Narratives of Black Muslim Women: Between the Nation and Sunni Islam

When I was invited in 2012 to speak at Harvard University’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Conference, “Expressions of Islam in Contemporary African American Communities,” I was in the middle of my research for my new book Women of the Nation: Between Black Protest and Sunni Islam, co-authored with Dawn Marie-Gibson.
I immediately knew the two women whose narratives I would share: Sandra El-Amin, Ph.D., and Khaleelah Muhammad, J.D. I chose their narratives partly because they intricately capture the ways in which Muslim women contribute to black feminist thought and practice.

 

The lack of recognition for the Turkish language

July 6, 2014

According to the Brigitta Busch, Professor of linguistics at the University of Vienna, Austria is generally paying low or no attention and offers no recognition to language diversity inside its borders. In particular, the Turkish language, Busch stresses, does not enjoy any positive reputation; however, since some parts of the government want to establish a Turkish Matura at the Gymnasiums, some politicians from the right are openly showing their assessment.

New Book: Inventing the Muslim Cool: Islamic Youth Culture in Western Europe by Maruta Herding

June 4, 2014

Inventing the Muslim Cool: Islamic Youth Culture in Western Europe

Maruta Herding

May, 2014 
Paper270 pages, 17 b&w 1 color
ISBN: 978-3-8376-2511-0
Transcript-Verlag 

Inventing the Muslim Cool: Islamic Youth Culture in Western Europe by Maruta Herding
Inventing the Muslim Cool: Islamic Youth Culture in Western Europe by Maruta Herding

In the current environment of a growing Muslim presence in Europe, young Muslims have started to develop a subculture of their own. The manifestations reach from religious rap and street wear with Islamic slogans to morally impeccable comedy. This form of religiously permissible fun and of youth-compatible worship is actively engaged in shaping the future of Islam in Europe and of Muslim/non-Muslims relations.
Based on a vast collection of youth cultural artefacts, participant observations and in-depth interviews in France, Britain and Germany, this book provides a vivid description of Islamic youth culture and explores the reasons why young people develop such a culture.

Dr Maruta Herding is a sociologist at the German Youth Institute (Deutsches Jugendinstitut e.V.) in Halle, Germany. The book «Inventing the Muslim Cool» is the publication of her doctoral research, which she conducted at the University of Cambridge. Her research interests include the study of young people, subcultures and Muslims in Europe.

Music Mix: Spirituality and Protest: ‘Rebel Music,’ by Hisham D. Aidi

The subject matter of “Rebel Music: Race, Empire and the New Muslim Youth Culture” could not be more far-reaching unless its author, Hisham D. Aidi, had unearthed data about youth culture and musical influences on other planets. As far as Earth goes, his highly original and ambitious book has got it covered.

“Rebel Music” exhibits a breathtaking familiarity with different forms of radicalizing music and the widely different ways it is understood in different cultures, with a special emphasis on Islamic youth. Mr. Aidi starts his book simply in the South Bronx, an epicenter of young Muslims’ hip-hop obsession.

Mr. Aidi goes there, in part, because he hopes to talk to the French rap crew 3ème Oeil (Third Eye) from Marseille. They are equally glad to meet him when he tells them he’s from Columbia, mistaking the university (where he is a lecturer) with the record company. No matter. He has the illuminating experience of finding a French D.J. who says he has dreamed of visiting the Bronx his whole life, because his role model is the Bronx D.J. Afrika Bambaataa. Mr. Aidi meets others there who are simply searching for a Muslim-friendly environment. If this book has a unifying theme, it is the eagerness of young Muslims in every culture to find musical expression that feels honest and a safe haven in an endlessly combative world.

“Rebel Music” has no chance of ending on a note of peaceful resolution. But it does lay out an array of fascinating conflicts, taking on a subject that has rarely been addressed in book form. Its most tender chapter describes Judeo-Arabic music, which flowered in Algeria in the 1960s but later became a lightning rod for controversy. Like every topic brought up by Mr. Aidi’s jampacked compendium, it deserves a closer look.

Prayer, Culture, meetings all within the glass house of Islam

We begin with a five-story building (possibly six), with the mosque or prayer hall on the ground floor, a tea room on the second, a large Islamic bookstore with books in more than ten languages ​on the third, a museum of Islamic culture and cultural center on the fourth and offices and international centers on the fifth. The space will be six thousand square meters, all in glass, steel and stone, as proposed by the architectural designers (who remain anonymous).

 

And no minaret, to avoid changing the profile of the waterfront in Darsena, the only building still to be finalized is the House of Islamic Culture. Or rather, the House of Peace, as it might be called.

 

Designs were directed by Alfredo Maiolese, a Genovese Muslim and president of the League of European Muslims who helped to create the possible home of the Islamic culture. These are the same designs that will be presented next week in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the Islamic Development Bank. This is the bank that maintains an international Muslim presence abroad, likely funded by the governments of Kuwait and Qatar, and could make available the 12-15 million euro needed to buy the building and renovate it.

 

And Genoa? Available. “If indeed there is a need then doors are open to all” says Stefano Bernini, Deputy Mayor and Councilor for Urban Planning “If Maiolese and the European Muslim League will be able to find the resources, the municipality would support the project including town planning procedures and helping to convince the ‘neighbors’ who have doubts that this is a major accomplishment, which would be a great for the entire city.”

 

Bernini explains that the center would be a point of reference for the thousands of Muslims, but it could also be appealing as a cultural point of attraction for cruise passengers. And the claim that this may jeopardize security? “If there is a place that is controlled, it is the port area” replies Bernini “not to mention it is where the state police headquarter is.”

 

“In every home there are those that pray but this does not mean that every home is a mosque,” says Maiolese , which he discusses is the point of the “Moussala” on the ground floor, a place of prayer, it is more than a “majid,” meaning mosque. The space could accommodate between 5 and 600 people, and it would be the only space exclusively for Muslims. The rest of the building, however, will be welcome to everyone.

 

“The tea room will express welcome by offering Arab tea and cakes” explains Maiolese “but in the 240 square meter space we will also sell cakes and tea from the entire Arab world, which will help people better understand different food cultures” Upstairs will hold 750 square meters of Islamic books. Books will be in Italian, English, Arabic, and also French, Albanian, Urdu, Persian, Bengali, this will be a store for the visitors of the Museum of Islamic Culture,

 

Another 2,400 square meters will host works of art, manuscripts, and also cultural events. “We have already established contacts with universities in Medina, and also Qatar and others, in order to have works exhibited” says Maiolese. Finally, going even higher, there will be 1,230 square meters of diplomatic and commercial offices.”

Thousands of Muslims Celebrate the End of Ramadan in Milan

August 8, 2013

 

Several thousand Muslims gathered in the Arena Civica in Milan, from 8 in the morning to pray during  Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. The rain did not deter the faithful and they said the traditional prayer of the day. Ramadan is a time of fasting and a time to support the purification of the soul and body. Imam Shaykh Riyadh Bustanji lead the celebration. Women prayed under a gazebo, decorated for the occasion. The City of Milan was represented by the Councillor for Culture, Francesco Cappelli.

A Mosque in Reykjavík “Threatens” Icelandic Culture

10 July 2013

 

Former mayor of Reykjavík claims a mosque will threaten Iceland’s culture and safety. Ólafur F. Magnússon, who was mayor for little less than 7 months in 2008, is highly pessimistic about plans of a mosque being built in the open space of in the eastern part of Reykjavík.
City council approved of the plans last week, after Muslims in Iceland having waited 13 years to get a property to raise the first mosque in Iceland. Ólafur writes in Morgunblaðið today, expressing his concern about the matter.
“It is worrying that Muslims here don’t seem to have any difficulties financing the project, receiving aid from Muslim organizations abroad. Those organizations might want to increase the influence of Islam in Iceland, as well as in other countries.”
Instead of a mosque, Ólafur suggests a temple of the Nordic gods to be built in the plot. “Such a cultural gem would bring joy to the majority of the city’s residents, as well as other Icelanders, and wouldn’t be as out of place as a mosque would.”

Ramadan in Germany

Duran Pintol who is the Imam of the Islamic Bosnian cultural community in the West German city Oberhausen, speaks about the challenges Muslims face when fasting in Ramadan. However people who have to work are free to postpone the fasting. The prayer in the night is given special attention, as Muslims rest and prepare for the day. Children are not obliged but in case of fasting, they are given lots of vitamins to sustain the school days. Since April 2011, Pintol has been chosen as an imam in the “Bosnian Islamic Culture Community of Oberhausen”, which is an officially registered association for culture and religion.

Among Muslims, Internet Use Goes Hand-in-Hand With More Open Views Toward Western Culture

Around the world, Muslims who use the internet are much more likely than other Muslims to have a favorable opinion of Western movies, music and television and are somewhat more likely to see similarities between Islam and Christianity, according to an analysis of a recent Pew Research Center survey.  

The survey of Muslims in 39 countries across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa finds that a median of 18% use the internet in their home, school or workplace. However, internet use varies widely across the countries surveyed, ranging from just 2% of Muslims in Afghanistan to a majority (59%) in Kosovo.

In the 25 countries where there are enough Muslims who use the internet to permit more detailed analysis, the survey finds that internet users tend to be younger and better educated than Muslims who are not online. They also include a somewhat higher proportion of men. But statistical analysis shows that internet use is strongly associated with Muslims’ attitudes toward Western popular culture even when factors such as age, education and gender are taken into account. Holding all else equal, Muslims who use the internet are much more inclined to like Western movies, music and television, and they are somewhat less inclined to say that Western entertainment is harming morality in their country.

The survey also finds that Muslims who use the internet are somewhat more likely than those who are not online to see commonalities between their own faith and Christianity. Statistical analysis shows that internet use is associated with a more open attitude toward Christianity even when controlling for demographic factors such as age, education, gender, level of religious observance and participation in interfaith activities.

When it comes to interpretations of their own faith, however, internet use does not appear to make much difference in Muslims’ views. Regardless of whether they use the internet or not, majorities of Muslims in most countries surveyed say that there is only one true way to interpret their faith and that Islam alone leads to eternal life in heaven. Statistical analysis finds little difference between internet users and non-users on these questions.

In nearly every country where analysis is possible, Muslim internet users are more likely to say they enjoy Western movies, music and television. Differences in opinion between Muslim internet users and those who do not use the internet are particularly wide in Kyrgyzstan (where internet users are 35 percentage points more likely to have a positive view of Western entertainment), Senegal (+32), Russia (+32), Indonesia (+31), Tajikistan (+31), Bosnia-Herzegovina (+30), Azerbaijan (+30) and Tunisia (+30).

 

Literature Urges dialogue between Muslims and Christians

April 8, 2013

capire l'islam

Understanding Islam is a short introduction to the Muslim Culture worldwide. The book is by Matthew S. Gordon, a history professor at Miami University in Ohio. The book focuses on key themes: the origin and development, religious elements, sacred texts, important people, principle ethics, sacred spaces, sacred history and Islamic society.