Editor’s note: Akbar Ahmed is professor and Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington and the former high commissioner from Pakistan to the United Kingdom. He is author of “Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam” (Brookings Press). The following is based on a letter he delivered to the senior most Iranian diplomat in Washington to be sent to Iran’s supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Washington (CNN) — When the month of Ramadan began, I received a letter from Laura Fattal, the mother of one of the three young American hikers detained in Iran. In it, Fattal appealed to me, the first Muslim scholar she had contacted, to intervene on behalf of her son and his two friends.
The Iranian government has stated that Josh Fattal, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd crossed the Iranian border while on a hiking trip in Iraqi Kurdistan on the last day of July 2009, and they may have.
All former top students at the University of California, Berkeley, these are the best and the brightest of America, much like the American students I have had the pleasure of having in my classes. But sometimes young people do things that land them in trouble and travel to places they should not go.
These young people did not set out to cause any problems or tension between the U.S. and Muslim world or the U.S. and Iran, but had the opposite intent. They were committed to dialogue, understanding and making the world a better place. Read the entire article here.
Read the full letter at the Washington Post On Faith page
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Tagged Akbar Ahmed, ayatollah, CNN, compassion, hikers, hostage, iran, Islam, Muslim, night of power, prison, ramadan, Religion, washington post
An In-Depth Look at Mosques in America from CNN American Morning on Monday the 9th of August.
Also, a special opinion article by Akbar Ahmed “Make New York Mosque an Interfaith Center”.
The United States must resolve what I call the Great American Conundrum by clarifying its policy toward Muslims. It cannot treat its Muslim citizens as second-class citizens at home and hope to win them over abroad.American Muslims complain of their second-class status by pointing out that their religion and houses of worship can be attacked with near impunity. When they do object, they are told that this kind of abuse is a small price to pay for living in a free society. Yet it is blatantly clear that only Islam is being attacked in such a crass fashion. It is virtually unimaginable to hear of any other ethnic or religious group being so targeted without an uproar. Read the entire article.
Thank you all for all of the responses to the CNN article. We’ve had a lot of really positive comments and some constructive ones.
The post about Arab, Alabama has received a lot of attention. It’s now our most popular post. Even the Arab Tribune wrote about out visit. I’m from Huntsville, just up the road and was excited about bringing the team to Alabama. We chose Arab because of the name, really. And yes, we knew the story about the name beforehand. We just wanted to have a little fun with it and see what it would be like to put Hailey in an abaya (traditional Arab dress) in a town with the same name–no offense meant to the good people of Arab. Take a look at our earlier post about stereotypes. We know that the sterotypes are not necessarily true. I, for one, expected the kind of generous and warm reponse that we got all over the south, not just in Alabama. Please see “Journey into Islam“, our previous project, to see how we were treated in the Muslim world as obvious non-Muslim westerners–similar to the hospitality we received in Arab.
I was really proud of the way that Hailey was treated in Arab. I keep telling the team that relations between different races and religions are sometimes better in the south than other places. Hailey got much worse looks in Miami, for example.
In Alabama with our friends at the Gadsden Islamic Center
We also made a stop in the small town of Gadsden, Alabama and had lunch with some wonderful new friends. They live very peacefully with the non-Muslim majority and have not had many problems at all and all of the women we met wore the hijab.
So thanks again for all the comments. More posts are on the way.
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Tagged abaya, Akbar Ahmed, Arab, CNN, gadsen, hijab, huntsville, Islam, jonathan hayden, Journey into America, Mosque, Muslim, Religion