Religious Diversity News

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Young Muslims Find Mission, Motivation in ‘30/30’

Author: Jeff Karoub

Source: The Associated Press

They filled the cafe night after night. To the casual observer, it might have appeared to be a roomful of 20-somethings with enviable amounts of idle time.

Yet the 30 young Muslim men and women who met for 30 days had serving society, not socializing, on their minds. And the group calling itself 30/30 emerged from the meetings with an agenda: to help teens in their community deal with social ills such as drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness – and to teach those on the outside about their faith.

A few goals emerged from the conversations, now being fine-tuned in follow-up sessions: Establish mentorship and counseling programs for high school students, offer leadership retreats for young adults, and develop brochures that explain Muslim practices.

Young Muslims Gather at Amusement Park to Emphasize Embrace of American Values, Diversity — and Fun

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

On August 28, 2006 the San Francisco Chronicle reported, “Deliberately forgoing more traditional gathering spots, thousands of Muslims from across Northern California gathered Sunday under a roaring roller coaster.

Holding the second annual Muslim Unity Day at Paramount’s Great America amusement park in Santa Clara was fitting, said Resha Yunus, 46, of Fremont, who sat behind a booth for her nonprofit group Semah, which works to prevent domestic violence in the Muslim community.

‘You can be a good Muslim but still ride the roller coaster,’ she said with a laugh.

Part of the point of the event — which featured traditional food and prayer services and omitted politics — was to emphasize the desire of American Muslims to live by their faith while fully embracing the United States.

Yunus was one of many guests who talked about how important it was for Muslims, especially younger ones who grew up in the United States, to celebrate their shared identity at a difficult time.

‘We have a lot of roles to play,’ said Rima Chaudry, a 23-year-old San Francisco resident who has performed as a spoken-word artist in an effort to break down stereotypes about Muslim and Middle Eastern communities.

‘We’re very American, we have strong ties to our families’ homelands, and we’re Muslim. How do we play all these roles?’ she asked. ‘There hasn’t been a strong Muslim American identity formed yet, but it’s happening with this younger generation.’

Young people created the event, said organizer Irfan Rydhan, a 31-year-old board member at the South Bay Islamic Association in San Jose. He said the idea emerged, in part, out of frustration that tension between Sunni and Shiite Muslims was dominating news about the Middle East. The theological division is more muted in the Bay Area, though mosques generally serve either one side or the other.”

Young Muslims Gather In D.C. for Leadership Summit

Author: Amanda Milkovits

Source: The Providence Journal

Dr. Naba Sharif, a former pediatric resident at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, in Providence, was one of 25 Muslim Americans selected to speak with national political leaders and public officials shaping national policy during last week’s Young Muslim American Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.

For Sharif, 28, a new graduate of Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School, the meetings were an opportunity to talk to national leaders about the concerns and hopes of Muslims, like herself, who worry about growing issues of civil liberties, homeland security, and surveillance. She and the others met with political representatives and government officials who were already sympathetic to their message. But the group also wanted to meet with those who weren’t, Sharif said yesterday.

“We wanted to tell them who we were and show them … we are people who are just like you and interested in protecting civil liberties and interested in homeland security, and interested in protecting the environment,” Sharif said. “Hopefully, they will respect [Muslims] as much as they respect any other constituency.”

The Young Muslim Leaders Summit was sponsored by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an American institution founded 20 years ago to inform and shape public policy.

Young Muslims In Scotland Seek a Voice – And Rights

Author: Roger Hardy

Source: BBC News

In the second part of a series on the conflicts facing Muslims in Europe, the BBC’s Islamic affairs analyst, Roger Hardy, discovers strains between younger and older Muslims in Glasgow.

They are young, Muslim and Scottish – and will not take no for an answer.

I met Nazia Iqbal and two of her friends at the student union of Glasgow’s Strathclyde University.

Ms Iqbal, who is the equal opportunities officer, has been making waves ever since she went to the city’s Central Mosque and asked to become a voting member.

According to the mosque’s constitution, Muslim men and women not only have the right to pray at the mosque – if they are over 18, they are entitled to become voting members and have a say in its running.

But Ms Iqbal, who is 20, was turned down, on the grounds that she is female.

Her response was to start a campaign on Facebook, and complain to the body that regulates Scottish charities.

Young Muslims in the UK Courted by Community Groups with Extremist Agendas

Source: The New York Times

On August 25, 2006 The New York Times reported, “There are Muslims who worry about the true ambitions of the [East London Youth Forum], one in a constellation of… groups that operate around mosques and universities in Britain. These groups have drawn heightened attention after the arrests and charges this month in what the police say was a plot by Muslims, all of them British citizens, to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners… Organizations like the youth forum endear themselves to communities by arranging soccer and cricket tournaments, career fairs, tutoring programs and fund-raisers for Muslim causes abroad. They also offer social sounding boards on issues ranging from a recent rise in knife crime in parts of London to British foreign policy in the Middle East… ‘It gives them social legitimacy and a foothold in the community,” [Shiraz Maher, 25, who was a Hizb ut-Tahrir member in Leeds for two years until he left the group in early 2005] said. ‘In some respects, they do a lot of good by helping to get people off drugs and things, but they radicalize them in other ways.’

Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, along with successor groups to Al Muhajiroun, a London-based group that was ostensibly disbanded in Britain in 2004, and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, are engaged in some of the most aggressive activities to recruit followers, according to British terrorism experts… After the London bombings of July 7, 2005, Prime Minister Tony Blair vowed to outlaw Al Muhajiroun and Hizb ut-Tahrir, as part of a crackdown on groups that he said had spread intolerance and hate.”

Young Muslims, Jews Work Toward Peace

Author: Bob Smietana

Source: The Tennessean

Shoshana Jaffa sums up the conflict in the Middle East like this: “Everybody wants to meet halfway, but no one knows where halfway is.”

Jaffa was one of about 45 Jewish and Muslim teens and young adults who met Sunday at Congregation Micah in Brentwood to discuss the recent fighting in Gaza.

It’s part of a dialogue between local Jews and Muslims aimed at building understanding between young people of different faiths. Organizers hope that if young people can learn to discuss the Middle East civilly, perhaps their parents can, as well.

In fact, there was just one rule in place at Sunday morning’s meeting — no parents allowed.

“Adults can’t have this conversation,” Michael Pote, a Sunday School teacher at Congregation Micah, said to the interfaith group meeting in a classroom at the Brentwood synagogue. “Things like this don’t happen, and it’s a shame.”

Pote says that Jewish and Muslim adults rarely discuss the Middle East conflict without ending in a shouting match. He and other organizers hope that young people can show their parents and faith communities a better way.

Sunday’s meeting was part of an ongoing dialogue between youth groups at the Islamic Center of Nashville and two local synagogues, Congregation Micah and West End Synagogue in Nashville.

Young Muslims Join Fast for Ramadan

Source: The Houston Chronicle

On November 17, 2001, The Houston Chronicle reported that “though not required, children as young as 7 or 8 sometimes fast during parts of the month [of Ramadan]. For them, making it through the whole month is often a cause of
celebration for families…’It was a step toward maturity and you feel special, like you are one of the big kids,’ said Aisha Ahmed, 16, who began fasting throughout Ramadan by the time she was 8…At first, children often join in the fasting to feel part of the family and not have solitary meals. But as they grow older, the practice of fasting gains more spiritual meaning.”

Young Muslims More Open to Interfaith Dialogue Says Vatican

Author: Bess Twiston Davies

Source: Times Online

Younger Muslims are radically altering the “climate” of interfaith dialogue, the head of the Vatican’s Council for interreligious dialogue has said.

“There is a change of climate [in interreligious dialogue] now” said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said on Wednesday: “It is more open minded, there is greater cordiality. Many young Muslims in Eygpt, Lebanon, Syria, or Qatar have learned in local Catholic schools, where we welcome Muslim students. They all say the same thing: “We have been in your schools for years but you have never proselytised.”’ The young generation realise we can’t be against each other. Believers of all religions have greater responsibility towards the human family.”

Young Muslims Rediscovering Traditional Piety

Source: The Detroit News

On June 28, 2004 The Detroit News reported that, “Now 24, Mona Safiedine this year began wearing the veil and long, obscuring robes that, for many, are integral to Muslim beliefs about piety and acceptance of the faith. Her decision is part of her personal development and the spiritual journey of a young life. And it is an increasingly well-traveled path. Among Muslims in Michigan, and in other states with large Muslim populations, more young adults are committing to Islam in a way that their parents did not. The younger generation is picking up what, in many cases, their immigrant parents were comfortable leaving behind. Spurred by their spiritual yearning and feeling increasingly comfortable in places like Dearborn, Los Angeles and Chicago, observers say young adults are in the vanguard as Islam extends roots firmly into the United States.”

Young Muslims Speak Out

Author: Gregg Krupa

Source: The Detroit News

When Sofia Latif sees news reports portraying Muslims as terrorists, she sometimes sends e-mails to journalists deploring coverage she views as one-sided and urges them to publicize good works done in the name of Islam.

Latif, 21, of Dearborn Heights is the co-owner of a marketing company, active in her mosque and part of a new generation of Muslims in America that is just coming of age — and arriving more religious than their parents and more willing to speak out on controversial issues regarding their faith, according to a recent survey and interviews with dozens of Muslims in Metro Detroit.