Islam

Amid virus lockdowns, prison ministry groups had to adapt

August 31, 2020

Normally Teresa Stanfield spends her days in prisons talking with inmates about how she changed the course of her troubled life, and how they can do the same. But the coronavirus has locked her on the outside.

“When COVID came and shut down programming, I was extremely disappointed,” said Stanfield, Oklahoma field director with Virginia-based Prison Fellowship. “But I also knew that God had a plan and we were going to do everything we could to continue to encourage our returning citizens and keep our volunteers connected.”

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Rep. Rashida Tlaib joins Congressional Freethought Caucus

August 21, 2020

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first Muslim women in Congress, has joined the Congressional Freethought Caucus.

Launched in 2018, the caucus seeks to promote secular government, separation of church and state, freedom of conscience and policy “based on reason, science, and moral values,” and to oppose discrimination against nonreligious people, or the so-called nones.

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Utah man says he was fired from Cedar City car dealership ‘because I am a Muslim'

August 20, 2020

A Utah man has filed a federal employment complaint against a Cedar City car dealership, alleging that his supervisors and colleagues harassed and discriminated against him after he converted to Islam.

When Allan Goodson was hired as a mechanic at Bradshaw Chevrolet one year ago, he was a Christian. He said soon after, he heard others at the dealership disparage nonwhite or non-Christian people, but in particular Muslims. Goodson said because of that, he started researching Islam. He said the teachings made sense to him, and he converted.

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MN faith leaders gather in support of Muslim community following attack

August 17, 2020

Minnesota religious and political leaders are making a show of support for the state's Muslim community following an attack on a local imam

On Friday, a group of speakers gathered outside the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington. Among the elected officials were Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Attorney General Keith Ellison and U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips. 

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La Crosse Interfaith Shoulder to Shoulder Network marks Eid al-Adha by helping WAFER feed families in need

August 17, 2020

In honor of Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday recognizing community and sacrifice, the La Crosse Interfaith Shoulder to Shoulder Network is helping neighbors secure good nutrition in a time of economic hardship.

The La Crosse Interfaith Shoulder to Shoulder Network, a grassroots organization promoting tolerance, freedom and peace, donated $1,500 to WAFER food pantry earlier this month, hoping to assist families struggling to put food on the table during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Worship during COVID-19: How Cheez-Its, ZOOM and blue tape are the new norms in faith

August 14, 2020

Each Sunday, Ray Smith and his family go to their living room for church, which they've watched online since the coronavirus pandemic caused most places of worship to close earlier this year.

His wife knew how to prepare unleavened bread from her time at a small church while growing up and soon she was providing the bread for their home communion. 

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Women sue state over workplace hijab prohibition; federal lawsuit claims discrimination

August 14, 2020

Three Muslim women who used to work at a state detention center for juveniles have filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against Delaware officials claiming they were barred from wearing religious head coverings at work. 

The women, Tia Mays, Madinah Brown and Shakeya Thomas, claim nobody told them it was against policy to wear a hijab to work at the New Castle County Detention Center and Ferris School for adjudicated juveniles. 

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How interfaith activism helped Saadia Faruqi change the face of children’s books

August 13, 2020

When Intisar Khanani’s children read “Meet Yasmin!,” the first book in Saadia Faruqi’s children’s book series, they burst into amazed laughter.

“They were like, ‘Look, Mommy, it’s our family! The mommy is a writer, and the daddy is a teacher,’” she recalled. “I was like, ‘Yeah ... how did she write us?’”

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Phoenix area religious communities return to worship as COVID-19 data stabilizes in Arizona

August 10, 2020

Though places of worship are largely exempt from coronavirus restrictions, much of the Valley's religious community transitioned to virtual worship as infection rates skyrocketed in the state in the late spring and summer.

Major holidays such as Easter were celebrated in living rooms instead of sanctuaries. Ramadan fasts were not broken in a large community celebration. The trial-to-triumph story of Passover came to life.

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As Massachusetts bans female genital cutting, survivors and activists celebrate

August 10, 2020

When Mariya Taher moved to Massachusetts five years ago, she was shocked to find out the state had no legislation in place against female genital mutilation and cutting. 

Taher launched a petition, which earned more than 400,000 signatures, urging the state to ban the practice. This morning, she marked the petition as victorious.

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In its 10th year, the game ‘Pilgrims at Home’ takes on new meaning for Muslim women

July 31, 2020

At 4 a.m. in Houston, Afshan Malik wakes up to pray tahajjud, the voluntary night prayers for Muslims. That earns her 5 points. She wins another 20 points for salat al-tasbih and salat al-haja, the prayers of forgiveness and need. Five more for qada yawm, to make up for obligatory prayers missed over the years; another 5 for staying awake until sunrise; 1 for performing the mandatory fajr prayer; and an extra point for doing so just as dawn breaks.

By the time her five children wake up, Malik has already scored nearly half the 100 daily points she can earn as a...

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Unable To Travel To Mecca, Muslim Community Holds Drive-Thru Hajj

July 30, 2020

At a traffic circle in Maryland, Mona Eldadah watched her father plodding in circles. 

Hadi Rahnama, 77, was walking around a black cube, a replica of the Kaaba shrine in Mecca, to demonstrate the tawaf, or ritual prayer, that Muslims perform when they visit the shrine on the hajj. 

Eldadah corrected her father. 

"No, Daddy, the idea is that the car is actually going to do the tawaf," she said. "It's a drive-through." 

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Sailor Gets OK to Grow 4-Inch Beard, Pushes Navy to Grant Career-Length Waiver

July 29, 2020

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Leo Katsareas can, for the first time in his Navy career, wear a beard consistent with his religious beliefs while in uniform -- at least for now.

The Navy's personnel chief granted Katsareas, a Muslim sailor, a special grooming accommodation to grow his facial hair up to 4 inches long. Katsareas, who converted to Islam at age 16, believes his faith requires him to wear a fist-length beard.

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Muslims to mark 2nd holiest day on Islamic calendar by gathering in cars for prayer on grounds of Big E

July 28, 2020

Muslims here will celebrate the second holiest day on the lunar-based Islamic calendar by gathering to pray together on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition Friday, while observing social distancing regulations during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will have congregants come in their cars and park at least six feet apart,” said Dr. M. Saleem Bajwa, a Holyoke physician and member of the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts, which is organizing the gathering....

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From changing lives to preaching at iPads: How clergy are coping with the new normal

July 27, 2020

They can’t shake hands. They can’t sing robustly. And, in most cases, they can’t worship in person with people they’ve seen on a weekly basis for years.

Clergy have been forced to adjust to a “new normal” of leadership in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a crisis that was unexpected both at its start and in its continuing duration.

“We moved from snow day mentality to marathon mentality now,” said the Rev. Rob Dyer, senior pastor of a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation in Belleville,...

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