Indian children welcome onlookers with "adaab," the traditional and universal South Asian greeting. Photo: Firoze Shakir
Samina Mishra is a documentary filmmaker and writer based in New Delhi, India, with a special interest in media for children. Her films include Two Lives, The House on Gulmohar Avenue and Stories of Girlhood. Her published work for children includes Hina in the Old City, The Magic Key series, and The Goat That Got Away.
Some months ago, I was chastised by a woman for saying “adaab,” instead of “assalamaleikum,” the latter being the “the proper Islamic greeting” in her opinion. I grew up as a Muslim and learned to say “adaab” when I met someone and “khuda hafiz” when we parted ways. Originating from a North Indian Islamicate high culture, “adaab” as a form of greeting was imbued with a certain class hierarchy. It was a familiar greeting even in many elite non-Muslim households in North India. Among many other Muslim populations, the Arabic greeting “assalamaleikum,” meaning “may peace be upon you,” was also used. But there was no formal dictum about the usage while I was growing up and there could be overlaps.
Asmah Sultan Mallick is a master’s student in International Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Given the revolutions across the Middle East, with countries trying to rebuild and form stable governments better able to serve their people, the topic of sharia law has been a common subject of debate. We’ve even heard about “threats” of sharia taking over areas within the United States.
Putting these perceptions aside, my intention is neither to defend sharia nor delve into how it can or cannot be implemented. Rather, I want to shed some light on its goals.
This post is a preview of the upcoming conference, Islam and Democracy, to be held April 13-14 in Madison, Wisconsin. The conference will feature over 30 speakers including keynote addresses by John O. Voll and Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Topics will include the Arab Spring, female Islamic activism, and the history of democratic principles in Islamic contexts. All conference events are co-sponsored by Inside Islam and Global Studies. See the conference website for more information.
The Aya Sophya in Istanbul, built in 305 C.E., originally served as an Orthodox and Catholic church, was a mosque from 1453 until 1931, and since 1935 has been a museum. Photo: Colin Christopher
In summer 2010, I met a Catholic bishop during my research trip in Istanbul. The conversation brought us to the status of Christian minorities in Turkey. I asked how he felt about the reforms that the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development (AK) Party had undertaken in recent years to address the problems Christian minorities face. He was happy with the general reformist atmosphere even though many of their problems were still unresolved. He then added, “They [the AK Party] see themselves as the grandchildren of the Ottomans. The Christians had more rights under the Ottoman Empire than they had under the republic.” The bishop wasn’t suggesting to bring the Ottoman monarchy back, but he was pointing out the limitations that Turkish secularism and nationalism have put on Christian minorities.
Mohamed Ghilanis a Muslim-Canadian of Yemeni and Sudanese decent and a graduate student of neuroscience at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. Ghilan has formally studied Islam for the past four years and offers his own perspectives related to topics in Islam on his blog.
A disease that has taken over many Muslims nowadays is religious egocentrism—the over-obsession with one’s own religious understanding to the point of it becoming dogmatic. If this were to remain confined to one’s own life, it would not warrant much attention. But when it moves into the public sphere and people begin to enforce their beliefs upon everyone else, it becomes a problem.
Hadiyah Muhammad is a first-year Health Behavior Health Education student at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on mental health issues in U.S. Muslim communities and identifying the intervention efforts and instructional programs best suited for mosques and Islamic centers of learning.
My parents converted to Islam as young adults in the late 1970s. Choosing to become Muslim changed my parents’ health behaviors immediately. I was born to two people who, in love with their new way of life, no longer consumed pork, alcohol, and tobacco, preferred men and women separated at gatherings, fasted during the month of Ramadan, and joined a community of like-minded converts to sustain their practice and grow religiously. Islam does not separate day-to-day action from belief; therefore the behaviors that my parents immediately accepted as a common daily practice were not simply rituals performed during certain times of the year. My parents’ conversion to Islam was their attempt to create a new and better life for themselves and my family. Interestingly, while the physical health behaviors of my parents changed almost immediately, the mental health challenges remained the same among my uniquely Muslim nuclear family and my non-Muslim extended family.
As Reem pointed out yesterday, many see a connection between the beating death of Shaima Alawadiand theshooting of Trayvon Martin because both hate crimes are connected to the clothes the victims were wearing. In light of that connection, this is the first of two posts this week that will examine hijaband the various perceptions associated with it.
Nausheen Pasha-Zaidi is the author of The Color of Mehndiand a doctoral student of international psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Zaidi is studying the influence of the Muslim headscarf on perceptions of attractiveness, intelligence, and employability.
There is no argument among Muslim women that the headscarf is a necessary component of Islamic prayer; however, the incorporation of the hijab in public life continues to be an area of contention. Within the Muslim community, the hijab has often been used as a litmus test to determine the piety of Muslim women. Not surprisingly, women who wear the hijab are able to gain a higher level of social prestige within their Muslim communities, while the public display of their faith has made them more susceptible to discrimination in secular Western society. By publicly declaring their faith, those who adopt the hijab are often perceived as conveying a greater passion in their observation of Islamic practices than those who confine their religiosity to the private sphere. As a result, the decision to wear or not wear the hijab in public life has a profound influence on the identity and group affiliation of Muslim women.
This is the last in our Green Faith series before tonight’s panel discussionin Madison, WI. Panelists will address the following the questions: What aspects of scripture and practice support or challenge environmentalism? With such a strong focus on the afterlife, why do Abrahamic faith traditions care about protecting the earth in this life? How can faith-based and non-faith-based organizations work together more effectively on environmental issues?
Anna M. Gade is an Associate Professor at UW-Madison in the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Religious Studies. She teaches courses on global Islam, Southeast Asia, and approaches to the study of religion.
K.H. Ahmad Yani is the “kiai,” spiritual and academic leader, of Darul Ulum Lido, an Islamic boarding school near Bogor, an hour’s drive from Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. Traditional and modern residential religious schools like Darul Ulum are known in Indonesia as “pondok pesantren,” and there are thousands of them across the vast archipelago of this Muslim-majority nation.
This is the latest in our Green Faith series leading up to a panel discussion tomorrow, March 6th, in Madison, WI. Earlier posts in this series covered Muslim, Christian, and Jewish perspectives as well as an Inside Islamradio show on interfaith dialogue around environmental issues.
Don Quintenz Photo: Canoecats
A practicing Baha’i, Don Quintenz has been involved in environmental education for over four decades. Quintenz has worked for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Wisconsin Humane Society, the Milwaukee Public Schools, and is currently the Director of Education and Land Management at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee.
In 1967 I came to recognize two goals that would ultimately dominate the rest of my life. My first realization was that I wanted somehow to inspire people to continually develop their spirituality. I didn’t feel that people could simply believe a particular doctrine and therefore realize all the potential benefits it could bestow. The second awareness I received was I wanted more than anything else to try to instill in people a love for the natural world. I feel these two goals are more related than you might suspect. Part of the reason for this is my belief in a Creator; and a necessary consequence of that belief is nature must be an expression of God’s will.
This is the latest in our Green Faith series leading up to a panel discussion on March 6th in Madison, WI. Earlier posts in this series covered Muslim and Christian perspectives as well as the Inside Islamradio show on interfaith dialogue around environmental issues.
Laurie Zimmerman is the Rabbi of Congregation Shaarei Shamayim in Madison, Wisconsin. She is an avid lover of the outdoors and sees environmental conservation as an important component of a broader social justice movement.
The year after I graduated from college I set off on my own to hike the Appalachian Trail. During the day I slugged through the rain or sweltered in the scorching sun. At night I shivered in my sleeping bag or fought off mosquitoes. Never before had I experienced Mother Nature so intimately. It was both extraordinary and challenging. I had hoped that I would settle into a rhythm and achieve a meditative state as I gritted my way up each mountain. On most days, however, I struggled with boredom, loneliness, and exhaustion.
Nevertheless, I grew to love the rough, raw beauty of the wilderness. I felt at home on the trail. I was in awe of God’s glorious earth each day I climbed a mountain. Every morning I would begin my hike with prayers of gratitude for being alive, for the gift of walking through God’s majestic world. I developed a deep appreciation for the infinite wonder of the earth. This awe carried me through three months of intense hiking and comforted me when I felt depleted.
This is the second in a series related to our upcoming event, Green Faith: An Interfaith Conversation about Eco-Consciousness and Activism. If you missed the first post in the series, you can read it here and also see the end of this post for information on tomorrow’s related radio show.
Tim Mackie is a teaching pastor at Blackhawk Church in Middleton, Wisconsin, and a faculty member of the Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches Hebrew Bible.
I grew up in the heart of a large city, one which is surrounded by immense natural beauty. Portland, Oregon, sits at the convergence of two large river valleys (the Willamette and the Columbia) that join and head into the Pacific Ocean. My earliest memories of the city recall the majestic Mt. Hood, which stands like a sentinel looking out over the city. The coast is just 1.5 hours away, and there is green everywhere you go, all year round.
I took all this for granted growing up, as I got the best of both worlds: a large urban center surrounded by a lifetime’s worth of hiking and outdoor adventure. Growing up in that part of the country had a formative shaping influence on me, but there was one other key catalyst that revolutionized my relationship to the world of nature. When I was 20 years old I became a follower of Jesus, which forced me to rethink a great many things about my patterns of living. Continue reading →