Between Swimming And S’mores, Young Muslim Campers Learn To Cope With Rising Hate

muslim_youth_camp-5-edit_custom-02167a057dc0a68b8b09c83219d503a28c2d9a48-s1300-c85The sun has set, the hiking, swimming and prayers are over and a group of kids are goofing off, taking turns telling corny jokes in the woods.

“Why did the cow cross the road?” a kindergartner yells into a megaphone in front of his fellow campers. “Because the chicken was on vacation!”

It’s a typical summer camp in Northern California, except at this camp all the kids are Muslim.

Every summer for 55 years, Muslim kids, teens, young adults and parents gather in these woods to learn about faith and have fun. It is the oldest camp of its kind for young Muslims in America. But today the camp has a different meaning for this new generation. It’s a momentary respite for the campers in a country where anti-Muslim sentiment is rising sharply.

The late Marghoob Quraishi and his wife, Renae “Iffat” Quraishi, founded it, to help new American Muslims find a sense of community.

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Originally Indo-Pakistani, Marghoob ended up at Stanford University in California. His daughters say he looked around and realized that new American Muslims, like himself, needed a place to teach their kids about being American Muslims. His wife is an American Caucasian woman who converted to Islam from Methodism and grew up going to Methodist summer camp. So the couple modeled it on that.

Like most Americans, U.S. Muslims concerned about extremism in the name of Islam

ct-muslims-islam-trump-religion-culture-perspe-001Most Americans are worried about Islamic extremism, and most Muslim Americans share these concerns.

About eight-in-ten U.S. Muslims (82%) say they are either very (66%) or somewhat concerned (16%) about FT_17.08.14_extremism_plotextremism committed in the name of Islam around the world, about the same as the share of the general public that feels this way (83%), according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Only about one-in-six U.S. Muslims (17%) and Americans overall (15%) say they are “not too” or “not at all” concerned about extremism carried out in the name of Islam worldwide. Among both groups, concern about extremism is up 10 percentage points since the Center’s last survey of U.S. Muslims in 2011.

Muslim American women are particularly worried about global extremism in the name of Islam. Nearly nine-in-ten U.S. Muslim women (89%) say they are at least somewhat concerned about it, up 16 points since 2011. A smaller share of U.S. Muslim men (75%) say they feel this way.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PEW RESEARCH.ORG

American Muslims Are A Diverse Group With Changing Views

US-Muslims

Only days after the end of Ramadan and just before the July Fourth holiday, thousands of people gathered at a Chicago convention center for the 54th annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America. Activists, scholars, religious leaders, booksellers, food vendors, and families of many backgrounds speaking many languages attended panels about topics as varied as religion, relationships, politics, cybersecurity and climate change. Despite their diverse backgrounds, many in attendance had two things in common: They were American, and they were Muslim.

Speaking at a panel on political views after the 2016 election, Besheer Mohamed, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, suggested that an upcoming report would put numbers to the diversity that could be observed at the conference. That survey, released Wednesday morning, is the third in a series of Pew surveys of Muslims in the U.S. taken over the past 10 years.1 It is also a window into the changing attitudes of American Muslims — who make up about 1 percent of the U.S. population2 — on issues such as politics and homosexuality.3

“The key theme that we see regarding U.S. Muslims is diversity,” Mohamed told reporters on Tuesday, ahead of the report’s release. “Among immigrants, no single ethnic group has a majority. … Among U.S.-born Muslims, no racial group has a majority.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM

Most White Evangelicals Don’t Believe Muslims Belong in America

77985As much of American society undergoes a secular shift, most Muslims and Christians continue to attend worship, adhere to tenets of their traditions, and proudly identify with their faiths.

 But despite this shared sense of religious devotion, as detailed in a new Pew Research Center report on what US Muslims believe and practice, survey data also show a huge gap in their perceptions of each other.

While Americans overall have warmed up to Muslims in recent years, white evangelicals express more concerns about US Muslims than any other religious group. Two-thirds of white evangelicals believe Islam is not part of mainstream American society and contend that it encourages violence more than other faiths, according to Pew.

Meanwhile, 72 percent of white evangelicals—compared to 44 percent of Americans overall—see a natural conflict between Islam and democracy. And 30 percent of Muslims themselves agree that the two are in conflict.

A small minority of Americans (6%) and Muslims (5%) attribute the tension to the belief that America is a Christian nation.

As CT reported in March, missions experts worry that evangelicals’ views of Muslims are sabotaging a long-dreamed-of moment. Previous research by Pew found that only 35 percent of white evangelicals say they have a personal connection to a Muslim, compared to about 40 percent of mainline Protestants and Catholics, 50 percent of unaffiliated Americans, and 73 percent of Jews.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

Reza Aslan Argues: There Is No Divide Between Islam and American Culture

US-POLITICS-TRUMP-PROTESTReligion comes in countless forms, depending either on the soil from which that religion arose or the soil in which it was planted. What we call Christianity in America is not what Guatemalans call Christianity. It’s not what Iraqis call Christianity. What we call Islam in the United States is vastly different from Islam in Iran or Saudi Arabia or Nigeria or Indonesia.

The notion that religion clashes with a culture is a misunderstanding of what religion is, but, more specifically, the idea that Islam clashes with American culture is just foolishness, naiveté, and lies. There is no clash between Islam and American culture. In fact, there is no clash between any religion and any culture because religions are inextricably linked to culture.

Think of it this way: Culture is like a vessel, and religion is like water — it simply takes the shape of whatever vessel you pour it into. And this is why the prosperity gospel — the notion that what Jesus really wants for you is to drive a Bentley — can exist in the United States, and why the liberation gospel — the notion that Jesus was a warrior who fought oppression and poverty — exists in El Salvador. Both versions of Christianity are equally valid. They’re just dependent on the culture of the community to which they belong.

When you look at Islam in the United States what you see is an overwhelmingly moderate version of Islam, but more interestingly what you see is a highly individualistic form of the religion. Islam is a religion that often advantages the community over the individual, but in the United States, where the culture is rooted in radical individualism, you see a radically individualistic Islam forming. An Islam that, in America, is not beholden to traditions or to the consensus of Muslim scholars and Islamic trains of thought that came before — it is an Islam that is innovative. You have a version of Islam that is vibrantly feminist. You have a version of Islam that promotes gay and lesbian spirituality. You have versions of Islam that are quite pluralistic and democratic. And in every one of these cases, what you see is a religion that has married itself fully into culture.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE

‘Secret Life of Muslims’: How video series took on rising Islamophobia in the US

WO14-US-SecretLifeofMuslims-1The online series — which features both high-profile and ordinary American Muslims sharing their personal experiences of being Muslim in the United States — has clocked up millions of views since it premiered in November

Egyptian-American comedian Ahmed Ahmed found himself routinely typecast as a terrorist when trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood in the 1990s.

“I played a terrorist in the movie Executive Decision … I played a terrorist on the sitcom Rosanne … In a film called Steel Sharks, I played this evil Persian submarine commander,” says the 47-year-old in the first episode of the Secret Life of Muslims online video series. “All my lines are like, ‘I’ll kill you in the name of Allah!’.”

The hugely popular series is one of a number of projects harnessing the power of the internet to try to change the narrative about Muslims amid rising Islamophobia in the US. Others have launched on Facebook and Instagram, such as Muslim American Faces, where the photographer and filmmaker Heidi Naguib posts photos of Muslim Americans from all backgrounds, along with a caption sharing a little of their life story.

Secret Life of Muslims has clocked up millions of views since it premiered in November, a few days before the presidential election. In the intervening months, Donald Trump has been back and forth with the US courts over his plan to implement a travel ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries. And alongside this, the series has featured both high-profile and ordinary American Muslims talking about what Islam means to them and sharing their personal experiences of being Muslim in the US.

The series’ American Jewish director and executive producer, Josh Seftel, said his own childhood experiences with anti-Semitism made him feel compelled to do something to counter Islamophobia.

“As a Jewish kid growing up in upstate New York … I had experiences where I was called names, where people used to throw pennies at me sometimes and someone threw a rock through the front window of our home. And so, I felt a connection to the kind of discrimination that Muslims are facing in the United States,” he told The National.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL 

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