We have been absent from posting lately due to the (sometimes overwhelming) task of writing and editing the book, but we are done. We are really excited about the contents–nine chapters divided into three parts: 1) American Identity 2) Islam in America and 3) Adjusting and Adapting.
First a reboot: We set out in September of 2008 with a team of six. Led by Professor Akbar Ahmed, the team consisted of Frankie Martin, Hailey Woldt, Craig Considine, Madeeha Hameed and Jonathan Hayden. We set out to discover America, it’s history and culture, and–of course–where Islam fits in. It was quite a journey, taking us to over 75 cities, big and small, across the vast continent. We spoke to people of all backgrounds, ranging from Bosnians, Kurds, and African Americans in over 100 mosques in Muslim communities. Jews, Mennonites, Mormons , atheists and more in non-Muslim communities. We spoke to scholars and activists, religious leaders and administrators, uncovered history and spoke to converts. We heard heartwarming stories and learned of struggle and disappointment. We traveled and traveled and came back home to DC to write the book and finish make the film.We had a lot of loyal followers on the blog and got a lot of coverage from the media, causing a minor stir in Alabama and breaking a story in Nebraska. The film is out (trailer can be seen here) and has been screened across the world (in Australia, France and Pakistan) at Universities, religious institutions and film festivals and is being translated into Arabic and Persian. Continue reading
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The Washington, DC Jewish Community Center had a sold out showing of Ambassador Ahmed’s monologue “Waziristan to Washington”. It was a great event, best summed up by Melody Fox in the Pakistan Link:
On Monday night, March 23, 2009 at Washington DC’s Theater J, Dr. Akbar Ahmed launched his new play, From Waziristan to Washington: A Muslim at the Crossroads. The play, written and performed by Dr. Ahmed and directed by Stephen Stern and John Milewski, was a one-man piece of multimedia showmanship that took the audience on a journey framed by the motif of a pair of converging railroad tracks.
The black and white image of the tracks opened the play as Dr. Ahmed took the sparsely decorated stage, and carried the audience back in time to 1947 and the Partition of India. He recalled – with a mixture of still-felt terror, bewilderment, and admiration – how his usually gentle and distinguished father protected his family with a revolver, albeit unloaded, on a train headed to Pakistan that narrowly escaped the ravages of communal slaughter.
For the rest of the article, please click here. Below is a video if some of the monologue along with some reaction from the audience.
By Craig Considine – Frankie and I met Dean Louis Goodman in his office at the School of International Service – American University on a Friday afternoon. Our conversation began with our most frequently asked question: what is American identity? The Dean’s response was a unique one. His notion of it is rooted in his Jewish American heritage. His family came over from Europe in the 19th century and worked diligently in the community to create prosperous businesses. His grandfather, he noted, was a prominent politician in New York City that was dedicated to the NAACP and to civil rights for all Americans, not just Jews. The most interesting part of this conversation is the Dean’s thoughts on the Jewish community in America today. Secondly, he also offers some interesting ideas on Muslims in America while simultaneously comparing this ethnic group with his people, the Jews.
In my opinion, Dean Goodman is an American dedicated to the preservation of the ideals laid forth in the constitution. America was not meant for just White Anglo Saxon Protestants but rather all people from around the world. The beauty of America is its openness in accepting different cultural norms and values. Without the continuation of these principles, America will lose its meaning and purpose as the one country in history dedicated to the acceptance and equality of all peoples.
I have heard hundreds of talks by Akbar Ahmed often on the subject of interfaith dialogue. Often he will push the audience to not only speak to others of different faiths but to become friends with them. Friendship, he says, is the only hope. He is himself a paradigm of this model for peace, but friendship spreads and his talk on Thursday at the home of my best friend in St. Louis embodied that message. From one friend to another and then another, the friendship model can make real transformations in people’s lives as it has in mine with Dr. Ahmed, Laurens’s, and her mother Susan’s. I believe our travels will spread this message and create new friendships that have the real power to transform relations between faiths.
Lauren and I met at American University. We lived on the all-girls floor next door to each other and since have been great friends. Even as undergraduates we learned about each other’s interests and shared in each other’s differences. She took me to her shabbat dinners, the traditional Jewish dinners served on Fridays by the Jewish student group Hillel. When I went to the Muslim world in sophomore yea for the project “Journey into Islam,” Lauren was my biggest supporter. She first met Dr. Ahmed as she hugged me goodbye at the airport, tearfully asking him to bring me back safely. She then became involved more in our team doing our Jewish outreach and working on issues related to the Muslim world. Continue reading