Reinforcing Gender Equity in Islamic Law

School girls, Deh Sabz, Afghanistan Photo: Natasha Latiff

Almost a decade after U.S. forces entered Tora Bora, one has to wonder what has come of Afghanistan. Having never been to Afghanistan myself, I can’t comment on the day-to-day reality of the country’s 29 million + people. It is safe to say, however, that the quality of life has not remarkably improved for most, and outside observers wonder what can be done.

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Soundtrack of the Revolution

The forces behind the Tunisian and Egyptian revolts were widespread, coming from the religious and secular spheres, the intellectuals, and the working, middle, and upper classes. Millions called for justice and regime change and were victorious in achieving significant steps toward more democratic societies.

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Are Islam and Democracy Compatible?

Egyptian Protests

The protests in Tunisia and Egypt that led to the removal of the leaders of both countries have now spread to Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Iran. According to some commentators,  these protests reflect a relatively new push for democracy by the Arab peoples. In other words, the democracy that Western nations have enjoyed is now appearing in the Middle East. The implicit explanation for this “delay,” for some, is that most Arabs are Muslim and Islam is not compatible with democracy.

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What is the Qur’an?

Arabic script from a 14th century Iraqi Qur'an Source: British Museum

This coming Wednesday, February 23rd, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Anna Gade will speak with Jean Feraca about Islam’s most important text–the Qur’an. A scholar of Sufism and Qur’anic recitation, Professor Gade has also done extensive work on the Indonesian island of Java where she studied eco-Islamic grassroots movements.

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Muslim-American Student Activism

Kylie Christianson, a Muslim-American student at the University of Wisconsin, protests in Madison, WI

Over 15,000 protesters marched on the Capitol in Madison,Wisconsin today, demanding state legislators to vote down recently proposed legislation termed radical by citizens and leaders of all political leanings. Among thousands of students and public and private employees were Muslim-Americans calling for lawmakers to vote against the bill.

Yesterday, among over 13,000 protesters congregating to protest the same legislation, Rashid Dar, President of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offered his own opinion of the situation. “I hesitate to tell people how to pick their politics, but in choosing our sides we would do well to consider who is working to bring the most overall benefit to society at large, and who is working to benefit a select, but influential, elite.”

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Islamic Speed Dating?

An often asked question about Muslim practices is “If you can’t date, how do you get married?” Well, there are many ways that Muslims end up meeting their life partner from arranged marriages to meeting someone in college. And now there is another way: speed dating. Actually, it is an “Islamized” version of speed dating where the main objective is marriage.

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The Centerpiece of Islam’s Sufism: Love

Painting of Jalaluddin Rumi

This afternoon at 3 PM U.S. Central Standard Time (GMT-6), Wisconsin Public Radio’s Jean Feraca will talk with Coleman Barks, poet, student of Sufism, and author of numerous Rumi translations. Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi, a 13th century Muslim mystic, or Sufi, is one of the most decorated poets in history, and famous for his writings on love. Rumi saw love as the foundation of Islam and life, and used, at time, provocative metaphors to describe his love for God.

Coleman Barks will discuss Rumi’s poety and the love that he wrote about.

To listen to the show live, go here.

For a quick summary of Sufism, see this recent Inside Islam piece. For additional information on Rumi and Sufism, check this out.

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Setting the Record Straight on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Muslim Egyptians Pray in Tahrir (Liberation) Square Photo: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

Perhaps the most significant world event since the fall of the Berlin Wall has been broadcast around the world: the Egyptian people have overthrown now ex-President Hosni Mubarak through 18 days of  peaceful protests. Much of mainstream western media has been in a frenzy over what will come next in Egypt and how the Muslim-majority country will “fair” in “dealing with democracy.” Countless journalists, news articles, and pundits have painted a frightening picture of the Muslim Brotherhood as a violent, Islamic extremist organization on the brink of an Iranian Revolution style takeover of Egypt, imposing Shariah law, and going to war with Israel. In contrast, Howard Schweber, Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin termed these characterizations “hysterical fear mongering” and called the possibility of Egypt going to war with Israel “wildly implausible.”

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Attempted Attack on Mosque in US

On January 24th in Dearborn, Michigan, Roger Stockham, a 63-year-old Vietnam veteran, was arrested at a traffic stop near the Islamic Center of America, one of the largest mosques in the United States. Police got a tip after Stockham went to a local bar and bragged that he was going to cause a big explosion. Police officers found explosives in the trunk of his car.

This is not the first time that Stockham has been in trouble with the law. In 1977,  he held a psychiatrist hostage and, in 1985, planted a bomb in an airport in Nevada. He also threatened to kill President George W. Bush. According to some sources, Stockham says that after returning from Vietnam he converted to Islam and is now part of an Indonesian mujahadin group. It is not clear, then, why he would target a mosque. Moreover, Stockham rejected to be represented by a Muslim lawyer. Stockham faces 20 years in prison on a terrorism charge.

This story comes after increased attacks on mosques around the United States, according to the Council of America- Islamic Relations. Interestingly, this story did not get much attention in mainstream media. Some may argue that it was because of the protests in Egypt that began the next day. However, I have to wonder if it had been an attempted attack by a Muslim on a major church, what kind of coverage that story would receive.

Did you hear about this story? What was your reaction? Why do you think there was little mention of this attempted attack in the news? Please share your thoughts below.