My closest friends have heard me say it before, “I’m counting on pork to get me to heaven.” Irreverent though that sentiment may seem, this is because refraining from eating pork is about the only thing I do purely for the pleasure of God. I don’t expect any health benefits from my abstinence and it certainly doesn’t give me a lot of social cache, it doesn’t bolster my ego or make me feel like a super pious person; it’s just… Read more

We often hear that fasting in Ramadan makes us understand the plight of the poor better as going hungry for a month gives us an insight into what it is like to go hungry. And indeed, the experience of hunger day after day over the course of a month does spur many Muslims to action, whether it be sending charity to neighborhoods or countries where poverty runs deep, volunteering in a soup kitchen here in the States, or contributing to… Read more

I wrote a version of this poem some time ago; this revision seems appropriate to the declaration of “the Islamic State” in what used to be parts of Iraq (and may yet again be parts of Iraq). When Prophet Muhammad came to rule in Medina, he established a multi-religious state where Christian, Jew and Muslim were free to follow their religious beliefs.  We are told over and over in the Qur’an that the sins of our brothers, neighbors, co-religionists, and… Read more

When I first became Muslim, I figured that I would fast Ramadan every year until I died. Then I got married and got pregnant. I worried about the effect that fasting would have on the development of my unborn baby. Research led me to believe that fasting while pregnant was not a good idea, for the baby or for me.  When I looked to the the Qur’an  for guidance I was relieved to read: O You who have attained to… Read more

It’s that time of year again… the month of Ramadan, a time of joy and community fellowship, of shared devotion to purity and piety. It’s difficult to convey why a month of privation is such a meaningful and blessed experience for so many, why people look forward to Ramadan so eagerly. It seems contra-intuitive that a month of fasting from first light to sunset would be something to treasure, and yet for millions of Muslims around the world, Ramadan is… Read more

Today the White House called on universities to more aggressively combat sexual assaults on campus. ““Colleges and universities need to face the facts about sexual assault,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said. “No more turning a blind eye or pretending it doesn’t exist. We need to give victims the support they need, like a confidential place to go, and we need to bring the perpetrators to justice.” He could have been addressing the Muslim world. As a community, we… Read more

The news that Brandeis University cancelled the honorary degree it was planning to give Ayaan Hirsi Ali has raised a storm of controversy. On one side  were Muslims applauding the move as an apt recognition that Ali’s narrative was, if not Islamophobic in itself, fodder for the cannons of the rabid Islamophobic right. On the other were those protesting that the withdrawal represented a betrayal of freedom of speech and a cowardly retreat in face of the howling of religious… Read more

Editors’ Note: This article is part of a Public Square conversation Women in Religious Leadership. Read other perspectives here. The American Muslim community is eager to promote the notion that Islam is favorable to women’s leadership. We talk about the Prophet and how he encouraged women’s education, and praised his female companions for bravery in times of war. We quote verses from the Qur’an that demonstrate equality between the sexes. We point to Aisha and how she was respected as a scholar,… Read more

A Ugandan newspaper has published a list of what it called the country’s 200 top homosexuals, outing some who previously had not identified themselves as gay, just one day after the president enacted a harsh anti-gay law calling for life imprisonment for gays and lesbians. The Red Pepper tabloid published the names and some pictures in a front-page story under the headline: “EXPOSED!” In 2011, a Ugandan gay activist was killed after his name appeared in a similar list published… Read more

  As we draw close to International Women’s Day, I have been thinking about the impact of language and our perceptions of God.  Take for instance, this passage from the Qur’an, Surah Shams: Chapter 91. THE SUN 1  By the sun in its morning brightness 2  And by the moon as it follows it, 3  By the day as it displays the sun’s glory 4  And by the night as it conceals it, 5  By the sky and how He… Read more

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