December 25th was an an average day for the majority of the world’s Muslims, but for some, it signified Christmas along with its variety of associated meanings. Muslim beliefs related to Christmas and its celebration vary considerably–from a fun-loving holiday, to a dangerous heretical practice. The majority of the world’s Muslims don’t give the 25th of December much thought at all, but with increasing numbers of Muslims living in the predominately Christian West and Christians living in the predominately Muslim Middle East, it’s difficult not to have some kind of opinion or interpretation of Christmas.
In a country where women have been told their stories do not matter, and have been threatened for telling them, women still muster the courage to write about themselves, even at the risk of severe punishment. The Afghan Women Writers Project is a US based organization dedicated to bringing their stories to light.
Art and Islam: Interview with Ken George
Many of the world’s greatest art works are inspired by religion (for example, Leonarda da Vinci’s The Last Supper) and arouse an almost religious sense of awe (think of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel paintings). This close relationship between art and religion is very much alive in contemporary Indonesia, home of the largest Muslim population in the world. Nobody understands this better than Kenneth George, UW-Madison professor of anthropology and author of Picturing Islam: Art and Ethics in a Muslim Lifeworld. Prof. George talked with Inside Islam about his diverse experience with Muslim culture, from living in a small rural Muslim community to working with cosmopolitan Muslim artists and urban intellectuals. Continue reading