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 Prophet as Statesman

One of the biggest challenges for Muslims around the world is the plethora of negative stereotypes that have come to be associated with Islam, many with a very long history. Among the most pervasive of these are related to the Prophet Muhammad, who is still not understood by many non-Muslims. Throughout my life, I have been repeatedly asked about the Prophet’s life and specifically his role as prophet, statesman, and in some situations military leader. Many find it disconcerting that he led his followers into battle. They often compare him to Jesus to show that he was not peaceful. However, the Prophet did not engage in indiscriminate warfare, but instead opted for diplomatic options whenever possible. Being a statesman does not take away from his prophethood; rather, his conduct as a statesman and military leader serves as an example of leadership. Continue reading

What Can a Muslim Reality Show Do in a Post-9/11 America?

Suheila and Bilal--Two American Muslims featured on "All American Muslim"

This coming November, a new Muslim reality show will broadcast on TLC. All American Muslim will follow the lives of 5 families in Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest Muslim population in the United States. The show aims to give a glimpse of the Muslim American population and the challenges that they face, inside and outside of their community. Moreover, according to Amy Winter, TLC’s general manager, one of the goals of the program is to show the diversity of the Muslim community, which is not only true of the community in Dearborn but of the worldwide Muslim community.

This show comes at a time where the situation for Muslim Americans has been mixed. Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, there is an increased awareness of this community and Islam more generally but on the other hand it has become much more acceptable to express negative sentiments about Muslims and Islam. A show like this can further the positive interest that has emerged post 9/11 and counteract the negative response.

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Burning the Qur’an

As the month of Ramadan comes to an end, many Muslims and non-Muslims alike are concerned about the plans of a Florida church to burn copies of the Qur’an on the 9 year anniversary of 9/11. Ramadan is more than just a month of fasting; it is a month that celebrates the Qur’an and for it to close with such an affront to the faith is troubling.

Despite numerous calls by officials and condemnations of the Qur’an burning rally, Dove World Outreach Center‘s pastor Terry Jones has said that the church will carry out the public burning. General David Petraeus has said that the Qur’an burning could endanger American troops; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the burning is a “disrespectful and disgraceful act“; and even the Vatican has said that this is an “outrageous and grave gesture.” Continue reading

Support for Cordoba House from the Mayor to the President

President Obama speaking about Cordoba House

On August 3rd, 2010, a New York City Landmark Preservation Commission vote cleared the way for construction of a much-debated Islamic center. The center will be called Cordoba House, after the city in Andalusia where Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived together in tolerance and respect. I wrote about Cordoba last December, when the plans to build this cultural center emerged. Cordoba House will include a mosque, but it will much more than that–it will be like a YMCA  and open to the community. Although it is frequently referred to in the mainstream media as the “Ground Zero Mosque,” it is not primarily a mosque, nor is it located at Ground Zero. Opposition to the project has received a lot of attention recently, but it should be noted that there is also a good deal of broad-based support for Cordoba House as well.

Among the arguments for the cultural center is the right to build a place of worship and the need to encourage moderate Muslims who are trying to counter the voices of the extremists. These were points that Mayor Michael Bloomberg reiterated in his speech in support of building the center. Mayor Bloomberg emphasized the right of Muslims, as well as other religious groups, to build places of worship and rejected the idea that the government should strip them of this right because some do not like their faith. One of his most important points was that Muslims are part of America, just like other immigrants. Continue reading

My Name is Khan

This past week the film My Name is Khan was released to audiences worldwide and has broken global box office records. The Bollywood film examines a topic that the American media shies away from:  the struggles of Muslim Americans after the September 11th attacks.

This highly anticipated film tells the story of Rizwan Khan, a Muslim with Asperger’s syndrome, who moves to San Francisco to live with his brother. There he meets and marries Mandira. Rizwan, Mandira, and her son Sameer live together and both Mandira and Sameer take on the last name Khan. However, after the attacks of 9/11, they face prejudice. Mandira blames their struggles on the new last name “Khan.” In order to stay in Mandira’s life, she tells him he must tell Americans and the President that his name is Khan and that he is not a terrorist. This mission leads him on a journey across the United States, in which he is detained, imprisoned, and tortured because he  is seen as a terrorist suspect, even when he tries to inform the FBI about Faisal Rahman, who espouses violent rhetoric at the local mosque.

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What Do People Ask about Islam?

Two weeks ago, I went to a sociology class to give a presentation on Islam. I have gone to this same class for at least the last four years. The experience is always interesting and challenging. Over the years, I have found that many of the questions remain the same, but become more nuanced, although sometimes the questions are new and force me to stop and think. In this post, I wanted to talk about the experience and the questions that students often ask about Islam. Continue reading

“Flying While Muslim”

flying-while-muslim2There have been many times that I have gone on trips and was “Flying While Muslim.” What does that mean? Well, this expression has come to describe the reality of travel for all Muslims, non-Muslim Arabs, and anyone who looks like they could be from the Middle East or any other region of the world perceived as predominantly Muslim. After 9/11, Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians became the target of racial and religious profiling that has resulted in longer waits in security and in some cases being removed from flights. Continue reading

A Listener Responds to ‘Women and Sharia’

Dave Wood, a listener of the Inside Islam radio series on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders, writes:

I wish I was writing with typical accolades but unfortunately I’m sending a note about my disappointment in your Inside Islam series. I think it not only lacks objective reporting but, even worse, it whitewashes Islam leaving your listener less prepared to identify radical Islam’s threat to our freedom and culture. Perhaps most important, your program does not challenge Muslims to face the profound human rights issues their religion faces.

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