Majority-Muslim Albania and the Holocaust

On October 29, 1944, Jewish refugees protected by Albanians pose for a photo following the liberation of the country. Photo: Refik Veseli

Albania was the only European country that ended World War II with more Jews living in it than before the war started. According to the International School for Holocaust Studies, every one of the 200 Jews living in Albania before the war was saved by their local countrymen and women, and over 2,000 Jews in total were hidden, housed, and provided for by Albanians. In 1943, Nazi Germany ordered the Albanian authorities to turn over government census data on Jews in the country. The Albanians refused. In fact, not a single Jew was ever turned over by Albanians to the Italian fascists and Nazis in Albania.

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Most New British Muslims Are Women

Lauren Booth, Tony Blair's sister-in-law and revert to Islam

This past January, I wrote about a study put out by Kevin Brice called “A Minority Within a Minority” which documented the rising number of British reverts over the past 10 years. (In Islam everyone is believed to be born Muslim, so when they begin practicing the faith later in their life, they are seen as returning or “reverting” to their original state.) According to Brice, the average revert is a 27-year-old women. An article in The Independent appeared at the beginning of November that highlighted not only the numbers of British reverts but also the obstacles that they face.

According to the article, 50% of British reverts are white and 75% of them are women. This is interesting considering all the negative images surrounding Islam and women. One of the most common stereotypes of the faith is that it is oppressive towards women. Yet the article emphasizes that 25% of the female reverts actually said they became Muslim because of the status Islam affords them. Continue reading

Pakistani Supreme Court Leads the Way

Dawood Ahmed is a lawyer from London. He is a graduate of Oxford University and is currently a doctoral candidate in law at the University of Chicago

Pakistani hijras, or transgendered men, at a function near the army garrison city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan Photo: Declan Walsh

Amidst the commonplace pattern of negative news cycles related to Pakistan, a rather landmark human rights development there passed by largely unnoticed. On April 25, the Pakistani Supreme Court ordered the government to recognize a third gender on government issued ID cards for transgenders (commonly known as hijras in South Asia) instead of the rather inappropriate and demeaning ‘male’ or ‘female.’ To put into context how ground-breaking the change is, consider this: very few countries in the world recognize a third gender in similar circumstances.

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Islamic Museum of Australia

In May 2010, a new foundation was launched in Australia, with the 2013 goal of opening the Islamic Museum of Australia, the first museum of its kind. The project is spearheaded by Ahmed and Moustafa Fahour, two prominent Muslim Australian businessmen. The focus of the museum will be to dispel stereotypes about the Muslim Australian community and Islam in general. It will also highlight the contributions of Islamic civilizations to the world. Continue reading

Islamic Sex Manual Banned

Members in the Obedient Wives Club

This past week, Malaysia banned an Islamic sex manual put out by the controversial group Obedient Wives Club, whose statements have caused a stir. The Obedient Wives Club maintains that wives meet only 10% of their husbands’ needs and thus this manual instructs Muslim women to be subservient and obedient to their husbands sexually. Furthermore, they maintain that it is the wife’s job to prevent her husband from being adulterous by acting like a prostitute. Finally, they encourage polygamy. Although the manual does not contain any pictures, it is very descriptive. Moreover, the manual suggests that it is acceptable for polygamous men to have sex with all their wives at the same time. Continue reading

Islamic Galleries at The Met

The 18th Century Damascus Room Displayed at the Met's New Islamic Galleries

New Yorkers no longer have to travel to Linxia or Basra to catch a glimpse of Islamic artistic creativity. Last week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (“The Met”) completed an eight-year renovation of their Islamic galleries, now housing over 1,200 works spanning more than 1,400 years. The Met even commissioned a Moroccan family with generations of artisan experience to coordinate and create a traditional Moroccan courtyard inside the museum itself.

Although most of the pieces have been in the permanent collection for years, the Met has taken some off of its dusty storage shelves and provided others with a more prominent display. Works now on display include a mihrab (prayer niche indicating the direction of Mecca) from Isfahan, an 18th-century Syrian reception room, and an Uzbek painting depicting the Prophet Muhammad’s Laylat al Miraj, or trip to heaven. Artists, historians, and many others have found a common appreciation for the stunning visuals offered to visitors, but I was also struck by the name given to the galleries.

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Niqab-Clad Woman Runs for French Presidency

Kenza Drider in front of her campaign posters

At the end of September, Kenza Drider, a French citizen of Morroccan descent, announced that she would run in the next presidential election against Nicolas Sarkozy. Drider, a mother of 4 who wears a niqab or face veil, has become a well-known opponent of the French ban on the veil that went into effect in April. She was the only woman to testify before an information commission of lawmakers before the ban was passed. She was also one of the first women to be fined under the new law. This ban affects less than an estimated 2000 women and can result in a 150 euro fine and in some cases citizenship classes. Continue reading

Inside Islam Radio Show: All-American Muslim

Two Muslim-American Women Featured in All-American Muslim

Tune in tomorrow (Wednesday, November 9) to hear the latest Inside Islam radio show. Jean will speak with the producers and Nina Bazzy, a character from the reality TV show, All American-Muslim. This show, which premieres this Sunday on TLC, follows five Muslim families in predominately Arab-American Dearborn, Michigan.

For more information on the show and related content, see Reem’s recent post and other pieces about the use of television to challenge stereotypes of Muslim-Americans. Do you think this program will have a positive impact on the image of Muslim Americans? Or will it simply promote further negative stereotypes? Leave your comments below and we may use them on air.

How to Listen and Participate

  • Leave a post below and the Inside Islam radio team will consider airing your comments and question during the broadcast.
  • Listen live on radio stations in Wisconsin Public Radio listening areas. The show will be broadcast live at 3 p.m. and re-broadcast at 9 p.m. CT.
  • Listen to a live webstream of the show on the Ideas Network.
  • Call 1-877-GLOBE-07 to leave a voice mail for Here on Earth: Radio without Borders anytime.
  • Leave a comment on this page, or send us an email with your thoughts.

New Media = New Dynamics?

Amir Ahmad Nasr, aka Drima from The Sudanese Thinker blog, recently created a project exploring new media—a source of information that altered his life many times. From fundamentalism to heartbreak and disillusionment, and finally to his current spiritual practice of Sufism, Nasr says he was greatly influenced by the internet and the different kinds of religious resources that he read throughout his Islamic spiritual development.

His new project, The Future of Islam in the Age of New Media, highlights the perspectives of 60 academics, scholars, and bloggers on how access to new media has shaped Islam and Muslims around the world. While most contributors see the internet as a “democratizing force,” some warn of the dangers that arise with equal access and speak about the potential hazards of providing a platform for anyone and everyone to offer their voice. Continue reading

The Hajj

Pilgrims circling the Kaaba

In the past week, millions of Muslims have flocked to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the hajj, which takes place each year between the 8th and 12th days of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The pilgrimage draws over 2.5 million believers. Mecca is the center of the Muslim worldview and the hajj is not only a physical journey but a spiritual one as well. Pilgrims leave behind all their worldly markers, signified by the ihram, two white sheets worn by all men, and spend four days worshiping God. Continue reading