The Muppets offered us biting social commentary when their show began nearly forty years ago. Now, with their videos, they are showing us an antidote to the xenophobia infecting our political and popular discourses. In their videos, they are offering a hopeful and positive vision of America, which includes all of the people living in it — divorced, gay, Muslim, black, etc. — a message that will hopefully be even more explicit in their show.
Over the last year, Muslim refugees fleeing the brutality of war in Iraq and Syria have sought asylum in a number of Western European countries, including France. But many lifelong French citizens are Muslim—the Muslim nation of Algeria was actually part of France in the 20th century.
Hussein Rashid, a professor of religion at Hofstra University, explains how the Muslim community is responding to these attacks.
Dr. Hussein Rashid, an adjunct assistant professor of religion at Hofstra University and founder of the consultancy group islamicate, L3C, which focuses on religious literacy and cultural competency, began laughing when he was asked about Ahmed’s arrest. “I’m utterly flabbergasted,” said Rashid. “You got to think about the multiple failures that had to happen here, right? A student who wants to prove he’s good in science goes to his teacher and says, ‘I am a good student.'”
Dr. Hussein Rashid, an adjunct assistant professor of religion at Hofstra University and founder of the consultancy group islamicate, L3C, which focuses on religious literacy and cultural competency, began laughing when he was asked about Ahmed’s arrest.
The report, called (Re)Presenting American Muslims: Broadening the Conversation, seeks to move beyond inclusion as simply referring to sexual orientation. Instead, it aims to revive a broader ethos of pluralism and cosmopolitanism, grounded in Muslim traditions, that has historically been the hallmark of healthy, thriving Muslim societies. In many ways, it sets the stage for and goes beyond the open letter to American Muslims published by Reza Aslan and Hassan Minhaj here on RD.
The idea of writing about the future of Islam in America is more than daunting. At nearly 2 percent of the U.S. population, covering all fifty states, with histories stretching back hundreds of years, and representing nearly every Muslim community in the world, there does not seem to be a unified future. And that there is no one future is in fact a blessing and a potential, which perhaps should be the future to be celebrated.
There is an idea of “Islam,” as a signifier of something foreign and threatening, that continues to plague American discussion of the religion. It is part of the shooting in Chattanooga, and it part of the debate around the Iran nuclear deal.
Traditionally, Muslims read the Qur'an in its entirety over this time, in a section a day. The Qur'an is split into thirty sections, called juz', and one section is read each night.
This year is the 7th year I am inviting people to tweet the Qur’an for Ramadan. I will be tweeting @islamoyankee.
To see how the call has (not) evolved, here are the six five call outs:
2010 (despite the title, which says 2011)
The Background [from the 2009 post]
This year, I have been thinking it would be fun to tweet the Qur'an for Ramadan. Coincidentally, Shavuot came, and several people I follow on Twitter tweeted the Torah. Since that experience seemed to be successful, it further cemented my belief that this would be a good idea.
I remain grateful to Aziz Poonawala (@azizhp), who helps me refine our guidelines and provide technical feedback every year.
Our guidelines from last year:
If there are are other guidelines you believe should be included, please leave them in comments and I'll move up some to the main post.
My first piece for the Foreign Policy Association blog.
The recent attack against Ismaili Muslims in Karachi, Pakistan, will be read by most as part of a simple narrative of an ongoing Sunni-Shi’ah conflict. Unfortunately, as consistent fear-mongering has demonstrated with Sharia, bandying about non-English words conveys a facade of knowledge without any guarantee of any actual understanding. As is the case with most political violence, here is more to this attack than a simple retelling of a religious clash. There is a deeper history that is masked by using inappropriate vocabulary, and misusing it is allowing the most extreme voices to set the agenda.
I am talking about Lust. As part of a lecture series at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, I’ll be giving a Muslim perspective on love and lust.
The talk will be the sixth in series, and will happen on Wednesday, May 13 from 6-7:30PM.
Details on the series can be found here.
It is time for the McGinley Lecture at Fordham. This term, I will be giving a response to the theme of “Poverty: The Curse and The Blessing."
The event will be Tuesday, April 14 at 6PM at the Lincoln Center campus, and repeated on Wednesday, April 15, at 6PM at the Rose Hill campus.
Details on this event can be found here.
Previous topics I have been a respondent to include:
Hussein Rashid, a professor of religion at Hofstra University, says that many qawwaliartists working in South Asia today have limited themselves. He believes this American group is bringing the music back to its roots.
"You know, I think there's been so much concern about what is Islam, and what isn't, politically speaking and artistically speaking," Rashid says, "that there's been a push in modern qawwali to actually sanitize it and make it very sterile — and almost rule-bound — rather than ecstatic and devotional. For me, I think what Riyaaz Qawwali is doing is trying to go back to that very exciting, innovative space that qawwali was."
And so to Rashid, it's totally logical that such a burst of inspiration would come from deep in the heart of Texas. "In fact," he says, "it seems natural that we would get a new flourishing of Muslim devotionals in a place like America, where we do have this freedom of religion."
I previously wrote about the group of OnBeing, in a piece called Qawwalis, Found Sounds, and Benghazi: Locating the Sacred in a New York Church.
On Friday, April 10, 2015, from 7-8:30PM, I will be discussing a film at the Rubin Museum of Art in NYC.
The film is about conjoined twins in Iran, one of whom is religious, and the other is not.
Please join me. Details can be found here.
Today, a highly acclaimed new film hits theaters across the U.S. It's called "Timbuktu," and it's a French-Mauritanian drama directed by Abderrahmane Sissako.
Hussein Rashid is professor of religion at Hofstra University. He joins us to share his thoughts on the film, and the controversy surrounding it.
"My initial thought is that the cover is a near perfect response to the tragedy," said Hussein Rashid, a professor of Islamic thought at Hofstra University in New York.
"They are not backing down from the depiction of Mohammed, exercising their free speech rights. At the same time, the message is conciliatory, humble, and will hopefully reduce the anger directed to the Muslim communities of France."
Rashid noted that the cover's central message -- forgiveness -- resonates not only throughout Islam but through other world religions as well, embracing all in a spirit of reconciliation.
"The cover is a call to our better angels," Rashid said, "and an acknowledgment that religion also offers good to the world."
Marble has a rich history of participating in interfaith activities and one of the highlights is our “Trialogue” under the leadership of Dr. Michael Brown. The focus of the service is a conversation among spiritual leaders of three faiths: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Ask a friend to join you for this unique and memorable worship experience.
Europe remains on edge in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack at the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo.
The attack has highlighted deep divisions between French nationals and Muslim immigrants—a community that Hussein Rashid, a professor of religion at Hofstra University, says has been under fire for years.
"French society has a very hard time integrating its minorities—whether they're Muslim, Jewish, or black," says Rashid. "Nicolas Sarkozy, the former prime minister, during his tenor as interior minister, once called the minorities of Francs scum."
Regarding images: Muhammad is a powerful symbol for Muslims. The Quran calls him a “beautiful role model,” and he is considered to be the most perfect Muslim. It is generally accepted by Muslims that images of Muhammad, or any other person, do not appear in mosques. However, this ban does not extend outside the mosque. Various Muslim cultures show a comfort with painting and figural representation. Images of Muhammad, his family, prophets and other holy figures exist. They are on display in museums throughout the world. In some, the faces are obscured, but in many, the faces are on full display.
In a bitter irony, the sometimes violent attacks against portrayals of the prophet are kind of reverse idol-worship, revering -- and killing for -- the absence of an image, said Hussein Rashid, a professor of Islamic studies at Hofstra University in New York.
Dr. Rashid’s presentation entitled “Sounding Off: Making National Narratives through Music” focused on how Muslims integrate different musical expressions to alter national narratives and normalize the presence of Muslims in North America. Dr. Rashid looked at musical genres from hip-hop to qawwali, including the practice of silence. The talk also touched on transnational flows, mixing of traditions, and Muslims ignorance of their own traditions. The question-and-answer revolved around two themes: valuing the human being and the race to cultural amnesia that Muslims are participating in.
The podcast “Serial” is an addictive radio documentary that revolves around a real-life whodunit: the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and the conviction of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for the crime. It also illustrates how our thinking about Muslims has changed.
With each bloody act, Islamic State militants demonstrate their need for self-importance overrides any moral, ethical, or religious boundary. Peter Kassig’s beheading is a microcosm of all the Islamic State wants, and religion is not high on that list.
Changing school calendars is a politically difficult maneuver because it makes statements about community identity. Our initial school calendar was determined by a mix of agricultural schedules and dominant religious thought. The result: summers off to work the land, and the end of December off to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Despite changing economies and demographics, we hold on to this system because it tells a story of who we are as a nation.
The recent attacks on military and law enforcement personnel in Canada and the U.S. raises the specter of “lone wolf” terrorist attacks, making Muslims suspect. Such thinking is superficial and reactionary. In the age of modern Islamophobia, it is a situation of owning a hammer and thinking everything is a nail. Looking at so-called “lone wolf” attacks in more detail and in a larger context reveals disconcerting issues in mental health care and media representations of Islam.
Hussein Rashid, a professor of religion at Hofstra University, argues that extremism appeals to those with mental illness because of their perceived lack of control in their own lives.
On Sunday, September 21, I was blessed to be asked to join The Ark, organized by Auburn Seminary and Groundswell (with help from lots of named and unnamed supporters) for the People's Climate March. The New York Times found it an “odd juxtaposition," that so many faith groups were next to one another, missing the point that we all share one planet. More importantly, the NYT is in the business of showing us in conflict, not the billions of ways we get along with one another because of all the things we have in common.
Like so many others on Green Faith Street, I marched because it is a moral imperative. Although I could easily point to the Quran and show how defiling and wasting water are potentially the greatest sins in the tradition, I want to move immediately to a broader discussion. The ethics of caring for God's creation is a means of being God conscious.