Some scholars believe that the influence of Islam in the United States can be traced back to Thomas Jefferson. Today, Islam and American Muslim populations are growing in importance in this country, and demand for information about them is high, especially in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. This A-to-Z encyclopedia will help students and other readers get a fast grip on pertinent holidays, terms, beliefs, practices, notables, and sects of the Islamic faith and Muslim practitioners in the United States. The accompanying primary documents volume provides 93 crucial articles, speeches, essays, poems, songs, and more to flesh out the encyclopedia entries.This encyclopedia and primary documents set, the first on the topic and for the general reader, is a must-have for every library. The primary focus is contemporary but the entries are historically contextualized, so the fuller picture of origins outside the country and practice now in the United States is clear. Further reading suggestions accompany each entry. The primary documents volume enhances the encyclopedic entries with annotated selections such as an article from an entry on a leading Muslim American magazine or an essay by a Muslim American scholar to illuminate an entry on her. This will be a boon for students doing reports on Islam and for non-Muslims looking to learn about Muslims in an objective, broad way. It is clearly and authoritatively written and compiled by a host of scholars, primarily from Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies (Greenwood Press).
CAIRO – Officials from the Homeland Security, State and Justice departments have been engaged in “unprecedented” meetings withtwo dozen young Muslims on several issues, topped by reports about the radicalization of Muslim American youth. “For me, this conference is about trying to find out what it means to be an American Muslim in terms of political and civic engagement,” Omar Sarwar, the Columbia University graduate who ditched a career in banking to go back to school and study politics and religion, told The Washington Post on Sunday, July 15. Organized by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the National Muslim American Youth Summit was held over the weekend in Capitol Hill.
The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections has expressed its anger at the closure of the Muslim charity KindHearts by US authorities in February this year. KindHearts, the Ohio-based group was a $5 million-a-year charity with branches in Lebanon, Pakistan, and the Gaza Strip. It provided funds for water treatment plants and orphanages, but was shut down by federals authorities amid allegations that it was aiding Hamas. Pleas by American-Muslim leaders to US Treasury Secretary John Snow for guidelines on how to financially aid the Palestinian people without being accused of terrorism have been ignored.
News Report, Jehangir Khattak NEW YORK – The American Muslim community is expected to raise more funds for the victims of earthquake that struck Pakistan, Kashmir and Afghanistan on Oct. 8, than the $50 million dollars in aid pledged so far by the United States government. More than a dozen national Muslim organizations and groups have already raised $20 million in relief aid for the earthquake victims in Pakistan and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. During interviews with the Muslims Weekly, managers of these Islamic and Pakistani relief groups and community organizations sounded upbeat while claiming an overwhelming response to the huge disaster of unimaginable proportions in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir that has killed 54,197 people as of Oct. 26. As the donations of money, food, medical supplies and other needed goods continue to be made by individuals and mosques around the country, the long-term contribution from this minority group is expected to climb beyond the initial $50 million aid package offered by the U.S. government. Some Muslims are fearful of donating money to Islamic organizations which the U.S. government could investigate for terrorist connections so have contributed large sums to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mercy international and many American and United Kingdom groups. If those sums are included in the total donations, then the Muslims community’s pledges might already exceed the government’s aid package. After 9/11 American Muslims and Muslim charity organizations in the U.S. came under extreme government scrutiny and a number of leading charity organizations were closed. Such actions spurred fear among American Muslims that the government may charge unknowing donors for “funding terrorism,” according to the Council on American Islamic Relations in a research titled, “American Muslims: One Year after 9-11.” Some non-Muslim aid organizations have complained in recent days that donations for the earthquake disaster have been lower than expected, blaming the low charity in the U.S. on “donor fatigue” following relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami last year. But reports from Muslim organizations do not express concern. “We have received a very positive and encouraging response from the Pakistani community and the larger Muslim and non-Muslim community,” Salar Rizivi of the Islamic Relief, which has pledged $10 million dollars aid for the quake victims, told Muslims Weekly over telephone from Burbank, California. He said the Islamic Relief had so far allocated a total of $4 million for the relief effort. “We are receiving constant feedback from our field offices in Pakistan and are sending the relief items accordingly,” Rizvi said. Islamic Relief sent a plain load of tents, blankets, hygiene and first aid kits to Pakistan from Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 17. It intends to send more relief goods in the coming days. Last year Islamic Relief-USA raised around $14 million from predominantly Muslim donors for projects in South America, Iraq, Palestinian refugee camps, Egypt, Chechnya, Pakistan and China, etc. The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Relief that had initially pledged a million dollar relief effort has now revised its pledge. “ICNA Relief is planning to raise $10 million for short and long-term Adopt the Village Rehabilitation Works,” the organization said in a statement. ICNA Relief is sending medicines worth $1.2 million (one of the most expensive consignments to leave for Relief from USA) to the region. “Besides this consignment, we have so far dispatched medicines worth $200,000 to the disaster hit regions in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir,” said Irfan Khursheed, Director ICNA Relief. The Pakistani community organizations, Islamic Centers and mosques across the country are also receiving overwhelming response from the community. The holy month of Ramadan is one reason for the surge in donations during which Muslims give Zakat (alm) to the poor and the needy. The over a dozen Muslim organizations that have announced the $20 million donation have joined hands under the umbrella of a permanent body called the American Muslim Taskforce for Disaster Relief (AMTFDR). It sent a letter to President George W. Bush, calling for forming an ad-hoc committee to offer coordinated relief to the quake victims, according to the U.S. Department of State’s information bureau. “The AMTFDR pledge effort is a cooperative attempt by the American Muslim community to provide relief in the most efficient and most abundant manner possible for the brothers and sisters of humanity that have suffered as the result of the significant earthquake in South Asia,” Ahmed Younis, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, told a press conference while announcing the donation in Washington.
WASHINGTON: American Muslims have launched an advertising campaign to denounce acts of terrorism after bombers believed to be British Muslims killed at least 54 people in attacks on London. Any effort by terrorists to hide their criminal activities under the mask of religious piety is being categorically and unequivocally rejected by mainstream Muslims, said Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He said the television ad, which will air nationwide by July 19, is an attempt to detach Islam from the heinous acts of a few Muslims. Police believe the attacks are linked to Al Qaeda, the Islamic militant group behind the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and the Madrid train bombings last year. Backlash is a concern … but it’s not our main motive, said CAIR spokeswoman Rabiah Ahmed. Our main motivation lies with making sure our position is clear where Islam stands on terrorism. The 30-second public service spot, called Not in the Name of Islam, features two American Muslim women and religious leader Imam Johari Abdul-Malik. We often hear claims Muslims don’t condemn terrorism and that Islam condones violence, they say. As Muslims, we want to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror in the name of Islam are betraying the teachings of the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed. We reject anyone – of any faith – who commits such brutal acts and will not allow our faith to be hijacked by criminals. Islam is not about hatred and violence. It’s about peace and justice. The director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, John Voll, welcomed the campaign. I think Americans, especially these days … are justified in being fearful of the suicidal violence attempts by extremist fanatics in many different traditions, he said. It is counterproductive for Americans to then focus their fear on the people who are probably their closest allies, and that is average, mainstream Muslims.
American Muslims Are Under Scrutiny Since The 9/11 Attacks By Benjamin Duncan in Washington In a country of nearly 300 million people, injecting one’s voice into the public discourse is sometimes easier said than done. Despite the ubiquitous presence of cable television, satellite radio and the internet – all offering avenues for self-promotion – some US minority groups struggle to have their voices heard by the mainstream public. In particular, the American Muslim community, placed under intense scrutiny following the 11 September 2001 attacks, struggles to pursue a more expansive role in the news media, the entertainment industry and the political arena. Not having sufficient representation in these areas has contributed to a steady increase in anti-Muslim stereotypes and social bigotry, many Muslim activists say. Such problems were the central theme of Who Speaks for Muslims, a recent conference in Atlanta, Georgia, to examine ways to enhance the public voice of America’s five to seven million Muslims. Some Muslims Accuse The Media Of One-Dimensional Coverage The event brought together Muslim television and radio producers, print journalists, screenwriters and political figures to hold workshops and lectures on subjects ranging from film production to media influence. “Muslims speak for Muslims and it is our job to combat what we are seeing from the media,” said Qur’an Shakir, a spokeswoman for Taqwa Productions, a video production company that organised the conference. “We need to speak up instead of allowing the media to define us.” Mainstream Media Segments of the American Muslim community criticise the mainstream media for what they consider one-dimensional coverage that focuses on Muslim connections to terrorism and violence. “Muslims don’t want to be portrayed as terrorists or the feared one, because that’s not an accurate portrayal of who we are,” said Mahdi Bray, president of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, a civil rights organisation in Washington, DC. For those Muslim Americans who agree that the media inaccurately depict their religion, the key problem is the lack of Muslim commentators in television, radio and print journalism. “There is a drastic need for more intelligent Muslim voices on television” “There is a drastic need for more intelligent Muslim voices on television,” said Ahmed Younis, national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a Los Angeles-based civil rights group. While representatives from major Muslim organisations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) appear frequently on cable news programmes, some argue that it pales in comparison to the media presence of anti-Muslim critics. “In comparison to the anti-Muslim and anti-Islam propaganda in the electronic and print media, Muslims are given very little time to explain their position,” said Abdus Sattar Ghazali, editor and publisher of the American Muslim Perspective, an online magazine based in Modesto, California. Dissenting View Not everyone agrees, however, that American Muslims are fighting a losing battle for media access. Far from being denied a place at the table, some Muslim activists say the community has made significant inroads into the world of newspaper and television coverage. “I think the Muslim voice in the media is perhaps better than in other areas because the media seeks out Muslim voices,” said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s communications director. Despite the perception by some American Muslims that the mainstream media ignore their community, Hooper questioned the idea that news organisations were to blame for the lack of Muslim speakers. “It’s because we’re not making ourselves available, not because we’re not being sought out,” he said. Handling Media Learning how to engage the media more effectively at the local level was a central topic covered at the Who Speaks for Muslims conference, Shakir said. Those who attended received instruction on how to write a news release and how to contact media outlets. Muslims Urge Their Community To Engage The Media Effectively “[Local Muslim groups] need to arrange some type of team to find out who the major media groups are and who is in charge of what and to let them know that you’re available,” she said. The Muslim American Society holds frequent youth camps during which young people are schooled in media training, the internet and other areas. “We need to develop and nurture that future generation that will be policy experts,” Bray said. Expanding media participation, however, is just one aspect of a bigger picture for any minority group seeking to educate the public. Many Americans form impressions from music channels rather than news channels. Entertainment Entertainment programming, be it television sitcoms, Hollywood films or music videos, has become increasingly influential in the lives of average Americans. What viewers see on late-night television is as likely to inform their thoughts on politics and social issues as what they read in newspapers, many experts say. Whereas the “theological and political voice” of the American Muslim community is often heard, it is necessary to “integrate the cultural voice” as well, Bray said. “There are really not a lot of [Muslim] voices there … but we’re beginning to have some improvement,” Hooper said. Shakir said she could not “off the top of my head” name a single mainstream American Muslim director or producer in film or television. While there have been a few recent documentaries and small films directed by American Muslims, none has been distributed to large audiences. Perhaps the most well-known television show this year involving Muslim characters was 24, a one-hour drama on Fox that focused on a plot by Muslim terrorists to detonate a nuclear device inside the United States. After CAIR and other groups complained that the storyline stereotyped the American Muslim community, Fox aired a public service announcement telling viewers that the vast majority of American Muslims are loyal citizens. Political Front Progress in Hollywood, however, will likely go hand in hand with progress on the political front, another area where American Muslims are looking for a greater voice, Bray said. “I don’t believe you will have success in entertainment if you don’t have success in the political process,” he said. “It’s an integrated process.” In terms of elected office, Muslim candidates have achieved victories in local polls, but not at the federal level. In fact, no Muslim American has ever been elected to Congress. “We do need to have more representation” “We do need to have more representation,” Shakir said. Others are focused on engaging the Muslim community at all levels of politics, something Hooper said was critically important. “I don’t think we’re so concerned about having a Muslim elected to Congress without a grassroots process of support,” he said. Extremist Viewpoint Ultimately, anyone asking who speaks for American Muslims must also take into account the diversity, political and cultural, of that community, several activists said. “I don’t think that anyone speaks for all Muslims in this country,” Hooper said. With such a wide cross-section of belief systems in the American Muslim community, some more conservative than others, Ghazali said it was important to acknowledge differences while not allowing extremist viewpoints to overshadow the mainstream. “Of course, there is always diversity of opinion which should be taken into account,” he said. “But there is an opinion of the majority and an opinion of the minority, or fringe groups. The problem arises when the opinion of a fringe group is promoted.”
Hate crimes against Muslims soared in the United States last year, according to a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations released Wednesday. The number of hate crimes against members of the Muslim community jumped 52 per cent last year, from 93 incidents in 2003 to 141 in 2004. And the number of violent acts, discriminatory incidents and cases of harassment against Muslims rose 49 per cent between 2003 and 2004, to 1,522. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad called the figures alarming and urged President George W Bush-‘whose statements after the (September 11, 2001) attacks were so important in helping to protect the well-being of the American Muslim community-to once again speak out against Islam phobic attitudes.’ The Annual Report Noted That Workplace Discrimination Against Muslims Was Less prevalent, while incidents involving police were on the rise, in the form of unjustified arrests and searches and abusive interrogations. Among the factors contributing to the rise in incidents, CAIR said, were the ‘lingering impact’ of fears following the September 11 attacks, heightened awareness of civil rights issues within the Muslim community and a ‘general increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric.’ ‘These disturbing figures come as no surprise given growing Islam phobic sentiments and a general misperception of Islam and Muslims,’ CAIR’s legal director, Arsalan Iftikhar, who authored the report, said in a statement.