My wife Hadiyah is creative. When she recognized that our eldest daughter Aasiyah was approaching her thirteenth birthday, she started planning a “coming of age” party. Part debutante ball, part “bat mitzvah”; it’s an original vision. As a new teen, Hadiyah contends, Aasiyah should be introduced to her “village” and celebrated as she assumes responsibility (taklīf) for her religious obligations. I’m fascinated by my wife’s vision: a party that occasions “coming of age”, in which taklīf would be a central theme. What exactly would we be celebrating? Seeing as though legal adulthood or majority begins at the age of 18 in most states, does the concept of adolescence militate against an embrace of taklīf? And lastly, with the spotlight recently placed on statutory rape, does our commitment to taklīf dictate any specific intervention we might make in order to prepare our young people?
When Nelson Mandela described himself as “something of an Anglophile” it relieved some tension. Somehow this celebrated freedom-fighter openly admitting his affinity for English culture made my comparatively mild curiosity a little less damning. And so there I was: A poor student travelling to Cairo via London. Upon arriving at Heathrow, I made my way through the labyrinthine line at the gate until I reached the agent. With an earnestness conveyed by sheer audacity and a pitiful carry-on stuffed to nearly twice its regular capacity, I humbly requested that British Airways rebook my connection the following day so that I could explore London. And to my suprise the agent obliged!
Listen to this thought provoking podcast on Al-Madina Institute’s IMANwire podcast featuring Ust. Ubaydullah Evans; ALIM’s Scholar in Residence. Topic: “American Islam: Cultural Imitators or Innovators?”
These are the types of discussions that highlight the ALIM Summer Program. For more information, see the links below.
For many, husn adh-dhann or having a good opinion of others is amorphous. A simple willingness to offer the benefit of the doubt or a “get out of jail free” card which grants immunity in the face of wrongdoing? In our scandal-laden cultural moment, in which the enhanced ability to share news, warnings, rumors, and outright lies about people–some of whom we’ve never even met–is literally at our fingertips, a cursory glance at husn adh-dhann might be helpful.
As a signifier of commitment to progressive values, the terms “diversity and inclusion” are nearly ubiquitous. The past decade or so has witnessed “diversity and inclusion” move from the Affirmative Action inspired charters of schools and businesses to a vibrant part of our media, art, and vernacular cultures. Put differently, we no longer only expect diversity and inclusion where we work or study; it’s something we’ve come to seek more broadly. Taken at face value, this shift toward plurality should inspire American Muslims with great satisfaction. Our faith affords inter- religious/cultural exchange and ultimately familiarity, spiritual value. The Qur’ān proclaims,
Eddie Murphy, a romantic comedy, and Islam are a highly improbable combination. Nonetheless, Boomerang, the 1992 Paramount Pictures release which features Murphy as Marcus, an advertising executive who happens to be an indecisive playboy, does offer a well-acted, powerful scene from which we might glean a few insights. As we approach the denouement of what, until that point, had been a legitimately funny albeit hopelessly predictable film, Marcus and Angela—played by Murphy’s co-star Halle Berry—have a memorable exchange.
Relevance is an important factor when assessing authority within religious communities. However, in the case of Sunni Islam it possesses added significance: In the absence of centralized, religiously binding authority (e.g. the Catholic Church) relevance can quickly become the sine qua non of religious authority. For many, pedigree and certification become meaningless if the authority in question is deemed “out of touch.”
I don’t use the word kāfir; well, at least not in public. My particular grasp of the term notwithstanding, the risk its user assumes of being regarded a bad neighbor is simply too great for me. Indeed, this word has come to represent much of what both American Muslims and non-Muslims find unsettling about public religion: intolerance and chauvinism.
I often find that the extent to which I can enjoy or be inspired by a film depends on my ability to work through any cynicism I might feel toward its producers. Braveheart, the 1995 epic war thriller starring—then less embattled—actor Mel Gibson is quite possibly one of the most historically inaccurate films ever made. The kind of exaggeration that paints real-life Scottish war hero Sir William Wallace as a kind of primus inter pares, nationalist guerilla that seduces English queen consort Isabella while fighting for his country’s independence would be laughable if it weren’t so over-used. A historically revised European hero whose exploits are overblown; hmm, where have we seen this before? Nonetheless, be the lack of historicity and exaggerated claims of heroism what they may, midway through Braveheart there is an unforgettable scene:
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“Mish mumkin li wāhid amrīkī an ya’īsha bidūn al-aflām!”
The quotation above, transliterated from semi-colloquial Egyptian Arabic, reads “It’s impossible for an American to live without movies!” Offered by a professor at al-Azhar University in response to an American student’s question about the permissibility of watching movies; the statement was at once facetious and insightful. Although the professor was clearly poking fun at the American obsession with Hollywood, he was also offering a lesson in legal realism or fiqh al-wāqi’. In other words, he was saying, is there really any consequence to how I respond to this question; no matter what I say you’re going to watch movies!