Islam

Toms River mosque adjusts prayer schedule as the delta COVID variant takes a toll

August 12, 2021

TOMS RIVER - The highly contagious delta variant is forcing Masjid Bilal mosque off Route 9 to swiftly reimplement COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

A week ago, the Toms River mosque hosted more than 100 Muslims for an hour-long Friday prayer service, where many congregants stood maskless and shoulder to shoulder. Now things have changed.

“We’re going back to two prayers,” said Walaaeldin Elsayed, board president of Masjid Bilal, explaining that two services rather than one will reduce crowding. “There is no social distancing requirement or mask requirement, but it is...

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Utah man says he was fired for converting to Islam, lawsuit alleges

August 4, 2021

A mechanic in southern Utah alleges he was harassed and later fired from his job at a car dealership because he converted to Islam.

Allan Goodson is suing Bradshaw Chevrolet in Cedar City for religious discrimination after he says his supervisor mocked him, calling him a “terrorist” and saying he betrayed other white people by becoming a Muslim.

He’s seeking a judge’s order barring the business from discriminating based on religion, requiring the dealership to create a policy allowing prayer breaks and mandating yearly trainings on religion for managers. Goodson is...

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Legislation Offers Relief To Delaware Students Observing Religious Holidays

August 2, 2021

A few days before the holy month of Ramadan, when most Muslims observe daytime fasting, Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton received a phone call from one of her constituents asking her about the school’s attendance policies for religious holidays. 

“I was like, that is a good question, let me ask,” she said. 

After several phone calls to various departments, Wilson-Anton discovered that there was no universal policy for students regarding religious holidays. 

Source: ...

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White House announces new religious affairs leaders, first Muslim religious freedom ambassador

July 30, 2021

WASHINGTON (RNS) — The White House announced Friday (July 30) a slate of nominations and appointments for top religious affairs roles, including the first Muslim American nominated to be the U.S. ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.

President Biden will select Rashad Hussain as his nominee for that post, filling a State Department slot vacant since former Kansas governor and U.S. Senator Sam Brownback left at the close of the Trump administration. Hussain, who would need to be confirmed by the Senate, currently works as director for Partnerships and Global...

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The high cost of becoming a none for American Muslims

July 7, 2021

(RNS) — One of the most interesting developments of the social media age is that people are able to find like-minded individuals easily and anonymously. While that anonymity is not without its downsides, one of its real benefits is that people can express who they really are and what they really think about a variety of issues.

Particularly interesting to those who study American religion are the social media communities that have cropped up among those who have left their religious traditions to convert to a new religion or left faith behind entirely. Former evangelical...

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Houston imams and rabbis unite for a common goal – peace

June 10, 2021

As clashes continue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East, Houston imams and rabbis unite for a common goal — peace.

Together, these faith leaders recently issued a statement, signed by 23 imams and 28 rabbis.

The statement began: “For the past decade, we Imams and Rabbis in the Greater Houston area have found common ground on several issues that have impacted our respective communities and the Houston community at large.

Source: ...

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There Are 11,073 Muslims In Federal Prisons But Just 13 Chaplains To Minister To Them

July 12, 2021

Abdul Muhaymin al-Salim converted to Islam during his incarceration on drug charges at a federal prison in South Carolina from 2004 to 2014. In his first year there, the 49-year-old remembers a Muslim volunteer coming to the prison a couple of times a month to lead religious services.

Then, in the second year, during Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims, the volunteer was no longer allowed in the prison. Al-Salim never found out why.

Source: ...

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Muslim activists seek probe into new police chief’s comments

July 6, 2021

Muslim activists in Massachusetts are calling for an investigation into an alleged anti-Muslim statement made by the recently appointed police chief in a Boston suburb.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations' on Tuesday cited a recently filed lawsuit alleging a pattern of racist and discriminatory treatment in the Sharon Police Department.

Source: Muslim activists seek...

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For some US Muslims, raw talk on suicide, mental health

June 27, 2021

Dr. Rania Awaad was attending a virtual religion program this Ramadan when discussion turned to an unexpected question: Is it religiously acceptable to say a prayer for someone who died by suicide?

Suicide is a complex and delicate topic that Awaad, as director of the Muslim Mental Health & Islamic Psychology Lab at Stanford University, knows much about — but one she says isn’t discussed nearly enough in U.S. Muslim communities. When it is, she said, it’s often poorly understood and shrouded in misconceptions.

Awaad and other mental health professionals are...

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Supreme Court to take up case on mosque surveillance

June 7, 2021

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a long-running case stemming from surveillance of Southern California mosques by the FBI as part of a counterterrorism operation more than a decade ago.

The central legal question the justices will take up involves whether a law Congress passed in 1978 limiting and regulating electronic surveillance precludes the executive branch from invoking one of its broad and controversial powers to thwart civil litigation: the state secrets privilege.

On Monday, the justices announced they will consider a suit brought by Southern California...

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"Radical love in action": How organizers supported vulnerable Muslim communities during Ramadan

May 10, 2021

The month of Ramadan is coming to an end. While perhaps best known as when many Muslims fast for sometimes upwards of 12 hours, the month is about much more than food. As a religion, Islam places heavy emphasis on caring for your community. During Ramadan, Muslims give zakat, an annual tax on wealth that's one of the five pillars of Islam, and even those whose income isn't zakat-eligible often pour extra time and resources into their communities.

The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly changed how Muslims practice their faith. The communal iftars and crowded taraweeh prayers...

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Biden urged to appoint envoy to counter Islamophobia 'epidemic'

May 7, 2021

A coalition of Muslim organisations in the US is calling on the administration of President Joe Biden to create an envoy that would monitor and combat Islamophobia, which the groups say plays an interconnected threat to Muslims around the globe.

In a letter sent to the president, the US Council of Muslim Organisations (USCMO) led more than 80 Muslim groups in calling for the creation of the position, highlighting the current role of the administration's antisemitism envoy as a sign that an office for anti-Muslim sentiment was possible.

Source: ...

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Report: Number of mosques in US grows overall, but African American mosques in decline

June 2, 2021

(RNS) — Increasing numbers of African American mosques are closing, while the overall number of mosques in the United States continues to grow, according to a new report.

“The American Mosque 2020: Growing and Evolving,” released Wednesday (June 2), shows key changes in Muslim demographics as they relate to places of worship. The report, jointly published by the Islamic Society of North America, the Center on Muslim Philanthropy and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, was written by Ihsan Bagby, who produced similar survey reports in 2001 and 2010.

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Long Island mosque vandalism: Religious flag burned, base spray painted with pro-Trump graffiti

May 20, 2021

BRENTWOOD, Long Island (WABC) -- Police on Long Island are looking for the persons who vandalized a mosque, burning a sacred flag and spray painting pro-Trump graffiti on the marble base.

It happened around 2 a.m. Monday at the Islamic Center of Suffolk County on 3rd Street in Brentwood.

Suffolk County police say two people cut through a fence to enter the facility, set the religious flag on fire, and defaced the flag base.

Source: ...

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Vaccination drives at area mosques have been successful in reaching Muslims and non-Muslims alike

May 10, 2021

On Sunday, Rizwan Jaka walked around the prayer hall of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Ashburn mosque holding a mic talking about possible side effects after being vaccinated against the coronavirus. He was speaking to a room of people who sat in chairs six feet apart on floors covered with plastic sheets, some swinging their arms to prevent soreness from the shot they just got while others checked their phones and watches to count down the 15-...

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