“I have thoroughly enjoyed it, it has made me think, it has made me wish to be in greater contact with folks outside of my own religious and cultural community, and it has reminded me that it is a very, very good question, namely, what does it mean to be an American? And can the story of American be told and construed in such a way that it upholds a dream not of a melting pot, but a beautiful mosaic or crazy quilt. Principled pluralism is what the old Dutch religious leader and politico Abraham Kuyper called it. Journey into America takes us back in history and offers a glimpse into the future. It is worth twice to the price to learn this stuff, and well worth the hours invested in reading through this lively, provocative work.”
Tag Archives: Quran
Inside American Islam
Top Islam expert Akbar Ahmed just visited one hundred mosques in America. We get his report.A picture taken as part of Prof. Akbar Ahmed’s project “Journey Into Islam” (Credit: flickr/journeyintoamerica)
It’s been a head-spinning couple of months for American Muslims. After quiet centuries in the country, and years of post-9.11 life that were sometimes tense but overall peaceful, suddenly Muslims in America are confronted with headlines and attitudes shouting “Islamophobia.”
That’s tough to take for citizens who have quietly weathered some tough years of war and strain. Very tough.
We look at Americans, Muslim Americans, in the storm. We hear from the leader of a team that’s visited a hundred mosques around the country and ask – what next?
Akbar Ahmed, professor of Islamic Studies at American University’s School of International Service. He traveled with a team to some 100 mosques in America. The result is chronicled in his new book, “Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam.” You can read an excerpt.
Resa Aslan, author of “No god But God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam” and a contributing editor for The Daily Beast. Read his latest piece there, “The Charlatans Have Taken Over 9/11.”
From CNN.com, an article by Akbar Ahmed on the planned ‘Burn a Quran Day’ urging Pastor Terry Jones to not to go ahead with his plans.
An interfaith group added their names in support of the statement including the Episcopal bishop of Washington, the Right Rev. John Chane; Senior Rabbi Bruce Lustig of the Washington Hebrew Congregation; Imam Mohamed Magid, executive director of the ADAMS Center in Northern Virginia; Pastor Dr. Robert Norris of Palm Beach, Florida’s, Royal Poinciana Chapel and member of the Presbytery of Tropical Florida; the Rev. Carol Flett of the Washington National Cathedral, the Rev. Dr. Clark Lobenstine of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington; Sister Maureen Fiedler, Sister of Loretto and host of Interfaith Voices, and too many others to name.
In less than a month, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida plans to host “Burn a Quran Day” to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.The pastor, author of the book “Islam is of the Devil,” is using the burning to urge American Christians to “stand up” to what he describes as a monolithic Muslim threat. A Facebook page for the event has accrued thousands of “likes” and Jones has said people have been mailing him Qurans to burn.
As a Muslim scholar, an adherent of one of the Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — and as someone committed to interfaith understanding, I urge Jones to cancel this event. Not only are the actions of Jones contrary to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, but they are also against the ideals of the American Founding Fathers.
We sat down with Congressman Ellison in the members only dining room of the capitol, a large portrait of George Washington accepting British General Cornwallis’s surrender hanging behind. What Washington fought for and what America stands for is liberty for all, including freedom of religion. However Congressman Ellison’s election has redefined and challenged what many people see as “acceptable” limits of these standards.
Congressman Ellison told us of his conversion to Islam as a young man and about the controversy in detail over his swearing in on the Quran. The reception he received in congress, he said, was exceptional: “I didn’t know how the Democratic leadership was going to react to me so when she reached her hand out in a handshake and pulled me close in, she said, “You swear in on anything you want.” And she was then technically still the minority leader…and then we had a dinner before the big day for all the incoming freshman and she asked me to give the opening prayer and she made the point, well here Keith Ellison is giving the prayer and it’s just like any prayer we might hear anywhere. And I have to say though it was fraught with controversy it was a welcoming environment because Speaker Pelosi made it that way and I thank her for that.”
Congressman Ellison has become a symbol of the promise and beauty of America. What does America mean to him?:
“American identity is an essential commitment to American principles. American identity is rooted is a system of ideas. And this is different from other places around the world where your national identity might be a mixture or race, color, religion, a certain culinary orientation, certain holidays. But in America our holidays are the 4th of July—Independence Day—our holidays are Thanksgiving, a very American holiday. Our cultural ethos is fairness, rule of law, freedom of expression. These are American ideas.
“Americans I think have a certain sense of optimism. Americans think they can solve problems whereas people from other parts of the world are more fatalistic and feel like, well this is how it’s always been and this is how its gonna be. That’s not an American attitude. Americans think, ‘well if it’s not right what re we gonna do about it?’
“I’m proud to be an American. It’s a great thing. Has there ever been a country in the rest of the world that started out taking the land from the Indians, dragging Africans to do the work, denying the right of half the population of women to participate in civic life and then within a few hundred years solving these problems internally. I mean Canada didn’t come down here and make us get along better. We worked it out. It wasn’t easy, people lost their lives, people lost their careers, there were prices paid. But now we live in a time when a black man is president.”
On another note, we are honored that Congressman Ellison has agreed to be on the panel after the premiere of our documentary “Journey into America” at the ISNA convention in Washington on July 4th.