Tag Archives: Craig Considine

Interview on Al Jazeera

We were interviewed for “The Riz Khan Show” on Al Jazeera last week. We had a blast at the interview and visiting with Riz and his production team. The show is airing today and is already up on YouTube.

It was a lot of fun and a little intimidating being interviewed for such a huge show. Riz Khan is a star and Al Jazeera English is accessible in 120 million households worldwide from Africa to Europe to China. It’s unfortunately only on the internet in the US.  Al Jazeera is available in China but not in the two largest democracies in the world, the US and India. Go figure.

Parts 1 and 2 are below.

The Abrahamic Tradition and American at its Finest: An Interview with Archbishop Fiorenza of Houston

Archbishop Fiorenza of Houston, Texas is the son of Sicilian immigrants from Italy.  He grew up in a neighborhood without many Catholics but with many Protestants and African-Americans.  At a young age, he realized the value of diversity, compassion, but most importantly, the value of understanding all members of humanity.  When he was a young man, he was aware of the inhumanity of segregation in the South, so he became active in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s to insure that African-Americans were treated equally and on par legally with other Americans. 

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Atlanta: Reconnecting with our Bosnian friends

By Craig Considine – One usually doesn’t imagine dirt roads and mosques near each other.  Much to our surprise though, this was reality when we visited the Bosnian Islamic Cultural Center in Snellville, Georgia during our stay in Atlanta.  After being stuck in traffic for a good hour (and lost for a bit), Dr. Ahmed, Hailey, and our Bosnian friend Damar finally found the road we were looking for.  In fact, it isn’t even a real road – it isn’t paved, but was filled with dust, dirt and rubble.  The mosque rested a few hundred yards deep in the woods.  A driver isn’t even able to see it while driving on the highway because it is hidden behind a thick forest of trees.

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An Arab in Arab, Alabama

By Craig Considine – We stopped in Huntsville, Alabama (Jonathan’s hometown) after staying in Atlanta for four very busy days.  About 45 minutes south of Huntsville is a town called Arab.  We had to be in Nashville, Tennessee by Sunday night, but we figured we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit, considering we are studying Islam in America.  We ended up driving one hour in the opposite direction from Nashville just to visit this town.  Watch the video and you can see why it was well worth it.  

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A (not so) Serious Conversation on American Stereotypes

By Craig Considine – The American identity is a complex concept to comprehend partially because of the Northern and Southern cultures that differ significantly from one another.  The North, where I’m from, is associated with great univierisites and Wall street.  The South, where I’m about to visit for the first time, is apparently very different.  I have seen Gone With the Wind, I love college football, and I love hearty food, so it will interesting to see how my experience in the South alters (or doesn’t alter) my notion of the American identity.

Before you view this video, you must understand this: these are NOT our personal beliefs.  They are simply the most general stereotypes that are expressed in American culture today.  This conversation took place at Reagan National Airport before we boarded our flight to Sanibel Island, Florida to kick off our fourth leg of the journey.  Stereotypes are important to this study because we are examining the American social fabric and the attitudes and perceptions that Americans have of one another.  Enjoy the video.  Be sure to follow us through the next week as we journey through Florida,  then the rest of the south.

In the ‘Land of Stars’, Muslim Americans Shine the Brightest

By Craig Considine – It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Muslim Americans we visited on a Friday afternoon at the Al-Rahman masjid in California were charismatic, outgoing and lively.  After all, we were in the land of ‘stars’, just miles from the Hollywood studios and the mansions of famous actors and actresses.

The Al-Rahman masjid, led by the Harvard educated Imam Siddiqui, is not just simply a place for prayer – Hailey noted that it reminded her of a Syrian bazaar she had visited with Dr. Ahmed a few years back as part of the ‘Journey into Islam’ project.  

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A Hero of Mine

By Craig Considine – Since September 1st, 2008, when our travels first began, I have met people from all walks of life; distinguished professors like Chomsky at MIT, famous politicians like Jesse Jackson, popular religious leaders like Imam Qazwini, bright young American students in Chicago, and even intelligent homeless people like ‘Jesse’ in Detroit.  Interviewing Chomsky in his office, and sitting fireside with Hamza Yusuf at the Zaytuna Institute, literally blew my mind, not only for the sheer knowledge that both individuals shed on me, but in turn, for their ability to motivate me to ‘think outside the box’.  But in all actuality, while I will always cheirsh the words of wisdom of Chomsky, Yusuf and the like, no one individual on this journey impressed me, or has impacted my psyche and character more, than the courageous Dr. Judea Pearl.

Dr. Pearl, if you are unaware, is the father of Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal jouranlist who was murdered in Pakistan simply because he was a Jew.  Any normal father would undoubtedly lash out verbally, or seek out some form of vengeance, against those who had committed that vicious act of immorality and hate against his son.  But Dr. Pearl was different.  Extremely different.  He searched for a Muslim companion that would visit universities and institutions across Americam with the purpose of igniting an interfaith dialogue movement to transcend the hate that sprung between Jews and Muslims in the aftermath of Daniel’s death.  Dr. Pearl chose Dr. Ahmed, the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam, and both have since been the quintessential example of what is needed if human beings wish to coexist with one another.  They have made a lasting impression on the world not only through their their dialogues, but also for the symbolism of their friendship: a Jew and a Muslim can be friends even amidst one of the most tragic moment of the 21st century. Continue reading

The Rumi Award

Last week, Madeeha, Craig and I ventured out to the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill for the Rumi Forum‘s 2008 Rumi Peace and Dialogue Awards.

Ambassador Ahmed was given the Mawlana Jalaladdin Rumi Award for 2008. He was introduced by his good friend and colleague Senior Rabbi Bruce Lustig of the Washington Hebrew Congregation. My favorite part was when Lustig asked the audience to note the symbolism of a Rabbi, whose family lived through the Holocaust, presenting an award named after a Muslim to a Muslim professor and former Ambassador from Pakistan on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. “Only in America”, he said. Here’s a video of some of the speech:

It was a grand event with 8 awardees in all including several Congressmen, the famous Sally Quinn, and an excellent speech by Commitment to Interfaith Service awardee Sulayman Nyang.

The list of recipients of all of the Award recipients is below. Continue reading

“Friendship Beach”: The border wall

The Border Wall at "Friendship Beach"

The Border Wall at "Friendship Beach"

By Craig Considine – In San Diego, the team witnessed, observed and felt the atmosphere of the border fence along the US-Mexican border.  On the way to “Friendship Beach”, I observed six or seven army helicopters flying above , saw plenty of ‘Danger’ signs, lost articles of clothing and shoes, armed Border Patrol agents riding in jeeps, and countless construction men working diligently in their bulldozers to construct walls and fences to keep illegal immigrants out of the US.

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A Fireside Chat with Hamza Yusuf and Akbar Ahmed

By Craig Considine – Comfortably sitting cross-legged in front of a fire at Zaytuna Institute offices in San Francisco, Hamza Yusuf gave Akbar Ahmed a universal notion of the American identity. To Yusuf, it is best defined as this New World ‘experiment’ that broke with Europe’s ‘Old World’.

But I often describe America as the ultimate contradiction. It has provided freedom, hope and opportunity to millions of immigrants – but still has the scars of slavery, interment camps, and imperial aggression.

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