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Religion, Lately: Kamala Khan, Biker Churches, and Discussing Religion on Facebook

Marvel Comics has announced that it’s newest heroine will be a young Pakistani-American Muslim girl named Kamala Khan. There is both excitement and worry over the fact that Khan is Muslim- while the debut of the superheroine is a step in the right direction to fight Islamaphobia, many fear that Khan’s story may perpetuate certain harmful stereotypes, as discussed in this article from The Huffington Post. Religion has always played a role in many popular comics, but lately there has been a rise in comics that are coming out of religious publishing groups, including HarperCollins Christian Publishing and Zondervan.

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.

When Some People Say “Religion” They Mean “My” Religion

When Some People Say “Religion” They Mean “My” Religion

By Amina Wadud…..For example, members of one religion are not encouraged to or interested in visiting the sacred spaces of other religions. In fact, in most cases, they are prohibited. To be sensitive to these constraints I do not visit any sacred place, no matter how much I have wanted, unless I am given permission as a Muslim. (Coincidentally, I am also prohibited as a woman from entering some of the sacred Muslim spaces!)

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?

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.

Is Norway’s Suspected Murderer Anders Breivik a Christian Terrorist?

Is Norway’s Suspected Murderer Anders Breivik a Christian Terrorist?

By Mark Juergensmeyer, Religion Dispatches…..
The similarities between suspected mass killer Anders Behring Breivik and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh are striking. Both were good-looking young Caucasians, self-enlisted soldiers in an imagined cosmic war to save Christendom. Both thought their acts of mass destruction would trigger a great battle to rescue society from the liberal forces of multiculturalism that allowed non-Christians and non-whites positions of acceptability. Both regretted the loss of life but thought their actions were “necessary.” For that they were staunchly unapologetic. And both were Christian terrorists.

Ding Dong bin Laden's Dead!

Ding Dong bin Laden’s Dead!

By Lady Arsinoe……
America has lost the moral high ground, though. Beginning on September 11, 2001, collectively as a nation, we condemned the celebrations in the streets throughout the Muslim world. We denounced the carnival atmosphere in the Middle East as the World Trade Center collapsed. We cried for the murder of over 3000 innocent people. We said, how barbaric it was to celebrate death and destruction in that manner. Those people aren’t human, we declared.

Memories of A Moderate Muslim Woman

Memories of A Moderate Muslim Woman

By Teo Sagisman
I lost both my parents at what I consider a young age. My religious background is that of a secular Turkish Muslim but I now consider myself a spiritual seeker more than religious. I lost my father when I was only five years of age. My paternal grandfather, originally from Eastern Turkey, had migrated to Istanbul in the early 1900’s. His last name, Sagisman, I later discover belonged to a list of Jewish converts to Islam (Dönmeh) who followed Sabbatai Zevi (1626-1676) a 17th-century Jewish Kabbalist who claimed to be the Jewish Messiah but was eventually forced by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV to convert to Islam. After Sabbatai’s conversion, a number of Jews followed him into Islam and became the Dönmeh.