Muslim Media

Communication is particularly important for the growing Muslim community in the United States, both as a way to build organizations and as a way of presenting a clear alternative to negative images of IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to... in the wider American media. Many Muslims were using various media outlets to engage with fellow Muslims and to teach non-Muslims about Islam long before the events of September 11th, 2001 when Islam and Muslims were thrown suddenly into the spotlight.

American Muslim organizations have for decades published newspapers like Muslim Journal, founded in 1960 by Nation of IslamThe Lost-Found Nation of Islam in America, begun by Wallace D. Fard in Detroit in the 1930’s, was developed by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Elijah Muhammad preached some Islamic principles, but his lessons about the superiority of the Black Man were c... leader ElijahElijah was a ninth century BCE Hebrew prophet and visionary. According to tradition, he did not die but was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2). Elijah’s periodic return to eart. has become part of the rabbinical and mystical Jewish traditi... MuhammadThe Prophet Muhammad, known as “the Seal of the Prophets,” was born in the city of Makkah on the Arabian peninsula in 570 C.E. At 40, he began to receive a series of revelations from God through the angel Gabriel. His small group of followers met with... under the title Muhammad Speaks, or magazines, such as the Islamic Society of North AmericaThe Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) was established in 1982 to serve as an umbrella organization for Sunni Muslim student and professional groups across the country. ISNA, with national headquarters in Plainfield, Indiana, sponsors national and re... (ISNAThe Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) was established in 1982 to serve as an umbrella organization for Sunni Muslim student and professional groups across the country. ISNA, with national headquarters in Plainfield, Indiana, sponsors national and re...)’s Islamic Horizons. Muslim Sunrise (or Moslem Sunrise as the earlier version was called) claims to be the oldest Muslim publication in the U.S., founded in 1921 by the first AhmadiyyaThe Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam was established in 1889 in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. He claimed to be the Messiah of this age, awaited by Muslims, Christians, and others. The missionary movement of his followers is now established in more than 144 coun... missionary to the U.S., Dr. Mufti Muhammad Sadiq.

Technology has enabled instant access to and presentation of information by anyone and to anyone throughout the world, changing the media landscape considerably. It is now possible, even common, for voices from across the globe to participate in discussions about the construction of a Muslim community center in lower Manhattan or in Murfreesboro, TN for example. Some community leaders and organizations regularly use social media like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, inviting online discussions with fans and followers. Louis FarrakhanMinister Louis Farrakhan (b. Louis Eugene Wolcott, 1933) revived the old Nation of Islam in 1977, restoring its original ideology and organization and establishing the University of Islam in Chicago. He states that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, after his..., leader of the Nation of Islam since 1978, has tens of thousands of followers on Twitter. ImamImam means “leader,” particularly the person who leads the daily ritual prayer or, more broadly, to the one who serves as a leader of the community because of his religious learning. In Shi’i Islam, it refers to one of a succession of direct descend... Suhaib Webb hosts a popular website (www.suhaibwebb.com) with the slogan “your virtual mosqueMasjid (plural masajid) in Arabic means “place of prostration,” or the place where Muslims bow in prayer; in English, this word has become “mosque.” A masjid contains a prayer hall in which there is a mihrab or prayer niche, and a minbar or pulpit....” The site includes resources such as a glossary of Islamic terms, audio and video clips, advice columns, and op-ed pieces.

In 2004, Radio Islam became Chicago’s first daily Muslim talk show, broadcasting recitations of verses from the Qur’anThe word Qur’an literally means “recitation.” Revealed orally to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel, he recited it to his followers. These recitations collected in written form are arranged in 114 surahs, generally from longest to shortest. Muslims consi... and discussions of current events. The Islamic Information Service of Southern California, part of the Islamic CenterAn Islamic center will typically include a mosque, school, and area for social and cultural activities. When a new Islamic center is being organized in the United States, attention is paid to community needs, including a weekend or full-time school, indic... of Southern California (ICSC), broadcasts its weekly program, Islam, to more than 100 cities across the United States and keeps a regularly updated archive of weekly khutbas (sermons at Friday prayerPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not.) and bi-weekly podcasts.

Searchable texts and databases of the Qur’an and hadithHadith is a narrative account or report of Muhammad’s deeds and actions. These reports were preserved and later collected to form the Sunnah of the prophet, second only to the authority of the Qur’an for knowing how to live in proper submission to God... in ArabicClassical Arabic is the language of revelation in Islam as recorded in the Qur’an. Muslims consider every word of the Qur’an to be a direct utterance of God. The Arabic language itself is regarded as perfectly suited as the instrument for God’s comm... and English translation are readily available online and as Smartphone apps. Similarly, there are interactive online tools and applications for the calculation of prayer times or for learning how to recite the Qur’an.

While the depiction of human forms, especially of the ProphetA prophet is one who communicates a divine message or vision, sometimes calling people to repentance or awakening, sometimes predicting future events. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all look to Hebrew prophets, including Abraham and Moses. Muslims believe ... Muhammad, is considered by many Muslims to be forbidden, some are using visual forms to teach concepts about Islam and to address issues facing Muslims in the West today. The 99 is a comic book and television series created by Kuwaiti Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa and published in the Middle East in 2006 and the United States in 2007 by Teshkeel Comics. “The 99” are teenagers, each of whom has a power inspired by one of the ninety-nine attributes of AllahAllah is the word for God in Arabic, used by Arabic-speaking Christians, Jews, and Muslims. According to Islam, Allah is the creator and ruler of the entire universe, the ultimate judge of all human beings, characterized by mercy and compassion. By means .... Al-Mutawa, who received the World Economic Forum’s 2009 Social Entrepreneur of the Year award for The 99, says one of his goals in creating the comic was to rebrand Islam following 9/11.

Of course, just as no one individual represents the views of all Christians or Hindus, Muslims voices in the media also vary widely. Not all Muslims in the world or even in America would be in agreement as to how American Muslims should live their lives. Yet the discussions that have been occurring in American Muslim communities for decades are now being held in a more public forum. Anyone with access to the Internet can be an active contributor to the discourses on Islam in America. What it means to be an American Muslim in the twenty-first century is a living discussion that is taking place first-and-foremost through, and as a result of, the media.


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