muslim americans

Priorities and Concerns Aren't That Different Among Muslims, Protestants, Jews

Image via REUTERS/Dave Kaup/RNS

This election season, Muslims face a slate of Republican candidates who demand curbs on immigration and compete over how tough they’d be on Islamic terrorism, if elected. But a new survey finds U.S. Muslims are looking at American society and its future much the same as their non-Muslim neighbors. Like non-Muslims, the economy is their top concern. They are engaged in community life, and share similar attitudes on several significant issues.

President Obama: 'We Cannot Be Bystanders to Bigotry'

President Obama visits the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque
President Barack Obama at the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque on Feb. 3. Photo courtesy of the White House/Pete Souza
 

Our Founders knew that religious liberty is essential not only to protect religion, but because religion helps strengthen our nation. From our Revolution to the abolition of slavery, from women’s rights to civil rights, men and women of faith have often helped move our nation closer to our founding ideals. This progress is part of what makes us a beacon to the world.

Muslims in the U.S. Face Enemies on All Sides

REUTERS / Joshua Roberts / RNS
Photo via REUTERS / Joshua Roberts / RNS

Recently some American politicians have made shocking comments regarding Muslims — shocking because they have been cheered on and gained political mileage; shocking because the politicians pretend they are honoring the U.S. Constitution; and shocking because the politicians are willing to overlook the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights for all in order to dehumanize Muslims.

American Muslims feel sad, depressed, and frightened about this trend. Fascism takes a long path, but it starts this way. At the same time, we are optimistic that these days that are upon us will pass and that Islamophobic politicians and their backers will fade in due course.

Post-Boston Bombings, Female Converts to Islam Face Growing Scrutiny

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.

Loving our Muslim Neighbors

Illustration by Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners
Illustration by Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners

A few weeks ago, we asked you to sign a petition asking the Department of Justice to investigate hate crimes against the Islamic Society of Joplin’s mosque. Federal officials are offering $15,000 for information leading to the man who set the mosque on fire July 4th.

Beau Underwood wrote for Sojourners two weeks ago: “The biblical call to love our neighbors as ourselves requires Christians to speak out against these attacks. By protecting the rights of American Muslims to worship in the United States, we provide a powerful witness to those countries where Christian minorities face attack and persecution, such as Nigeria, Egypt, Somalia, and Kenya. If we expect others to take our advocacy for global religious freedom seriously, then our efforts must begin in our own backyard.”

More than 5,500 of you signed this petition, which is incredible! But we don’t have to stop there.

Faith Groups Condemn Bachmann's Muslim Brotherhood Allegations

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Michele Bachmann speaking in January. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

On Wednesday, 42 interfaith religious and advocacy organizations signed on to a letter condemning Rep. Michele Bachmann and others in Congress for their accusations that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the U.S. government. 

The claims — one aimed at Sec. Hillary's Clinton aideHuma Abedin — have also been condemned by members on both sides of the aisle. One of the most impassioned defenses of Abedin came from Sen. John McCain (R - Ariz.), saying, "When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it.” 

Ahmadi Muslim Leader Pushes Plight in Congress

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Guards keep watch atop a mosque as members of the persecuted Ahmad gather. Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is persecuted around the world, but it has plenty of friends on Capitol Hill.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., joined more than 20 House colleagues and at least one senator on June 27 at a reception to mark the first visit of the Ahmadiyya’s spiritual leader, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, to Congress.

The Ahmadiyya have faced severe repression, Pelosi said,  “but you refused to turn to bitterness or vengeance.”

“The message we carry is 'if you are being hurt, do not respond with hurt,'" said Ahsanullah Zafar, president of the Ahmadiyya community in the U.S.

Muslims Launch Campaign to Explain Shariah

Understanding Shariah ad from ICNA.
Understanding Shariah ad from ICNA.

Against a backdrop of heartland fears that U.S. Muslims seek to impose Islamic law on American courts, a leading Muslim group will launch a campaign Monday to dispel what it called misconceptions about Shariah.
   
The "Defending Religious Freedom: Understanding Shariah" campaign comes at a time when more than 20 states are considering or have passed laws forbidding judges from considering Shariah in their deliberations.
   
Many Americans associate Shariah with the harsh punishments carried out in a few Muslim countries like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, even as U.S. Muslim groups insist they have no desire to introduce Islamic law on themselves or others.
   
"There were all these wrong notions about Shariah," said professor Zahid Bukhari, president of the Islamic Circle of North America, which is sponsoring the campaign.
   
The most worrisome thing, he said, was that the level of hatred toward Shariah had spread from the margins of society to the mainstream. The ICNA campaign has already drawn fire from "anti-Shariah" groups in the United State

Verizon Dropping Muslim TV Network

Verizon, the national cable television operator, has decided to drop Bridges TV, a pioneering television network that seeks to challenge stereotypes of Muslims and create understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Verizon is the main distributor for Bridges TV, which was launched in 2004 and relies on Verizon to reach 19 of its 26 markets, including Los Angeles, metro New York, Dallas and Washington, D.C.

Prayer, Poetry, Politics

READING KAZIM ALI, one is reminded in a way of James Baldwin, whose book The Fire Next Time defined and is intertwined with the civil rights struggle during the mid-’60s. Ali is a Muslim-American poet, essayist, and novelist whose two most recent books similarly will be invaluable to those wanting to know what it means to be Muslim in post- 9/11 America.

Ali writes in his “Poetry Is Dangerous” piece in Orange Alert, a book of literary and political essays, of arousing the suspicion of an ROTC man at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania while innocently disposing of poems from a poetry contest he was judging. The son of Indian Muslims, his “Middle Eastern” appearance was cited, and the police were brought in. He was told that in the “current climate” (the year was 2007, and America was on “orange alert”) he had to be careful about his behavior.

“It was poetry, I kept insisting to the state policeman who was questioning me on the phone,” Ali writes. “It was poetry I was putting out to be recycled.”

Even in Fasting for Ramadan, Ali’s spiritual journal of insights, associations, and revelations jotted down during the 30-day fast, his mind cannot escape menace. He mentions the orange peeled and eaten in the morning, and the sunset, also orange, seen in the evening. That leads to his reflecting: “Orange alert means now is the time for creative expression, for flowering; now is the time, more than any other, to eschew practices of exhaustion and death and turn toward our interior sources of love and light.”

Ali is a contemplative writer happy to contemplate happiness, or its opposite, or to explore the mystery of Hajira (Hagar) looking for water in the desert. (“What was she thinking?” he writes.)

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