In new book, Muslim doctor encourages Christians to ‘love thy neighbor’

(RNS) — Ayaz Virji had a well-paying position at a Pennsylvania hospital when he decided to uproot his family in 2013 and move to Dawson, Minn., a town with about 1,500 residents and the distinction of being “Gnometown, USA.”

Virji’s Muslim faith and values inspired him to look for a job that was more than just lucrative. In Dawson, he said, he felt he could provide what he called “dignified medicine,” spending time getting to know his patients in an underserved rural community.

Then came the 2016 election.

Most Dawson residents had voted for President Trump. And many of Virji’s patients — stirred by Trump’s insistence that “Islam hates us,” his suggestion of a Muslim registry and his promise of a Muslim ban — began to question his family’s presence. As far as anybody knew, they were the first Muslim family to live in Dawson.

That’s when Virji discovered another vocation: speaking to Christian audiences about his faith in order to dispel myths about Islam.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS

Undoing Stereotypical Representations in Arab and Muslim Cinemas: Challenges, Interruptions, and Possibilities

3995455868_28104750a4_b-660x330Troubled by a history of misconceptions on Western silver screens, Arab and Muslim filmmakers have kept their cinematic productions thematically close to the reality of their postcolonial cultural and social conditions, while trying to represent their communities in complex ways. In many efforts of artistic excellence, the films they make aim to reverse the frisson of alterity upon which the conception of their disgraced images have been historically predicated; in the process, the films aspire to alter these images and representations. Rarely however does the work of these Arab and Muslim filmmakers reach a global audience. This article locates themes and creative forms in many cinematic narratives of representation, and recommends their interpretation and mediation to a global audience. The article responds to a recent “intellectual turn” in contemporary debate on Arab and Muslim films, calling for the invention of a category called “Muslim Cinema”. The article contextualizes this turn within the contours of Western institutions as sites of epistemological authority and examines its epistemological, racial, and ideological implications and underpinnings in connection to representation.

Introduction

Like most Third Cinemas’ post-independence era productions, Arab/Muslim films are known for the cultivation of a realist aesthetic and a commitment to national struggles and identity discourses. Historically, however, filmmakers in Arab and Muslim societies have addressed domestic issues and censored themes often considered too sensitive and beyond national meta-narratives. Civil wars, Shi’a/Sunni entanglements in proxy wars, religious fanaticism and terrorism, irregular migration, the heterogeneous composition which characterizes Arab and other identities in the region, gender politics, and the haunting verisimilitude of the Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation, have all been persistent themes for filmmakers and audiences. Never have these filmmakers been unified over a particular configuration of alterity, or collectively endorsed one specific representation of otherness in the same manner that Hollywood had their disfigured images molded and frozen over time as villains and terrorists. Aware that their identity has been “represented by others, mediated by Hollywood, Dan Rather, or The New York Times… [deploying misconceptions of] lazy Mexicans, shifty Arabs, savage Africans, and exotic Asiatics…” (Stam 1984: 51) on their movie screens, Arab/Muslim cinematic productions have been consistently exploring different strategies to speak for themselves.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ARAB MEDIA AND SOCIETY 

Christians worldwide urged to sign letter thanking family of Muslim man who died saving churchgoers

134417_w_700Christians around the world are being urged to sign a letter to the loved ones of a Muslim police officer who sacrificed his life to save hundreds of churchgoers in Egypt.

Persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern published the letter online Wednesday, addressed to the family of Major Mustafa Abid, who was killed on duty on Jan. 5.

Abid, along with other officers, was responding to a bomb discovered on the roof of the Virgin Mary and Father Seifin Church in Nasr City, near Cairo, when it detonated and killed him, injuring three others.

The incident took place a day before the Coptic Christian Christmas Eve, and as International Christian Concern noted, fears are that hundreds of Christians, including children, would have been killed if the expositions had gone off as planned.

“By signing onto this letter, I wish to express my highest praise, deepest gratitude, and heartfelt sympathy for your injuries and loss incurred while following your conscience and your duty on Jan. 5, 2019. Your actions ensured that hundreds of Egyptian men, women, and children were not unjustly murdered during a deadly attack on the Virgin Mary and Father Seifin Church,” begins the letter which is also addressed to members of the bomb squad.

“I wish to thank the members of the bomb squad and various police officers who put themselves in danger for the sake of others. I pray for complete healing for all who were injured. I also join in mourning with the family of Major Mustafa Abid and express my heartfelt sorrow for your tragic loss,” it continues.

“The Bible says, ‘Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ I believe that Major Abid’s actions demonstrated that kind of love, and I honor him for it.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN POST 

Minnesota author, refugee, hopes to inspire kids

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ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Habso Mohamud was born in a refugee camp in Kenya.

While living in the camp, Mohamud traveled with her grandmother to traditional villages and places where nomads lived. Her grandmother wanted her and her siblings to see “the other side of the world.”

Because to Mohamud’s grandmother, they were lucky — they had shelter and knew where their next meal would come from.

“My grandmother would take us and show us you could have it worse. Be appreciative — at a very young age that’s what I learned,” Mohamud told the St. Cloud Times.

Mohamud lived in the refugee camp until she was 10. Now 24, Mohamud lives in St. Cloud. She attended St. Cloud schools and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at St. Cloud State University. She also works for the UNESCO Center of Peace and recently published a children’s book.

In her book, “It Only Takes One Yes,” Mohamud hopes to inspire children — especially young girls — to see themselves as being able to make a difference in the world.

“I want to make sure kids have a voice,” she said. “But I want to do it in my community because this community needs me.”

Despite working for the United Nations, Mohamud chooses to live in St. Cloud.

“I love it here. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I came back,” she said. “I want to give back. Without this country and without the opportunities that were presented to me, I wouldn’t be who I wanted to be.

“And this is the country where you can be anything you want to be in this world.”

Mohamud’s parents lived in Somalia before fleeing the country for Kenyan refugee camps during the civil war in Somalia. Her mother never finished high school but her father went to college and was a medic in the military.

Mohamud received an education in the camp but said it was very basic and without a set curriculum because the population changed so frequently.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SIOUX CITY JOURNAL 

LOOKING WITHIN: WHAT’S BEHIND THAILAND’S BUDDHIST-MUSLIM DIVIDE?

dbf1a13c-32f6-11e8-9019-a420e6317de0_4000x1584_175635Before he was Phra Visuddho, he was Pisut Aungsupalee. In Thai “Pisut” means “purity”. When his master, Phra Upaseno ordained him as a monk, he took the Pali equivalent, “Visuddho”. Pali is the language of Buddhist texts.

Born in Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown district, Pisut – who is Chinese-Thai – grew up helping his parents run their fruit shop on weekends. “If I needed to open the shop, then I would wake up at six in the morning.”

The long hours tending his parents’ shop fed Pisut’s young mind. Observing people come and go, he wondered what made them smile or frown.

Red Shirts, Yellow Shirts: will there ever be united colours of Thailand?

“When I was nine I already thought about what it means to be happy. This is why I eventually wanted to become a monk, to understand happiness – not physical but eternal.”

At the age of twelve, he and his family moved to Nonthaburi Province in the countryside.

“Bangkok was dense and polluted, whereas Nonthaburi had forests. The air was fresh and it was not crowded.”

Even then, Pisut would drive back to Bangkok on weekends with his father to tend to the family business.

“I would wake up really early in the morning. This helped me prepare for life as a monk. As a monk I wake up before six for bintabaht.”

Monks usually start their day with bintabaht, the collection of food alms – Phra Visuddho doesn’t go a day without it. Photo: Hezril Azmin

Bintabaht is the collection of alms that make up a monk’s meal. “Before noon, I can eat. Afterwards, I can only drink water or juice.” Bintabaht isn’t a daily obligation for monks, but Phra Visuddho does not go a day without it.

In his last year of secondary school, Pisut made up his mind to study sociology.

“I wanted to study ourselves – as human beings – and about life.”

He ended up at Kasetsart University in Bangkok.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SCMP.COM

Why I’m a Muslim

MUSLIM BRITWhen Muslims make headlines, it’s invariably for the wrong reasons. The fuss over Boris Johnson’s burka joke is a case in point: he was making an argument in defence of Muslims, but was instead condemned for attacking us. Why the confusion? Because of how little our faith is understood.

Let’s start with the burka. Islam makes various demands of its followers, but — despite what you might think from the headlines — covering our faces isn’t one of them. Based on the media’s fascination with these strange and oppressive garments, you might wonder why any modern woman would ever choose Islam. So here’s my answer.

I’m a London-born doctor, raised in a Muslim family and now working in America. While Islam always played a role in my youth, it was never something which defined me: rather a list of ‘dos’, ‘don’ts’ and cultural traditions which governed various aspects of home life. It was during an assignment in Riyadh — where I was working as a doctor — that everything changed.

Of course when you’re living in Saudi Arabia, Islam is never far away — but at first its omnipresence only served to remind me of my failings as a Muslim. To the Saudis, I knew so little about my religion I was assumed to be a convert. Thanks to Saudi law (which mandates covering of the hair — something my parents never enforced), I might have looked more Muslim — but I certainly didn’t feel it. Take the Hajj, for example — the holy pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are expected to undertake once in their lifetime, if their health and their means allow. Although many of my colleagues had jumped at the opportunity to do it, it wasn’t something I had considered.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SPECTATOR (UK)

6 Post-Ramadan Lessons From A Pair Of Mediocre Muslims

Muslim Taking Iftar To Break Their FastI’m Sima, I’m 23 and I’m a pretty casual Shia Muslim. I was born in Toronto, have lived in various parts of Canada and come from an Iranian background. I did not fast this year but I’m wishing a Happy Eid Al-Fitr to all my fellow Muslims who did!

I’m Farah, I’m 35 and I’m a casual Sunni Muslim. I was born in Toronto, raised in Markham and come from an in Indian-Pakistani background. This year, for the first time in years, I challenged myself to keep almost every fast in Ramadan and succeeded! Please, come eat with me!

So, it’s done. Ramadan has come and gone, and gone with it are the early mornings of rising to eat before dawn, persistently empty stomachs and a solid case of daily “hanger” as you struggle to keep your fast throughout the Holy Month. It may not seem like we’ll miss very much, but as the long days passed, we two mediocre Muslims — that is, Muslims who consider ourselves fairly casual and relaxed in our practice — sat down to talk about what makes this month extraordinary — not just this year, but every year. The lessons we’ve learned have changed our views on food, religion and most importantly: life.

FULL ARTICLE FROM HUFFINGTON POST (CANADA)