The Middle Path

Moderate community in Arabic

As we have pointed out before, Islam is often perceived as a religion of extremists and Muslims are almost as a matter of course portrayed as rigid and fixed in their ways. There are Muslims, certainly, who have a more extreme understanding of the faith and believe that it must be practiced in a particular way; however, the vast majority of Muslims follow the principle of moderation in everything, including their faith. Continue reading

Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday

This past Saturday, February 4th, Muslims around the world celebrated the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday or as it’s known in Arabic, Mawlid al-Nabi. While the exact day is not known with certainty, the Prophet’s birthday is usually celebrated on the 12th day of Rabi Al-Awwal, the third month of the Islamic calendar. Even though this day is a holiday in many Muslim majority countries, Muslims do not agree on whether this day should be celebrated at all. Continue reading

Islam and the Reality of Women’s Power

Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser Al Missned speaking at the U.N. Photo: Maher Attar/HHOPL

The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC) in Amman, Jordan, recently released the third edition of The Muslim 500, an annual publication highlighting the movers and shakers of the Muslim world. From Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan to Sufi scholar Seyyed Hussein Nasr, the list compiles a wide range of personalities from all corners of the globe. Unsurprisingly, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud topped the list, with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an placing third and Iranian Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei taking fifth.

As usually happens when anyone tries to quantify popularity or prestige, there was disagreement on the blogosphere over the rankings, compounded by the fact that  Muslim 500 does not clearly define its exact criteria. But my primary concern with the list is that only 13% of those featured are women, with a mere three making the top 50 most influential.

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Important Figures: Khadijah bint Khuwaylid

Khadijah in Arabic

A very common name for girls among Muslims is Khadijah. Many choose this name to commemorate the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad. Even though Khadijah only lived to see the early stages of a Muslim community, she was considered a central figure in the history of Islam. Khadijah is the focus of this post, the fifth in a series on significant figures in Islam. Continue reading

Important Figures: Umar ibn al-Khattab

Umar ibn al-Khattab in Arabic

Umar is probably one of the most common Muslim names. Many choose this name because it commemorates an important figure in Islamic history. The focus of this post, the second in a series on central figures in Islam, is Umar ibn al-Khattab. Umar went from being one of the strongest opponents of Islam to one of its staunchest believers.

There is not much information about Umar’s early life. He was born to an average family and as a youth tended to his father’s camels. As a young man, Umar learned martial arts, horseback riding, and wrestling. He was also described as being tall and physically strong, and it’s for this reason that many people feared him. Continue reading

Important Figures: Abu Bakr

Abu Bakr in Arabic

One of the most well-known figures of Islam is Abu Bakr. Many Muslims up to the current day will name their children after this man, who was a very close companion of the Prophet Muhammad and after his death became the first caliph, according to Sunnis. Abu Bakr was also the father of Ayesha, one of the Prophet’s wives. My focus in this post, the first in a series on important figures in Islam, will be the life of this man who has influenced Islamic tradition immensely. Continue reading

A Muslim Christmas?

Christmas time at the Wafi Mall in Dubai

December 25th was an an average day for the majority of the world’s Muslims, but for some, it signified Christmas along with its variety of associated meanings. Muslim beliefs related to Christmas and its celebration vary considerably–from a fun-loving holiday, to a dangerous heretical practice. The majority of the world’s Muslims don’t give the 25th of December much thought at all, but with increasing numbers of Muslims living in the predominately Christian West and Christians living in the predominately Muslim Middle East, it’s difficult not to have some kind of opinion or interpretation of Christmas.

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Radio Show: Jesus in Islam

Photo: zazzle.com

Our latest Inside Islam Radio Show will air live today at 3 PM (GM+6), as Jean will speak with Professor Suleiman Mourad and Todd Lawson about the commonalities and differences of Jesus in Islam and Christianity.

In the Qur’an, Jesus is mentioned 25 times, and more often by name than the Prophet Muhammad. For Muslims, Jesus is usually referred to as the Prophet Jesus, or Musa Isa in Arabic. In total, Islam says there are 124,000 prophets, but the Qur’an highlights Jesus as one of the most important. Although Christianity and Islam both revere Jesus of Nazareth and largely agree upon the foundational principles that he spoke of and practiced, the two faith traditions differ greatly in their opinions of who he was.

Most Christians believe Jesus to be the Son of God or God Himself in human form, while Muslims view him as a prophet and believe the worship of him as anything more to be heretical. In Islam, Jesus is considered to be a Muslim, or one who submits to the will of God. Conversely, most Christians do not recognize the Prophet Muhammad as religiously significant so the idea of a Muslim version of Jesus is usually ignored. However, because of the tensions between the two faiths, and the centrality of Jesus in both, when the topic does come up, it can invoke strong emotional reactions.

We’ve decided to explore the issue head-on, and hope that you get a chance to tune in and share your thoughts.

How to Listen and Participate

  • Leave a post below and the Inside Islam radio team will consider airing your comments and question during the broadcast.
  • Listen live on radio stations in Wisconsin Public Radio listening areas. The show will be broadcast live at 3 p.m. and re-broadcast at 9 p.m. CT.
  • Listen to a live webstream of the show on the Ideas Network.
  • Call 1-877-GLOBE-07 to leave a voice mail for Here on Earth: Radio without Borders anytime.
  • Leave a comment on this page, or send us an email with your thoughts.

Muslims More Religious Than Others?

Proclamation of faith in Arabic

According to CNN and a survey by Ipos-Mori, Muslims overall tend to be more committed to their faith  than any other religious group and consider Islam to be a more significant part of their daily lives. The survey was carried out in 24 countries, of which three (Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Turkey) have Muslim majorities.

According to the CNN piece, one reason for this stronger commitment stems from the current global political atmosphere. Increasingly, Muslims are defining themselves against a negative perception of the West. Thus, they view Islam as the only viable path towards salvation. Moreover, the article maintains that this sentiment has increased in a post-9/11 world.

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Mixing in Mosques: An Influence of Neighborhood Norms

Tamil Muslim Children Photo: Dennis McGilvray

A few days prior to my departure from India in August, I ventured south from Hyderabad to the old French colony of Puducherry (Pondicherry), situated on the Bay of Bengal. I had a few minutes before my overnight bus journey back to Hyderabad and I decided to take a quick tour around the neighborhood to get a flavor of the area. Upon turning the corner of an old Hindu temple and noticing posters of Hindu gods transitioning to signs in Urdu and other objects marking the Muslim section of the neighborhood, I came across a typical 3-story white and green mosque.

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