(RNS) — To Eman Abdelhadi, getting an abortion was the most sensible thing to do. She was six weeks pregnant and a graduate student who wasn’t financially ready to have a child. She felt no shame or guilt going through with it.
“I had no qualms about it. I grew up in an environment and a religious tradition that sees my life as the most important thing,” said Abdelhadi, a professor at the University of Chicago who was raised in a Muslim household. “It felt very clear to me. There was never anything like, ‘You did something unethical.’”
Abdelhadi, whose mother was a gynecologist in Egypt, grew up with the idea that abortion was a “nonsensical thing to legislate” and that legalizing it was necessary to prevent people from seeking other, potentially dangerous means of terminating pregnancies.
Islamic law is flexible, Abdelhadi said, and when it comes to making a decision about abortion, “people will consult with their families, their religious leaders, and then they’ll ultimately make a decision for themselves.”
“You’ll do what feels right,” she said.
As the United States Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, Muslim Americans are gearing up for what the landmark reversal could mean for their communities.
Most American Muslims believe gun control laws should be stricter, a new report by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (Ispu) has found.
According to the poll, 65 percent of Muslim respondents believe existing gun control laws need to be stricter, slightly higher than the 64 percent of Jews and Catholics that were polled.
Muslims are more likely than Protestants (54 percent), white Evangelicals (30 percent), and the general public (57 percent) to hold this view.
According to the survey, white Muslims were more likely than white Americans in the general public to believe gun laws should be stricter. But Black Muslims were more likely than Black Americans to believe laws covering the sale of firearms should be less strict.
The report, which will be released in full in August, comes just two weeks after 21 people, mostly children, were killed in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
According to data from the Washington Post, more than 311,000 children in America have experienced gun violence in school since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. In that same period, 185 were killed and 369 were injured.
“All Americans are unfortunately impacted by gun violence, directly or indirectly. As our local, state and national leadership work to find effective solutions, public opinion is critical to understand,” Meira Neggaz, Ispu’s executive director, told Middle East Eye.
“Our work researching American Muslim opinions, in comparison to other groups in the country’s faith landscape, uncovers that most groups and the majority of Americans are aligned in their concern about the current state of gun laws.”
We know that health disparities are a looming threat to minority groups’ quality of life and well-being. Yet, most popular attention on minority health disparities, both in the medical literature and in the public, focuses on racial and ethnic disparities. While these inequities are real and rightfully deserve attention, other demographic gaps, such as those among Muslim Americans, are also important.
Part of what makes the Muslim population so beautiful is the immense diversity; no single racial or ethnic group constitutes more than 30% of the total Muslim American population. What’s more, millions of Muslims are also racial or ethnic minorities and (or) immigrants. This creates a risk of intersectional stigma — which can adversely affect individual mental health.
As authors, we care about this topic because our background as Muslim Americans means we cannot remain silent about the challenges that confront our community. Washington State is home to a steadily growing Muslim population, with a current population of over 100,000 Muslims, with the majority of them residing in King County.
Growing up in the greater Seattle area, we have witnessed incidents of harassment and discrimination against Muslims. Muslims of all ages and backgrounds are subject to this discrimination. In school, Muslim kids often experience bullying and harassment; in public, there have been countless incidents including women’s hijab being pulled off and in which Muslims were called derogatory names and were subject to hate crimes.
Having this happen to you or even seeing it happen to your fellow Muslims takes an immense toll on one’s sense of safety, belonging, confidence wearing Islamic dress (such as the hijab), and overall expressing one’s freedom of religion.
Growing up, I distinctly remember that I rarely saw a face in my neighborhood that looked like mine. When Christmas came around every year, I would see beautiful trees adorned with unique ornaments from our neighbors’ windows. Large presents lined their floors, and iridescent lights glowed from within their living rooms.
Our house was always the only one on the block without an ounce of decoration during the holiday season. As the neighborhood celebrated, my parents and I sat mindlessly throughout the day. Sometimes when I was young, we played a CD of nasheeds, songs performed according to Islamic tradition, to pass the time. I sat on the floor; despite not understanding anything, I sang along.
Homogeneity characterized my childhood. Among a sea of white and Christian students, there were only a handful of other students that looked like me in my classes. I made my first Muslim friend when I was six. She was one of four other Muslims in that school, and the only one remotely close to my age. Back then, neither one of us really knew what it meant to be Muslim, but just knowing that we shared something was enough for me. Two years later, I moved to a different school, and I didn’t make another Muslim friend until I was 14.
My parents wanted me to assimilate more than anything else. As immigrants, their priority was making sure that I didn’t experience the ostracism they did when they first arrived in the U.S. When it came down to enrolling me in a Sunday school, they decided that playing sports or learning an instrument, activities that other kids around me pursued, were probably more valuable ways to use my time.
Aside from a very occasional trip to the masjid, place of worship for Muslims, or being forced to pray with my grandmother or a family member, I had no concept of what it meant to be a Muslim. According to my family’s beliefs, I ate zabiha meat, slaughtered in accordance with Islamic guidelines, but didn’t completely know how to pray and read the Quran. I didn’t know much about Islamic history or various traditions either, and I successfully got away with being a Muslim who didn’t actually know anything about Islam.
My extended family was always religious. While they pushed my parents to enroll me in Sunday school from an early age like their own children, my parents assured them that if I wanted, I could enroll myself in Islamic school much later in life and faithfully adhere to the Five Pillars of Islam.
Rapper-activist Mona Haydar and husband Sebastian Robins star in ‘The Great Muslim American Road Trip’ for PBS
Mona Haydar and Sebastian Robins felt they had a deep understanding of Islam. But filming “The Great Muslim American Road Trip,” a docuseries that will air on PBS this summer, made the married couple realize how much more they had to learn.
Haydar, a Syrian American rapper and activist whose music videos boast millions of views on YouTube, grew up Muslim. Robins, a writer and educator, converted to Islam after they met. The show follows the couple as they traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles via historic Route 66 in September. Along the way, they learned about Islam’s roots in America, explored nearby Muslim communities and took in the sights. In Chicago, they met with Muhammad Ali’s daughter Maryum Ali and toured the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) to learn about structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan, known for his work on the innovative tubular design for high-rises. On more than a dozen stops, Haydar and Robins visited with restaurateurs, doctors and authors.
“This is a deep passion of ours; it’s our faith and our practice,” Haydar said. “And it really felt like this epic quest of learning and finding the clues and piecing them together.”
The couple garnered widespread attention for their “Ask a Muslim” project, following terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., in 2015. Outside a Cambridge Mass., library, they set up signs that invited passersby to “talk to a Muslim” and ask them questions over free doughnuts and coffee. Haydar’s song “Hijabi (Wrap My Hijab)” was also named one of 2017’s best protest songs by Billboard.
Council on American-Islamic Relations says it uncovered a ‘mole’ within its organisation and a ‘spy’ at a US mosque.
Washington, DC – First, the major Muslim-American advocacy group reported that a “mole” had infiltrated the leadership of one of its state branches. Then, only days later, the organisation said a “spy” at a US mosque had passed information on to an “anti-Muslim” group.
The two incidents, revealed earlier this month by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have shaken Muslim advocates in the United States and renewed longstanding concerns about spying on the community.
“Community members were shocked and saddened to learn about this specific situation, but a lot of people were also not surprised that an anti-Muslim hate group was targeting CAIR and spying this way,” said Whitney Siddiqi, community affairs director at CAIR-Ohio.
The CAIR chapter said on December 15 that it had sacked Romin Iqbal, its executive and legal director in the Columbus-Cincinnati area, for “egregious ethical and professional violations”.
An advocacy group has created a worker database with help from Disney to bring more Muslims into the filmmaking process.
A new initiative to promote the inclusion of Muslims in filmmaking has been created by an advocacy group with the support of the Walt Disney Company — following a report issued this year that found that Muslims are rarely depicted in popular films and that many Muslim characters are linked to violence.
The project, the Pillars Muslim Artist Database, was announced on Tuesday by the Pillars Fund, an advocacy group in Chicago. It produced the earlier report on depiction along with the University of Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and others.
Kashif Shaikh, a co-founder of Pillars and its president, said that when the group discussed the findings, those in the industry often said they did not know where to find Muslim writers or actors.
The database, Shaikh said, aims to give Muslim actors, directors, cinematographers, sound technicians and others, who could help create more nuanced portrayals, the chance to compose online profiles that can be reviewed by those hiring for film, television and streaming productions.
That way, “Muslims around the country would be able to opt in and talk about their talents, talk about their expertise,” Shaikh said. “It was really meant to be a resource for studios, for the film industry.”
The report on depiction, “Missing & Maligned,” was issued in June and analyzed 200 top-grossing movies released between 2017 and 2019 across the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
(RNS) — Twenty years ago, Americans hardly gave their Muslim neighbors a thought. Then came 9/11, and our opinions suddenly blossomed. Two decades later we may be past assuming that Muslims want to topple the American government, but other supposed givens — that Muslims tend to be conservative, for instance — have been challenged in a new poll that shows how rudimentary our understanding of American Muslims can be.
Start with the finding in a new poll, commissioned by Emgage and Muslim Public Affairs Council, that Muslim Americans voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden in 2020, with 86% support. Only 6% voted for Donald Trump.
These numbers should not surprise those who have followed Trump’s multiple negative comments about Muslims, his hotly debated travel bans that disproportionately targeted Muslim countries and the spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes under his leadership.
But the survey of more than 500 Muslim Americans also gives us a picture beyond the vote into how Muslim Americans view the Biden administration and key domestic and foreign policies.
It’s not surprising that a majority of Muslim Americans want the administration to combat white supremacy, Islamophobia and hate-violence, which have direct, negative consequences for Muslim Americans. Their interest in addressing inequalities and enhancing access to health care, however, is more counterintuitive for a group we think of as first-generation immigrants. More than three in four American Muslims support Medicare for All, and 78% of Muslim voters believe the tax system is too generous to the rich.
“Hate Crimes, White Supremacy, Other Issues” Graphic courtesy of Change Research
These progressive stances are easier to understand if one is familiar with the justice orientation of Islam, as well as the demographic makeup of the American Muslim community. One-third of Muslim households in America are at or below the poverty line, making Muslims the most likely faith community to report low income levels.
US Muslims reflect on how 9/11 changed their lives and what the future holds for them
By Alaa Elassar, CNN
Updated 10:53 AM ET, Fri September 10, 2021Watch CNN’s “Shine A Light,” a commercial-free 9/11 20th anniversary tribute, hosted by Jake Tapper and featuring musical performances by Maroon 5, H.E.R., Brad Paisley, and Common on Saturday, September 11 at 8 p.m. ET.(CNN) — Many Muslims in the United States point to September 11, 2001, as the day their relationship with the country changed.Islamophobia had always existed, but the terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia seemingly made it worse — much worse.Muslims of all stripes — citizens, immigrants and refugees — faced backlash. Many were ostracized and harassed, some physically assaulted and even killed. Charged rhetoric, successive wars and attacks further inflamed the situation.Feeling condemned for crimes they didn’t commit, some Muslims changed their names and clothing to conceal their identities, while others clung even tighter to their faith. A few became outspoken advocates for the community.Every Muslim in America has a story to tell. Here are some of them.
Ruwa Romman, 28, is a Palestinian American community organizerand policy analystliving in Duluth, Georgia.When the terrorists attacked, she was 8 years old and had just recently immigrated to the US with her parents. But the dream she had of building a new life in America quickly turned into a nightmare.Ruwa Romman and her husband Shahzaib Jiwani.”I remember the hallways and the day seemed darker even though I remember it was sunny outside,” Romman told CNN about her experience in school that day. “I don’t think I fully understood what was happening since I barely spoke English.”
An unprecedented amount of public attention focused on Muslim Americans in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The U.S. Muslim population has grown in the two decades since, but it is still the case that many Americans know little about Islam or Muslims, and views toward Muslims have become increasingly polarized along political lines.
There were about 2.35 million Muslim adults and children living in the United States in 2007 – accounting for 0.8% of the U.S. population – when Pew Research Center began measuring this group’s size, demographic characteristics and views. Since then, growth has been driven primarily by two factors: the continued flow of Muslim immigrants into the U.S., and Muslims’ tendency to have more children than Americans of other faiths.
The number of Muslim houses of worship in the U.S. also has increased over the last 20 years. A study conducted in 2000 by the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership identified 1,209 mosques in the U.S. that year. Their follow-up study in 2011 found that the number of mosques had grown to 2,106, and the 2020 version found 2,769 mosques – more than double the number from two decades earlier.