The Muslim community often fails to successfully articulate to a non-Muslim audience its understanding of common norms. For example, it remains alienated largely on questions related to gender, whether it be veiling, women's rights, gender roles, and so on. At the same time, the community struggles within when it comes to realizing true gender equality. With forums such as my web magazine, Altmuslimah.com, it is possible to strive to fill that communication gap by fostering meaningful, compelling dialogue that is illuminating not just for Muslims, but also non-Muslims seeking to learn more about gender issues in Islam.

Altmuslimah's contributors argue passionately for what they believe and the comments section is always alive with constructive feedback and sincere attempts at dealing with tough issues and finding workable solutions. Altmuslimah is, in this sense, uniquely probing. Its readers and contributors rarely engage in identity politics, instead focusing on a clear articulation of Muslim beliefs and socio-spiritual experiences. By taking control of their own narratives, Altmuslimah's writers make it less likely that others may attribute motives to them. They are sincere, but not apologetic, and are ultimately comfortable with disagreement.

In the coming century, the Muslim community in the U.S. and abroad will be faced with challenges that require a concerted and critical response. There is a great burden on community leaders to meet these challenges with an eye to the future, rather than simply predicating current behavior on past examples. A burden of proof has been placed on the Muslim community to prove that its religious tenets stand up to the scrutiny of international human rights standards. In addition to a general mistrust of the perceived heritage of such standards, variant interpretations of Islam and conflicting cultural identities complicate such a task. To adequately meet the challenges ahead, the Muslim community must be willing to actively and openly engage both its members as well as outside communities. The Muslim community must not be afraid to ask the question, "What does it mean to be a Muslim today?"    

Disclaimer: The views represented here are the author's alone and do not represent the views of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty or www.altmuslimah.com.

 

Asma T. Uddin is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of altmuslimah.com. She is also an international law attorney with The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-profit, non-partisan, public interest law firm based in Washington, D.C.  Asma's writing has appeared in Muslim Girl Magazine, altmuslim, beliefnet, and in the Guardian's Comment is Free. She is also an expert panelist for the Washington Post/Newsweek blog, On Faith, and a contributor to Huffington Post Religion, CNN's Belief Blog, and Common Ground News. Her more scholarly work has been published in the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, The Review of Faith & International Affairs, and the St. Thomas University Law Journal.