In this episode of the Religion Beat Radio Hour, co-producers Christopher Cornthwaite and Judith Ellen Brunton are joined by Khalidah Ali in a three-part discussion: the theme of suffering in John Green’s best-selling novel, Ali’s own Religion Beat article about the shape of liberal critique in today’s popular discourse on Islam, and racism and Islamophobia in American politics.
In the now-infamous episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher,” politically and socially charged topics such as purported violent tendencies in Islamic belief and practice, racism, Islamophobia, and defining the “essential essence” of religion were hotly debated
On the Importance of Civic Space in Islam: The Aga Khan and the Prince of Persia – Suhayla (Leah) Wotherspoon
Last week, on May 28th, the spiritual leader of the world’s Shi’a Ismaili Muslims, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, visited Toronto with members of his family for the foundation ceremony of a new Ismaili Centre (a high profile prayer hall) and the first Aga Khan Museum for Islamic Art and Culture. The plan for the construction of this site in Don Mills, which includes what promises to be an exceptionally beautiful park, has been in the works for a number of years now, and is estimated to be completed in 2013. The Ismaili Imam’s visit to Canada was a doubly special occasion for the nation’s Ismaili Muslims, as the Imam was given by the Government of Canada honourary Canadian Citizenship, in recognition of a lifetime of work as the spiritual leader of the world’s Ismailis that has been in keeping with what were described by Stephen Harper as the very Canadian ideals of “pluralism, peace, and development“.
During my stay in Amsterdam a few years ago, I saw many strange things. The red light districts, the coffee shops (not the ones in Canada), the Sex Museum, the Hash Museum and the Torture Museum were exceptionally outré. But the most bizarre experience I had was on the fifth of December when I attended the Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) parade for the first time. It was a cold and gloomy morning in downtown Amsterdam. A friend asked me to join them to watch the Santa Claus parade and so I did. We headed to the Koninklijk Paleis (the Royal Palace) and waited on Dam Street for about 20 minutes. Santa finally appeared in his usual silky red cloak and sharp white beard. He was riding a glorious white horse and accompanied by Dutch adults who had blackened their faces and wore afro wigs and thick red lipstick. As the caravan was approaching, the kids were yelling with great enthusiasm: Kijk, zwarte Piet! (Look, Black Peter!). I quickly scanned the crowd looking for any black people and there were few with their children. I glanced at my African-American friend and saw confusion in her eyes.
I am currently teaching a course on religion and multiculturalism. Whenever I run out of material to present in class, or when I see eyes drooping and decide that it’s time for a change of pace, I know of one sure-fire way to win back my students’ attention – mention the hijab. Trust me. Give it a shot. Conversations stop. Eyes snap to the front. Instant undivided attention.