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January 2010 Newsletter 
In This Issue
Our Allah and Your Allah
Media Watch
Books We Like
Interfaith Art by Lubna Lipton

God Cannot be Monopolized
This is a personal note in response to the tragic events that have been occurring in my home country, Malaysia. Nothing upsets me more than seeing the diversity and respect the citizens of that nation had for each other disintegrate on account of ignorance.
On Dec. 31st, the Malaysian courts overturned a government ban on the use of the word Allah to denote a Christian God. In response, fractional groups responded by fire-bombing and vandalizing churches. 'Allah' is not an exclusive Muslim God. It is just another word for God in Arabic. If Muslims claim it to be 'their' God, are we then praying to a different God than Christians and Jews?

If Muslims claim the word 'Allah' is rightfully theirs, then they are blissfully ignorant. The word 'Allah' even predates Islam! 
Lastly, the Quran commands Muslims: "And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)." 

As Muslims we have an obligation to stand up for justice and peace. If you are disgusted by these acts of terror, then please speak up. For the Malaysians, you can have your voice heard by clicking on this petition:
Ani Zonneveld
MPV President


 Muslimah Media Watch
Muslimah Media Watch is a forum where Muslim women can critique how our images appear in the media and popular culture. Although we are of different nationalities, sects, races, etc., we have something important in common: we're tired of seeing ourselves portrayed by the media in ways that are one-dimensional and misleading. This is a space where, from a Muslim feminist perspective, we can speak up for ourselves.

We love Muslimah Media Watch! Check it out for yourselves at and while you're at it, meet Fatemeh Fakhraie, the dynamic founder and editor of Muslimah Media Watch. Learn more about what motivates her here.
Books We Like

'Stealing Nasreen'
by Farzana Doctor

zainah and sara 
 Stealing Nasreen is a unique novel about the complex and intertwined lives of three different people, who share one commonality - roots in the Bohri Muslim community of Mumbai. The story takes place in Toronto, where Nasreen, an overworked psychologist recovering from a break-up with her long-term girlfriend and the death of her mother, decides its time to master her family's native language, Gujurati. She finds Salma, a recent Indian immigrant, eager to tutor her. Salma becomes increasingly fascinated by Nasreen, unlocking her long repressed desires. Coincidentally, unbeknownst to Salma and Nasreen, Salma's husband works as a custodian at Nasreen's office and has developed a strange obsession with Nasreen, whom to him represents a peculiar mix of East and West.  A fascinating and engaging read!

 'The 99'
by Teshkeel Comics
The 99 is a comic book published by Teshkeel Comics about a diverse team of global zainah and sarasuperheroes. The characters are ordinary young folk who have acquired one of the 99 mystical stones of light, which represent the 99 attributes, or names, of God.  Humans can also possess many of these attributes, such as faithfulness, patience, wisdom, and grace (although when these attributes are applied to people, the "Al" prefix is removed, for example al-Rahman is "The Gracious," i.e. God, whereas a person can be "gracious"). The creator of the comic book series, Dr. Al-Mutawa says that the stories communicate Islamic virtues, but that these virtues are universal in nature. The series has been so successful that an animated series is currently being developed. Learn more at:
"Writing on the Wall"
Lubna Lipton
Writing on the Wall

Lubna Lipton is a Los Angeles based artist, who considers her earliest influences while growing up in Pakistan to be poetry, music and dance. She studied Design and Art History at Cal State L.A, and has been painting and teaching art history in the L.A Community College District.
Lubna's cultural background brings an inherent influence of calligraphy in her work, while her personal style leans toward surrealism. To view more artwork, please contact

Peace be with you all and Happy New Year!

We hope this year brings you much fulfillment and joy!

Here at MPV, we have been charging forward full speed ahead with our goals for 2010. We have a long to-do list ahead of us, including the launch of the Light of Islam Sunday School* in Los Angeles, adaptations of Asma Barlas' work on the Quran and feminism for the Literary Zikr* project, our fourth annual summer retreat (to take place in Atlanta), and as always, continuing to nurture and grow progressive Muslim communities around the country through local meet-ups and events.

As we celebrate the new year, we wanted to step back for a second to reflect on some of our accomplishments in 2009. Highlights include our third annual summer retreat, the celebration of MPV Los Angeles' 100th meet-up,  the NYC chapter of MPV's incorporation as a 501(c)(3), launch of MPV chapters in Washington DC and Toronto, Canada, and the completion of our inaugural adaptation for the Literary Zikr project. 
Since our inception four years ago, MPV has grown from an on-line discussion group to a thriving community with roots in Los Angles, New York, and now D.C. and Toronto. With your support, we look forward to continuing to grow and flourish throughout the years.

The Muslims for Progressive Values Board of Directors
* Light of Islam Sunday School: The school welcomes all children and their families who identify as Muslim and wish to learn about their faith from an inclusive and tolerant point of view. Students learn the history, traditions and rituals of Islam in an atmosphere of open inquiry and discussion. Each lesson includes Arabic study and a Quranic lesson relating the timeless teachings of Islam to contemporary life. Emphasis is placed on social and environmental consciousness, religious tolerance, compassion, and artistic expression. The Light of Islam Sunday School seeks to enrich the spiritual life of all Muslims.

 *Literary Zikr: Literary Zikr brings together scholars of progressive Islamic thought with Muslim youth in search of answers to questions of faith, human rights, contemporary social issues, and political governance. Literary Zikr is a website providing the academic works of world-renowned scholars of Islam in simple and youth-friendly language. Thanks to the generous donation from the Mohhsin & Fauziah Jaafar Foundation we have embarked on our first adaptation from Professor Abdullahi An-Naim on Sharia and Islamic Family Law (available soon online at
In our last newsletter, we incorrectly stated that El-Farouk Khaki was representing the Noor Cultural Center at the MPV retreat in the summer of 2009. Our apologies for any confusion.
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