Islam

Islam

In the years since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, scrutiny of the religion of Islam has become part and parcel of our public life. In forums of all kinds, often guided by non-Muslim pundits, we ask, what does terrorism have to do with the teachings of the Qur'an? Can Islam coexist with democracy? Is Islam capable of a reformation, or has it fallen into hopeless decay?

We pose these questions to a spectrum of American Muslims who describe themselves as devout and moderate. Our guests take us inside the way Muslims discuss such questions among themselves, and they suggest that when we consider "the Muslim world" we must look first at Islam in this country. In this open society, they say, Islam has found a home like no other.

In recent years, the practices of prayer have been evolving for many religious traditions. Even western medicine is looking at prayer as it expands its concept of healing. In this program, we consult several people from a variety of practices about the role of prayer in their lives.

Robi Damelin lost her son David to a Palestinian sniper. Ali Abu Awwad lost his older brother Yousef to an Israeli soldier. But, instead of clinging to traditional ideologies and turning their pain into more violence, they've decided to understand the other side — Israeli and Palestinian — by sharing their pain and their humanity. They tell of a gathering network of survivors who share their grief, their stories of loved ones, and their ideas for lasting peace. They don't want to be right; they want to be honest.

Is there such a thing as the Muslim world? Is the "veil" a sign of submission or courage? Is our Western concern about women in Islam really a concern for the well-being of women? Our guest, Egyptian-American Leila Ahmed, challenges current thought on these and other questions.

Nine Muslims, in their own words, reveal a creative convergence of Islamic spirituality and American identity that is unfolding, largely unnoticed, in the United States. A lawyer turned playwright, a teacher who's a lesbian, a retired federal prosecutor — all giving shape to the nature and meaning of Muslim identity, and sharing how tricky it can be to unravel Islamic religious tradition from the many cultural traditions.

Dramatic headlines convey a predominantly violent picture of global Islam. But, during the past five years, Muslim guests on SOF have conveyed a thoughtful, questing, diverse, and compelling faith. Step back with us and hear these voices from the traditional and evolving center of Islam. And, Krista speaks with Seyyed Hossein Nasr, an esteemed Muslim scholar who brings a broad religious and historical perspective to hard questions about Islam and the West that have lingered uncomfortably in American life since 9/11.

We shine a light on two young leaders of a new generation of grassroots Muslim-Jewish encounter in Los Angeles. They're innovating templates of practical relationship that work with reality, acknowledge questions and conflict, yet resolve not to be enemies — whatever the political future of the Middle East may hold.

The sacred story of Abraham traverses the geography of the most bitter political conflict in the modern world — beginning in what is now southern Iraq and ending in the West Bank city of Hebron. Yet Abraham is the common patriarch of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. We explore the story of Abraham in several traditions and why he might be important for people in our time. The hour also includes readings from the Bible and the Qur'an as well as music from the likes of Bob Dylan and Benjamin Britten on the figure of Abraham.

The religious landscape of Iraq is complex and somewhat enigmatic to the western world. Nearly 97% of Iraq's 25 million people are Muslim, and a majority of Iraqis are Shiite rather than Sunni. What does that mean? And how powerful is the prominent cleric Ayatollah Ali al Sistani who has effectively challenged the American-led coalition. Could he become another Islamic revolutionary like Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini?

As part of Iraq's rebuilding process, the Iraqi governing council agreed on an interim constitution that cites Islam as a source — but not the primary source — of future legislation. Approval of the interim constitution was delayed first by violence, and then by a group of Shiite council members who raised objections to elements within it. Host Krista Tippett speaks at length with Iraqi-American professor and advisor, Ahmed al-Rahim, for insight into the unfolding new relationship between mosque and state in Iraq.

Ingrid Mattson, the first woman and first convert to lead the Islamic Society of North America, describes her experience of Islamic spirituality, which she discovered in her twenties after a Catholic upbringing. We probe her unusual perspective on a tumultuous age for Islam in the West and around the world.

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