Reem recently wrote about the controversy surrounding Lowe’s, the home improvement superstore that caved to Islamophobic pressure from the Florida Family Association (FFA) and pulled its advertising from the reality television show All-American Muslim.
Islam is founded on the five pillars. These pillars anchor a Muslim’s belief and establish the rituals that they must perform to demonstrate that belief. The first pillar of Islam is the shahadah, the proclamation of faith. The proclamation of faith comprises two statements, shahadatan, which encompass the core ideas of Islam. In Arabic, the proclamation of faith is ashhadu an laa illaha illa Allah wa ashhadu anna Muhammad rasul Allah. This translates as “I bear witness that there is no god but God and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Prophet of God.” Continue reading →
Ahmed led his team to a Big Ten Title and 2011 NCAA Champsionship Photo: University of Illinois Media Services
Last month, Mohammed Ahmed led the University of Wisconsin-Madison cross country team to its 5th NCAA championship title. The top finisher on his team, and placing 5th overall, the 20-year-old junior ran 10 kilometers in just over 29 minutes; that’s a 4:40 mile! Given Ahmed’s times, I assumed that he had been running since early childhood. Apparently not. I recently got the chance to speak with Ahmed about his love for running, how his faith in Islam informs his attitude about success, and his experiences as a Somalian immigrant growing up in Canada.
Having taken a few courses related to Islam in college, I was vaguely familiar with Ashura, but was unaware of the significance it holds for many Muslims around the world. My first personal experience of Ashura was in 2007 during a trip to Pakistan, where I witnessed Ashura processions performed by local area Shi’a in a small village in the Northern Areas (Pakistani controlled Kashmir).
Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views. As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individual and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.
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.
We as Muslims should all be working together to counter radicalism… There are many within the [Muslim North American] community that are in denial. You bring up the word ‘radicalism’ and people immediately become defensive. If you’re silent, you’re just as guilty.
Islamophobia Today, one of the leading blogs covering anti-Muslim sentiments worldwide, recently published an article on the latest terrorism figures from Europol. The European law enforcement agency released their annual EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report, citing “Islamists” as having carried out less than one half of one percent (0.005%) of all terrorist acts (1o out of 2,139) committed in Europe from 2005 to 2010. Interestingly, the report notes that “Islamist terrorism is still perceived as the biggest threat to most [EU] Member States.”
Today is Ashura, which is the tenth day of the first month (Muharram) of the Islamic calendar. While Ashura is significant for both Sunnis and Shia, they differ in what the day commemorates and what practices should be carried out.
Sunnis fast on this day to commemorate the day that Moses fasted in gratitude for the Israelites being saved from Pharoah. The recommendation to fast on this day come from the following hadith of the Prophet.
Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, came to Medina and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Ashura. He asked:”What is this?” They said: “This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Moses fasted on this day.” He said:”We have more right to Moses than you,” so he fasted on that day and commanded [the Muslims] to fast on that day. [Reported by al-Bukhari] Continue reading →
Stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims in the media are not new. They have been a persistent part of discussing the Middle East, terrorism, and Islam. Jack Shaheen, a professor at Southern Illinois University, traced these images of Arabs and Muslims in Hollywood movies. He found that Arabs and Muslims are often conflated so that it appears that Arab equals Muslim. Also, Arabs and Muslims are either portrayed as exotic, as if they all live in 1001 Arabian nights, or as violent. Obviously, these images do not reflect the reality of over 1.57 billion Muslim. These stereotypes are not restricted to Hollywood films or news media broadcast but also occur in video games. Continue reading →