Prior to starting my job, I was warned by one of my Arabic teachers about the corporate world from an Islamic standpoint. I did not completely understand what the corporate world was like, but he worked in the corporate world for decades. He spoke about being careful about gender interactions and alcohol gatherings. I am a practicing Muslim woman and Islam is an important part of my life, so I wanted to ensure that my work in the corporate world does not affect my religious practices.
They sang songs of unity, chanted words of brotherhood, took pride in diversity, stood tall in harmony……. but once the curtain drew closed, the lights dimmed, and they turned to one another, the walls that separated them were not weakened through acceptance but rather those walls were empowered through ignorance and rejection.
They say that the ultimate power is in the hands of people. A nation can achieve true peace and flourishing when its people take charge. But what happens to a nation where people in power make certain others powerless? A question that has manifested itself over time and again throughout history and the present. The agony and mistrust that follows is first ignored and then researched upon after years go by. (more…)
Muslim Task Force (MTF) of Indiana
When I was an undergraduate student, I returned back home to Indianapolis and moved in with my mother. On April 16th, 2020, as I was scrolling through my email, I saw a call for volunteers.
I had some free time in my schedule, as I was no longer able to participate in my undergraduate activities, since I was home. It had always been my dream, growing up, to get involved with Al-Fajr. I immediately added myself to the WhatsApp group, “MTF Friends and Volunteers – WhatsApp” and reached out, noting that I have some experience in making flyers. This blog post is a synopsis of my community service with them during the earlier stages of Covid. (more…)
Most of the time, when someone unfamiliar with belly dance encounters me and my research on the changing belly dance industry in Egypt, they are surprised, confused, and struggle to even formulate the question they want to ask. What they want to know is something like, “How does a culture as conservative and repressive of female sexuality as I imagine Egypt, the Middle East, and anywhere Islamic to be, produce and publicly permit something as sexy as I think belly dance is?” This query is based on some problematic assumptions about the Middle East and how it differs from “the West” in terms of culture and patriarchy. But before I begin to address that question, some background and a note on terminology.
On December 1st 2021, Dr. Michelle Johnson, who is Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bucknell University, gave an illuminating talk about her newly released book Remaking Islam in African Portugal. The talk was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Global Change, which directs the Muslim Voice project with the cooperation of the Center of the Studies of the Middle East. The book is a result of her work on an anthropological, ethnographical, and transnational project over twenty years, studying the lives of Mandinga and Fula people who immigrated to Lisbon, Portugal. (more…)
The Need to Deconstruct the Dominant Narratives about Islam and Muslims
Nowadays, many Orientalists, among others, speak of Islam as if it began in the late 1970s with the Iranian Revolution or in the 1990s with the rise of certain radical groups in some parts of the Muslim world, or as is now the case with some conflicts in the Middle East. Islam is being framed and portrayed in such a way that many Westerners today see it as something foreign and incompatible with the West, thus having nothing to offer to the rest of the world. As a result of these imposed misconceptions, the underlying assumption has become that Muslims live in a stagnant world “and pre-modern tradition that has failed to respond to the challenges of modernity; essential values, such as progress, science, reason, freedom, and equality, have not yet set in.” (more…)
In light of the U.S withdrawal from Afghanistan and the aftermath of a war that lasted two decades, Dr. Carter Malkasian presented on March 3, 2022, a talk about the US’s recent experience in Afghanistan and the lessons drawn from that experience. Dr. Malkasian also discussed his recent book The American War in Afghanistan: A History, published by Oxford UP, 2021. The lecture took place at Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. Among the attendees were Indiana University Ex-President Michael McRobbie, former Indian ambassador Rakesh Sood, a group of Indiana University distinguished professors, and many graduate students. (more…)
This is an excerpt from a story I wrote about hiking in Badakhshan, the mountainous autonomous region of Tajikistan, and my experiences as a Fulbright Scholar in 2018. The full story is published in the Canadian adventure magazine Outpost:
The air is cool, and I tighten the cords on my backpack and head into the village toward the steep seven-kilometre hike to the top of the mountain in front of me. My goal this morning is to reach the ancient Yamchun Fortress, a third-century BC outpost along the Silk Road, which served the dual purposes of controlling the flow of goods across this region and protecting the area from foreign invaders.
Mulla Jaziri was a Kurdish Mystic, Poem, and Philosopher. He weaved his Sufi experience on Love and Beauty to reveal the manifestation of Being (God) by using the multiple symbols and metaphors in the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish.
The following couplet reveals how the poet’s mystical thought has profound roots in love:
“The Almighty writes the Love for our destiny from the eternal when sharing the fortunes” (Diwan, Terci-i Bend, 1/5; p.188) (more…)
In 1929, a young Swedish librarian arrived in the Silk Road city of Kashgar. He was there to study a language and a people at the time both called “Turki,” which are now generally referred to as Uyghur. The librarian, Gunnar Jarring, would recount some decades later in his Return to Kashgar (Durham: Duke University Press, 1986) the vibrant and lively city, in which the local Turki population went about their daily business in ways that were inextricably intertwined with Islam. He does not use those exact words, but it is very clear from both his account and many of the texts he brought back to Sweden, that Turki and Islamic culture were inextricably intertwined to the point that one could not talk, or even think, about one of them without running headlong into the other. The version of Islam that Jarring describes was not one of highly-educated mollas trained in one of the great centers of Islamic learning (though they certainly existed, too) but one of people, and more precisely one of people going about their daily lives. (more…)