Slavery and God/dess by amina wadud

amina 2014 - croppedWell the Golden Globe awards have been handed out.  I don’t have a television, so I didn’t actually watch, but a quick google search gives the results.  Highest honors go to a movie about blacks as slaves and whites as criminals.  That’s appropriate. 

But this is feminism and religion, so let me get to the point.  It’s about a chance discussion on social media about the “merciful god” and historical institutions like slavery (holocaust, or oppressions like misogyny, homophobia, Islamaphobia and others…).

My view of the divine, the cosmos and of the world is shaped by my slave ancestry.  Recent area studies about Islam in America estimate that one third of the Africans forced to the Americas were Muslim.   My first African relative on US soil identified as Moor (another term used for “Muslim”).  But Islam did not survive slavery. Continue reading “Slavery and God/dess by amina wadud”

Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim and Ar-Rahm by Jameelah X. Medina

 [The Most Compassionate, Beneficent, Ever-Merciful and the Womb]

In the Islamic tradition, there are numerous Names of Allah of which 99 are said to be known. Of these 99 Names or Attributes of Allah, two open the Qur’an in the very first line in the first chapter: ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim. The Qur’an begins with, “Bi ismiAllahi ar-Rahmani ar-Rahim [in the Name of God, The Beneficent, The Merciful]…” These two names are also ubiquitously repeated by Muslims when reciting from the Qur’an, initiating prayers, commencing events and gatherings, and more.

Although I am not particularly interested in etymology, I have long been fascinated by these two Names or Attributes of Allah coming from the same root as the word for “womb” and “mercy”—ar-rahm and ar-rahma respectively. Since all of human creation is brought into physical being through a womb I had so many questions: 1) Of all the root words that could have been used to establish the meaning of these opening words of the Qur’an to describe the Creator, why were words that relate to the womb, wom(b)anhood, female anatomy, and motherhood chosen instead of some phallic symbol of power and creation?; 2) How is mercy, beneficence, compassion, and graciousness related to the womb in Arabic?; 3) Was this Allah’s way of elevating the status of women at that time in that time and among the people to whom the Qur’an was originally revealed?; 4) If the female attribute of a womb  is related to these two Attributes of Allah, is the womb godly? Is the wom(b)man divine?; and lastly, 5) Could we have all been created from the figurative or even literal Womb of Allah making Allah The Great Mother of all creation? Continue reading “Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim and Ar-Rahm by Jameelah X. Medina”

Nelson Mandela to hell? by amina wadud

Amina Wadud 2 I am Muslim, by choice, practice and vocation

As I am transiting back into America from Asia, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela made his final transition from our collective human lives to the next dominion. (I mention my transition only to apologize for not continuing with the third installment on Vipassana; sometimes real life—or death –gets in the way).

Instead, I want to say a few words about the man President Obama referred to as “the last great hero of the 20th Century.” First the personal glimpse: I got to shake hands with Mandela when he included Malaysia among those countries he visited upon release from a 27 year prison term. It was 1991 and I felt the wind of change. In a small country like Malaysia it’s easier to get up close and personal with a national guest of this stature. No big deal (but I did tell my friends I wouldn’t wash my hand for a week!).

The beginnings of my own deep considerations about gender in Islam were under way at this same time and in fact got their biggest boost when I visited South Africa for the first time. The whole nation was marking 100 days in the Mandela presidency. Every fiber in the air sparkled with the intensity of change. I became friends with South African Muslims who had struggled side by side with comrades from all races and religions in the movement to tumble apartheid. Sometimes they’d had to stand against conservative members of their own Muslim community to form such alliances. Continue reading “Nelson Mandela to hell? by amina wadud”

A Reflection on Feminist Theology and the Real Woman by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

 Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente. Feminism and TheologyThe XVII Conference of Latin American Religious Alternatives is being held this week in Porto Alegre, Brazil. This event will bring together scholars and researchers from across the continent to talk together about religion, integration, and identity. I will be presenting three papers, all about Islamic feminism. I am pleased to have such a space to discuss new ways of understanding the phenomenon of religion in Latin America and the role of feminism in Latin American religion.  I want to share some of my personal reflections regarding gender, feminism and religion with you today.   

It is true that today all so-called ‘major’ religions—Islam, too—are patriarchal and male minded. It would be a fall into denial to say that abuses in the name of religion do not have a concrete impact on the lives of many women around the world. While it is possible to differentiate between what the Qur’an says and the discourse of patriarchy on Islam, the reality is that it is this patriarchy that dominates our understanding of religion

The revealed messages have been used to reinforce gender oppression in bans on “women’s issues” from therapeutic abortion to driving a car. But we know these bans do not come from the holy books themselves, as the revealed messages can support a reading of oppression or liberation. The problems are the historical authority of sexist readings as criteria of truth and the incorporation of androcentrism as the axis in relation to the divine. Sexist readings and androcentrism both give rise to oppression and violence in the name of God.

Feminists have denounced these abuses over and over again. Many feminists say religions are patriarchal, so let’s leave them without feminist intervention. I think this is not enough. We need to recognize that the religious world is patriarchal. We must name and draw attention to women and their contributions to the development of religion. We must also remove the legitimacy and authority of the androcentric understandings of the spiritual, which have caused much damage throughout history. Feminism in religion is essential.

It is often said that feminists want to undermine the foundations of the faith. Who says this? The same people who justify the exploitation of human beings, the degradation of women, and wars in the name of a God whose message is peace, mercy and social justice. But I ask—is it so dangerous that women and groups historically segregated from society want to own their spiritual experiences and live them autonomously?

What kind of God is adored by those who oppose our approaching the Divine from a feminist point of view? Just listening to their diatribes is to know that it is misogyny and not piety that motivates their messages. Misogyny also lies behind the violence against women. And behind the violence lurks the fear.

Beyond the Female Believer

Patriarchy has silenced its fear and built an “ideal believer” to legitimize the control of women in religion. But feminists no longer want to remain silent and obedient. We are seek to respond by creating our own theologies.

However, even in feminist theology, heteronormativity is still present. It is a bias that still sees gays, lesbians, trans and queer people as “abnormal” outsiders. This approach validates the patriarchal ideas of “minority” and “marginality” regarding the male-female heteronormative assumptions that dominate the religious world.

Dismantling the patriarchy in religion is not only about making the feminine more visible in the mystical, historical, and experiential approaches to religion. We must also demystify and dismantle the axis of androcentrism and heteronormativity and the hold it has in the academy and the “mainstream”.

For example, more than once, sisters who call themselves feminists, have called me “whore,” “deviant,” and “immoral” for my queer understanding of gender roles and my critique of marriage as “half the Deen” [the Islamic idea that for women marriage completes their faith, which in Arabic is ‘Deen’], a replica of the romantic patriarchal discourse of the “other half” that is so damaging to the autonomy and the self-esteem of women in the real world.

This is a problem. Feminism in religion is not landing in the everyday lives of women. Feminist theology still speaks to a woman who is cis-gendered and heterosexual, who wants to marry and have children. Feminist theology is still quoting patriarchy.

The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house

The reality is that not all women in religious communities are heterosexual, not all heterosexuals wish to get married, and not all married woman understand their position in marriage as subordinate and complementary to the male.

Along with eliminating the patriarchal “revelations,” feminists who theorize regarding faith must be decolonized from the need to build another “perfect believer.” We should not assume an archetype of woman, as this exercise gives authority to patriarchy’s model of the female believer that imprisons women in destructive and limited dimensions with labels like saint, mother, and whore.

I think we must remove from women the roles that are supposed to make them proper “believers.” In fact, I think we have to destroy once and for all both the concept of “believer” itself and the category of “woman” as we know it in religion. Assessing the degree of spiritual development and the agency of the religious woman according to the degree of her functionality as a “Model” is NOT emancipatory, but is both limited and sexist. If there are “role models,” someone will always be outside the norm.

Instead, let us take over the theologies and feminisms, regain power over ourselves, and raise awareness in communities that feminism is not only a field of study and analysis but also an outlook on life. We can legitimize the authority of the feminist perspectives of religion, and commit sacrilege against the exemplary women and models that are imposed on us.  Let us not talk anymore about “Muslim women” or “Christian women” or “Jewish women,” but about ourselves as women.

Above all, and essentially, we must act on behalf of women of everyday, on behalf of those women who do not want to be “perfect believers,” but who want to be happy and fulfill their goals in a world that belittles them in many ways on a daily basis. Reasonable, imperfect, diverse and ‘under-construction’ women were created by God to be in this world as an expression of life and humanity.

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente is a Writer, Mentor and Community Educator in Capacity Building for Grass Roots Female Leaders and Advocates. A Muslim Feminist who is an Independent Researcher of Gender and Islam in Latin America on Feminist Hermeneutics, Muslim Women Representations, Queer Identities and Movement Building. She blogs in Spanish at Mezquita de Mujeres, a site dedicated to explore the links between Gender, Religion and Feminism as well to Women from the Global South as Change Makers in their communities.

Size Islam: Where do I fit in? by Jameelah X. Medina

Size Islam: Where do I fit in?

Reading Laury Silvers’ recent post caused me to reflect upon not only how my body is gendered in worship as a Muslim woman, but how my body is displaced, inconvenient, and often seen as an assault on thinner women’s, and even Islamic, sensibilities. This is a phenomenon in the prayer line, on prayer mats, in socio-religious gatherings, and even in online discussions with Muslims and other major religions.

I am usually the tallest (or among the tallest) women in mosques I have frequented. I am also obese and among the largest women in the mosque. I enjoy lifting weights, which also causes me to have very large thighs and arms and broad shoulders. Additionally, I have long feet, as well as wide hips and a large backside that no amount of fabric can hide. Among girlfriends, I’ve often referred to my shape as a “three-hour glass.” Needless to say, some shorter and smaller people find my frame imposing. Continue reading “Size Islam: Where do I fit in? by Jameelah X. Medina”

Saudi Women Drive by amina wadud

Amina Wadud 2 I am Muslim, by choice, practice and vocation

Saudi Women Drive

So what’s the big deal in that? Thanks for asking.

I have been actively spreading the word, giving support and showing my enthusiasm for the Saudi women’s initiative to be permitted to drive their own cars.  I celebrate with them the success of this latest initiate on October 26th which was without government backlash.  About 60 women took to the wheel. None were arrested, detained, fired from their jobs, harassed in the streets, or banished from their communities.  We call that progress.  Continue reading “Saudi Women Drive by amina wadud”

Hajar: of the desert by amina wadud

Amina Wadud 2 I am Muslim, by choice, practice and vocation

This week the Islamic pilgrimage or Hajj was completed.  For those not gathering on the dusty plains of the desert in Arabia, we have the celebration of the Feast of the Sacrifice, commemorating the exchange of a lamb for the blood of the son of Abraham.  This story is coated with patriarchy, and so it is with some fascination that Hajar (biblical Hagar) configures so significantly in the Islamic telling of it.

According to the same patriarchal twist, it is Abraham’s first son that is pivotal to the story’s continuation and the salvation of a people, yet to be born.  That his first son, Ishmael, was born of a slave woman—some say of African origins—is not without extreme symbolism for African-American women, mostly Christian.  That she is the mother of the tribes of Arabs is also not without some extreme genealogy along with that symbolism. But that she a single female head of household, whose sojourn in the desert still, has a central ritual re-enactment in the Hajj, that I turn to here. Continue reading “Hajar: of the desert by amina wadud”

Letter to Allah by Jameelah X. Medina

Would we eat without the pangs of hunger? Would we drink without feeling thirst? Would we sleep without feeling fatigue or drowsiness? Would we cry without feeling sorrow? These are some questions I’ve asked myself when I wonder why so many people tend to find God, religion, or spirituality in times of great dis-ease and despair. Suddenly, I felt inspired to write a letter to God thanking Her for all that She is and for all that I am. In labyrinthical terms, this is my letter to the God in me that resides within me in God.

Letter to Allah Continue reading “Letter to Allah by Jameelah X. Medina”

When Some People Say “Religion” They Mean “My” Religion by amina wadud

Amina Wadud 2 I am Muslim, by choice, practice and vocation

I came to live in India after having already lived in other parts of Asia. Naively, I anticipated that the best of my Asian living experiences would be manifest in India and this centered on a dynamic encounter with diverse religious communities. I have thus been disappointed that the ideals of diversity have given way to exceptionalism and exclusivity.

For example, members of one religion are not encouraged to or interested in visiting the sacred spaces of other religions. In fact, in most cases, they are prohibited. To be sensitive to these constraints I do not visit any sacred place, no matter how much I have wanted, unless I am given permission as a Muslim. (Coincidentally, I am also prohibited as a woman from entering some of the sacred Muslim spaces!)

As a (retired) professor of religious studies I would like to think I can be a respectful observer. Nevertheless, I have little ability to internalize the notion of taboo. That is, I cannot understand that any space constructed by human beings would be defiled by the entry of another human being. My history of social and political advocacy against all forms of oppression just cannot find a space to accept this notion that one person is irredeemably taboo. Continue reading “When Some People Say “Religion” They Mean “My” Religion by amina wadud”

Forgiveness (is a two-way street) by amina wadud

Amina Wadud 2 I am Muslim, by choice, practice and vocation

I don’t know why this came to me as the discussion I want to have in blog form today, but here you go–

Imam al-Ghazzali (d. 1111) said that Allah (God) only stops forgiving when the believer stops asking for forgiveness.  This is the crux of the Islamic view of divine forgiveness.  Start with the fact that we have NO FALL story, because despite mis-conduct in the Garden, Adam and Eve ASKED for and were granted forgiveness.  Thus, they leave without the mark of some eternal “original sin.”  They live as we all do, here on earth, not as some punishment but because that is where they were intended to live in the first place.  The creation story in Islam describes human creation as per a primordial conversation between the Creator and the unseen creatures known as angels, when God says, “Indeed, I will create ON THE EARTH a khalifah (moral agent, vice-regent of God).”

Thus, the relationship between divine forgiveness and human sin or error is fixed in a dialectic where sin and error might be part and parcel of the human being but likewise forgiveness is part and parcel of the Divine Creator.  In fact, the language used is telling.  Taubah, which is also translated as forgiveness, means “returning to the original place/station.”  Our original place is at one with the Creator, and we are in that station in harmony with all of creation ~ a sort of cosmic bliss.  When we err, we fall away from our true nature and the nature of the entire universe so must return to realign ourselves with this cosmic harmony… and everything will be alright. Continue reading “Forgiveness (is a two-way street) by amina wadud”

Why I Try to Stay Away From the Media by amina wadud

Amina Wadud 2 I am Muslim, by choice, practice and vocation

Recently a controversy broke out surrounding a University talk I was to give in Tamil Nadhu, here in India.  That visit was to include a workshop and several meetings, including one with the all women Jamaat or STEP – the first of its kind in the context of the male dominated personal status law scenario in India).

This is how the events unfolded:  Before I came to India last year, I began communications with various Non-Government Organizations on gender and justice in Islam and with academics or others related to the study of Islam.  At that time an invitation to visit Madras University was extended to me. It took the better part of the year to get the details sorted out.  Meanwhile, I traveled throughout India, spoke at about a dozen Universities and several community organizations (including mosques), and started a book club discussing reformist Islam with interested persons in Kerala. Continue reading “Why I Try to Stay Away From the Media by amina wadud”

Tug-of-Warring over the Female Body (Part 2 of 2) by Jameelah X. Medina

Cover up! No, get naked!

Haraam [Sin]; cover yourself! Be free; show some skin!

AstaghfirAllah [seeking forgiveness from God]; aren’t you ashamed?! Damn, aren’t you hot in that?!

The Muslim woman’s body feels like a battleground with essentialized feminism on one side (covered in Part I) and patriarchy on the other. Both sides have Muslim women on their team, but both sides also harm and silence them. This second part deals with “Team Haraaminator.”

The Haraaminators are kind of like “Daddy Longlegs” or “Momma Longreaches” who hold their wives, daughters, sisters, and even extended sisters in faith close to the chest with their long-legged grips. They come in the male and female variety. They believe that all women should be covered and wearing at least a headscarf. They speak with authority about the headscarf and how important it is for a woman in her pursuit of piety, virtue, modesty, chastity, and heaven. Some allow questioning the headscarf while others take it as a decree from Allah that should never be interrogated. Many use the Qur’an and ahadith (prophetic sayings and doings) to arrive at their opinions while other haraaminators just go by what their shaykh, imam, father, mother, friend or others have told them is the Islamic ruling on the headscarf. Continue reading “Tug-of-Warring over the Female Body (Part 2 of 2) by Jameelah X. Medina”

To Blog or Not to Blog? Is That Even a Question..? by amina wadud

Amina Wadud 2 I am Muslim, by choice, practice and vocationI just want to introduce myself to this blogging forum Feminism and Religion. I will join and then try to keep some kind of pace, so before I jump right in on this that or the other personal and or political topic of interest or inspiration, let me locate myself in blog-relative terms.

The first time I ever participated in a public forum blog was also related to women and religion, but with the word “spirituality” in its title.  For me, there is no divide: to discuss religion I must discuss feminism, and to discuss feminism, I must discuss spirituality.  You will see how these are interwoven, contested and re-woven as the time goes by for me here: blog-wise.

I am Muslim, by choice, practice and vocation. Meaning, I accepted Islam as my way of life, after a loving relationship as a daughter of a Methodist Minister. I was not yet 21.  Now I am 60. The years in between have allowed me to both intra-face within my religion of choice but also to inter-face with religions worldwide and across a wide spectrum of commitments by the followers. Currently, I live in India (about which you will undoubtedly hear a great deal).  Continue reading “To Blog or Not to Blog? Is That Even a Question..? by amina wadud”

They Don’t Know Me by Jameelah X. Medina

A spoken word piece… 

They think I’m uneducated, relegated to the sidelines of life, desecrated and infected mind with cultish, hocus pocish, dogma of misogyny; my worth based solely on my progeny!?…

They think I’m silent, ruled by a tyrant, never speakin’ unless spoken to, hiding scars and contusions too?! Continue reading “They Don’t Know Me by Jameelah X. Medina”

Tug-of-Warring over the Female Body (Part 1 of 2) by Jameelah X. Medina

Cover up! No, get naked!

Haraam [Sin]; cover yourself! Be free; show some skin!

AstaghfirAllah [seeking forgiveness from God]; aren’t you ashamed?! Damn, aren’t you hot in that?!

The Muslim woman’s body feels like a battleground, especially during times like last month (April) with the whole FEMEN “topless jihad” controversy sparked by the Tunisian woman who protested the female body as a source a familial honor. On one side is essentialized feminism and patriarchy on the other end with both sides pulling hard. Both sides have Muslim women on their team, but both sides also harm them. Let’s start with “Team Femesential.”

Questioning the headscarf and certain covering practices is mostly a healthy endeavor in which many Muslim girls and women engage before and after deciding (if they do) to wear a headscarf. However, questioning the headscarf can also be an oppressive and even dismissive strategy that is disrespectful to Muslim women and to all women in general. Continue reading “Tug-of-Warring over the Female Body (Part 1 of 2) by Jameelah X. Medina”

Taking Back the Caliphate: The Role of Muslim Women as Agents of Social Justice by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente. Muslim Women as Caliphs.Whenever we talk of Muslim women, two dominant discourses reach our ears. The first is about women of the past who may serve as role models, such as Aisha, Fatima, and Khadija (ra). This perspective, which I call the historical approach, presents an ideal woman with qualities we should strive to develop, values that make life possible with more comfort and a deepening of our imam (faith). These values include wisdom, loyalty, courage, justice, perseverance, faith, independence, and generosity.

The second discourse is based on stereotypes and presents Muslim women as passive and without initiative. I call this the objectification approach, which says that Muslim women are oppressed and sees us as objects without voice or power, subject to the tyranny of the hijab (headscarf), and in need of someone to save us from the bondage of religion and from men, who, incidentally, are all terrorists. Continue reading “Taking Back the Caliphate: The Role of Muslim Women as Agents of Social Justice by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Women as Stairways to Heaven by Jameelah X. Medina

In mainstream Islam, the ways and sayings of Prophet Muhammad are second in importance only to the Qur’an. There are two prophetic sayings pften quoted when speaking about the high status of women in Islam: 1) “Whoever has two daughters and treats them kindly, they will be a protection for him against the Fire;” and “Paradise lies beneath her [the mother’s] feet.”  These sayings influenced a growingly famous Islamic scholar who stated, “When she is a daughter, she opens a door to jannah [paradise/heaven] for her father. When she is a wife, she completes half of the deen [religion/way of life] of her husband. When she is a mother, jannah lies under her feet. If everyone knew the true status of a Muslim woman in Islam, even the men would want to be women.” This quote is being reposted all over social media sites by both Muslim men and women.

On the surface, the quote is lovely. It works to combat the stereotype of the lowly Muslim woman who has no standing in her religious community. It is posted as proof that women have great status in Islam. However, this quote and the prophetic sayings also have a problematic implication. When I read these quotes, I don’t see them talking about the status of Muslim women. The quotes are very specific and apply ONLY to women who are daughters, women who are wives, and women who are mothers. The implication is that, even though Muslim women and men are from a single soul and have the same essence (the Islamic perspective), women still are not sufficient enough for praise, reverence, and respect just by virtue of being women. They must be some man’s daughter, wife, or mother in order to enjoy elevated status. What does this say to women without fathers, women without husbands, and women without children? It tells them that they have not yet arrived; they are goals yet unrealized. Simply put, they are not enough. Continue reading “Women as Stairways to Heaven by Jameelah X. Medina”

Response to “The Islamic Solution to Stop Domestic Violence” by Samar Esapzai, Shireen Ahmed, Vanessa D. Rivera, Ayesha Asghar, and Hyshyama Hamin

0 0 This article is in response to a post by Qasim Rashid of the Muslim Writers Guild of America titled, “The Islamic Solution to Stop Domestic Violence” published in the Huffington Post‘s Religion Blog on March 5th, 2012.

Although this post came to our attention a year after it was written, as young Muslim women who have worked with and/or written about gender-based violence issues that have  personally affected some of us, we deemed it fit to respond. Also, the points we will discuss here are not only limited to the particular post written by Rashid, but rather address similar arguments that have been made by other writers as well on this issue.

0_20_3It is a concern to us that Rashid uses the Quran verse 4:34* and proposes that it contains the “Islamic solution” to domestic violence. He states that according to the perspective of an American social scientist Dr. James Q. Wilson, known for his controversial works on the criminal justice system, men are more prone to anger and aggression and less capable of self-restraint than women. This, we assume, the author took from Wilson’s essay, “The Future of Blame” in which he cites what he calls “the claim” of research by neuropsychiatrist Dr. Louann Brizendine.  Interestingly, Wilson is also a rational choice theorist on the causation of crime and violence; he argues that individuals make clear, rational decisions after evaluating all possibilities and do that which benefits them the most. Continue reading “Response to “The Islamic Solution to Stop Domestic Violence” by Samar Esapzai, Shireen Ahmed, Vanessa D. Rivera, Ayesha Asghar, and Hyshyama Hamin”

Muslim Masculinities: Men Have Gender Too by Kecia Ali

Twenty years ago, when I was an undergraduate, another student in a history seminar casually referred to women as “people of gender.” He was not being ironic. At the time, I felt amused and superior and frustrated: not only did he not get it but he really didn’t get it. Two decades later, my amusement has taken on a rueful tinge: despite the formulaic acknowledgment that masculinity and femininity are reciprocally constructed, “gender” scholarship in my field, Islamic Studies, has focused almost exclusively on women.

That is, until recently. Scholars, especially anthropologists, have begun serious work on Muslim masculinities; increasingly, those of us more historically and textually inclined are joining the party. My own first forays into these waters treated the equivocal masculinity of enslaved males as part of a larger project on marriage in early Muslim law. In my current project on views of Muhammad, the question of masculinity emerges much more centrally, and in strikingly different ways in works by feminists and neo-traditionalists (who lay claim to reproducing the “authentic” tradition even as they are thoroughly modern in many ways). Continue reading “Muslim Masculinities: Men Have Gender Too by Kecia Ali”

At the Intersection of Gender, Religion, and Race by Jameelah X. Medina

Since 9/11, many Muslim women in the USA are in a similar predicament as what African American and Chicana women found themselves in decades ago during the Black Power and Chicano Power Movements. African American and Chicana women stood along side African American and Chicano men to fight against oppression and injustices against them by the power structure and the people in positions of power. In both movements, women’s issues were relegated to the sidelines; they were only visible in the periphery of decision-making. Both African American women and Chicanas decided that they had to stand up for themselves and call it like they saw it—they were being oppressed and marginalized in mainstream society because of their race and ethnicity and also within their racial group because of gender.  Continue reading “At the Intersection of Gender, Religion, and Race by Jameelah X. Medina”

Walking in the Footsteps of Mary by Najeeba Syeed Miller

As I walked into the “House of Mary”
in Turkey, our guide said, “As many Muslims as Christians come to visit this last home of Sayyidah Maryam (form of respectful way to refer to Mary, Mother of Jesus). The veracity of the historical claims of whether this was her home continue to be debated, but the relevance of her role in Muslim narratives continues to inform my community, and is also cherished by those of us who are mothers.

A Mother’s Heart
The verses of Surah Maryam in the Qur’an are oft recited throughout the history of Muslims and at times had great significance. Some scholars point to the bridge that these verses helped to build between the Muslims who were fleeing persecution and the Christian Abyssinian Negus (king) who gave these early Muslims asylum and safety in his Christian country.Beyond the way that the Jesus (or Prophet Esa, upon him be peace is referred to in Arabic and by Muslims) figures into Muslim religious history, so too does his mother hold a place of significance. Continue reading “Walking in the Footsteps of Mary by Najeeba Syeed Miller”

Hidden Spirituality: The Life of a Muslim Family By Najeeba Syeed-Miller

The following is a guest post written by Najeeba Syeed-Miller, J.D., Professor of Interreligious Education at Claremont School of Theology. She has extensive experience in mediating conflicts among communities of ethnic and religious diversity, and has won awards for her peacemaking and public interest work.  Najeeba also writes her own blog, “Najeeba’s world,” and can be followed on Twitter @najeebasyeed. 

This article was originally posted at Muslim Voices.

Recently, I was asked to write an entry for a book that will be coming out about spiritual development. Initially, I did as many would do think about my introduction to religion as a topic I was taught in an academic setting.

However, as I reflected more deeply, I realized that much of what I know of my faith comes from my mother and the way that she embodied her religion. Here is an excerpt of how she affected me growing up: Continue reading “Hidden Spirituality: The Life of a Muslim Family By Najeeba Syeed-Miller”

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