Not only is Islam the fastest growing of the monotheistic religions in America, Asian-American Muslims (from countries like India and Pakistan, constituting the third largest ethnic group, after African-Americans and Whites) have more income and education and are more likely to be thriving than other American Muslims. In fact, their quality of life indicators are higher than for most other Americans, except for American Jews, according to a recent Gallup poll in US. The only countries where Muslims are more likely to see themselves as thriving are Saudi Arabia and Germany, according to the poll. For example, 41% of American Muslims say they are thriving, as compared to 51% of Saudis, 47% of German Muslims and only 11% of Pakistanis. Among the prominent Muslim nations surveyed by Gallup, Pakistanis are among the most dissatisfied in their home country, with 44% reporting they are struggling and 45% saying they are suffering. In sharp contrast to Pakistanis, Bangladeshis report higher levels of satisfaction, with 17% thriving and only 8% saying they are suffering. In spite of the high Muslim political representation in Britain, only 7% British Muslims say they are thriving, lower than the 11% in Pakistan. South Asian results appear to correlate well with the world happiness index ranking that shows Bangladesh ahead of both India and Pakistan in terms of happiness.
Gallup researchers say that the satisfaction figure in the US is pulled down by the fact that 35% of American Muslims are African Americans, and they generally report lower levels of income, education, employment and well-being than other Americans.
“We discovered how diverse Muslim Americans are,” said Dalia Mogahed, executive director and senior analyst of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, which financed the poll. “Ethnically, politically and economically, they are in every way a cross-section of the nation. They are the only religious community without a majority race.”
American Muslim women, contrary to stereotype, are more likely than American Muslim men to have college and post-graduate degrees. They are more highly educated than women in every other religious group except Jews. American Muslim women also report incomes more nearly equal to men, compared with women and men of other faiths.
The survey notes that Muslim-Americans do not participate in the political process as much as Americans of other faiths. Lower percentages of Muslims register to vote or volunteer their time than adherents of other faiths. They are less likely to be satisfied with the area where they live. These indicators are “worrying,” said Ahmed Younis, a senior analyst at the Muslim studies center.
Overall, the survey paints a picture of Muslims in America, particularly immigrants and first-generation Americans with higher average incomes, as far more integrated in the mainstream society than their counterparts in Europe.
The Muslim West Facts Project
South Asians Income Levels in America
America's Fastest Growing Faiths: Islam and Buddhism
India's Washington Lobby Emulates AIPAC
Gallup Poll of Muslim Americans
American Muslims Thriving, but Not Content
World Happiness Index Ranking
The causes of deep dissatisfaction among Pakistanis in Pakistan are highlighted by a rising sense of insecurity and loss of confidence from incidents such as the attack on Sri Lanka's team yesterday.
While it is possible that Pakistani militants or political opponents of the PPP carried out this shocking and tragic attack, external elements from India or Sri Lanks can not be ruled out. In fact, the investigators should not rule out anything immediately and pursue all leads until they have good preliminary results.
There has been a lot of discussion in India by former RAW officials to launch covert actions inside Pakistan after Mumbai. And, lately, the Tamil rebels have also been under a lot pressure in Sri Lanks by recent successes of the Lankan military. There are multiple external players with strong motivation to launch such an attack.
In fact, the investigators should not rule out anything immediately and pursue all leads until they have good preliminary results.
Yes, leads should be pursued with the same diligence as in Benazir's and Zia's deaths. If done that way, no doubt there'll be Indian currency notes and revolvers found - with satellite phone calls to the VHP headquarters :-)
Riaz, your affinity for conspiracy theories is a severe waste on this blog. Bollywood would pay big money for stories requiring as much suspension of disbelief as some of your posts require.
The conclusions of Pak investigators of Benazir's assassination have been supported by British and US investigators.
Zia's murder remains a mystery like other murder mysteries including JFK's.
While it is tempting to compare Lahore with Mumbai superficially, it does not hold when you realize that Mumbai remained under siege for more than two days by less than a dozen attackers and the Indian security forces were rendered completely helpless. Although it was clearly a security lapse in Lahore, it bears very little resemblance to Mumbai. And stretching it to conclude that Pak is a failed state is just self-serving exaggeration by India’s Congress leaders and other Indians wishing for Pakistan to fail.
You almost seem to enjoy the fact that it took Indian security two days to secure the place. But we killed most of them, and even got one alive. Why did it take two days? Because the cowards had a few hundred hostages with them.
Have the pakistani authorities caught the 12 gunmen?? Why aren't they dead? Why haven't they been caught? You're right, it can't be compared to mumbai - in some ways its worse, because these people literally walked away from the scene
Thanks for pointing out additional differences between Lahore and Mumbai:
1. Unlike the Lahore attackers, the Mumbai attackers were on a suicide mission and fought a determined and long battle killing lots of civilians while mocking Indian authorities.
2. Unlike Mumbai police, ATS and Indian commandos, Lahore Police were able to protect their charges from hostage taking or being killed while sacrificing their own lives.
3. Unlike the Mumbai attackers, the Lahore attackers staged an ambush and ran away when the police responded.
All of this says that the nature of the attacks and attackers were very different leading one to conclude that Lahore is not the work of Jihadi groups. It is more likely the work of mercenaries hired by someone to do a covert action to terrorize Pakistan.
Xenophobia and Islamophobia are on the rise in Europe, as confirmed by the Swiss scare campaign and 56% vote to ban minarets. Similar noises are coming our of France where much is made of no more than a couple of hundred Muslim women who wear burqa.
Here's an AP report about the Swiss vote:
GENEVA – A Swiss ban on minarets could violate fundamental liberties, Europe's top human-rights watchdog said Monday in an indication that the heavily criticized vote could be overturned.
The Council of Europe said banning "new minarets in Switzerland raises concerns as to whether fundamental rights of individuals, protected by international treaties, should be subject to popular votes."
The statement by the 47-nation council's secretary-general, Thorbjorn Jagland, suggests a case may be made to seek a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights condemning Switzerland for violating freedom of expression, freedom of religion and prohibition of discrimination.
Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the ban would come into force immediately, but also indicated that the court could strike down the Sunday vote, which incurred swift condemnation at home and abroad for banning the towers used to put out the Islamic call to prayer.
"The ban contradicts the European Convention on Human Rights," Zurich daily Blick cited Widmer-Schlumpf as saying, referring to the 1950 treaty laying out basic rights that the court in Strasbourg, France, was created to ensure member states abide by.
The referendum backed by nationalist parties was approved by 57.5 percent of the population Sunday, forcing the government to declare illegal the building of any new minarets in Switzerland. It doesn't affect the country's four existing minarets.
France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he was "a bit scandalized" by the vote, which amounts to "oppressing a religion."
"I hope that the Swiss will go back on this decision rather quickly," Kouchner said on France's RTL radio. "It is an expression of intolerance, and I detest intolerance."
The U.N.'s special investigator on religious freedom, Asma Jahangir, said the ban on new minarets constitutes "a clear discrimination against members of the Muslim community in Switzerland."
The Roman Catholic Church, however, condemned the vote.
Lately, there have been some arrests of American-Muslim and Pakistani-American youths on suspicions of terror. The Internet has been identified as a tool for radicalization and proposals made to deal with it. Here's an interesting post by Reem Salahi in HuffingtonPost on this subject:
Yet even in cases where agent provocateurs were not employed, the reality is that the government and media have too long treated Islam and Muslims as a homogeneous, non-dynamic, suspect group. Whenever a Muslim engages in a criminal act, the individual is always qualified by his religious background. Very rarely do we see similar treatment of non-Muslims. For example, I have never read an article describing Timothy McVeigh as the Christian white man. But nearly every article on Nidal Hasan qualifies him as a Muslim and Palestinian within the first few sentences.
As a consequence, Muslims are forced to account for the (negative) actions of a fourth of the world's population. Ironically, I have never been congratulated for the positive actions of other fellow Muslims. The acts of a few bad apples or even a few misguided youth become the norm and not the exceptions. Put differently, it would be like suspecting that every White high school student was prone to commit a massacre as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the killers at Columbine High School, did.
The reality is that the discourse on radicalization and homegrown terrorism is fundamentally racist and Islamophobic. It is based on seeing Muslims as the "other" and viewing our actions through an "orientalist" lens which frames any Muslim's questionable action as terrorism. Hence, a Muslim overstaying an immigration visa or improperly filing taxes or even paintballing becomes evidence of terrorism and radicalization, justifying the government's infiltration of our mosques, surveillance of our youth groups, and mapping of our populations. Maybe, just maybe, Muslims don't need to be understood by a different rubric than other populations. Further, by framing Muslims as terrorists and as the internal enemy within, the government and media have alienated and disenfranchised many law-abiding Muslims who seek nothing more than to actually live "unremarkable" lives.
Those in the media, in the government, and in Muslim organizations who have jumped on the bandwagon, you have missed the boat. Muslims and Muslim youth are not intrinsically prone to radicalization through the aid of the internet, just as White youth are not intrinsically prone to commit massacres or lynch ethnic minorities in solidarity with the KKK. Rather, the problem is the media and the government's continued vilification and the consequential disenfranchisement of the Muslim community. It is the government's infiltration of mosques and community centers with informants and agent provocateurs. It is the FBI's prolonged fishing expeditions and false prosecutions of many innocent Muslims. And it is an ever-worsening foreign policy that wastes away our tax dollars on killing innocent civilians throughout the world. So please stop parroting the misguided construct of homegrown terrorism and Islamic radicalization as the problem, when the real problem is xenophobia couched in politically correct terms.
Here's a Detroit Free Press piece on Muslim contributions in the United States:
It has been said that ignorance and prejudice go hand in hand. If anyone can prove that statement true, it’s Michigan Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema.
Following a litany of inflammatory questions about the contributions of American Muslims, some lawmakers have amped up calls for his resignation. While publicly renouncing his bigoted views is important, it is also necessary to reject them because they are riddled with falsehoods.
On Facebook last month, Agema shared a widely circulated blog that highlighted the charity work of the Catholic church before asking a series of mocking questions about Muslims. Some included: Have you ever been to a Muslim hospital? Have you heard of a Muslim orchestra? A Muslim marching band? Have you witnessed a Muslim charity? Can you show me one Muslim signature on the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, or Bill of Rights? Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?
The questions were intended to be rhetorical, with an implicit answer of “no” resounding after each one. Muslims, Agema believed, had not done any of these things. But a closer examination of history proves that Muslims have done many of them. They are an important and integral part of America’s national fabric and contribute in many meaningful ways to its success and growth.
■ American Muslims have a substantial presence in the health care industry. The Islamic Medical Association of North America, one of many such organizations, estimates that there are more than 20,000 Muslim physicians in the United States. Similarly, an analysis of statistics provided by the American Medical Association indicates that 10% of all American physicians are Muslims. While no Islamic hospitals exist in the United States, per se, several Muslim-based health clinics do. And let’s not forget that the hospital itself is not an American invention — it’s an Egyptian one. For that matter, the father of modern surgery wasn’t an American Protestant pioneer, either, but a 10th-Century Muslim physician from Spain, Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi.
■ Criticism over the absence of Muslim orchestras in the United States rings hollow, as well. Few orchestras are comprised exclusively of members from one particular faith, and many are organized along ethnic or other lines. The National Arab and New York Arabic Orchestras are two examples of groups whose members include numerous Muslims. Similarly, marching bands are obviously affiliated with high schools or universities, not mosques or churches, and surely Muslim students make up these musical groups, which, as it turns out, trace their roots back to the military bands of the Muslim Ottoman empire. The violin, too, finds its origins within the 10th-Century bowing instruments of Islamic civilization.
■ Muslim charity groups in the United States are too numerous to catalog, though the Bay Area Islamic Networks Group, the UMMA Clinic in Los Angeles, the Chicago-based Inner-City Muslim Action Network and Dearborn’s ACCESS are examples of groups that provide crucial services and empower the underprivileged. In 2013, the Muslim charity Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD) was rated among the top 10 charities in the United States....
By Akbar Ahmad
One of the right-wing tropes about Islam in Europe, which is making alarming inroads into the mainstream, is that it represents a "culture of backwardness, of retardedness, of barbarism" and has made no contribution to Western civilization. Islam provides an easy target considering that some 3,000 or more Europeans are estimated to have left for the Middle East in order to fight alongside the Islamic State. The savage beheadings and disgusting treatment of women and minorities confirm in the minds of many that Islam is incompatible with Western civilization. This has become a widely known, and even unthinkingly accepted, proposition. But is it correct?
Let us look at European history for answers. At least 10 things will surprise you:
1. Contrary to common belief, Muslims did not first arrive in Europe with the intention of conquering it.
A small military contingent landed on the southern coast of Spain in 711 in response to the pleadings of the Jewish community, which faced harsh persecution under the Visigoth rulers. The arrival of the Muslims and their victory prevented what New York University Professor David Levering Lewis terms "the final solution." Christian leaders like Count Julian, whose daughter had been dishonored at court, had also been requesting Muslim intervention. It is precisely this reason, the support of large sections of local society, that allowed the Muslims to so easily establish their domination over Al-Andalus.
2. By describing Muslims as "backward", "retarded" and "barbaric," it is suggested that they are not capable of balancing their religion with rational thought. Yet Muslims had already attained a balance between the two positions centuries before other European societies.
The debate between faith and reason that had been agitating Muslim philosophers and had begun since the birth of Islam and its first encounters with Greek philosophy found one of its most sophisticated votaries in Ibn Rushd, or Averroës, in 12th century Andalusia. Averroës' translations and commentaries on Aristotle and Plato so influenced scholars like Thomas Aquinas that he and others across Europe, assuming his name needed no elaboration, referred to Ibn Rushd simply as "The Commentator."
3. The first man ever to fly was the scholar Ibn Firnas near Cordoba in the 9th century.
Its streets were lit and there were baths, gardens and libraries everywhere. The main library was estimated to have 400,000 books when the largest library in Europe, in Switzerland, had 800 volumes. Visitors came from all over the continent to marvel at Andalusian civilization, and a nun in Saxony called Hroswitha described it as ''the ornament of the world.''
5. Islam is frequently accused of being intolerant and rejecting harmony with other cultures and religions. Yet Muslim Spain or Andalusian civilization offers one of the most shining examples of harmony, peace and prosperity between different religions in the history of Europe.
At one point the capacity of people of different faiths to live and work together in Andalusia was illustrated by its ruler Abd Al-Rahman III in the 10th century. His chief minister was Jewish and his ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I was the Catholic Bishop Racemundo. The Spanish term La Convivencia or Coexistence describes that time in Al-Andalus. Harmony at the political level engendered creativity and prosperity. Others saw it differently. Muslim tribes fresh from the deserts and mountains of North Africa looked on Andalusian society as decadent and corrupt. They destroyed Madina-at-Zahra, the beautiful royal town built in the hills near Cordoba considered the gem of Andalusian architecture. Scholars like the great Rabbi Maimonides and Averroës were forced into exile from their beloved Cordoba.
Their ‘Ask a Muslim’ project went viral. Now they have a travel show about Islam in the U.S.
Rapper-activist Mona Haydar and husband Sebastian Robins star in ‘The Great Muslim American Road Trip’ for PBS
Mona Haydar and Sebastian Robins felt they had a deep understanding of Islam. But filming “The Great Muslim American Road Trip,” a docuseries that will air on PBS this summer, made the married couple realize how much more they had to learn.
Haydar, a Syrian American rapper and activist whose music videos boast millions of views on YouTube, grew up Muslim. Robins, a writer and educator, converted to Islam after they met. The show follows the couple as they traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles via historic Route 66 in September. Along the way, they learned about Islam’s roots in America, explored nearby Muslim communities and took in the sights. In Chicago, they met with Muhammad Ali’s daughter Maryum Ali and toured the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) to learn about structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan, known for his work on the innovative tubular design for high-rises. On more than a dozen stops, Haydar and Robins visited with restaurateurs, doctors and authors.
“This is a deep passion of ours; it’s our faith and our practice,” Haydar said. “And it really felt like this epic quest of learning and finding the clues and piecing them together.”
The couple garnered widespread attention for their “Ask a Muslim” project, following terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., in 2015. Outside a Cambridge Mass., library, they set up signs that invited passersby to “talk to a Muslim” and ask them questions over free doughnuts and coffee. Haydar’s song “Hijabi (Wrap My Hijab)” was also named one of 2017’s best protest songs by Billboard.
By The Way talked to the Michigan-based couple about the goals of their show, how the trip informed their feelings about identity and assimilation, and how they handled the long drive.
Q: How did the idea for the show come about?
Mona: It was an interesting call we got asking us if we were interested in taking a road trip across the country, and we kind of hopped on the opportunity. Having been a couple for almost a decade, and parents for basically eight of those years, for us it was an exciting opportunity to explore a little bit of Route 66 and also our own relationship.
Q: What did you learn about the Muslim American experience along the way?
Sebastian: I feel like from beginning to end, it was really kind of mind-blowing and -opening for us.
Mona: Our son listens to audiobooks, and he loves the ones about mysteries and solving the mystery. And it actually felt that way a little bit of the time to me, where we were on this epic quest to unearth the hidden secrets. We’re both highly educated people, and we both somehow were not educated at all about this particular topic.
Q: What do you hope viewers take away from the show?
Mona: I hope people laugh at us. We’re very kind of corny and we have our little inside jokes, and I hope that people feel let in on that because I think we’re funny and I think we have a funny rapport and banter. I hope that that’s what people take away, feeling a human connection in a time where so many of us were isolated for so long.
Sebastian: We really wanted to use that journey as a lens for something bigger. I hope people can kind of see that story through us, [with] us as this lens or this magnifying glass or this reflection booth, to tell the story of a group of people that has largely either been ignored or maligned. I don’t mean just celebrities like Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, who deserve all the research and stories and movies they can get, but the people who are running restaurants, the people who are rebuilding mosques, the people who are —
Mona: Doctors and serving their communities.
'Stranger at the Gate' short film shows how kindness can change a would-be terrorist's ways
Former Marine Richard “Mac” McKinney was determined to bomb the local Islamic center in Muncie, Indiana. But the kindness he was shown there not only made him drop his plans but eventually become a member of the community.
The story is told in the short film “Stranger at the Gate” which has just made the shortlist for an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Short Film.
We revisit Robin Young’s September 2022 conversation with McKinney and Bibi Bahrami, co-founder of the Islamic Center of Muncie.
A Veteran’s Islamophobia Transformed, in “Stranger at the Gate”
In Joshua Seftel’s documentary, a community recollects how a would-be terrorist made—and then abandoned—a violent plan.\
Joshua Seftel, the director of “Stranger at the Gate,” was going to be a physician. As a young man, he planned to travel the world in the ranks of Doctors Without Borders. His father was a doctor, and, as a boy, Seftel watched him save people’s lives. During a gap year between college and applying to medical school, a professor approached him about a story in Romania. With a borrowed video camera and some fund-raising, Seftel made the film “Lost and Found,” an unflinching look at the country’s state-run orphanages. “Wow,” he thought, “filmmaking, when you do it right, can be really powerful.”
In his new documentary, Seftel brings the camera home and follows a personal drama that embodies a societal collision. The film opens on a teen-ager addressing the camera. “Most of the time when I tell people this story, they tell me that they don’t believe me,” she says. The speaker, Emily McKinney, is the stepdaughter of the man at the center of the documentary, Richard (Mac) McKinney. Emily is referring to Mac’s plan to set off an I.E.D. at a mosque, the Islamic Center of Muncie, Indiana.
Mac, a white combat veteran, describes his twilight tour in the military during the early and violent years of the global war on terror, and his abrupt return to small-town Indiana, in 2006. Reëntering civilian life, he became livid, and obsessed with the local Muslim community. During the periods he describes as “between being drunk and sober,” he brainstormed how he could attack Muslims—an action he thought of as continuing to protect his family and serve his country. His answer was to make a bomb. He describes making a plan for how he could “get the most bang for my buck” by targeting his local mosque, where he hoped to injure or kill at least two hundred worshippers. When he set out on a reconnaissance mission and visited the mosque—“to get the proof” of their threat—his story took a surprising turn.
McKinney met the Bahrami family, co-founders of the center and themselves refugees of the Soviet Union’s ill-fated war in Afghanistan; and Jomo Williams, a Black local convert. The relationships were not easy ones—“These people were killers,” McKinney remembers thinking—but the members of the mosque saw that McKinney was troubled, and welcomed him.
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