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.
It is obvious that most Muslims across the world find the actions of the so-called “Islamic State” abhorrent; from condemnation in the US and UK, to satire in the Middle East, there is no point in elaborating my own personal opposition to them. However, while they may denigrate the name of the religion, and spitting on the declaration of faith they sewed into their flag, I will not give them the power to define my faith in relation to them. So, I am not ISIS, let me tell you who I am.
As ISIS appears to be gaining ground in Iraq, there seems to be a lack of a grand strategy coming out of the White House. The low hum of drone warfare, as opposed to coordinated decisive victories like in Irbil, creates a greater potential for feeding ISIS' propaganda machine. The United States must think more comprehensively than a military intervention.
There is a power in raising our hands for Ferguson. We do not raise our hands like the Illuminati or a Rockefella [sicknowledge]; we do not raise our hands to act out an NWA lyric; we do not even raise our hands in an “Allah Akbar.” Instead, we raise our hands in surrender. Our submission is to the police. The power in raising our hands is with the police. It’s not an act of agency, but a recognition of the value(lessness) of brown and black bodies. This submission to authoritarianism should concern us.
Hussein Rashid, a professor at Hofstra University and an Islamic scholar, said these debates have been raging within the Muslim community, who are fragmented on what should be eaten. Other issues include whether stunning an animal before death is halal and the age-old debate on whether it’s okay to eat meat slaughtered by Jews and Christians.
Quoting Islam's holiest text to make that point was smart, said Hussein Rashid, a religion scholar at Hofstra University in New York. "ISIS violates every single tenet of this verse, so Barfi shows them to be ignorant," he said.
"By using the Quran as the basis for debate he also demonstrates that ISIS does not actually base themselves in Muslim traditions, but in the language of hatred and rage."
Likewise, Barfi's use of the phrase "debate with calm preachings" rings a particular note in Islam, Muslim scholars said.
It recalls earlier eras in Muslim history, when caliphs sometimes settled disagreements between Muslims, Christians and Jews through debates, not violence. That point is key, since ISIS presents itself as the true reincarnation of early caliphs.
"They fought wars, but warfare and slaughter were not the things to strive for," Rashid said. "Training swords was easy, but training minds was hard. You proved your quality through debate."
I am a huge fan of Sufi Comics. I've been reading them for years, and appreciate their dedication to their craft, and the fact that they use the teachings of both Sufism and Shi'ism in their lessons. I was super excited when their first book came out, even though it was a collection of material they had already published on their blog. I bought several copies, and then several more when the color version came out.
Their second book, The Wise Fool of Baghdad, was also a gem. They used the name Bahlool, but the figure they wrote about is known through the Muslim world under a variety of names, including Nasiruddin Khoja.
My only criticism of that book is that sometimes the inclusion of didactic materia - verses of the Qur'an, ahadith - sometimes felt forced. The lessons in the stories are powerful in their own right.
Now, the folks behind these two books are releasing a third about the teachings of Jalaluddin Rumi.
The book keeps their tradition of lavishly illustrated stories alive. In addition to the lovely images, the stories include the original Persian text of Rumi's teaching, which is a nice addition. Andrew Harvey's renditions are good at keeping the spirit of the story, but not the texture of the Persian. If you can read the original, it's a nice comparison.
The stories themselves are some of the most well-known from Rumi, and that adds to the value of the collection. Spiritual wisdom often requires repetition, and familiarity does not breed contempt. The story of the grapes and the story of the elephant remain two of my favorite, and continue to remain relevant.
Like The Wise Fool, there are didactic segments at the end of each story. In some places, they work really well. In others, I think it's a bit forced. And, like Bahlool stories, there is so much value in the stories, and they are so steeped in Muslim thought, I don't know if there is a value add to those sections.
That minor observation aside, the Rumi book keeps the great work of the Vakil brothers going. It's a must have book, not just for yourself, but to give to others. I've used their books in teaching and with kids' groups. They are accessible and beautiful. If you haven't read their work yet, now is a good time to get into it.
[Disclaimer: I will receive a free copy of the book for this review. There are no conditions on the review, and I do not believe my review has been impacted by the offer of the free book.]
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 6th year I am inviting people to tweet the Qur’an for Ramadan.
To see how the call has (not) evolved, here are the first 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, 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.
As one author expressed, avoiding thinking about death does not confer immortality. Religious traditions bring a distinctive perspective to the end of the life cycle and the inevitability of death. Recognizing mortality, often terrifying at first, can provide ultimate meaning for living when faced with acceptance and preparation. In this week we will face destiny with practicality, inspiration, and perhaps joy.
I am honored to be a respondent to the Spring 2014 McGinley Lecture on "Usury: A Moral Problem for Jews, Christians, and Muslims."
The lecture and response will be offered on April 8 (Manhattan Campus) and April 9 (Bronx Campus). Both dates will start at 6PM.
Details can be found here: http://www.fordham.edu/audience/mcginley_chair/fr_ryan.asp
Our presenter will be Hussein Rashid of Hofstra University. His presentation is titled: “A Qawwali-fied Home: Integration Through Resistance”
Following my previous post on putting the Aga Khan’s speech at Brown in a historical context, I want to spend some time on his discussion of technology and human interaction. Rather than speaking only to the Nizari Ismaili community, or to concerns that affect only Nizari Ismailis, he is addressing a larger human concern. If, as the Qur’an states, the Prophet Muhammad was sent as a mercy to all mankind, than it is only logical that his descendants and the inheritors of his spiritual authority should continue to speak and work for the betterment of humanity, not just the segment that agrees with them.
Recently, the Aga Khan gave a speech at Brown University. As the head of a community of Muslims spread throughout the world, a community to which I belong, the speech needs some reflection. As the Imam, or Divinely appointed head of the community, it would be a mistake to read his comments as a concern for the moment.
The East Meadow Public Library was selected to participate in "Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys," a scholar-led reading and discussion program "designed to foster opportunities for informed community conversations about the histories, faith and cultures of Muslims around the world and within the United States," according to East Meadow Public Library officials.
The East Meadow Public Library chose the theme "American Stories," to be discussed by Dr. Hussein Rashid from Hofstra University.
EMPL receives Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys Grant
Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys is a scholar-led reading and discussion program designed to foster opportunities for informed community conversations about the histories, faith, and cultures of Muslims around the world and within the United States. This is only available to sites that have been selected to receive the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf. ALA and NEH invited the humanities councils and public, academic, and community college libraries that are participating in the Bookshelf to apply for Let’s Talk About It. In May 2013, NEH and ALA selected 125 libraries and humanities councils to participate in the project. Each participating site will focus on one of five Muslim Journeys themes, hosting a five-part, scholar-led reading and discussion series exploring the theme and related books.
We have chosen the theme American Stories. Our scholar is the esteemed Dr. Hussein Rashid from Hofstra University. Look out for our accompanying programs. Please see our schedule of book discussions on Thursdays at 7 p.m. below:
Prince Among Slaves by Terry Alford January 9
The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States (selections) Compiled by Edward E. Curtis, IV February 6
Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel March 6
A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, From the Middle East to America By Leila Ahmed (Special Guest Speaker) April 10
The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson May 8
Reem Hussein, Islamic Calligraphy Sunday, January 26
American born Muslim artist Reem Hussein holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art. She
completed her training in interior design and the restoration of antiques and decorative arts objects at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Her study of antiques, and preserving of the visual aging qualities of metal, wood, and ceramics inspire the background renderings for her paintings. Traditional calligraphy is produced with a reed pen that the calligrapher herself carves, and homemade. Though Reem still practices her art using this medium, her finished works are usually in watercolor. Join us for this interactive presentation.
Reservations open on Monday, January 13.
"I think Daayiee is trying to say, 'Yes, I can be gay and I can be a Muslim, and I can tend to people who are also gay and Muslim,' that this is part of their identity as a human being and that the religion of Islam teaches people to embrace all aspects of their humanity," he said.
The sweeping surveillance of local Muslims is un-American, unconstitutional and spawns an atmosphere of mistrust, undermining the efforts of law enforcement conducting clandestine investigations of Muslim Americans in the New York metropolitan area.
These criticisms of the New York Police Department’s surveillance of Muslim Americans from New York City to Long Island were made by New York State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) and Dr. Hussein Rashid, a professor of religion at Hofstra University during the college’s 11th annual “Day of Dialogue” event Wednesday.
For several years we have suffered global catastrophes that have cost thousands of lives and untold years of future hardship. Most recent is Typhoon Haiyan, which destroyed parts of the Philippines at a cost of over 5000 lives. It is easy, and necessary, to give money to help people after a tragedy like this, but it is also easy for donor fatigue to develop. There are already reports that most Americans are unaware of the tragedy. More importantly, even after the initial rush of aid, what happens to the people and physical ruins of their lives is something we do not often pay attention to.
So, for Giving Tuesday, I want to highlight the work of MIIM Designs, an architectural and design firm that uses “design communities + create culture” as its tagline. They are fundraising to help rebuild. Their goal is “speaking to local citizens and construction professionals, they are working to begin understanding the on-the-ground situation, assess the area's needs, and deliver impactful design to help the people.” In other words, they are putting into direct practice what I, and what I believe other people, want understand, which is how their money is being used.
The work they are fundraising for is person-centered, trying to meet local needs, and build for the future. It’s daring and bold, and should be the norm. I work on Muslim arts, and dabble a little with architecture. I think it’s great that we can point to marvels like the Taj Mahal, or the 96th Street mosque, But we have to think of architecture as something more than monumental. It speaks to the needs and identities of people. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, one of the premiere architecture awards, says its goal is:
The selection process emphasizes architecture that not only provides for people's physical, social and economic needs, but that also stimulates and responds to their cultural expectations. Particular attention is given to building schemes that use local resources and appropriate technology in innovative ways, and to projects likely to inspire similar efforts elsewhere.
From what I understand of MIIM Design’s vision, this is the response they are fundraising for. I would love to see people donate to this cause.
It’s Giving Tuesday, help out.
I'll be speaking on a great panel sponsored by the Trevor Project on LGBT youth acceptance in faith communities. Flyer is attached and details are:
Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013
Metropolitan Community Church
446 West 36th Street (between Dyer Ave and 10th Ave)
You can register here: (free)
Dr.Rashid, Professor of Religion at Hofstra University and Associate Editor of Religion Dispatches joined Hofstra's Morning Wake-Up Call on WRHU Friday, August 30,2013 to respond to new AP reports that the NYPD labeled entire mosques "terrorism enterprises" in order to justify surveillance.
Hussein Rashid, a professor at Hofstra University, disses those who say a Ramadan observance called Laylat ul-Qadr, which translates as the “Night of Power” or the “Night of Destiny,” may be the reason for the closure of U.S. embassies in Africa and the Middle East.
During Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims, there is a night that I look forward to every year. This night is called Laylat ul-Qadr, which translates as the “Night of Power” or the “Night of Destiny.”