“New Muslim Cool” as Teaching Tool

Kelly J. Baker In one song, they rap, “We don’t care about the Patriot Act,” and in another, they state, “bin Laden didn’t blow up the projects–it was you.”

Indian Summers: “You’re a Bloodthirsty Sepoy, Man!” Edition

Michael J. Altman and Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst This is our second in a series of discussions about the PBS Masterpiece series Indian Summers, airing Sunday nights at 9 pm EST on PBS. Sacred Matter’s managing editor Michael J. Altman and Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Vermont, will offer their reviews of the series as it airs in the United States. Don’t miss their analysis of episodes 1 and 2NOTE: THERE ARE SPOILERS 

Peace, Love, and World Religions?

Brian Pennington In 1893, Presbyterian minister John Henry Barrows opened the inaugural World’s Parliament of Religion in Chicago by inviting the first-ever assembly of religious leaders from across the globe to join him in a “act of common worship” and to sing Isaac Watt’s Trinitarian re-write of the 100th Psalm. This less-than-catholic invocation, which concludes with the call to “Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost,” was followed by a similar gesture when Cardinal James Gibbons recited the Lord’s Prayer, which Barrow declared the “universal prayer” that would open each of the Parliament’s seventeen days.

“Islam” is Not a Person

Hussein Rashid There is an idea of “Islam,” as a signifier of something foreign and threatening, that continues to plague American discussion of the religion. It is part of the shooting in Chattanooga, and it part of the debate around the Iran nuclear deal. This view of Islam has been part of how America has defined itself since the founding of the country.

Images of Muhammad

Hussein Rashid “What does Islam say about images?” It is a question that seeks to understand religion through unitary and static prescriptions. At its core, the question is about what is “Islamic.” Such a question is problematic because a community of believers decides what the religion means. Because human beings are involved, there will be differences. While there are boundaries for who a Muslim is, such as belief in monotheism, the prophethood of Muhammad, and observance of certain ritual and legal obligations.

The Ghosts of Malcolm X

S. Brent Plate

A strange set of coincidences brought Malcolm X into my life in the past month, some invisible force of history that compelled a fusion of events. It was only a month ago that I realized February 21 was the 50th anniversary of his assassination, but energies were in play long before then that brought me to encounter Malcolm’s powerful ghosts. They arrived in buildings, books, bodies, and films.

The New God of Football

By Saadia Faruqi The NFL made headlines yet again earlier this week for imposing a penalty on Muslim football player Hussain Abdullah and then promptly retracting the penalty and issuing an apology. Most people like myself heard of the apology before the penalty and had to backtrack to find out exactly what occurred on Monday night. I think Abdullah was confused by all the attention as well. His offense: prostrating in prayer after a touchdown in a game against the New England Patriots. So what? you may ask. Football players and their fans have been praying for their teams and thanking […]

Halal Hysteria and Secularity

By Hasan Azad Do Muslims belong in the West? This is the real question behind the recent halal hysteria in Britain. This is also the question behind previous—and, no doubt, future—questions about the headscarf (hijab), about the face veil (niqab), about Muslim men, about Muslim women, about Muslims and homosexuality (which is prohibited according to Islamic law), and about Muslims and violence. But staying with the issue of Muslims and animals—or, more specifically, how Muslims slaughter animals—the argument being made by a portion of the British media is that the halal method of slaughter (by slitting the animal’s throat while […]

Secularity and Secularism, Islam and Muslims: A Conversation between Daniel Martin Varisco and Hasan Azad

Hasan Azad:  Do Muslims belong in the West? This is a question that is being asked with increasing force in Euro-America. Central to the way in which this discourse is being constructed are discussions about secularism. I’m interested in exploring notions of secularity and secularism and how such ideas—as they are articulated within a Euro-American context—are imagined in opposition to Islam and to Muslims. In other words, I wonder to what extent Islam and Muslims are politicized within Euro-American discourse as a means of expressing notions of secularism and secularity. Daniel Martin Varisco:  The term “secular” has been expanded beyond […]