Superheroes are Gods.
We read stories of their glory and revel. We bear witness to their losses and mourn. We viciously defend the sanctity of their character against any who would misrepresent them. We attend gatherings with the fellow devoted. We pore over every word that has been written about them so that we may preserve an accurate account of our shared history. We look to their examples for guidance on living better lives.
Over the last two decades, the term “Jihad” has exclusively been defined as a holy war perpetrated by extremists. As such, when the average American hears the term “Jihad,” they conflate Islam with terror. Although the term has been hijacked by extremists, many Muslims in the US and around world don’t recognize Jihad’s contemporary application. For these Muslims, the term, which literally translates to “struggle,” is a personal struggle, or a mission. For example, someone’s “Jihad” could be giving up smoking or to strive to be a better neighbor, friend, husband, or wife.
When we ask what sort of religious studies work Believer does, we are truly asking, what is the nature of our field and what sort of work do we do? As Edward Said, amongst others, noted, we are now academics, not intellectuals. We talk in guild-speak for ourselves, and are not invested in public engagement, even to our first public, our students. We have a conflicted relationship with public engagement. On one hand, we recognize the need to share our knowledge, but on the other we fear being in the public.
Hussein Rashid, founder of the religious literacy consultancy Islamicate L3C, doesn't agree that the belief itself is a problem.
"I think we have to accept that there are theologies that are what I would call exclusionary, that only certain people will go to heaven and certain people will go to hell. They are not inherently Islamophobic or anti-Semitic," Rashid said. "It's when it turns into action that we start getting worried. "
“He could not recall the honor of being on stage with one of the icons of American life, but could remember to deny part of America’s story,” said Hussein Rashid, founder of islamicate, a consultancy focusing on religious literacy. “With his depth of understanding of religion, and the company he keeps, I fully expect him to honor the Ku Klux Klan as representatives of Christianity during his Christmas message.”
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:
Anyone is welcome. You do not have to be Muslim.
The point is to provide greater access to the Qur'an, so please tweet in English, regardless of the language you read in. Multiple language tweets are welcome.
You should tweet verses that appeal to you each night, not the entire juz'. Some of you may wish to do the whole juz', but the idea is that we find comfort in the word of God, and we approach it and understand differently every time we come to it. Each night, there are certain verses that will have more power/resonance. Simply tweet those.
Include chapter and verse numbers using "Arabic" numerals, eg. 1:1, 33:72, etc.
Some verses may be too long for 140 characters. Split the tweet. Summarize. As you will, but make sure you make it clear what you are doing, and include the verse number.
You should feel free to offer commentary on why you chose that verse. If you know some tafsir, please include as well, if relevant.
Tags: please include #ttQuran .
You do not need to commit to reading/Tweeting every night. However, when you do Tweet, please make sure you are on the same juz as everyone else.
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.
Baccalaureate Celebration. Seniors play a significant role in this multifaith gathering that includes music, readings, dance and an address by Hussein Rashid, a community preacher and faculty member in the Barnard College Department of Religion. Johnson Chapel.
This chapter takes us on a journey to Mecca, site of the hajj, or annual pilgrimage. Hussein Rashid depicts this often once-in-a-lifetime experience for several Muslim Americans who represent a wide variety of ethnic, racial, and sectarian backgrounds. We learn about the pilgrimages of Khizer, a health care professional from Washington, D.C.; Zahra, an attorney from California; Debra, a college professor from Wisconsin; Suehaila, a professional recruiter from Dearborn, Michigan; and other Muslim Americans. They walk counter-clockwise around the Ka‘ba; pray outside Mecca at Mina and Mt. Arafat; reenact Hagar’s desperate search for water; and symbolically stone the devil, among other rites. In addition to giving essential background on each of these practices, Rashid asks these pilgrims what all these rituals mean to them and what they hope to gain by coming on hajj. As a result, we come to know not only about the logistical problems and gripes of pilgrims, but also about the failed relationships that led a couple of the pilgrims to seek solace or healing in Mecca in the first place.
“As a Muslim, I’d vote for Jesus, but the Republicans won’t let him in, and the Democrats don’t believe in him,” said Hussein Rashid, a professor of religion at Barnard College, who concedes that he’s a tad bitter about his political options.