August 11, 2010
The vice president of the regional committee for immigration and the leader of Moroccan Communities of Treviso have been informed by the Consul of Morocco in Verona; of an initiative undertaken by the Moroccan government to send two theologians to the regions Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. The two envoys will travel around these regions during the period of Ramadan to teach to Imams the correct Sunni interpretation of the doctrine. They will focus on moderation, openness and dialogue with all religions. The aim of the initiative is to counter the widespread stereotypes surrounding Islam as a violent, extremist and threatening religion. The meetings will be open to Islamic and non Islamic audience in order to promote the idea of Islam as a tolerant and peaceful faith. The initiative has been welcomed even by the Northern League’s regional assessor. However, he has urged the Muslim community to ensure that the sermons are delivered in Italian in order to discern the contents conveyed, and to work on an official register for imams.
Like any rousing Islamic preacher, Muhammed Tahir ul-Qadri’s voice rises to a shout and his index finger jabs as he hammers home a point. But rather than angry calls for jihad (holy war) or a vitriolic denunciation of the West and its aggressions against Islam, Qadri’s message, equally forcefully delivered, is about moderation, peace, inclusion and understanding.
Addressing a packed auditorium from a raised platform, his words beamed on to large screen behind him, more than 1,000 young followers hang on his every word, even as his lecture moves into its fourth uninterrupted hour. Qadri, 58, who was born in Pakistan but now lives in Canada, is a renowned scholar of Sufism, a long tradition within Islam that focuses on spirituality, emphasising peace and moderation. In Britain, he is the main draw at a three-day retreat for young Muslims called “Al Hidayah” (Guidance), which over the past five years has grown into the biggest spiritual camp of its kind, with more than 1,200 attendees from a dozen countries.
The British government has worked to promote Sufism, supporting the creation in 2006 of the Sufi Muslim Council, a group that took a strong stand against Islamist extremism. But since then, it has moved away from explicit support, saying that working via the Sufi community — whose exact number in Britain is not known — is just one element of a wider approach to countering Islamic radicalism.
Maajid Nawaz, a British citizen and former member of the Islamist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, is now being funded by the British government to promote ideas on Islam. During his membership to Hisb ut-Tahrir, he was imprisoned in Egypt for belonging to a banned political party. After Nawaz resigned from Islamism he became active in the Muslim anti-extremism think tank The Quilliam Foundation, of which he is the director today. After publicly renouncing the cause he served all his adult life, he is now in Pakistan sharing the idea that moderation and democracy go hand-in-hand with Islam.
Thousands of Spaniards, especially academics, intellectuals, and anti-globalization activists are finding solace in Islam. “Embracing Islam is on the rise despite ferocious Western media campaigns,” Abdul-Nour Brado, the head of the Islamic Society of Catalonia. It is estimated that three to four thousand Catalonians have accepted Islam recently, with some suggesting that the numbers are even higher. No specific reasons have been cited concerning the spike in Islamic practice, but leaders of various Spanish Islamic societies cite the trend as a global one, and not just limited to Spain. Nevertheless, there are differences that can be seen among these “new Muslims,” such as where they choose to attend prayers. Overall, the differences are welcomed as a positive sign for living in a democratic country.
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Tony Blair says he wants the “voice of moderation” among Muslims to be heard, as $1m funding was announced to boost Islamic studies at UK universities. Ministers hope the money, announced as a report criticised teaching quality, will help train more imams in the UK. At a conference on Islam, Mr Blair also called for closer links between Islamic schools and mainstream state schools. Critics said the London conference had excluded Muslim groups opposed to government policies. In a speech at the conference, hosted by Cambridge University, Mr Blair said British politicians must listen harder to the “calm voice of moderation and reason” of the majority of the country’s Muslims.
Vivid, dramatic portraits of Muslims in America in the years after 9/11, as they define themselves in a religious subculture torn between moderation and extremism
There are as many as six million Muslims in the United States today. Islam (together with Christianity and Judaism) is now an American faith, and the challenges Muslims face as they reconcile their intense and demanding faith with our chaotic and permissive society are recognizable to all of us.
From West Virginia to northern Idaho, American Islam takes readers into Muslim homes, mosques, and private gatherings to introduce a population of striking variety. The central characters range from a charismatic black imam schooled in the militancy of the Nation of Islam to the daughter of an Indian immigrant family whose feminist views divided her father’s mosque in West Virginia. Here are lives in conflict, reflecting in different ways the turmoil affecting the religion worldwide. An intricate mixture of ideologies and cultures, American Muslims include immigrants and native born, black and white converts, those who are well integrated into the larger society and those who are alienated and extreme in their political views. Even as many American Muslims succeed in material terms and enrich our society, Islam is enmeshed in controversy in the United States, as thousands of American Muslims have been investigated and interrogated in the wake of 9/11.
American Islam is an intimate and vivid group portrait of American Muslims in a time of turmoil and promise.