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Community News (V9-I37)

September 6, 2007 by  


Bruce Lawrence to speak at Lakeforest College

Duke University Professor of Religion Bruce B. Lawrence will deliver a talk titled “Islam at the Crossroads: In the Media, in the Academy, at Home and Abroad” at Lake Forest College Sept. 9, as part of the College’s Sesquicentennial Lecture Series. Professor Lawrence’s presentation will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel. The public is invited to attend free of charge. For information, call (847) 735-6011 or visit the Web site at www.lakeforest.edu

Woman sues Orange County Sheriff’s Department

ORANGE COUNTY, CA–A Muslim woman from Anaheim has sued the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, alleging that her religious rights were violated when deputies forced her to remove her hijab, reports the Orange County Register.

Souhair Khatib, 33, was being booked into a county jail in connection with a probation violation when the incident occured. According to the lawsuit Khatib was seen by deputies and other men from her mosque without the hijab causing her extreme emotional distress, according to the lawsuit.

“For Souhair, to have her head uncovered in public – particularly in the presence of men who are not part of her immediate family – is a serious breach of faith and a deeply humiliating and defiling experience,” the suit says.

The ACLU later filed a public records request with the sheriff’s department, seeking a policy statement for religious clothing for the incarcerated, but were told there was no document, said Hector Villagra, director of the ACLU’s Orange County office. Villagra said he found that “astonishing” since the U.S. Department of Justice has a policy that allows Muslim women to have three hijabswhile in custody.

“If it can be accommodated in the federal system we don’t understand why it can’t be accommodated here in Orange County,” he said.

The suit seeks unspecified damages and a change in the department’s policy.

Professor Davis honored for paper on Islam and Economics

Nancy J. Davis, Lester Martin Jones Professor of Sociology at DePauw University, is the co-recipient of the 2007 Distinguished Article Award from the American Sociological Association’s Sociology of Religion section. Dr. Davis and Indiana University’s Robert V. Robinson were honored for their article, “The Egalitarian Face of Islamic Orthodoxy: Support for Islamic Law and Economic Justice in Seven Muslim-Majority Nations.”

In the article, published in the American Sociological Review in 2006 (Vol. 71, pages 167-190), the authors “test two theories linking religion and economic beliefs in predominantly Muslim nations using data from national surveys of Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,” notes a synopsis of the work. “Moral Cosmology theory posits that because the religiously orthodox are theologically communitarian in viewing individuals as subsumed by a larger community of believers subject to timeless laws and God’s greater plan, they are disposed toward economic communitarianism, whereby the state should provide for the poor, reduce inequality and meet community needs via economic intervention. Modernists are theologically individualistic in seeing individuals as having to make moral decisions in a temporal context and as responsible for their own destinies. As such, modernists are inclined to economic individualism, whereby the poor are responsible for their fates, wider income differences promote individual initiative, and government should not interfere in the economy.”

It continues, “An alternate hypothesis, based on Islamic scripture’s discussion of economic matters, limits the effects of orthodoxy versus modernism to the one clear economic directive of Islam: the state’s responsibility to care for the poor.”

It is the finding of Davis and Robinson “that Islamic orthodoxy — measured as the desire to implement Islamic law (the shari’a) — is associated in every country with support for such economic reforms as increasing the responsibility of government for the poor, reducing income inequality, and increasing government ownership of businesses and industries.”

Minneapolis convention urges Muslims to follow the Prophet (SAW)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN–Attendees at the seventh annual Islamic conference at the Minneapolis Convention were urged to emulate the Prophetic example in all their affairs to live a succesfull life. Shaikh Abdilbary Yahya,Imam of the Seattle Mosque in Washington state, told the gathering that Muslim teachers especially have the call to propogate with humility the message of Allah to others.

Sheikh Yahya said it was incumbent upon Muslims who wish to teach the religion of Allah to emulate the Prophet’s way characterized by love and wisdom.

He said Prophet (s) was a successful teacher because he showed respect and love for his students. He was kind, showed humility, was merciful, desired best results from his listeners, used wisdom in his messages and did not scold or cane anyone, but treated everyone as “best friend [and] companion.”

Another leading Islamic scholar, Sheikh Hamdy El-Sawaf of Minnesota warned that if Muslims do not obey the guidance of Allah on matrimonial matters, the marriage institution would collapse leading to adverse consequences such as poor parenting and the disintegration of families.

Sheikh El-Sawaf, who has counseled many Muslim married couples, said available statistics in America today show that approximated 50 percent of all contracted marriages end in divorce. He said the emerging trend was troubling and Muslims, who have clear guidelines from Allah’s laws on how matrimonial and family relations can be sustained, should adhere to their religious teachings to maintain strong family ties.

Arabic school opens in New York

NEW YORK, NY–Khalil Gibran International Academy, the Arabic themed public school, opened its doors in New York this week amidst even as the controversy surrounding it refuses to subside. “We know that there have been lots of unfair attacks, but what people need to focus on, if they’re fair minded and balanced about how they see it, they will see the school that we see, which is vibrant, inclusive and focused on excellence in public education,” said Garth Harries of the Department of Education.

While there are 70 dual-language schools in the city, Khalil Gibran is the first to focus on Arab language and culture. The school has been met with plenty of opposition since it was announced earlier this year, the NY1 news channel reported.

The school has jumped many hurdles to open its doors. Some parents protested initial plans to have it share a building with an existing school in Park Slope, so the DOE moved it to its current home in Boerum Hill. Then, the school’s founder, Debbie Almontaser, came under fire for the clothes she wore, her connections to Muslim groups, and her downplaying concerns over a t-shirt with the word Intifada printed on it.

She stepped down and was replaced by a Jewish principal who speaks no Arabic, infuriating some parents.

“We want her back,” said Mona Eldahry, a supporter of the school. “It’s an outrage that she was in a position where she had to resign because of racist attacks.”

Khaill Gibran shares space with two other schools, but will be relocated to a permanent facility as is grows from just the 6th grade to, eventually, a high school.

On day one, there were 55 registered students – up from about 40 just two weeks ago. Education officials hope more students will sign up as the school continues an open enrollment.

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