Tag Archives: Judaism

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”?

Washington Post Magazine article on Akbar Ahmed and Judea Pearl

From Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine:

Five years ago, American University professor Akbar Ahmed and UCLA professor Judea Pearl were traveling the country, “two grandfathers on a stage,” trying to promote understanding between Jews and Muslims.

Their dialogues, which were detailed by Paula Span in a 2004 Magazine story, earned them the 2006 Purpose Prize, a $100,000 award that recognizes social innovators older than 60. The two have since taken a break from the events, but the Daniel Pearl Foundation — named after the slain journalist, who was Judea Pearl’s son — would like to schedule more next year.

Ahmed realized that although getting Jews and Muslims talking in one room was a big step, more needed to be done to understand the Muslim experience in America. Continue reading

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.

Dean Louis Goodman: American Identity from a Jewish Perspective

By Craig Considine – Frankie and I met Dean Louis Goodman in his office at the School of International ServiceAmerican 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.

An Abrahamic Message

We’ve been traveling through Florida for the past week–from Sanibel Island where Ambassador Ahmed spoke to a crowd of 400 people, to Fort Myers to Palm Beach where Ambassador ahmed spoke again to The World Affairs Council, finally all the way down to Miami. We leave tomorrow early for Georgia.

In Ft. Myers we met Iman al Darsani who you will see in the video below and in Palm Beach we spent some time with Reverend Bob Norris, also in the video, from the Royal Poincianna Chapel.

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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

A Jewish Alderman commemorating the life of a Muslim Leader

“15 die, several injure in car bomb blast in Peshawar.” My morning started with one more day of disappointment of hoping to not find any story of Pakistan in the NYtimes headlines. I swallowed the tears clogging up my throat after looking at all the pictures of buildings from my country blood-stained and ruined. I quickly hit the close button on the corner of the screen and brushed out all thoughts about the news so that I could follow through with the schedule for another day of research in the Chicago city.

We drove down to Devon Avenue, the hub of the Pakistani/South Asian community living in Chicago. Our host for the morning, Mr. Khattak, stopped the car and pointed his finger towards one of the most extraordinary images I had seen in this country – “The Muhammad Ali Jinnah Way.” I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the name of Pakistan’s founder on this Chicago crossing. His words echoed in my head as I stood next to Dr. Ahmed staring at those letters that equated freedom and justice for both of us.
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