PBS series ‘Life of Muhammad’ explores diverse opinions of prophet

The portrait of the Muslim prophet, which emerges from a PBS documentary “Life of Muhammad,” may surprise some American viewers.

 

“As major polls by Gallup, Pew, and others have reported, astonishing numbers of Americans, as well as Europeans, are not only ignorant of Islam but have deep fears and prejudices towards their Muslim populations,” said John Esposito, professor of Islamic studies at Georgetown University who appears in the three-part series that debuts Tuesday (Aug. 20) on PBS.

 

Esposito praised the series’ “balance,” and its attempts to describe controversial aspects of the prophet’s life with a diversity of opinions.

 

Produced for the BBC in 2011, the series examines the world into which Muhammad was born and his marriage to his first wife, Khadijah. The second hour focuses on the “Night Journey to Jerusalem,” his departure from Mecca and the eight-year war with the Meccan tribes. The third analyzes events during his later life, including the introduction of the moral code known as Shariah and the concept of jihad.

 

Narrated by Rageh Omaar, a Somali-born journalist, the series presents Muhammad in a respectful, positive light, though it doesn’t shirk from the controversies that surround Muhammad, who was born in Mecca in 570 A.D.

 

Tariq Ramadan, a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at University of Oxford, says in the film, “We never represent or have any images of any of the prophets.”

 

Omaar’s signoff at the end of the three-hour documentary attempts to contextualize all of the stories—flattering and damning—surrounding the prophet.  “He left Arabia a better place than he found it,” Omaar says.

More than 20, 000 Muslims attend conference in Toronto

News Agencies – December 27, 2011

Over 20,000 people showed up at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre for the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention to listen to leading Muslim scholars, personalities and artists. Ticket sales to the convention were closed on Saturday evening as the facilities reached its capacity. Overflow rooms with TV screens were set up to handle the large crowd that showed up for the annual gathering, which was celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Organized by a group of young, active Canadian Muslims, the three-day convention opened on Friday, December 23. The theme of the convention, “Control, Chaos or Community: Three Ways, One World, Our Choice”, was chosen to address the many challenges plaguing humanity today beyond the confines of cultural, religious or intellectual divides, according to the organizers.

Leading among attendees were prominent scholar Dr Jamal Badawi and Sheikh Abdallah Idris from Canada, Prof. Tariq Ramadan from Switzerland and Dr. John Esposito from the United States. Also attending were Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah from Mauritania, Habib Ali Al-Jifri from Yemen and Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury from Australia.

New Book: Islamophobia: The Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century

Islamophobia has been on the rise since September 11, as seen in countless cases of discrimination, racism, hate speeches, physical attacks, and anti-Muslim campaigns. The 2006 Danish cartoon crisis and the controversy surrounding Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg speech have underscored the urgency of such issues as image-making, multiculturalism, freedom of expression, respect for religious symbols, and interfaith relations. The 1997 Runnymede Report defines Islamophobia as “dread, hatred, and hostility towards Islam and Muslims perpetuated by a series of closed views that imply and attribute negative and derogatory stereotypes and beliefs to Muslims.” Violating the basic principles of human rights civil liberties, and religious freedom, Islamophobic acts take many different forms. In some cases, mosques, Islamic centers, and Muslim properties are attacked and desecrated. In the workplace, schools, and housing, it takes the form of suspicion, staring, hazing, mockery, rejection, stigmatizing and outright discrimination. In public places, it occurs as indirect discrimination, hate speech, and denial of access to goods and services.

This collection of essays takes a multidisciplinary approach to Islamophobia, bringing together the expertise and experience of Muslim, American, and European scholars. Analysis is combined with policy recommendations. Contributors discuss and evaluate good practices already in place and offer new methods for dealing with discrimination, hatred, and racism.

http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/ReligionTheology/Islam/?view=usa&ci=9780199753659

Table of Contents
Foreword Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of
Islamic Conference
Introduction John L. Esposito

THE CONTEXT OF ISLAMOPHOBIA

1. Ibrahim Kalin, “Islamophobia and the Limits of Multiculturalism”
2. Jocelyne Cesari, “Islamophobia” in the West: A Comparison Between
Europe
and America”.

CASE STUDIES

3. Sam Cherribi: Islamophobia in Germany, Austria and Holland
4. Tahir Abbas, “Islamophobia in the UK: Historical and Contemporary
Political and Media Discourses in the Framing of a Twenty-First century
Anti-Muslim Racism
5. Mohamed Nimer, “Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Islamophobia and
Anti-Americanism”
6. Sherman A. Jackson, “Muslims, Islam(s) and Race in America”

MANIFESTATIONS

7. Sunaina Maira, “Islamophobia and the War on Terror: Youth,
Citizenship,
and Dissent”
8. Juan Cole, “Islamophobia and American Foreign Policy”
9. Anas Shaikh Ali, “Islamophobic Discourse Masquerading as Art and
Literature: Combating Myth through Progressive Education”
10. Kate Zebiri, Orientalist Themes in Contemporary British Islamophobia
11. Peter Gottschalk and Gabriel Greenberg, “From Muhammad to Obama:
Caricatures, Cartoons, and Stereotypes of Muslims”

Muslims Today A Radical Reform: Tariq Ramadan with John Esposito

Prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan joined John L. Esposito in a conversation exploring the challenges of confronting the status quo and promoting radical reform in Islam and the Muslim world. Tariq Ramadan is Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at the Oxford University and President of the European think tank European Muslim Network in Brussels. His most recent publications include What I Believe, Islam, The West and the Challenges of Modernity, and Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation. John Esposito is University Professor, Professor of Religion & International Affairs and Founding Director of the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. Editor-in-chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, The Oxford History of Islam and Oxford Islamic Studies Online, his most recent books are: The Future of Islam; Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think (with Dalia Mogahed); and Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam.

Europe’s waning liberalism: by John Esposito

Last year, at a European meeting of intelligence officials from the US and Europe, a Swiss participant commented on a proposed referendum on minarets. He was sure it would go nowhere since, as he said, Switzerland is a very pluralistic society; its Muslim population is relatively small and there are few mosques with minarets.
Enlightened Switzerland has now become part of an “Enlightened Liberal Europe” that is increasingly not all that liberal. The stunning Swiss vote – 57 percent – approving a referendum to ban minarets, should not have been all that surprising, considering the growing power of Islamophobia.

In both Europe and the US, right-wing politicians, political commentators, media personalities, and religious leaders continue to feed a growing suspicion of mainstream Muslims by fuelling a fear that Islam, and not just Muslim extremism, is a threat. (…)

Georgetown Professor John Esposito comments on Hasan media coverage

In this op-ed, Georgetown Professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies Dr. John Esposito critiques some of the media’s coverage of the Fort Hood incident. He claims some journalists were too quick to judge in immediately placing the incident and Hasan within a framework of Islam, and discusses how extremist acts by people of Christianity and other religions are often not as strongly linked to their faith as acts by Muslims.

Roundtable on Islam in U.S. Politics

A representative of the Council on America-Islamic Relations (CAIR) took part in a roundtable discussion on _Islam in American Politics’ in Washington DC. CAIR’s Nihad Awad joined former Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, and Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison, John Esposito, and others to deepen the dialogue on critical religious and political issues. Georgetown University and the World Economic Forum sponsored the discussion. It marked the official US launch of the first Islam and the West: Annual Report on the State of the Dialogue.