Banning Male Circumcision in Cologne, Germany


An upcoming mosque in Cologne. Photo: The Guardian, UK

We have written about female circumcision and the difference between circumcision and female genital mutilation here on Inside Islam, but male circumcision, a common practice in Muslim communities, has not been discussed. Many other groups also circumcise male children for both religious and non-religious reasons. The World Health Organization estimates that about a third of men internationally are circumcised. Around 70% of them are Muslims.

But on Tuesday, a German court in Cologne condemned the practice of circumcising boys, saying that it violates a “fundamental right to bodily integrity.” Continue reading

Jesus Tells Episcopal Priest to Embrace Islam

Ann Holmes Redding. Photo: Spirituality of Qur'an

It sounds ridiculous to many and even Dr. Ann Holmes Redding herself laughs when recalling the moment. In 2006, Redding, an Episcopal Priest, invited a Muslim leader to present a class at the church in Seattle, Washington, where she directed the education programs. There she learned an Islamic zikr, or meditation technique. That experience was an opening to the call.

It came with such clarity and such power, that I could understand it as nothing else but an invitation from God.

Redding recently spoke with me about her unlikely spiritual journey, and the blessings and challenges that she’s been presented with as a result of her dual Christian and Muslim identity and practices.

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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

Will Muslim athletes be at a disadvantage during the Olympics?

Noor al-Malki, a Qatari sprinter. Photo: Associated Press

Muslim athletes attending the London Olympics this summer will face a unique set of challenges, as the dates of the world’s largest sporting event overlap Ramadan almost exactly. The Games run from July 27 through August 12, while Ramadan commences on July 20 and ends a lunar month later. So Muslims athletes will be affected both in the run up to the Games and during the entirety of the event.

In an environment as mentally and physically taxing as the Olympics, Muslim athletes will have a difficult choice to make—either compete at the top of their form or observe Ramadan and abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset. Continue reading

Ramadan, Beyond the Fast

Sultan Ahmed (the Blue Mosque), Istanbul. Photo: Colin Christopher

In a few months, Eid al-Fitr will mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The most significant Islamic religious observance of the year, Ramadan is primarily known for its requirement that practicing Muslims in good health and of appropriate age abstain from food, drink, and sexual activity from dawn til sunset. Those that are able and interested recite Qur’anic verses during the evening hours, as it is recommended for Muslims to read all 114 verses, or suras, over the duration of the lunar month. But there’s much more to Ramadan than this.

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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

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 Amman Message: Uniting Muslims

A Sunni man and Shi'a man pray side by side. Photo: Spencer Haskins

A few months ago, I wrote about the Muslim 500, an annual review of the most influential Muslims around the world. The Royal Islamic Strategic Centre (RISC) has also published a number of other periodicals that can be downloaded for free. Although its textual resources serve as useful guides on Islam for novices and scholars alike, the RISC’s most important contribution goes back to its foundation in Amman, Jordan, based on a few key principles known as the Three Points of the Amman Message. Among other goals, RISC is using its resources and political clout to promote a “moderate” brand of Islam around the world.

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Important Events: The Conquest of Mecca

Kaba in Mecca (Source: photography.nationalgeographic.com)

The early history of Islam is important for Muslims even to the present day. The Prophet Muhammad’s life, especially, is considered to be an example for all believers. There are numerous events that exemplify the Prophet Muhammad’s struggles and his character. These events have played a defining role in the formation of the faith and the Muslim community. In earlier posts, I have written about several significant events that include: the Night of Power, the hijra (emigration from Mecca to Medina), the Battle of Badr, and the Farewell Sermon. In this post, the focus will be on the conquest of Mecca, when the Muslims took control of the city after being away from it for 8 years. Continue reading

Important Events: The Battle of Badr

Site of Badr (Source:www.khashram.net)

There are many events in the history of Islam that define it and lay its foundation. In previous posts, I have written about two events that Muslims view as significant to Islamic history: the initial revelations of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad and the hijra or emigration of the Muslims from Mecca to Medina. The first revelations established the new faith and the emigration established a new community. The focus of this post is the Battle of Badr, the first major battle between the Muslims and Quraysh, the most powerful tribe in Mecca. Continue reading