Tag Archives: hamza yusef

Teasers and bits from the cutting room floor

While researching for the book, we uncovered an enormous amount of information in interviews, on the road and when we were back in the office putting it all together. Fitting it all into a book was a challenge. So we decided to post some of the  really interesting bits of information that we really enjoyed reading and talking about. Some of it is explained further in the book, some had to be left on the cutting room floor due to space constraints. But we didn’t want it to go to  waste  because it is all relevant to American Identity and Islam in America.  So we’ll be using this space to start some conversations and give you a taste of what you may find in the book.

This week: Why did Benjamin Franklin wish the Native Americans were Muslim? and What movie did John Wayne call “the most un-American thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life”?

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Trailer for “Journey into America”

The world premiere of “Journey into America” is premiering on Saturday, July 4th. This feature film will be shown around Washington and throughout the United States.

The film shows Akbar Ahmed in his journey to over 75 cities and 100 mosques asking hundreds of Muslims and non-Muslims what it means to be “American.” From a bishop and an imam in Las Vegas to Somalis in small-town Nebraska to Noam Chomsky in Boston, this is the first film of its kind giving insight into the diverse and closed Muslim community in America and how they are fitting into American society. It ends on the hopeful note of coming together as a nation based on our pluralist identity going back to the Founding Fathers.

Roundup of the first three trips

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We’ve been busy since we took off on September 1: Driving, interviewing, flying, focus group meeting, packing, driving, very little sleeping, taking notes, meetings,  interviewing, speaking, writing, driving, packing…

The travel is relentless and our schedule is grueling. St. Louis; Dearborn; Detroit; Chicago; Cedar Rapids; Omaha; Grand Island, Washington, DC; New York City; Boston; Plymouth Rock,  Burlington; Hamilton and Binghamton, NY; Buffalo; Palmyra, DC; Salt Lake City;  Las Vegas; Flagstaff and a Native American Reservation; San Francisco, Oakland, Silicon Valley; San Diego; Los Angeles; and Honolulu.

At the largest Mosque In New York

At the largest Mosque In New York

But, everyday brings a new highlight. From some of the interviews that we have posted here, to some that we have saved or will post later, we are kept inspired by the people we’ve met along the way. We all have different favorites like Hamza Yusef, Sirraj Wahhaj, Dawud Walid in Dearborn, Imam Feitullah, Noam Chomsky, Judea Pearl, Sherriff Lee Baca. The list could go on and on.

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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

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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