“I have always believed that the fastest way to get gun control legislation passed in this country is to mass mobilize the American Muslim community to start getting firearms,” said Hussein Rashid, a lecturer on Islamic and American culture, as part of the panel.
The recent launch of the new comic series X-Men Gold has generated international controversy over religious and political images included by its artist, Ardian Syaf.
These images stand in striking contrast to the diversity that Marvel Comics has recently come to energetically espouse. The company has released a statement that explains their being unaware of the symbolism in the book as it was originally published, and declared its plans to discipline Syaf and remove the offending imagery from future reprints of the comic. We do not believe that this incident should detract from Marvel’s commitment to diversity; rather, it should compel Marvel to aim for more than just diversity, and push more fully to realize an ethic of pluralism instead.
The methods of the Digital Humanities present an opportunity to think about the goals and methods in the Study of Religion. The emergence of these new tools challenges the ways in which we consider academic work, and the premises around which Study of Religion is built. By broadening the scope of what we can do with “religious” material, we can more broadly imagine what religion is.
To be Muslim in America is to either be invisibilized, or Otherized. To be Muslim in America is to be pushed into the margins, racialized, and Orientalized. How then can we, as Muslims, choose to write ourselves onto the pages of modern memory? Join us as Hussein Rashid, Bushra Rehman, Shannon Chakraborty, and Melody Moezzi delve into the challenges that come with centering the margin and the Muslim protagonist.
I've written before about my admiration of the work of Sufi Comics. They do outstanding work engaging with Muslim spirituality in a modern context. In fact, I have an academic article about their work on Imam Ali coming out in an anthology on Muslim Superheroes.
They now have a new collection of Rumi stories out, and they are making sure that Rumi is not divorced from his Muslim roots. As in the previous volume, the story is end capped by a verse from the Qur'an and quote from either Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) or Imam Ali (AS). Unlike in the previous volume, these quotes are far more organic and related to the story at hand. However, they are not necessary to see that while Rumi's spirituality is universal, it is grounded in a Muslim worldview.
The angels function as angels do in Muslim thought, as voices and servants of God. Moses is the Moses of the Qur'an, not the Torah. Ritual is deeply important in this collection, from prayer to fasting, and demonstrates how Rumi can go from his particularity to a universal lesson. His wisdom is not in spite of his faith, but because of it.
As with all their collections, the work is richly illustrated, with beautiful colors, clear lines, and a nod to the miniature tradition. The translations in this collection are stronger than in the previous one, but they've omitted the Persian this time around, which I find unfortunate. I enjoyed being able to have the original there to read with the images and the translation.
Like the previous volume, this collection is a must have. Their work only gets stronger as they continue to do it, and I'm looking forward to what they have coming next.
[Disclosure: I will receive a free copy of this book for a review. There were no conditions attached to the review, nor do I believe the free book impacted my review.]
With recent political decisions to attempt to ban Muslims and refugees from entering this nation for a better life or even for safety, what is our role in responding as people of faith? As a nation founded upon principles of religious freedom and enshrined in our Constitution, what are the duties of a Christian majority in defending the freedom of religious minorities? Fear is a highly controlling force that plays a major role in the narrative around Muslims – and a lack of common understanding about Islam as a religion often fuels the fire of fear.
“Would I love to get more people to this exhibit and get them to understand that Muslims are human beings with desires and passions and artistic creativity in ways that maybe they haven’t thought about before? Absolutely,” Mr. Rashid said.
Questioning whether Islam is a religion is not, in and of itself, a new idea. Dr. Hussein Rashid, a professor of religion at Barnard College, told me that it was a dynamic that began in Europe and has a “centuries-long pedigree.” “We are seeing a particularly American manifestation of it now,” he added. He continued, “This administration is playing into all of these themes very clearly: They are trying to say that Muslims are not human and that they are not American.”
Baldanzi is not alone in her research. Dr. Hussein Rashid, professor of religion at Hofstra University, has been co-editing papers alongside Baldanzi and is now teaching at Barnard College. The two are working on a collection of scholarly essays called Ms. Marvel in America.
Those same voices who engage in this idle worship now hold the reins of power in the U.S. government. And they seek to exterminate Muslims. There are concerns of a Muslim registry and internment camps. More extreme fears consider other types of camps, imagining a return of the Holocaust. These fears are not unfounded, nor are they out of character with what President Trump’s advisers and appointees have said.
I'll be speaking at Yale for the South Asian Millennials Conference: Spotlight on Disparities, on "Unlearning Islamophobia."
“This protest is the first one in a long time that I can recall when so many Muslims gathered to protest something,” said Hussein Rashid, founder of islamicate, a consultancy focusing on religious literacy.
In the days after Donald Trump took office and his speeches and policies encouraged a distrust or fear of Muslims, religion professor Hussein Rashid appeared in the media to debunk some common misconceptions and call for increased familiarity with the world’s second-largest religion.
The demands that Muslims in this country meet certain expectations of "normalcy" are not new. Hussein Rashid, professor of religion at Barnard College and a Truman National Security Fellow, and Jerusha Lamptey, professor at Union Theological Seminary and author of the book "Never Wholly Other," discuss that sentiment, and how Muslim immigrants meet and adjust to certain expectations of "normalcy" in America.
Hussein Rashid (@islamoyankee) posted to his more than 5‚000 followers: "Wish there was a @NandosUSA in #NYC so I could go where #everyoneiswelcome."
Details of the event can be found here.
The azan is meant to remind the listener of God’s majesty. Revealed to prophet Muhammad, it puts the believer in a state of awe and humility. For every claim that we may understand God, we are reminded that God is greater than anything we may conceive. That moment of being lost in the transcendence of God, in the tradition of prophet Muhammad, is an ecstatic one. It is not about bells or dancing. It is about exercising the gifts God has created in us, the voice, to be reflective and pleased with God’s presence within us.
It is also a direct link to our history, and the promise of anti-racism in the Islamic ethos. The first person to have the official role to call people to prayer was Bilal ibn Rabah, who was given the position because of the beauty of his voice and the commitment to his faith. He was a black man, who was held as a slave by the non-Muslims of 7th century Arabia. As a punishment for converting to Islam, his owners did not feed him to the lions, but placed heavy stones on him to crush him to death. As he called out God’s name, and thought, “I can’t breathe,” prophet Muhammad bought his freedom, and elevated him to one of the most important roles in the community.
Muslims have been part of this country since its founding. Since nearly a third of all slaves were Muslim, this country literally was built on the backs of Muslims. We have remained important contributors to American history, serving to defend our nation and contributing culturally to what it means to be American. Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Qur’an sits in the Library of Congress as a testament to how important Muslim thought was to the founding of this country.
The adhan, or call to prayer, is an important aspect of Muslim devotional life. It can be prayerful, but it is not part of a formal prayer. To suggest that Magid is praying, presumably for the success of Trump, is mistaken. When Magid calls out “I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God,” there is no benediction for anyone. There is only the praise of the divine. By framing it simply as a prayer, someone who is unfamiliar with a quarter of the world’s population may think that despite Trump’s hateful rhetoric to his fellow Americans, they are ready to submit to him unconditionally.
Religion professor Hussein Rashid, who teaches a class on Muslims in diaspora, explained how the effects of Trump’s presidency on Muslim communities could have ripple effects that would present challenges to the entire country. “My job as a professor is to get students to think about the implications of all of these issues,” Rashid said. “If we talk about, say, a Muslim registry, it’s not just about Muslims in America, but what it means for American society, because these things don’t happen in a vacuum.”
Visotzky and his friend and colleague Hussein Rashid, a professor and activist, see the fast and the marches they will participate in the next day as first steps on a long road of action.
Muhammad and his family are the original heroes for Muslims, and their virtuous behavior is being represented through the American art form of the comic, by artists from India. This approach seemed like a way to look at the transnational nature of Muslim identities, while still taking national particularities into account.
In many popular media reports, the default often seems to be Sunni Islam. It is unclear why this has become the baseline for what Islam is. Some academics have suggested, going back to the origins of the discipline of Religion, that Sunni Islam most closely resembled Protestant Christianity, which was constructed as the truest of religious groupings. As a result, structures that mirrored Protestant Christianity were elevated to true expressions of those traditions. Perhaps it has to do with the tyranny of the majority, so that by virtue of being the most numerous group of Muslims, Sunni Islam becomes the normative position.
In 2016, America mourned the passing of one of its heroes, boxing champion Muhammad Ali. His funeral service gave public light to the long history of Muslims in America, and the deep impact Muslims have on popular culture. This talk takes on an exploration of that history, focusing on literature, and the contemporary political environment. Community Room
Like many scholars of religion, I normally make my plans to attend the annual national meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). This year, I decided I would not attend. Some of my friends and colleagues thought it was perhaps because I was an adjunct, and had no funding to attend the most important professional conference of our discipline. This concern is real for so many of our members, but was not my issue this year. Instead, it was that we were hosting the meeting in an open carry state, and one that allowed students to carry their weapons into classrooms. As a person of color and as a Muslim, the location of the meeting in San Antonio did not seem prudent.
The high school I went to on Long Island taught me a lot about race. I learned about overt racism, and what we now call microaggressions. Over a quarter of a century later, I am under no delusions that we live in a post-racial society. The movement for, and resistance to, Black Lives Matter reminds me every day that racism is part of our national DNA. Even with all that experience, hearing the results of our presidential election shocked me.
On Nov. 6, 2016, the Sunday before Election Day, I was asked to preach at First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn. Below is the audio of the sermon.