Religion News Foundation launches educational podcast on Islam

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COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Religion News Foundation (“RNF”) is pleased to announce the launch of an educational podcast on Islam titled, Re-Sight Islam™, to be hosted by Qasim Rashid. Re-Sight Islam aims to illuminate and introduce to a largely Western audience the Islamic faith and its traditions from the Islamic perspective. Qasim Rashid is a best-selling and critically acclaimed author, former visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Islamic Studies Program, and Executive Director of The Peace Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a youth-led movement against hate groups.

“One of the Religion News Foundation’s primary goals is increasing religious literacy in pursuit of creating a more peaceful world based on mutual understanding,” said Tom Gallagher, President and CEO of the Religion News Foundation and CEO and Publisher of the foundation’s subsidiary, Religion News Service.

“A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 65% of immigrant Muslims in the U.S. and 91% of U.S. born Muslims believe there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims,” he said. “There is a lot of misunderstanding about Islam and Muslims and this podcast is a step in the direction of educating the public about both,” said Gallagher. “Qasim Rashid is an important voice that deserves a larger audience,” he said.

“I’m excited to work with RNF on building a truly unique and exciting conversation on Islam for an external and non-Muslim audience,” said Qasim Rashid, co-creator of the Re-Sight Islam Podcast. The podcast was conceptualized early in 2018 and has been under development since then. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Trump v. Hawaii accelerated our decision to launch later this month.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICE 

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Islam is an American religion too, Mr. President

la-1528926282-7g54hgucfx-snap-imageThursday night is Eid, when followers of Islam gather together with friends and neighbors to celebrate the end of Ramadan, a month of daily fasting.

Since 1996, when then-First Lady Hillary Clinton began the tradition, the White House has hosted an “iftar” — the daily fast-breaking dinner — during Ramadan. It has been a staple of both Republican and Democratic administrations, an opportunity to celebrate Ramadan with the American Muslim community, the leaders of its civic groups, its imams, its writers, artists and entertainers.

But not in the Trump administration. President Trump, whose animosity towards Islam and the Muslim community is well documented, didn’t host an iftar at all last year. This year, he honored the tradition with a dinner on June 6. But the representatives of American Muslim groups were not invited to the White House. Instead of community and religious leaders from across the United States, the guests included foreign ambassadors and dignitaries from Muslim-majority countries. It was as if the president hosted a White House Seder but with no American Jews invited.

In his remarks at the dinner, Trump avoided Ramadan’s devotional message of reflection and sacrifice. He used the occasion to reminisce about his visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he received a hero’s welcome and made deals that have fomented more enmity in the region, particularly between Iran and the Saudis.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LA TIMES 

Thomas Jefferson’s vision of American Islam

jeffersons_quranThe month of Ramadan marks the time when Prophet Muhammad is believed to have first received revelations from God and has been celebrated at the White House since 1996. It was Hillary Clinton who started the tradition as first lady. However, last year, the Trump White House did not host the traditional reception. Neither did the State Department under Secretary Rex Tillerson, even though the holiday has been commemorated there since 1999.

Despite the relatively recent nature of these formal celebrations, the fact is that Islam’s presence in North America dates to the founding of the nation, and even earlier, as my book, “Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders,” demonstrates.

Islam, an American religion

Muslims arrived in North America as early as the 17th century, eventually composing 15 to 30 percent of the enslaved West African population of British America. Muslims from the Middle East did not begin to immigrate to the United States as free citizens until the late 19th century. Key American Founding Fathers demonstrated a marked interest in the faith and its practitioners, most notably Thomas Jefferson.

As a 22-year-old law student in Williamsburg, Virginia, Jefferson bought a Qur’an – 11 years before drafting the Declaration of Independence.

The purchase is symbolic of a longer historical connection between American and Islamic worlds, and a more inclusive view of the nation’s early, robust view of religious pluralism.

Although Jefferson did not leave any notes on his immediate reaction to the Qur’an, he did criticize Islam as “stifling free enquiry” in his early political debates in Virginia, a charge he also leveled against Catholicism. He thought both religions fused religion and the state at a time he wished to separate them in his commonwealth.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION  NEWS 

How Muslims, Often Misunderstood, Are Thriving in America

They’re a vibrant and increasingly visible part of the tapestry in communities across the nation.

MUSLIMS IN AMERICAThere was nothing to do but watch as the copper-domed building in the southern Texas oil town of Victoria burned down.

The mosque where Abe Ajrami’s Beyoncé-loving daughter was feted with other high school graduates, the mosque where his children went to religion classes, the mosque where he and his family went every Friday to pray and mingle over a potluck of seven-layer dip and spiced biryani, was gone.

This family reminds me of my own. My father, from Lebanon originally, also came to the United States for an education and a better future, as Ajrami did. My mother was a Unitarian Universalist, like Heidi, and she met her future husband in college and converted. My parents have raised five ambiguously tan American Muslim kids.

Letter: Why Islam Awareness Week is necessary on college campuses

(A LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA NEWSPAPER)

ows_147562250712923In the age of the “Muslim Ban” and increased Islamophobic hate crimes, Islam is at the forefront of political discourse. Although Muslims are at the center of attention in the media, the public and even at the dinner table, they are rarely involved in these discussions. From conservatives who try to restrict Muslims from entering the United States to liberals who strive to “save” Muslim women, debates and conversations about Muslims occur regularly, but Muslims are not being invited. Islam is discussed by CNN and Fox News, who constantly perpetuate false stereotypes and homogenize Muslims. Although we like to think university campuses are a space for critical thinking and open discourse, the ideas that are pushed by the mainstream media still make their way to schools like the University of Minnesota.

On our campus, there have been several instances of Muslims being targeted. In early November 2016, the Muslim Students Association’s panel on the Washington Avenue Bridge was vandalized with “ISIS” written boldly across the Islamic calligraphy. Just a few weeks earlier, several Muslim Students were personally targeted and had their names and information posted on flyers around campus. Muslim students have reported being harassed on the streets of Stadium Village.

Many false claims about Islam made on the news and by people in positions of power are echoed on campus, having a wider impact on students pursuing ambitious careers in many diverse fields. With the constant negative stereotypes of Muslims, spectators often take these claims as the truth. With disproportionately limited access to positions in media and political power, Muslims are being told what they believe in and what their religion is.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MINNESOTA DAILY 

Islam in America

Ten years ago, Rageh Omaar embarked on a unique journey across the United States to reveal the truly surprising, counter-intuitive, and little-known world of Islam in America.

From the major conurbations of New York City and Chicago, to the small town hinterlands of Texas and the west, Al Jazeera pulled together the history of Islam in the US and painted a vivid portrait of a vibrant, diverse and growing group of followers of Islam that is unlike any Muslim community in the world.

Since then, much has changed globally, with the rise of ISIL, and in the US, with the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of “the free world”. Among the numerous controversial decisions that have come to pass under the Trump administration is what has come to be known as the Muslim travel ban – a law temporarily barring entry to the US for travellers from six different Muslim-majority countries.

FULL ARTICLE  FROM AL JAZEERA  (VIDEO LINK ABOVE) 

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