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Critical Currents in Islam Media Roundup (May 2016)

[World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali attends The Sect's Service to Hear Elijah Muhammad deliver The Annual Savior's Day Message in Chicago in March 1974. Image via the US National Archives] [World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali attends The Sect's Service to Hear Elijah Muhammad deliver The Annual Savior's Day Message in Chicago in March 1974. Image via the US National Archives]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating about Islam and reflects a wide variety of opinions and approaches. It does not reflect the views of the Critical Currents in Islam page or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Saturday night of every week.]

Remembering Muhammad Ali: Muslim, Athlete, and Activist

To Muslims the world over, Muhammad Ali was '#TheGreatest' Muhammad Ali was not just an American Muslim hero, but someone who had global reach influencing Muslims and non-Muslims alike from Afghanistan to Iran and from Chechnya to Cairo and Palestine.

Why was Muhammad Ali the greatest? He had a clear moral vision Hussein Rashid recounts the moral clarity of Muhammad Ali’s vision and public persona that defined his career as an oppositional sports icon against the status quo.

Muhammad Ali: Boxing legend, pop icon, Muslim pathbreaker, dead at 74 The famous boxer’s transformation from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali – an outspoken member of the Nation of Islam and critic of American foreign and domestic policy – defined his life just as much as his athletic accomplishments in boxing.

Muhammad Ali Risked It All When He Opposed The Vietnam War Muhammad Ali risked everything when he famously objected to fighting in the Vietnam War stating that he was not going to fight for some vague notion of freedom abroad when African-Americans were not free at home. He was stripped of his boxing titles, but maintained his ethical stance.

Muhammad Ali suffered for his beliefs before becoming a legend While many remember him as a boxing legend, many have forgotten the trials and unpopular opinions that made the man both a social activist and iconic athlete, both inseparable in the figure of Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali was an American idol and a Muslim. Read his words on Islam Muhammad Ali was not only a political activist and athlete but also a committed Muslim who was outspoken about his religious practice.

Muhammad Ali: Rumble in heaven as you did on Earth Khaled A. Beydoun connects Muhammad Ali to a black radical tradition of criticism, which sought to undo white supremacy, American exceptionalism, and a legacy of empire. This tradition continues to be reflected in today’s movements such as Black Lives Matter.

Speaking Out Against Islamophobia and Breaking Stereotypes

Anti-Islam protest descends into violence in Australia
 Anti-Islam protestors attacked counter-protestors at an anti-immigrant rally. Muslims have come under increasing attack by right-wing groups. In Australia racism against Muslims is three times the national average.

China is building a theme park to promote an acceptable version of Islam The Chinese government has plans to build the Hui Culture Park with hopes of bettering Chinese-Arab relations and to offset criticisms of China’s treatment of its own Uighur citizens, which the state reportedly prevented from fasting during Ramadan in 2015.

Majority of Germans 'have limited contact' with Muslims Reports show that sixty-two percent of non-Muslim Germans have no personal friendships or connections with Muslims in their private lives. This might come as a shock with over four million Muslims living in Germany. Increased migration has become a major issue in German politics with an increase in anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric, despite the large number of Muslim Germans already residing there.

Amid growing tension, Muslim convention aims to dispel 'destructive myths' about Islam The Islamic Circle of North America had its annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland where it organized workshops on increasing dialogue with non-Muslim neighbors in an attempt to combat the hateful rhetoric circulating in media spheres.

Sadiq Khan, London’s Muslim Mayor, Calls Trump ‘Ignorant About Islam’ Sadiq Khan, London’s new mayor, speaks out against Donald Trump and his allegations that Islam is incompatible with Western values.

Hollywood reworks Muslim stereotypes Julie Harbin investigates criticisms of Muslims in film by showing how Muslim and non-Muslim activists, artists, actors, and academics are all working to reimagine the way Islam and Muslims are portrayed in film and television.

Latino Muslims at country's only Spanish-speaking mosque: 'Islam changed my life' Spanish speaking Muslims gather at the Centro Islámico in Houston to celebrate Cinco De Mayo as well a congregate with other Latino Muslims in the area. A growing demographic, Spanish speaking Muslims maintain strong links to both their cultural traditions as well as their religious practices as Muslims.

Queer and going to the mosque: 'I’ve never felt more Muslim than I do now' Samra Habib is a queer Muslim who attends Unity Mosque in Toronto, which is a prayer space that welcomes queer and gender non-conforming Muslims, as well as cis-gendered Muslims to participant in community life. Unity Mosque is a part of a larger vision to reimagine gender relations within Muslim communities and prayer spaces.

Theological Activism         

Muslim Leaders Wage Theological Battle, Stoking ISIS’ Anger American Muslim scholars and public intellectuals have repeatedly denounced ISIS and other extremist groups on theological grounds, which has evoked ISIS’s anger and resulted in threats against them. However, ISIS remains less of a threat at home than increased threats from local right wing, fundamentalist groups.

Muslim Leaders From 30 Countries Meet In Indonesia To Fight Extremism Global Muslim leaders have come together under the auspices of the Nahdlatul Ulama – an Indonesian Muslims organization – for the International Summit of Moderate Islamic Leaders. The meeting was sponsored by the President and Vice President of Indonesia, which is the largest Muslim country in the world.

The myth of the 'moderate Muslim' Khaled A. Beydoun criticizes the ‘good Muslim’/‘bad Muslim’ dichotomy that is deeply tied to terrorism ad counter-terrorism measures of US law enforcement and Homeland Security. Beydoun calls for a move beyond the facile association of Islam with terrorism that produces the catch-22 that often binds Muslims around the world.

During Ramadan month, local Muslims help feed the hungry Detroit Muslims plan to distribute over fifty tons of food across Southeastern Michigan during the month of Ramadan through a program called “Ramadan Fight Against Hunger.”

Islamic Arts and Aesthetics

America’s first major Muslim clothing store says Islamic fashion isn’t just for Muslims Lisa Vogl and her partners have opened the first Islamic fashion store in a mall in Orlando, Florida. Verona caters to both Muslims and non-Muslims in its offering of affordable, stylish, and modest dress.

What does the Jameel Prize mean for contemporary Islamic art? The Jameel Prize – “an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by the Islamic tradition” – is awarded by the Victoria and Albert Museum/Art Jameel for artists working in contemporary Islamic art broadly defined. The award is given out regardless of the artist’s religious practice and aims to address the question – “What is Islamic art and how is it defined?”

Louvre and Cairo museum strike antiquities co-operation deal The Louvre in Paris and the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo have plans to enter into a cooperation deal that allows the museums to coordinate and curate joint exhibits.

Niches of Islamic art Hakan Arslanbenzer discusses the history of Seljuk and Turkic-inspired practices of Islamic art through the figure of seventeenth century calligrapher Hafiz Osman and the Herat School or art, architecture, and music.

Art Can Combat Islamophobia Anisa Mehdi discusses the importance of art – both fine arts and music – for combating Islamophobia. Many foundations, such as the “Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement” program and others like it globally, have specifically focused their efforts on the aesthetic and affective aspect of combatting racism and increasing understanding between communities as well as supporting artists.

‘Animals in Islamic Art’ on show in Canada The Museum of Islamic Arts has recently opened an exhibition in Toronto entitled “Marvelous Creatures: Animals in Islamic Art.” The art displayed spans the seventh to the twenty-first centuries from across the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian subcontinent.

In Brussels, Art Museum Brings Hope to Muslim Neighborhood of Molenbeek The Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art opens in the Molenbeek district of Brussels. The museum has formed alliances with other local schools, such as the Brussels Boxing Academy, and is attempting to reimagine the area given recent media attention in the aftermath of the Paris and Brussels bombings.

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