Over the last decade I have been so encouraged to see the same impulses that have made many of us desire “culturally indigenous” versions of our faith are happening in every stream of Christianity and in even in Judaism. A few years ago I met the good people from JumpStart and was thrilled to see many of the similarities amongst these Rabbis with what we are doing in Emergent – seeking expressions of our faith that are as fitting for our day as they can be and not being tied to the cultural expressions of other places or times.
A few weeks ago when Jeff Straka introduced me to Ani Zonneveld I was thrilled to find that she was doing this same thing in the context of Islam. In her article on AlanMedia.com she wrote about her desire for an American Islam:
Throughout history, new cultures that adopted Islam did so while keeping traditional practices. Yes, some pre-Islamic traditions were hard to do away with. Remarketed under the Islam brand, traditions such as honor killing and female genital mutilation survived. For the most part, though, the positive values of Islam—doing good deeds, being merciful—did resonate, thus the spread of Islam.
In America, Islam came by way of slavery and immigration. With immigrants come the cultural practices of Islam as defined by their ‘home’ country. Well, now that America is our home, I am making the case for an American Islam—an Islam that fits in neatly into an American glove, to go hand in hand with our American traditions.
I was also encouraged to hear that Ani is wanting to see this change come in real ways in communities and not just in theology. She is making new music; she wants to overcome the hierarchy of religious communities; she refers to her “community” not her mosque; she is part of the community and uncomfortable with the power dynamics of being called the Imam; she wants her faith to be open for all and to be expressed in all cultural situations.And, she is not alone. Her organization is Muslims For Progressive Values.
I talked with her on my radio show yesterday, and she is going to be a regular feature, which I am thrilled about. It was a great conversation. You can see it here.
So, the Seinfeld like Bizzaro World of Emergent Christian, Jews and Muslims just gets sweeter and sweeter.