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Yaaree Sort of ‘Islam’ Category

Dec
15

junaid jamshed

Thousands attended funeral prayers for singer-turned-preacher Junaid Jamshed, who was killed in the PK-661 air crash last week, after which he was laid to rest at Darul Uloom Korangi in Karachi amid tears and sobs.The prayers led by religious scholar Maulana Tariq Jameel were held at AKD Ground, DHA Phase 8, after Zuhr on Thursday (today) amid strict security Continue Reading…

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Oct
20

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What is the relation between science and religion? This is an important question. The world we inhabit today is shaped by modern science and its practical applications. The way we perceive nature is deeply informed by our understanding of the vastness of the cosmos and the complexities of the sub-atomic worlds as revealed by science. At the same time, religion is an integral part of Pakistani society, and shapes the identity of millions of its citizens. For a place like Pakistan, both science and religion are essential.

It is no surprise then that the question of the relation between science and religion often comes up in conversations. From a historical perspective, there is no single narrative that defines this relation. There have been times when religious authorities  stymied science. On other occasions, holy books have provided the inspiration, and religious institutions the support, to help discover the secrets of the universe. There have been religious scientists: Ibn al-Shattir was a muwaqqit at a mosque in Damascus, Mendel was a priest. And there have been scientists who have been vocal in their opposition to religion. Thus, it is hard to define the relation between science and religion in any other way than complex.

In Pakistan today, there seems to be consensus that science and religion are not opposed to each other. This signals a positive approach, as Pakistan needs to develop a strong scientific culture to meet the challenges of the 21st century. However, for a large majority, this view is shaped by the pseudoscience of finding scientific miracles in the Qur’an (also known as I’jaz). This is neither good science nor good religion! If many of our bright, young minds are being introduced to science this way, then the practice of I’jaz is perhaps a major impediment to the development of a vibrant scientific culture in Pakistan.

Science is driven by curiosity about the natural world. Unsolved problems attract the attention of its practitioners. The harder the problem, the more attention it gets.

For example, one of the hottest areas in astronomy today is exploring the nature of “dark matter” — we know it exists but we cannot see it, nor does it interact with ordinary matter. Some of the brightest minds are searching for dark matter in the largest particle accelerators in the world as well as in observatories looking for evidence in large galaxy clusters. We do not know when or where we will find the evidence. It is also possible (though unlikely) that someone will show that dark matter does not exist and that our inference about its existence was deeply flawed. Science will go wherever evidence will take it.

On the other hand, those who are seeking scientific miracles in the Qur’an are driven neither by curiosity about the natural world nor by the desire to find explanations of unsolved problems. Instead, they know that they already know the answer. For them, the primary goal is to seek validity of one’s own belief through the authority of science.

This search for science in scriptures is a relatively new phenomenon. It is the religious response to the advent of modernity and the rise of modern science as the most powerful method for explaining the natural world. Muslims are not alone in seeking validity from science. Christians find science in the New Testament, Jews find it in the Torah, Hindus find it in Bhagavad Gita, and Mormons find it in the Book of Mormon. Everyone is convinced that their holy book contains snippets of modern science. Take the specific case of dark matter: you can find websites and even books that claim that dark matter is already mentioned in the Qur’an (for Muslims), the Bible (for Christians), the Torah (for Jews), and Bhagavad Gita (for Hindus). Of course, everyone will be scrambling to change his or her respective interpretations if the dark matter idea turns out to be wrong.

Make no mistake. None of this is science.

It is ironic that when medieval Muslim scholars dominated natural philosophy (what we may loosely call science today), they did not seek ‘scientific miracles’ in the Qur’an. Instead, the Qur’an served as an inspiration to understand the natural world through reason.

So what can we do to rekindle the spirit of scientific culture in Pakistan? This is a large question, but we can take the small step of appreciating the joy of finding things out. From the condensation of water into rain here on Earth, to the detection of lakes of liquid methane on the Saturn’s moon, Titan. From understanding the way leaves change colours in the winter, to figuring out the how stars form in galaxies.

Science seeks answers about how the universe works. Religion provides inspiration to explore the natural world. The late American biologist Stephen J Gould called science and religion two equal but separate spheres of life, or Non-overlapping Magisteria, in his own words. The former deals with the physical world and the latter with questions of ethics and the meaning of life. The building blocks of a scientific culture in Pakistan will have to be laid upon this mutual respect and separation of these two vital spheres of life.

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Oct
17

The actor says she finally understood “why women who wear headscarves are looked at differently”

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In 2015, Hollywood star Lindsay Lohan was criticised in the US for carrying the Quran while walking the streets of New York. This year she donned a headscarf while working with Syrian refugees in Turkey and threw the media in a frenzy.

In an interview with Turkish TV channel Haber Turk, Lindsay opens up about the recent events in her life that made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The Parent Trap actor explained how she felt like an outsider in her own country after being ‘crucified’ for holding the Quran in the US.

“This was just me holding it and walking… the paparazzi had been across the street… and they crucified me for it in America. They made me seem like Satan; I was a bad person for holding the Quran. I’m so happy to have left and gone back to London after that because I felt so unsafe in my own country. And this is my belief, if this is something I want to learn then this is my personal will, it’s not for you to express,” she said.

Lindsay’s tumultuous life was in the public eye for years, she explains that her close friends in London and Saudi Arabia had given her the Quran to help her through the difficult time she was facing in the US. “[They] gave me the Quran and I brought it to New York because I was learning and it opened doors for me to experience and spiritually to find another true meaning,” she explains.

But having faced that ordeal, she finally understood “why women who wear headscarves are looked at differently,” because she felt like an ‘outsider’ too.

Earlier this month, Lindsay visited the Syrian refugees camps in Turkey and during her visit she was presented with a headscarf by one of the refugees. The headscarf on the Hollywood actor’s head soon made headlines in the West.

I met a wonderful aid worker (Azize) at The Refugee Camp in Antep. She saw that my eyes lit up when I told her that her headscarf is beautiful. She waved to me and said, come with me, I followed her and she gifted it to me. I was so moved and touched by this that I wanted to wear it in appreciation for all of the generosity and love I received from everyone at the camp. Thank you #Gaziantep #theworldisbiggerthan5 thank you @fatmasahin. Photo: Instagram
I met a wonderful aid worker (Azize) at The Refugee Camp in Antep. She saw that my eyes lit up when I told her that her headscarf is beautiful. She waved to me and said, come with me, I followed her and she gifted it to me. I was so moved and touched by this that I wanted to wear it in appreciation for all of the generosity and love I received from everyone at the camp. Thank you #Gaziantep #theworldisbiggerthan5 thank you @fatmasahin. Photo: Instagram

“When the woman put that headscarf on me, I felt really honoured because she went out of her own way to allow me to be a part of my own culture and she didn’t have to do that. I was a stranger to her,” explains the actor.

“I said I really liked the colour of her headscarf and she gave it to me, and maybe she had two and she gave me one – there’s more in the story that occurred. Because this woman took the time to give me this, and a part of herself, not even knowing me, I’m not taking it off.”

She admits that wearing the headscarf made her think twice about how the media will portray her and she was scared she that it might misconstrue as something else rather than the truth that lay behind it.

“It should make headlines [her wearing the headscarf] because in Turkey you have the free will as a woman if you want to [wear a headscarf] or if you don’t want to, that’s why it’s amazing here because you can choose why you want it and it’s accepted. Whereas in America, I’m holding the Quran and I’m the devil.”

Although Lindsay’s trip to Turkey was for a work obligation, she decided to stay. Soon things started aligning and she was helping Syrian Refugees. She feels “it’s about time we recognised the truth and start doing something.”

I can't forget Heya whom I met during my visit to the Hussein family. She couldn't care less about our gifts to her, whose mother has gone. She held me more and more tight when she sat on my lap. I sniffed her hair, took her hands and held her tight. I understood at that moment once again that we can do more for each other, that we should do more for each other. And we can start by giving support to #Turkey which did its part in this huge human tragedy called Syria by welcoming 3 million refugees. We should do more, starting today... #RefugeesWelcome #MassacreinAleppo #theworldisbiggerthan5 #love not #ignorancekills
I can’t forget Heya whom I met during my visit to the Hussein family. She couldn’t care less about our gifts to her, whose mother has gone. She held me more and more tight when she sat on my lap. I sniffed her hair, took her hands and held her tight. I understood at that moment once again that we can do more for each other, that we should do more for each other. And we can start by giving support to #Turkey which did its part in this huge human tragedy called Syria by welcoming 3 million refugees. We should do more, starting today… #RefugeesWelcome #MassacreinAleppo #theworldisbiggerthan5 #love not #ignorancekills

“Everything happens for a reason,” she explains. “I left, came back, hurt my finger, I couldn’t leave, I had to stay. But that happening to me was an eye opening experience, because everybody said ‘Should we stop? We’ll postpone everything’, and my first thought was ‘Are you kidding me?’ Why would I stop? Why would you stop because my finger hurt, when someone had their legs blown off?'”

She first got to know about the problem in Turkey through the coup, that’s when she knew she had to help. “A lot of it was around when the coup happened. Just seeing the whole country stand up for each other. That was very emotional for me. All these people in one place… all supporting one another. And that’s a really powerful, strong front.”

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Sep
27

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The science of modern cosmology, observational and theoretical, clearly indicates that, at one point in time, the whole universe was nothing but a cloud of ‘smoke’ (i.e. an opaque highly dense and hot gaseous composition).[1]  This is one of the undisputed principles of standard modern cosmology.  Scientists now can observe new stars forming out of the remnants of that ‘smoke’ (see figures 1 and 2).

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The illuminating stars we see at night were, just as was the whole universe, in that ‘smoke’ material.  God has said in the Quran:

“Then He turned to the heaven when it was smoke…” (Quran 41:11)

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Because the earth and the heavens above (the sun, the moon, stars, planets, galaxies, etc.) have been formed from this same ‘smoke,’ we conclude that the earth and the heavens were one connected entity.  Then out of this homogeneous ‘smoke,’ they formed and separated from each other. God has said in the Quran:

“Have not those who disbelieved known that the heavens and the earth were one connected entity, then We separated them?…” (Quran 21:30)

Dr. Alfred Kroner is one of the world’s renowned geologists.  He is Professor of Geology and the Chairman of the Department of Geology at the Institute of Geosciences, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany.  He said: “Thinking where Muhammad came from . . . I think it is almost impossible that he could have known about things like the common origin of the universe, because scientists have only found out within the last few years, with very complicated and advanced technological methods, that this is the case.

Also he said: “Somebody who did not know something about nuclear physics fourteen hundred years ago could not, I think, be in a position to find out from his own mind, for instance, that the earth and the heavens had the same origin.

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Sep
11

MOUNT ARAFAT: The Haj reached its high point on Sunday when Muslims from across the world converged on a hill in Saudi Arabia, a year after the worst tragedy in the pilgrimage’s history.

More than 1.8 million gathered from sunrise at the hill and a vast surrounding plain known as Mount Arafat, about 15 kilometres from Makkah.

They are spending the most important day of the annual Haj in prayer and reading from the holy Quran.

Arafat is the site where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave his last sermon about 14 centuries ago after leading his followers on the pilgrimage.

Pilgrims join one of the Haj rituals on Mount Arafat near Makkah. —  AFP
Pilgrims join one of the Haj rituals on Mount Arafat near Makkah. — AFP
Pilgrims arrive at Mount Arafat where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered his final sermon. — AFP
Pilgrims arrive at Mount Arafat where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered his final sermon. — AFP
Pilgrims offer prayers during Haj at Mount Arafat . — AFP
Pilgrims offer prayers during Haj at Mount Arafat . — AFP
Saudi workers change the Kiswah (the cloth that covers the Kaaba) in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. — AP
Saudi workers change the Kiswah (the cloth that covers the Kaaba) in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. — AP
Pilgrim offers prayers at Mount Arafat. — AFP
Pilgrim offers prayers at Mount Arafat. — AFP
An Indonesian father carries his daughter through the crowd after reaching the top of a rocky hill known as Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat. — AP
An Indonesian father carries his daughter through the crowd after reaching the top of a rocky hill known as Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat. — AP
Pilgrims make their way in Arafat, during the annual Haj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Makkah. — AP
Pilgrims make their way in Arafat, during the annual Haj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Makkah. — AP
Volunteers throw umbrellas to pilgrims before they climb Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual Haj pilgrimage, ahead of sunrise near the holy city of Makkah. — AP
Volunteers throw umbrellas to pilgrims before they climb Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, during the annual Haj pilgrimage, ahead of sunrise near the holy city of Makkah. — AP
Muslims join one of the Haj rituals on Mount Arafat near Makkah. — AFP
Muslims join one of the Haj rituals on Mount Arafat near Makkah. — AFP
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims pray outside Namira Mosque in Arafat, on the second and most significant day of the annual Haj pilgrimage. — AP
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims pray outside Namira Mosque in Arafat, on the second and most significant day of the annual Haj pilgrimage. — AP
Pilgrims gather to perform noon and afternoon prayers at Namira Mosque in Mount Arafat, southeast of the Saudi holy city of Makkah. — AFP
Pilgrims gather to perform noon and afternoon prayers at Namira Mosque in Mount Arafat, southeast of the Saudi holy city of Makkah. — AFP

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Sep
04

Until I visited the main mosque in Paris I had nothing to do with Islam; neither the prayers nor the Hijab were familiar to me. The benefits of observing Hijab became clear to me following a lecture at the mosque when I kept my scarf on even after leaving the building. The lecture had filled me with such a previously unknown spiritual satisfaction that I simply did not want to remove it. I did feel different, somehow purified and perfected; I felt as if I was in Allah’s company. In my Hijab I went unnoticed, protected from impolite
stares.

My Hijab made me happy. It was both a sign of my obedience to Allah and A manifestation of my faith. I did not need to utter beliefs, the Hijab stated them clearly for all to see, especially to fellow Muslims, and thus it helped to strengthen the bond of sisterhood in Islam. Wearing the Hijab soon became spontaneous, albeit purely voluntary. No human being could force me to wear it; if they had, perhaps I would have rebelled and rejected it.

The Hijab reminds people who see it that Allah exists, and it serves as A constant reminder to me that I should conduct myself as A Muslim.

Just as police officers are more professionally aware while in uniform, so I had A stronger sense of being A Muslim wearing my Hijab.

Men treated us with respect and special politeness. A woman wearing A Hijab shares A sisterhood, a Muslim gives her salaam to another Muslim woman she crosses in the street, whether she knows her or not.

I felt elegant and more relaxed. I often wonder why people say nothing about the veil of the Catholic nan but criticize vehemently the veil of A Muslimah (Muslim woman) regarding it as A symbol of terrorism and oppression.

Once on A train, the elderly man next to me asked why I was dressed in such an unusual fashion. When I explained that I was A Muslimah and that Islam commands women to cover their bodies so as not to trouble men who are weak and unable to resist temptation, he seemed impressed. When he left the train, he thanked me. In this instance, the Hijab prompted A discussion on Islam with A Japanese man who would not naturally be accustomed to talking about religion.

Indeed, it was I who also felt uneasy looking at my younger sister’s legs while she wore short pants. I have often been embarrassed, even before declaring Islam, by the sight of A woman’s bosom and hips clearly outlined by tight, thin clothing. I felt that I was seeing something secret. If such A sight embаrrasses me, one of the same sex, it is not difficult to imagine the effect on men.

If A nudist were to ask A ‘liberated’ female who rejects the Hijab why she still covers her bosoms and hips which are as natural as her hands and face, could she give any honest answer?

But in Islam we have no such problems: Allah has defined what may and may not be bared, and we follow. Just as A short skirt can send the signal that the wearer is available to men, so the Hijab signals, loud and clear, I am forbidden for you.

If it oppresses women, why are so many well-educated young women in Europe, America, Japan, Australia, indeed all over the world, abandoning “liberty” and “independence” and embracing Islam?

A person blinded by prejudice may not see it, but A woman in Hijab is brightly beautiful as an angel, full of self-confidence, serenity, and dignity. No sign of oppression scars her face.

When I wear the hijaab I please God
I am obeying the commands of my Lord when I wear the Hijab. I can expect great rewards in return.

It is Allah’s protection of my natural beauty. I am too precious to be on display for each man to see. It is Allah’s preservation of my chastity. Allah purifies my heart and mind through the Hijab. Allah beautifies my inner and outer countenance with Hijab. Outwardly, my Hijab reflects innocence, purity, modesty, shyness, serenity, contentment and obedience to my Lord. Inwardly I cultivate the same.

Allah defines my femininity through the Hijab. I am A woman who respects her womanhood. Allah wants me to be respected by others, and for me to respect myself.

Allah raises my dignity through my Hijab. When A strange man looks at me he respects me because he sees that I respect myself.

Allah protects my honor 100% through my Hijab. Men do not gaze at me in A sensual way, they do not approach me in A sensual way, and neither do they speak to me in A sensual way. Rather, A man holds me in high esteem and that is just by one glance at me!

Allah gives me nobility through the Hijab. I am noble not degraded because I am covered not naked. I define my role as A Muslim woman through the Hijab. I am  someone with important duties.

Allah expresses my independence through the Hijab. I am stating clearly that I am an obedient servant of the Greatest Master. I will obey no one else and follow no other way. I am not A slave to any man, nor A slave to any nation. I am free and independent from all man-made systems.

My hijab gives me unique confidence. Allah wants others to treat me – A Muslim woman ­ with kindness and the Hijab brings about the best treatment of men towards me.

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Sep
04

The USA began as a haven for Christian outcasts. But what religion fits our current zeitgeist? The answer may be Islam.

Americans tend to think of their country as, at the very least, a nominally Christian nation. Didn’t the Pilgrims come here for freedom to practice their Christian religion? Don’t Christian values of righteousness under God, and freedom, reinforce America’s democratic, capitalist ideals?

True enough. But there’s a new religion on the block now, one that fits the current zeitgeist nicely. It’s Islam.

Islam is the third-largest and fastest growing religious community in the United States. This is not just because of immigration. More than 50% of America’s six million Muslims were born here. Statistics like these imply some basic agreement between core American values and the beliefs that Muslims hold. Americans who make the effort to look beyond popular stereotypes to learn the truth of Islam are surprised to find themselves on familiar ground.

Is America a Muslim nation? Here are seven reasons the answer may be yes.
Islam is monotheistic. Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christians. They also revere the same prophets as Judaism and Christianity, from Abraham, the first monotheist, to Moses, the law giver and messenger of God, to Jesus not leaving out Noah, Job, or Isaiah along the way. The concept of a Judeo-Christian tradition only came to the fore in the 1940s in America. Now, as a nation, we may be transcending it, turning to a more inclusive “Abrahamic” view.

In January, President Bush grouped mosques with churches and synagogues in his inaugural address. A few days later, when he posed for photographers at a meeting of several dozen religious figures, the Shi’ite imam Muhammad Qazwini, of Orange County, Calif., stood directly behind Bush’s chair like a presiding angel, dressed in the robes and turban of his south Iraqi youth.

Islam is democratic in spirit. Islam advocates the right to vote and educate yourself and pursue a profession. The Quran, on which Islamic law is based, enjoins Muslims to govern themselves by discussion and consensus. In mosques, there is no particular priestly hierarchy. With Islam, each individual is responsible for the condition of her or his own soul. Everyone stands equal before God.

Americans, who mostly associate Islamic government with a handful of tyrants, may find this independent spirit surprising, supposing that Muslims are somehow predisposed to passive submission. Nothing could be further from the truth. The dictators reigning today in the Middle East are not the result of Islamic principles. They are more a result of global economics and the aftermath of European colonialism. Meanwhile, like everyone else, average Muslims the world over want a larger say in what goes on in the countries where they live. Those in America may actually succeed in it. In this way, America is closer in spirit to Islam than many Arab countries.

Islam contains an attractive mystical tradition. Mysticism is grounded in the individual search for God. Where better to do that than in America, land of individualists and spiritual seekers? And who might better benefit than Americans from the centuries-long tradition of teachers and students that characterize Islam. Surprising as it may seem, America’s best-selling poet du jour is a Muslim mystic named Rumi, the 800-year-old Persian bard and founder of the Mevlevi Path, known in the West as the Whirling Dervishes.

Even book packagers are now rushing him into print to meet and profit from mainstream demand for this visionary. Translators as various as Robert Bly, Coleman Barks, and Kabir and Camille Helminski have produced dozens of books of Rumi’s verse and have only begun to bring his enormous output before the English-speaking world. This is a concrete poetry of ecstasy, where physical reality and the longing for God are joined by flashes of metaphor and insight that continue to speak across the centuries.

Islam is egalitarian. From New York to California, the only houses of worship that are routinely integrated today are the approximately 4,000 Muslim mosques. That is because Islam is predicated on a level playing field, especially when it comes to standing before God. The Pledge of Allegiance (one nation, “under God”) and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (all people are “created equal”) express themes that are also basic to Islam.

Islam is often viewed as an aggressive faith because of the concept of jihad, but this is actually a misunderstood term. Because Muslims believe that God wants a just world, they tend to be activists, and they emphasize that people are equal before God. These are two reasons why African Americans have been drawn in such large numbers to Islam. They now comprise about one-third of all Muslims in America.

Meanwhile, this egalitarian streak also plays itself out in relations between the sexes. Muhammad, Islam’s prophet, actually was a reformer in his day.

Following the Quran, he limited the number of wives a man could have and strongly recommended against polygamy. The Quran laid out a set of marriage laws that guarantees married women their family names, their own possessions and capital, the right to agree upon whom they will marry, and the right to initiate divorce. In Islam’s early period, women were professionals and property owners, as increasingly they are today. None of this may seem obvious to most Americans because of cultural overlays that at times make Islam appear to be a repressive faith toward women but if you look more closely, you can see the egalitarian streak preserved in the Quran finding expression in contemporary terms. In today’s Iran, for example, more women than men attend university, and in recent local elections there, 5,000 women ran for public office.

Islam shares America’s new interest in food purity and diet. Muslims conduct a month long fast during the holy month of Ramadan, a practice that many Americans admire and even seek to emulate. I happened to spend quite a bit of time with a non-Muslim friend during Ramadan this year. After a month of being exposed to a practice that brings some annual control to human consumption, my friend let me know, in January, that he was “doing a little Ramadan” of his own. I asked what he meant. “Well, I’m not drinking anything or smoking anything for at least a month, and I’m going off coffee.” Given this friend’s normal intake of coffee, I could not believe my ears.

Muslims also observe dietary laws that restrict the kind of meat they can eat. These laws require that the permitted, or halal, meat is prepared in a manner that emphasizes cleanliness and a humane treatment of animals. These laws ride on the same trends that have made organic foods so popular.

Islam is tolerant of other faiths. Like America, Islam has a history of respecting other religions. In Muhammad’s day, Christians, Sabeans, and Jews in Muslim lands retained their own courts and enjoyed considerable autonomy. As Islam spread east toward India and China, it came to view Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism as valid paths to salvation. As Islam spread north and west, Judaism especially benefited. The return of the Jews to Jerusalem, after centuries as outcasts, only came about after Muslims took the city in 638. The first thing the Muslims did there was to rescue the Temple Mount, which by then had been turned into a garbage heap.

Today, of course, the long discord between Israel and Palestine has acquired harsh religious overtones. Yet the fact remains that this is a battle for real estate, not a war between two faiths. Islam and Judaism revere the same prophetic lineage, back to Abraham, and no amount of bullets or barbed wire can change that. As The New York Times recently reported, while Muslim/Jewish tensions sometimes flare on university campuses, lately these same students have found ways to forge common links. For one thing, the two religions share similar dietary laws, including ritual slaughter and a prohibition on pork. Joining forces at Dartmouth this fall, the first kosher/halal dining hall is scheduled to open its doors this auturnn. That isn’t all:

They’re already planning a joint Thanksgiving dinner, with birds dressed at a nearby farm by a rabbi and an imam. If the American Pilgrims were watching now, they’d be rubbing their eyes with amazement. And, because they came here fleeing religious persecution, they might also understand.

Islam encourages the pursuit of religious freedom. The Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock is not the world’s first story of religious emigration. Muhammad and his little band of 100 followers fled religious persecution, too, from Mecca in the year 622. They only survived by going to Madinah, an oasis a few hundred miles north, where they established a new community based on a religion they could only practice secretly back home. No wonder then that, in our own day, many Muslims have come here as pilgrims from oppression, leaving places like Kashmir, Bosnia, and Kosovo, where being a Muslim may radically shorten your life span. When the 20th century’s list of emigrant exiles is added up, it will prove to be heavy with Muslims, that’s for sure.

All in all, there seems to be a deep resonance between Islam and the United States. Although one is a world religion and the other is a sovereign nation, both are traditionally very strong on individual responsibility. Like New Hampshire’s motto, “Live Free or Die,” America is wedded to individual liberty and an ethic based on right action. For a Muslim, spiritual salvation depends on these. This is best expressed in a popular saying: Even when you think God isn’t watching you, act as if he is.

Who knows? Perhaps it won’t be long now before words like salat (Muslim prayer) and Ramadan join karma and Nirvana in Webster’s Dictionary, and Muslims take their place in America’s mainstream.

Michael Wolfe is the author of books of poetry, fiction, travel, and history. His most recent works are a pair of books from Grove Press on the pilgrimage to Mecca:

“The Hajj” (1993), a first-person travel account, and “One Thousand Roads to Mecca” (1997), an anthology of 10 centuries of travelers writing about the Muslim pilgrimage. In April 1997, he hosted a televised account of the Hajj from Mecca for Ted Koppel’s “Nightline” on ABC. He is currently at work on a four-hour television documentary on the life and times of the Prophet Muhammad.

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