Blog 7/14/2008 8:47 AM (2:47PM London)
Islamphobia Panel: While entering the main hall to listen to Nihad Awad, Anas Altikriti and others on the panel talking about Islamophobia I saw Dr. Jamal Badawi sitting in the audience. He was dressed in an Indonesia shirt and sandals (not the way I’m used to seeing him). We sat together and enjoyed the panel. It still feels funny to sit with your teachers as if you are peers – at the age of 51, I still feel like a college student when I sit in his presence. The panel mentioned that Islamophobia is the fear of Muslims or Islam. They made to comparisons to homophobia, anti-Semitism, etc and related that it is a form of racism. In the definition they forgot to share that “phobia” is an unrealistic fear of….like arachnophobia is the unrealistic fear of spiders. Therefore, Islamophobia is an unrealistic fear of Islam or Muslims. The solutions proposed included more events like more IslamExpo, more outreach in the media, religious and civic life=engaging with you neighbors of everyday issues. Reverend Clarke Lobenstine, Executive Director of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (www.ifcmw.org) who is on his way to the Madrid Interfaith Conference co-sponsored by Rabita, shared with me in another meeting that the next step must include that the friends of Muslims speak up and speak out on the job, at the water fountain, at the pub and in their “world” when they hear racist-Islamophobic-sexist-anti-Semitic-homophobic or other similar statements of intolerance.
It is amazing how you find friends in your work. And if you love your work, you will find others who do too. This morning I got a call from a friend made from the work of “The Radical Middle Way” UK Tour, Abdul-Rehman. We had a warm conversation and he was informing me of the rave response of the community to my lecture at City Circle on the “Obama Phenomenon” in which I predicted that Obama would win the primary. Insha Allah, he will have lunch together at IslamExpo.
Sitting in an interfaith session supported by Friends of the Earth entitled Muslims and the Environment: The Green Jihad. The first speaker, Tony Juniper, reminded us that 24 types of life forms – species- every hour and that the global warming events will effect the parts of the world where Muslims live. Founder of Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES), Fazlun Khalid. They are researching Fiqh Al-Khalq (The Rulings on the [care] of Creation).
I shared the experience from the DC Green Muslims as another example of Muslims in the green jihad and that the Prophet, as, said ‘don’t waste water even if by a river’. Therefore, I called on Muslim to use a pitcher to make wudu and thus conserve water and increase our reward from Allah. They provided me with some materials (print and DVD) they had developed to distribute in the States.
The IslamExpo is operating on this Monday, a school day in London. The program has many school groups that are visiting the art and cultural exhibits and sessions. I was wonderful to see school kids roaming through the halls. Our conventions in the US should consider having exhibits tailored toward school children. In order to do this the conventions must have more art and cultural programs.
Sheikh Jabril was holding a session reciting the Qur’an with the Tafsir projected on the screen and then there is a discussion about the meaning of the Qur’an and proper pronunciation. The sheikh recited for us at Dar Al-Hijrah at our fundraiser in Ramadan last year. It was good to see him. He was cool…as usually with his designer shades.
At lunch Abdel-Rehman and I were joined by Tayyeb Shah of Meem Music. Subhanna Allah, Tayyeb was trim and younger looking. We had lunch at Pizza Express on Kensington High Street (Tayyeb said he had already eaten) and discussed the future plans for the “Life Planning” recording and distribution. Abdel-Rehman proposed that we all team up and do a UK tour and workshop with the Life Planning team for youth leaders perhaps in the March 2009.