When you get slapped in the face, is it possible to find compassion?
Kickiing off the Ramadan guest blog post series ...
I had the unique opportunity of sitting down, one on one, with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Please enjoy this our conversation:
As an educator, I believe that intercultural experiences have an important role to play in a world situation that is – to say the least – very confusing. This year, 2011, marks a decade since the tragic events of September 11. Today's undergraduate college students were eight to twelve years old in 2001 and consequently have spent their intellectually formative years with post-9/11 media coverage, little of which addressed the need for intercultural understanding.
A press release from Park 51 announced that Imam Fiesal Abdul Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan, will no longer be speaking on the organization's behalf. Imam Fiesal will begin his personal speaking tour next week. He and Ms. Khan will also not be raising funds for the project on this speaking tour.
Moving words by Imam Fiesal Abdul Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan, regarding the goals of Park 51, New York City's proposed Islamic Center.
During IEW, Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq gave their 2 hour presentation about their “Ramadan Roadtrip: 30 mosques/30 days/30 states” at several colleges. I received terrific feedback about how they created meaningful dialogue about Muslims in the US. (You can read more of my postings about their project and can watch the interview I did with them.)
Aman and Bassam sent this video “shout out” while on the road last week. (I thought it was particularly appropriate that they’re driving while filming – a big part of their 30 mosques adventure.)
During Ramadan 2011, the guys will be visiting the 20 states that they didn’t visit during this past Ramadan Roadtrip. That primarily means they’ll be in the midwest, west coast and Alaska/Hawaii!
If you are interested in booking Aman and Bassam to speak about their experiences traveling across the US to learn about other Muslims in America, please feel free to contact me. They are available from February – July 2011 and during the week of September 11th, 2011, then again beginning in October 2011. They can also speak outside of the US; In fact they just returned from a speaking engagement at the US Department of State’s Youth Leadership Conference in Prague, Czech Republic.
Melibee Global has been assisting them with bookings at no additional cost (beyond their standard speaking fee) to the universities/conferences. I speak with Aman/Bassam regularly, so am happy to facilitate getting them to your campus or conference…and even you’re commencement!
Please share this posting with others in your life who may be interested in their 2 hour multimedia presentation (which includes Q&A.) And make sure you mention that you heard about this wonderful project through Melibee Global, especially after their shout out!
I have previously written about the unique challenges of flying as a Muslim. This week, I heard a fantastic interview with the musician “The Narcicyst” aka Yassin Alsalman, a Canadian hip hop artist whose family’s originated in Iraq. Alsalman was detained for 5 hours US border patrol at the airport in Toronto. You may be thinking – ok, so what, lots of people are stopped at the border? But this particular Canadian is a popular musician who wrote a song called “Phatwa” and made a music video ABOUT being stopped at the US border.
I heard an interesting interview with Michel Abboud, the architect for the proposed Islamic cultural center known at Park 51. (I suppose we could also call it "the Islamic cultural center formerly known as the Cordoba House and incorrectly called the World Trade Center mosque.)
“I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on a plane, I’ve got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”
Hmmmm….where does one begin?
1) Ignorance is still alive and well in America. (And keep in mind, the definition of ignorance IS: “lack of knowledge, information or education.” I’m going to assume that Mr. Williams simply didn’t understand how completely offensive his statement is.
2) I wonder if he gets nervous when other people express their spirituality. For example, when a Christian wears a cross on a chain on his/her neck, does this worry him? Or when a Jew wears a yarmulke, does he get freaked out? What about a Jain wearing a mask? Or better yet, since some people consider sports worthy of worship, I’m guessing he gets very nervous in airports around the time the New York Yankees make it to the baseball playoffs. They do have some pretty rowdy fans after all. (You get my point….)
3) And what exactly is “Muslim garb”? Some brilliant person put together a wonderful sequence of photos on the web site “Muslims Wear Things” to illustrate how ridiculous the use of the term “Muslim garb” actually is. (Kudos to those folks!)
4) Mr. Williams lives in the USA and works for a publicly funded American media outlet. Yes, we have freedom of speech here. It is not up to me to determine if he should or shouldn’t have been fired – that will end up in the courts. But what is my role, as a US citizen, to take a few minutes out of my day to again encourage anyone who listens to the media to carefully consider the impact of his words. He has stated that he fears Muslims on planes. Is it a coincidence that a lot of news outlets have planted that seed, watered it and given it plenty of media sunlight to grow? I say SHAME ON THEM.
I have Muslim friends. I have been to mosques. I have broken fast with Muslims during their holy month. I am NOT afraid of Muslims and I am certainly NOT afraid to get on a plane with them.
I do, however, have concerns about getting on planes with the following:
1) people who don’t bathe enough for my standards.
2) people who bathe themselves in cologne/perfume. That is painful to sit next to. It makes my nose run, my ears hurt, gives me migraines, and at times, sends me to the hospital or bed for days.
3) planes with not very good pilots or grumpy air crew.
4) planes that look like they haven’t been cleaned or maintained in a reasonable standard.
5) planes that insist on taking off when there is a torrential rain storm.
6) and finally, planes full of ignorant people.
Ok, I’ll say it again. Read up on the project by the 30mosques.com guys. If you really want to know what it is like to get on a plane with a Muslim, you can ask Aman and Bassam…heck, they travel a lot! And if you’re interested in bringing them to your campus for a presentation about their 30 mosques in 30 days in 30 states roadtrip, contact me and I’ll be happy to facilitate a booking at no additional fee to Melibee.