The Common Good

Blog Posts By Omar Sacirbey

Posted by Omar Sacirbey 11 weeks 1 day ago
Anti-Muslim hate speech on the Internet is commonplace and can motivate some people to commit acts of violence against Muslims, according to a report released Tuesday by Muslim Advocates, a legal and advocacy group in San Francisco.“When you have threatening comments online and they go unchecked, people start thinking it’s acceptable,” said Madihha Ahussain, an attorney and the report’s lead author. “And it doesn’t take long to figure out that what becomes acceptable online becomes acceptable in the real world.”The report contains examples of hate speech and how it can lead to violence, as well as how victims of online hate speech can report it and counter it. The report aims to help educate parents, students, youth, community leaders, Internet companies, and policymakers on how to counter online hate speech.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 14 weeks 9 hours ago
Muslim and civil rights groups welcomed the news that the New York City Police Department’s Demographics Unit will disband but said they still fear they may be targets of warrantless surveillance.Muslim Advocates filed a lawsuit in 2012 to stop the program, and the group was later joined by the Center for Constitutional Rights.“We need to hear from the mayor and NYPD officials that the policy itself has been ended and that the department will no longer apply mass surveillance or other forms of biased and predatory policing to any faith-based community,” said Ryan Mahoney, president of another Muslim civil rights group, the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 20 weeks 6 days ago
Nearly 60,000 people have signed a Change.org petition demanding that YouTube take down a Katy Perry video they say is blasphemous and offensive to Muslims.About 75 seconds into the video for the song “Dark Horse,” a Cleopatra-like Perry shoots a laser at a man dressed as a pharaoh but also wearing a pendant that says “Allah” in Arabic. Both the man and the Allah pendant disintegrate.“Blasphemy is clearly conveyed in the video,” reads the petition, started by 22-year-old Shazad Iqbal of Bradford, England, who suggests Perry sets herself up as an enemy of God by shooting the man with the Allah necklace. “We hope YouTube will remove the video.”
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 24 weeks 2 days ago
Oppressive. Boorish. Misogynist: Those are the popular images of Muslim men and how they treat women.But there’s more to it than that, thought Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi, the editors of Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women.Many Muslims welcomed the two women’s 2012 collection of 25 stories as an overdue conversation starter. Soon they got flooded with requests for a male version.They initially dismissed the idea, assuming men wouldn’t want to write so openly about such intimate matters. But as the queries kept coming, the two editors decided a Muslim male version wasn’t that far-fetched, and given the stereotypes of Muslim men, much needed.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 25 weeks 5 days ago
Viewers watching the American Football Conference championship game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots earlier this month may have seen a Best Buy commercial for a Sharp 60-inch television that seemed ordinary, but in one way was extraordinary.The ad shows a young, clean-shaven salesman named Mustafa talking about the television, advising customers and relaxing at home watching movies and football with his friends.“I’m never going to get these guys out of here,” he jokes to his girlfriend at the end.While the commercial never identifies Mustafa as a Muslim, many might assume that given his name, a diminutive for Muhammad. For viewers used to seeing negative images of Muslims on television, the commercial was a rare exception.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 28 weeks 1 day ago
An Iraqi woman dons a black hijab but bares her thighs. A Lebanese woman wearing a sheer blouse curls up on a bed, both innocent and seductive. An attractive young Iranian couple shares breakfast at a small table, seemingly oblivious to the tank looming just a few yards away.There are no harems, belly dancers, or male oppressors in this photography show, nor any of the other Middle Eastern stereotypes that Westerners generally associate with that far away, often misunderstood, region.“She Who Tells a Story,” a photo exhibit now showing at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and headed to other U.S. museums, features the work of 12 women from the Middle East who shatter stereotypes with works that are provocative, beautiful, mysterious, and surprising, all at the same time.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 30 weeks 1 day ago
A generation or two ago, when America’s Muslims were new immigrants who made up an even smaller minority of Americans than they do today, they viewed the lights, trees, carols, gifts, and festive spirit of Christmas as a threat to their children’s Islamic faith.But these days, a growing number of Muslims celebrate Christmas, or at least partake in some ways, even if they don’t decorate their homes with trees and a light show. Indeed, many Muslim families have created their own Christmas traditions.“I teach my three children, who attend public school and happen to be born into an interfaith Christian-Muslim family, that we absolutely do celebrate Christmas because we are Muslim,” Hannah Hawk of Houston wrote in an email. Rather than putting up a tree or lights, “we celebrate the reason for the season, Jesus, by studying all that is written about him in the Quran and by examining historical theories.”
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 38 weeks 5 days ago
A coalition of 125 religious, civil rights, and community-based organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday urging a civil rights investigation into a New York City Police Department program that spies on Muslims.Groups from several faith traditions signed the letter including the Presbyterian Church (USA), the National Council of Jewish Women, the Hindu American Foundation, and the Sikh Coalition. Civil rights groups include the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, South Asian Americans Leading Together, and the National Network for Arab American Communities.The NYPD program is already the target of two federal lawsuits, one filed in June by the ACLU and the City University of New York Law School’s Center for Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility, and the other filed in June 2012, by several Muslim plaintiffs represented by Muslim Advocates and the law firm Bhalla and Cho.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 41 weeks 1 day ago
The annual pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the hajj, presents a gantlet of health challenges. This year’s pilgrimage, which falls Oct. 13-18, is no different.Of particular concern is the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, which was first reported in Saudi Arabia last year. At least 120 cases have been reported in the country, including 49 deaths, according to the World Health Organization and Saudi officials.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 43 weeks 12 hours ago
Shortly after teenagers beat up a Columbia University physician Saturday, a Muslim woman was attacked a few blocks away.It is not clear whether the attacks on Dr. Prabhjot Singh and the Muslim woman, who were both treated at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, are related. But many say the motives, if not the perpetrators, are depressingly familiar.They are part of a long line of assaults on Sikhs, who are sometimes mistaken for Muslims; on Muslims; and, more generally, on people perceived as foreigners.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 43 weeks 1 day ago
Abercrombie & Fitch will change its “look policy” and allow employees to wear hijabs after a three-year legal battle with two Muslim women was settled out of court.The settlement requires Abercrombie to report religious accommodation requests and discrimination complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for three years, and includes $71,000 in compensation for the two women. The settlement also averts a Sept. 30 trial.Abercrombie fired Umme-Hani Khan, a stockroom worker in its San Mateo, Calif., store, in 2010 for refusing to work without her religious headscarf. Khan, who had worked at the store for four months without incident, filed a religious discrimination complaint with the EEOC, which sued the retailer in 2011.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 43 weeks 6 days ago
Islamophobic or empowering? Those are among the reactions to a new Diesel jeans ad featuring a heavily tattooed, topless white woman wearing a redesigned, denim burqa.The slogan next to her: “I Am Not What I Appear To Be.”Racist and condescending are among the criticisms that have been leveled at the ad, created by Nicola Formichetti, former stylist to Lady Gaga, who made waves last month with her song “Burqa.” But others, including a female Muslim marketing consultant who advised Diesel, said the idea was to make people question assumptions and stereotypes.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 44 weeks 5 days ago
Muslim stand-up comedy is nothing new. But what makes “The Muslims Are Coming” different is that it portrays what happens when a troupe of comedians performs before red state Americans in such places as Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Arizona, Utah and Idaho.The documentary by Negin Farsad, an Iranian-American, and Dean Obeidallah, of Palestinian-Italian roots, opened in Chicago yesterday.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 45 weeks 14 hours ago
A federal judge ruled Monday that the Abercrombie and Fitch clothing chain violated federal anti-employment discrimination guidelines when it fired a Muslim employee in 2010 for not removing her religious headscarf, or hijab, for work.Abercrombie asserted that as part of its business plan, it not only employed sales-floor personnel, but “models,” had a “look policy” that gave employees certain grooming and appearance guidelines, and sought to give customers an “in-store experience.”Umme-Hani Khan wore her headscarf when she interviewed at Abercrombie’s store in San Mateo, Calif. Khan said she accepted the “look policy,” which included a no headgear provision, and in October 2009 started her new job, which was mainly in the stockroom, but required her one to four times per shift to restock clothes on the sales floor.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 45 weeks 14 hours ago
It’s been five years now that Talat Hamdani has been able to talk about her son without crying, but she still prefers mostly not to tell his story.“It’s all over the Internet,” she said.She’s stopped talking about how she initially didn’t worry when her son, Mohammad Salman Hamdani, who was a cadet with the New York City Police Department, didn’t answer his cellphone that night; about how police questioned her and her husband when authorities couldn’t find their son’s body, to see if he had any terrorist connections; about the New York Post headline a month after the attacks — “Missing – Or Hiding? – Mystery Of NYPD Cadet From Pakistan,” that cast him as a suspect in the 9/11 attacks.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 47 weeks 1 day ago
North Carolina became the seventh state to prohibit its judges from considering Islamic law after Gov. Pat McCrory allowed the bill to become law without formally signing it.McCory, a Republican, called the law “unnecessary,” but declined to veto it. The bill became law on Sunday.The state joins Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Tennessee.Supporters hailed the bill as an important safeguard that protects the American legal system from foreign laws that are incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, while critics argued that the bill’s only purpose is to whip-up anti Muslim hatred because the Constitution already overrides foreign laws.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 49 weeks 6 days ago
In their holiday Eid al-Fitr khutbas, or sermons, on Thursday many imams across the country noted a growing climate of acceptance in America but urged Muslims not to forget the problems facing their communities in the U.S. and overseas.“The Eid khutba is like the State of the Union address,” said Oklahoma-born convert Suhaib Webb, imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the biggest mosque in New England, to an overflowing crowd — men dressed in crisp robes, tunics, and three-piece suits, women in black abayas, long floral wraps, and colorful headscarves.“Our community is at a unique crossroads,” Webb said, issuing a call for older Muslim generations to allow younger generations to have greater roles in community affairs. “There are a lot of young people with a lot of excitement, and a lot of old people with a lot of fear. And that’s not a healthy thing.”
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 50 weeks 5 days ago
Muslim-American groups are mounting a growing campaign to quash the potential nomination of New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly as the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.Muslims say that as head of the nation’s biggest police force, the commissioner oversaw a spying program that targeted Muslims based solely on their religion, showed poor judgment by participating in a virulently anti-Islamic film, and approved a report on terrorism that equated innocuous behavior such as quitting smoking with signs of radicalization.Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano announced she is resigning in September to become president of the University of California system.“Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is, but if he’s not, I’d want to know about it, because obviously he’d be very well qualified for the job,” President Barack Obama said in a July 16 interview with Univision.Muslims are particularly indignant because Obama said on numerous occasions that he would work to end profiling.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 51 weeks 2 days ago
North Carolina Muslims hope they can persuade Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, to veto a bill that prohibits state judges from considering “foreign law.”“It’s going to be tough,” said Rose Hamid of Charlotte. “But I do believe there is a chance.”Muslims across the state oppose the bill they think is motivated by intolerance and may potentially infringe on other religious groups. Bills against judicial consideration of “foreign laws” are believed to really be opposing Shariah, or Islamic law.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 51 weeks 5 days ago
Muslim-American civil rights groups are criticizing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for vetoing a bill on Tuesday that would have created an independent inspector general to oversee the New York City Police Department.The New York City Council passed the bill June 27 as a check against controversial NYPD policies that critics say violate the civil rights of Muslim and other minority New Yorkers. Reports that the NYPD spied on mosques, Muslim businesses, organizations, and students began surfacing in 2011.“The NYPD is out of control and discriminates against innocent Americans, and Mayor Bloomberg has let Americans down by allowing the NYPD to use discriminatory policies without any accountability,” said Glenn Katon, legal director for Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group based in San Francisco.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 51 weeks 6 days ago
North Carolina lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill to prohibit judges from considering “foreign laws” in their decisions, but nearly everyone agrees that “foreign laws” really means Shariah, or Islamic law.North Carolina now joins six other states — Oklahoma, Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Tennessee — to pass a “foreign laws” bill. A similar bill passed in Missouri, but Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed it, citing threats to international adoptions.The bills all cite “foreign laws” because two federal courts have ruled that singling out Shariah — as Oklahoma voters originally did in 2010 — is unconstitutional.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 5 days ago
Nearly 40 members of the U.S. House, among them Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims, sent a letter to President Obama on Wednesday urging him to convene a “Religious Diversity Summit” and do more to fight discrimination against religious minorities.“The targeting of religious minorities in America is reaching a crisis point and we believe your leadership is crucial to stemming this rising tide of violence,” the letter writers said.The letter comes just ahead of the first anniversary of the Aug. 5 attack by a white supremacist on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., that killed six worshippers. Muslim advocacy groups say there has been an increase in attacks against mosques and Muslims since the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 2 weeks ago
Since converting to Islam more than five years ago, Paul K. DeMelto of Cleveland has done all he could to become a more knowledgeable Muslim, attending a new converts class and hiring Arabic tutors to help him learn to read the Quran.But despite his efforts, DeMelto found himself alone last Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim year, when adherents fast from sunrise to sunset and eat a communal meal at night.As he looks to another Ramadan beginning today, DeMelto wonders if this might be the year when he finally lands an invitation to a fellow Muslim’s home for the iftar, the fast-breaking meal.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 6 weeks ago
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed a bill that would have made his state the seventh in the nation to prohibit judges from considering Shariah, or Islamic law, and other “foreign laws” in their decisions.But rather than citing the usual arguments about anti-Muslim discrimination and the freedom of religion, Nixon introduced a new argument against such legislation, asserting it would make it harder for Missouri families to adopt children from overseas.Nixon said if state judges would not be able to consider foreign decrees that are sometimes required to finalize adoptions, adoptive families and children would be left stranded.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 8 weeks ago
Oklahoma is probably one of the tougher places to be a Muslim in America, but Muslims have stepped in to help with the cleanup of a massive tornado that killed 24 people.“As Oklahomans, we’re part of this community, and our hearts just break for what happened,” said Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of several Muslim groups collecting donations.“We want to show the compassion and mercy that Islam teaches us.” 
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 9 weeks ago
When Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved a 2010 ballot measure that prohibits state courts from considering Islamic law, or Shariah, the Council of American-Islamic Relations filed a lawsuit within two days challenging the constitutionality of the measure, and won.But when Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a similar measure, one that its sponsor said would forbid Shariah, on April 19 of this year, no legal challenges were mounted.Why the change?The biggest difference is that the older bill — and others like it — singled out Islam and Shariah, but also raised concerns that they could affect Catholic canon law or Jewish law. Many early anti-Shariah bills also made references to international or foreign law, which worried businesses that the new bills would undermine contracts and trade with foreign companies.The new bills, however, are more vague and mention only foreign laws, with no references to Shariah or Islam. They also make specific exceptions for international trade. All of that makes them harder to challenge as a violation of religious freedom.“These bills don’t have any real-world effect. Their only purpose is to allow people to vilify Islam,” said Corey Saylor, CAIR’s legislative affairs director, of the more recent bills.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 12 weeks ago
Muslims in America are much less inclined to support suicide bombing than other Muslims abroad, and are more likely to believe that people of other faiths can attain eternal life in heaven, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.“The World’s Muslims” report looks at Muslim views across seven categories: Islamic law; religion and politics; morality; women; relations among Muslims; interfaith relations; and religion, science, and pop culture. There is also a special section on U.S. Muslims.Of the countries surveyed, only a majority of Muslims in America — 56 percent — believe people of other faiths can go to heaven; by contrast, that figure among U.S. Christians is about 64 percent. U.S. Muslims are also less likely than Muslims abroad to believe in evolution, sharing views that are closer to those of U.S. Christians.On suicide bombing, 81 percent of U.S. Muslims said it was never justified, 7 percent said it was justified to “defend Islam,” and 1 percent said it was “sometimes justified.”
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 12 weeks ago
When Karen Hunt Ahmed and her Muslim husband divorced four years ago, many friends asked her, “Now you can stop this Islam stuff, right?”Some friends, she thought.“Like it was a hobby I took up when I got married and now I’m supposed to drop it,” said Hunt Ahmed, president of the Chicago Islamic Microfinance Project, which she founded with two colleagues in 2009.Hunt Ahmed, 45, is part of a growing sorority of female American converts to Islam, especially those who are or were married to Muslim men, who must deal with the perception that they converted to Islam because of domineering boyfriends or husbands.The stereotype was revived in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, when news emerged that the wife of bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Katherine Russell, converted to Islam after meeting Tsarnaev in 2009 or 2010 when she was about 21.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 14 weeks ago
The Islamic political party known as the Muslim Brotherhood has soured American attitudes towards Egypt, arguably America’s most important Arab ally, since its candidate Mohamed Morsi won presidential elections there in June 2012.That’s according to a poll released Friday by the Arab American Institute in Washington, D.C.Morsi’s term has been dogged by charges that he opts for authoritarian measures such as martial law. Muslim-Christian clashes have also shadowed his term; there were clashes on April 5 in the town of Khosus that killed four Coptic Christians and one Muslim, and violence also marred the April 7 funeral for the Copts who were killed in that conflict.According to the Institute’s poll of 2,300 likely voters, only 36 percent of Americans had favorable views of Egypt, down from 66 percent in 1997. At least some of the decline has been attributed to the Muslim Brotherhood, which won Egypt’s parliamentary elections in January 2012, and to Morsi himself, who won the presidency last June by a 52-48 percent margin.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 19 weeks ago
Muslim and civil rights organizations say a New York Police Department program to secretly monitor Islamic communities has created so much fear and suspicion among Muslims that many find it impossible to lead normal lives.A new 56-page report, “Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and its Impact on American Muslims,” details how the NYPD’s covert surveillance caused Muslims to refrain from activism and change their appearance so as not to appear too Muslim, and sowed suspicion among community members.As a result, the Monday report asserts, trust between Muslims and police has broken down. The program, in which NYPD policemen secretly visited mosques, Muslim-owned businesses, and student and civic associations beyond New York’s five boroughs, was established in 2001 but uncovered by The Associated Press in 2011.A spokesperson for the NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 27 weeks ago
Worried about exposure to foul language, immodest dress, peer pressure, and other inappropriate behavior, Susan Brown didn’t want her two daughters attending public schools — even though she’s a substitute teacher in a public school in Minnesota.Brown initially home-schooled her daughters until a friend told her about the Minnesota Virtual Academy, an online public school that is fully accredited. She liked the curriculum, and as a single mom relying on substitute teaching income, she preferred how the school provided the supplies instead of having to buy supplies herself as a home-school parent.“You can’t give your kids an effective moral and religious upbringing if you only see them a couple of hours a day,” said Brown, a Catholic whose daughters, now in the 10th and 12th grade, started virtual school in the second and fourth grade. “When you’re at home with them, you can incorporate your beliefs into the day.”Since Florida became the first state to try them in 1996, virtual public schools have enjoyed dramatic growth, with at least some of it coming from religious families. Like home-schooling parents, parents of virtual public school students like having their children home so they can integrate religion and values into the school day.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 36 weeks ago
American Muslims are celebrating the ouster of two congressmen known for their anti-Islamic rhetoric, and heralding the outcomes as a sign that Muslim voters, at least in some districts, are a political force to be reckoned with."These encouraging results clearly show that mainstream Americans reject anti-Muslim bigotry by candidates for public office and will demonstrate that rejection at the polls," said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "This election witnessed an increased political awareness and mobilization effort among American Muslims that dealt a major blow to the Islamophobia machine."Republican Rep. Allen West lost to Democrat Patrick Murphy by about 2,500 votes in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, which includes Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. West has not conceded, however, and has filed a motion to have paper ballots recounted. There are roughly 160,000 Muslims in Florida, comprising about 0.9 percent of the population.Over in Illinois, 21,000 votes separated Republican Rep. Joe Walsh from his successful Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth, an Iraqi War veteran and double amputee. Illinois is home to the country's largest concentration of Muslims, about 360,000 comprising 2.8 percent of the population.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 38 weeks ago
BOSTON -- The one thing that Afrah Farah will tell you about her genital cutting experience is that it happened. She doesn’t want to say how old she was, where it happened, or who was or wasn't with her.Yet, despite the painful memories that the experience evokes and her concerns about people's reactions, Farah, said she knows she has to speak out.“It’s basically a traumatizing experience. It’s traumatizing for every young girl that goes through that. It’s something that sticks in your memory, and physically,” said Farah, a Somali immigrant who came to the Boston area by way of Kuwait and Germany in 2007, and now works as a drug developer in a Massachusetts laboratory.“There are millions of people who are affiliated with this procedure -- parents, grandparents, people in the community -- and to label them all as bad people or barbaric, that’s wrong. You will push them away. To solve a problem like this, you need to approach people with respect.”Because of its severity and prevalence, female genital mutilation (FGM, or "cutting") is arguably one of the most important human rights issues in the world. It’s also become increasingly important in the U.S. as the number of immigrants from countries where it is practiced grows.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 38 weeks ago
Nearly nine in 10 Muslim American voters pulled the lever for the Democratic candidate in the last two presidential elections, partly because of Republican policies and rhetoric that many considered anti-Muslim. In 2008, they also thought President Obama would usher in an era in which Muslims would be more accepted at home, and relations between America and the Islamic world would see improvement.But this year, Muslim American support for President Obama shows signs of waning, which could be enough to affect the 2012 election in key swing states where a few thousand votes could have a big impact.Several of those swing states -- most notably Virginia, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Ohio -- have enough Muslim voters to turn a tight race, experts say.According to a poll of 500 Muslim American voters released Wednesday (Oct. 24) by the Council of American-Islamic Relations in Washington, 68 percent of Muslims said they would vote for President Obama, while 25 percent were undecided. The poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points, also found that 91 percent of Muslims intend to vote.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 41 weeks ago
The variation in the proper way to pray is one among several differences that exist between Shiites, who make up about 15 percent of Muslims globally and in America, and the majority of Sunnis. Until recently, those differences mattered little in the United States, where the two groups bonded as Muslim minorities and prayed in the same mosques. "There weren't enough of either to justify the cost of building sectarian mosques, and because in general, early generation immigrants were less focused on establishing formal houses of worship," said Andrea Stanton, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver.That is changing, however, as American Shiites are increasingly establishing their own mosques. According to "The American Mosque 2011," a survey sponsored by several Muslim American organizations, 7 percent of roughly 2,100 mosques in America are Shiite, and most have been built in the last 20 years.  One reason: Shiites have become numerous and financially strong enough to manage the expensive process of buying or building their own mosques. Another factor: the growth in Shiite populations as immigrants flee persecution in Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, where Taliban gunmen recently executed at least 22 Shiite bus passengers.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 42 weeks ago
New Jersey lawyer Abed Awad has been involved with more than 100 cases that involved some component of Shariah, or Islamic law, and knows firsthand how complicated things can get.In one of those cases, a woman claimed she was married to a man according to Islamic law in her native west Africa. The man asserted there was no valid marriage, leaving a judge to decide whether the two were ever legally married in the first place.If the judge rules they were married, there will be a divorce, and she will receive alimony and a share of marital assets. If the judge rules that there is no marriage, then the woman will be left with nothing from her relationship.To make a ruling, the judge will need to consider what Shariah, as understood in one corner of western Africa, says about what constitutes a legal marriage. He will likely have to consult Islamic law experts and apply what he learns to his decision.But what if American judges were prohibited from considering Shariah and other foreign laws, as many state and national politicians want to see happen?
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 43 weeks ago
Muslim immigrants to America frequently worry whether their children will be able to maintain their Islamic identity in a country with a reputation for rampant vice and promiscuity. Many respond by limiting their children’s social contacts to school, family, and mosque.But that approach can backfire, some Muslim family experts say. While they advise parents to help their children make Muslim friends, they also say Muslim kids can — and should — fully participate in American culture without compromising their Islamic values.It’s a formula that’s worked for generations.Farhat Husain was 23 when she left Pakistan in 1964 for England, where her husband received his Ph.D. at Oxford. Her daughter was born there in 1967, before the family moved to New Haven, Conn., in 1969, then to the Boston area in 1971. Her son was born there in 1976.Both she and her husband were practicing Muslims and well-educated, and wanted the same for their children. She became involved in the international clubs at the universities where her husband worked — cooking for potlucks, manning information booths and presenting about Islam at churches, community centers, and her children’s schools.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 43 weeks ago
Muslim and Coptic Christian leaders in the U.S. are pledging not to let a spate of violent protests in some 20 Islamic countries derail recent efforts to improve the sometimes troubled relations between the two communities.On Sept. 18, the Egyptian government ordered the arrest of seven Egyptian-born Copts now living in the United States who were allegedly involved in an anti-Muslim film that portrayed Islam's Prophet Muhammad as a bumbling sexual pervert.“We cannot allow the actions of a few deceived fanatical individuals to define our communities,” said Bishop Serapion, head of the Los Angeles Diocese of the Coptic Orthodox Church, speaking during a press conference on Sep. 17 with Muslim leaders in Los Angeles.“We call on members of both religions to lean on our faiths to counter the hate and the violence with good speech and positive work,” added the Egyptian-born bishop.The show of solidarity comes almost a week after protesters in Egypt, where about 10 percent of the 90 million Egyptians are Coptic, attacked the U.S. embassy, setting off protests in other Muslim countries, including neighboring Libya, where American ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 44 weeks ago
Worshippers at Toronto's Salahuddin mosque were bracing for protests Friday as part of "Walk Your Dog in Front of a Mosque Day."The event is being organized by supporters of a man who claims Muslim protestors kicked his English mastiff, Cupcake, during an anti-Israel rally last month.    While claiming that they wanted to draw attention to Muslim attitudes toward dogs, the organizers' Facebook page is replete with hostilities. One man wrote that he would throw protestors into a "lake of fire" and shoot their dogs, and the event has been promoted on a white supremacist website, StormFront.org.    Some Muslims responded with their own "Good Muslims Love Dogs" Facebook page, including at least one photo of a veiled woman with a veiled dog.    Muslims' alleged canine-phobia is often cited by critics of Islam as an example of how the faith is incompatible with Western values. Some Muslims have perpetuated that narrative, such as when a Somali cab driver in Minneapolis made national headlines in 2007 when he refused to let a blind man bring his seeing-eye dog into his car. Yet many Muslims all over the world have dogs, and dogs figure prominently is some Islamic countries, such as Turkey, famous for its Kangal and Akbash breeds.  
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 44 weeks ago
Muslim Americans condemned violence in Egypt and Libya that left four Americans dead, but remain concerned that the deaths could rekindle anti-Muslim sentiment just as post-9/11 resentment was starting to ebb.U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three embassy workers were killed on Tuesday when fundamentalist protestors attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in response to a low-budget film that attacks Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, reportedly made by an Israeli real estate developer who lives in California. Imam Talal Eid, the Islamic chaplain at Brandeis University near Boston and a former member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, predicted the violence would lead to “more resentment” against Muslims, who he criticized for not doing enough against terrorism. 
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 45 weeks ago
The number of Muslim delegates attending the Democratic National Convention has quadrupled since 2004, according to a Muslim advocacy group.  The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations counts more than 100 Muslim delegates representing some 20 states at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., this week. That's up from 25 delegates in 2004, according to CAIR.CAIR government affairs coordinator Robert McCaw said the numbers were ”a sign of the American Muslim community’s growing civic engagement and acceptance in the Democratic Party.” He also said that Democrats had targeted outreach to American Muslims. 
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 46 weeks ago
The Taliban in Afghanistan shocked the world this week when they beheaded 17 people, allegedly for the crime of dancing at a mixed-gender gathering.Which prompts the question: Does Islam forbid dancing? While Islamic scholars are divided on the answer, it’s easy to find Muslims in America and abroad who love to boogie down.“Even though there are scholars who forbid dancing, there is a long tradition of dancing in Muslim cultures,” said Vernon Schubel, a Muslim and professor of religious studies at Kenyon College in Ohio.There is no mention of dancing in the Quran, which serves as Muslims’ primary source of guidance. There is a story about dancing in the hadith, or collected stories about Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, which are the second-most important source of guidance for Muslims.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 48 weeks ago
Following attacks on seven U.S. mosques in the last two weeks, including three attacks last weekend, many Muslim Americans are approaching the end of Ramadan on Aug. 19 under a cloud of fear as Muslim groups try to increase security without spurring panic.According to reports, vandals shot paintballs at the Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City on Aug. 12, and in Lombard, Ill., someone threw a bottle filled with acid at an Islamic school while 500 people prayed inside. The night before, a neighbor fired an air rifle at the Muslim Education Center in Morton Grove, Ill., while on Aug. 7, two women were videotaped throwing pig legs on a proposed mosque site in Ontario, Calif.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 48 weeks ago
After four years of living in the U.S., Mohamed Jedeh is anxious to return to his native Libya.It irks him that his local mosque in Union City, N.J., won’t broadcast the Muslim call to prayer for fear of angering neighbors, yet nobody complains about the noise from a local bar. Back home, there are no scantily clad women walking across his sight line, and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan is easier because almost everyone is doing it.Jedeh would probably be home by now if he hadn't been asked by a mosque in Boston to help with special nightly Ramadan prayers. After graduating in May with a master's degree in clinical research from the New York University College of Dentistry, he's ready to get back to the small city of Zintan in northwest Libya, where he plans to teach dentistry and work at a local clinic.“It’s different,” said Jedeh, who flies back on Aug. 20. “I miss the Islamic atmosphere.”Despite his homesickness, Jedeh said he has had a positive experience in the U.S. He initially worried about his wife's safety because she wears a niqab, or face veil, but except for one insult shouted by a passerby, he and his family have been treated respectfully. “I believe you cannot judge any country and say, all people are good or all people are bad,” said Jedeh. 
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 1 year 49 weeks ago
Muslim and Coptic Christian leaders in the U.S. are calling on the Egyptian government to exclude any mentions of Islamic law or language that discriminates against minorities in its draft constitution.In an letter released Tuesday, the leaders urge the constitution writers to "recognize the equality of all Egyptians and to reject any language that would discriminate against any citizen of Egypt on the basis of that citizen’s religion or gender.”Because Egypt is home to millions of Christians, attempts to describe Islamic law, or Shariah, as the source of the country’s law should also be rejected, the letter said.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 2 years 3 days ago
This year, more than 3,000 Muslim athletes will compete in the Olympics, but many will not fast, a decision that has been sanctioned by religious authorities. While Muslims are increasingly common on Western teams -- for example British rower Mohamed Sbihi and French boxer Rachid Azzedine -- no Muslims made the U.S. team this year.Nyambui said the hard part about track is training. Competing is easy. Had Ramadan occurred before the Olympics, when athletes prepare their bodies for competition, then his performance would have suffered, he said. He acknowledged that fasting can present difficulties for athletes, but usually only during the first or second weeks of Ramadan when the body is still adjusting to the rigors of fasting.“After that people are used to it,” said Nyambui, speaking from his office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city. “People play soccer, they can go jogging, they can go swimming.”
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 2 years 4 weeks ago
American-born imams are nearly impossible to find. Ads from mosques seeking imams who are fluent in English are readily found in Muslim-American magazines and newspapers. The North American Imams Federation, an advocacy group founded in 2002, gets more than 100 requests for help every year from mosques seeking religious leaders.Hossam AlJabri, a former executive director of the Muslim American Society, estimated that about 80 percent of America’s 2,200 mosques were led by immigrant imams, although the majority have been in America for at least 10 years, many much longer.  According to a 2011 report from the Pew Research Center, 63 percent of America’s estimated 2.75 million Muslims are immigrants — with as many as 90,000 new Muslim immigrants arriving each year. Experts say it will be years before the pool of American imams becomes large enough to meet demand from mosques.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 2 years 6 weeks ago
Muslim civil rights activists are headed to court to end a New York City Police Department program that they say violates their constitutional rights by spying on Muslims based only on their religion.The lawsuit, Hassan et al. v. City of New York, is the first legal challenge against the NYPD's alleged spying and profiling of Muslim Americans in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that was first reported by The Associated Press last year. The suit, to be filed June 6 in a federal court in New Jersey, seeks an “immediate end” to the NYPD surveillance program, and calls for the NYPD to destroy all records of information obtained through the program.Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a San Francisco-based civil rights group representing the plaintiffs, said civil rights groups, congressmen, and other officials have called on U.S., New York, and New Jersey officials to investigate the NYPD’s alleged spying, but to no avail.“It’s come to the point that the community feels like politicians have failed them, so now they’re turning to the courts to seek justice,” Khera said.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 2 years 12 weeks ago
The Pentagon is investigating whether military officials ignored complaints from senior officers about a course that was found to have inflammatory and inaccurate content about Islam.The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, ordered the inquiry on Tuesday (April 24), the same day he canceled "Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism," a training course that asserted that Islam was at war with the West. The course had been offered as an elective at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., since 2004.Roughly 20 officers have complained about the course's content, although it's not clear when, or to whom, or what kind of action was taken. "We don't know what was done with those objections," said Cmdr. Patrick McNally, a Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman.
Posted by Omar Sacirbey 2 years 12 weeks ago
Sikh civil rights activists will unveil a mobile phone application next week (April 30) that they say will allow travelers who believe they have been profiled by airport screeners to file complaints directly from their cell phones.The New York-based Sikh Coalition launched the app project after a steady increase of complaints about unfair treatment at U.S. airports. Sikh men do not cut their hair as an article of faith, and their turbans have been met with suspicion by some Transportation Security Administration personnel.The group emphasized that that the “FlyRights” app is meant to help Sikhs and other religious and racial minorities who have been subject to profiling, such as Muslims, South Asians, Arabs, blacks, and Latinos.