedom advocates to blame Saudi petrodollars for funding a worldwide rise in Islamist extremism.

But last month, Mohammad bin Salman said his conservative Muslim country would return to “what we were before: a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world.”

Extremist ideas would be destroyed, the crown prince proclaimed, blaming Iran for sparking Saudi Arabia’s notoriously tight religious control. He pledges now to reverse this and stamp out extremism.

“What happened in the last 30 years is not Saudi Arabia,” bin Salman said. “What happened in the region in the last 30 years is not the Middle East. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, people wanted to copy this model in different countries; one of them is Saudi Arabia. We didn’t know how to deal with it.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY