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Who Speaks for Islam?

Who Speaks for Islam?

By Summar Shoaib…Addressing whether Christians should read the Qur’an or not, Christianity Today published a piece with the views of three different authors. Only one of these authors, Nabeel Qureshi, rigorously advises Christians to avoid reading the Qur’an for two reasons: first, “the Qur’an was not designed to be read like a book”, which he contrasts with the way the Bible is meant to be read. Instead, Qureshi advocates that Christians learn about Islam by being around Muslims, which comes to his second point: the idea that “the Qur’an only comprises a small part of the Muslim’s worldview.”

Happy Slaughters from Turkey: An Insider’s View of a National Islamic Tradition

Happy Slaughters from Turkey: An Insider’s View of a National Islamic Tradition

By Teo Sagisman…..
This week the Turks are celebrating an age-old tradition, known as Eid al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) in Arabic. Called Kurban Bayrami in Turkish, this tradition is both religiously and culturally important to many Turks. Kurban Bayrami is a long extended holiday, equivalent to the importance and length of the Christmas celebrations in the western world. The 4,0000 year-old story behind the Feast of the Sacrifice is common to all Abrahamic religions – Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but in the modern world, only adherents to Islam commemorate it in a literal way. As the story is told in the Hebrew Bible, Christian Bible, and the Quran, God tested Abraham’s faith by telling him to sacrifice his beloved son.

Religion: A Political Weapon

Religion: A Political Weapon

By Summar Shoaib
In a recent speech at the Values Voters Summit, a conservative political conference, Rand Paul spoke about a “war on Christianity,” citing the Boston Marathon bombing as proof. Acknowledging that some may not see this as evidence, he emphasizes that “they certainly didn’t target a mosque.” Paul utilizes an insider-outsider dichotomy in stressing that Islamic radicals have an agenda “against us as a people, as a Christian people.” Perhaps even more troubling in this sort of us-versus-them rhetoric is the idea that Muslims do not condemn such acts, claiming, “Where’s the rest of Islam? Why don’t they stand up and condemn this?” Muslims have not only condemned such acts of terror, but even published refutations of it based on Islamic religious doctrine.

Burning Jesus, Mary, and the Prophets

Burning Jesus, Mary, and the Prophets

A “Muslim Gospel,” Khalidi points out, even overflows the pages of the Qur’an: for nearly a thousand years (from the 8th-18th centuries CE), stories and sayings attributed to Isa continued to emerge in Islamic written and oral traditions. While this Jesus is Islamic in tone, a clear Biblical voice is evident. In one of the earliest of these, “Jesus said to his people,”…

House of the Virgin Mary: The Discovery at Ephesus

House of the Virgin Mary: The Discovery at Ephesus

By Heather Abraham….
Unlike the Marian shrines of Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe and Knock, which are held to be the locations of apparitions of Mary, Our Lady of Ephesus is a shrine connected to Mary’s physical historical presence. Pilgrims who journey to Nightingale Mountain to visit the shrine believe it to be the site of her last earthly residence, the place of her death, and, for some, the location from which she was bodily assumed into heaven.

The “Business” of Being Christian: The Ethics of Usury

The “Business” of Being Christian: The Ethics of Usury

By Kate Daley-Bailey….
For thousands of years, the Christian Church has identified “usury” as a sin… however various theologians and scholars living within these thousands of years disagreed over exactly what “usury” was and was not. A brief exploration of the term “usury” (and its multiple manifestations) may lead us to a better understanding of what was actually being prohibited by various religious communities, especially Christian ones.

Duty Down Under

Duty Down Under

Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr., Georgia State University….
I suppose it was inevitable. Since nature and the military both abhor a vacuum, the recent announcement of the military draw-down in Iraq almost inevitably meant that we’d soon be re-deploying our military forces somewhere else. Still, the northern coast of Australia came as something of a surprise. President Obama announced yesterday that 250 US Marines will soon be shipping off for rotating six-month tours at an Australian military base on the north central coast of the island, near a city called Darwin. Their numbers are expected to escalate to 2500 in fairly short order, along with military equipment and long-range aircraft.

“Who Was Muhammad, Was He Violent?”: Teaching Islam Ten Years after 9/11

“Who Was Muhammad, Was He Violent?”: Teaching Islam Ten Years after 9/11

By Abbas Barzegar, Religion Dispatches…..
As millions of college students around the country begin the start of another school year most will encounter events, programming, and curriculum built around the tenth year anniversary of 9/11. Content will include paying honored respects to the victims and their families as well as interpreting the impact of the attacks on our nation’s history and identity. The events ten years ago will remain the defining moment of my generation and understanding how those events continue to shape the social and political landscape of our nation will be the responsibility of educators, politicians, and citizens alike. As a professor of Islamic studies I will entertain a related (even if unwarranted) set of issues in the classroom because, whether we like it or not, Islam has become an indelible part of the culture and consciousness of 9/11. Ironically, the questions I regularly encounter have not actually changed much over the last ten years: Who was Muhammad, was he violent? What is Jihad? Why the scarves?

Ten Years After 9/11: Has Religion Driven Us Apart or Drawn Us Together?

Ten Years After 9/11: Has Religion Driven Us Apart or Drawn Us Together?

By Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Huff Post Religion…..
Two religious responses from the days immediately following the attacks of 9/11 demonstrate how religion has been both a divisive and unifying force in America over the last ten years. The first was from Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell who assigned blame for the attacks to God who, they explained, was angry at America because of Gays, Feminists and the ACLU, among others. While fires still smoldered at Ground Zero, Falwell and company were ironically fanning the flames of discord and division by blaming God and liberals instead of religious extremism.

Religion Lately: The Church of the Cylon God and St. Gaius Baltar, Extinction of Religion, No “Go Topless Day” for Toronto

Religion Lately: The Church of the Cylon God and St. Gaius Baltar, Extinction of Religion, No “Go Topless Day” for Toronto

By Kenny Smith….
While they presently remain at the level of fandom and “just for fun,” elements from the Sci-Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica series have been re-crafted and re-presented in religious terms. See, for instance, the Church of the Cylon God Facebook page, or the Church St. Gaius Baltar. “Pray at the Pump” founder warns President Obama, create jobs or face more earthquakes, a claim which God then quickly refuted. Others have suggested that the divine reprimand said to be implied in recent earthquakes and historic hurricanes was in fact aimed at Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor, in whose district a major quake’s epicenter was located, perhaps in response to the steep cuts Cantor proposed to the U.S. Geological Service. So, is God an angry geologist?

Muslim Women in the Push for Peace

Muslim Women in the Push for Peace

By Michael Vicente Perez, Huffington Post….
With the anniversary of 9/11 fast approaching and the awareness that terrorism is still a real threat for the United States, we should consider what we might do differently to make our country a safer place.
Looking back on the last 10 years, one thing is clear: the violence of terrorism cannot be defeated with more violence. Afghanistan and Iraq are convincing proof of that; both countries remain ravaged by terrorism and al Qaeda forces seem much more resilient than the architect of the war on terror, George W. Bush, ever imagined. We also know that counter-terrorism measures at home have produced mixed results. On one hand, the government has prevented several domestic attacks through various intelligence operations.

The Mainstreaming of Islamaphobia

The Mainstreaming of Islamaphobia

By J.F. Sullivan….
While the 9/11 attacks are likely the dominant catalyst, it may be more appropriate to mark the mainstreaming of Islamaphobia with the emergence of Pamela Geller and the Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) group in 2010. Their provocative ads, purported to protect Muslim converts to Christianity, read, “Leaving Islam? Fatwa on your head? Is your family threatening you?” Their campaign was only a small part of what could be viewed as a larger response to the proposed Park 51 complex also known as Cordoba House and the Ground Zero Mosque.

Religion Lately: A Star Wars Mecca, Remembering Slackmaster Bob & Anonymous as Religion?

Religion Lately: A Star Wars Mecca, Remembering Slackmaster Bob & Anonymous as Religion?

By Kenny Smith….
San Francisco’s Yoda statue draws pilgrims from around the globe. Are we all Jediists at heart?
According to the Prison Literature Project, inmates most frequently request books on Buddhism, Wicca, and Islam. Practitioners of minority religions continue to face many different forms of discrimination throughout American culture.

One writer recalls the Church of the Subgenius’ Prophet Bob and the balmy days of the 1980s.

Religion Lately: Islamic Jediism, “Fuck It” Spirituality, Michelle Bachmann’s 2006 End Time Vision, & A Pagan Policeman

Religion Lately: Islamic Jediism, “Fuck It” Spirituality, Michelle Bachmann’s 2006 End Time Vision, & A Pagan Policeman

By Kenny Smith…..
Australians debate the validity of religions based upon popular culture, such as Jediism and Matrixism (based upon the film, The Matrix), and the blending of new and old traditions, such as “Islamic Jediism,” as the 2011 census approaches this August. Also in Australia, The Dali Lama appeared as a surprise judge on the TV cooking show “Masterchef.” Sadly, while quite friendly, the Tibetan spiritual leader proved somewhat of a judicial disappointment, stating: “As a Buddhist monk, it is not right to prefer this or that food.”