Ramadan: An Inside Islam recap

Ramadan Kareem to all our readers! Photo: desertpeace.wordpress.com

Ramadan starts tomorrow, and for the next month, Muslims around the world will be fastingfeasting, and celebrating. Ramadan is also a deeply reflective time as Muslims worldwide count their blessings and develop spiritually.

We have covered Ramadan from various perspectives over the years, and as Inside Islam heads towards a close, it’s a good time to recap some of what we’ve discussed. In fact, Inside Islam is historically linked to Ramadan, as our first very radio show was held during Ramadan, on September 19, 2008.

So here’s a rundown of our coverage of Ramadan over the years. Continue reading

President Obama in Turkey

Giancarlo Casale, a reader of Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates writes:

A day after his departure, Turks are still basking in the afterglow of President Barack Obama’s first visit to their country. His arrival on Sunday night followed weeks of anxious speculation about the reasons for his visit, concerns that he would be unprepared to navigate bewildering minefield of Turkish politics, and dark rumors that he intended to publicly embarrass the country by raising delicate issues that continue to weigh on its collective conscience. But now all of this is a distant memory. “Hussein” has taken the country by storm.

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Eboo Patel on White House Faith-Based Partnerships

In an earlier post here on Inside Islam, we announced President Obama’s expansion of federal funding to faith-based and community partnerships. Executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core Eboo Patel opened up in an interview on CNN about President Obama’s decision to expand federal funding and support interfaith cooperation. He also addressed criticism that religious organizations are more likely to discriminate against potential employees on the basis of personal belief.

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The White House Office of Faith-Based Partnerships

President Barack Obama has announced the expansion of aid to faith-based partnerships. His executive order built upon President Bush’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships initiative, slightly changing the name to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. As has been much discussed, government support of faith-based initiatives calls into question the separation of church and state. The worry is that federal funds may go to businesses whose hiring or service provision discriminates against people with different religious beliefs. At The National Prayer Breakfast this month, President Obama announced the office and called for religious leaders to let go of intolerant attitudes. He asked America to return to pluralism:

the particular faith that motivates each of us can promote a greater good for all of us. Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times. This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America, and it will be the purpose of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that I’m announcing later today.

President Obama promises the White House office aid will extend outreach to organizations based on the impact of their work, not the influence of faith-based institutions. He also ruled out proselytizing and laid down the first practical outcome of launching outreach is to to improve services that reduce poverty. In addition, the president has adopted a pluralistic vision for reaching out to the Muslim community in the Arab world. He hopes to open a dialogue with Islamic leaders around the world and believes it can happen soon.

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Reaching out to Gaza

Author Alaa al-Aswany wrote an op-ed about President Obama’s silence about the Gaza conflict in “Why the Muslim World Can’t Hear Obama,” published in The New York Times. He contends that President Obama’s rhetorical gesture to reach out to the Muslim world in his inaugural address and in an interview with Arab news station Al Arabiya wasn’t taken seriously by Egyptians because he has yet to break his silence on the conflict and his steadfast support of Israel.

Mr. Obama’s interview with Al Arabiya on Jan. 27 was an event that was widely portrayed in the Western news media as an olive branch to the Muslim world. But while most of my Egyptian friends knew about the interview, by then they were so frustrated by Mr. Obama’s silence that they weren’t particularly interested in watching it. I didn’t see it myself, but I went back and read the transcript. Again, his elegant words did not challenge America’s support of Israel, right or wrong, or its alliances with Arab dictators in the interest of pragmatism.

Do promises to reach out to the Muslim world matter if no one can hear them outside the US? Would actions speak louder than words? If so, what would a guesture of peace look like in the eyes of the Muslim world? We welcome other opinions below, please leave a comment if you have something to add to the dialogue.

The World Responds to Obama’s Inaugural Address

As a follow-up to our recent program about Reaching out to the Muslim World, we offer the following perspectives from around the globe. If you have any others to add, please send them along!

President Obama and the Muslim World Reading List

Do you have a blog post or article you think should be added to this? Send us an email with the link or comment below and we’ll update the post. What do you think about the Obama presidency and its relations with the Muslim World so far? Is it too soon to tell? Feel free to leave your thoughts in a comment below.

President Obama on Al-Arabiya

A while back on the Inside Islam radio series, host Jean Feraca repeated Colin Powell’s question, “What’s wrong with being Muslim?” During his campaign, Barack Obama refrained from addressing this question in relation to his own roots. Now as president, Obama is beginning to outline his administration’s efforts to reach out to the Muslim world. In a television interview on Al-Arabiya, an Arab news station, he discussed America’s next steps in the Muslim world and said:

Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.

Part 2 of the interview is included below.

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US and the Muslim World

Coming up on the next Inside Islam radio show: Reaching out to the Muslim World.

On January 20, Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. What is the state of relations between the United States and the Muslim world? How can the new president alter the course of the Bush administration and reach out to Muslims? What are the chances that dialogue and diplomacy will take precedence over a call to arms? What steps do Muslims think the new president should take to repair damages and rebuild trust?

Do you have any other questions you would like to discuss about US relations with the Muslim world at this beginning of a new era? Share your thoughts on these topics below and then join us on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders Thursday, January 22 at 3:00pm to discuss them.

The Obama Presidency: Reactions from the Muslim World

This past weekend the New York Times featured blogger reactions from the Arab world to Barack Obama’s campaign victory in the US presidential elections. Most reactions are similar to those of many Americans and include apprehensions over whether the president-elect can fulfill the enormous expectations heaped onto him by the previous administration’s reputation around the world. The Damascene Blog in Syria asked:

Dare we hope that the eight-year nightmare is over?

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Blogging Election Night from Washington DC

Rumors that Barack Obama is a Muslim or Arab or terrorist have been part of the “smear campaign” mounted against him by the opposition. The controversy has been on my mind a lot, especially after seeing this video of McCain’s town hall meeting where a woman calls Obama an Arab. McCain responds by assuring the audience that Obama is not an Arab, but rather ‘a decent family man, citizen,’ as if to say that Arabs cannot be either. What bothers me about this response is that McCain seems to be saying that calling someone ‘Arab’ in America is an insult. Why is being an Arab person an insult? What does it mean to throw around words like Arab, Muslim, and terrorist in American politics?

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