Religious Diversity News

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Young Muslim Activists Look At Politics Post-9/11

Author: Sophia Tareen

Source: The Washington Post

Wire Service: AP

Dana Jabri believes the only way for young Muslim Americans to move forward is by jumping into politics.

The 16-year-old child of Syrian immigrants has phone banked for political candidates, served as a primary election judge and encouraged other suburban Chicago high-schoolers to pay attention to state politics.

“We care just as much as anyone else about America’s problems,” said Jabri, who wears hijab, a Muslim woman’s head scarf. “I aspire to be the first hijabi senator.”

Jabri is part of a younger generation of Muslim activists in the U.S. whose role has shifted in the last decade from combating post 9/11 backlash and educating those with little exposure to Islam to becoming politically involved and delving into universal issues, like human rights and environmentalism.

Young Muslim Leaders Present Historic Declaration at the White House

MPAC today released a first-of-its-kind declaration written by the delegates of the 5th Annual Young Leaders Summit that affirms their shared commitment to their faith, communities and nation. The group drafted and presented their declaration in front of White House officials in late July.

Young Muslim Woman: “American Muslims Ache, Too” After Terror Attacks

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On July 20, 2005 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran an opinion piece by Farha Tahir, a 2005 graduate of Divine Savior Holy Angels High School in Milwaukee who will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall. Tahir writes, “…[W]e are the Muslims no one ever hears about. The Muslims who contribute positively to our societies every day but whose efforts are often overshadowed by a radical political faction twisting our religion to justify atrocities committed for nationalistic political motives.

Every day, we turn on our televisions and read our newspapers only to see that the strides we have made no longer matter. And what seems like every day, we are forced to start at square one because of people who cannot understand the dignity of each human life… People often fail to recognize that we were crying alongside our fellow Americans because the attacks on 9-11 were an attack on our ideals, the ideals we cherish as Americans…

This is the country we were raised in, the country we call home. When America hurts, all Americans hurt, including American Muslims. Though we may differ on world issues, never would we, the mainstream, consider the use of force to bring about change.”

Young Muslim Woman Finds a Voice in the Republican Party

Source: Orlando Sentinel,0,6326132.story?coll=orl-home-entlife

On June 2, 2005 the Orlando Sentinel reported, “Abdalla was always president, and her friends served as her Cabinet. They sat in an oval shape — their ‘oval office’ — and discussed pressing issues, such as whether to have ice cream on Fridays.

And, like fellow Republican Ronald Reagan, Abdalla ate jelly beans.

Her childhood game was just the beginning of Abdalla’s interest in the Republican Party and public service.

Now 23, Abdalla has worked on several Republican campaigns, helping mobilize the youth vote. She also volunteers for charitable causes, from HIV awareness to tsunami aid. During last summer’s hurricanes, she served as an Arabic translator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For her academic achievements, community service and activism, Abdalla was named Valencia Community College’s 2004-05 Distinguished Graduate.”

Young Muslims Ask Obama’s Help In Fighting Extremism

Author: Nicole Neroulias

Source: Religion News Service

As Barack Obama begins his tenure as the first U.S. president with Muslim ancestry, a group of 300 young Muslim activists from 76 countries has asked him to promote policies that can help peacefully curtail religious extremism.

The Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow, a grassroots movement aiming to foster a new generation of civic engagement, issued the open letter after convening the group’s first international conference last weekend (Jan. 16-19) in Doha, Qatar.

Participants, all between the ages of 20 and 45, included artists, academics, religious leaders and business owners. About 40 came from the U.S., including comedian Azhar Usman, journalist Souheila Al-Jadda and faith-based activist Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur, who recently wrote the book “Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak.”

Among its recommendations, the group’s statement asks Obama and other world leaders to support human rights, youth participation in political and civil society, and mutual respect and engagement between civilizations.

“Healthy, well-educated, and engaged citizens are more invested in their societies and are less likely to be swayed by radical ideologies,” the letter states.

Young Muslims Bridge Cultural Divides of Their Immigrant Parents

Source: MSNBC / Newsweek

On August 29, 2005 Newsweek reported, “Children of immigrants are the fastest-growing group among the nation’s estimated 7 million Muslims, and they’re changing the face of Islam in this country by combining their faith with the American tradition of diversity. In Orange County, youth-group members [at the Mission Viejo Masjid] have similar stories: their strong ties with Islam really started in college, when they bonded with a mixed group of Muslims. This scenario was unthinkable even 15 years ago for immigrants who stuck with their own for support and for African-American Muslims who were still working through the racial exclusivity of the Nation of Islam. Those divisions mean little to the twentysomethings in Orange County. ‘It’s all about Muslim identity now,’ says Haider Javed, 25, the center’s youth coordinator. He wears jeans and a skullcap and seems to know everyone in the giant building. ‘You’re searching for yourself,’ Javed says… During a discussion between prayers, Javed’s peers agree that stripping away cultural baggage from their parents’ home countries (such as customs limiting women’s rights and racial dictates) is the only way to practice a purer Islam.”

Young Muslims Create Professional Development Network

Source: The Jersey Journal

On January 3, 2005 The Jersey Journal reported, “in 1998, three college students actively involved in Muslim student associations on their campuses determined there was no forum for professional development, leadership training and spiritual development for Muslims after college. So they came up with their own… In November, the group held its sixth annual conference – part career fair, leadership training and spiritual education for college-age and young professional Muslims. Hundreds of participants attended the three-day event in Franklin Township [NJ]… Conference participants listened to Muslim clerics, a human rights advocate, a civil liberties attorney and journalists in panel discussions and lectures. Topics included cultivating leadership in the younger community, challenges Muslim-Americans face and ways to become a powerful minority in the coming decade. The conference also emphasized outreach efforts to non-Muslims and assimilating into mainstream society.”

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.