Islam

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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Hilary Decent: How Naperville’s faith communities are operating under phase 4 of Illinois reopening

July 27, 2020

Naperville’s faith communities are taking a cautious approach to eased restrictions now that Illinois has moved to phase four of its coronavirus recovery program.

Members of the First Congregational United Church of Christ have been meeting online since March. Rev. Mark Winters said: “Since the middle of March, we have been live streaming our services from our sanctuary. We recently switched to a pre-recorded model which allows us to include more readers and musicians (recording from their home), which is closer to how we would normally worship.”

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Presidential Nominees Rarely Speak To Muslim Audiences. Biden Did Monday

July 21, 2020

Joe Biden spoke to a notable Muslim American advocacy organization on Monday. 

Just his presence — albeit virtually, due to the pandemic, from his home in Delaware — was rather historic for Muslim leaders, who can't recall another presidential nominee speaking directly to such a large group of Muslims. The group, Emgage Action, says 3,000 people RSVP'd for its livestreamed event.

Biden didn't introduce any new policy priorities, but his tone marked a noticeable departure from how many politicians have addressed Muslims in recent years. 

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Through sci-fi and fantasy, Muslim women authors are building new worlds

July 17, 2020

When blogger Umairah Hussain asked her readers if they would join a book club for science fiction and fantasy novels by Muslim authors, she was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response and suggestions for additions to the club’s reading list.

But there was something unusual about two dozen authors on the reading list Hussein compiled for the club, including the writers behind her favorite series, “An Ember in the Ashes” and “The Daevabad Trilogy.”

“Almost all of them were actually published by women in the past few years,” said Hussain, a sci-fi fan who blogs at...

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Citing health concerns, Westborough officials hesitant to approve religious gathering at state hospital property

July 16, 2020

The Board of Selectmen met jointly with the Board of Health July 14 to consider a request from resident Muhammad Ramzan to host upwards of 2,000 people at the Westborough State Hospital property on Saturday, Aug. 1 for Eid, a Muslim religious celebration. Eid marks the end of a month of fasting from dawn to sunset, as well as spiritual reflection and prayer.

Ramzan, a physician at UMass and member of the Worcester Islamic Center, said his congregation was looking for an outdoor facility to conduct a 30- to 45-minute religious service where worshippers would observe all health...

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Muslim civil liberties group to represent inmate denied kosher food in Michigan jail

July 9, 2020

An Islamic civil liberties and advocacy organization will represent a man who has been denied kosher food in a Michigan jail.

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, said in a statement issued Monday that it would appear as legal representative for Brandon Resch, an inmate in the Macomb County Jail, in his lawsuit against the county.

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