Islam and Muslims in USA: The Muslim-baiting radio host the GOP can't resist
- The Muslim-baiting radio host the GOP can't resist
WEDNESDAY, APR 6, 2011 13:29 ET
The host of a radio show that has become a regular stop for Republican presidential candidates is calling for restrictions on Muslim immigration to the U.S.
Bryan Fischer, who is the American Family Association’s Director of Issues Analysis, also called Islam a "toxic cancer" on his show today. This is not new rhetoric for Fischer, but what makes it interesting is that several potential GOP candidates have recently accepted invitiations to be on his show. That includes Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Haley Barbour, and Newt Gingrich.
"We really need to restrict immigration from Islamic countries," Fischer said today.
Here, via Right Wing Watch, are his latest comments:
We allow unrestricted Muslim immigration into the United States we are welcoming to our shores, welcoming to our borders, men who are determined to destroy us. They’ve said it themselves, it’s in their own writings, it’s in their own words; they’re out to eliminate and destroy western civilization. It’s just absolute folly to invite that kind of toxic cancer into our culture, but that’s what we’re doing every single day.
Watch, starting at about 6:30:
If Fischer were another anonymous crank, this wouldn't be newsworthy. But this is a man who regularly attracts presidential candidates to his program. Here he is interviewing Haley Barbour. Here he is interviewing Tim Pawlenty. And here he is interviewing Newt Gingrich.
Seven Muslim Americans on Ballot in Suburban Chicago
April 04, 2011
When it started last year, the non-profit group Project Mobilize, or Project M, hoped to change the political landscape in suburban Chicago by promoting Muslim Americans as election candidates. So far, there are no Muslim Americans serving as elected officials in the Chicago area. But Project M hopes that will change in municipal elections April 5.
In the countdown to election day, Maha Hasan is making a final push to get out the vote.
She is running for a position as a trustee with the Justice Public Library. Justice is a Chicago suburb.
“The demographics have significantly changed. You see a lot more Polish immigrants coming in. You see a lot more Latin Americans. You see more, definitely more Middle Eastern Arab Americans migrating in,” she said.
Hasan is hoping to make history as the first Muslim American candidate elected to the Justice Public Library board. She is one of seven Muslim Americans on ballots in municipal elections in suburban Chicago April 5. Five are women.
“As far as me being a Muslim female running for this, and wearing the headscarf and obviously following a more traditional Islamic role and obligation, it might be difficult in that people will look at me and automatically judge me, but that’s part of the process of getting people to know who I am and what I offer as a Muslim female American of Arab descent living in this country,” she said.
Hasan has familiar company on the campaign trail. Her sister Nuha is running for a position as commissioner with the Justice Park District.
Maha and Nuha Hasan are on ballots thanks to the non-profit group Project Mobilize, run by Reema Ahmad. She says there is a similarity between the efforts in suburban Chicago, and the changes underway in the Middle East.
“We’re having our own revolution where we want to get more people involved, change people’s mind-set. You can actually have a say in your local government. You can do something about the park district, about the libraries. If you have a really good idea, you can get involved. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility. And that’s what we are trying to do here,” she said.
Ahmed Aduib is running for a position on the Bridgeview library board. He says before now, there was a reluctance in the Muslim American community to be active in politics.
“It took the Muslim community a while to realize that we need to start getting active, we need to start pushing. You know this country is our country just like anyone else. I was born and raised here, so I might as well start making a difference here,” he said.
Aduib says his candidacy, and the record number of Muslim Americans seeking office in elections Tuesday, show that his community is active and engaged, despite concerns raised by U.S. Representative Peter King at a recent Congressional hearing about homegrown Muslim extremists.
“We were planning on doing this before obviously Peter King came out and started with these basically, witch trials. They’re going out trying to figure out Muslims who are in different communities, trying to say that these are condoning terrorism or allowing, and that’s not the case," Aduib said. "This whole Project Mobilize couldn’t have come at a better time, especially in our community, to show that no - this is not the case. We’re here to make sure that we make a difference along with every other American.”
While Project Mobilize is pushing for victories for all seven of its candidates, Reema Ahmad says the experience so far is itself a milestone the organization can build on as it prepares for future elections.
How did the US Founding Fathers view Islam?
4/6/2011 - Interfaith Education - Article Ref: IC1103-4605
By: James H. Hutson
Library of Congress Papers Show Tolerance and acceptance for Muslim Faith
With more than 55 million items, the Library's Manuscript Division contains the papers of 23 presidents, from George Washington to Calvin Coolidge. In this article, Manuscript Division Chief James Hutson draws upon the papers of Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other primary documents to discuss the relationship of Islam to the new nation.
MANY MUSLIMS feel unwelcome in the United States in the aftermath of September 11, according to newspaper reports. Anecdotal evidence suggests that substantial numbers of Americans view their Muslim neighbors as an alien presence outside the limits of American life and history. While other minorities-African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans-were living within the boundaries of the present United States from the earliest days of the nation, Muslims are perceived to have had no part in the American experience.
Readers may be surprised to learn that there may have been hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Muslims in the United States in 1776-imported as slaves from areas of Africa where Islam flourished. Although there is no evidence that the Founders were aware of the religious convictions of their bondsmen, it is clear that the Founding Fathers thought about the relationship of Islam to the new nation and were prepared to make a place for it in the republic.
In his seminal Letter on Toleration (1689), John Locke insisted that Muslims and all others who believed in God be tolerated in England. Campaigning for religious freedom in Virginia, Jefferson followed Locke, his idol, in demanding recognition of the religious rights of the "Mahamdan," the Jew and the "pagan." Supporting Jefferson was his old ally, Richard Henry Lee, who had made a motion in Congress on June 7, 1776, that the American colonies declare independence. "True freedom," Lee asserted, "embraces the Mahomitan and the Gentoo (Hindu) as well as the Christian religion."
In his autobiography, Jefferson recounted with satisfaction that in the struggle to pass his landmark Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1786), the Virginia legislature "rejected by a great majority" an effort to limit the bill's scope "in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan." George Washington suggested a way for Muslims to "obtain proper relief" from a proposed Virginia bill, laying taxes to support Christian worship. On another occasion, the first president declared that he would welcome "Mohometans" to Mount Vernon if they were "good workmen" (see page 96). Officials in Massachusetts were equally insistent that their influential Constitution of 1780 afforded "the most ample liberty of conscience É to Deists, Mahometans, Jews and Christians," a point that Chief Justice Theophilus Parsons resoundingly affirmed in 1810.
Toward Islam itself the Founding generation held differing views. An evangelical Baptist spokesman denounced "Mahomet" as a "hateful" figure who, unlike the meek and gentle Jesus, spread his religion at the point of a sword. A Presbyterian preacher in rural South Carolina dusted off Grotius' 17th century reproach that the "religion of Mahomet originated in arms, breathes nothing but arms, is propagated by arms." Other, more influential observers had a different view of Muslims. In 1783, the president of Yale College, Ezra Stiles, cited a study showing that "Mohammadan" morals were "far superior to the Christian." Another New Englander believed that the "moral principles that were inculcated by their teachers had a happy tendency to render them good members of society." The reference here, as other commentators made clear, was to Islam's belief, which it shared with Christianity, in a "future state of rewards and punishments," a system of celestial
carrots and sticks which the Founding generation considered necessary to guarantee good social conduct.
"A Mahometan," wrote a Boston newspaper columnist, "is excited to the practice of good morals in hopes that after the resurrection he shall enjoy the beautiful girls of paradise to all eternity; he is afraid to commit murder, adultery and theft, lest he should be cast into hell, where he must drink scalding water and the scum of the damned." Benjamin Rush, the Pennsylvania signer of the Declaration of Independence and friend of Adams and Jefferson, applauded this feature of Islam, asserting that he had "rather see the opinions of Confucius or Mohammed inculcated upon our youth than see them grow up wholly devoid of a system of religious principles."
That ordinary citizens shared these positive views is demonstrated by a petition of a group of citizens of Chesterfield County, Va., to the state assembly, Nov. 14, 1785: "Let Jews, Mehometans and Christians of every denomination enjoy religious libertyÉthrust them not out now by establishing the Christian religion lest thereby we become our own enemys and weaken this infant state. It is mens labour in our Manufactories, their services by sea and land that aggrandize our Country and not their creeds. Chain your citizens to the state by their Interest. Let Jews, Mehometans, and Christians of every denomination find their advantage in living under your laws."
The Founders of this nation explicitly included Islam in their vision of the future of the republic. Freedom of religion, as they conceived it, encompassed it. Adherents of the faith were, with some exceptions, regarded as men and women who would make law-abiding, productive citizens. Far from fearing Islam, the Founders would have incorporated it into the fabric of American life.
The Truth About American Muslims
Published: April 1, 2011
At the Justice Department, it’s called the post-Sept. 11 backlash — the steady stream of more than 800 cases of violence and discrimination suffered by American Muslims at the hands of know-nothing abusers. These continuing hate crimes were laid bare at a valuable but barely noticed Senate hearing last week that provided welcome contrast to Representative Peter King’s airing of his xenophobic allegation that the Muslim-American community has been radicalized.
Offering federal data rather than mythic scapegoating of an easy political target, the Senate hearing focused on the fact that while Muslims make up 1 percent of the population, they are victims in 14 percent of religious discrimination cases. These range from homicides and mosque burnings to job, school and zoning law abuses, according to the Justice Department.
In running the hearing, Senator Richard Durbin tried to set the record straight about the patriotism of a vast majority of American-Muslim citizens and the continuing assaults on their civil rights. He warned against the “guilt by association” whipped up by Mr. King’s broadsides — that there are “too many mosques” in the nation, that most of them are extremist, and that American Muslim leaders have failed to cooperate with law enforcement against home-grown terrorism.
It was former President George W. Bush who first warned against turning on Muslim Americans after Sept. 11, 2001, stressing the fact that Islam is “a faith based upon love, not hate,” regardless of the religious veneer the fanatics of 9/11 tried to attach to their atrocities. Since then, American Muslims have served as the largest source of tips to authorities tracking terror suspects, according to a recent university study.
The Senate hearing was not designed as a full refutation of Representative King’s wild thesis, but it put a more human and factual face on a community that has been badly slurred. Mr. King is promising more committee haymakers. This is unfortunate. At least Mr. Durbin’s hearing made clear that the nation’s struggle against terrorism is best served by information, not dark generalizations.
Muslim doctors promote harmony with free clinic
6:19 PM, Apr. 4, 2011
ANDERSON TOWNSHIP – Robert Bowling has diabetes, high blood pressure and gout, and has been unable to work since 2002.
At Thanksgiving 2009, when he had to be rushed to the emergency room at Mercy Hospital Anderson, a nurse referred him to a free clinic that had just opened in the adjacent medical office building.
The Muslim Clinic of Ohio, Cincinnati Chapter, now known as the Mercy Care Clinic, was started by a group of local Muslim physicians.
“I think a lot of the American public sees the news and thinks if they see a Muslim that they’re automatically a terrorist,” said Bowling, 53, of Anderson Township.
The Muslims Bowling knows are dedicated physicians volunteering their time to care for him and providing him with life-saving medicine. They’ve given him Kroger pharmacy cards, redeemable for $4 prescriptions, and a referral to St. Vincent de Paul Society’s free pharmacy in the West End.
“I’d really be struggling without the clinic,” said Bowling.
The Muslim doctors want to expand the clinic’s hours and its ability to provide medicine to meet a growing need.
Bowling’s physician is Tariq Sultan, a Pakistani-born Muslim and internist at Mercy Anderson. Sultan was one of the clinic’s founders – it opened in July 2009 – and one of the region’s 140 Muslim physicians who had volunteered individually or in small groups at other clinics serving the poor.
The doctors wanted to serve the larger community and, in Sultan’s words, satisfy the fourth pillar of Islam – zakat, giving to and serving the poor.
“Everyone believes in heaven and hell,” Sultan said. “If you do good deeds you grow closer to God. You move forward.”
The doctors wanted, too, to do their part to chip away at negative stereotypes of Islam in America.
Mercy Care Clinic is based on the model of a free clinic opened in 1996 in California by Muslim doctors.
Five years before self-identified Muslim radicals masterminded and carried out the 9/11 attacks, Muslim physicians in Los Angeles wanted to create a “more positive view of Islam” and provide volunteer opportunities.
“We all are children of God,” said Seyed Moussavian, an Iranian-born gastroenterologist with a practice in Montgomery and a local clinic founder.
Moussavian is one of the specialists who frequently works a shift – the clinic is open 5-8 p.m. Thursdays – or takes patient referrals from other Muslim clinic doctors. The clinic uses the offices and examination rooms of the Mercy Hospital obstetrics suite.
An average of 25 patients is seen each week in the borrowed space.
The clinic network has grown to include cardiologists, pulmonologists, surgeons and orthopedists, non-Muslim and Muslim alike, born in Syria, Egypt and Lebanon.
Through March, the Muslim Clinic has provided 900 appointments to some 500 individuals.
Bowling and Steven Stiles, 23, of Morrow, are among the patients who receive continuous care at the clinic.
Unemployed and without health insurance, Stiles has celiac disease, which disrupts the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine and can cause severe abdominal pain and lethargy.
Moussavian has helped Stiles structure a strict gluten-free diet to help control symptoms.
“I can’t afford to go anywhere else,” said Stiles.
On Thursday night, Moussavian and Stiles celebrated Stiles’ 7-pound weight gain since his previous month’s visit, even though he complained about reduced sensation in his hands.
“He spends a lot of time with me. He’s like family,” said Stiles, who doesn’t see his doctor as a Muslim. He said he just sees someone treating him with skill, gentleness and patience.
Said Moussavian, “It is sad that religion, which should bring us together, has done so much to pull us apart.”
Mercy Care Clinic is an antidote. It is a joint effort of people from two major religions – Islam and Catholicism.
Muslim physicians approached executives at Mercy Anderson with the idea of a free clinic.
Dan Roth, the hospital’s former vice president of medical affairs, took the concept to hospital chief executive Patricia Schroer.
“We saw the possibilities,” said Sister Mary Lou Averbeck, the hospital’s mission integration director.
“We want to care for people who are poor and underserved.”
Involved from the beginning, and a driving force to get a $25,000 grant for the clinic from Catholic Health Partners, Averbeck never lost sight of the potential for cultural and religious understanding.
“We serve the same God,” she said. “We’ve done a lot together.”
They would like to do more. More space and clinic days are needed. Mercy Care Clinic would like to secure more financial donations and work for more grants. More volunteers – doctors, nurses and clerical – are needed. The clinic has one paid employee, coordinator Joanne Floyd.
The need is great because of the tough economic times and the number of people who have lost jobs and health insurance.
“People are hurting,” said volunteer Suhail Chaudhry, a Pakistani-born internal-medicine specialist with a private practice in Harrison.
He drives 45 minutes each way from the western edge of Hamilton County to the East Side to treat clinic patients, only about 10 percent of whom are Muslim.
The rest are Jewish and mostly Christian, like Jean Houck, 60, of Loveland. Unable to work for the past five years because of deteriorating health, she said the clinic has helped her deal with hypertension, high blood pressure and several stomach and digestive problems.
She is able to get prescription medicine regularly now.
“As far as any doctoring I’ve ever gotten in my life,” she said, “this is the most respect I’ve ever been treated with.”
Fitting in: Muslim teens find peers are curious but accepting
BY ROSE RUSSELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
As Muslims across the nation battle the perception that they intend to destroy America, the peers of Muslim students in Toledo area schools have a more accepting attitude about their religious and cultural differences.
The result is an assimilation process into what’s still very much a Christian society that’s made much easier for young people who are Muslim. And when they’re asked about those differences, a good dose of self confidence in young Muslims helps.
"When I’m asked about my clothes, I say it’s a part of my religion and that as I get older I have to wear the scarf. It protects you and keeps you beautiful," said 11-year-old Tisata Ashar Muhammad, a sixth grader at Toledo Islamic Academy.
Her 10-year-old sister, Mecca, a fifth grader, has found that others’ questions are not always kind. "They ask whether you are bald-headed," she said.
These sisters are accustomed to such questions, added Tisata Ashar, an aspiring lawyer who runs track at the academy.
"They ask if I can show them my hair," she said. When she says she cannot, the curious try to intimidate her by calling her names.
The sisters have a 5-month-old sister, Taahira, and four brothers, three of whom also attend the academy.
Their parents, Daniel Poole and Sakinah Muhammad, have instilled in all of their children so much assurance that adults meeting them for the first time are struck by their maturity and confidence. Elijah, 13, is in the ninth grade, Abdul, 8, is a second grader, and Jakim, 6, is a kindergartner. Another brother, Faheem, is 3.
The family attends the Masjid Saad Foundation mosque. According to Mohammed S. Alo, editor and owner of ToledoMuslims.com, about 10,000 Muslims live in the Toledo area; the population mushroomed from the Syrian and Lebanon immigrants to representatives from more than 20 nations today.
Mr. Poole and Mrs. Muhammad, who are married, brought their family to Toledo from Cincinnati five years ago. He works with an inmate re-entry program, a nonprofit organization called the New Home Islamic Re-entry Society. She is a stay-at-home mother who was compelled to come to Toledo to remove her children from violent neighborhoods.
Media reports often show that many non-Muslim Americans are nervous about fellow Americans who are Muslims. Non-Muslims’ prejudicial views could be influenced by reports about religious extremists and lately, about congressional hearings on the radicalization of the American Muslim community.
In this region, Muslim youths said that there is less contention from their school peers.
Elijah Muhammad, who plays football at the Toledo Islamic Academy, said he doesn’t have a problem when others learn his religion.
"People know that not all Muslims do the things that Muslims in the news have done," he said, referring to terrorists and extremists.
Students at public, private, and parochial schools also said that once they satisfy their peers’ curiosities, they have little problem assimilating into the wider culture.
Adeel Aris, a Perrysburg High School senior whose friends call him Syed, said his peers accept him for who he is.
"For the most part, you cannot say the world is perfect. The exceptions I think are not specifically just targeting my religion, but they feel superior to any race or religion, even Christianity," said the son of Syed Zabar and Fozia Aris, whose family attends the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg.
‘What’s wrong is wrong’
On Sept. 11, 2001, Syed was in the third grade. Now, he is more aware of others’ responses to high-profile news events about Muslims, such as the controversy about the Christian pastor who wanted to burn the Qur’an.
Syed’s friends don’t ostracize him. They recognize that there are extremists in all religious groups.
"There are people like that everywhere. My Christian and white friends know what’s wrong is wrong," he added.
Another senior at St. Francis de Sales High School has had no experiences challenging his religion. In fact, Danny Barazi said that being Muslim is simply considered as being part of another culture.
"There are not many differences besides the daily prayers at school, and I just go along with it and am respectful toward them," said Danny, who has attended Catholic schools all of his life.
The 17-year-old plays lacrosse and said that during Ramadan, the month-long period of fasting for Muslims, the curious seem satisfied with his explanations of the religious observance.
"I get a few questions on what it is and I tell them and they are respectful," said Danny, whose parents, Maher and Iman Barazi, are from Syria. His father owns Ferdos Mediterranean Restaurant. During the Christian holy seasons of Lent and Christmas, Danny is not made to feel uncomfortable.
"I do basically nothing," during those times, he said. And if anyone tells him "Merry Christmas," the Toledo native simply returns the greeting.
"At Easter, I look more forward to spring break like other kids," he added.
It’s one thing to see Muslim girls in the hijab in school hallways and classrooms. But it’s quite another to see them adorned in the head scarf and fully clothed as athletes or cheerleaders.
At Maumee Valley Country Day School, different cultures are much less unusual than at most schools in the region. Differences are celebrated and appreciated but that does not dispel curiosity.
Maumee Valley senior Yasmin Abdelkarim, a member of the girls’ basketball team, has been asked how she manages playing on the girls’ basketball team wearing the scarf, long soccer socks, and a black shirt under her jersey.
"I got used to it," the 17-year-old said. "It’s not difficult for me and it doesn’t bother me."
Yasmin grew up playing basketball, even though there was no girls’ basketball program at the Toledo Islamic Academy, where she was a student from the second grade until she was a junior.
Yasmin, who was born in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, has been in the United States since 2000. Her parents, Ghassan and Fatima Abdelkarim, encouraged their daughter to play basketball.
"I was afraid to play because of the whole scarf issue," she said, adding that she didn’t know of another Muslim girl who plays basketball and wears a scarf.
"It was normal at the other school because all the females wore scarves."
Though there are still occasions when non-Muslims stare — she smiles in return — now that she’s outside that Islamic school comfort zone, she said, "People are so used to seeing girls with scarves that it’s becoming normal."
Fifteen-year-old MVCDS sophomore Amal Mohamed is a cheerleader who doesn’t know of other Muslim girls who wear the hijab while cheerleading. She enjoys the all-embracing environment at her school.
"Being at a school like this, I don’t feel much different," she said. Of course, like Tisata Ashar Muhammad’s parents, Amal also said, "My parents instilled a lot of faith in me."
And that’s necessary for a cheerleader who in addition to the scarf wears tights with her uniform skirt. At MVCDS, though, long-sleeve shirts are part of the cheerleaders’ uniforms. Typically, those uniforms include short skirts and sleeveless shirts.
Amal agrees with her schoolmate Yasmin, that seeing Muslim girls well covered is less of an issue in some areas.
"People in cities around here, such as Detroit, are used to it," said Amal.
But in other regions, people are not always accustomed to seeing Muslim girls fully covered. During a visit to Tennessee with her family to see other relatives, Amal observed others gawking.
Nevertheless, Amal, who has visited Lebanon and Egypt, the homes of her parents, Fadia and Ashraf Mohamed, prefers her American homeland.
"You don’t find many girls playing sports" in those countries, said the native Toledoan.
After all, Amal said, in America "Girls are more independent."
Contact Rose Russell at rrussell@... or 419-724-6178.
Muslims, Christians join in Fairbanks to foster acceptance of diversity
Christie not bowing to bias
His defense of a Muslim judicial nominee defied some fellow Republicans.
April 03, 2011|By Matt Katz, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
Gov. Christie delivered a spirited, impromptu defense last week of a Muslim lawyer he had nominated for a judgeship. On the face of it, the comments weren't extraordinary. But given the way some Republicans have recently characterized Muslims, what he said was remarkable to hear from a GOP darling.
Consider these statements by other Republicans, all likely to run for president next year:
"I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they [his grandchildren] are my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American." Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, once the most powerful Republican in the country, said that last Sunday.
US 'kill team' soldier who murdered unarmed Afghans escapes life sentence
Jeremy Morlock receives 24 years in prison following plea deal to give evidence against fellow soldiers
CNN Poll: Most Americans 'OK' with a mosque in their community
Islam is all-American for one U.S. Muslim leader
By Wendell Marsh – Sun Mar 20, 3:06 pm ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - – Al Azhar, the centuries-old center of Islamic learning in Cairo, is a world away from Oklahoma City where William Suhaib Webb grew up.
But it was not until the American Muslim leader immersed himself in Islamic studies at Al Azhar that he realized just how American he was, regardless of his religion.
"I didn't really have enough comfort as a young convert to really be who I was ... I adopted different cultural constructs that I had not grown up with," he told Reuters in a telephone interview from Santa Clara, California, where he is an imam at a mosque and runs a website aimed at Muslim youth.
Named in 2010 by an Islamic think-tank as one of the 500 "Most Influential Muslims in the World" for his work with youth over the last decade, Webb is now arguably the kind of moderate Islamic leader Congressman Peter King said the country needs when he chaired hearings on Muslim militancy this month.
Webb's positions on issues such as women's rights and religious community involvement are near the American mainstream. He denounces violence in the name of Islam, and encourages U.S. Muslim youth to be comfortable with their American roots.
But in his early days as a convert, Muslim-majority countries became a mythical land where Webb said he felt like he could tap into an authentic Islam.
"I came to the Middle East with a lot of euphoric and utopic concepts," said Webb, 38.
"And then I actually started studying Shariah, I started realizing that, wow, I got this wrong and I really need to be comfortable with who I am and embrace who I am as a person."
Pundits and politicians who decry the growth of Islam in the United States often cite Muslim extremists' desire to implement Shariah, or Islamic law. Some state legislators have gone as far as proposing legislation banning it.
But Webb, who continues to spend lengthy periods studying at Al Azhar, said jurisprudence in Shariah, which means path, necessarily considers culture and custom in its interpretations.
For the Muslim clerics he knows throughout the world, an Islamic order in America makes "absolutely no sense, whatsoever."
A learner and a leader dedicated to popularizing a moderate take on Islam with a distinctly U.S. identity, Webb offers a website that is a virtual mosque.
There he offers answers to what he says is the primary concern for young American Muslims: how to function spiritually in the face of post-modernity.
A RADICAL THREAT
He has tackled head-on problems within the Muslim-American community through educational materials and conferences. One such conference held last year was a town hall meeting entitled "Muslim Youth Radicalization."
American Muslims do not disagree that there is a real threat from extremism, according to Webb. He said the greatest danger comes when both non-Muslims and Muslims alike believe Islam is un-American.
Extreme Islamists may entice young Muslims to accept violence, he said. But they can also be alienated by those non-Muslims who wrongly assume all or most who practice the religion are militants with little in common with their fellow Americans, and treat them accordingly.
"Muslims are a part of the fabric of our culture and been a part of our culture for more than who knows how long," Webb said.
Years as a Hip Hop music DJ and producer during its political high of the late 1980s and early 1990s -- when the Hip Hop culture had a strong Muslim element in terms of some artists, songs and slang -- introduced him to an Islam that was offered as an alternative world view to the mainstream.
"I became Muslim more with this kind of a political, anti-culture baggage," he said.
Extremist clerics such as Anwar al-Awlaki have preyed on Muslims who have grown up in America because of the political leanings and religious insecurity sometimes found in that group.
Muslims who are American-born or grew up here often feel their religion may be less authentic than that of those who come to the United States from Islamic-majority countries, a feeling some immigrant Muslims encourage.
The result can be Islamic youth who believe they must be at the hard edge of orthodoxy and militancy to prove their dedication.
"We do have to shepherd them and look out for people like al-Awlaki who tries to undermine that (U.S.) experience and use it against them and say ... you're American, so that automatically means that somehow your Islam is suspect," Webb said.
"We (American Muslims) have to answer that theologically."
For Webb, that answer comes through study and in the form of distinct, high-quality American Muslim institutions like Zaytuna College in California and Muslim community centers like Ta'leef Collective in Fremont, California instead of stigmatized mosques.
"Muslims in America are going to have to somehow engage American culture in order to offer the answers to American culture, the problems of American culture," he said.
(Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Jerry Norton and Greg McCune)
March 18, 2011
CAIR-OK launches anti-Sharia bill campaign
CAIR: New York Muslims Want Cemetery to Meet Growing Need
by CAIR on Tuesday, 01 March 2011 at 11:50
Islamic rappers spread the word
By Farwa Zahra
Published: February 9, 2011
KARACHI: Much celebrated for calligraphic designs, Islamic art now takes a modern turn with the streak of rap music. Native Deen, a Washington, DC based group focuses on combining the hip-hop and R&B elements with Islam-themed lyrics.
The group’s aim is to highlight issues confronting Muslims living in the US, according to their website.
The trio of Joshua Salaam, Abdul-Malik Ahmad and Naeem Muhammad teamed up in 2000 and has been addressing the issues of Muslims in the US ever since.
The band has marked their presence with a limited set of musical instruments permissible in Islam, only to create percussions as the members rap. The lyrics featured in Native Deen’s songs range from Islamic concepts from Eid to Hijab.
“Prayers to Allah be on Nabi. The messenger may peace be on thee. And all the prophets sent to mankind. We pray for each and everyone.”
Members of the band claim that Native Deen’s distinctive music has attracted Muslims and non Muslims alike. “We’ve never experienced any type of offence from anyone. I don’t think our music is offensive to any group,” said Salaam.
Native Deen is currently touring Jordan for a series of concerts and workshops scheduled throughout the week, reports Jordan Times. Having performed in about 60 cities around the world, the band’s first ever tour to Jordan has been hosted by the American Embassy.
After their debut album The Deen You Know, Native Deen has so far released two albums, the second one being, Not Afraid to Stand Alone.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2011.
Number of U.S. Muslims to double