Islamic Galleries at The Met

The 18th Century Damascus Room Displayed at the Met's New Islamic Galleries

New Yorkers no longer have to travel to Linxia or Basra to catch a glimpse of Islamic artistic creativity. Last week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (“The Met”) completed an eight-year renovation of their Islamic galleries, now housing over 1,200 works spanning more than 1,400 years. The Met even commissioned a Moroccan family with generations of artisan experience to coordinate and create a traditional Moroccan courtyard inside the museum itself.

Although most of the pieces have been in the permanent collection for years, the Met has taken some off of its dusty storage shelves and provided others with a more prominent display. Works now on display include a mihrab (prayer niche indicating the direction of Mecca) from Isfahan, an 18th-century Syrian reception room, and an Uzbek painting depicting the Prophet Muhammad’s Laylat al Miraj, or trip to heaven. Artists, historians, and many others have found a common appreciation for the stunning visuals offered to visitors, but I was also struck by the name given to the galleries.

Continue reading

Elif Shafak: Most-Read Female Author in Turkey

On Thursday, Jean Feraca will talk with Elif Shafak, an acclaimed Turkish writer. Shafak, who writes in English and Turkish, is the author of ten books, eight of which are novels.  Her novels have been translated into more than 30 languages. In her works, Shafak explores a number of issues. She writes about the East and West, motherhood,  feminism, tradition, rationalism, Sufism, and cultural ghettos.  Morever, she addresses the different aspects of her identity that include being a woman, a Muslim, a Turk, an author, and a mother. For Shafak, literature, specifically, can play in important role in breaking through cultural walls to help us recognize and embrace our differences.

Continue reading

The Sound and Feeling of the Koran

Today, we introduce a new element of Inside Islam — digital stories. These short pieces will complement our radio series and blog to help exemplify and demonstrate the diversity of the Muslim World. This first digital story was produced by Fatima Sartbaeva and the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. You can listen to the story — “The Sound and Feeling of the Koran” — by clicking on the player following the introductory comments and acknowledgments.

Continue reading

President Obama in Turkey

Giancarlo Casale, a reader of Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates writes:

A day after his departure, Turks are still basking in the afterglow of President Barack Obama’s first visit to their country. His arrival on Sunday night followed weeks of anxious speculation about the reasons for his visit, concerns that he would be unprepared to navigate bewildering minefield of Turkish politics, and dark rumors that he intended to publicly embarrass the country by raising delicate issues that continue to weigh on its collective conscience. But now all of this is a distant memory. “Hussein” has taken the country by storm.

Continue reading

Stories of Love and Dating in the Muslim World Today on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders

Photo by Tina Manley

Photo by Tina Manley

Today Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders will air the next program in our Inside Islam Radio Series “Love and Dating in the Muslim World: True Stories of Falling in Love.” The show airs live at 3:00 pm CST today and is re-broadcast at 9:00 pm. To find out how to listen, click here to visit the radio show page for this program. Also on the page, you will find bios for our guests and full audio for the pre-recorded interviews with local Muslims on their stories of love, dating, and marriage.

The topics range from dating in Turkey, hiding relationships from parents, eight-year courtships, the engagement contract, an impromptu proposal in a roadside ditch, modernizing traditions and working wives who are separated from their husbands in school, and even the story of a Catholic convert marrying a Somali woman. All of these are available for you to listen here on Inside Islam: Dialogue and Debates. What is your marriage or dating story and will you share it with us? Please leave a comment below or send us an email with your response.

A Listener Responds to ‘Women and Sharia’

Dave Wood, a listener of the Inside Islam radio series on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders, writes:

I wish I was writing with typical accolades but unfortunately I’m sending a note about my disappointment in your Inside Islam series. I think it not only lacks objective reporting but, even worse, it whitewashes Islam leaving your listener less prepared to identify radical Islam’s threat to our freedom and culture. Perhaps most important, your program does not challenge Muslims to face the profound human rights issues their religion faces.

Continue reading

Islamophonic Podcast

Host of the award-winning podcast Islamophonic and journalist for the Guardian UK Riazat Butt takes a critical and witty look at the Muslim community beginning at home in her native Great Britain. Each month, the program deals with complex cultural and political issues in the news by tackling topics like marriage, extremism, secular democracy, and others.

Riazat refrains from making overarching conclusions about Islam without buffering them with humor. Also, the programs rarely deal with spiritual matters. Instead, Islamophonic tackles the difficult task of reporting the individual stories of living in Muslim world.

Continue reading

Turkish Soap Opera Sparks Controversy and Conversation

Borkranet.jpg

Gümü? Stars: Songül Öden and K?vanç Tatl?tu? (Source)

The Turkish soap opera Gümü?, or Noor in English, is a pop culture phenomenon across the Arab world. Actress Songül Öden plays Noor, a young Muslim woman and fashion entrepreneur. The romantic relationship she has with Muhannad, her husband on the show, has won over a broad following in Arab countries and incited media buzz around the world. The fact that the program originally flopped in Turkey, a secular nation-state, but is immensely popular in religiously conservative countries like Saudi Arabia raises fascinating questions about the relationship between Islam and Muslim culture.

Continue reading