The Alpha Lambda Mu fraternity, known in Arabic as Alif Laam Meem, is preparing to welcome new students at the University of Texas, Dallas. The group encourages members to abstain from drinking and excessive partying. It is opening brand new chapters at four other college campuses this fall.
On college campuses across America, incoming freshman are crossing their fingers and pulling on their social networks to get noticed by their favorite fraternity or sorority.
This year, young, devout Muslim men can be frat boys too.
Alpha Lambdu Mu (ALM) is America’s first Muslim fraternity. It was founded in February by an inaugural group of 17 college students from the University of Texas, Dallas. The idea has gained some momentum and this fall, new chapters are opening up at Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California-San Diego, and the University of Central Florida.
Some critics are asking—is this halal? It may not seem like these two concepts can mix. Islam challenges its followers to stay away from some of the things fraternities are known for—drinking, excessive partying, one night stands after late-night clubbing. But there are also many positive benefits that come from being involved in Greek life on campus, like a sense of belonging and career connections after graduation.
ALM founder Ali Mahmoud wanted to bridge that gap. When a childhood friend of his expressed interest in checking out the UT Dallas Greek scene purely for its social and postgraduate business connections, Mahmoud said he couldn’t blame him.
A bizarre chain email sent to district and school board officials in the Dallas area this October titled “IRVING ISD INDOCTRINATING ISLAM” inspired a recent investigation of “Islamic bias” in the district’s curriculum. Despite the outlandish claims, the district requested that an official from the organization that created the curriculum to respond. The results of a 72-page investigation done by the organization were not surprising: there’s a Christian bias in schools, not a Muslim one.
The official told the board that a bias toward Islam didn’t exist, even mentioning that “she hired a ‘very socially and fiscally conservative’ former social studies teacher who ‘watches Glenn Beck on a regular basis’ to seek out any Islamic bias in CSCOPE [the curriculum].” She “asked her to look for anything she would consider the least bit controversial.” The Dallas Morning News has the details of an investigation that mentioned “every religious reference in the CSCOPE curriculum, from kindergarten to high school”:
– Christianity got twice as much attention in the curriculum as any other religion. Islam was a distant second.
– The Red Crescent and Boston Tea Party reference mentioned in the email were nowhere in CSCOPE’s curriculum, although they may have been in the past.
– If there was any Islamic bias in CSCOPE it was “bias against radical Islam.”
This isn’t the first time Texas has debated the perceived presence of too much Islam in its school books. In 2010, the Texas Board of Education banned any books that “paint Islam in too favorable of a light.” The reasoning was head-scratching: “the resolution adopted Friday cites ‘politically-correct whitewashes of Islamic culture and stigmas on Christian civilization’ in current textbooks and warns that ‘more such discriminatory treatment of religion may occur as Middle Easterners buy into the US public school textbook oligopoly.’” A Texas based civil liberties advocate said at the time that “the members who voted for this resolution were solely interested in playing on fear and bigotry in order to pit Christians against Muslims.”
WACO, Texas — Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, a Muslim soldier who was AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky., is accused of planning to bomb a Killeen restaurant filled with Fort Hood soldiers and shoot any survivors last summer. Jury selection was scheduled to start Monday at his federal trial in Waco, about 50 miles northeast of Killeen, the city just outside Fort Hood.
Abdo, 22, faces up to life in prison if convicted of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, the most serious of the six charges on which he’s being tried.
Abdo, who was born in Texas and grew up in a Dallas suburb, became a Muslim when he was 17. He enlisted in the military in 2009, thinking that the service wouldn’t conflict with his religious beliefs. But according to his essay that was part of his conscientious objector status application, Abdo reconsidered as he explored Islam further.
In that essay, which he sent to The Associated Press in 2010, Abdo said acts like the 2009 Fort Hood shootings “run counter to what I believe in as a Muslim” and were “an act of aggression by a man and not by Islam.”
A 20-year-old Saudi student who was arrested in Lubbock, Tex., late Wednesday was close to constructing a bomb and had researched possible targets, including the Dallas home of former president George W. Bush and the residences of three Americans who served at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, authorities said.
The defendant came to the United States as a student in September 2008, but his plan all along was to kill Americans, according to journal entries cited in an FBI affidavit. As a Saudi who entered the United States legally on a student visa, he evoked memories of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudis.
The Saudi student was arrested after he attempted to purchase over the Internet the chemical phenol, a key ingredient in the explosive trinitrophenol, or TNP, according to an FBI chemist cited in the affidavit.
Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year-old Jordanian, had a 20-minute hearing at the Dallas federal courthouse Friday, September 24. Smadi has been accused of terrorism after attempting to bomb the Fountain Plaza office tower in Dallas, Texas.
Judge Irma Ramirez set a probable cause hearing for October 5.
19-year old Hosam Maher Husein Smadi was arrested Thursday, September 24 after attempting to detonate a bomb attached to a vehicle in Texas. Smadi targeted Dallas’s 60-story Fountain Plaza office tower.
Counterterrorism officials had been investigating the suspect because of frequently stated intentions to inflict damage and death upon the United States, which he believed to be an enemy of Islam. Smadi told an undercover agent he was targeting the building, and the FBI worked to ensure the vehicle contained an inactive explosive device that Smadi was unable to detonate.
Smadi is slated to appear in a Dallas court on Friday.
RSVP Required by 7/14 to: Confirmattendance@gmail.com
Focus of Conference:
1. To consolidate our diverse community and raise a visionary leadership.
2. To engage with the due process, the governing institutions, and the civil society to create a dialogue of change.
3. To promote conflict resolution and constructive engagement that can offer diplomatic alternatives to military endeavors.
4. To work towards the common interests and welfare of both America and the Muslim world — a win-win situation.
5. To work against Islamophobia and the negative stereotypes of Muslims in the West, and to help uplift the image and position of Muslims and their respective work in America and beyond.
6. To help raise a moderate and effective voice to invalidate extremism and bigotry.
The Meeting Agenda
09:00 Introduction, Open Forum of Goal Setting and Consensus Building
12:00 Lunch Break
01:00 Establishing Resolutions
03:00 Fund Raising
04:30 Election of the Steering Committee Members and Election/Selection of Officers
06:00 Dinner and Discussion – Future Vision
For more information, go to event website here.
In North Dallas, Texas, Muslims and Jews are coming together to fight anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish sentiments in the city. “It’s about time Muslims and Jews come together to speak out against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia,” said President of the Islamic Association of Carrolton president Azhar Azeez. Local Rabbi Andrew Paley added that “the irrational fear of Islam is something that is prevalent in our community. I’m proud to be part of programs that seek to confront this.” Azeez has plans to address an audience at Temple Shalom to discuss fighting prejudice against ethnic minorities.
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MarketWatch (The Wall Street Journal)
For one hour on Sundays, two Muslim hosts – Saad Christy and Abu Hashim – will take to the airways in Dallas. The two hope to eliminate stereotypes surrounding Islam, and clear up misconceptions in a program called American Muslim Voices on 1360 AM. “Muslims play a vital part in American society. They have been here for centuries. We want to make sure there is a conversation with our neighbors and the mainstream population that humanizes Muslims,” says Hashim.
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