One day I got a random voice mail on my cell phone from a couple in Miami, Florida who had seen the PBS “Sacred Journey’s” documentary and shared their appreciation of my work. They said “The Muslim community could have no better spokesman……and we’re not even Muslim”.
This kind of message encourages me to continue to do this work no matter how much the promoters of fear and bigotry may criticize me.
I believe that people like this are in the majority. We don’t hear more from them because they and we do not have access to the reigns of the media so we use what we have.
This couple used the power they had. They just pick-up the phone and called me.
For those who believe in God it is often a challenge when we see tragedies, loss of life even murder.
The sister of the student who was killed said that she wanted the lives of her brother, Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21 and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19 to matter. May God’s peace and blessing be upon them.
As a Black American and a Muslim the fact this tragedy has occurred in Black History Month, a week before the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X and in The South where the struggle for civil rights for continues to be waged is sobering reminder.
I am reminded that upon the death of the Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, one of his closest companions, Umar, in a fit of grief said, ‘That whoever says that Muhammad is dead, I will kill them’. Abu Bakr, The best friend of the Prophet Mohammed, said, “Whoever worships Muhammad know that Muhammad is dead and whoever worships God know that God is alive and will never die”.
Although this violent act is intended frighten or terrorize people of faith, Allah/God is bringing good into the world through the responses of people of good will. Thousands are supporting the humanitarian relief efforts for Syrian refugees. In their passing they are giving life to others. The community in North Carolina beyond Chapel Hill and communities beyond the university community is being transformed.
Allah decrees life and death saying, “No one knows in which land it will be born or in which land it will die”.
I believe God choose Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus. She wasn’t just any black woman, she was an exemplar of the best conduct and character, dedicated to civil rights as a member of the and NAACP, active in her church, a wife and an upstanding member of the community. She was chosen by history, by destiny, by God Almighty to be the symbol that would end segregation in public accommodations in the south.
The three students were extrodinary young people. Perhaps as painful as it is, God has chosen these three young people to be the beacons of light and hope for America, Muslim exemplars of faith and service. This deranged murderer could have taken the lives of any religious individuals that were different from him, that he feared, that he felt threatened by the presence of their faith.
Mahdi Bray, former director of the Freedom Foundation, reminded me that the faces of these young American Muslims were projected across the television screens throughout our country and show young Muslims as America’s brightest prospects and not America’s greatest suspects.
They have been chosen by destiny just as those four girls who were killed at the 16th St., Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL to became a symbol of the civil rights struggle for equality and freedom.
These three young American Muslims lives will not be forgotten, nor the lessons that they have taught us be set aside.
The perpetrator who took their precious lives will not derail the movement toward understanding, freedom, justice and equality for all people regardless of their race, religion or other personal beliefs or practices of faith or conviction.
I think about Medgar Evers, Dr. King and Malcolm X who were struck down while advocating for the poor and the oppressed. Like so many martyrs of our past they will live on, in all of us a part of their light continues to shine and in the beliefs which they unwittingly gave their lives for will continue to flower, in this life and in the hereafter.
It is believed by Muslims and other people of faith that no one dies before God’s decree nor can their life be extended by any other then The Creator.
One night in a dark parking lot after a community organizing meeting one activist said to another, “Aren’t you afraid that some narrow-minded person might try to shorten our lives?”. The other replied, “By God, I cannot die before God’s decree therefore until that time………… I AM INVINCIBLE”.
Let us go forward with the spirit of invincibility knowing that God is with those who do justice at all times.
Salaam سلام : Congrats to Malala and her colleagues on the Noble Peace Prize.
One Person Can Make A Difference
Don’t help them magnify their message.
“Never pass the megaphone to the Heckler”
Deny them dignity
“The “so-called leader” of these fanatics”.
Did not allow the leadership to be identified with the title.
“their “self-appointed president” said…..”
Never recognize the opposition as an equal.
“if any of you (Extremists) would like to meet/negotiate with us (Establish) we can make an appointment with any individuals”
Degrade their opportunity for recognition
If there are all proposals for change, new policies that need to be employed, or shortcomings that have been identified, they cannot be considered the “province” or “agenda” of the extremist. =/= The extremist makes a good point!!!
Nothing about the Lord Resistance Army is Christian. Call them LRA
Nothing about The Islamic State is Muslim. Refer to them as ISIS
They are not Fundamentalist they are fanatics
Don’t Let Salt mix with Sugar-Look Similar-Taste Different
We both can’t be in the same group.
If this is what you believe, then stop they you are the leader of our group. We don’t believe in what you believe and we are in the majority.
Never use their extremism to justify yours
The Washington Post recently quoted only a “sound bite” of my comments on marriage in America, the role of religious interpretation, government and law. My comments were distilled into a discourage about same-sex marriage, which is a narrow slice of my comments.
From my understanding of the Qur’an, marriage in Islam is between members of the opposite sex. Yet, I believe that people can engage in many types of sexual behaviors and still be Muslim. The goal is to try to understand God’s message and then to apply it. The way one has sex is not be their public definition. As a person of faith, the primary identifier is one’s relationship with the transcendent God/Allah and not one’s appetite for food, drink, sex, race or gender.
In America, religion is a very personal thing. As such, very few individuals like to be told how to define their relationship with God and wish to define their relationship with God on their own terms without government involvement. It is for this reason that I believe that faith in America is still very vibrant, while it is falling by the wayside in Europe.
Likewise on the issue of marriage, I do not believe that our government should ever have gotten into the business of “sanctifying” marriage. In other words, the gov’t should not define what “is” and “is not” marriage any more than they should define who “is” and “is not” a Muslim, Christian or Jew. In marriage, the gov’t should only be in the business of enforcing binding contracts between adult aka “civil unions”!
The issue of (religious) marriage as should have been put into the authority of religious communities. If we do that then, everyone would be free to practice whatever they like in their own religion as long as they do not infringe upon the constitutional right of others.
This is perfectly in line with my own faith tradition. The Qur’an says:
“To you be your way and to us be our way….”
Within Muslim history there have been many groups, sects, offshoots and various interpretations of the faith, each group interrupting the scriptures on their own terms in context, content and time and today is no different.
I have a particular reading and understand of Islam that puts sexual behavior in the light of specific verses and prophetic traditions, but he priority in religion is to find out what God wants and then to do that, not to find out what you want and then find the text that you think allows you to do it.
The Featured Presenters:
Sara Fitzgerald has served as a member of the board of directors of the United Church of Christ’s Office of Communication, Inc. (OC Inc.) since 2009. She worked as an editor and new media developer for The Washington Post from 1979 to 1994, and supervised its Religion page in 1980. She has also worked as an editor and reporter for National Journal magazine, The St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times), The Miami Herald and the Akron Beacon Journal. As director of member services for the Interactive Services Association from 1994 to 1996, she worked on many public policy issues involving the early online industry. She is former president of the board of directors of the United Church of Christ’s Central Atlantic Conference, the denomination’s regional organization covering the area from New Jersey to Virginia, and is a longtime member of Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ in Arlington. She is the author of the recently published biography “Elly Peterson: ‘Mother’ of the Moderates,” published by the University of Michigan Press. She holds a B.A. in history and journalism from the University of Michigan.
Cheryl Leanza, principal in the A Learned Hand consulting firm (www.alearnedhand.com), currently serves as public policy adviser to the United Church of Christ’s Office of Communication, Inc. (OC Inc.) and as co-chair of the Media and Telecommunications Task Force of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Her other clients have included the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, the Future of Music Coalition, Public Knowledge and Native Public Media, among others. In addition, she served for over six years as the non-profit Media Access Project law firm, and as a staff member at the Federal Communications Commission. She holds masters and law degrees from the University of Michigan.
Muslim Media Roundtable
To facilitate broader and stronger relationships between Muslim (religious and civic) leaders and media professionals based on mutual trust and understanding.
Foster enhanced understanding of the issues (cultural, financial, geopolitical, historical, philosophical, and religious).
Facilitate introductions to the press of new resources across the Muslim community for press corps outreach as circumstances and issues warrant.
Create and maintain an environment of mutual trust among press corps and Muslims that will lead to greater cooperation and collaboration.
Facilitate relationships that will result in accurate, consistent, fair and balanced reporting on Islam and Muslims.
The Roundtable is the outgrowth of a private activist think tank, EMERGE786. The roundtable discussions will not be sponsored by any national Muslim organizations.
For the Record
All of the conversations will be “off-the-record”. Journalists are free to follow-up with any individuals after the event with the caveat that they are not representatives of nor speaking for the roundtable organizers.
Individual Introductions (10min)
Panel discussion on a selected topic (30min)
Roundtable discussion (30min)
Lunch & networking (20min)
Total Time: 1.5 hours
Start Time: 11:00am
End Time: 12:30pm
Develop opportunities for Muslims to experience professional mentoring
Create opportunities to develop relationships with editors and editorial boards.
Members of the think tank will develop a list of prospective audience participants that will be composed of individuals that span the media spectrum (print, blogosphere, electronic). The primary goal of the meeting will be to strengthen relationships between Muslim newsmakers and shapers and the media.
The intention of the think tank is to invite members of Washington media press corps to quarterly events. The purpose of the events will be to expand and enhance relationships between the press corps and members of the Muslim community. The ultimate objective is to create relationships that will in turn result in consistent, accurate, fair and balanced reporting on affairs that are important to Muslims and the society within which they live.
The roundtable guest list will be developed with the intention to promote ethnic, gender, and political and socioeconomic diversity. Invited participants consisting of prominent members of the Muslim community will be asked to invite professionals from the media that they would like to attend.
The guests will be from across the spectrum, including (1) mainstream media, (2) Muslims, (3) leaders from leading Muslim organizations, (4) subject matter specialists for roundtable topics, and (5) individuals that have a personal story to tell regarding the topic of the day. The guests will be sorted into random groups for the roundtable discussions.
A committee will select topics after getting feedback from members of the media and Muslim organizations.
For each roundtable, the goal is to have a total of the following:
10 Mainstream media (This includes Muslims working in mainstream media)
5 Muslim Media (Those representing Muslim media).
5 Leading Organizations (examples)
5 Specialist and activists (examples)
5 Community Stake holders (examples)
Media Muslim Media Muslim Organization Specialist Personal Group
2 1 1 1 1 A
2 1 1 1 1 B
2 1 1 1 1 C
2 1 1 1 1 D
2 1 1 1 1 E
For each roundtable matches will be made from a random of drawing lots. The intent is to create a new mix of media people and Muslims. Each table will have a facilitator that will help to focus the conversation.
Frequency: 4-6 per year (Quarterly)
The other roundtable discussions will be spaced across the balance of the year.
Please note the following proposed occasions for the discussions:
During the late morning starting at approximately11:00 AM and concluding at 12:30 noon.
The Roundtable program duration will be for 90 minutes.
The roundtable organizers will host a brown-bag or low cost lunch. The Muslim Media Roundtable will strive to provide light refreshments.
The Federal Communications Commission’s report “The Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age” This 360-page report, released in June 2011, found that while there has been tremendous innovation in the modern media landscape, there are also some very worrisome and consequential gaps in coverage. The full report, as well as an executive summary, is available at: http://www.fcc.gov/info-needs-communities 2011 Everett C. Parker Lecture in Ethics and Telecommunications (September, 2011) Video of 2011 Parker Lecture, presented by Steven Waldman, principal author of the Federal Communications Commission’s report “The Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age” http://vimeo.com/30193162 “Religion in the Media (December 2006-December 2007),” prepared by Douglas Gould and Company for the Ford Foundation’s Religion and Culture: Meeting the Challenge of Pluralism This report provided the third in a series of analyses of how the American media presented religious topics to the public and thus contributed to shaping Americans’ perceptions of religious institutions and practices. http://douglasgouldandcompany.com/resources/Religion_Media_Analysis2007.pdf United Church of Christ’s Office of Communication, Inc. The United Church of Christ’s Office of Communication, Inc., (OC Inc.) is the media justice ministry of the United Church of Christ, a 1.1-million-member Protestant denomination Office of Communication, Inc.: http://www.uccmediajustice.org United Church of Christ: http://www.ucc.org