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City of Brass

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this is a thoughtful video of an interview with Lindsay Lohan being asked directly by British morning show hosts about her intentions towards Islam. Lohan is understandably reticent to be completely open about the status of what she calls a “process” – let her speak for herself:

Lohan freely discusses reading the Qur’an, wearing a headscarf (and being harassed at an airport for it), and the feeling of peace she gains from her spiritual exploration. Her travels and charity work in Turkey in particular have really made an impact. She makes thoughtful comments about personal faith, empathy, and even Trump.

I think that Lohan’s intentions towards Islam are sincere. I doubt she will actually convert, but she shows a real affinity for the broader faith that in some ways would be ruined if she had to really grapple with the nuts and bolts of actually converting. But if she does convert, that would be all the more worthy of respect. It’s not an easy road, and would be even less so for her given her celebrity.

I hope that she is reading Ms. Marvel. If she hasn’t yet, someone needs to gift her a copy.

Related: a gallery on other celebrities alleged to have converted to Islam over the years.

Presented without comment for now, though I will have more to say on this later.

WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

For counterpoint, here is President Obama explaining why he didn’t use the phrase “radical Islam” –

Life imitates art.

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Muslim women were not just the symbol of the March – they were also boots on the ground.

Linda Sarsour’s speech at the DC march:

examples of other Muslim women attending marches:

“Ever since the election, I’ve kind of felt like everyone was against me, based on my appearance, based on my religious beliefs. But it’s been so supportive to be here, and it’s made me feel like this country is my country.” ― Amina Madhwala, 23

WASHINGTON, DC. - JAN. 21: Organizers put the Women's March on Washington in Washington D.C. on Saturday Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo by Damon Dahlen, Huffington Post) *** Local Caption ***

“As a Muslim woman, I feel that is is my duty to march shoulder to shoulder with women and those of other faiths. My faith plays a vital role in my decision to stand up against the injustices we may see with the policies and ideologies of the incoming administration. I’m joining this march because it’s empowering for me, and Islam teaches me that I can’t just sit on the sidelines and play the role of the victim by doing nothing.”

IHAM OSMAN

No photo for this one, but what a proud moment of true heroism:

As what had been a peaceful protest in Austin dissolved into sudden violence Sunday night, one image stood out: Amina Amdeen, a Muslim woman and Iraqi immigrant wearing a hijab, throwing herself in between her fellow protesters and a towering, impassive supporter of Donald Trump.

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This evening, I am honored to be a part of the Voices for Freedom celebration at Temple Aliyah here in the San Fernando Valley. This is an annual interfaith event honoring the spirit of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, and features readings from his speeches and writings. My assigned reading is the following excerpt from the I Have a Dream speech at the Lincoln Memorial, on August 28, 1963:

This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the citizens of color a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

As an American Muslim, I firmly believe in America as a proposition nation, America as an idea and an ideal, America as a work rather than a thing. There have rarely been moments as divided as this moment, today, January 20th, 2017. What better moment than this for affirmation of what America can be, what it was meant to be?

I have always argued that America is the greatest Muslim country on the face of the Earth. And Jewish, and Christian, and White, and Black, and Brown.

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Tomorrow, many hundreds of thousands of people will also march to express their voices and their unity and their belief in the same Dream. They will march in Washington DC and they will march in Sister Marches across the country, across the world. Many Muslim women will also participate – a Muslim woman’s face is even part of the movement’s banner.

There is a school of thought that this is the wrong time for Muslims, especially, to be so visible. There is a valid reason for fear – mosques are literally being burned. The fear is that visible participation by Muslims in protests against the new regime in D.C. will lead to retaliation and retribution. As the saying goes, “the tallest blade of grass is the one that gets cut first.”

The saying is false. All the blades are cut at the same time. In the context of defending the dream of what America is and what America can be, hunkering down and self-censoring is not the answer. All that achieves is complicity via silence. If we think we can avoid being targeted by hiding, then we may as well cut down our minarets.

There are consequences to silence:

“… and I did not speak out. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

or, the shorter version:

“We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Apathy and cynicism and fear all work together hand in hand. This isn’t a call to arms. it is a call to conscience. The Qur’an makes this call to justice explicit: we must enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong (3:104). If we believe that there is a threat to the Dream, then we are obligated to lend our voices to the call in opposition. We must go on record – we must take sides – we must not let there be any doubt as to where our values lie. And we certainly should not make the job of our putative oppressors any easier.

Blog. Speak. March. Tweet! Be the blade of grass.