Just love this excerpt from one of our guest contributors:
Whether that human nature be made perfect in belief of the Incarnation (in Christianity) or sincere submission to God (in Islam), we learn that this perfection is made complete with the body: with God dwelling in the flesh or with us physically prostrating. Spirituality is not just a practice of the spirit. It must engage our whole being and whole becoming. It’s not about leaving our sexuality or gender identity in the dark, undeveloped, only there as an enemy. It’s about acceptance, authentic self, and becoming better people as whole human individuals, sexual orientation included; that is, we see the possibility for goodness in it and strive for that.
The full piece is worth a read: Orthodoxy, Queer Identity, and the Need for Meaning.
Indian Muslim girls reciting the Qur’an in their classroom at Madrasatur-Rashaad religious school in Hyderabad. (Photo by Noah Seelam)
I just love how the photographer included the variety of backpacks in this photo. It’s what makes it special — and relatable to the Western observer who might easily focus in on the religiosity of the girls studying. I see a young schoolgirl out my front window in Minneapolis who is carrying a similar Hello Kitty bag.
~Trent Gilliss, chief content officer
A Ramadan Haiku
Your head swells like rain on wood
Maghrib, where are you?
I can’t even imagine how grueling it must be having to wrestle sumo and fast for Ramadan. Big ups!
On the first day of Ramadan, Egyptian sumo wrestler Osunaarashi (right), whose real name is Abdelrahman Ahmed Shaalan, pushes Satoyama out of the ring during the second-day bout of the 15-day Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament in Nagoya in Aichi prefecture in Japan. The Arab world’s first professional sumo wrestler says fasting for Ramadan will give him courage during his inaugural tournament in the famously weighty elite ranks of the sport.
(Photo by Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images)
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Samuel Huntington was correct in looking toward culture as the boundary between Western and Eastern societies. But boundaries are ever-changing and values cross over between cultures by osmosis. To assume cultures are autarkic and unchanging is as erroneous as to assume that cultural distinctions are invariably resolvable. The truth about culture lies in the middle; values are transposable, which is why identity is most enthralling when they are tethered the least.
From a 2011 Pew Research Center report, a graphic showing the median percentage of Muslims across seven Muslim countries who say each of these traits describes people in Western countries and median percentage of non-Muslims across the U.S., Russia, and four Western European countries who say each of these traits describes Muslims.
I highly recommend reading Michael Young’s op-ed "What Does Muslim-Western Relations Mean?" that gets at these ideas about values, characteristics, and identity.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
There are so many inspiring people who are doing the good, hard work that are needed in our communities. We need to hear from more of these unrecognized heroes. Rami Nashashibi is definitely one of them, especially as the news of late is reporting about the rash of killings in Chicago this year.
Mr. Nashashibi lives on the South Side of Chicago, and is the founder of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network. He’s working with people of all ethnicities and races and sees the U.S. as still the best place for an emerging American Muslim dream. He’s creative in his approach to community-building — using graffiti, calligraphy, and hip hop as a healing force in his work. He’s an activist who converges religious virtues, social action, and the arts. His life is a creative response to ethical confusion in a world of disparity.
Listening to his conversation with Krista is definitely worth an hour of your time. Please reblog and share if you’re down with what he says.
O Allâh, place light in my heart, light in my tongue, light in my hearing, light in my sight, light behind me, light in front of me, light on my right, light on my left, light above me and light below me; place light in my sinew, in my flesh, in my blood, in my hair and in my skin; place light in my soul and make light abundant for me; make me light and grant me light.
I want Tunisia to be a place where a woman can wear a veil or not, where we can pray or not. They are trying to break the mystical balance between tradition and religion in Tunisia. They are trying to burn our identity to replace it with something we don’t know.
In my ESL class I study with people from all over the world, not only learning English but simultaneously experiencing the beauty of other cultures. I have made new friends who are Hindus, Sikhs and Christians; and in the area where I live there temples, mosques and churches.
No country is perfect. But overall, I have been pleasantly surprised to see real examples of people living out tolerance, harmony and acceptance in my new home — and I hope that both Americans and Pakistanis can grow to better understand each other’s cultures.