NORTHERN CALIFORNIA’S FIRST FEMALE-LED MOSQUE OPENS IN BERKELEY

BERKELEY, California — Northern California’s first female-led mosque officially opened its doors in Berkeley on Friday, April 14, 2017, to the public.

The mosque is getting a lot of attention as only the second women-run mosque in the U.S. The first is in Los Angeles.

Qal’bu Mayraym Mosque makes it clear this is a place where women not only feel welcome, but also powerful because they are running the show.  However, men are also welcome to the mosque and there is no separation between the genders.

Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi Won’t Attend Oscar Ceremony

The Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose film “The Salesman” is nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign-language movie, said on Sunday that he would not attend the Oscars ceremony next month even if he were granted an exception to President Trump’s visa ban for citizens from Iran and several other predominantly Muslim countries.

Mr. Farhadi said he had planned to attend the Feb. 26 ceremony in Los Angeles and while there bring attention to a decision he called “unjust.” But the executive order signed by President Trump on Friday presented “ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip,” he said in a statement to The New York Times.

The executive order blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It also suspended entry of all refugees for 120 days and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely.

She’s an imam in LA and doesn’t have patience for a strict interpretation of Islam

Ani Zonneveld is an imam, and yes, also a woman. She qualifies that she is “an imam with a small “i” — though her reluctance to go with a capital “I” says more about her democratic approach to worship than any deference to Islamic tradition, one that has been and still is very male-dominated. She has no patience for that Islam.

Instead she founded a Muslim community — Muslims for

Credit: Arzeen Photography/Muslims for Progressive Values
Credit: Arzeen Photography/Muslims for Progressive Values

Progressive Values — that embraces gender equality, gay rights and interfaith marriage. And although it is based in Los Angeles, it has spread — often quietly — across the world.

Women’s Mosque of America hosts first Friday Prayer in Los Angeles

Women attend the first jumma prayer at the Women's Mosque of America in Lose Angeles on January 30, 2015. (Photo: Religious Dispatches)
Women attend the first jumma prayer at the Women’s Mosque of America in Lose Angeles on January 30, 2015. (Photo: Religious Dispatches)

On Friday, January 30th, 2015 the Women’s Mosque of America hosted its first Friday Prayer at its location in Los Angeles. Founders and co-Presidents, M. Hasna Maznavi and Sana Muttalib welcomed the group of worshipers, journalists, and curious guests stating that at this new mosque, “we will not be policing any bodies.” According to Maznavi, the “policing” of bodies was one of the primary reasons that led her to creating a mosque for women.

The mosque itself is symbolic of the struggle of young American Muslims to create their own identities that are not only compatible with Islam but also reflective of the social progress that they are a part of. Young Muslims are pushing back against rigid social and gender norms brought to the country by their parents and grandparents that are only tangentially related to Islam. Maznavi notes that although they respect the orthodox beliefs, they also want to stretch them to be more inclusive.

 

New threat of “Express Radicalization” amongst moderate youth in Spain

© Horsey, Los Angeles Times, 2013.
© Horsey, Los Angeles Times, 2013.

Security forces are concerned about the fascination that is rising among Spanish young Muslims for the Islamic State or Daesh. The concern is even greater in the case of adolescents who are concentrated in the city of Ceuta, where radical Islam has already fished at least five minor children, according to counter-terrorism sources.

Experts call this phenomenon “Express Radicalization.” Young moderate Muslims are becoming -in a matter of weeks and thanks only to the radical content consumed through social networks in the privacy of their homes-into dangerous fighters willing to give their lives for Islam.

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.

Local religious leaders unite for change in immigration law

April 4, 2014

 

Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in Southern California hold vigil calling for a revamp in federal immigration laws.

Several of Southern California’s most prominent religious leaders held a vigil for immigration reform in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, underscoring a growing interfaith effort to change the nation’s laws.

Immigrants who are in the United States illegally “need mercy and they need justice,” said Archbishop Jose Gomez, welcoming an array of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders to the gathering at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
“Times have changed,” said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. “Some have framed the issue as a monolithic issue of a particular denomination. But that is a myth. The immigration issue transcends all creeds, all colors, all languages.

“It does not matter whether my particular people are suffering,” he said. “But we look at it as our people are suffering. And we stand with those suffering people.”

Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-interfaith-immigration-20140405,0,4994674.story#ixzz2yE27uDp5

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-immigrant-vigil-la-20140404,0,4480623.story#axzz2yE3oOxsF

Calif. Arab sparks debate over ethnic mascots

December 2, 2013

 

LOS ANGELES — On game days in Thermal, where date farms and desert surroundings evoke the Middle East and nearby communities have names like Mecca and Oasis, fans cheer a high school team known as the Arabs. A belly dancer jiggles on center court. And a black-haired, mustached mascot wearing a head scarf rallies the crowd.

At least that’s the way it was done for decades in the community 120 miles southeast of Los Angeles until Arab-Americans recently objected to a hook-nosed, snarling image used to represent Coachella Valley High School.

The school has agreed to give the mascot a makeover, but not to drop the nickname.

“We’re still going to stick with the Arab,” said school board president Lowell Kemper after scores of residents defended the tradition dating back generations. “It’s just a matter of whether we have a change in the caricature of the mascot.”

But the Arab debate spurs the same set of questions: Is it possible to craft a mascot in the image of an ethnic group that doesn’t offend, or are schools better off scrapping the idea altogether?

The debate comes as the more familiar Indian controversy has gained increased heat.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee complained last month that the Coachella Valley mascot perpetuates negative stereotypes of Arabs and Arab-Americans after one of its members raised questions about the image.

The move prompted a community-wide debate and the school district formed a committee to redesign the mascot in a more flattering light.

Coachella Valley isn’t alone in invoking images of Arabs or Muslims. In the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra, the high school football team, known as the Moors, features a caricature of a scowling, dark-skinned man with two swords on its Facebook page.

Yasmin Nouh, a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in greater Los Angeles, said her group was going to speak with the school.

At Coachella Valley, the Arab’s image has evolved. He was once depicted riding on horseback while carrying a spear, later changed to the surly caricature plastered on the school gym’s wall.

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/calif-arab-sparks-debate-over-ethnic-mascots/2013/12/02/266539d0-5b89-11e3-801f-1f90bf692c9b_story.html

At helm of NYPD, Bratton will take on role of healer-in-chief of a worried Muslim community

December 6, 2013

 

When William J. Bratton takes over as commissioner of the New York Police Department early next year, he will inherit the country’s most powerful local counterterrorism force, but one that has alienated the city’s large Muslim community.

“We need to heal some of the wounds, reopen the communications and the partnership,” Bill de Blasio (D), the mayor-elect, said Thursday while introducing Bratton, 66, as the next police commissioner at a news conference.

Bratton will have his hands full in this role of healer-in-chief as he reassures New York’s Muslim community and other minorities that they will not be racially profiled.

The next commissioner said there are people in the city who “feel that . . . there has been unnecessary intrusion into their lives.”

In 2003 under Kelly, the NYPD launched an aggressive campaign to infiltrate certain ethnic communities in the city’s five boroughs and map where Muslims live, work, eat and pray.

Muslims in New York say they have reason to be hopeful that Bratton will change course while still protecting the country’s top terrorism target. As chief of the Los Angeles police, Bratton came to reject the idea of mapping.

“We police this city with the consent and cooperation of the community,” Bratton said in 2007, announcing his decision to abandon a mapping program. “We did not have that here, and we will not go forward with this program.”

Bratton said he didn’t want to “spread fear.”

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/at-helm-of-nypd-bratton-will-take-on-role-of-healer-in-chief-as-muslim-community-looks-on/2013/12/06/0facc264-5e84-11e3-95c2-13623eb2b0e1_story.html

Muslim Artists Perform to Break Stereotypes

November 12, 2013

 

For decades, Arab actors have been successful in Hollywood. Among the most successful are Omar Sharif, Tony Shalhoub, and F. Murray Abraham; the latter won an Academy Award for his role in Mozart. However Muslims, openly proclaiming their religion, are a minority in the U.S. population and an even smaller minority in the U.S. entertainment industry. Those who are breaking in are trying to use their talent to discredit negative stereotypes. Several showcased their work at a recent gathering of predominantly American Muslims in Los Angeles.

Dean Obeidallah is not just an American comedian.

“My ethnicity and my faith make me a little different than many other comedians,” said Obeidallah.

He is a Muslim with Palestinian roots, and says his identity has not created barriers for him. However, he also says that stereotypes of what he represents do exist in the U.S.

Obeidallah uses comedy to talk about misconceptions and about what it means to be Muslim. He has co-directed a comedy documentary on this theme called, The Muslims Are Coming! Obeidallah said he has received positive reviews from both Muslims and non-Muslims, but sometimes non-Muslims don’t know how to respond to his jokes.

American Muslim poet Amir Sulaiman points out that some Muslims feel uncomfortable listening to him perform.

“Some people they feel nervous. Some things I say are not politically correct. They’re not fashioned and perfected in a political kind of way. Some people will say we don’t want you to say this; we don’t want you to say that as a Muslim person. When you are an artist or a public figure, many times you automatically become a spokesperson for millions of people. All these people have different points of view and different way that they want to be portrayed, but every artist can’t be responsible for everyone,” said Sulaiman.

 

Voice of America: http://www.voanews.com/content/muslim-artists-perform-break-stereotypes/1789097.html