July 20-21, 2009
Sarah Lawrence College
"Building a Progressive Muslim Community"
MPV Petition Update
Join MPV and Sisters in Islam's effort to End Violence Against Women in the Muslim World
"Only when women and girls can live with dignity, in safety, not fearing bodily harm from family members, and with freedom of conscience as the Qur'an demands, can a country rightfully call itself 'Islamic.'"
MPV and Sisters in Islam (Malaysia) are calling for action against domestic violence, acid attacks, honor killing, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. 1500 years ago the Qur'an revealed specific verses condemning violence against women. Yet in many Islamic countries and communities around the world, domestic violence continues to be perpetuated. Punishment for these crimes is often weak, if enforced at all. We find this unacceptable and are calling for a change. Please read our petition and help us mobilize a grassroots campaign to end violence against women. Click here to read and sign the full petition.
By Dilara Hafiz
You've probably heard that Islam is a decentralized religion, that there is no recognized clerical hierarchy or no one person with authority to speak on behalf of the 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. I've always viewed this organizational structure with appreciation that as a Muslim, I am personally empowered to understand the dictates of the religion in my own cultural & national context.
However, after 9/11, it quickly became evident that this very absence of a religious leader left many non-Muslims shaking their heads over what they perceived to be the overwhelming silence from Muslims in the condemnation of the 9/11 attacks. Irrespective of the many Muslim voices which did speak out - it's clear that these voices were not heard, especially in America, a land where the media thrives on sound-bites & vivid imagery which do little to explain the complexities of world affairs.
As an American Muslim who is signed up on numerous blogs and e-mail lists, I hear the voices of condemnation, I read about the interfaith initiatives, and I'm aware of the volunteer & community-building projects thriving across the country. My two children & I even co-authored a book about the basics of Islam in order to dispel stereotypes about the religion and its followers, so believe me when I say that Muslims are proactively trying to engage in the dialogue. In January 2009, the United States Institute of Peace published a report titled Islamic Peacemaking Since 9/11 which extensively outlines the numerous Muslim initiatives in this regard.
Daisy Khan, Executive Director of the ASMA Society (American Society for Muslim Advancement) in New York is one such tireless advocate for education and authentic Islamic thought. Along with her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, they are leaders in the field of prominent American Muslims who are striving to pursue religious harmony, yet even they face obstacles in receiving the media coverage which their efforts duly deserve. Muslim activists, authors, artists, average citizens - we're all around you - but what do we have to do to break through the pervading atmosphere of willful misunderstanding about Islam in America?
As a religious group, American Muslims are not a monolithic block - they are as diverse as American Jews in terms of differences in orthodoxy and observance, yet the media continues to define them by the radical acts of a few. To compound the issue, most non-Muslims remain unaware of the vibrant debates over interpretation and self-identity within the Muslim arena.
Who speaks for Muslims? I can only speak for myself when I try to explain the basics of Islam at book-signings, lectures, and Islam 101 classes. This ongoing dialogue is important to those non-Muslims who are curious about learning the facts of a religion which is often perceived as foreign or even un-American (my children are third-generation Americans). Our book, The American Muslim Teenager's Handbook, is in over 750 libraries and on a growing number of school and college curriculums as a handy, non-proselytizing resource on Islam, yet some Muslims themselves glance at the cover and dismiss us as 'not Muslim enough'.
The diversity which we firmly believe is inherent in Islam lends itself to not only our shadings of skin-color, but also the wide acceptance of personal interpretation. For example, the jacket cover of our book includes pictures of a variety of American Muslim teenagers - some in hijab, some not wearing hijab, some holding basketballs or guitars or i-Pods, some just smiling confidently into the camera - basically a snapshot of the unique teen experience. The welcoming accessibility and inclusiveness of this image resonates with my sincere belief that an American Muslim cannot be narrowly defined by any one image.
And yet, a fringe element within the Muslim community is bent on adhering to a definition of Islam which has no room for music or non-hijab wearing girls. Our book IS judged by its cover and summarily dismissed by these 'representatives of true Islam' - an irony which probably remains lost on them as the rest of us continue to strive against their narrow interpretations through our interfaith discourse and active involvement within our neighborhoods and communities - all activities which they do not engage in as they are loathe to leave their Muslim bubble. These critics love to condemn outspoken Muslims who endeavor to follow the fundamentals of Islam - belief in God and doing good deeds. Whose image of a Muslim is more valid in this global world, one who strives for peaceful co-existence through education and dialogue or one who is busy enforcing the minutia of dogma?
Explaining Islamic belief to anyone who is curious remains my foremost goal during this time when our voices are desperately missing in the media. However, it's sad when our attempts are met with active condemnation by the very people whose children and grandchildren will one day benefit from the acceptance and tolerance which will eventually come to Muslims in America. Just as Jews, Catholics, and Mormons struggled for their place in this pluralistic nation, one day our time of struggle to be recognized as American Muslims will be over too, no thanks to the intolerant minority who sit on the side-lines passing judgment on the rest of us.
Dilara Hafiz is the Vice President of the Arizona Interfaith Movement and co-author of The American Muslim Teenager's Handbook.
|"Spring has Sprung II"
SALEEMAH ABDUL-GHAFUR joins our Advisory Board
1. What issues would you like to see addressed in Muslim communities?
Gender equity-it's no secret that gender equity is a major problem in the global Muslim community. For too long, Muslim women have been socially and politically disenfranchised in Muslim societies and in non-Muslim societies. This treatment is incongruent with the revealed word of God and the example of Muhammad. Now, more than ever, Muslim women must seize the platform and live self determined lives by any means necessary.
2. What makes you tick?
I love my work. I work to save lives. I activate faith-based groups around the Millennium Development Goals; I ensure that Muslim women have space and voice in their homes, communities and societies, and I build bridges across faith lines.
3. What attracted you to Muslims for Progressive Values? What excites you most about being a member of our advisory council?
I find MPV's core values to be very appealing because they are aligned with promoting a just and prosperous world for everyone. We need more chapters of MPV around the country and world, and I'm happy to help in any way that I can.
4. Tell us about your work with Malaria No More and other causes you are passionate about?
I lead faith-based engagement for Malaria No More, which means that I work with communities that identify with a particular faith around ending malaria-related deaths. Malaria is the number one killer of children in Africa, more than HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis combined. It kills and maims millions of people each year and is particularly deadly for pregnant women and children. Indeed this curable and treatable disease zaps 12 billion in GDP from the African continent each year. We know that if we boost the fight against malaria we can advance six of the eight Millennium Development Goals.
5. How does your activism support your spiritual growth and vice-versa?
I try to focus on projects that directly help other people. It's a good way to keep perspective on the blessings of my life. And I must say that knowing the abundant life God wants everyone to live fuels my work as well.
Check out Saleemah's biography here
You & I
© Mahmood Jamal |
You want to speak of War
I want to speak of Peace
You say Punish
I say Forgive
You speak of God's Wrath
I speak of His Mercy
Your Quran is a Weapon
My Quran is a Gift
You speak of the Muslim brotherhood
I speak of the brotherhood of Man
You like to Warn others
I like to Welcome them
You like to speak of Hell
I like to speak of Heaven
You talk of Lamentation
I talk of Celebration
You worship the Law
I worship the Divine
You want Silence
I want Music
You want Death
I want Life
You speak of Power
I speak of Love
You search out Evil
I warm to the Good
You dream of the Sword
I sing of the Rose petal
You say the world is a Desert
I say the world is a Garden
You prefer the Plain
I prefer the Adorned
You want to Destroy
I want to Build
You want to go Back
I want to move Forward
You are busy Denying
I am busy Affirming
Yet there might be one thing
on which we see eye to eye
You want Justice
So do I
Books we like!
1. "Extraordinary Women from the Muslim World"
Extraordinary Women from the Muslim World tells the stories of the following thirteen women who overcame adversity to make their unique contributions to society, art, politics, literature, spirituality and human freedom:
Khadija bint Khuwaylid (pbuh), Aisha binti Abi Bakr (pbuh), Al-Khansa, Rabi'a al-Adawiyya, Arwa bint Ahmed al-Sulayhiyya, Sultan Razia, Nana Asmau, Tjut Njak Dien, Halide Edib Adivar, Umm Kulthum, Sabiha Gökçen, Chaibia Tallal, Shirin Ebadi.
2. "The Lyrical Line"
Congratulations Dalia Mogahed!
MPV would like to congratulate Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, on her appointment to President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
|Muslims for Progressive Values is an all-volunteer organization. 100% of your tax-deductible donation is used for our programs, campaigns, and services, including our new anti-domestic violence campaign. Support us today by donating online.|