Celebration or Time to Reflect?

Reststop on N-35 Highway near Abbottabad, Pakistan Photo: Colin Christopher

Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own.

Last night, President Obama exemplified the dignity, honor, and humility of most public servants around the world when he placed the death of Osama bin Laden into context. While thousands of people shamelessly celebrated outside the White House, some singing “We Are the Champions,” President Obama delivered a speech of humility and perspective.

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Islamic Society of North America Conference

This past July 4th weekend, in the miacpc11dst of all the Independence Day celebrations, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) held its 46th annual convention in the U.S. capital. The four-day conference with the theme “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” attracted an estimated 40,000 Muslims from the U.S., Canada, and other countries. ISNA’s annual conference, considered to be the largest gathering of Muslim Americans, typically takes place on Labor Day weekend; however, with the start of Ramadan in August this year, the conference was moved to an earlier date.

Anyone attending ISNA knows that it is four days of non-stop activity with lectures, interactive sessions, an art exhibit, a film festival, an entertainment event which brings together all different talents of the Muslim communities, and of course the bazaar where you can find anything from books about all aspects of Islam to information on matrimonial sites. Each year’s conference also has special events and this year’s conference featured several, including the Interfaith Unity Reception with the theme “Common Word between Us and You” which aimed to make connections between the three Abrahamic faiths and included a panel discussion between representatives of each faith, in the spirit of President Obama’s June 4th speech in Cairo and Valerie Jarett’s (Senior Advisor and Assistant to President Obama’s Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs) keynote address on the contributions of Muslim Americans. Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, even made an appearance at the conference. Continue reading

What Does the Qur’an Really Say?

In President Obama’s speech in Cairo, we heard something perhaps unprecedented for an American president: references to the Qur’an—positive references! Quoting verses from the Qur’an was significant because it brought the holy text into the discussion in a way that reflects its real spirit–especially for the over 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide.

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President Obama in Cairo

In what has been widely billed as a major step in his promised effort to reach out to the Muslim community worldwide, President Barack Obama gave a speech entitled “New Beginnings” at Cairo University last week. The president did not, however, directly address conflicts between the West and the Muslim world. Instead, he tried to set a new tone in favor of global dialogue and to that end he was successful.

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