45 American Men on Being Muslim

Coverage of Muslim men in the American media is almost completely limited to three narrow situations: Middle Eastern politics, violent extremist movements, or oppression of women. All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim provides a glimpse into the lives of the other 99% of Muslim men in the U.S. Initiated largely by well-educated, young Muslim Americans, this book is the latest in an intentional strategy to reshape American attitudes about Muslims and Islam through personal stories.
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nine/twelve

Filming nine/twelve (Source: huffingtonpost.com)

The attacks of 9/11 changed the course of history and affected many communities. The Muslim American community was particularly impacted by the attacks and have had to face growing Islamophobia. Throughout the Inside Islam project, we have explored some of the central challenges to the Muslim American community, which include questioning their national identity and their place in American society. Some question this group’s loyalty to their country and the possibility of being both Muslim and American. The entire nation was affected by the attacks; yet, 10 years later there is not enough exploration of what Muslim Americans faced in the days after 9/11. In February, a new project was launched to make a film called nine/twelve,  a film that will explore the experience of Muslims right after the attacks. Continue reading

Inside Islam Coming to a Close

Regretfully, after nearly four years of operation, we will be publishing our final Inside Islam post next month. As part of its Academia in the Public Sphere initiative, the Social Science Research Council has provided us with funding for an unprecedented four consecutive cycles. Since August of 2008, we’ve published more than 500 blog posts, broadcast over 100 radio shows, and reached a following of 25,000 unique readers per month. And quite fittingly, just a few moments ago, we received our 10,000th follower on our @insideislam twitter feed.

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Equitable Distribution of Wealth: The Economic System of Islam

New York City. Photo: The Rag Blog

This post is co-written by Inside Islam blogger Colin Christopher and Anwar Bin Hayat, Secretary to the Vice Chancellor of Lahore Islamic University. Bin Hayat has also served as a financial officer for more than 25 years and has graduate degrees in economics, Islamic studies, and a higher diploma in Islamic Law and the Judiciary.

Given the current fiscal crises in wealthy countries and the Occupy Movement’s response to wealth distribution, Islamic perspectives on economics have garnered increasing attention in even non-Muslim majority countries. In this post, we’ll attempt to highlight some core Islamic principles that specifically address wealth, distribution, and justice. Islam not only requires the fulfillment of everyone’s basic needs, primarily through a respectable source of earning, but also emphasizes an equitable distribution of income and wealth so that, in the words of the Holy Qur’an, “Wealth does not circulate only among your rich.” (59:7)

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Lady Gaga Denied Concert Permit by Indonesian Authorities

Lady Gaga Photo: Real Hollywood

International pop star Lady Gaga was recently denied a concert permit for her upcoming Jakarta concert due to pressure from a few conservative Indonesian-based Muslim groups. The majority of Indonesians are likely offended by some of Gaga’s music and her concert performances, as her art is viewed as immodest and out of line with Islamic principles. However, the overwhelming majority of Indonesians have also taken little interest in actively preventing Gaga from taking to the stage on June 3. Interestingly, however, Indonesian authorities, supposedly following secular laws, have had a poor track record on cultural and religious tolerance, and since 2008, socially conservative Islamic organizations have successfully campaigned against a variety of western artists from performing in Indonesia: Mötley Crüe, N*E*R*D, Rihanna, Akon, 50 Cent, and Avenged Sevenfold have all cancelled their shows due to similar types of pressure.

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The Muslims Are Coming!

Comedy is one of the many means by which people deal with stereotypes. Muslim Americans have used comedy for some time to break down the negative stereotypes about Islam and Muslims. The idea is that if people can laugh together then barriers break down. In other words, it is a constructive way to have people reflect on what they think about Muslims. We have addressed the topic of Muslim American comedians before here on Inside Islam through both blog posts and radio programs. In this post, I will focus on the upcoming comedic film The Muslims Are Coming! Continue reading

Indigenous Mexican Converts

Imam Salvador Lopez Lopez (a.k.a. Muhammad Amin) performs zikhr, or remembrance of God, in a San Cristóbal mosque. Photo: Radio Netherlands Worldwide

In my recent post about the history of Islam in Mexico, I mentioned that Muslims in the country are generally concentrated in four cities: Tequesquitengo in Morelos, Torreón in Coahuila, San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, and Mexico City.

While Muslims in Mexico represent diverse Islamic denominations, Muslims in San Cristóbal de las Casas are different from the other groups in the country. For one thing, they’re all converts. For another, they’re mostly descendants of the Mayan and Tzotzil indigenous groups.

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The Importance of the Mother in Islam

Yesterday, many parts of the world celebrated Mother’s Day, focusing on mothers and their contributions to their families. Since there is a negative stereotype of how Islam views women, many people may not know that mothers specifically and parents in general are held in very high esteem in the faith. There are verses in the Qur’an and hadith that emphasize the burdens that a mother carries and the respect that should be accorded to her. In this post, I will focus on the importance of mothers in Islam. Continue reading

Muslim-American Fencer Rises Above Tough Competition

Photo: Natalie Keyssar/WSJ

Maplewood, New Jersey, fencing star Ibtihaj Muhammad was recently named International Sportswoman of the Year by the Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation. In an interview, Muhammad, the third of five children in an athletic family, said that she initially began fencing because it easily allowed her to be fiercely competitive while maintaining her ability to wear hijab and present herself in modest dress. If her upcoming Olympic trial performance matches her world ranking, she’ll be one of two American women to fence in the London Olympic Games this summer. Although it cannot be confirmed, as the U.S. Olympic committee does not survey athletes’ religious backgrounds, Muhammad is probably also the first practicing Muslim woman to represent the U.S. in any Olympic event.

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The Debate Over Music

Duff/Daff (Source: chandrakantha.com)

One of the controversial topics that Muslim scholars have debated throughout Islam’s history is whether music and singing are halal (permissible) or haraam (forbidden). As I mentioned in an earlier post on the singer and songwriter Maher Zain, Muslims vary in their opinions on music. Since this topic has been extensively discussed and most of the opinions either way can be very lengthy, in this post I will just summarize some of the key points on the contention over the issue of music and singing. Continue reading