Talking Muslim American History on Nebraska Public Radio

The story of Black Muslims in the U.S. is as old as the story of its founding. But much of it is forgotten– a lapse that can make room for falsehoods and fear. Some in Omaha are working to weave the stories together again and spark discussion… “Oftentimes enslaved African Americans aren’t thought of as being educated people,” said Dr. Edward Curtis, a professor of … Continue reading Talking Muslim American History on Nebraska Public Radio

The Other Black Muslims (Besides Malcolm X)

I wonder what Malcolm X himself would think of his own framing as an American icon. A thoroughly international-minded leader, he would likely wince at the ongoing association of the term “Black Muslims” with the U.S.-based Muslims such as himself and Muhammad Ali… Today, the descendants of African Muslim ancestors in Asia, Europe, and the Americas have been joined by more recent African immigrants to … Continue reading The Other Black Muslims (Besides Malcolm X)

“Daily News”: We’re Part of the Same Civilization

Originally published in the New York Daily News, Dec. 10, 2015: First the Paris terrorist attacks. Then, San Bernardino. Terrorists who subscribe to an abnormal and repugnant interpretation of Islam are killing innocents in Europe and America. And just like after 9/11, ordinary Muslim Americans have been shot, hit and threatened. This is retributive violence. It is ugly, and it betrays our deepest American values. … Continue reading “Daily News”: We’re Part of the Same Civilization

Self-Criticism of a Public Scholar

It may be tempting for religious studies scholars to take advantage of this historical moment by deploying one-dimensional explanations of religion to justify our own usefulness to the academy and to the nation. But even if we have to admit our ignorance, or just say that it’s complicated, it is better to resist further propagating or reinforcing simplistic conceptions of Islam, or of religion in … Continue reading Self-Criticism of a Public Scholar

Talking Back to the “New York Times” about Louis Farrakhan

In another example of how mass media shape and constrain what constitutes legitimate Islam and religion more generally, the New York Times published a news analysis on April 10, 2011, that explains Minister Louis Farrakhan’s recent support for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi as an attempt  to gain support, or at least attention, for his declining movement. I was a source for the story, but an exchange of twenty-three emails seems … Continue reading Talking Back to the “New York Times” about Louis Farrakhan

“New York Daily News”: Why the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Belongs in Lower Manhattan

Originally published in the New York Daily News, July 23, 2010: Rick Lazio, the gubernatorial candidate from Suffolk County, doesn’t like it. Sarah Palin, though not exactly a New Yorker, has resoundingly “refudiated” it. More importantly, plenty of ordinary citizens vocally oppose the establishment of a Muslim community center and mosque near the World Trade Center site. But no matter how offensive their presence may … Continue reading “New York Daily News”: Why the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Belongs in Lower Manhattan