Life and Death

Verse 156 in Chapter 2 of the Qur'an is read whenever someone dies. It translates as "Surely we belong to God and to Him shall we return."

There are many stereotypes about Islam and Muslims which the Inside Islam project has focused on dismantling. One of the most persistent negative images of Muslims is that they do not value life. The terrorist attacks carried out by a minority of Muslims have led some people to perceive Islam as a violent religion that encourages death for the sake of God. As we have said before, however, this idea is not supported by the Qur’an. While death is a fact of life that is repeatedly addressed in the Qur’an, Muslims are taught that life is extremely valuable and that they should work to lead righteous lives. Continue reading

nine/twelve

Filming nine/twelve (Source: huffingtonpost.com)

The attacks of 9/11 changed the course of history and affected many communities. The Muslim American community was particularly impacted by the attacks and have had to face growing Islamophobia. Throughout the Inside Islam project, we have explored some of the central challenges to the Muslim American community, which include questioning their national identity and their place in American society. Some question this group’s loyalty to their country and the possibility of being both Muslim and American. The entire nation was affected by the attacks; yet, 10 years later there is not enough exploration of what Muslim Americans faced in the days after 9/11. In February, a new project was launched to make a film called nine/twelve,  a film that will explore the experience of Muslims right after the attacks. Continue reading

The Muslims Are Coming!

Comedy is one of the many means by which people deal with stereotypes. Muslim Americans have used comedy for some time to break down the negative stereotypes about Islam and Muslims. The idea is that if people can laugh together then barriers break down. In other words, it is a constructive way to have people reflect on what they think about Muslims. We have addressed the topic of Muslim American comedians before here on Inside Islam through both blog posts and radio programs. In this post, I will focus on the upcoming comedic film The Muslims Are Coming! Continue reading

The Importance of the Mother in Islam

Yesterday, many parts of the world celebrated Mother’s Day, focusing on mothers and their contributions to their families. Since there is a negative stereotype of how Islam views women, many people may not know that mothers specifically and parents in general are held in very high esteem in the faith. There are verses in the Qur’an and hadith that emphasize the burdens that a mother carries and the respect that should be accorded to her. In this post, I will focus on the importance of mothers in Islam. Continue reading

The Debate Over Music

Duff/Daff (Source: chandrakantha.com)

One of the controversial topics that Muslim scholars have debated throughout Islam’s history is whether music and singing are halal (permissible) or haraam (forbidden). As I mentioned in an earlier post on the singer and songwriter Maher Zain, Muslims vary in their opinions on music. Since this topic has been extensively discussed and most of the opinions either way can be very lengthy, in this post I will just summarize some of the key points on the contention over the issue of music and singing. Continue reading

Banning Halal Meat?

Muslims in the United Kingdom have a new challenge facing them. Following attempts by other European nations like France, some British politicians have called for a ban on any meat that comes from an animal which has not been stunned before slaughter. Thus, the ban affects halal (sometimes also called dhabiha or zabiha) and kosher meats.

According to supporters of the ban, the manner in which Muslims and Jews traditionally slaughter is more painful to the animal than stunning the animal first and then slaughtering it. As in the Jewish tradition, Muslims have a particular manner in which they must slaughter an animal. The animal’s throat is slit to induce quick bleeding to reduce suffering. In order to do this, Muslims are instructed to make sure that the knife is sharpened. Also, in order to be as humane as possible, the knife should not be sharpened in front of any animals and one animal should not be slaughtered in front of another. Continue reading

Maher Zain: A Muslim Musician

Muslims around the world are using multiple media to express their identities. For many Muslim artists, music has become an important space to talk about their faith and the struggles they face. The music ranges from the overtly political to the spiritual. The focus of this post is Maher Zain, a Swedish Muslim of Lebanese descent who rose to fame in 2009 and just released his most recent album Forgive Me this past April. Zain’s music is influenced by his faith and has strong religious overtones. Continue reading

Patience and Perseverance

Patience in Arabic

One of the central concepts in Islam is that this life is a test. This means that human beings should expect to face trials and tribulations, and that they should endure them with patience and perseverance. This point is repeated throughout the Qur’an and the hadith. In fact, patience and perseverance in the face of difficulty are traits that believers strive to embody. Continue reading

The Best in Character

Crystals in Arabic (Source: www.qawareer.com)

One of the most persistent stereotypes about Islam is that it is oppressive towards women. While it is true that there are many instances of abuse and oppression of Muslim women and problematic interpretations of religious texts, there is no justification for that behavior in the faith. In fact, it is clear from the Qur’an and the hadith that the relationship between men and women should be based on respect, kindness, and love. In this post, I would like to focus on a few examples of hadith that underscore these core values and illustrate that the Prophet Muhammad himself displayed these characteristics in his interactions with the women in his life. Continue reading

Important Events: The Death of the Prophet

Prophet Muhammad's Tomb in Medina

In the history of Islam, there have been many events that have defined the faith, exemplified the character of the Prophet Muhammad, and determined the future of the Muslim community. I have written in previous posts about a few: the Night of Power, the hijra, the Battle of Badr, the conquest of Mecca, and the Farewell Sermon. However, the most trying event for the the nascent Muslim community was the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 C.E. Over 23 year, the Prophet established Islam in Arabia and founded a community of believers whose ties transcended tribal bonds and were based on a shared faith. He was the center of the Muslim community, the ummah, and served as the religious, political, and military leader. When he died, the Muslims were utterly shocked by the loss of this central figure and had to figure out a way to move forward so that this new faith would continue to grow. Continue reading