Good News Stories About/By/For North American Muslims in 2012

Easter service at salam mosque, sacramento

Good News Stories About/By/For North American Muslims in 2012

compiled by Sheila Musaji


At the end of 2011, I published an article My favorite 2011 Good News Stories About Muslims that has been very well received.  My introduction holds true for 2012 also:  “If you type ‘Muslims ‘or ‘Islam’ into any google search, most of what comes up will be something negative.  If any Muslim, anywhere, does something criminal, or just stupid, that story will be written about and reposted so that hundreds of articles will come up on that negative story.  These are a few of the stories about Muslims during the past year of 2012 that did not receive nearly as much coverage, but were more important, and also more representative of the Muslim community.”

Most people are not aware that: a Sacramento Christian congregation was invited to hold their Easter services at a mosque auditorium when they lost their building: that an East Bronx Jewish community was invited to hold their services in a mosque when they lost their building; that a Northern Virginia Jewish community invited local Muslims to pray Jumah in the synagogue; that a Virginia mosque held an interfaith Jewish Seder.  All of those things and more happened this year.  These are the stories that need to be shared widely.  The fact that few people within or outside of the Muslim community know about these positive stories has something to do with media focus on the negative, but it also has something to do with our failure as a community to magnify these voices.

We are living in difficult times, and all too often those who get the most attention from the media are those who least deserve any attention at all.  I encourage everyone to write notes of encouragement and support to those engaged in these positive efforts.  Get involved with ongoing efforts in your area, or begin new ones.  Help to magnify the positive voices in any way you can.  Tweet them, post on Facebook, share or re-post articles.  Include the information in articles, talks, etc. 

I would very much appreciate hearing about other stories that I might have missed.  The 2013 collection of positive news begins today.  Please help by sending me information.  You can send these to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

UNITED STATES & CANADA

 

ANNIVERSARIES

— The Islamic Center of America in Dearborn celebrated its 50 year anniversary.  It was founded in 1962.  ** and was the first Shia Mosque in the U.S. 2012

The UMMA Community Clinic celebrated its 16th anniversary.  It was the first independent Muslim Free Clinic in America founded in 1996.  ** 2012

— The 49th annual Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention was held in Washington, D.C. with the theme “One Nation Under God: Striving for the Common Good.”  Attendance was estimated at 40,000.

 

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION & CIVIL RIGHTS EFFORTS

— MPAC issued a statement applauding the Supreme Court decision to uphold Religious Freedom in the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), one of the most important religious freedom cases. The Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot tell religious institutions who they can hire and fire, essentially commanding noninterference by the government into faith-based institutions when it comes to matters of employment issues.  ** 2012
— 50 Faith-Based Groups including the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) joined a Legal Brief urging the Supreme Court to Overturn Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant Law  ** 2012

— Interfaith leaders joined Muslims in opposition to NYPD surveillance tactics in New Jersey ** 2012
— The leader of a New Jersey mosque that was listed in a secret NYPD surveillance report is using the incident to promote a more positive view of Muslims.  Imam Mustafa El-Amin, of Masjid Ibrahim in Newark, ran an advertisement in The Star-Ledger newspaper urging people to read the Quran, denouncing terrorism and emphasizing that his mosque has an “open door” policy.  Under a bold-letter headline that states: “NYPD Surveillance of Muslim Community,” the ad says there’s no need for the New York Police Department or any other agency to conduct secret surveillance of the mosque, because “We have nothing to hide. Our doors are open.” El-Amin says he came up with the idea after reflecting on a phrase in the Quran — “With every difficulty, there is relief” — and realizing that finding a positive, teachable moment out of a negative experience is a concept deeply rooted in Islam.  “We’ve heard a lot about the negative effects, but once you get this level of exposure, one of the best things about it is, if you’re positive, than the positive will win out,” he said.  ** 2012

— The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is working with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) to end the practice of solitary confinement in U.S. Prisons ** 2012

Anti-Sharia bills were defeated or withdrawn in several States including:  Missouri - Oklahoma Senate - New Jersey - Florida - Minesotta - Iowa
—The Denver based Federal 10th Circuit Court Of Appeals struck down Oklahoma’s ban on Sharia law, declaring that it violated the United States Constitution.  ** 2012

— When the hate groups AFDI/SIOA produced a series of anti-Muslim ads, many American Jewish and Christian groups spoke out loudly, and even ran counter ads expressing tolerance and inclusion. **

— The Associated Press (AP) won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for documenting the New York Police Department’s widespread spying on Muslims. **

— A Statement was submitted by Muslim Advocates and 27 American Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Organizations to U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights for the Hearing on “Racial Profiling In America”  **

 

ANTI-RADICALIZATION AND EXTREMISM EFFORTS

— Imam Yahya Hendi, President of Clergy Beyond Borders condemned the statement by a Palestinian Authority religious leader encouraging the killing of Jews by Muslims.  *** 2012

— Sami Osmakac, a mentally ill individual who had been banned from two mosques in Florida for his extremist views, was arrested in January on charges that he was planning an attack using guns and bombs on multiple locations. As in numerous previous cases, the suspect, Sami Osmakac, was apprehended following a tip from local Muslims.  ** 2012

—The Muslim Public Affairs Council MPAC brought together a panel of scholars and human rights advocates to discuss the realities of religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries.  ** 2012
— The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Islamic Networks Group (ING), Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and Palestinian groups condemned the barbaric killings in France by Mohammed Merah.  ** 2012
— MPAC Released Videos from Leaders Saying No to Hate, No to Violence Messages in Arabic, English, Farsi, Pashtu & Urdu ** 2012
— MPAC and Human Rights First released a statement urging governments to reject national and global blasphemy laws that inevitably violate the human rights of religious minorities and vulnerable segments of societies. **
— MPAC Condemned Violence Against Shia in Pakistan **

— Muslim, Arab, & Interfaith Organizations Condemned Attacks on U.S. Embassies and violence over anti-Muslim film. **

— ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid and ISNA Director of Community Outreach Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi met with high-ranking religious authorities and scholars in Morocco and Tunisia to discuss the rights of religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries across the globe.  Working in consultation with these authorities, they presented the idea of developing Islamic standards and protocols to guarantee equal participation of various religious groups in Muslim-majority countries. ** 2012

— Canadian fatwa in response to Shafia trial condemns ‘honour killings’.  The official decree was made in a Mississauga, Ont., mosque and was initiated by Calgary imam Syed Soharwardy, who founded the council. The fatwa condemns honour killings, domestic violence and misogyny as “un-Islamic.”  ** 2012

— Philadelphia Muslims offer $20,000 reward for information on criminals wearing burkas ** 2012

— 24 Christian, Jewish and Muslim prominent faith leaders from the United States and Indonesia undertook a peace mission to the Middle East.  Rabbi Michael Melchior, the founder of Mosaica: Center for Inter-Religious Cooperation and a former member of the Israeli Cabinet, is working with Dr. Abed al Rahaman, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Religious Elders in Palestine, to moderate the views of extremist religious leaders. The delegation met leaders of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam.  ** 2012

— Shahed Amanullah, Senior Advisor for Technology for the Office of the Special Representative to Muslim Communities at the US Department of State, announced the formation of a new organization for Muslim youth - Generation Change.  ** 2012

— Sheik Jawdat Said, Syria’s foremost proponent of nonviolent protest has been on a six-month speaking tour in Canada and the U.S., which included a keynote address at American University in Washington, D.C., on nonviolence and the Arab Spring.  ** 2012

— A Boston mosque is developing innovative programs to keep young Somali immigrants off the streets and counter radicalization ** 2012

— The Safe Nation Collaborative, a unique initiative designed to provide strategic cultural competency trainings to law enforcement, foster dialogue and cooperative relationships between American Muslim communities and the national security apparatus, and provide educational outreach to nonprofit organizations has been established, and is based in D.C. ** 2012

— American Muslims And Christians Petition Egypt Not To Include Shariah In Constitution. Signatories of the letter include Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress; Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America, the largest Muslim organization in America; as well as the Rev. Hegomen Moises Bogdady and the Rev. Michael Sorial, priests with the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. James J. Zogby’s Arab American Institute sponsored the letter. ** 2012

— My Jihad Campaign to counter false narratives -  “Taking back Jihad one hashtag at a time from anti-Muslim and Muslim extremists. Taking back Islam.” CAIR-Chicago began running ads on Chicago buses.  ** and **

— When some extremist Muslims made exclusionary statements such as Muslims may not greet Christians on Christmas, etc. many Muslim organizations and individuals spoke out and acted to counter their message.  **

— American Muslims continued to counter the message of extremists promoting Sunni-Shia sectarianism and bigotry.  **

—  Claremont Lincoln University, the University of Southern California’s Office of Religious Life, the Islamic Society of North America, and the Center for Global Peacebuilding at Claremont Lincoln University are co-sponsoring a conference on Muslim perspectives on peacebuilding to be held October 12-13, 2012 at Claremont Lincoln University in California.

— The Arab American Institute (AAI) released a statement co-endorsed by leaders of the American Muslim and Coptic Christian communities urging writers of Egyptian Constitution to support equal rights for all citizens.  **

— American Muslim organizations condemned the barbaric anti-Semitic murders in France by al-Qaeda attacker.  **

— American Muslim Organizations’ Issue Statements condemning Pakistani Blasphemy Arrest **

 

 

AWARDS AND HONORS

— A book listing the 500 most influential Muslims in the world has been published since 2009 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman and Georgetown University’s Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.  In December of 2012, the information for 2012 was published. 

— Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world for 2012 includes a number of Muslims including an American, among them:  Samira Ibrahim, womens rights activist of Egypt.  Iftikhar Choudary ,lawyer and civil rights activist of Pakistan. Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, peacemaker of Qatar.  Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, filmaker of Pakistan.  Ali Babacan and Ahmet Davutoglu, economist and foreign policy analyst of Turkey.  Asghar Farhadi, filmaker of Iran.  Rached Ghannouchi, politician of Tunisia.  Manal al Sharif women’s rights activist of Saudi Arabia.  Salman Khan, educator of the U.S.

— Veteran Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui has been named as one of the first recipients of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, created to honour the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne.  ** 2012

— Clergy Beyond Borders CBB President Imam Yahya Hendi received the Agus-Shehan Interfaith Leadership Award Central Maryland Ecumenical Council ** 2912

— Sisters in Islam (SIS) received the Casa Asia Award in recognition of its efforts in promoting women’s and human rights within Islam. ** 2012

— Dr. Malika Haque was named a finalist in the annual Jefferson Awards for community service in Dublin, Ohio.  A longtime Nationwide Children’s Hospital doctor, Haque helped open the Noor Community Free Clinic to serve the uninsured in central Ohio.  ** 2012

— Sarwat Husain, Vice-Chair of the National Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR),  received the Texas Pax Christi Peacemaker of the Year Award from Karen Ball, President of Pax Christi San Antonio.  ** 2012

— The Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC) honored Omar Hamoui, the Founder of AdMob, and Dr. Osman Shinaishin of the National Science Foundation at its 20th Annual American Muslim Achievement Awards which honors Muslim Americans who have made outstanding contributions to their work and to society at large ** 2012

— S Amjad Hussain, has been inducted into the Medical Mission Hall of Fame in Toledo, Ohio.  He is one of 34 individuals from around the world who are now members of the Medical Mission Hall of Fame. The MMHOF was created in 2004 to honor those individuals and organisations who have made significant and substantial contributions to advancing the medical well-being of people throughout the world.  ** 2012

— Loonwatch anounced the Anti-Loons of the Year 2011: Profiles in Courage Awards.  Those honored included:  Glenn Greenwald, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Wajahat Ali, Sheila Musaji, Sheriff Lee Baca, Ahmed Rehab, Reza Aslan, Sarah Posner, Haroon Mughal, Richard Silverstein, Cenk Uygur, Aasif Mandvi, Russel Simmons, and Rep. Keith Ellison.  ** 2012

— The MLK Community Service Awards honors work for a just world, recognizing the work of organizations who exemplify the civil rights leader’s legacy.  They paid tribute to 10 Atlanta nonprofits that strive daily to create a world that is more socially, economically and politically just, particularly for the most vulnerable members of the community including the Atlanta Islamic Speakers Bureau.  ** 2012

— Dr. Jaya Shah was inducted into The Cleveland International Hall of Fame.  Dr. Shah, a retired pediatrician, volunteers at the Painesville Free Clinic and helps Greater Cleveland’s Indian community with a variety of issues, including education, immigration and health care. She regularly organizes volunteer teams of physicians and other medical workers to help people in rural villages in India. Shah has helped more than 100,000 rural villagers in the last seven years.  ** 2012

— Muhammad Ali received National Constitution Center’s 2012 Liberty Medal as a Champion of Freedom.  Ali has long served as an icon of constitutional ideals and the realization of the American dream – all the while challenging and expanding the very definition of “We the People.” The Olympic gold medalist and boxing legend has been an outspoken fighter for religious and civil rights; a conscientious objector who took his battle to the Supreme Court and won; an ambassador for peace and justice worldwide; and a tireless humanitarian and philanthropist. Even as he celebrated his 70th birthday this year, Ali has continued to break new ground as an advocate for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, a disease he has battled since 1982. ** and **

— Muslim Women Make History at London Olympics **

— Soumaya Khalifa, founder and executive director of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta (ISB). received the Director’s Community Leadership Award from the Atlanta FBI.  **

— Leila Ahmed, Harvard Divinity School Muslim Scholar, Wins Prestigious Grawemeyer Religion Award   for her 2011 book, “A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America.” The book explores why a growing number of Muslim women are wearing religious headscarves. **

— Dr. Bashir Ahmed of Dallas was presented with the prestigious Peace Maker Award by the Dallas Peace Center **

— Al Jazeera-English was among the winners of George Polk Awards in Journalism, announced by Long Island University.  A Polk Award for Television Documentary marks another substantial achievement for Al-Jazeera English, the burgeoning network that had its biggest year to date in 2011. AJE expanded its global reach to 250 million homes, penetrated major U.S. markets such as Chicago and New York, and continues to receive awards for its coverage of the Arab Spring.  AJE, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in November, took home its first DuPont award in December and won this prize for its documentary on Bahrain, titled “Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark.”  **

— There are more Muslims from America than any other country listed on this year’s “The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims”.  America’s roughly 2.6 million Muslims are a tiny fraction of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, but they took 41 spots on the 500 list.  **

 

CIVIC PARTICIPATION

—  Halim Dhanidina became the first Muslim judge to be appointed in the state of California to the superior court.  ** 2012

— Mayor of Paris, Texas, Arjumand Hashmi, a Pakistani-born cardiologist has become one of the United States’ most improbable politicians.  ** 2012

— Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress won his re-election bid to serve a second term.  **

 

COMMUNITY ACTIVISM

— The Inner City Muslim Action League on the Southside of Chicago has as its goal to inspire people to connect with others of different ethnicities and faiths.  Their free medical clinic is celebrating 15-years of service to the community. 

— Ameena Matthews is one of the “interrupters” who work with Chicago-based anti-violence group CeaseFire, an innovative organization that aims to decrease the brutal violence that continues to disproportionately impact the city’s poor, urban neighborhoods through a peer-based public health-oriented approach. CeaseFire’s model, pioneered by epidemiologist Gary Slutkin, has been replicated in a number of other cities around the world who also struggling with street violence, most recently in Philadelphia, Baltimore and London.  She was interviewed on the Stephen Colbert program in February.  **  2012

— A Chicago-based organisation, Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN). IMAN is located in Chicago’s south side and was founded by young Muslim Americans. IMAN is unabashedly targeting “food and liquor” stores (including ones owned by Muslims) in inner-city black neighbourhoods, challenging them to take responsibility for the food options they offer. IMAN recently sponsored a forum entitled “Food For Life, A Human Right: Food Justice, Corner Stores & Race Relations in the ‘Hood”.  **  2012

— Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the Islamic Society of North America ISNA, joined other national religious leaders at the Washington National Cathedral to call for an end to gun violence.  **  2012

 

COMMUNITY SERVICE

— Christians, Jews and Muslims built a Habitat for Humanity home in Clearwater, Florida ** — Another interfaith group built a home in Altamonte Springs, Florida ** 2012
— Muslim students from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for residents in south Parkesburg in West Virginia over Spring Break.
— ISNA Joined Team to Train Habitat for Humanity Affiliates in Interfaith Pilot Project.  ISNA is working to promote affordable housing and support independent and sustainable communities through the interfaith coalition Fighting Poverty with Faith ** and   ****[/url] photo 2012
——ISNA continues its work as part of the Faithful Budget Campaign to call on the federal government to protect programs serving the poor and vulnerable.  **

— Salman Khan and his Khan Online Academy After 60 minutes did a story about Khan, and with the backing of Bill Gates and Google, Khan Academy and its free online educational videos are now moving into the classroom and across the world.  ** 2012

— Catholics and Muslims in New York City and Beyond Work Together to Help the Neediest.  The relationship between Catholic Charities and Muslim Women’s Institute has evolved over two years, as part of a social service partnership program run by the Interfaith Center of New York and funded by the GHR Foundation. The initiative involves collaborations between pantries in the Bronx, mosques and parishes in Harlem and youth programs in Staten Island. Last year, the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem conducted a community food collection among congregants and donated the proceeds to a pantry at All Saints Church. Teens from the Staten Island Catholic Youth Organization and Miraj Islamic School conducted a joint food drive and together served food at a local soup kitchen. ** 2012
— Catholics and Muslims in London, Ontario, Canada to help the St. Vincent DePaul Society gather enough food to help nourish more than 100 families this season. ** 2012
— Marshall University’s Muslim Student Association partnered with the Muslim Association of Huntington to host an event to feed the homeless.  ** 2012
—  Muslims Without Borders, the first student based relief organization, worked on a new project to get all the Project Downtown chapters from around the nation to combine their efforts, and feed their respective homeless communities during the weekend of April 13-15. 
— Muslim and Jewish Students at USC participated in a Skid Row food distribution and clean-up, Mosque and Synagogue visits, and lunch at Pershing Square. This event is part of the “twinning” initiative to bring Muslim and Jewish students together in dialogue and service.  Sponsored by Ansar Service Partnership and USC Hillel. ** 2012
—Weekend of twinning was also held on the UMD Campus by the Jewish Muslim Alliance.  **
— Prior to Thanksgiving, Muslim & Jewish participants across the U.S. worked together during the weekend of twinning and fed thousands across North America.  **
— Muslim Alliance of Indiana launches a Hunger Initiative to aid local community ** 2012
— Local Muslims from Tampa city, Florida held their annual charity festival on Sunday, April 15 to help fellow citizens in need **
— Muslim Lakhani, a DC-based entrepreneur and philanthropist of Pakistani origin, and Major Stephen Morris, commander of the National Capital Area Division of The Salvation Army are working together in an interfaith collaboration to help the needy.  ** 2012
— Muslims offer community service on “Day of Dignity” in Atlanta, Georgia.  The “Day of Dignity” is now in its ninth year and serves thousands of people nationwide. So far this year, Islamic Relief has helped the homeless in Houston, Detroit and Flint, Mich., and will soon serve people in Dallas, Phoenix and the Bronx, Ismail said. The Atlanta event planned to feed more than 2,500 people. **  2012
— Sabeel Food Pantry and American Muslims for Activism and Learning (AMAL): 10th Annual Turkey Drive.  They delivered 750 turkeys to needy families this Thanksgiving. **
— Can-Paign 2012 - National Muslim Food Drive in which students in the U.K., USA, Egypt, and Australia are launching the first ever international food drive to benefit food banks in their local communities.  **

— Muslim and Jewish students from NYU joined together to lend their hands to disaster relief recovery efforts for victims of the tornado in Birmingham. There, they joined with local Muslim volunteers from the Birmingham Islamic Society and ICNA Relief USA.  The students from Bridges—Muslim Jewish Interfaith Dialogue at NY0055, partnered with the New York-based Jewish Disaster Response Corps and ICNA Relief USA to participate in Habitat for Humanity’s rebuilding efforts. Accompanying the students were Imam Khalid Latif and Rabbi Yehuda Sarna.
— A Richardson, Texas mosque (IANT) hosted a new disaster assistance training session where volunteers signed up to train in individual and group crisis intervention. The event is part of a year-round program by Islamic Relief USA that empowers local communities with tools and resources to help during disasters.  ** 2012
— Atlanta, Georgia Muslim Volunteers send 25,000lbs of food to Somalia in conjunction with Helping Hands charity.

— Muslim Sisters of Dayton, Ohio are working with a number of local charities to provide volunteers for local community service projects.  Their first project was to help at (Kettering Hospital), supplying knitted caps for newborn children, and they just completed a coat drive through Warm Coats and Warm Hearts, collecting 228 coats in two weeks.
— Members of the Muslim and Jewish communities in St. Louis, Missouri are again volunteering in a large-scale Christmas Day of Service project. ** and ** 2012
— Michigan Jews, Muslims join Christmas Day volunteer effort.  will visit nursing home patients Tuesday in the Detroit area, serve holiday meals, deliver toys to needy children and take part in other projects so Christian volunteers and workers can celebrate Christmas Day with their families.  **
— Muslims and Jews in Staten Island also joined to provide Christmas dinner for the needy.  **
— Interfaith Service Camp in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Stocking Second Harvest Food Bank, one of the service projects they are performing as part of the 6th annual “In Our Own Backyard” Interfaith Service Camp, an interfaith camp that educates teens about poverty-related issues in Charlotte. Local teens of different religious backgrounds come together for this annual four-day camp to learn about various faiths and about poverty-related issues in Charlotte. **  2012

— The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is working to promote affordable housing and support independent and sustainable communities, ISNA has joined a coalition of more than 1,700 organizations to protect funding to affordable housing and community development projects.  ** 2012

— Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faith leaders and community members are working together in North Texas to mobilize against domestic violence ** 2012
— Muslim White Ribbon Campaign against domestic violence in Canada.  The education campaign will run from November 25, 2012 [International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women] and culminate in White Ribbon Days at Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) Convention at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (December 21 – 23). **

— American Islamic Wellness Association staffs the Amal Free Clinic at Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic in Providence. The group, whose cofounders include Ahmed, aims to provide health care to the uninsured population of Rhode Island.  ** 2012
— The Islamic Center of Middle Georgia are setting up a free health clinic and will be hosting a free health fair, as a way to jumpstart their clinic.  ** 2012
— St. Louis, MO Muslim doctors open third free clinic in St. Louis area, Volunteers in Medicine West County Clinic **  2012
— Muslim doctors from the Anniston Islamic Center in Alabama opened a free medical clinic for the uninsured ** 2012
— Muslim doctors in Memphis, Tennessee opened a free clinic and now have enlisted the Association of Pakistani Physicians in organizing similar food drives around the country. Working with Masjid Al-Mu’Minun, the city’s oldest mosque on South Third, to open a food pantry, becoming the first Muslim food pantry in the country to be associated with the Food Bank network.  **  2012
— The HUDA Free Health Clinic opened a new office for Detroiters.  Huda clinic has been serving the community for almost a decade.
— Muslim doctors open free clinic in Ballwin, Missouri which is the third such project in the St. Louis area   ** 2012

— Islamic Networks Group ING had the honor of once again being invited to the annual Federal Partners in Bullying Summit in Washington, D.C., hosted by the U.S. Department of Education in partnership with eight other Federal agencies. Executive Director Maha Elgenaidi will represent ING.  ** 2012

— In Memphis, Tennessee, a church and a mosque are working together to build a neighborhood park for children to play **  Dr. Bashar Shala (left) is chairman of Memphis Islamic Center and Rev. Steve Stone is pastor of Heartsong Church. Their two neighboring Cordova congregations, whose friendship has gained international attention, are uniting to build Friendship Park for children in Memphis. 2012

— NY City cabdriver, Mansoor Khalid lost his 2-year-old son to heart disease.  He said he knows that many people need cheering up, so he named his cab the “candy cab” and hands out candy to his passengers.  **  2012

 

ENVIRONMENTAL EFFORTS

— Green Muslims in Washington DC is volunteering at The Farm at Walker Jones,  an emerging urban farm that serves kids, families and neighbors of Walker Jones Education Campus, a DC Public Elementary School.

— The Islamic Shura Council of Southern California has launched a Muslims Going Green Project to encourage recycling and environmental efforts.

— The Interfaith Moral Action on Climate Change (IMAC) brought together a unique alliance to raise a prophetic cry in the name of God’s creation.  On April 24th of Earth Week, IMAC created an inspirational and prophetic presence in the streets, sanctuaries and halls of Congress. They held a Sunrise Service at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument and the “Cry of the Earth: A Service for Healing the Climate” at the historic New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, followed by a procession to the Congress and serious discussions with their representatives. The group included representatives from the Evangelical church, the African American church, the NAACP, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans and others.  ** 2012

— The Islamic Society of Annapolis is participating with the Chesapeake Interfaith Environmental Group to take the message of “creation care” to the masses.  They prepared a joint letter to lawmakers to support wind power legislation, and have plans for many activities.  ** 2012

— Green Khutbah event at mosques across North America to mark Earth Day ** 2012

— Native Deen released a new music video “Our Earth” to mark Earth Day ** 2012

 

EXHIBITS - FILMS - BOOKS

— The Holocaust Center of Orlando, Florida held an exhibit on the Albanian Muslims who saved Jews during the Holocaust.  It was co-hosted by the Islamic Society of Central Florida.  ** — The commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Calgary Jewish Federation, in association with the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, is presenting the Yad Vashem exhibition Besa: A Code of Honor – Muslim Albanians who Rescued Jews During the Holocaust.  ** 2012

FILMS:
— The Clifton Center in Louisville, KY will have a showing of of Transmissions, a film by Eleanor Bingham Miller to honor Gray Henry-Blakemore.  According to Ms. Miller, the film “travels with Gray on her 50-year spiritual journey from Louisville to New York, then Egypt and the East, then England and finally home to Louisville, where she founded The Fons Vitae Press. Transmissions honors her tireless efforts on the local, national and global level in the field of Interfaith Relations.” Fons Vitae regularly draws internationally known religious leaders and scholars to Louisville, and Ms. Blakemore helps plan and produce Louisville’s annual Festival of Faiths.  ** 2012
— The acclaimed French film “Free Men” (“Les Hommes Libres”), about Muslims saving Jews in Nazi occupied Paris is scheduled to be released in the U.S. this year.  **
— MPAC honored the film “Kinyarwanda” at its 21st Annual MPAC Media Awards on May 13.  The film takes place during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, when several heroes emerged to remind people of their humanity. Among them was the Mufti of Rwanda, who exemplified religious leadership and peacemaking, by declaring a fatwa during this time of war that Muslims could not kill any Tutsis. This command flew in the face of the notion that religion starts conflicts.  ** 2012
— The film Within the Eye of the Storm, which tells the amazing story of Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan – a Palestinian and an Israeli who, against all odds, go from being enemies to brothers was released on International Peace Day.  **
— A new film “Combinations” is being produced by Media Cultured, a fledgling organisation using film and social media to challenge extremism by and against Muslims. In an age when the Taliban and Somali group al-Shabaab use Twitter, and the anti-Islamic film The Innocence of Muslims on YouTube was disseminated by extremists on both sides to further their own ends, Media Cultured is an attempt to use the same tools to promote harmony rather than discord. **
— A new documentary film has been released “A ROAD TO MECCA - The Journey Of Muhammad Asad”.  The Journey Of Muhammad Asad follows the path taken by Leopold Weiss, alias Muhammad Asad, from the outskirts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and New York. The places he lived and visited are examined, and at the same time a complex portrait of Islam unfolds. **

MUSEUM EXHIBITS:
— U.S. exhibit at New Mexico art gallery will display nonviolent struggle led by Palestinian women ** 2012
— The Metropolitan Museum of Art had an exhibition “Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition”  **
— The Tech Museum in California had an exhibition “Islamic Science Rediscovered” celebrates the contributions of Muslim scholars and scientists in the arts, astronomy, engineering, exploration, flight, mathematics, optics, and medicine.  **
— The Brigham Young University Museum of Art had a major Islamic art exhibition “Beauty and Belief: Crossing Bridges with the Arts of Islamic Culture,” which was the largest traveling survey exhibition of Islamic art ever assembled in the United States.  **
— The National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. had an exhibition “1001 Inventions: Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization” which was named “Best Touring Exhibition of the Year” at the Museums and Heritage Excellence Awards.  **

BOOKS:
—  In The Lion’s Shadow: The ‘Iranian Schindler’ who saved Jews from the Nazis by Fariborz Mokhtari tells how Abdol-Hossein Sardari risked everything to help Jews escape the Nazis.  **
— A Thousand and One Bytes: Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson is a novel.  What is so exhilarating about this book is the idea that there’s a relationship between computer code and mythological narratives, that both are just forms of stories that have power in the real world.  This is a message that has real relevance; that authentic tradition is just as important as modern technology in shaping destiny, be it as an individual fighting for love or a nation fighting for freedom.  **
— A book An Arab, A Jew and A Truck.  Can a moving truck carry hope and bring peace to the Middle East? It happened in the Bronx rather than in the land of Canaan.  A story of a religious odd couple forced by circumstances to live together but become friends and business partners by choice. Ali, a devout Palestinian Muslim and David, an American Orthodox Jew, learn to share a kosher kitchen and recognize the similarities rather than the differences between them.  Their business, An Arab, A Jew and A Truck, leads to entertaining and engaging situations and encounters that highlight current ethnic, religious, and political ironies. The emergence of a mystical character leaves the reader wondering whether the Bronx could be the place where the children of Abraham might begin a process of peace and reconciliation.  **
— Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Perception, and Practice in Islam by Jamal J Elias (Harvard University Press) is an engrossing study of figural representation in the Islamic tradition, the issue is far more ambiguous and nuanced than Biblical or Koranic condemnations of idolatry might suggest. In fact, even these condemnations are not always what they seem to be. ** and **
— Blaming Islam by John R Bowen (MIT Press) uncovers the myths about Islam and Muslim integration into Western society, with a focus on the histories, policy, and rhetoric associated with Muslim immigration in Europe, the British experiment with sharia law for Muslim domestic disputes, and the claims of European and American writers that Islam threatens the West. Most important, he shows how exaggerated fears about Muslims misread history, misunderstand multiculturalism’s aims, and reveal the opportunism of right wing parties who draw populist support by blaming Islam. **
—  American Muslim Women, Religious Authority, and Activism: More Than a Prayer by Juliane Hammer (University of Texas Press) outlines the circumstances leading up to the women led mixed-gender prayer event in 2005, and employs it as point of convergence to explore the multiple discourses surrounding Muslim gender issues.  **
— The Myth of the Muslim Tide by Doug Sanders discusses the “myth” of a Muslim majority takeover of Europe (Eurabia) and the fears on which they are based. **
— DC comic books has added a Muslim superhero named Simon Baz to its ongoing Green Lantern series.  **
— Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World by Brian D. McLaren examines interfaith dialogue. **
— The Islamophobia Industry, How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims by Nathan Lean is a compact and punchy look at this industry stretching across continents that has sowed hatred of Muslims into the fabric of Western society. **
— Islam and the Arab Awakening by Tariq Ramadan examines “The Arab Spring” and its’ ramifications.  **
— Islam: Silencing the Critics: A candid analysis of the most discussed faith in today’s world by Zia U Sheikh discusses misconceptions about Islam.  **
— Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question by Mohammad Hassan Khalil examines the writings of influential medieval and modern Muslim scholars on the controversial and consequential question of non-Muslim salvation.  This is an illuminating study of four of the most prominent figures in the history of Islam: Ghazali, Ibn ‘Arabi, Ibn Taymiyya, and Rashid Rida. Khalil demonstrates that though these paradigmatic figures tended to affirm the superiority of the Islamic message, they also envisioned a God of mercy and justice and a Paradise populated by Muslims and non-Muslims. ** 
— Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam by Venetia Porter pulls together many strands of Hajj, its rituals, history, and modern manifestations. Travel was once a hazardous gamble, yet devoted Muslims undertook the journey to Makkah, documenting their experiences in manuscripts, wall paintings, and early photographs, many of which are presented here. Through a wealth of illustrations including pilgrims’ personal objects, souvenirs, and maps, Hajj provides a glimpse into this important holy rite for Muslim readers already grounded in the tradition and non-Muslims who cannot otherwise participate. **
— Moving the Mountain: Beyond Ground Zero to a New Vision of Islam in America by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.  Drawing from his personal experiences, Imam Feisal now speaks up on behalf of disenfranchised Muslims around the United States who are spiritual, moderate, and patriotic.  **
— Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam by Sumbul Ali-Karamali offers her personal account, discussing the many and varied questions she fielded from curious friends and schoolmates while growing up in Southern California—from diet, to dress, to prayer and holidays and everything in between. She also provides an academically reliable introduction to Islam, addressing its inception, development and current demographics. **
— An Approach to Understanding Islam (The Islamic Renaissance Series) by Ali Shariati, edited by Laleh Bakhtiar **
— Emir Abd el-Kader: Hero and Saint of Islam by Ahmed Bouyerdene is a biography of the Algerian warrior and Sufi saint, Emir Abd el-Kader (1807/8-1883), shows his dazzling spiritual qualities in the fight against the French colonial authorities. The New York Times called the Emir “one of the few great men of the century,” while Abraham Lincoln and Pope Pius IX both commended the Emir for rescuing 15,000 Christians while in exile in Damascus. In 1846, the town of Elkader, Iowa was named in his honor. **

 

HISTORY

— An archaeological dig in Washington D.C. is uncovering the story of Yarrow Mamout, one of America’s early Muslims **

 

INTERFAITH EFFORTS

— An imam, a priest, and a rabbi work together to educate in Quad Cities ** 2012

— 4th Annual Interfaith Dinner and Dialogue for U.S. Religious Leaders held in NYC at which they discussed Islamophobia and anti-Semitism ** 2012

— Members of the Chabad of East Bronx, an ultra-Orthodox synagogue, worship in the Islamic Cultural Center of North America, which is home to the Al-Iman mosque (Masjid al-Iman).  The congregation originally called Young Israel was given space in the mosque when they lost their previous facility.  **  2012

— The President of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, invited all members of the United Nations community in New York – including Ambassadors, Missions, the Secretariat, and the New York area NGO and religious communities – to join together for an observance of World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 on February 7th in the General Assembly Hall.  ** 2012

— In California, Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills and King Fahad of Culver City have established a Congregational Fellowship.  These two congregations have partnered together for occasional programs for more than three years and approached NewGround to help take that partnership to the next level.  This spring 10 Muslims and 10 Jews from the two communities have committed themselves to eight meetings over three months to strengthen the bond between these communities and develop a vision for moving forward.  Guided by NewGround’s professional facilitators, these participants are learning key skills in communication, conflict resolution, and relationship building to help lead their faith communities toward greater partnership that will last for years beyond their intensive fellowship experience over the next few months.  ** 2009-2012

— A Muslim-Jewish High School Leadership Council has been formed in Los Angeles to offer students the opportunity to, build their leadership skills, create lasting relationships across faith boundaries and have an impact on important social issues.  An Advisory Board of Muslim and Jewish communal professionals under the leadership of Rabbi Sarah Bassin of NewGround and Soha Yassine of the Islamic Center of Southern California have built a partnership to provide this opportunity for a cadre of teen leaders in Los Angeles.  The City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission is proud to support the project.  ** 2012

—  The leading Imams and Rabbis of South America, an intimate group of twenty, gathered together at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in an historic meeting sponsored by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU).  The luncheon meeting marked the first occasion that these Jewish and Muslim leaders had come together for a shared dialogue to promote understanding between the two communities.  **  The group is also meeting with Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (R-Ind.), who are Muslim, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who is Jewish ** 2012

— A large Sacramento Christian congregation who lost their building celebrated Easter at the Salam Mosque.  Spiritual Life Center of Sacramento, whose lease expires March 31 at a downtown church, will be conducting Easter services at the Sacramento Area League of Muslims (SALAM) property near American River College.  “Everything is a go,” said the Rev. Michael Moran. “SALAM has been so gracious. I’m really touched by their hospitality.” ** Members of the Spiritual Life Center of Sacramento held their Easter morning services for their Christian church, at the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) auditorium next to their mosque in Sacramento, Calif., April 08, 2012.  **  2012

— Emory University’s Hillel and Muslim Student Association (MSA) collaborated on their first-ever “Interfaith Art Gala” in Atlanta, Georgia.  The event featured “Standup for Peace,” the stand-up comedy show with well-known comedians Scott Blakeman and Dean Obeidalla, along with Emory student and professional artists and performers.  ** 2012

— Jewish and Muslim cub scouts competed together as they raced their homemade wooden cars down two tracks during their Interfaith Pinewood Derby in Washington, DC.  The event was sponsored jointly by the Jewish Committee on Scouting and the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS). Scouts from 13 different packs and differing faiths participated.  ** 2012

— Jews, Christians, and Muslims in North New Jersey held an Abraham’s dialogue to promote neighborliness.  There were presentations on “What is Neighborliness and Being a Good Neighbor” by Imam Mohammad Qatanani, Islamic Center of Passaic County, Guillermo Lopez-Acosta, commissioned lay pastor at Ridgefield Park Presbyterian Church and Wharton United Community Church, and Rabbi Adler.  The Multi-faith Peace and Justice Alliance (MPJA), which was instrumental in bringing together the interfaith members, and they are planning a conference on partnering to eliminate poverty.  ** 2012

— More than 150 clergy and laity of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other faiths gathered at the Building Bridges Coalition of Staten Island to attend an interfaith Seder.  Rabbi Sussman announced that Albanian Muslims will be honored at the 19th annual Yom Hashoah-Holocaust Commemoration Program for the Staten Island Jewish Community on April 19 at 7 p.m. in the Arden Heights Boulevard Jewish Center.  ** 2012


— The ADAMS Center in Virginia hosted an interfaith Seder **

— The Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation has opened the synagogue for Muslims to pray Jumah because there is not enough space in the local mosques.  ** 2012

— An interfaith rock group has been formed in Maryland.  Interfaith Rocks features Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist and Jewish members.  The goal is to foster understanding between the different faiths, but the musicians are too busy rehearsing to spend time discussing the intricacies of their religions.  ** 2012

— Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills and King Fahad Mosque of Culver City have committed their communities to reaching across what is often seen as an impassible divide between Muslims and Jews. Ten members from each congregation are participating in a four-month fellowship designed to build lasting relationships, break down stereotypes and equip people with the skills to take the experience back to their larger communities.  These 20 fellows make up the fourth fellowship cohort of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change. Since 2006, NewGround has developed leaders and created opportunities for Muslims and Jews in Los Angeles to dispel the perception that our communities are natural adversaries by making strong, positive relations between Muslims and Jews the norm, not the exception.  ** 2012

— Approximately 200 Harvard University students attended the Second Annual Freedom Seder which was hosted by the Black Law Students Association and the Jewish Law Students Association. African Law Association, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Christian Fellowship, La Alianza, Lambda, Latter-day Saints Student Association, Native American Law Students Association, Muslim Law Students Association, South Asian Law Students Association and Women’s Law Association participated in the event.  ** 2012

— Lebanese Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara Rai shared an interfaith message with Muslims at the Islamic Center of America in Detroit **  and ** 2012

— A Philadelphia businessman, S.A. Ibrahim, is poised to become the first Muslim to serve on the Anti-Defamation League’s ADL regional board—or any ADL board for that matter.  ** 2012

—  The Interfaith Alliance sent a letter to all five signatories of the letters asking for an investigation into Muslim “infiltration” of the government. The letter was signed by 42 organizations representing many civil rights and religious communities.  **

— Temple and mosque collaboration in Los Angeles seeks to become a national interfaith model - Project New Ground.  Relationships between the Muslim and Jewish communities were not good, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa convened a task force to bring Muslim and Jewish leaders to the same table. This effort gave birth to NewGround, a joint fellowship project by the Progressive Jewish Alliance and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. In 2011, NewGround became independent from these two organizations; today, it is housed within the city’s Human Relations Commission. ** 2012

— “Sacred Solidarity” is a public event that is the culmination of an eight-month project called “Sharing Sacred Spaces” sponsored by the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR).  Representatives from eight participating communities gathered to sign a pledge committing to work together to reduce social tension and build bridges of trust and hope in the city of Chicago.  These bonds were built as each of the eight communities invited others into their sacred space, engaged the visitors around matters of their tradition or practice and provided hospitality and conversation. Welcoming each other into their sacred spaces created appreciation of the various religious and spiritual traditions and a sense of community between the participants. - “Sharing Sacred Spaces” Solidarity Pledge ** 2012

— Pax Christi Compassion Conference aims for Muslim-Christian dialogue.  Muslim and Christian scholars participated in organizing the conference.  ** 2012

— A Muslim, Mustapha El Akkari, has been elected Brigham Young University of Hawaii’s first non-Mormon student President ** 2012

— Jews, Christians and Muslims attended the Building Abrahamic Partnerships program. The program offers a practical foundation for mutual understanding and cooperation among the three religions. The religious exchange took place at Hartford Seminary’s Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam & Christian-Muslim Relations.  ** 2012

— More than 100 young Jewish and Muslim leaders met for the third annual Muslim Jewish Conference (MJC) in Bratislava, Slovakia from 8th- 15th of July 2012. Participants came from more than 35 countries, from as far away as Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, Libya, and the US. MJC participants worked to develop projects to tackle issues such as Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and misconceptions about the roles of women in Judaism and Islam.  ** 2012

— After the terrible tragedy of the shooting at the Wisconsin Sikh Temple, Muslims and Muslim organizations across the country offered their condolences, visited Sikh Gurdwara’s and prayed for the victims and their families.  For example: — ISNA offered condolences ** — Salam al Marayati of MPAC attended the funeral in Oak Creek **.  — Muslims and Sikhs are also working together to counter racism, Islamophobia, and Sikhophobia, for example in The Turban Campaign ** and ** 2012

—ISNA co-sponsored 2nd ever National Baptist-Muslim Dialogue **

—ISNA hosted 3rd and final scholars’ workshop on Judaism and Islam in America **

— After the Islamic Society of Joplin, Missouri mosque was destroyed by arson.  Muslims and non-Muslims sent donations to help them rebuild, and in 48 hours they had enough to rebuild the mosque.  **

— Professor Najeeba Syeed-Miller moderated the Opening Plenary panel of influential Religious leaders on the topic, “Can there be peace between religions?” Included on the panel were: Dr. Phillip Clayton, Rabbi David Saperstein, Imam Mohamed Magid of ISNA, and Dr. Varun Soni. The Muslim Perspectives on Peacebuilding Conference was hosted by the Center for Global Peacebuilding at Claremont Lincoln University.  **

— Military Veterans held an ‘eat-in’ to help Iraqi immigrants’ whose restaurant had been vandalized in Massachusetts **

— Although they came under attack by Islamophobes for offering to host the MPAC national convention in their church, All Saints Church in Pasadena held their ground and the conference was a success.  **

 

MUSLIM COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS

— ISNA co-sponsored a conference with Global Deaf Muslim to make mosques more accessible to members of the deaf community.  At its annual Convention, ISNA appointed an Accessibility Committee for the first time, specifically to assist people with disabilities who required special accommodations.  ** 2012

— The White Ribbon Campaign to end domestic violence in the Muslim community will be promoted during the Canadian “What Makes A Man” 2012 conference in Canada.  ** 2012

—The Islamic Supreme Council (ISCC) of Canada issued a Fatwa reminding Muslims that honour killings, domestic violence and misogyny are un-Islamic actions and crimes in Islam. These crimes are major sins in Islam punishable by the court of law and almighty Allah.  ** 2012

— Project Sakinah to Stop Domestic Violence now has released their reflections on 2011 programs and plans for 2012 programs to counter domestic violence in the Muslim community ** 2012

— Shaykha Fest being held in New Jersey to honor the legacy of female Islamic scholarship and draw attention to contemporary female scholars.  **

 

REPORTS, POLLS, STUDIES, & INFORMATION

— The Arab American Institute (AAI) published a report The American Divide:  How We View Arabs and Muslims **

— A study measuring religious bodies in the United States called the, “2010 U.S. Religious Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study (RCMS)” was recently released by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB). The most comprehensive study of its kind, it provides detailed county-by-county information on congregations, members, adherents and attendance for 236 different faith groups. (The survey differentiates between specific denominations within the same tradition.)  The researchers found Illinois to be the most Muslim state with around 2.8 percent of the population identifying as Muslim adherents. The researchers found Montana to be the least Muslim state with only 0.034 percent identifying as Muslim adherents.  More than 2.6 million Muslim adherents and 2,106 congregations were reported in 592 congregations across the country. The researchers define adherents to be those with an affiliation to a congregation including children, members and attendees who are not members, and believe that the adherent measure is the most complete and comparable across religious groups. Congregations are defined as groups of people who meet regularly at a pre-announced time and location.  **  and **

— CAIR released Securing Religious Liberty. A Muslim community handbook for opposing legislation that restricts religious freedom and threatens the U.S. Constitution. Countering anti-Sharia legislation.  **

— A coalition of organizations released The American Mosque 2011 by Ihsan Bagby which aims to obtain a more accurate count of the number of mosques and Muslims in the U.S., demographics of mosque attendees, and the attitudes of mosque leaders towards topics such as American Muslim participation in civil society, how they interpret the Quran and Sunnah, perceptions of discrimination, etc. **

— The Institute for Social Policy (ISPU) released a report on Islamo-Christian Civilization by Richard W. Bulliett.  **
— The Institute for Social Policy & Understanding (ISPU) report Engaging American Muslims: Political Trends and Attitudes by Farid Senzai **
— In the wake of the recent arrest of two men including a Bangladeshi student who allegedly planned to set off a bomb at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Institute on Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), in collaboration with the Duke Islamic Studies Center (DISC), has issued a new policy brief detailing the present state of combating al-Qa’ida inspired violent extremism in the U.S. In the report, Duke Professor David Schanzer, an expert in counterterrorism strategy and homeland security, identifies key issues that the next administration will face and makes recommendations to develop effective policy.  **

— A PEW Global Attitudes Poll shows high unfavorable ratings for the terror group Al Qaeda among Muslims across six different countries. The poll conducted March 19 to April 13, 2012, finds majorities – and mostly large majorities – expressing negative views of the terrorist group in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey and Lebanon. **
— The PEW Forum pubished a report The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity.  The survey, which involved more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in over 80 languages, finds that in addition to the widespread conviction that there is only one God and that Muhammad is His Prophet, large percentages of Muslims around the world share other articles of faith, including belief in angels, heaven, hell and fate (or predestination). While there is broad agreement on the core tenets of Islam, however, Muslims across the 39 countries and territories surveyed differ significantly in their levels of religious commitment, openness to multiple interpretations of their faith and acceptance of various sects and movements.  **

— A study by North Carolina Professor Christopher A. Bail surveyed more than “1,084 press releases about Muslims produced by 120 civil society organizations to 50,407 newspaper articles and television transcripts” during the seven crucial years after 9/11 to examine the coverage of Muslims in the mainstream American press.  The Fringe Effect Civil Society Organizations and the Evolution of Media Discourse about Islam since the September 11th Attacks

— Interfaith Alliance and the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center released “What is the Truth about American Muslims? Questions and Answers”, an attempt by the organizations to provide accurate information and delve into the law of religious freedom, the history of American Muslims in the United States, and misunderstood terms and practices, including Shariah.  **

— New forum begun at Duke University for Expert Voices on Islam and Muslims.  An internet site ISLAMiCommentary aims to inform public knowledge and discourse about the diversity of thought and cultures within Islam and Muslim communities, including those in the United States. **

—— The American Muslim (TAM) published Resources for dealing with Islamophobes.  This provides a great deal of information, and links to useful resources and responses in a compact format.  **

 

 

INTERNATIONAL

We don’t have a great deal of information about International stories, but it is worth sharing those that we know about.

AFGHANISTAN— Afghan clerics issued a statement denouncing violence against women, promoting female education, and discouraging child marriage.  **

BANGLADESH — A Bangladeshi rickshaw driver, who saved for 30 years on $6 per day, founded a small hospital in the remote village of Tanhashadia. His efforts have made him a national celebrity and his clinic now treats 300 patients each day.  ** 2012

                   
BRITAIN— Britain has unveiled a bronze bust honoring Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim British WWII hero who was killed by the Nazi’s at Dachau concentration camp as a British spy.  **

— Muslims in the East End of London held a Christmas party for their Christian neighbors.  **

EGYPT —Al-Azhar sheik proposes bill of rights for Egypt’s minorities, Sarah El Deeb The head of Al-Azhar, the pre-eminent institute of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world, put forward a Bill of Rights on Tuesday upholding freedom of expression and belief ahead of the drafting of Egypt’s new constitution.  ** 2012

FRANCE— Thousands of Muslims and Jews reacted to the savage killings of three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse and the earlier murders of three French soldiers, including two Muslims, by joining together in solidarity marches in communities throughout Paris.  Meanwhile, top French Muslim and Jewish leaders have vowed to stand united in opposition to acts which Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, has accurately characterized as being “in total contradiction with the foundation of this religion [Islam].”  **  Also, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders participated in a silent march to honor the victims ** 2012
— French Muslim leaders representing 30 organizations gathered on the steps of the Opera Bastille in Paris to “say no to religious radicalism” and proclaimed their attachment to France and the values ​​of the Republic ** 2012
— 80 European Rabbis and imams met in Paris to to discuss how to ease interreligious tensions **

GERMANY — German Muslims show solidarity with threatened Catholic churches, Ruby Russell ** 2012

GREAT BRITAIN— The hajj, subject of a new exhibition at the British Museum, shows that a respect for other faiths is central to Muslim tradition ** 
— Eighteen members of the Muslim community were recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours. One CBE, 5 OBEs and 12 MBEs will be handed to British Muslims for their varying contributions to society.  Thirteen members of the Hindu and Sikh community were also awarded (1 Knighthood, 11 MBEs and an Army MBE), whilst twenty one members of the Jewish community were awarded; they included 3 Knighthoods, 5 CBEs, 3 OBEs and 10 MBEs.  Gynaecologist Dr Tahir Ahmed Mahmood is the highest decorated member of the Muslim community this year; he is to be made a CBE for his service women’s health.  **
—Members of a mosque in Swansea, England raised £500 in just 48 hours to help a non-Muslim couple who needed help to visit their premature twins in hospital. ** 2012
— ‘A Muslim, a Jew, a Christian, a Hindu and a Bahá’í walk into a Synagogue’ is the first production of I.F Theatre, the first and only multi-faith theatre group in London. The project was created in January 2012 by Faiths Act Fellows Charlotte Flowers and Maryam Duale in partnership with Tzedek, MagicDoor and The Central School of Speech and Drama.  The group, made up of young Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians and Baha’i's, have spent 12 weeks creating a play, exploring faith and extreme poverty.  ** 2012
— A Muslim scholar has launched a groundbreaking campaign against forced marriage in Scotland.  Shaykh Amer Jamil says the practice has no place in Islam.  During the next few weeks leaflets and sermons are being given in mosques as part of an initiative to educate the community.  ** 2012

INDIA— Muslims help build a Hindu temple in BIHAR.  Patna: In a shining example of communal harmony, Muslims have helped build a Hindu temple dedicated to Durga in Bihar’s Gaya district, not just by making donations but also by supervising its construction.  ** 2012
— Mufti of Indian Islamic seminary of Deoband issues fatwa, says avoid polygamy ** 2012
— At a time when the fire of communal hatred is threatening to engulf the entire state, a sleepy little Muslim village under Lakhipur sub-division in Goalpara district has set a perfect example of peaceful co-existence. It is providing full security to its only Hindu priest family to ensure that peace and harmony is maintained at any cost.  Interestingly, the village’s prized possession – Kamakhya temple – is being looked after by an all-Muslim committee for decades now. ** 2012

IRAN — Iran’s Ahl al-Bait World Assembly condemned a recent fatwa[/url] (or religious decree) issued by Saudi Arabia’s top religious official who has called for the “destruction of all churches on the Arabian Peninsula”.  ** 2012

LIBYA — In Libya, a 2,000 year old Jewish Shul has been protected by a Muslim family for three generations.  Mohamed Madi is the latest of three generations who have secured the Yefren shul. His grandfather protected Yefren’s Jews with a rifle in 1948. Under Gaddafi, his father secretly tended to the synagogue. The Madis also look after the rabbi’s house. Such guardianship, he says, is about “honour and respect for our neighbours, and for their religion”.  “We have a very good relationship with the Muslims of Yefren,” says Jakov Guetta, grandson of Yefren’s last rabbi, now living in Israel. “The Amazigh are special people, good people. They protected the Jewish people from the Nazis in the war. We have had a very good relationship for hundreds of years.” He recalls Yefren’s Jewish history as one featuring “powerful things, miracles, everything”.  ** 2012

NIGERIA—Christians, Muslims unite at Nigeria protest, Jon Gambrell   **
— The Muslim Right Concern (MURIC) has declared that the Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram is not fighting for Nigerian Muslims, and condemned Boko Haram’s aggression toward Christians.  “Places of worship should be held in reverence. The attack is therefore sacriledgious. We denounce Boko Haram’s violent approach particularly its attacks on rival religious targets.”  ** 2012
— Brotherhood Among Muslims And Christians in Nigeria.  The attempt by terrorists to divide Nigerians along religious lines is failing. In these times of crisis, true Muslims and true Christians are, once more, demonstrating the brotherhood among them. While Mass was being celebrated at several churches in Minna, Niger State, this Sunday, Muslim youth organised themselves to guard the worshippers. On Tuesday, during a rally in Abuja against the removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government, and it was time for Muslims to pray, their Christian counterparts formed a ring around them.  ** 2012

PAKISTAN—A documentary on the life and works of Abdul Sattar Edhi, “The Kingdom of Mr Edhi”, has won two film awards in France.  This may mean more publicity for the work of this great humanitarian who has been nominated the Pakistani PM for the Nobel Prize.  ** 2012
— Pakistan’s Shad Begum was among 10 of the world’s leading women activists the United States honoured for their efforts to improve the lives of other women. Shad Begum of Lower Dir district, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, received the 2012 International Women of Courage Award, at a ceremony in Washington, for working for women in a deeply conservative area.  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama presented the awards.  **
— After spending several hours polishing the shoes of worshippers at Gurdwara Sisganj in New Delhi on Monday, where he was part of a Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association delegation, Muhammad Khurshid Khan (Deputy Atty. Gen’l of Pakistan) left for Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple and the centre of the Sikh religion, to clean thousands more.  He began his service pilgrimage after Jaspal Singh, one of three Sikh men kidnapped by Taliban militants in Peshawar in 2010, was murdered. The other two men were rescued by the Pakistani Army. Since then he has visited Sikh temples or Gurdwaras in Pakistan and India to declare his opposition to terrorism through ‘sevadari’ – service – to other religions.  Mr Khan said he was so upset by the killing and his fear that it associated his own Muslim faith with terrorism that he went to sit on the steps of Peshawar’s Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh. He felt a sense of peace, he told The Times of India, and resolved to visit other places of worship, including Hindu temples and Christian churches to offer his help.  “I am a Muslim, not a terrorist; I am a Khan, not a terrorist; I am from Pakistan, but not a terrorist,” he explained.  ** 2012

PALESTINE - ISRAEL— Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (a Muslim) was awarded the prize of the International Fund for the Unity of the Orthodox Peoples on Saturday. The award ceremony took place at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow and was led by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.  **
— A film SOS Jerusalem, has been broadcast four times this month by the global Arab TV network Al Jazeera in English.  An Israeli living in England has made a politics-free film about cooperation between Jewish and Muslim and Christian Palestinian volunteer paramedics for the Orthodox Jerusalem organization United Hatzalah, who save lives together in Jerusalem’s western and eastern neighborhoods.  **
— Israeli, Arab youths to hold virtual peace conference on Facebook ** 2012
— Muslim Keyholder of Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem Opens it for Easter Pilgrims ** 2012

RUSSIA — Russian Muslims and Jews Call for a Ban on Religion-Based Political Parties in Russia **

TURKEY — Turkey’s Top Muslim Cleric Slams Saudi Mufti Over His Call to Destroy Churches ** 2012
— On a recent trip to Turkey, President of Ireland, Mary McAleese expressed gratitude to the Turkish people for the humanitarian aid provided by the Islamic Khilafah to Ireland during the Great Famine, 160 years ago.  ** 2012
— A campaign to make Istanbul’s roughly 3,100 mosques more welcoming for women has begun and is gaining wide acceptance.  ** 2012

YEMEN — Muslims by the hundreds turned out to demonstrate against the killing of Joel Shrum, an American teacher in Yemen gunned down on March 18 while driving in Taiz, a city 170 miles southwest of Sanaa, the capital. Crowds filled Taiz streets on March 20 bearing placards with photographs of the 29-year-old Shrum, the phrase “...Why?” printed in Arabic and English across the bottom.  ** 2012

*****************


Sheila Musaji is the founding editor of The American Muslim (TAM).  Sheila received the Council on American-Islamic Relations 2007 Islamic Community Service Award for Journalism,  and the Loonwatch Anti-Loons of 2011: Profiles in Courage Award for her work in fighting Islamophobia.  Sheila was selected for inclusion in the 2012 edition of The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims published since 2009 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan.   Biography  You can follow her on twitter @sheilamusaji ( https://twitter.com/SheilaMusaji )

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