Wednesday, February 1, 2017

CU MSA's Request for a Religious Life Advisor

The MSA is releasing the following statement and request to the Office of the President. We ask that the Muslim community and our allies (student groups are encouraged as well!) sign the statement in a show of support and agreement. Please share widely!
President Trump’s recent executive order blatantly legalizes racism and Islamophobia and goes against everything that the United States and this University aspires to. The Muslim Ban directly affects students, faculty, and staff at Columbia University, many of whom will be or are currently separated from their families, friends, and peers. Furthermore, many students at this University may be unable to continue their studies and/or work in the United States. Although not the entire Muslim community is legally affected by this ban, anti-Muslim executive actions and the political normalization of hateful Islamophobic rhetoric directly leads to anti-Muslim violence and puts our entire community under enormous risk, stress, and insecurity. 
As a result, the Muslim community is in need, now more than ever, of institutional support to help cope with the emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical toll these recent political events have on us as students of faith. Students who are visibly Muslim, such as women wearing hijab, are increasingly concerned for their safety as they publicly practice and express their faith. 
Columbia University needs to take immediate, tangible action to support the sizable Muslim community on campus. The University currently does not have a full-time, long-term staff member that caters to its Muslim students. It is imperative for our community to have a leader that they can look to for emotional support and religious guidance, and who can advocate for the Muslim student body and promote a strong sense of community. 
To this end, the Executive Board of the Columbia Muslim Students Association, and the undersigned, request the following from the Columbia University Administration: 
1. Create a fully-funded, full-time position for a Muslim Religious Life Advisor in the Office of the University Chaplain. Many peer institutions-New York University, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania etc.- already provide support for such a position; Harvard University has just made the decision to fully fund a full-time Muslim Chaplain in response to President Trump’s executive order. Columbia University needs to follow suit as soon as possible.
2. Ensure that the Executive Board of the Columbia University Muslim Student’s Association and the broader Muslim community have a leading role in the process of selecting and interviewing a suitable candidate for this position, and have final say in the ultimate choice of candidate.
3. Provide institutional support for students directly affected by the executive order, including subsidized summer housing, free legal advice, and additional demands made by other student groups on campus.
We hope that this University will prove to stand alongside its students during these difficult times. 
Signed by,
The Columbia MSA Executive Board

2015 MLK Lecture with Professor James H. Cone

Reinhold Niebuhr and Union Theological Seminary: A Daughter's Reflection on His Life and Work

But where is God’s right to His own religion?: Remembering the Words of Shaykh Imad Effat

In the years running up to the outbreak of the revolutionary uprising in Egypt in 2011, Effat wrote to his student and revolutionary figure, Ibrahim al-Houdeiby. The contents of that message show clearly how rare the likes of Effat were – and are: 
“There are all these good words about respect for shaykhs, giving them leeway and excuses, but where is God’s right to His own religion? Where is the right of the public who are confused about the truth because shaykhs are silent, and your own silence out of respect for senior shaykhs? What is this new idol that you call pressure; how does this measure to Ahmed ibn Hanbal’s tolerance of jail and refusing to bend and say what would comfort the unjust rulers?”
“What is this new idol you invented? The idol of pressure! If we submit to these new rituals, to this new idol, we would then tolerate everyone who lies, commits sins and great evils under the pretext of easing pressure and escaping it. Oh people, these pressures are only in your head and not in reality. Is there a new opinion in jurisprudence that coercion can be by illusion? Have we come to use religious terms to circumvent religion and justify the greater sins we commit? So we use legitimate phrases such as pros and cons, the lesser of two evils, and pressure to make excuses for not speaking up for what is right and surrendering to what is wrong!” 

Omar Suleiman is the Religious Leader Dallas Needs Right Now

Ursula Niebuhr

Ursula Mary Niebuhr (August 3, 1907[1] – January 10, 1997) was an American academic and theologian. She was the founder and longtime head of the Department of Religion at Barnard College in New York City.
Although known as an American, she was born in Southampton, England. After graduation from the University of Oxford with double Firsts in history and theology, she became the first woman to win a fellowship to the Union Theological Seminary in New York.[2]

Last night, I watched the premiere of the upcoming documentary film, “An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story” at Union Theological Seminary. I did not know about this great woman who founded the Religion Department at Barnard College where I'm TA'ing this semester for Hussein Rashid's Islam and a Post-Colonial World course!..

Dr. Sherman Jackson & Dr. Eddie Glaude: On the Politics of Race and Religion in America Today [2014]

Hundreds gather on Low steps to protest Trump's immigration ban

Trailer: An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story

I watched the premier of this last night at Union Theological Seminary, ma sha Allah.

Monday, January 30, 2017

"None of my discoveries was at all original.

The growing number of theologians who, overcoming an allergy to ‘Semitism’, were prepared to set ancient misunderstandings aside and acknowledge the integrity of Judaism (and now, more slowly, Islam), proved a source of real encouragement, and was clearly a historical shift of immense importance. It seemed to reflect some deep sea-changes in the way Christians perceived virtue. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyred pastor of Berlin, was so horrified by his hierarchy’s insistence on Luther’s doctrine of non-intervention in politics that he issued his famous call for a ‘Christianity without religion’. And I myself, growing up when memories of the war were still all around me, often heard of the martyred Stauffenberg’s attempt to kill Hitler, but could not name a single German bishop who was remembered for rebelling against the Reich.[12] Certainly for my own spiritual journey, the old images of Christ, solace of pacifists and ineffectual dreamers, were less impressive than the new icons of a truly socially responsible human being drawn by Bonhoeffer and, more especially, the liberation theologians. Sometimes I believe that there is significance in the fact that I was baptised by Father Jack Putterill (1892-1980), best known of all radical priests in his day, who insisted that true religion is not pacifist or apolitical, but must be a revolutionary challenge to the rich and the autocratic.[13] Putterill, to my knowledge, went to his grave without knowing the Prophet whose Lord was Lord of the Poor, who actively championed their cause and adopted their way of life, who challenged great empires instead of meekly submitting to them. That Prophet, hailed by the socialist Bernard Shaw as ‘a princely genius’,[14] turns out to be a spiritual type close to the urgent but hidden needs of a comfortable, bourgeois consumer culture, which in its heart yearns not for faint chanting in distant oratories, but a willingness to engage in a virile way with the real issues of poverty and injustice. Such, of course, was the motivation which drove Roger Garaudy, whose Communism was of the empathetic kind, and who therefore broke with Stalinism and entered the free, non-hierarchical space of Islam. For Garaudy, like Putterill and Shaw, secularity could only produce freedom within the confines of the ‘cage of steel’. True freedom lay beyond, but it had to be promote itself, and therefore incorporate a willingness to challenge those who degrade God’s earth and His servants. Faced with radical evil, preaching and witnessing alone are tragically inadequate. 

Québec mosque shooting: five feared dead as Trudeau decries 'terrorist attack'

Nesrine Malik: Suddenly, Muslims are America’s pariahs