Archives for Aug 2011

Martin Luther King Jr., American Muslims, and 9/11

I am thrilled about the new memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Dr. King is the first non-President to be honored in this way. How fitting that his monument stands between those of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Thomas Jefferson defined the dream of equality for all, Abraham Lincoln fought for it, and Martin Luther King Jr. implemented it – at least with respect to the African American community. I rejoice that we are honoring Dr. King. Nevertheless, I wonder if we really get how disturbing and radical his message was. As my good friend and colleague Jim Mullins reminds me, peacemakers sometimes have to be peace disturbers to be effective.

The Many Meanings of Hijab, continued

Our challenge, as we think about Muslim women, is to admit that the hijab opens up complex issues that won’t fit into catchy media sound bites. Each of these women, who for the most part have chosen to wear the head covering and dress modestly, is a unique individual with her own set of issues. In the end, it’s our common humanity that will help us break down stereotypes and develop a better understanding of one another.

The Many Meanings of Hijab

First, when it comes to women and clothing, let’s get one misconception out of the way: “Islam oppresses women.” That is the default statement that, even when not stated outright, is assumed by non-Muslim westerners while their minds dance with this image of Muslim women waddling down the road covered in black cloth from head to toe.

Are Men and Women Equal?

You know from my last blog that large majorities of Muslims worldwide believe that women should have the same civil, political and professional rights as men. Many of you are thinking, "but doesn’t 'Islam' oppress women?" Let’s unpack that statement and see 1) what’s behind this perception, and 2) why Muslims themselves fiercely disagree with one another on these issues.

Driving in Riyadh - If You're Female

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are banned from driving. Many leading princes among the more than 5,000 of their peers favor a lifting of the ban. But many others side with the conservative elements in Saudi society and see this as kowtowing to western norms. For them, allowing women behind the wheel is to slide down the slippery slope of women’s liberation with all the immorality and filth it leads to.

A Rabbi, a Priest, and an Imam: A Report from the Yale Building Hope Conference

A rabbi, a priest and an imam were sitting in a cafe drinking coffee and smoking shisha.... The beginning of a politically incorrect joke? No. One of my favourite moments from the Building Hope Conference in July 2011.

Whose God is Allah? - Part 2

Earlier this week, Norani Abu Bakar guest blogged about the use of the word Allah in different countries and by different faith communities around the world. Today, she concludes the discussion by looking at the way the word is used in Indonesia and Malaysia.

ex:Change - Muslim and Christian Students Overcoming Stereotypes

"Popular rhetoric supposes Western and Islamic 'civilizations' are bound to 'clash.' But is this true?" That’s the question that drives Mario Mattei in making his new documentary called Ex:Change, a video project that will explore stereotypes between Muslim and Western students in America, and how those stereotypes have been and can be overcome.

Whose God is Allah? - Part 1

In the 21st century, the word “Allah” has different meanings for different people around the world. As I have lived in different countries and met people of diverse backgrounds, I have found that the definition of Allah relies heavily on a person's background and faith traditions. Unfortunately, the word "Allah" also sparks hostility and violence. So who is Allah to the regional Muslims and non-Muslims across the globe?