Radio Show on Radicalization Hearings

Rep. Keith Ellison Testifying at the hearings

On Wednesday, March 16th, Here on Earth host Jean Feraca will talk with Prof. Ingrid Mattson, director of the Duncan Macdonaled Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at the Hartford Seminary and previous president of the Islamic Society of North America, about Representative Peter King’s hearings “on the extent of radicalization in the American Muslim community and that community’s response.” According to Rep. King, Muslim organizations have not cooperated  enough with the government to prevent more attacks by radicalized Muslims.

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Mooz-lum

On Monday, March 14th, on Here on Earth: Radio without Borders, Jean Feraca will talk with Qasim Basir, writer and director of Mooz-lum, and Dana Offenbach, the film’s producer. Mooz-lum tells the coming of age story of Tariq, a young man who is torn between a strict upbringing and his new freedom in college. Tariq’s struggle is complicated by the 9/11 attacks.

The show will examine the Muslim American experience, which has been largely overlooked. Moreover, it will address the misconceptions about Muslims that abound in mainstream American culture. Finally, by bringing in 9/11, Basir aims to show the audience that Muslim Americans were also affected by the attacks.

The film opened in select theaters on February 11th.

Have you seen the film? What do you think? What would you like to know about Muslim American experience? Please share your thoughts below.

A Different Set of Picture Essays

Todd Drake

Todd Drake creates art that is shaped by community. A 2004-2005 Rockefeller Fellow, Drake is currently an artist in residence at UNC Chapel Hill’s Center for Global Initiatives and touring around the U.S. and Middle East with his latest project, Esse Quam Videri: Muslim American Self-Portraits.

The mind takes a different set of pictures. For three years I have crisscrossed my home state of North Carolina taking pictures of Muslim Americans. Each photo is a collaboration that expresses what the participating Muslim wished to share. Their images in Esse Quam Videri are currently touring the United States and Middle East. But when I close my eyes and think about my experience of helping make those images I see a different set of photos. One is of a full moon shining over an outdoor gathering of Muslims, all laughing at the comedians from the Funnymentalists comedy group. I saw the moon because I tossed back my head to let out a laugh and noticed it shining down on us from behind. It was at that moment that I thought “This is what we need as a nation, if we could all just get to this point.”

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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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Latino Muslims: A Growing Population

Latino Muslims are a  population that is relatively unknown within the Muslim American community. While still a small minority within the United States, they are a growing segment of the Muslim community’s population. The American Muslim Council estimates that in 2007  there were 200,000 Latino Muslims, a significant jump from 40,000 in 1997. A study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life in 2008 estimates that Latino Muslim U.S. residents make up 4%  of Muslim Americans.

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MOOZ-lum

An upcoming Inside Islam radio show on March 14 will be on the new film “MOOZ-lum” that has been running in select since February.  The film premiered at the Urban World Film Festival in New York City this past September.

“MOOZ-lum” is a coming of age story about Tariq Mahdi, a Muslim American who is raised in a strict Muslim household and heads off to college. The film explores the struggles that Tariq faces with negotiating his relationship with his faith and his newly found freedom. The story is further complicated by the 9/11 attacks.

Director Qasim Basir said he decided to make the film because the images of Islam that are portrayed in the media do not reflect the faith that he lives. Moreover, he believes that there are not enough positive depictions of Muslims in Hollywood.

The film is based on Basir’s life and experiences and features well-known actors like Danny Glover and Nia Long. Basir hopes that the film will show the human perspective of Islam and that the audience will have a better idea of the experiences of Muslim Americans, specifically.

Would you be interested in a film that showed Muslim American experience? What do you think we can learn  from a film like this? What would you like to see in a radio show on the topic? Please share your thoughts below.

Radicalization Hearings Will Alienate Muslim Americans

In December, Representative Peter King, the new chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, announced that he planned to hold hearings on the threat of radical Islam in America. According to King, Muslim American leaders have failed to combat extremism and that is why someone like Nidal Hassan was able to carry out an attack. Possible witnesses to testify at these hearings include Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Continue reading

Could a Muslim “Cosby Show” Dispel Islamophobia?

While talking about the year in review, Katie Couric spoke out against the anti-Muslim sentiment that emerged around the Islamic Center near Ground Zero, Cordoba House, and suggested on her CBSNews.com webshow that a Muslim version of “The Cosby Show” would alleviate the situation. In the show’s short segment, Couric said that she was disappointed by the hatred of Muslims displayed around the issue of the Islamic Center, which she attributed to a lack of knowledge of Islam among Americans. Although some find her suggestion of a sitcom absurd, I argue that a sitcom would be a constructive means to improve the image of Muslims.

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Support for Cordoba House from the Mayor to the President

President Obama speaking about Cordoba House

On August 3rd, 2010, a New York City Landmark Preservation Commission vote cleared the way for construction of a much-debated Islamic center. The center will be called Cordoba House, after the city in Andalusia where Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived together in tolerance and respect. I wrote about Cordoba last December, when the plans to build this cultural center emerged. Cordoba House will include a mosque, but it will much more than that–it will be like a YMCA  and open to the community. Although it is frequently referred to in the mainstream media as the “Ground Zero Mosque,” it is not primarily a mosque, nor is it located at Ground Zero. Opposition to the project has received a lot of attention recently, but it should be noted that there is also a good deal of broad-based support for Cordoba House as well.

Among the arguments for the cultural center is the right to build a place of worship and the need to encourage moderate Muslims who are trying to counter the voices of the extremists. These were points that Mayor Michael Bloomberg reiterated in his speech in support of building the center. Mayor Bloomberg emphasized the right of Muslims, as well as other religious groups, to build places of worship and rejected the idea that the government should strip them of this right because some do not like their faith. One of his most important points was that Muslims are part of America, just like other immigrants. Continue reading