Elif Shafak: Most-Read Female Author in Turkey

On Thursday, Jean Feraca will talk with Elif Shafak, an acclaimed Turkish writer. Shafak, who writes in English and Turkish, is the author of ten books, eight of which are novels.  Her novels have been translated into more than 30 languages. In her works, Shafak explores a number of issues. She writes about the East and West, motherhood,  feminism, tradition, rationalism, Sufism, and cultural ghettos.  Morever, she addresses the different aspects of her identity that include being a woman, a Muslim, a Turk, an author, and a mother. For Shafak, literature, specifically, can play in important role in breaking through cultural walls to help us recognize and embrace our differences.

Continue reading

Text-Message Divorce

Last month, in Tajikistan, religious authorities banned the use of text messages by Muslim men to divorce their wives. To those not familiar with the practice, this may seem an odd thing to worry about. But divorce by text message has become a problem in Tajikistan because an increasing number of migrant workers there are not returning to their countries of origin and so need a remote method to divorce their wives from home. Text messaging specifically impacts Muslims seeking a divorce because they are being used to issue the “triple talaq,” the process by which a husband ends a marriage by stating his desire for divorce three times.

Continue reading

On a Wing and a Prayer: An American Muslim Learns to Fly

This Thursday, May 19th, Jean will talk with Monem Salam the focus of  the documentary On a Wing and a Prayer: An American Muslim Learns to Fly. The documentary follows Salam, a financial adviser for Islamic financing, as he pursues a lifelong dream of getting a private pilot’s license post-9/11. Salam’s father was a commercial pilot for 25 years.

On a Wing and a Prayer shows the difficulties Salam faces to pursue his dream, including an F.B.I inquiry. The documentary also follows Salam’s family and shows their story as Muslim Americans living in a small town. Both Salam and his wife Iman talk about the importance of their faith in their lives and the way in which they reach out to the community to share that faith post-9/11. Most importantly, the documentary emphasizes Salam’s right as an American to pursue his passions.

Continue reading

Signs of Hope in Egypt’s Sectarian Violence

A Muslim Egyptian holding a Qur'an and a Coptic Egyptian holding a Cross

In the last few months, the Middle East has undergone tremendous change with revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt leading to the resignation of Presidents Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak. During these revolutions that inspired others across the region in Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Syria, different segments of society united with the goal of removing the leaders. In Egypt, especially, Muslims and Christians stood together, even protecting each other while they prayed.

Continue reading

Becoming a Pakistani-American

Zehra Imam is an alumna of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She is currently designing a course, “The Patterns of Struggle and Triumph” to foster self-development within students. She is also working on “Desegregating Detroit in Delhi,”an experiential-learning fellowship to serve as an avenue for dialogue among student leaders in Metropolitan Detroit.

Painting: Zehra Imam

I’m not going to sugar-coat this complex terrain that is my motherland. My family immigrated to America due to religious and political unrest in Pakistan. I feel like my native land has grown to become a superstar since our family left – always in the news, always getting caught doing something that warrants a comment, always in the limelight. But something else other than natural ties still compels me to call a part of myself Pakistani and retain my dual identity of Pakistani-American. It has taken me a long time to say that I am from Pakistan with pride, and that I am choosing to live in America with gratitude.

I was fifteen when the attacks took place.

Continue reading

The Opening

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the world; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek. Show us the straight way, The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray. (Al-Fatiha, Yusuf Ali Translation)

Al-Fatiha Calligraphy Artist: Fahad Kehar

Al-Fatiha, or “The Opening,” contain the first seven verses in the Qur’an, and is repeated  at least seventeen times per day by Muslims who perform five or more daily prayers. Depending upon which scholar you ask, it may even be the most important prayer in Islam. It speaks of God’s grace and mercy, and asks for guidance and support for believers to follow the “straight path.” The real question, for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, is what is the straight path. (For more background on the English translation of Al-Fatiha, see this explanation.)

Continue reading

There Is More to Muslim Women than Veiling

A participant with and without hijab

There always seems to be a fascination with how Muslim women cover. Whether they wear a hijab, a niqab, or the full-on burqa, the intrigue around it never seems to be abate. The interest goes beyond why they cover to why some Muslim women do not cover, and more specifically to why a Muslim woman would put on a hijab and then take it off.

Continue reading

I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim

This Thursday, May 5th, Inside Islam hosts I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim on the UW-Madison campus. As part of a national book tour, co-editor Zahra Suratwala and contributors Amany Ezeldin, Mariam Sobh, and Zainab Alwan will speak about their experiences growing up in American society, as women of color and as Muslims. The talk will highlight the daily challenges that many women face in both public and private spheres. Human rights, Islamic fashion, and faith will also be discussed, followed by a Q&A and book signing. Amany Ezeldin will also participate in an Inside Islam radio show in Madison before the talk.

When: Thursday, May 5th @ 5:00 pm

Where: Gale VandeBerg Auditorium, Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Madison, Wisconsin

Sponsors: Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates, the UW-Madison international and area studies centers, and Wisconsin Public Radio.

Free and open to the public.

Continue reading

“I Speak For Myself” Radio Show

This Thursday, May 5th, Jean will be speaking with contributors to the new book I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim. The edition comprises the personal narratives of 40 women under the age of 40 from diverse backgrounds: blogger, academic, advocate, activist, artist, journalist, teacher, student, engineer, coach, government representative. They all, however, share three  things: they are American, Muslim, and women.

Continue reading