Important Sites: Al-Azhar

Cairo, in Egypt, houses one of the oldest mosques and universities. Al-Azhar Mosque and University is now the foremost Sunni institution in the world. Al-Azhar mosque was the first in Cairo, the capitol of the Fatimid Caliphate. The university followed and became the second oldest continuously running academic institution after Al-Qarawiyyin. Al-Azhar, part of a series on important sites in Islam, is the focus of this post. Continue reading

Inside Islam Radio Show: Tariq Ramadan on the Muslim Brotherhood

Saad al-Katatni, member of the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, and newly elected head of the Egyptian Parliament Photo: AP

Today at 3 PM CST (GMT+4), Jean will speak with Tariq Ramadan about the Muslim Brotherhood, and what its near control of the Egyptian Parliament means for Egyptian society. Ramadan, a Swiss academic, poet, and writer, holds a unique position, as he is the grandson of the founder of the Brotherhood, and also a harsh critic of many Islamic interpretations and notionally Islamic governments.

As tens of thousands gather in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to commemorate the Egyptian revolution of 2011 and celebrate the fall of the Mubarak regime, listen in to hear Ramadan’s thoughts on  the influence of the Brotherhood, and the future of Egypt.

How to Listen and Participate

 

Tariq Ramadan on The Muslim Brotherhood

Tariq Ramadan Photo: britishmuseum.org

Next Wednesday, January 25, Jean will speak with Oxford University Professor Tariq Ramadan about the Muslim Brotherhood. Ramadan, the grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood’s founder and a leading scholar of political science and Islam, will speak with Jean about the Muslim Brotherhood’s platform and its likely influence on Egypt in the coming years.

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Fear of the Caliphate

In the past year, the Middle East has undergone massive changes that include the removal of the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt and protests that have rocked Libya, Syria, and Yemen. The world watched as the power of decades-long dictators was challenged. While the future is still unknown for these countries, it is clear that the fear of Islam, Islamic law, and an Islamically run government is widespread. As these leaders fell, fear of emerging Islamist governments and a new caliphate, an Islamic government led by a caliph, was repeatedly brought into the discussions. Terms like caliphate, sharia, jizya, and dhimmi continue to be utilized in many contexts to reflect this uneasiness with Islamic rule. 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.

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The Voices of Arab Youth

Egyptian Protesters Photo: Felipe Trueba/EPA

From the Tunisian fruit vendor’s desperate last act to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Arab youth–both Muslim and Christian–have demonstrated their intolerance for the status quo. A new level of youth engagement in Arab politics has taken shape, and the images of these massive demonstrations have disproved a consistent, and largely western fear of Islamic extremism overtaking most young Muslim minds in the Middle East.

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Non-Violent Resistance In Islam

Protests in Libya

Tomorrow, March 2nd, on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders, Jean will talk about non-violent resistance in the Middle East. The recent protests that began in Tunisia and Egypt and led to the ousting of both leaders have now spread to Yemen and Libya. What has caught the attention of the world is how peaceful, for the most part, these protests have been. When there has been violence, it has come from the government forces.

Discussions of these protests have characterized Islam–as embodied in groups like the Muslim Brotherhood— as something negative and more importantly violent, almost completely ignoring Islam’s tradition of non-violent resistance. This tradition stems from historical events,  discussions about warfare, and Qur’anic verses that demonstrate the need for peaceful engagement. Continue reading

Soundtrack of the Revolution

The forces behind the Tunisian and Egyptian revolts were widespread, coming from the religious and secular spheres, the intellectuals, and the working, middle, and upper classes. Millions called for justice and regime change and were victorious in achieving significant steps toward more democratic societies.

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Muslim-American Student Activism

Kylie Christianson, a Muslim-American student at the University of Wisconsin, protests in Madison, WI

Over 15,000 protesters marched on the Capitol in Madison,Wisconsin today, demanding state legislators to vote down recently proposed legislation termed radical by citizens and leaders of all political leanings. Among thousands of students and public and private employees were Muslim-Americans calling for lawmakers to vote against the bill.

Yesterday, among over 13,000 protesters congregating to protest the same legislation, Rashid Dar, President of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offered his own opinion of the situation. “I hesitate to tell people how to pick their politics, but in choosing our sides we would do well to consider who is working to bring the most overall benefit to society at large, and who is working to benefit a select, but influential, elite.”

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Christian and Muslim Solidarity in Egypt

Egyptian Christians protecting Muslims as they pray

Everyone has been watching Egypt since January 25th when the first protests began calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down after almost 30 years in power. Many have discussed the political future of Egypt should Mubarak leave before the September elections. However, an aspect of the story that has been under-reported is the solidarity between Christians and Muslims in these protests.

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