Storytelling to Restore the Sacred in Our Lives by Najeeba Syeed Miller

I was recently offering a workshop to a group of Muslim educators from all types of ethnic, racial and community backgrounds. One of my points in the training on conflict resolution was the importance of story telling,the many ways that stories are formed, told and uttered in different cultural contexts. Sometimes, the content of the story is less important that the WAY we tell the story. We talked about how to listen to the form of the story being told, its inherent design logic, and what we learn about a person and her community from the way she chooses to tell her story especially in times of conflict. For it is in conflict times that we resort to what is most familiar and sacred to us all.

For years, I have had the honor of being a peacemaker, a mediator who listens to people’s stories. I jokingly told a colleague that I could tell what they were thinking even as they were telling their story just by the way they sat, how their hands moved, whether they looked away at certain points or by what they also did not say. It is important to hear a story being told as a fully embodied experience. The words, the way they are arranged, the flow of the narrative, its resonance with body language give you a more complete vision and experience of the story and insights into the storyteller. Continue reading “Storytelling to Restore the Sacred in Our Lives by Najeeba Syeed Miller”

The Crying of an Ant: Finding a Theory of Change by Najeeba Syeed Miller

Qur’an 27:18: Till, when they came upon a valley [full] of ants, an ant exclaimed: “O you ants! Get into your dwellings, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you without [even] being aware [of you]!” – 27:19: Thereupon [Solomon] smiled joyously at her words, and said: “O my Sustainer! Inspire me so that I may forever be grateful for those blessings of Thine with which Thou hast graced me and my parents, and that I may do what is right [in a manner] that will please Thee; and include me, by Thy grace, among Thy righteous servants!” –

This story of the ants and Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon) is often taught to young Muslim children. The story goes on with Prophet Sulaiman hearing the cries of the chief of ants and stopping his army so that the ants may peacefully go along on with their work. Some commentaries include a further conversation between the chief of ants and the Prophet Sulaiman. I am studying this story with my five year old son and as we delved into it and the lessons one might learn as a child, I thought too about the morals I might derive from the story as an adult. Continue reading “The Crying of an Ant: Finding a Theory of Change by Najeeba Syeed Miller”

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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