Is Islam compatible with [blank]?

Here’s a quick exercise: go to Google and start typing the following: “Is Islam compatible with.” What are some of the predictions Google gives you for the end of that sentence? I get: Is Islam compatible with democracy? Is Islam compatible with modernity? Is Islam compatible with secular pluralistic societies? Is Islam compatible with evolution?

Google search predictions for the phrase "Is Islam compatible with..."

In comparison, when I type, “Is Christianity compatible with,” I get evolution, capitalism, yoga, and free masonry. Hinduism gets only one prediction: Christianity. Buddhism gets science, Christianity, atheism, and Judaism. Incidentally, there are no predictions for “Is Judaism compatible with.”

When Google predicts the end of your search, they’re looking for results based on what others before have searched for frequently. So although the exercise is admittedly trite, the message could not be clearer. People (or at least people who use Google) question Islam’s compatibility with fundamental political ideologies (democracy, modernity, secularism) much more regularly than they do other religions. Continue reading

Islam and the New Modes of Participation

Professor John O. Voll. Photo: Georgetown University

This past weekend academics and journalists from around the world gathered at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the Inside Islam-cosponsored conference Islam and Democracy. The changing political landscape of the Middle East was a central focus of the event in general and was the main topic of a keynote by John O. Voll, Professor of Islamic history and Associate Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. In tune with perspectives expressed on Inside Islam by Reza Aslan, Marc Lynch, and Tariq Ramadan, Voll stressed that the desires of the people have largely stayed the same—peace, justice, economic stability—but that the ideologies and particular models of making these demands, have shifted. Continue reading

The Taliban in Libya?

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain stumbles on questions related to Libya in a recent interview.

Last week, Republican presidential contender Herman Cain badly stumbled at an editorial meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, displaying his limited knowledge of the current situation in Libya. His campaign blamed the gaffe on 4 hours of sleep and an ambiguous question from reporters. A few days later, Cain asked the media in a rhetorical manner, “Do I agree with saying that Gadhafi should go, do I agree that they now have a country where you’ve got Taliban and Al Qaeda that’s going to be a part of the government?” For the record, the Taliban has never been associated with Gadhafi or Libya.

Continue reading

New Media = New Dynamics?

Amir Ahmad Nasr, aka Drima from The Sudanese Thinker blog, recently created a project exploring new media—a source of information that altered his life many times. From fundamentalism to heartbreak and disillusionment, and finally to his current spiritual practice of Sufism, Nasr says he was greatly influenced by the internet and the different kinds of religious resources that he read throughout his Islamic spiritual development.

His new project, The Future of Islam in the Age of New Media, highlights the perspectives of 60 academics, scholars, and bloggers on how access to new media has shaped Islam and Muslims around the world. While most contributors see the internet as a “democratizing force,” some warn of the dangers that arise with equal access and speak about the potential hazards of providing a platform for anyone and everyone to offer their voice. Continue reading

Muslim Hipsters

Environmental Activist Ibrahim Abdul-Matin

On the next Inside Islam Radio Show, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin will discuss his environmental jihad and the Islamic principles that influence his eco-conscious activism. Abdul-Matin will also speak at a public event held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Abdul-Matin, a New York City native and Brooklynite, in many ways represents a new wave of Muslim-Americans born and raised in the United States. Stylish, artistically inclined, and socially conscious, the 34-year-old Abdul-Matin represents a growing number of hip and influential Muslims. These Muslim “hipsters,” prominent in artistic, academic, and social justice movements, often come from urban middle- to upper-class backgrounds and have a strong interest in a particular subcategory of global pop culture. Continue reading

Reza Aslan: Losing the ‘war on terror’

Reza Aslan

Dr. Reza Aslan joins us today on Inside Islam.

Today’s guest post is from Daily Beast blogger and author of How to Win A Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the War on Terror Reza Aslan. If you’d like to learn more about his new book, see the interview posted today by Editor-and-Chief of  altmuslim Shahed Amanullah. Later this month, Dr. Aslan will return as a guest on Inside Islam’s radio series to be interviewed by host Jean Feraca. Feel free to comment at the end of today’s guest post, or send us an email with your thoughts for Reza before the radio broadcast on May 13 (3 pm CT). Jean may read your comments on the air.

Dr. Aslan’s earlier appearances on Inside Islam are available through the links below, followed by his guest post.

Continue reading

Islam and Feminism in a Global World

As discussed in my post yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI brought the tensions between Muslims and Catholics into the open and discussed them with religious leaders at a conference this month. The conference was held to address the open letter from Muslim leaders who were offended by a speech the Pope made in 2006. They demanded a dialogue to dispel the stereotype that Islam is inherently irrational and Muslims are prone to violence.

Continue reading

What’s wrong with being Muslim in America?

kareem1.jpgWhile gearing up for this Wednesday’s Inside Islam program: Young Muslims and New Media, I found myself thinking a lot about the question Colin Powell posed to Tom Brokaw on last Sunday’s Meet the Press. He said he was troubled by some members of the Republican Party who were helping to spread the rumor that Barack Obama is a Muslim. Powell said:

Well, he’s not a Muslim. He’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the right answer is, Well, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in America? …Is there something wrong with some seven year old Muslim-American kid believing that he could be president?

I missed Powell’s live endorsement over the weekend since I was out of town at a retreat center. There was another woman staying at the center who had her grandson in tow – a six-year-old just a few days short of turning seven. She was white; he was black; they had the same profile. He was an extraordinarily well-behaved little boy with flashing eyes and a smile to match who managed to sit through some long sessions without wiggling. I surprised myself by saying to him, “You know, Bradley, you might grow up to be president someday.” Would I have had the same thought about a little Arab-American boy?

What do you think? Do we have to wait another generation before Muslim Americans will be considered “real Americans – like you and me?” What will it take, do you think? We’d love to have your comments before Wednesday’s program with Reza Aslan and other media analysts at 3:00pm CT so we can read them on the air.

Continue reading

Live interview with Reza Aslan on 29 October 2008

Media commentator, writer and scholar of religion Reza Aslan will join host of Here on Earth: Radio without Borders Jean Feraca for Inside Islam’s second radio show. Discussion about young Muslims and new media opens online before the show airs on October 29, 2008. We want your input. Ask Reza Aslan a question or suggest a topic on this post. Click here to comment. Bio, interview, and recent work available after the break.

Young Muslims and New Media

Comedy Centralreza_small.jpg Baba Ali Videoblogger
Photo Credits. Hooman Majd (Source); Reza Aslan (Source); New York Times (Source)

Continue reading