A Look Back

If 9/11 hadn't happened, perhaps Speaking of Faith would not have spent so much time during the past five years in conversation with Muslims. Krista's conversation partners have been Asian, Arab, African, and North American by origin. The Muslims with whom she spoke insist on an honest appraisal of the destructive energies alive in their faith. But they long for a nuanced appraisal too — informed and intelligent enough to unravel extremism from devotion, to distinguish between what is ideological and what is religious.

Leila Ahmed

Leila Ahmed
Professor, Harvard Divinity School
from "Muslim Women and Other Misunderstandings"

"Well, look, for one thing, I no longer believe there's an Islamic world, because where exactly are the borders? Are they in Chicago? Where are they? Where does the Islamic world end and where does the West begin? Is it in Paris, or where is it? So I do think what happens in this country is going to be as much about the Islamic world as whatever happens over there. The Islamic world is no longer over there. That's one thing. The other thing is, I think what we do, what we Americans do, will profoundly determine what becomes of what we're calling an Islamic world."

» Listen to the full interview (RealAudio, 53:00)


Omid Safi

Omid Safi
Professor of Islamic Studies, Colgate University
from "Progressive Islam in America"

"If you go back 50 years and you listen to what the liberal Muslims were saying, essentially it was, you know, we want to be as Western as possible, as modernized as possible, as scientific, rational, technological as possible because that's what the Europeans are like. And I think what has happened with this emergence of the group that we're calling Progressive Muslims is that we are exposing modernity to the same kind of critique that we are doing to our own tradition."

» Listen to the full interview (RealAudio, 52:59)


Ingrid Mattson

Ingrid Mattson
President, Islamic Society of North America
from "The Spiritual Fallout of 9/11"

"…violent actions are much more dramatic and memorable. A person who is motivated, a Muslim who is motivated by faith, will sometimes in their life have an opportunity to do something, you know, grand, but most people don't. Most people, they live out their life, live out their faith, day to day by small actions of generosity, humility, and gratefulness."

» Listen to the full interview (mp3, 8:17)


Rami Nashashibi

Rami Nashashibi
Founder, Inner City Muslim Action Network
from "The Problem of Evil"

"'Have mercy on that which is on Earth so that which is in heaven can have mercy on you.' The fact that that message has been, unfortunately, somewhat either minimized or cynically dismissed becomes very apparent in the harsh realities of our lives - whether they be in the inner cities, in the ghettos of Chicago, or whether they be in the refugee camps of Muslims throughout the world. This aspect of our faith traditions, as a Muslim, I try to fall back on."

» Listen to the full interview (mp3, 10:06)


Khaled Abou El Fadl

Khaled Abou El Fadl
Professor of Law, UCLA
from "The Power of Fundamentalism"

"As an Egyptian, it becomes very concrete when you think everywhere you turn the — the identity to which you belong is confronted with military defeats. If you travel — you carry an Egyptian passport and you try to travel all around the world, you become thrown into a category of the inferior just by virtue of the fact that you belong to an Arab identity."

» Listen to the full interview (mp3, 14:07)


Muqtedar Khan

Muqtedar Khan
Professor, Political Science and International Relations, University of Delaware
from "The Other Religious America in Election 2004"

"I live in a very small town called Adrian, Michigan, of about — we brag that there are 30,000 people here, where actually, I think there are only 24,000 people. There are only 11 Muslims here. And I think five of them are doctors and the rest of us are professors. And I think that Muslims in my tiny city are doing a great service to their tiny city. Just 11 of us, but we save their lives every day as doctors, and then we save their spirit every day as teachers."

» Listen to the full interview (mp3, 20:55)


Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad

Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad
Chaplain, United States Army
from "Serving Country, Serving Allah"

"What I would really personally like to see more of is talking more to people in this country who are tax-paying citizens who pray five times a day who are part of organizations, many of whom are professionals. I mean we're not hearing a whole lot from them, but we seem to have this tendency to want to almost associate Islam with people who are extreme in their views. And I don't quite understand that."

» Listen to the full interview (RealAudio, 53:18)


Kecia Ali

Kecia Ali
Professor, Islamic Studies, Boston University
from "Women, Marriage, and Religion"

"I think that any complicated text like the Qur'an admits numerous interpretations, and one is absolutely a patriarchal one. And there is also, I think, an equally plausible feminist or at the very least egalitarian reading. And I think that from that perspective, we have to be willing to allow conversations about these kinds of issues to take place within the Muslim community and not simply dismiss them."

» Listen to the full interview (mp3, 23:06)


Mohammed Abu-Nimer

Mohammed Abu-Nimer
Executive Director, Salaam Institute for Peace & Justice
from "Two Narratives: Reflections on the Israeli-Palestinian Present"

"Really, among the Palestinian, like the Egyptian and other Muslim countries, Arab Muslim countries, even if you're secular or so-called non-religious, you still hold all of your values, all of the ideas that you hold, then, are rooted in an Islamic culture. And that Islamic culture, to a great extent, is really influenced, affected by the religion of Islam. So we expect, Muslims in general in the Arab world, to strip away from their self, their identity, their collective identity, this dimension of religion, and separate it, when it is really the container of their entire identity."

» Listen to the full interview (mp3, 53:18)


Seemi Bushra Ghazi

Seemi Bushra Ghazi
Professor, University of British Columbia
from "The Spirit of Islam"

"And I have to remind myself that the kind of work I do, teaching Arabic at the university or talking or just interacting on a daily level with people and having them have a different experience of Islamic tradition through me, that that subtle work will remain and will continue and will have power sort of beyond any kind of blunt instruments of terror that may seem to be destroying the bridges and closing the gaps where there's communication."

» Listen to the full interview (RealAudio, 53:00)


Michael Wolfe

Michael Wolfe
Muslim Author and Filmmaker
from "Progressive Islam in America"

"…I would like to see in the next five years or so some books coming out by individual Muslims talking about their lives here, because there is the most fascinating mixture of traditional and contemporary living going on in the Muslim community right now. … There are all kinds of interesting combinations of the traditional and the very modern that are taking place, and it's an interesting moment right now in our society, and I hope that in addition to essays by apologists, by reformists, by progressive Muslims and everything else — I hope also that people will begin to register their actual lives in print because this is a very interesting time right now."

» Listen to the full interview (RealAudio, 52:59)


Ahmed H. al-Rahim
Assistant Professor, Islamic Studies, University of Virginia
from "A Perspective on Islam in Iraq"

"…the majority of Shiites in Iraq — certainly many that I met with, teachers, businessmen, physicians and so on — generally have a very private sense about their faith. It's not a political public sense that we associate with, for example, Muqtada al-Sadr. They see their faith as a private faith, one where they associate more with the class that they come from, where they're looking for stability, they're even looking to the West. So we haven't really focused on this group, unfortunately. And the reason is that there wasn't any form of civil society under Saddam for these kinds of groups to work together, to come together. And so that, as a result of the vacuum, individuals like Sistani, Muqtada al-Sadr naturally come to the top."

» Listen to the full interview (RealAudio, 52:59)


Precious Rasheeda Muhammad

Precious Rasheeda Muhammad
President, Journal of Islam in America Press
from "Progressive Islam in America"

"My greatest fear is the misrepresentation. I think that's my greatest fear, and right now not necessarily the misrepresentation from non-Muslims but misrepresentation from Muslims. And I can only speak from my experience on that and say what Islam means to me and my understanding of it and its message of universal human excellence. That it has something that can appeal to everyone, not necessarily that they have to be Muslim, but that there's a message in it that can allow me to sit down with anyone in a civilized manner and be a part of that human family."

» Listen to the full interview (RealAudio, 6:55)


Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel
Founder, Interfaith Youth Core
from "Religious Passion, Pluralism, and the Young"

"I think about the phenomenon of young people involved in religious violence primarily through thinking about what young people want. And I think that Gwendolyn Brooks in this beautiful line from a poem called "Boy Breaks Glass" articulates it best, and she speaks as if she were a young person. She says, "I shall create if not a note, a hole. If not an overture, a desecration." Young people want to impact the world. They want their footprint on Earth, and they're going to do it somehow. And if the only way that they get a chance to do that is by destroying things, then we shouldn't be surprised if that's the path they take."

» Listen to the full interview (mp3, 53:18)


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Seyyed Hossein Nasr

is University Professor of Religious Studies at George Washington University and the author of many books, including Islam: Religion, History, and Civilization.