Earlier this month, in a post about the “East Meets West Series” on To The Best of Our Knowledge, you may have heard an interview with rapper Lupe Fiasco in the segment “Encountering Islam.” The interview begins by introducing his album title “Food and Liquor” and pointing out that it relates to the concept of halal, or what is permissible in Islam. He makes it clear, however, that his intention is not to be “the poster boy” of Islam, but to express through music how being Muslim added depth and meaning to his life. For him, the music was first influenced by his own memories of growing up in a Muslim family. Later, as an adult, the music was further influenced by hip-hop culture.
Milwaukee-born writer Ayad Akhtar’s debut novel, American Dervish, is a coming-of-age tale with a twist. As he tells the story of Pakistani-American teenager, Hayat Shah, Akhtar presents a complex and deeply personal portrayal of what it means to grow up Muslim in America.
Even though 98% of its population practices Islam, the Western African country of Niger is a secular state, protected by laws mostly inherited from the French. In recent years, the government has adopted some woman-friendly policies but rejected a few as well. What’s behind those rejections? What role does Islam play in the politics of women’s rights laws? Alice Kang, a PhD candidate in political science at UW-Madison with focus on African Studies, spent a year in Niger to look for answers. She sat down with Inside Islam to share her findings. Continue reading