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Author: iqradotca

Freedom includes freedom to wear a veil

By Shelina Merani (June 26, 2009) – Stocking up on lunch snacks at Costco, I saw a book that immediately grabbed my attention. It had a picture of a woman wearing a niqab, a face covering worn by a minority of Muslim women. Intrigued, I bought the book, mentally congratulating the publisher for having squeezed $20 out of my pocket. They know only too well that the niqab sells, grabs headlines and diverts attention. It is also a lightening rod for emotions and fear. A few months ago, the debate raged among Canadian politicians whether wearing the niqab and voting could jibe, and whether women would be allowed to wear the veil in legal proceedings. It has been discussed in Quebec, England, the Netherlands, Italy and many other parts of the world, usually spun to create false controversy by right-wing politicians. Predictably, this issue is making the rounds again, this time in France, a country in the midst of identity crises. President Nicolas Sarkozy is making the burqa — a full-body covering with a screen over the face — his flavour of the month to deflect attention from his plunging popularity. Amid raucous applause from his fellow parliamentarians, he said: “In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity … it is a sign of...

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Book Review: Gregory Baum on The Theology of Tariq Ramadan

(June 25, 2009) – Tariq Ramadan has emerged as one of the most influential Muslim theologians in the world today. In this important book, Gregory Baum presents for the first time an introduction to several key aspects of Ramadan’s theological enterprise. Baum examines Ramadan’s work historically within an interfaith perspective, drawing several parallels between Islamic and Catholic encounters with modernity. His comparison of the debates in the two traditions suggests that reform and renewal are compatible with the substance of both Catholic and Muslim traditions. After a brief account of the evolution of Catholic theology up to the Second Vatican Council, Baum introduces Ramadan’s published work and theological orientation, examining both within the historical development of Islam. He outlines Ramadan’s theology of God, humanity, and the universe and discusses Ramadan’s interpretation of sharia, the divinely revealed Islamic way of life. The book then addresses what fidelity to Islam means for Western Muslims and contrasts Ramadan’s theology with the theological liberalism advocated by some Muslim authors. Throughout, Baum makes helpful connections between Islam and Vatican II Catholicism; he concludes by examining points of difference between Muslim and Catholic theology that support further interfaith dialogue. Gregory Baum, professor emeritus at McGill University and the founding editor of The Ecumenist, is the author of many books, including Signs of the Times: Religious Pluralism and Economic Injustice and Religion and Alienation. Gregory Baum...

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Let’s talk about faith

By Al-Husein N. Madhany (June 24, 2009) – The day before November’s US presidential election, I was checking my bags in at the San Francisco airport. I handed my driver’s license to the woman behind the counter and told her my name. When she looked at me, I could tell there was confusion and apprehension behind her mask of polite professionalism. I’d seen that look many times before. “I’m sorry”, she said carefully, apparently apologizing for her reaction to my name. “My first name is al-Husein”, I replied, winding up my wicked curveball. “You know, like Saddam Hussein.” She responded with a blank stare and a nervous little laugh. Then I let the moment pass and steered the conversation back on script. That type of exchange had been a fixture in my life from the time of the first Gulf War until Election Day 2008. Muslims were the scary “other” for most Americans, but we existed in the popular imagination as inhabitants of that grey part of the globe beyond, say, France. We were not seen as neighbors who lived, worked and prayed in the same communities as our non-Muslim fellow citizens. The point of my well rehearsed airline agent-customer routine – and of most of my professional work – has been to draw attention to the blind spots in the relationship between Muslim Americans and the rest of...

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Canada’s First Nations Leader Reaches Out to Muslims

(June 23, 2009) – One of Canada’s First Nations Elders and spiritual leaders, Dave Courchene Jr from the Anishnabe Nation, Eagle Clan, met with Imams and Muslim leaders in Toronto last Friday seeking to establish a relationship with Canada’s Muslims and to work for restoring sacredness in people’s lives. “I believe that the biggest challenge that we have today is to understand the significance and importance of that spiritual reality that exists whether we accept or deny it in our lives,” Courchene told Muslim leaders. “Spiritual people must be at the forefront to bring back sacredness in today’s world,” he added. Dave Courchene Jr. is the visionary behind The Turtle Lodge, the First Nation’s Center for Learning and Healing in Sagkeeng, Manitoba, Canada. Through the teachings of elders from across Canada that began more than 20 years ago, Courchene promotes traditional ways to health and well-being. His knowledge of First Nations spiritual teachings has led him to travel around the world, including to the Middle East, Japan, the Philippines and South Korea. In addition to briefing Muslim leaders about the First Nations spiritual beliefs, Courchene spoke extensively about their relationship to the Earth and the urgency for humanity to address the environmental crisis. “We are damaging the environment, we are damaging our home. We need to derive a way to live as human beings,” he said. “I pray that...

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Portraying Ottawa’s Muslims

(June 23, 2009) – Ottawa Citizen reporter, Jennifer Green, is trying to piece together a portrait of the city’s Muslim community which she thinks is the ‘most complex, fastest growing single group in the city.’ In a posting on her blog (Ottawa’s multifaceted Muslims), Green is soliciting input from the city’s Muslims to the following questions: What does it mean to you to be Muslim? Can you tell us about Ottawa from your perspective? What are your hopes and fears for the future here? Green has been covering the ongoing debate at the Ottawa Muslim Association over the choice of the new Imam. The Imam, who was brought in from Al Azhar University in Egypt, is being criticized by segments of the community for his communication skills, his lack of experience and familiarity with Canadian social conditions. The debate became very public when a number of articles written by Jennifer Green were printed in the Ottawa Citizen. source:...

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