What ‘Hala’ gets right and wrong about growing up Muslim in America

c5709340-98b6-4391-ac0c-d04c21af442e-Hala_Unit_Photo_06Disclaimer: I don’t speak for all Muslim-Americans, but I can say that at least a good amount of us are tired of seeing the stereotypical Muslim girl portrayed over and over again.

And that’s exactly what “Hala” does.

Minhal Baig’s new film (in theaters Friday in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Columbus, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky; streaming Dec. 6 on Apple TV+) focuses on a first-generation, 17-year-old Pakistani-American girl of the same name (played by Geraldine Viswanathan) whose conservative parents expect her to marry a nice Muslim boy. Her parents had an arranged marriage, don’t want her hanging out with boys because reputation, her mom practically forces her to pray, but Hala is a “rebel.” She falls for the white boy in her class, goes out at all hours of the night with him and eats non-halal meat (halal meat is prepared according to Islamic law, kind of like kosher).

Surprise.

FULL ARTICLE FROM USA TODAY 

Most U.S. Muslims are patriots. Asking them to choose between faith and nation has a pernicious consequence.

August 23

5CR4WBV3ZAI6TDUDJZTIP2MYCQDuring his campaign and presidency, Donald Trump has frequently targeted the Muslim community, both within and outside the United States. In 2015, Trump famously indicated he might support a “database” of Muslims living in the United States. In 2017, he succeeded in imposing restrictions on travelers to the United States from certain Muslim-majority countries.

More recently, Trump has targeted two Muslim members of Congress, Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). They were among four Democratic members who he said in July should “go back” to their home countries, although all but Omar were born in the United States. Then just last week, he attacked them again and seemingly persuaded Israel not to allow them entry as part of a congressional delegation.

Implicit in Trump’s comments, and in much of the criticism of Tlaib and Omar, is that they are not fully “American.” This is a problematic implication for two reasons. First, surveys show that, in fact, Muslim Americans are highly patriotic and mirror non-Muslims socioeconomically. Second, new research shows that even implicitly framing Muslim and American identities as separate may reduce Muslim Americans’ willingness to engage in politics.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Enslaved African Muslims Helped Build America

8cd605f0-814b-4ca7-92ba-d6f9fd9b5856_cx0_cy19_cw0_w1023_r1_sIn the year 1807, a wealthy scholar was captured in West Africa, brought to the United States and sold into slavery. His name was Omar Ibn Said. He was 37 years old at the time, and he spent the rest of his life enslaved.

Said was one of many enslaved Muslims in early U.S. history. Up to 40 percent of Africans captured and brought to the U.S. were from mostly Muslim countries in West Africa.

Said’s story might have been forgotten, but he wrote about it in a book called The Life of Omar Ibn Said. The U.S. Library of Congress recently received the book, which was written in Arabic.

The book is one of only a few personal stories written by a slave in America. It is also one of the first intimate reports of the early history of Muslims in the United States.

The book challenges the idea that the U.S. is a Christian nation, says Zaheer Ali. He is a historian at the Brooklyn Historical Society in New York. Ali adds: the book “opens us up to the understanding” that people who were not Christian helped build the United States.

What records did enslaved Muslims leave?

Most enslaved African Muslims did not leave written records. But we can learn about their lives from public evidence and the memories of their families.

How long Muslim slaves practiced their faith is unknown. Some became Christians. Others acted as if they did to better deal with their captors.

But there is evidence that some remained Muslim.

FULL ARTICLE FROM VOA 

Christian Leaders Welcome Muslim-American Women to Congress

constituentsBy Anna Sutterer 

A delegation of Christian leaders delivered a welcome message to the first Muslim-American Congresswomen, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), today at Longworth House Office Building.

Led by an online Christian organizing group called Faithful America, this message was signed by 7,400 Christians nationwide, and given to the congresswomen’s staffs after their swearing in this afternoon.

Faithful America as well as other organizations and individuals that signed the letter saw it as a necessary action because of the Islamophobic rhetoric exhibited by some far right Christians, including far-right pastors like E.W. Jackson, who was recorded saying that, “the floor of Congress is now going to look like an Islamic republic. We are a Judeo-Christian country. We are a nation rooted and grounded in Christianity and that’s that. … Don’t try to change our country into some sort of Islamic republic or try to base our country on Sharia law,” on his radio program last month.

“The assumption should be that Christian Americans, along with Americans of all faiths and backgrounds, would of course welcome new members of Congress regardless of their religious affiliations,” said Dr. Catherine Orsborn, campaign director at Shoulder to Shoulder, an interfaith organization working to end anti-Muslim sentiment. She helped deliver the welcome message to Omar and Tlaib.

“By being themselves and doing their best in their elected capacities, these incredible women will live out what it means to be American and Muslim without any contradiction,” Orsborn said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SOJOURNERS MAGAZINE 

The Real Midterm Elections Wave Wasn’t Blue—It Was Muslim

first-muslim-womenThe Muslims are no longer coming—they are here!

Well, in reality Muslims have been in America and contributing to it even before the nation was formed, since approximately 15 percent of the slaves from Africa were Muslim.

But now Muslim Americans are “here” in a whole new way as a record number won their elections last Tuesday. And ironically many of these candidates were inspired to run in response to the most openly anti-Muslim president our nation has ever seen, Donald Trump.

This “Muslim wave” was led by the first Muslim American women ever elected to Congress in our nation’s history: Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib.

Omar’s story is especially inspiring given that Trump would have banned her from the country if he was in office when she was trying to immigrate here because she’s from Somalia, one of the nations listed in Trump’s Muslim ban. Now Trump will have to deal with her as a new Democratic member of Congress.

Other big winners among Muslim candidates included Keith Ellison, who became the first Muslim ever to win statewide office with his victory as Minnesota’s attorney general. In North Carolina, we saw the first Muslim American ever elected to the state Senate with the victory of 32-year-old lawyer, Mujtaba Mohammed, who is Indian-American. And there were also numerous other Muslim Americans winning elections in local races, including five Muslim American women who were elected in California’s Bay Area, from City Council to Board of Education. As the Council on American Islamic Relations noted, all told a record 55 Muslims won election last week from federal to local offices.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY BEAST 

Muslims Hope To ‘Wake Up’ At The Ballot Box This Year

gettyimages-977267058-edit_custom-e2e3877fb3c8ff8c01f82c1d405411efff5c3f22-s1600-c85On a recent Saturday afternoon in an office in St. Paul, Minn., a flurry of calls went out to Native American and Latinos voters reminding them to vote Nov. 6. And there was a new group added to the list: Muslims.

Until last year, ISAIAH, a multi-racial coalition of faith communities in Minnesota, was mostly made up of churches. Now, 24 mosques have joined the voter turnout effort. The group is focused on getting communities of color to vote this year in reaction to what it describes as politics of fear and a rise of white nationalism.

With Muslims and immigrants used as boogeymen in political rhetoric, Imam Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, said, getting his community to the ballot box is vital. Zaman is leading the local Muslim effort to get out the vote and has been a leader on political engagement in the community for more than 15 years.

And there are more Muslims now running for office, hoping to be part of a “blue wave.” In Minnesota, nine Muslims are on the ballot for state, federal and local offices.

FULL ARTICLE  FROM NPR 

Muslim Groups Raise Thousands for Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Victims

merlin_146049078_eb56ddd4-afb8-493a-a18a-16843e1ab36f-superJumboTwo Muslim organizations have raised nearly $200,000 to help victims and their families following the shooting massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

The online fund-raiser was part of a broad outpouring of assistance in response to the anti-Semitic attack, which killed 11 people and left six others injured, including blood drives, vigils and a separate crowdfunding campaign that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Tarek El-Messidi, a Chicago-based activist, said he learned of the synagogue shooting in a call Saturday morning from a friend who runs the Muslim fund-raising website LaunchGood. His friend asked Mr. El-Messidi if he could do something to help the victims, and he agreed.

Within two hours, he had created an online campaign with the backing of two Muslim groups, CelebrateMercy, where he is the founding director, and MPower Change. He set an initial goal of $25,000, which was promptly shattered as donations flooded in.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES