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First Person

Expressions of Muslim Identity


The voices in this episode are only a sample of the many thoughtful reflections we received in response to our exploration of the many, varying expressions of Muslim identity. We created a dynamic map that allows you to read each Muslim's essay and see the broader geographical context.

Selected Poems

Poetry by Adnan Onart

Read or listen to Adnan Onart's poem featured in this program, and enjoy three more — including:

» "Ramadan in Dunkin Donuts
» "Ribbon Time: The Moment"
» "Al Miraj"
» "Morning Prayer"

Selected Voices

Voices on the Radio
Ny'Kisha Pettiford
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Ny'Kisha Pettiford

"I walk a line daily between who Muslims are and what they are perceived to be."



» read her story


Reuben Jackson
Washington, D.C.
Reuben Jackson

"I honestly believe that Islam has made me a more patient, less angry man."



» read & listen | » download (mp3, 3:58)


Pertinent Posts from the On Being Blog

1

A compelling multimedia report on life as a woman in Afghanistan.

1

A glimpse into the lives of two Muslims in Australia.

1

A collection of photos documenting the Islamic holy month.

Recalling Rabbi Heschel's words while fasting for Ramadan.

About the Image

A young boy flies his kite on the Maldive Islands during Ramadan.

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Comments

Being born into a Muslim family, raised in a Muslim society (Pakistan) for most of my life is a blessing in more than ways. It however is also a very non-diverse experience (if you know what I mean…). I however migrated to US based on Job requirements and other factors. Being thrust into this melting pot of cultural racial and socio-economic diversity called America has been quite a rollercoaster. Before 9/11 I was looked at as just another person of faith with his own nuances. 9/11 changed it all. Needless to say that the change in attitude is very understandable. Having said that, it was at times really hard to breath in this land of the free. I however have not experienced any real persecution that many in the Muslim community have faced- I have indeed been blessed. Apart for the first few months when me and my family had to face some angry attitudes some harsh stares etc. I have also had some very positive and humbling experiences, which I fondly narrate to my fellow Muslims, when I get a chance. For instance as a Muslim, I am required to pray 5 times a day and on Fridays ensure that the I pray the afternoon prayer in a congregation (In a Mosque). Once my colleagues in the office found out about my prayer obligations, they have not only been respectful of the prayer timings, rather in many situations they have reminded me that I (in my laziness) will miss the prayer if I don’t get up right now! An even more humbling experience was when one of my colleagues even went so far as not only to find me a quite place in the office to pray; rather he cleaned the area where I was to place my prayer rug. I can safely say that that the trials and tribulations of the past 10 or so years in the US of America, have given me greater appreciation of what it is to be a Muslim. And indeed has made me a better Muslim.

Ramadan brings the memories of childhood when I would run up the street to wait for the lights on the mosque to be lit... it was the most amazing moment for me. Before that I would run to the bakery and get somun (a special bread made during Ramadan) and all the streets had the scent of freshly baked goods. Bosnia during Ramadan was just a joyous place as I would be dressed up as a doll and would go to the mosque with my grandmother. I loved the outfit and was so proud of it and then surely during the tarawih prayer adults looked like they did not know what they are doing. As they would go down during salat, I would go up and vice versa. After a while I would get tired of their not getting right and fall asleep. To this day there is nothing in the world that provides such peace, serenity and comfort as the mosque does. Sitting in the mosque the other day, a friend noticed running and crying children but we both knew that these are precisely the moments they will cherish and remember forever. This Ramadan I have made a decision to go on a cultural exploration of the vibrant and colorful world of Islam. I have visited an Arabic, Indian, Pakistani, Turkish and a Bosnian mosque (by these definition I mean that majority of people that attend these mosques come from these countries). I was welcomed with a delicious, sweet tea at the Pakistani mosque. In an Indian mosque an eleven year old had tried to set me up with her cousin, with all the seriousness of an adult woman that I could not help but laugh. And at the Arabic mosque the men were so kind and generous but the nicest thing that happened I met a wonderful friend Fazlina who just recently came to the States from Kuala Lumpur. There is something sacred in the notion of brotherhood and sisterhood that comes with the Islamic way of life, that I cannot help but feel privileged and honored to be part of billions of people who turn to Makkah every day. The favorite guest of my heart is about to depart. I already feel sadness as there only few days left of the most amazing gift that God bestowed upon us. I was talking to my grandmother this morning and I felt sad and tearful for Ramadan coming to an end and she said my child remember, 'we all come from dust, so dust anywhere is your homeland and people everywhere are your brothers and sisters.' So it is and so they are... and America has given me home when I had none. Things to remember and be grateful for. Eid Mubarak Olsun to all Muslims and Blessings to Humankind!

What I love about Islam is how compatible it is with any other culture - Most people don't know that Arabs are actually the minority among Muslims and constitute only about 14% of all Muslims. We have more Muslims in Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, India, etc. It truly is a very diverse and open religion that many people from all over the world find peace in. It is also perhaps the only religion that has a set structure for religious, political, military, government, and social practices - everything is covered in Islam. As many say, Islam is not only a religion, but a way of life. On a more local tone, American Muslims are among the most active citizens - you will see us spearheading many of the social and community events. Why? Because it is part of our religion...

Ramadan: A Wife's Perspective (And A Husband's)

By Zehra Rizavi and Yusif Akhund

This piece was originally published at www.altmuslimah.com on September 11, 2009

A Wife's Perspective

My husband’s heavy breathing assures me he is sound asleep. I cautiously tiptoe out of the darkened bedroom, careful not to stub yet another toe on a piece of furniture, and make my way downstairs to the kitchen. As I begin to prepare the French toast and tea, warm smells fill the first floor of our home, but at this early hour they do not strike me as appetizing: it is 4:30 a.m. and I am putting together my and my husband’s sehri.

As I repeatedly call over the incessant ringing of my husband’s alarm in my attempt to awaken him, I feel the irritation creeping in. The trumpet to sound the arrival of Judgment Day could not possibly create the clamor of this alarm so why is he still asleep? And here I am, standing on the stairs at the crack of dawn shouting over this blaring ringing, all the while rubbing sleep out of my eyes and fretting over whether or not his French toast remains warm and crisp. It strikes me that, at this moment, I resemble my mother. A few years ago, it was she who would impatiently call up the stairs as I lay in bed, willfully ignoring my alarm, and she who would be overly concerned about the temperature of my omelet. I miss her and I miss her omelets.

When my husband finally makes his way down the stairs, my frustration abates and he and I sit across from each other and share our early morning meal. We speak intermittently and keep one eye trained on the clock to ensure we finish our food by the time dawn prayers begin. Despite the sparse conversation and the hurried meal, I enjoy the feeling that we are both beginning our obligatory fasts together, as a unit.

Once I have cleared the table and said the dawn prayer, I sit beside my husband as he begins his ritual, early morning recitation of the Q’uran; I listen to his clear, seemingly effortless pronunciation and feel remorseful that I did not practice my Arabic after I completed the Q’uran at the ripe age of nine, as is customary in Pakistani culture. As an adult, I always read the English translation of the Holy Book, missing the rhythm and melody of the lyrical language in which the Q’uran was originally revealed, but finding gratification in understanding the wisdom and application of Allah’s guidance. While the Arabic language remains alien to me, I pray that through the mere act of listening to these holy words, I will earn Allah’s pleasure and through some process of spiritual osmosis, will become a more pious human being.

Once we lay down to sleep, I guiltily recall the tinge of envy I had felt as I had crawled out of bed while my husband lay fast asleep; it is now he who, in another hour and a half, will abandon sleep and trudge downstairs to change and drive to the office to push through a long work day. As I burrow deeper under the cozy covers, I reflect on the balance Allah has created in our relationship and those of many of our equally fortunate friends. Many of the Muslim wives I know find the limits of their patience tested through caring for their capricious little ones while feeling the fatigue a fast brings on. They ignore the rumbles of their complaining stomachs while grocery shopping and set the pre-dawn alarm to prepare daily sehris. Their male counterparts, on the other hand, endure long, tiresome work days without the welcome lunch break, and make the daily drive to the local mosque to perform the special evening prayers of Ramadan. In this month, more than any other, we push though these difficulties in the hopes of cleansing our corroded hearts; we find relief in sharing our trials, small and large, with our spouses. As I drift off to sleep, I say a silent prayer of thanks to Allah for the food and the companions with which we begin and end our fasts.

A Husband’s Perspective

It is 2:00pm, and the hunger is starting to peak is it does every day at this time. It is about the time I start counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds until I will be on my way home. I am imagining how sweet that lone date will taste on my parched tongue, how the cool water will feel as it rushes down my throat and fills my empty stomach in an instant. It is now 2:02pm. Clearly these thoughts are not helping to pass the time.

But eventually the clock strikes 6:30pm and it is time to rush home to discover what delights my wife has prepared for iftar. Impatient and unable to wait the 15 minutes it takes to get home, I call from the car to find out what is on the stove and to squeeze in my last minute request for rice over roti. I get home to see my wife busy cutting fruit in the kitchen while stirring something in a large pot, pausing intermittently to glance over one of many scribbled recipes in a small spiral notepad. In these moments, I envy my wife for the spiritual rewards she receives through this seemingly routine act of preparing a meal. By providing me the means with which to break my fast, she obtains the rewards for both of our fasts on a daily basis throughout the entire month. In this manner, Allah has bestowed an immense honor on any Muslim, male or female, who spends the last hours of the fast, when the hunger is most intense, standing over a hot stove, tantalizingly staring at and inhaling an aromatic blend of meat, vegetables, and spices while unable to indulge in even the slightest taste.

I peak my head in the kitchen to see if I can get a glimpse at what awaits, only to have my wife shoe me back towards the living room, reminding me to make use of the blessed time immediately prior to sunset for dua. I would let most of these golden opportunities go wasted if it were not for these not so subtle reminders. So instead of getting in her way, I take my wife’s advice and spend the last few moments of the fast in silent prayer, hopeful Allah will hear answer our prayers through the blessed act of fasting.

Finally, the time for iftar arrives. My wife places a colorful bowl of lightly spiced fruit in front of me, and we both dig in looking up only to smile at each other, not wanting to waste a precious moment that could be spent on chewing another satisfying bite. However, we hasten to finish this short culinary interlude so we can get to the main course. But first, we must lay out the prayer rug to say the dusk prayer together. I find this to be the prayer with the most impact in Ramadan. I am standing before my Lord and beside my wife, having just indulged in a few morsels of food after a long day of hunger and thirst, and I realize just how much there is to be thankful for. Unlike at other times during the year where prayers can end up being just a “going through the motions” type of exercise, this prayer offers an opportunity to give thanks for all the things that we could so easily be deprived of, such as food and companionship. Thank you O Allah for this meal prepared by the wife you picked out for me. Thank you O Allah for this month to remind me that I need to thank you for these simple, beautiful blessings each and every day.

Zehra Rizavi is Associate Editor of Altmuslimah. Yusif Akhund is a New Jersey-based engineer.

My name is Radwan Mohamed, I'm a 24 years old Muslim, living in Canada. We moved here when I was 5, and I started fasting shortly after that. When you're that young, all you wanna do is prove to your parents and siblings that your old enough not just to fast the whole day but the whole 30 days. So you start of with half a day here, a quarter of a day there and full days on the weekends. But as I get older and especially this year, I've come to see that Ramadan is a lot like the Obama administrations favorite cliche, a reset button. The one time of the year where you truly get to reflect on your relationship with not only food but with your family, your friends, your community and most importantly your relationship with GOD. How New Years should be, but with a lot more will power to meet all your resolutions. Cause if you just spend a whole month replacing your yearning for food, entertainment and leisure with family, charity and GOD. Then losing those last 10 pounds are a breeze, quitting smoking, a walk in the park (something you'll be able to do anyways, after you quit).

This year, Ramadan fell on the dog days of August and September, where the days are long and the night short. But yet of the 24 Ramadans, i've been alive to see and of the 19, i've fasted. This one is by far the most important, one where i've prayed the most, cried the most, asked for the most forgiveness and the most guidance. And for the first time, i've even lost some weight. But more importantly this Ramadan has reconfirmed to me that Islam is the only thing that can help you realize the simplicity of life and explain the complexity of death.

Ramadan: A Fast Track To A Larger World
Ramadan arrived in August this year. I'd grown accustomed to the Muslim month of fasting being an autumn affair. But because Ramadan follows the lunar calendar — moving back about ten days every year — the dawn prayer preparations are even earlier and the dusk fast-breaking meal later. It is a dramatic break from my normal routine.

Usually, I start thinking about my second cup of coffee before I'm barely halfway through my first. When I cannot decide between sweet and savory at breakfast, I order both. I don't have particularly caviar tastes, but like most middle-class Americans, if I want an iced tea in the afternoon, I go out and buy one. I live in the land of serial small desires, serially satisfied — and most of them revolve around food and drink. Eating is the way I pass my time, and how I plan my day.

But Ramadan is another country. And like any experience of elsewhere, the biggest difference lies not in the change in landscape, but in the altered perspective of the traveler.

My system slows down during Ramadan — it's the only way to make it through the day. I find myself noticing things I otherwise wouldn't, and feeling connected in ways I usually don't.

I pay attention to the hopeful look on the face of the guy selling bottles of water in the middle of Western Avenue. I'm walking too slowly to use the, "I don't have time excuse," with the woman selling the homeless newspaper on the corner. So I stop and buy a paper and ask how her day is going.

I remember one Ramadan when I was in college, walking out of an afternoon class, feeling my energy fading fast, and starting to feel a little sorry for myself. I overheard a classmate blithely say to a friend, "I'm starving, I haven't eaten since breakfast."

The line shocked me back into a kind of clarity. "You're not starving," I thought to myself. "And I may be very hungry right now, but I'm not starving either."

It's not the kind of thought I would have had at any other time of year, whether I skipped lunch or not.
Eboo Patel
Enlarge Courtesy of Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel is the Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core and the author of Acts of Faith.
Eboo Patel
Courtesy of Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel is the Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core and the author of Acts of Faith.

Frankly, if it was up to me, I wouldn't choose Ramadan. If I didn't feel required to fast, I probably wouldn't. That afternoon iced tea would keep calling my name, and I'd keep answering.

But after a while, I find something spiritually numbing about constantly getting what I want. It feels like I'm building a world that revolves around fulfilling my minor wishes. I know, intellectually, that I'm not the center of the universe, but my daily routine around food sure indicates otherwise. If it wasn't for Ramadan, I would just keep repeating that pattern every day, all year, for the rest of my life. And my world would feel smaller and smaller.

Ramadan is an expansion. Knowing that I am not allowed to eat or drink, I find different things to look forward to. I read more, and I pray more, and I spend more time with the people that I love most.

I find myself strangely grateful for my hunger and thirst, for the opportunity to put at the center of the universe something larger than my desire for a second cup of coffee.

Ramadan: A Fast Track To A Larger World
Ramadan arrived in August this year. I'd grown accustomed to the Muslim month of fasting being an autumn affair. But because Ramadan follows the lunar calendar — moving back about ten days every year — the dawn prayer preparations are even earlier and the dusk fast-breaking meal later. It is a dramatic break from my normal routine.

Usually, I start thinking about my second cup of coffee before I'm barely halfway through my first. When I cannot decide between sweet and savory at breakfast, I order both. I don't have particularly caviar tastes, but like most middle-class Americans, if I want an iced tea in the afternoon, I go out and buy one. I live in the land of serial small desires, serially satisfied — and most of them revolve around food and drink. Eating is the way I pass my time, and how I plan my day.

But Ramadan is another country. And like any experience of elsewhere, the biggest difference lies not in the change in landscape, but in the altered perspective of the traveler.

My system slows down during Ramadan — it's the only way to make it through the day. I find myself noticing things I otherwise wouldn't, and feeling connected in ways I usually don't.

I pay attention to the hopeful look on the face of the guy selling bottles of water in the middle of Western Avenue. I'm walking too slowly to use the, "I don't have time excuse," with the woman selling the homeless newspaper on the corner. So I stop and buy a paper and ask how her day is going.

I remember one Ramadan when I was in college, walking out of an afternoon class, feeling my energy fading fast, and starting to feel a little sorry for myself. I overheard a classmate blithely say to a friend, "I'm starving, I haven't eaten since breakfast."

The line shocked me back into a kind of clarity. "You're not starving," I thought to myself. "And I may be very hungry right now, but I'm not starving either."

It's not the kind of thought I would have had at any other time of year, whether I skipped lunch or not.
Eboo Patel
Enlarge Courtesy of Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel is the Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core and the author of Acts of Faith.
Eboo Patel
Courtesy of Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel is the Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core and the author of Acts of Faith.

Frankly, if it was up to me, I wouldn't choose Ramadan. If I didn't feel required to fast, I probably wouldn't. That afternoon iced tea would keep calling my name, and I'd keep answering.

But after a while, I find something spiritually numbing about constantly getting what I want. It feels like I'm building a world that revolves around fulfilling my minor wishes. I know, intellectually, that I'm not the center of the universe, but my daily routine around food sure indicates otherwise. If it wasn't for Ramadan, I would just keep repeating that pattern every day, all year, for the rest of my life. And my world would feel smaller and smaller.

Ramadan is an expansion. Knowing that I am not allowed to eat or drink, I find different things to look forward to. I read more, and I pray more, and I spend more time with the people that I love most.

I find myself strangely grateful for my hunger and thirst, for the opportunity to put at the center of the universe something larger than my desire for a second cup of coffee.

HERE IS THE PHOTO OF ME TAKEN IN 1966. AND AS I SAID IN MY FIRST FEEDBACK EMAIL: MY ~"book"~ IS THE REASON WILLIAM MARRION BRANHAM AND I LOOK LIKE TWINS. IF YOU GO TO www.LivingWordBroadcast.com YOU CAN SEE THE PHOTO OF WILLIAM MARRION BRANHAM AND HOW MUCH HE LOOKS LIKE ME.

What would it do to ~“everyone’s”~ ~“attitude’s”~ about ~“everything”~ to see and understand exactly what the ~“paragraph”~ below ~“is”~ and ~“means”~?

And they are: The ~“seven churches”~, ~“seven Spirits”~, ~“seven golden candlesticks”~, ~“seven candlesticks”~, ~“seven stars”~, ~“seven lamps”~, ~“seven seals”~, ~“seven horns”~, ~“seven eyes”~, ~“seventh seal”~, ~“seven angels”~, ~“seven trumpets”~, ~“seven thunders”~, ~“seventh angel”~, ~“seven thousand”~, ~“seven heads”~, ~“seven crowns”~, ~“seven plagues”~*, *~“seven last plagues”~, ~“seven vials”~*, *~“seven golden vials”~, ~“seven mountains”~, ~“seven kings”~, ~“seven,”~, and ~“seventh, chry…”~.
LOOK! A ~“77”~ of ~“seven”~ ~“aligned”~! Reread “P.S.” on pg. 27!

You can see the (correct) ~"alignment"~ of these ~"seven..."~'s in an earlier version of my ~“book”~, in pdf format ~ for free ~ at www.LoveGodIsLove.org . Or send me an email and I will send you the latest version in pdf format: sev748@yahoo.com

~"Feeling"~ ~"led"~ almost ~"compelled"~ to ~"write"~ my ~"book"~ by ~"bolding"~ and ~"underlining"~ and placing ~"tildes"~ and ~"quotes"~ around many of the ~"words"~ and ~"phrases"~ throughout my ~"book"~, I ~"discovered"~ a ~"hidden"~ ~"alignment"~ of ~"seven..."~'s in the book of ~"Revelation"~! Do you think ~"this"~ "physical" ~"evidence"~ of ~"Spiritual Intelligence"~ (i.e. ~"God"~) might make more of ~"us"~ sit up and take notice of what it truly, truly means to ~"Love thy neighbour as thyself."~? I know that ~"God"~ has ~"given"~ me ~"this"~ ~"evidence"~ to share with the world. If ~"You"~ would like to help me get one of The Most Important ~"Co"~ written ~"books"~ of all time ~ to the world ~ call me! ~"God"~ has. 615-220-1599

The text below is the main body of this open~letter.

There is ~“evidence”~ of ~“God”~ in the ~“structure”~ of the ~“text”~ of my ~“book”~ ~“DIVINE 9/11 INTERVENTION”~. It is a TRUE story and it's free at www.LoveGodIsLove.org

(At www.MySpace.com/Love_God_Is_Love you can watch a 5 minute video of one ~“event”~ of this ~“Divine Intervention”~.)

March 1st, 2007
Dear Neighbour,
Hello ~ my name is Arnold Joseph White and I was born in Nashville, TN on July 7th, 1948, and (as with most people?) from time to time in my life, I have had “experiences” that could have possibly been the ~“Spiritual Realm”~ of ~“God”~ at work in my life ~ or not. I never had an experience that did not have a logical and rational explanation ~ until ~ 1996 or 1997 when I began to experience ~“things”~ that at that time, I concluded they were ~“things”~ I believed were from the ~ “psychic realm” ~ of ~ “psychic phenomena” ~ as ~ “psychic ability” ~ and ~ “psychic power” ~. But then ~ on December 15th, of 2000 ~ I witnessed ~“something”~ that as I tried to come to a rational explanation of what I was witnessing, the first thing that came to my mind ~ was ~ “witchcraft” ~. From that point on ~“these things”~ continued to escalate until early in 2002 when it “finally” dawned on me that what I was being ~“approached”~ by was ~“God”~. ~ “WHY?” ~ was not the first question that came to my mind; ~ “WHAT?” ~ was the first question. What do I do with this ~“Revelation”~ of this ~“Epiphany”~? Were ~“these things”~ for my own personal knowledge and mine alone? Or was I supposed to share with the world that ~ “My God! There actually is a God!” ~? It did not take me long to realize that I was being ~“called”~ to tell my story and share my beliefs about ~“these things”~. ~ So ~ I did.
Many of you ~ if not most of you ~ will have a real problem with much ~ if not most ~ of what ~“God”~ has ~“called”~ me to ~“speak”~. But that is not my problem. My problem has been to find a believable way to tell my story as best I could. And on my birthday 07/07/06 ~“God”~ gave me very strong ~“evidence”~ that ~“He”~ has ~“called”~ me to do what I am doing through an ~“alignment”~ of the ~“seven…”~’s from the book of ~“Revelation”~. It's on pg.’s 30, 31, 40 & 41 of my ~“book”~.

Factoring in ALL of the ~“events”~ and ~“circumstances”~ that ~“led”~ to the ~“Revelation”~ this ~“alignment”~ was ~“hidden”~ in the book of ~“Revelation”~. It is ~“statistically impossible”~ for ~“this”~ to be a random, mindless, coincidence! This means this ~“sentence”~ is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT ~“Co”~ written ~“sentences”~ In All Of Human History! These are either ~“the last days”~ of ~“faith, hope, and love”~ or ~ these are ~“the last days”~ of –“doubt, despair and fear and loathing”–. So!
~“choose you this day (~ EVERYDAY ~) whom ye will serve;”~
Joshua 24:15
~ “You must be the change you wish to see in (~ YOURSELF ~)
the world.” ~ Mohandas Gandhi

~ “Love is the answer.” ~ ~“God is love.”~
Arnold Joseph White ~“a white”~
Call me? ~“God”~ has.
615-220-1599

~ “God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” ~
~“these things” ~ are in the King James Bible ~“7”~ times each.
~“I am the Lord thy God”~ ~“love thy neighbour as thyself.”~
~“the end of the world”~ ~“that which is right”~
~“the last days”~ ~“Jesus is the”~ ~“judge not”~
~“forgiveness”~ ~“message”~ ~“feel”~ and
~“a white”~
~“a prophet”~ is in the King James 53 times in ~“48”~ verses.
Is ~“7/7/48”~ my sign?

www.outskirtspress.com/divine911intervention
www.MySpace.com/Love_God_Is_Love (5 min. ~“video”~)
www.PatriotsQuestion911.com
www.LoveGodIsLove.org (Free copy in pdf.)
www.amazon.com
www.bn.com (Barnes & Nobel)
www.target.com
~“Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.”~ John 4:48

I used this picture on the front cover of my ~"book"~ for sale on line; it was taken during Christmas of 2002. In the lower left corner is the ~“outline”~ of a ~“wing”~ which is not on the blanket. It is in the air, above the blanket! In the upper right corner there is a ~“golden cloud-like swirl”~ of ~“shapes”~ in which I see an ~“Angel”~ standing, looking down on the child. And when you turn the picture to the left, the right wing of the ~“Angel”~ becomes the outstretched head and neck of ~“a white horse”~ running at full speed. The book of ~“Revelation”~ mentions ~“these things”~! Others have ~“seen”~ ~“other things”~ in the ~“golden-swirl”~. What do ~“You”~ see?

Your reflections on the many faces of Islam was a poridge of platitudes except for Ms. Romero's unabashed anger at everyone. However, it ignored the many fascinating questions about that particular closed logic system:

1) How did Islam conquer so much territory so quickly?
2) What powered its meteoric elevation of arts, science and commerce?
3) Why did it make women, the life givers, second class or worse?
4) Why did it implode after giving us (among other things) mathematics, superb buildings, paper money and texts, infectious disease wards and naming every star in the sky?

Your participant from Spain where Muslims, Jews and Christians still are tolerant likely knows the answers. When Suliman the Great destroyed the Crusader invasion, he allowed the survivors to leave the Holy Lands or stay and practice any religion they wanted. That was in stark contrast to the wholesale slaughter of Muslims and Christians by the Crusaders.

Partnering with Jews in the lands they conquered by superior swordsmanship allowed camel herding nomads to run the huge cities within a few hundred years of bursting out of Arabia. The major split in Islam diluted its power and both factions attacking the Jews literally cut off its head. Nations with that religion soon became second class in science and commerce and are to this day except for oil wealth which likely will be under pressure from other energy sources.

The relagation of women to servant class is simple Job-Security on the part of the men.

These are issues your program should be addressing.

Paul Wheeler

May I kindly offer:

It is said : The first word God said to Mohamad (peace be upon him as it should be upon all creations) was to read "not to surrender".

To listen to your stories; Some of your Moslem contributors stating the Koran and its stories of people whom talked about the prophet , is accepted without question, is most puzzling.

Perhaps was appropriate in the long past.

Pilgrimige should not be to Mecca, Undrestanding inequality of food distribution through Fasting should not be just for a month, Praying should not be by standing and kneeling to a direction at a specific time, giving to needy is not just by money based on your income only to a person.

The duty to "read" should be for all men and women. Without it any religion will always stay in one place if not limping backward into darkness.

This is what Ramamdan means to me.

Kind Regards,

PS Ms. Tippett & American public radio: God takes care of people whom take care of people. He/she will take care of you all, as you have taken care of me by providing me with room to grow.

Shad Zee (live happy)

I loved listening to this last week's program of the muslim's. It made me think of the many parents I know who are raising their children without any "structured" faith at all.
I am a mother of a 10 year old and feel that it is important to give my child some knowledge of a religion so that she can use that as a basis to discuss or evaluate other religions when she is older.
Just thought I'd comment on that.

Thanks for your time
Barb

Islam means to surrender. To me it is a natural way of life without question. My name is Queen Sheba and I took my shahada when I was 14.
I fell in love with this religion at the age of 11. I believe all of humanity are Muslim in some shape, form of fashion.I am often amazed at how many are practicing and being more aware of this faith which claims are races and ethnic groups globally. Being Muslims means beauty and freedom. Islam is splendor and all facets of this deen is remarkable. When you take notice to nature and people it is a reflection of various if not many verses in the Holy Quran.

It makes since to worship daily and teach others the same about the numerous rituals one practices dutifully.Gratitude is action in practice and not just by word of mouth. The African American Islamic Institute founded by our beloved Shaykh Hassan Cisse (may GOD be pleased with his work) was a very humble scholar and teacher who taught us much about Islam before he returned to GOD.

I hope by the sometimes negative coverage in the media about this glorious faith that one would pay attention enough to research our faith and hope it will unfold much light and education that they too can accept Islam as a way of life as I did many years ago.

Peace be upon you

The religious significant of smoke

The American Indian: The Blackfoot Indian grew only one plant, the tobacco plant. Other American Indian tribes smoked all types of different plants each tribe had their favorite, but the importance was the smoke, the peace pipe, and plants that had a reputation for peace and love. The cigar is given at birth to symbolize life, that spirit is sweet, the aroma remains with you to enjoy and then it’s gone, into a new form. The spirit that lingers and then flies away.
Anabaptist Experience life, Enjoy, celebrate Christ had died for your sins!
Buddha, Buddhism Strongly encourages the individual or group to make the burnt offering at least twice, once in the morning and once in the evening what you burn is up to you.
Christian Ashes to ashes dust to dust this burnt offering is a must. St. Anthony encouraged all people to smoke, the earlier the better; still celebrated each year in Italy. Christ died for our sins, your sins are like ashes you should aim for the ash tray, the right way, but it’s not the end of the world if you miss, as long as it’s done in peace.
Confucius Great Chinese philosopher had a hemp hat, a 2500 year old stash of high quality weed was found in the Gobies desert
Hindu Lord Shiva Encourages the people to smoke or eat hemp 2 or 3 times a day. Ash Wednesday is not just one day a year for holy is an opening for the living
Jewish The Holy Scriptures, These plants are your meat. God saw it and it was good. The smoke in the scriptures was not just for God, but from God.
Muslim The water pipe has been a good place to smoke, sit and praise God
Protestant The bible is revealed to the individual in Gods own time and way all things are possible under God as long as the moral of Christ is maintained, the power over the plants and animals granted to man in the first page of the Christian bible.
Pagan- Rainbow tribe, Amazon tribe, voodoo, all of these place a huge importance on making the burnt offering using hemp or other plants to reach a spiritual plane that does not fit into a computer

The American significant of smoke

History America first settlers survived because of tobacco, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew weed.
Law This country constitution was founded on “Gods nature and his Natural goodness” the supreme law that everyone is responsible for
Victory- WWI- WWII the tobacco farmer was exempt from service for national security reasons. The war was indirectly won because of tobacco “take 5 smoke em if you’ve got em “
Prosperity Tobacco has been important in trade and prosperity for the American people, hundreds of independent growers and tobacco shops that flourished in the 1920s and 1950s
Common since They recommended planting hemp along side roads and in farms for erosion control. Nicotine patch, designer steroids for athletics do you really believe they can’t control the crave?
Customs and culture people would leave cigs in a glass case for guest; the smoker was taken into consideration form ash trays on planes, restaurants, and cars. To free matches- one of the US presidents gave out free cigars. Pipes were not an excuse to harass the people but common place.
Science Henry Ford made a car out of weed they can make fuel out of weed. NASCAR was started and powered by moon shine
Health we do not recognize a profit driven organization that cannot tell every atom or cell in a plant much less dictate to a free American especially since they worship Apollo and swear to Hippocrates a Greek god making the Hippocratic Oath.
Nicotine is found in potatoes, Increased metabolism, weed is recommended by Canada and European medical communities, and is high in potassium, tobacco plants can be used to grow vaccines or vitamin C added. Statistics can be swayed to fit any argument; 2 out of every 3 accidents are caused by people not drinking or doing drugs. Man has had smoke in his lungs since the beginning of time. The blood of Christ is wine
Read more in the book ABOUT CHRISTIANS AND FREEDOM @Amazon.com

I am a 59 year old African-American Convert to Islam. I, like many other black people of the 60's, was very intrigued by the very pervasive Black Nationalist rhetoric of the time.

I was serving in the U.S. Air Force at Wurtzsmith AFB in Oscoda, Mich. A friend with whom I was stationed began visiting the Nation of Islam temple in Saginaw and invited me along one Sunday afternoon. As you probably know, the Nation of Islam's teaching under the Hon. Elijah Muhammad was more of an ingenious means of teaching black self-reliance than it was a means of promulgating the religion of Islam. Nevertheless, I was greatly attracted to what was, until that time, the only "Islam" I had heard. Soon after that, I recieved orders for Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. While there, I feverishly studied the Holy Qur'an and learned to read it in the Arabic script. I am tempted to say that I found glaring contradictions between what I experienced in the Nation and the fundamental teaching of the Qur'an. On the contrary, I found that I was more prepared to embrace the Qur'anic teaching, once I became assured of my own humanity. Before the Nation of Islam, I existed on what could only be described as a sub-human level, living out a crude adaptation of a Christian mythos that was never designed for free Black people. A mythos that seems to discount the potential of the human mind.

The month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and of highest accolade in that it commererates the revealing of the first verses of the Qur'an to Muhammad. Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting; where muslims do not take in anything by mouth, not even water from the dawn of sunrise until after the sun sets. The act of participating in the fast helps clear the mind and heart, allowing one to become closer to Allah, hearing the words of the Qur'an more clearly, because the body is not busy doing anything else. It is a time of deep intimacy, as one prays more often during the days of ramadan, deeping the understanding of the words of Muhammad. One of the core virtues of Islam is Zakat, meaning charity. It is though the acts of charity that muslims participate in during ramadam that they come to feel this deeping of personal spiritual intimacy with their beliefs. Muslims "open" or end their fast at sunset. They do this with a prayer, meal and celebration with others. Children are exempt from the practice of fasting during ramadam, until they reach puberty.

Many of the people who shared their stories on speakingoffaith.com told memories of their childhood and of their attempts to show reverence for their Islamic faith through fasting. There was the story stroy of the Bengali girl who while in the sixth grade wanted to participate in her first full fast. When she looked upon the calendar she saw that ramadan began on the day of her much anticipated field trip- to McDonald's. The young girl saw this as an opportunity to practice her religious virtures in spite of her classmate taunting her with french fries. She remained strong in her fast for most of the field trip, even giving away food that had been gifted to her by someone at the McDonalds who thought she meerly could not afford to purchase a meal. She gave away all of the food- except the french fries, which she could not pass up. I found this endearing because it shows the gentleness and beauty of a child with budding faith.

Thank you for providing this background and for all of the people that have responded to the call for their expressions Living Islam.
I grew up and have lived in a small rural MN area and for the most part have not lived more than 30 miles from where I grew up. I recently have had to travel to a larger city to find work and have (after 50 years) come in contact with people of different faiths (other than Christian) and have not wanted to offend anybody by asking what may appear to be silly questions.
The stories that the people have sent in have really helped me to gain some insight to their daily lives and a little about their faith. I especially liked the story from Mr. Allee Ramadan and how it took the fallout from 9-11 for him to reevaluate his life as a member of Islam and how he felt he had to try to blend in with all of the other students when he was growing up.
The reason that this touched me so much is that the community I grew up in could very well be the same community as he grew up in and I wonder if any of my fellow classmates felt the way he did (I hope not). I remember leaving school once a week for Bible study and really never gave it any thought if somebody in the class did not leave when the rest of the class did and can only imagine how they felt if they were left behind.
If you want to share this with Mr. Allee Ramadan that would be great as he opened my eyes to my childhood and how our community may have (without even trying) missed out on opportunities to make somebody feel welcome and to have learned from them at the same time. I am so proud that he has come from being a student that felt compelled to blend in to a proud member of Islam that let his voice be heard throughout the world.
Thank you MR Ramadan
Sincerely
Jerry Jasmer

I have read the transcripts for both the radio show on Ramadan and Living Islam. I am a Christian, but I am very curious about the Islam faith and have been doing what I can to seek the answers to my questions. I have taken a class on Monotheistic religions and learned some of the origins of Islam, but I have found that these 2 radio shows have given me more insight.

I have been curious to really know and experience what being a Muslim is like. What is it like to be a devout Muslim- is it like being a devout Christian as I am? What are the core beliefs in Islam in comparison to Christianity? I feel more of these questions have been answered by being able to listen to people living life instead of reading from a book. Thank You.

I have worked in a primarily muslim business for the past two years and have seen the passion they have for their religion and all the practices that come with it especially Ramadan. I have also learned how beautiful the Muslim religion is.

After listening to this broadcast and also listening to the personal stories of the people that I work with it has spread a new light on it all for me. The first year I worked there and Ramadan came around I actually fasted with them, and let me tell you it was not easy. I made it through three weeks but then caught a cold and had to take medicine and eat food during the day to get better. Even if you take the religious meaning away from this practice it is something we all should think about. The way I was told and the way I think about it is that it is a way to show appreciation for all the things people have gone through and suffered through to allow us to be where we are today. It really made me look back and think about what its like to go just a day without food and water and how some people do that for long periods of time.

In the end it made me appreciate the passion and adherance that Muslims show toward their religion and the laws of their religion. I think the most important thing that I have learned is that Muslims as a whole are nothing like the images that we see on tv. And not to make blanket stereotypes about Islam from the extremist terrorists we see and hear about, and they in no way are like the quiet peaceful people that most Muslims are.

I received this URL from a friend.
I tried to listen to your broadcast on the net, but it seems complicated. Can you assist me in giving me the direct URL, in order for me to be able to listen to your radio and participate in your questionnaire as convenient!?

I look forward to hearing from you very soon. Thank you in advance for the attention you will give to this message.

Mohammed Abu Aql
Jordan
www.leaders-jo.com

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Production Credits

Host/Producer: Krista Tippett

Managing Producer: Kate Moos

Producer: Colleen Scheck

Associate Producer: Nancy Rosenbaum

Associate Producer: Marc Sanchez

Online Editor/Producer: Trent Gilliss

Associate Web Producer: Andrew Dayton

Senior Producer: Mitch Hanley

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