Phew - just managed to squeeze in an eleventh-hour August edition. For those of you in the U.S., hope you have a great Labor Day weekend planned. While you’re sitting on your plane/bus/kayak/porch swing, I hope you’ll also take a few minutes to ponder how Islam is linked to the labor movement and worker justice 👩🏾🏭
This time, let’s start with a few Eid al-Adha and hajj-related links, before they become completely stale. (Speaking of which, hope you had a blessed Eid!)
A greener hajj is a sweeter hajj 🕋 Imam Saffet Abid Catovic talks about his efforts to follow in the Prophet Muhammad’s footsteps by engaging in “eco-conscious practices” during his pilgrimage to Mecca. Catovic is a big name in Islamic environmentalism: back in 2016, he successfully campaigned the Islamic Society of North America to divest from fossil fuels.
A new project to help women make hajj. “Putting off things for themselves is just part of being a woman…I wanted to do something that would inspire and educate women to want to make hajj a higher priority in their lives,” Krishna Najieb told RNS. So she created the Hajjah Project to encourage women in L.A. to perform hajj and reduce the barriers in their way – including finances.
On Eid, caught between the law and faith. What happens when your local Muslim slaughterhouse is denied the permit it needs to serve hundreds of customers on Eid al-Adha? Abigail Hauslohner looks at how local zoning ordinances affected the Muslim communities of Warrenton, Virginia, on the holiday. (If you need it, I’ve got a quick backgrounder on the Islamic holiday.)
Muslim veterans and the “Good Muslim” narrative. In 2015, the Pentagon reported that over 5,000 Muslims serve the U.S. military. But many Americans don’t know that. That’s why Mansoor Shams stands on street corners around the country with the sign, “I'm a Muslim and U.S. Marine. Ask anything!” He talked to Slate about how he uses his all-American status to open minds – even though he wishes he didn’t need that military pass to be heard. (Full disclosure: I did freelance web/design work for Shams while in j-school.)
A win for civil rights advocates in the City of Angels. Last month, we talked about the debate over accepting $425K in federal Countering Violent Extremism funds in L.A. A few weeks ago, the mayor’s office turned down the grant after civil rights groups argued that the program would vilify and surveil Muslims.
“When he started stabbing, we ran as fast as we could.” Teenaged Portland train attack survivors Destinee Mangum and Walia Mohamed spoke to Lithub about their experiences. “I’m a Somali immigrant and I decided to take off my hijab a few months ago because I don’t feel safe. I feel like I’m going to get attacked again,” Mohamed said. “I’m still Muslim, but I just don’t follow certain traditions because I feel unsafe. It’s really hard for me right now.”
How Ahmadi Muslims are making unlikely allies. Trump evangelical advisor and USCIRF commissioner Johnnie Moore spoke at Ahmadis’ global convention this month; Trump-appointed international religious freedom Sam Brownback spoke at an Ahmadi convention last month; Ahmadis spoke at Brownback's controversial International Religious Freedom Ministerial. Turns out Western Ahmadis have a history of building bridges with folks many mainstream Muslims shun, from Rep. Peter King to Stephen Harper. Why? Because of their commitment to the twin causes of religious freedom and anti-extremism.
Next time you’re in NYC: Katherine Merriman, an Islamic studies Ph.D. student, gives Muslim history tours of Harlem ~five times a year. She covers everything from the city’s first mosques to the Five Percenters to FBI surveillance of Muslims. “Muslim history is New York City history,” she told the Times.
The forgotten history of Sapelo Island. "The community’s unique origin story – slaves turned landowners who preserved African and Islamic traditions on a forgotten island – is overshadowed by the modern-day fight to survive." Hannah Allam looks at a lawsuit accusing the government of pushing out enslaved black Muslims’ descendents to make way for white vacationers.
A homeless shelter serving Muslims is in danger of closing. The Texas shelter Khadijah’s House was originally opened for Muslim women, but it’s since become an interfaith shelter in order to stay afloat. Hanaa’ Tameez explores homelessness among American Muslims and what Baquee Sabur needs to keep his shelter going. (Further reading: In 2007, WashPo looked at challenges facing Muslim women experiencing homelessness.)
Meet the Muslim women becoming civic leaders. We’ve read about the wave of Muslim women candidates for office around the country, and their incredible successes – Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are really out here doing the Lord’s work. And on Tuesday, we’ll find out if Tahirah Amatul-Wadud will join them as the third Muslim woman in Congress. This month, Religion & Politics zooms in on several Muslim women in New York City who are leading local and national political engagement.
Can you beat this TSA horror story? Zainab Merchant, a hijabi Harvard grad student, says TSA agents made her pull down her pants and underwear to show them her bloody menstrual pad. In a complaint filed on her behalf, the ACLU said officials have previously asked her about her beliefs, her thoughts on ISIS, whether she’s Sunni or Shia, and why she criticizes U.S. policies in her writing.
A homage to the chapli kebab burger 🍔 I realize not all Muslims are Pakistani. But this really is the best way to make a burger and it would be criminal not to share this information. So here you go, enjoy your Labor Day barbecue.
👌 Shout out to Poligon
Poligon Education Fund was founded by Wardah Khalid as a non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to amplifying and increasing Muslim American voices on Capitol Hill. To do that, they offer congressional advocacy trainings and workshops to Muslim groups around the nation. They point to a Quranic verse, “Oh you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God," as inspiration for their work.
I’ll also add that, from personal experience, Khalid is a great source for journalists writing stories on refugees, U.S. foreign policy and Muslim Americans in politics. She’ll be leading a workshop on faith-based advocacy at ISNA this weekend along with members of the Poligon team, if you’re planning to attend.
🗣 Talk to me
I'm looking to collaborate with Muslim journalists, activists and academics to curate special editions on niche topics (CVE, immigration, sects, etc). Message me if you’re interested!
As always, send me your comments, questions, corrections and airport security nightmares.