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
One from last month on a Christian Pastor observing Ramadan. Read it here.
And an extended interview from Anthropology Today with on Swat in Pakistan. Download the pdf of “Swat in the eye of the Storm”.
Please come out and join us for a screening of the film hosted by the Berkely Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University. The event will take place in the ICC auditorium on September 15 at 6:00 with a discussion and Ramadan Iftaar afterwords in McShane Lounge.
Recently while staying in Omaha, Nebraska we read that 200 Somali workers were fired from their jobs at a meatpacking plant in the town of Grand Island, Nebraska run by the JBS Swift Meat Co. The workers had demanded and were refused time to pray and break their fast at sun down during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Somalis had also been fired in a similar fashion at other Swift plants in Colorado and Texas. Having written about Somalia in the past and interviewed Somalis in Kenya for the “Journey into Islam” project, I was curious to see how Somalis were getting on in the US and concerned about these mass firings occurring in the Midwest.
After a speech Dr. Ahmed delivered at Omaha’s Creighton University I met Abdi Mohamed, a member the Somali community in Omaha, and we began discussing the controversy at the plant. Abdi, a refugee himself, had recently got US citizenship and had built a life in Omaha. He said he knew some people in Grand Island and graciously offered to take me there because he said he agreed with the mission of our project and the issues Dr. Ahmed had spoke about during the lecture—the need to improve relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Early the next day Abdi, Craig, and I set off on the nearly three hour drive across the state of Nebraska. We arrived in Grand Island and Abdi stopped briefly on the side of the street to pick up a Somali worker who we hoped could direct us in town. “Welcome to America!” a woman screamed from across the street. “Get moving!”