Breaking the Ramadan fast in the company of Jews

July 10, 2014

(RNS) Muslim tradition calls for breaking the Ramadan fast in the evening with a date and a sip of water, and increasingly these days, the company of Jews.

Muslim-Jewish iftars are popping up across the nation, bringing together dozens and sometimes hundreds of people for a celebratory Ramadan meal and a chance to forge interfaith friendships.

This Ramadan, as Jews and Muslims exchange rocket fire in Israel and Gaza, those attending these meals say they are all the more significant, as a way of demonstrating that Jews and Muslims have much in common, and can enjoy each others’ food and company.

In Los Angeles on Thursday (July 10), an iftar that bills itself as the single largest gathering of Muslims and Jews in the city, is sponsored by NewGround, an organization that works year-round on Muslim-Jewish relations. The group exists to build resilient relationships that both groups can draw upon in particularly difficult times, said Rabbi Sarah Bassin, NewGround’s former executive director.

“Yes, we are in another awful flare-up of violence and both of our communities are suffering,” Bassin said. “That will be acknowledged at the iftar.”

At Muslim-Jewish iftars, particular attention is paid to food. In Los Angeles, the meal will be both halal and kosher, in keeping with both Muslim and Jewish dietary laws, which often overlap. Neither faith community eats pork, for example. Out of respect for Muslim tradition, no alcohol will be served.

Some of these interfaith Iftars will be hosted in mosques or other Muslims institutions — on Sunday (July 13), for example, at the Institute of Islamic and Turkish Studies in Cary, N.C. Others will take place in synagogues.

Growing In Faith: California Muslim Youth Experiences with Bullying , Harassment & Religious Accommodation in Schools

Full Report: Growing In Faith

 

The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relation’s (CAIR-CA) 2012 Muslim Youth at School Survey was the first statewide survey to examine the experiences of American Muslim youth at school. It targeted youth from across California and received responses from 21 counties. In total, 471 Muslim American students attending public school between the ages of 11 and 18 responded to the survey, which consisted of 10 multiple choice questions and space for comments.

Through the survey, CAIR-CA sought to better understand how comfortable American Muslim students felt attending their schools and participating in the classroom. CAIR-CA also made it a goal to enhance its awareness of the extent to which students were being bullied and their responses.

California’s Muslim students, for the most part, reported a healthy school environment in which they were comfortable participating in discussions about their religious identity, believed that their teachers respected their religion, and felt safe at school.

Most of the respondents came from areas of California with large and robust Muslim populations, such as Orange County and Santa Clara County. This may account for the many responses we received from students who stated that they felt confident and supported in asserting their Muslim identity at school.  While many respondents indicated that they simply internalized anti-Muslim name-calling from peers, such as “Osama Bin Laden” and “terrorist,” many indicated that this did not have a long-lasting effect on them.

As evidenced by the findings in this report, there are still significant issues facing American Muslim youth at school. The majority of school-related cases reported to CAIR involve teacher discrimination. Therefore, it is significant that 18% of the surveyed students answered: ‘Strongly Disagree,’ ‘Disagree,’ or ‘Undecided’ when asked about feeling comfortable participating in classroom discussions and 19% of students answered: ‘Strongly Disagree,’ ‘Disagree,’ or ‘Undecided’ when asked if their teachers respected their religion.

More than 10% of American Muslim students reported physical bullying such as slapping, kicking, or punching. Seventeen percent of the female respondents who wear a hijab, the Islamic headscarf, reported being bullied at least once because of this. Most importantly, 50% of American Muslim students reported being subjected to mean comments and rumors about them because of their religion. Additionally, more than 21% of students reported experiencing some form of cyberbullying.

Students had mixed reactions to reporting incidents to adults. About 63% said that they reported incidents of bullying to a teacher or principal, while only 53% said they reported to their parents. As to whether they thought reporting helped, 35% answered that it ‘Never,’ ‘Rarely,’ or ‘Sometimes’ helped, and only 17% answered that it ‘Often,’ or ‘Very Often’ helped.

With respect to how students reacted to their aggressors when they were bullied, 8% said that they fought back, 21% said that they insulted them back, and 11% said that they reacted by making fun of the aggressor’s religion or race. Sixty-one percent reported that they never fought back, 51% said that they never insulted their aggressor, and 60% reported that they never made fun of the bully’s religion or race.

School bullying is a phenonmenon that affects students from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and American Muslim students are not exempt from being subjected to harassment and discrimination at school. As Islam and Muslims continue to be in the public spotlight, negative representations and assumptions in the public sphere serve as obstacles to cultivating a tolerant, nurturing, and healthy school environment for all students.

Link to pdf of report: http://ca.cair.com/downloads/GrowingInFaith.pdf

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): http://www.cair.com/

The Five Craziest Reactions To The Marriage Equality Rulings

Though the strong majorities of Americans who support marriage equality and equal federal benefits for gay couples celebrated today’s historic Supreme Court rulings, several prominent conservatives reacted with fear and fury. Though the conservative establishment (by in large) had little to say about the marriage equality cases, the vitriol that came from these particular conservatives stood out:

 

Rand Paul and Glenn Beck worry about Muslims and animals: In a video captured by Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski, the purportedly libertarian Senator and popular talk show host worry about a host of bizarre “logical” consequences of the moves toward marriage equality, with Beck asking “who are you to say that, if I’m a devout Muslim, I come over here and I have three wives, who are you to say if I’m an American citizen that I can’t have multiple wives?” Paul nodded, saying “people take it to one extension further — does it have to be humans?…I’m kinda with you…we should not just say ‘oh, we’re punting on it, marriage can be anything.”

 

The list goes on and on while Another fiery reaction — outgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann’s declaration that “no man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted” — didn’t have quite the intended impact. “Who cares?” responded House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), when asked for comment on Bachmann’s outburst.

 

GOP Congressman Says Islam Will ‘Motivate People To Murder Children’

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) during a hearing on Friday said that he believes that Islam as a whole is a threat to the United States, labeling it as a religion that will “motivate people to murder children.” During a hearing he chaired on “Islamist Extremism in Chechnya: A Threat to the U.S. Homeland?” Rohrabacher continually referred to the 2004 Beslan hostage situation  in which Chechen extremists took control of a school in Russia resulting in the death of more than 180 children  as an example of the threat that Islam poses. At one point, the California Republican sought to clarify that he wasn’t opposed to any religious group gaining power within a region  only Islam. “What we need to worry about is if it happens to be a religion that convinces people that part of their faith is to go off and murder other people’s children,” he said, referring to Islam broadly. Later in the hearing, Rohrabacher was more clear: Islamophobia has seen a resurgence in the aftermath of the Boston attacks, with Fox News leading the charge in promoting a new wave of fear towards Muslims. Rohrabacher is no stranger himself to controversy surrounding Islam. In 2012, he accused President Obama of “pandering to radical Islamic forces” in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack.

California Muslim Community Makes Political History: 28 Muslim Delegates Elected to California Democratic Party

This past weekend, California Muslims made political history when 28 Muslim candidates were elected by Democrats as delegates and alternate delegates to the California Democratic Party (CDP). This constitutes the largest number of Muslims ever elected as delegates in California.

The CDP held statewide elections for delegates to represent each of the state’s 80 assembly districts.
This encouraging achievement was reached with the help of CAIR-CA PAC, an independent political organization. In an effort to promote American Muslim political engagement, CAIR-CA PAC closely worked with candidates and organized voters to support them.

Among the hundreds of other candidates, at least 36 California Muslims ran for delegate positions. Twenty-eight were elected (five as executive board members and two as alternate delegates), and eight lost their races.  This is an incredible step for Muslims to become more involved in the political process and make a difference for the Muslim community and in their districts.

CAIR-CA PAC is proud of every candidate that ran whether they were elected or not, because it takes a lot of effort and commitment to present oneself as a candidate and run in a fairly competitive race.

The California Democratic Party is governed by the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) which has approximately 3000 delegates.  Some delegates are appointed by elected officials, but about one third are elected every odd numbered year through elections divided by assembly district.  Twelve individuals (six women and six men) from each assembly district are elected as delegates to serve a two year term to the DSCC.

An elected delegate is able to vote on candidate endorsements, help shape the platform of the CDP, approve the rules by which the CDP functions, vote on resolutions of concern to various communities, and choose CDP representatives to the Democratic National Party. Delegates are also responsible for attending the annual statewide convention.

Additionally, one representative from every 12 delegates is voted to the executive board.  The executive board (E-Board) has all the duties and powers of the CDP when it is not in session (at the Democratic National Convention). E-Board members are required to attend three quarterly E-Board meetings each year, as well as the statewide convention.

Appeals court reinstates case by Muslim woman in CA over forced removal of head scarf in cell

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court unanimously reinstated a lawsuit Tuesday filed by a Muslim woman who accused Southern California jailers of violating her religious freedom when they ordered her to take off her head scarf in a courthouse holding cell.

An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also said plaintiff Souhair Khatib had the right to wear the scarf unless jailers can show it was a security risk.
Khatib filed the lawsuit in 2007 against Orange County. She had been jailed for several hours in November 2006 after a judge revoked her probation for a misdemeanor welfare fraud conviction.

Arab Cuisine on the US Marine Base

In Camp Pendleton, CA, Ms. Denise Hazime, a Muslim woman, and her husband, a Marine veteran, opened an Arabic food stand on the largest Marine base on the US West Coast. The business has particularly attracted Marines returning from Iraq and the Persian Gulf.

Toronto 18 Terrorist Informant Requests More Money from Canadian Police and Spy Agency

Mubin Shaikh, Canada’s most famous informant and the public face of the country’s largest-ever terrorism trial, is asking the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) for more compensation. Initially Shaikh was awarded $300,000 CA to spy on the Toronto 18 and testify against them. He has insisted that money was never his motivation: I didn’t do it for the money. I’m not going to negotiate with the lives of Canadians. Shaikh is now requesting an additional $2.4 million raise, for which he promises there will be no more media interviews, no more drug use, no book or movie deals. The 32 year-old married father of five also pledges to aggressively defend the evidence and vocally support the role of the agencies involved. This is his second request for more compensation. Shaikh claims that his life has changed dramatically since his involvement and that he also needs better protection against his detractors.