Fraternity Life, Islamic Style

February 9, 2014

 

SHORTLY BEFORE SUNUP, a dozen or so students at the University of California, San Diego, stumbled dutifully out of bed. They ironed their collared shirts, knotted their ties and piled into their cars. Their destination was the Islamic Center of San Diego, where they were to be initiated into the country’s first Muslim fraternity, Alpha Lambda Mu, named for three letters that start several chapters of the Quran: Alif Laam Meem.

Alpha Lambda Mu was founded just a year ago by Ali Mahmoud, a junior biology and sociology major at the University of Texas, Dallas, as a national fraternity for Muslim college students. Mr. Mahmoud, who is seeking university recognition and a house for his chapter, hosted the first formal rush this fall: 40 students showed up, and half were offered bids. A total of 24 members now make up the Texas chapter.

The directive is for spiritual students to have more fun, and convivial ones to incorporate more spirituality in their lives. Mr. Mahmoud’s guidebook stipulates that chapters organize events every semester. Some are to be purely social, others to teach life skills, encourage volunteer work and enrich members with Islamic culture.

Sometimes referred to as the post-9/11 generation, Muslim-American college students say they have long struggled with the prejudices and suspicions that have come with the West’s unsettled relationship with the Arab world. This has led them to explore more thoroughly their dual identity, and to strive to show the world who they are and how they want to be perceived, said Lori Peek, the author of “Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans After 9/11.” “The formation of a fraternity represents a really thoughtful reflection on their part,” Dr. Peek said. “It moves these students out of the private sphere and into a more public space where they are effectively spanning two cultures.”

Two reports by the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies indicate that an evolution has indeed occurred. In 2009, 40 percent of Muslim Americans ages 18 to 29 said they were thriving, the lowest percentage in that age group. By 2011, 10 years after the terrorist attacks, that number had risen to 65 percent.

Only 1.4 percent of American college freshmen are Muslim, according to a Higher Education Research Institute survey in 2012, up from 0.9 percent in 2005. But with growing interest in Islam, more campuses are providing prayer spaces and cultural centers. In 1999, Georgetown became the first university to hire a full-time imam. In recent years, Yale, Princeton and Northwestern have brought in Muslim chaplains.

The Muslim Student Association, founded in 1963, is the voice of this movement and now has more than 200 affiliated chapters in the United States. It has pushed for greater awareness about Islamic culture and helps members procure scholarships and internships. The group has generated controversy as well. The chapter at the University of California, Irvine, was suspended for the 2010 fall semester after members protested a campus speech by the ambassador to Israel. And in 2012 the organization made headlines, and elicited sympathy, amid reports that the New York City Police Department had surreptitiously monitored chapters at Yale, Columbia and other East Coast campuses.

 

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/09/education/edlife/greek-life-islamic-style.html?_r=0

A Mosque in the Darsena neighborhood? Local Official Says Yes

January 8, 2014

 

GENOA, The Mayor of Genoa, Marco Doria said “yes” to the construction of the Mosque in the neighborhood of Darsena in Genoa.

The mayor explained in a letter to the president of European Muslims.

The letter came after the League of European Muslims had expressed its readiness to buy a building in Darsena, to make it a great European center of Islamic culture and a space dedicated to prayer.

The Mayor’s commitment is crucial because the Islamic Development Bank could begin financing the project with the cost of 12 million Euros.

The letter explained that the mayor and the “municipal authorities have no objection to the fact that this important initiative will be brought to the attention of the Islamic Development Bank in Saudi Arabia.”

 

Liguria Notizia: http://www.ligurianotizie.it/costruzione-moschea-darsena-doria-dice-si/2014/01/11/112997/

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.”

“Islam-Friendly” Waste Bins Installed in Alkmaar

July 13 2013

 

The Dutch municipalities of Alkmaar has stationed “Islam-friendly” rubbish bins in two of its districts. The “food and bio-containers” are intended to collect bread and other food remains from residents. The municipality website states that “the reason that special food containers have been stationed is to do with the fact that throwing away food does not fit into the Islamic culture… The bread and other food that comes into the containers is not however destroyed, but processed in two stages into re-usable materials.”

 

The Land of St. Benedict is “open” to Islam

July 4, 2013

 

A center for prayer and for the promotion of Islamic culture will be inaugurated on Sunday afternoon in Cassino by the association of Islamic culture known as “the Light.” The event congregated provincial political institutions and the regent of the Abbey of Montecassino. “One of our goals “ said the president of the association, ironically, bears a name dear to Christianity, Massimiliano Evangelista, 41 year-old Cassino man, converted to Islam in 2004, was there to promote interfaith dialogue and in particular with the Catholic faith with which “we share so many things. We want to know what Islam is, and tell what it is not, dispelling stereotypes created by the Western media.” There are about 400 believers of the Islamic faith in Cassino. “We want a place where, among other things, to pray together so that every individual has the right to practice their religious beliefs. In Cassino there is a large Moroccan community, but there are also some Egyptians and Lebanese, Palestinians and Bangladesh. We had no difficulty in obtaining the necessary permits, because the martyr city has repeatedly demonstrated openings cultural integration among the people.” What do you say to those who fear that such centers can be meeting places for extremists? “It’s a risk that does not exist” says Evangelista.

A Mosques in Salerno: “No” from Cirielli, Celano, Peduto

Discussed was the idea of ​​creating a mosque in Salerno, which was started days ago by the mayor Vincenzo De Luca. Not in accordance, to start with, is the deputy of Fratelli d’Italia, Edmund Cirielli: “The idea of ​​building a mosque in Salerno as a center of Islamic culture is not justifiable. I do not see a need to do so.” he said.

“Building a new structure, would mean further contributing to the overbuilding of a city that already suffers from over land use due to decisions made in recent years by De Luca: the creation of a mosque, however, could be a magnet for other Muslim immigrants and I do not think Salerno can afford this luxury with all the problems of daily life,” said Ciriello. To conclude, councilor Roberto Celano said: “At a time of great economic difficulty, such as the one we are experiencing, proposing the idea of ​​building a mosque in Salerno, is entirely misplaced and inappropriate. The mayor seems to want to pursue visibility at all costs with proposals that, in his opinion, are innovative and would focus on his administration, but in reality they are do not support the city.”

“In the absence of a national law that gives clear guidance with respect to the freedom of religion but also guarantees the safety and support of the Italian citizens, the mayor, in his current capacity, will promote a law that regulates the building of places of worship which would actually be in conflict with the Italian state, “said Peduto.

NSU right-wing terrorism – reaction to the trial

May 14

Coordinated by the coordination council of Muslims, Muslim associations have sent their representatives to attend the trial of the right-wing terrorist cell of the National Socialist Underground (NSU). The coordination council of Muslims represents the Islamic culture centers, the  Turkish Islamic Union for the Institute of Religion, the Islam council and the central council for Muslims.  Aiman Mazyek, the representative of the Central council of Muslims and speaker of the coordination council of Muslims spoke about a historical trial, which would demonstrate how desperate the security conditions of Muslims is. Mazyek added that racism against foreigners Muslims has been existing for a long time. Media coverage lacking objectivity has contributed to an increased hatred against Muslims and immigrants. The State should prove to what extent the authorities have failed to stop the terrorist trio of the NSU.

 

Turkish media such as Haber Türk, titled “Nazi woman posing like Hitler. Most Turkish newspaper related the trial with the social and political environment in Germany, asking how Germany would face the Nazi challenge. Other newspapers such as the Sabah have asked to what extent right-wing groups undermine the German State cooperating with Nazi groups.  Prior to the trial, Turkish media was aggrieved as it was not given a seat in the court. Hence the rule of the Constitutional Court forced the appellate court in Munich to open up the lottery for media seats, providing a fair share for every media representatives.

12th annual Summer Muslim Festival takes place in Ottawa

News Agencies – July 14, 2012

 

The annual Canadian Muslim Festival was held in Ottawa with the participation of over 20 Muslim countries. The event which celebrates the culture and traditions of the Muslim world, included country exhibitions, Islamic arts and handicrafts, a bazaar as well as fun activities for children.  The festival, which is held annually by the Muslim Association of Canada, aims to introduce Islamic culture and civilization to the local community.

 

The one-day event provided each participating country with a tent to present the arts and culture of that nation. The result was a display of the tremendous diversity of the Islamic world. This annual festival provides a great opportunity to introduce Islamic culture to Canadians.

 

Amnesty International on the distress of calling yourself Muslim

29 April 2012

According to an Amnesty International report released this week, Muslims in Europe face discrimination on grounds of religion or belief in employment and education. After analyzing the situation of those who profess this religion in Belgium, Spain, France, Netherlands and Switzerland, the NGO said that the opinion polls reflect “fear, mistrust and negative opinions about Muslims and Islamic culture.” ‘Go to your country’ “The most common phrase we hear is’ go to your country.” I’m tired and I do not answer … it does not enter the head of many that I’m not a foreign, I’m Spanish, Basque “complains Jennifer Chamizo, now 25 years old and who embraced Islam (expression that Muslims prefer to the word ‘convert’) when she was 20.

Amnesty International collected a study that sets the number of Muslims in Spain on about 2.3% of the population. Many of the enquired people acknowledged having to hide at work that they are Muslims. Sources familiar with the Muslim community in Madrid say that, with rare exceptions, those who go to mosques to make the ‘Shahada’ never do it accompanied by their family, despite being a very important event for them. “Many believe that Spain is tolerant, I also thought so, but when you’re the different one, you understand, and feel, that there is still a lot of rejection,” says Habiba. 37% of the Spanish believe it is acceptable to expel a student from school simply because she is wearing headscarves and the same percentage said to have supported protests against the construction of Muslim places of worship, according to the AI report.