The state of Kentucky has a strong tradition of political conservatism and also, unfortunately, a long history of bigotry. Although this means that it has become one of the more hostile places for Muslims in the US, this Islamophobic atmosphere hasn’t stopped Iranian-born artist Haydar Hatemi from creating art in his Lexington basement studio that builds bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Make sure to tune in today at 3pm CST (GMT+6) for the latest Inside Islam Radio Show, 2011 Hours Against Hate. Jean will speak with Farah Pandith, US Special Representative to Muslim Communities, and Hannah Rosenthal, US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, to learn about how their partnership at the US Department of State has sparked a global movement to build intercultural and interfaith connections through service.
For more information related to the show, check out our past pieces on interfaith service, Muslims and Jews in America, and a recent radio show with Interfaith Youth Core founder, Eboo Patel.
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In a world where religion is part of so many conflicts, some have found ways to bring people together and force them to address their stereotypes. Comedy is one way to achieve this goal. Laughing together can create a sense of understanding across differences. While some may people may not associate the two terms “Muslim” and “comedian” (or even “religion” and “comedy”), there have been many Muslims like Azhar Usman, Mo Amer, Preacher Moss, Maysoon Ziad, Tissa Hami, who have used comedy as a way to break stereotypes and to make the audience appreciate their differences.
This Thursday, March 24th, Jean will talk with Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, the author of Green Deen: What Islam Teaches about Protecting the Planet. The show will explore how Islam instructs followers to be environmentally conscious and how this consciousness can be the foundation for interfaith environmental work.
Abdul-Matin’s central premise is that the world is a mosque, a house of God, and thus sacred. Therefore, we have a responsibility not only to take care of the environment but to protect it. He maintains there are Islamic teachings that instruct Muslims to live what he refers to as “Green Deen” (deen means religion in Arabic), which he maintains “is about transforming our public, private, and civic sectors. It’s about bridging the innovation gap and moving all the world’s fundamental human connection to the environment.”
On October 27th, Dr. Aisha Al-Mannai, the Dean of the College of Sharia at Qatar University gave a lecture titled “Islam’s View of Other Religions” on the UW-Madison campus. Dr. Al-Mannai is the first female Dean of Sharia in the Arab world and a founding member of Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue.
An Islamic center near Ground Zero? That’s what Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is hoping for. Al Farah Mosque on West Broadway has already bought the building at 45 Park Place that used to be the Burlington Coat Factory. The significance of this building goes beyond the fact that it is close to Ground Zero: on September 11th, a piece of one of the two planes went through the roof of the store. The staff were in the basement.
For years the owner of the building was unable to sell it. But this past July, the Cordoba Initiative, an interfaith group founded by Imam Feisal, was one of the investors that finally bought the building. Imam Feisal’s vision for the space is to build a cultural center that would build bridges between the Muslim community and other faith communities. For Imam Feisal, the proximity of the building to ground zero and the fact that a piece of the wreckage fell in that space is a central reason why this building was choosen. A place of prayer and interfaith dialogue, Imam Feisal asserts, will send a different message than that of the extremists.
When choosing the right college to attend, not many people think of an Islamic college. That’s about to change. Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir, two prominent Muslim scholars, are planning to create the first accredited Islamic college in the United States, to be called Zaytuna College. The goal of the college is to teach Arabic and Islamic studies in the context of American culture. The founders argue that the Muslim American community is in need of scholars who not only are familiar with American culture, but actually come out of it and thus will be much more in tune with the needs of the community. Continue reading
The question of marriage outside of one’s faith is not specific to any one religion. Each religion, I am sure, encourages adherents to marry within the faith. Yet while this is true across faiths, and even cultures, Islam is often singled out in a negative light. It seems that there are many who are willing to listen to critiques of Islam that show it to be backwards, oppressive, and intolerant without considering the viewpoints of the adherents and without considering its history and diversity. As a case in point, I want to focus on the issue of marriage in Islam, specifically on Asra Nomani’s article “My Big Fat Muslim Wedding” in Marie Claire, G. Willow Wilson’s response, and the recent Doha Debate on whether a Muslim woman should be allowed to marry anyone she chooses, in which Nomani appeared. Continue reading