How To Fight Islamophobia In America, No Matter Your Faith

MuslimGrafittiThe U.S. is no stranger to discrimination against Muslims. Here’s how you can fight back.

“Hello, brother.” Those were the words that a Muslim man said to a gunman before he was shot to death at the Al Noor mosque in New Zealand on Friday.

The gunman, an avowed white supremacist, went on to kill at least 49 others in a horrific attack on two mosques in the city of Christchurch during Friday prayers, a weekly tradition for those who practice Islam.

While the attack on Muslims may have been an unprecedented show of hate for New Zealand, the gunman’s Islamophobia is hauntingly familiar in the U.S. 

In December, a woman in Dallas attacked a Muslim woman and told her to “go back to [her] country.” A month later, four people in upstate New York were charged with plotting to attack a Muslim community with explosives. Last April, three white militiamen in Kansas were charged with planning to bomb a Somali community’s apartment building

That’s why now is as important as ever for people of all faiths to speak out against hate and violence against Muslims, according to Catherine Osborne. Osborne is a Christian and the campaign director for Shoulder to Shoulder, an interfaith coalition against Islamophobia in the U.S.

“Silence is action, in and of itself,” Osborne said of the response to Friday’s massacre in New Zealand. “Choosing not to speak out is an action that somebody is choosing to take.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

Black Muslims account for a fifth of all U.S. Muslims, and about half are converts to Islam

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This is one of an occasional series of posts on black Americans and religion.

Even in the early 20th century, when Islam had little presence in most parts of the United States, the religion had a foothold in many black urban communities. Today, black people (not including those of Hispanic descent or mixed race) make up 20% of the country’s overall Muslim population, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey.

Still, Muslims make up only a small portion of the overall black population in the United States. The vast majority of black Americans are either Christian (79%) or religiously unaffiliated (18%), while about 2% of black Americans are Muslim.ft_19.01.09_blackmuslims_converts

About half of black Muslims (49%) are converts to Islam, a relatively high level of conversion. By contrast, only 15% of nonblack Muslims are converts to Islam, and just 6% of black Christians are converts to Christianity.

Black Muslims are like black Americans overall in that they have high levels of religious commitment. For instance, large majorities of both black Muslims and black Christians say religion is very important to them (75% and 84% respectively). This is a higher level of commitment than for nonblack Muslims (62%). Black Muslims are also more likely than other Muslims in the U.S. to perform the five daily prayers (55% vs. 39%).

FULL ARTICLE FROM PEW RESEARCH 

‘America has changed Islam’: A woman runs for the board of Houston’s largest Muslim organization

houstonIn a front room of the Masjid at Taqwa, a Sugar Land mosque, Sarah Alikhan watched M.J. Khan film a Facebook video endorsing her.

Khan, 68, isn’t super-fluent with Facebook, but as a former member of Houston City Council and the president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, he’s arguably the most powerful political figure in Houston’s Muslim community. It was Khan who recruited Alikhan, who’s in her early 40s, to become the first woman ever to run for the shura, or governing board, of ISGH, one of the largest Muslim organizations in the U.S.

If elected director of Southwest Zone on Sunday,Dec. 9 she’d be the first woman to have a vote on the 50-year-old organization’s board — and thus, a direct say in the big-picture strategic decisions that can involve millions of dollars. Amid the fierce campaign, Alikhan’s headscarfed presence is a very visible sign of change.

“Here,” she said, after Khan joined her at a table. She took his cell phone and, smiling — she always seems to be smiling — handled a Facebook friend request for him.

Faizan Atiq, the incumbent director of ISGH’s Southwest Zone: “We are still far from where we want to see our organization – BUT on the right track.”

Across the U.S., women have been moving into spots with actual power in Muslim organizations such as ISGH, not just working behind the scenes. In 2006, Ingrid Mattson became the first woman to serve as president — the very top leader — of the Islamic Society of North America, an umbrella group that includes ISGH.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE 

The Shoe Is On the Other Foot: Pluralism and the Qur’an

The-demographics-of-ImmigrationBy Jane Smith

The raging fires of the immigration debates in the U.S. illuminate what Muslim immigrants have known for a long time — America is not and really never has been a melting pot. The ugly rhetoric surrounding the plan for a mosque and community center near Ground Zero, and recent assaults such as those on the Bridgeport, CT mosque in my neighborhood, illustrate well the difficulties Muslims face on a regular basis. Nonetheless, Muslims have actually managed to survive quite well in the West and have even succeeded in persuading many American citizens of the right of Islam to exist as a legitimate partner in the complex balance of religious life in this country.

For many Muslims the shoe is now slipping onto the other foot. The issue is becoming not only whether they and their religion are accepted by other Americans, but whether Islam itself can find a way to live out the pluralism that many are persuaded is at the heart of the Qur’an’s message. Studies now show that while early generations of Muslims tried to honor that pluralism in relation to other religious groups, more exclusivist views came to prevail and communities such as Christians and Jews found themselves increasingly discriminated against by Islam. Exegetes turned from verses of the Qur’an that insist that God willed different religious communities rather than a single one, and emphasized those verses that affirm that the only true religion in the eyes of God is Islam.

It seems to me that the future of Islam, at least as I understand it in the American context, has much to do with the way that Muslims figure out how they are going to position themselves on the question of pluralism. That we all live in a religiously differentiated society is a given. But is that a good thing in the Muslim perspective? While Muslims struggle to be truly accepted by Christians, Jews, and other groups in America, can they promise the same in return? And if so, at what level?

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS

California City proclaims August ‘Muslim American Appreciation and Awareness Month’

5b6b05ec362ac.imageAMERICAN CANYON — Following similar declarations by the state legislature and other California cities, the American Canyon City Council has proclaimed August as Muslim American Appreciation and Awareness Month.

The proclamation represents the first time American Canyon has honored Muslims through an official decree, according to residents and leaders.

 

“I think this was a huge milestone for the Muslim community,” said Councilmember Mariam Aboudamous in an interview. “At a time when there is a lot of negativity at immigrants in general, and Muslims especially, it’s important to recognize immigrants because that’s what the county is made of.”

“We’re all products of immigrants, and it’s important to appreciate them,” said Aboudamous, a Muslim whose parents emigrated from the Middle East and settled in American Canyon decades ago.

Other local Muslims heralded the City Council’s proclamation, saying it represents a positive step toward acceptance of worshipers of Islam.

Najim Khan, who accepted the proclamation on behalf of the local Muslim community, called the decree “a great honor.”

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” Khan said following the council meeting. “I think more cities and counties should do that.”

 

Exploring Islam in America

Portrait_of_Ayuba_Suleiman_Diallo_1050x700Islam, as many African Americans remind me, is an important part of African American culture and there are many African American Muslims today who feel they have “reverted” to the religion of their ancestors

Last October, Mrs Cornelia Bailey, a leading member of a tiny community of African Americans living on Sapelo Island off the Georgia coast, passed away.This remarkable woman was aspokeswoman, storyteller, historian and preserver of her people’s unique culture known as Gullah-Geechee.

The community’s roots go back to the time of slavery, when the area was owned by Thomas Spalding, a planter and US congressman from Georgia who grew cotton, sugarcane and rice using African slave labor.

Following the abolishment of slavery after the US Civil War, the people of Sapelo remained, but their number steadily grew smaller.Akbar-Ahmed-sketch

What made Bailey and the community even more unique was their Muslim background. Bailey herself was a direct eleventh-generation descendant of Bilali Muhammad, a Muslim slave originally from West Africa who was taken first to the Caribbean and then to Sapelo in the early nineteenth century, where he became the head “enforcer” over the other slaves.

Bilali Muhammad left us a document known as the “Bilali Diary”, a manuscript he wrote entirely in Arabic characters, although the language he used is not standard Arabic. His manuscript reveals a scholarly, pious, and intelligent man who clung to his identity and dignity.

Fascinated by this background, I set out with my team of researchers to meet MrsBailey and stay with her community while conducting research for my book on Islam in America, Journey into America:The Challenge of Islam (2010).

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY TIMES (PAKISTAN)

Muslims in America: Separating fact from fiction

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The words “I think Islam hates us,” “True hatred among Muslims is too great,” “Over 80 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by radical imams,” “Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization” from prominent U.S. politicians, brand Muslims as un-American, unassimilable, and potential societal and security threats to the United States.

In the minds of the likes of President Donald Trump, Representative Peter King, and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, Muslims have an utter indifference to human life as well as to “American values.” Clearly, the relationship between Islam, Muslims and American national identity has reached a boiling point. Separating fact from fiction is more important than ever.

The facts surrounding Muslims in America present a drastically different picture than the aforementioned claims by U.S. politicians. Muslims have lived on American soil before the United States even existed. The Founding Fathers of the United States welcomed the migration of Muslims to U.S. soil. American Muslims are far from monolithic and represent one of the most diverse religious populations in the country. Muslims are among the most educated populations in American society. Islamic organizations in the United States regularly participate in interfaith dialogue and civic national projects. Muslims are not responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks in America. U.S. Muslims do not prefer to be governed by Islamic law (Sharia). All of the preceding statements are facts. These facts are verified by the actions of U.S. Muslims as well as by research carried out by leading academic units and advocacy organizations across the country.

FULL ARTICLE FROM DAILY SABAH