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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Oklahoma, Elections, and Shari’ah Law

by Shubha Bala, associate producer

Masjid An-Nasr, Oklahoma City
The crescent-topped dome of Masjid An-Nasr peeks through trees of a residential neighborhood in Oklahoma City. (photo: Andrew Shockley/Flickr)

Hailing from Canada, where referendums are few and far between, I’m fascinated by some of the questions on the U.S. ballots. This year I was particularly interested in Oklahoma ballot measure 755 [bold emphasis mine]:

"This measure amends the State Constitution. It changes a section that deals with the courts of this state. It would amend Article 7, Section 1. It makes courts rely on federal and state law when deciding cases. It forbids courts from considering or using international law. It forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law.

International law is also known as the law of nations. It deals with the conduct of international organizations and independent nations, such as countries, states and tribes. It deals with their relationship with each other. It also deals with some of their relationships with persons.

The law of nations is formed by the general assent of civilized nations. Sources of international law also include international agreements, as well as treaties.

Sharia Law is Islamic law. It is based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed.

Shall the proposal be approved?

For the proposal

Yes: __________

Against the proposal

No: __________ “

The amendment passed, with 70 percent in favor. Haroon Moghul of Religion Dispatches wrote an amused and hopeful piece from a Muslim perspective. For starters, he addresses some of the misunderstandings about Shari’ah law by explaining what it isn’t, and what it is:

"What most Americans don’t realize is that we already have interpretations of Shari’ah law in our country; or, at least, interpretations of the personal, moral, and ethical components of the law, operating off of individual choice and will. When Muslims pray, they are following interpretations of Shari’ah. Fasting in Ramadan. Giving in charity. Even a smile, the Prophet Muhammad said, is charity. So what this means in real terms is entirely beyond me…"

At a time where civility may be harder to find, I was heartened by his surprisingly optimistic note for the future. A view, however, which is probably out of reach for Muneer Awad, director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who filed a lawsuit (PDF of petition) challenging the constitutionality of the measure. A preliminary hearing before U.S. district court judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange is scheduled for today.

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As Muslim parents, it seems like the choices we make raising children are more critical and have a much more lasting impact than the average American family. We can not necessarily rely on mainstream society to help us enforce values and increase self acceptance in our children. And, with families being so far apart and nuclear families being the norm, there is a lot of pressure on parents to take full responsibility in raising children by themselves. I sometimes wonder if the modern lifestyle and the mentality that we are somehow able to ‘have it all’ just sets us up for failure.
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Hanieh Razzagh, a new mother reflects on raising her daughter in this post from the Ink Paper Mosaic blog.

Parents of two young boys, my wife and I no longer live near our extended families. Although we are of European and Roman Catholic heritage, we have similar concerns about raising family in contemporary life with social expectations. It can be quite exhausting, but, we also feel fortunate that they have wonderful teachers and caretakers at a local Jewish community center. They help us fill a bit of that void of not being able to daily hug their grandparents, visit with their aunts and uncles, and play with all their cousins.

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Hip-Hop Islamic Group Counters Islamophobia with Their Music

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Native Deen, a Muslim hip-hop group, that you might have heard in our show "Black & Universal" has released a new music video for the My Faith, My Voice campaign “in response to the rising tide of Islamophobia facing America, especially in the wake of the New York Islamic cultural center controversy.” I’ve written about the fear embracing some Muslims in the United States lately, and I’m digging the music and the way in which these moderate voices are making statements in their own artistic way. Sing on!

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A Listener Asks for Your Suggestions

by Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer

Muslim Woman Attends Friday Prayers in Lower Manhattan
Reem El Shafaki, an Egyptian now living in New Jersey, stands in front of the proposed site of the Park51 mosque and cultural center in lower Manhattan. (photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The news has been thick with polarized debates about proposed Qur’an burnings in Florida and the Park51 project. Tamara Lee, a listener from Hopewell, New Jersey, writes us looking for some advice:

"I’m increasingly frustrated by the inability of so many people, particularly Americans, to distinguish between the religion of Islam and the culture of some Islamic countries. I’ve long respected the religion even though some aspects of the culture are less appealing to me. Of late, I am particularly concerned that Muslims seem to be afraid of non-Muslims. I would like to become involved with a group that strives to combat this fear. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated."

If you have any recommendations to pass along to Tamara, post a comment here and we’ll be sure to relay them to her.

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Martin Marty Swings and Connects

by Kate Moos, managing producer

Franklin Graham at Park Street ChurchA good one. Martin Marty rarely swings for the fences, but when he does he knocks it out of the park. In today’s Sightings column, he takes aim at the son of Billy Graham: 

Franklin Graham on Islam and Violence
by Martin E. Marty

Aestas horribilis, Queen Elizabeth might call the summer just past, or those who care about civility in religious discourse and interfaith relations might judge it to have been. While Sightings took August off, forces, agencies, and voices of prejudice and, frankly, hate-mongering, did not. “Protest mosques,” “Restore America,” “Burn Qur’ans” and many more are keywords in our internet memory. One set of these keywords is so illuminating and nearly normative that it merits comment before we enter a new but not necessarily more promising season. I refer to the pronouncements of evangelist Franklin Graham on Muslim genetics, competition for souls, Islam as killer, and scriptures.

Genetics first: There is no need to repeat Graham’s bizarre charge that Islam is passed through the genes of a father to a son. Scholars of Islam find that idea nowhere in its teachings. Conversion-expert Graham should understand that one becomes a Muslim the way the born-again in Graham’s tradition become Christian: by making a profession of faith and a commitment through word and action. We won’t go into the political dimension of this issue with reference to Graham’s subject, the President of the United States, because, as long-time readers know, Sightings does not “do” Presidents.

Competition for souls, second: Graham’s work is often positioned along lines crossed in Africa, where Muslims kill Christians and Christians kill Muslims. There is little point in going into “Who fired first?” or “Who killed most?” In religion-based warfare, there is never really a first and a second; there are only debates about first and second. Graham has chosen to attempt conversion in the second most tense area known to the two faith communities. Without doubt, there is ugliness and murder, but we picture militant Muslims speaking of Christians the way Graham speaks of Muslims. Call it a draw. (By the way, “the undersigned” is a Christian who sees a place for evangelism.)

Islam as killer of Christians, third: Graham has repeatedly charged this year that Islam, which he frequently calls “a very wicked and evil religion” is mandated to kill, and that it kills. He does not qualify his remarks, as the word “very” suggests and even though he is often cautioned about the possible lethal consequences for Christians and Muslims if things get more heated. Historians have no difficulty finding Muslims in killing modes. The problem is that historians also find Christians in killing modes, from most years of Christendom, when the sword advanced Christianity, down into our own time. Think of the Christian justifications in World War I. Think Christian killing Christian in Rwanda, Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

Fourth, scriptures: It is easy to find passages in the Qur’an and other classic Muslim texts in which Allah’s people may or should kill to advance God’s cause. Isolating these chunks of the Qur’an which are by now most familiar to Americans calls for overlooking Islam’s many peace-promoting texts. And it also means overlooking parallel biblical texts. There are far more pictures in the biblical texts of a warrior God licensing and, yes, commanding “omnicide,” killing of men and women and children who stand in the path of God’s people. Yes, all that was long ago. Now, you will never (at least I never) find Jews or Christians who think that killing people of another faith is a scriptured mandate for them.

Let’s hope and work for a less horrifying autumn.

Rev. Franklin Graham preaches at Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts in April 2009. (photo: Rachel Ford James/Flickr via Creative Commons)

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Muslim Mason Turned to Stone in Lyon
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Dieu est grand, الله أكبر (“Allahu akbar”)
These words in French and Arabic are inscribed in the stone scroll beneath a gargoyle gracing the exterior of Saint-Jean Cathedral in Lyon, France. Ahmed Benzizine, a Muslim mason who has been working on the church for nearly four decades, is now immortalized in stone with his own winged gargoyle bearing his likeness.
A lone group protests this tribute, but I choose to highlight this AP story on NPR for the age-old gesture honoring a dedicated worker, no matter what his faith, and a story coming out of France showing that human civility and interfaith efforts are taking place:

"For the archdiocese, the gargoyle symbolizes two traditions: honoring  artisans in a cathedral’s stone work and embodying the  Christian-Islamic dialogue that is part of Lyon’s recent religious  history.
In France’s third-largest city, an  archdiocese official is devoted to relations with Islam. In 2007,  Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, and a local Muslim  leader, Azzedine Gaci, led a pilgrimage to Tibhirine, an Algerian  village where seven Trappist monks were executed in 1996 by radical  Islamic insurgents.”

 Ahmed Benzizine stands in front of his gargoyle on Saint-Jean Cathedral in Lyon, France. (photos: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)
(hat tip: almas88)
Muslim Mason Turned to Stone in Lyon
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Dieu est grand, الله أكبر (“Allahu akbar”)
These words in French and Arabic are inscribed in the stone scroll beneath a gargoyle gracing the exterior of Saint-Jean Cathedral in Lyon, France. Ahmed Benzizine, a Muslim mason who has been working on the church for nearly four decades, is now immortalized in stone with his own winged gargoyle bearing his likeness.
A lone group protests this tribute, but I choose to highlight this AP story on NPR for the age-old gesture honoring a dedicated worker, no matter what his faith, and a story coming out of France showing that human civility and interfaith efforts are taking place:

"For the archdiocese, the gargoyle symbolizes two traditions: honoring  artisans in a cathedral’s stone work and embodying the  Christian-Islamic dialogue that is part of Lyon’s recent religious  history.
In France’s third-largest city, an  archdiocese official is devoted to relations with Islam. In 2007,  Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, and a local Muslim  leader, Azzedine Gaci, led a pilgrimage to Tibhirine, an Algerian  village where seven Trappist monks were executed in 1996 by radical  Islamic insurgents.”

 Ahmed Benzizine stands in front of his gargoyle on Saint-Jean Cathedral in Lyon, France. (photos: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)
(hat tip: almas88)

Muslim Mason Turned to Stone in Lyon

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Dieu est grand, الله أكبر (“Allahu akbar”)

These words in French and Arabic are inscribed in the stone scroll beneath a gargoyle gracing the exterior of Saint-Jean Cathedral in Lyon, France. Ahmed Benzizine, a Muslim mason who has been working on the church for nearly four decades, is now immortalized in stone with his own winged gargoyle bearing his likeness.

A lone group protests this tribute, but I choose to highlight this AP story on NPR for the age-old gesture honoring a dedicated worker, no matter what his faith, and a story coming out of France showing that human civility and interfaith efforts are taking place:

"For the archdiocese, the gargoyle symbolizes two traditions: honoring artisans in a cathedral’s stone work and embodying the Christian-Islamic dialogue that is part of Lyon’s recent religious history.

In France’s third-largest city, an archdiocese official is devoted to relations with Islam. In 2007, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, and a local Muslim leader, Azzedine Gaci, led a pilgrimage to Tibhirine, an Algerian village where seven Trappist monks were executed in 1996 by radical Islamic insurgents.”

Ahmed Benzizine with Gargoyle
Ahmed Benzizine stands in front of his gargoyle on Saint-Jean Cathedral in Lyon, France. (photos: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)

(hat tip: almas88)

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Day 29 - Kari Ansari: “Waiting for One More Ramadan”

Revealing Ramadan: 30 Days, 30 Voices [mp3, 2:07]

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Kari AnsariOur 29th voice is an American-born woman who says that her conversion to Islam has made her a better feminist. Kari Ansari is editor-in-chief of “America’s Muslim Family Magazine” and lives with her husband and four children in suburban Chicago.

Check back on this blog each day or on our Facebook page to hear a new voice in our “Revealing Ramadan” series. If you’re the on demand type or simply need a more automated form of listening, we’ve produced a special podcast feed that’s available now. Oh, and a special show too!

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Day 28 - Saeed Purcell: “The Last Ten Days”

Revealing Ramadan: 30 Days, 30 Voices [mp3, 6:19]

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Our 28th voice in this series is a man who converted to Islam more than 15 years ago. Saeed Purcell “passed through” other faiths before becoming a Muslim. The turning point? When he read Malcolm X’s autobiography, which led him to read the Qur’an.

Here, Saeed recollects one of his first Ramadans when he spent the last ten days alone in a mosque praying and fasting and spiritually cleansing himself.

Check back on this blog each day or on our Facebook page to hear a new voice in our “Revealing Ramadan” series. If you’re the on demand type or simply need a more automated form of listening, we’ve produced a special podcast feed that’s available now. Oh, and a special show too!

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Day 27 - Sakina Al-Amin: “Sharing Qur’an and Samosas”

Revealing Ramadan: 30 Days, 30 Voices [mp3, 6:41]

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Sakina Al-AminOn this 27th day of Ramadan: Sakina Al-Amin, a young African-American woman who recently graduated from the University of Michigan. For the first nine years of her life, she was raised in a idyllic Muslim village nestled into the mountains of New Mexico, just north of Los Alamos. She shares two stories: one about celebrating Ramadan under the stars of the Southwest and the other of breaking fast with three strangers at a dollar store.

Check back on this blog each day or on our Facebook page to hear a new voice in our “Revealing Ramadan” series. If you’re the on demand type or simply need a more automated form of listening, we’ve produced a special podcast feed that’s available now. Oh, and a special show too!

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Day 26 - Mary Hope Schwoebel: “My Work Reflects My Beliefs”

Revealing Ramadan: 30 Days, 30 Voices [mp3, 4:18]

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Mary Hope Schwoebel, our 26th voice in this series, was raised Presbyterian in Oxford, Mississippi and later moved to Philadelphia. But, with the social justice movements of the 1960’s, her parents and she grew more secular. While in college, she began reading feminist authors, including a leading Muslim scholar on the veil, and a Somali man who embodied these principles. She later converted and is now a teacher and educator of peace conflict studies in Africa.

Check back on this blog each day or on our Facebook page to hear a new voice in our “Revealing Ramadan” series. If you’re the on demand type or simply need a more automated form of listening, we’ve produced a special podcast feed that’s available now. Oh, and a special show too!

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Day 25 - Miles Davis: “A Father’s Impact”

Revealing Ramadan: 30 Days, 30 Voices [mp3, 5:46]

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Miles DavisOur 25th voice, Miles Davis, grew up in inner-city Philadelphia and is now a professor at Shenandoah University in Leesburg, Virginia. Through the formative influence of his father, Islam provided the framework to escape the drugs and crime of most of his childhood friends.

One of his first Ramadan celebrations also allowed him to see the many colors of Muslims he worshiped with. And now, decades later, his daughter is teaching him new things about faith during Islam’s holiest month.

Check back on this blog each day or on our Facebook page to hear a new voice in our “Revealing Ramadan” series. If you’re the on demand type or simply need a more automated form of listening, we’ve produced a special podcast feed that’s available now. Oh, and a special show too!

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Day 24 - Hilarie Clement: “A First Year Alone in Dubai”

Revealing Ramadan: 30 Days, 30 Voices [mp3, 4:32]

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Hilarie ClementOn this 24th day of Ramadan, a teacher who grew up in Syracuse, New York and now lives in Chicago with her family. Hilarie Clement recalls celebrating one of her first Ramadans while teaching third-graders in Dubai, and how “scared” she was at first and how “horrible” her first day of fasting was. Like most other things in Islam, she says, it takes time to learn how to be a practicing Muslim.

Check back on this blog each day or on our Facebook page to hear a new voice in our “Revealing Ramadan” series. If you’re the on demand type or simply need a more automated form of listening, we’ve produced a special podcast feed that’s available now. Oh, and a special show too!

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Day 23 - Eli Smart: “Ramadan in Dearborn”

Revealing Ramadan: 30 Days, 30 Voices [mp3, 5:13]

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Eli SmartThe 23rd voice in this series, Eli Smart, grew up in California and converted to Islam in his early 20s. Now 37, he lives in Michigan — along with his mother and family — and says that Dearborn’s centralized Muslim community gives him a sense of what it’s like living in a Muslim country during Ramadan.

Check back on this blog each day or on our Facebook page to hear a new voice in our “Revealing Ramadan” series. If you’re the on demand type or simply need a more automated form of listening, we’ve produced a special podcast feed that’s available now. Oh, and a special show too!

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Day 22 - Ilana Alazzeh: “Singing in a Car”

Revealing Ramadan: 30 Days, 30 Voices [mp3, 4:14]

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Ilana AlazzehOur 22nd voice in this series is Ilana Alazzeh, a student at Smith College in Massachusetts. Growing up in California, Texas, and Virginia, she talks about spending Ramadan with a family rich in religious diversity, and driving while singing Jewish and Christmas songs during Ramadan.

Check back on this blog each day or on our Facebook page to hear a new voice in our “Revealing Ramadan” series. If you’re the on demand type or simply need a more automated form of listening, we’ve produced a special podcast feed that’s available now. Oh, and a special show too!

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Day 21 - Anisa Abd el Fattah: “Laughter and Tears”

Revealing Ramadan: 30 Days, 30 Voices [mp3, 6:38]

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Anisa Abd el FattahOur 21st voice on this last day of August is Anisa Abd el Fattah. She is an African-American woman from the Midwest who was raised in a family of Baptist ministers and converted to Islam 20 years ago. She’s the founder of the National Association of Muslim American Women, and tells two Ramadan stories about an iftar faux pas and the beautiful recitation of her 7-year-old son.

Check back on this blog each day or on our Facebook page to hear a new voice in our “Revealing Ramadan” series. If you’re the on demand type or simply need a more automated form of listening, we’ve produced a special podcast feed that’s available now. Oh, and a special show too!

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