Muslim American Aspects

Article excerpt

Scholars and researchers find a platform to share knowledge and focus on issues of Muslims living in the North. BY ABU ALI BAFAQUIH

Muslims and Islam continue to be in the focus. Some 10 years go, ISNA, realizing the growing interest in and importance of this newly emerging field of research, introduced its Annual Islam in America Conference.

This year, the 10th such conference was held in Chicago, April 14-16, bringing together scholars, researchers, and community leaders to focus on topics such as interfaith initiatives in America, leadership development, conflict resolution/peace building in Muslim communities, social service models in America, and current youth trends.

ISNA, the MSA of the U.S. and Canada, and Muslim communities have a robust tradition of interfaith activities. This tradition was reflected in a conference session in which Dr. Omar H. Altalib (advisor to the Minaret of Freedom Institute) shared some 20 years of experiences in interfaith initiatives from the American Midwest. He said that the Muslim tradition can be successfully shared in a way that leads to productive trialogue instead of destructive competition. Dr. Muhammad Shafiq (director of the Islamic Center of Rochester, NY and director of the Interfaith Center at Nazareth College) presented the "Qur'anic Perspective of Interfaith Relations and Dialogue and Some Models of Interfaith Work". Dr. Saleem Ahmed (University of Hawaii) introduced the All Believers Network (Belnet, www.allbelievers.net), which was established in Hawaii in 2004. He also explored possible implications for Muslims of adopting extremist or peaceful approaches as means to grapple with political challenges.

Dr. Khadija Khaja (Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI)) and two of her former students-Karen Butterworth and Jonathan Stephenson [who could not attend due to a sudden illness]-presented "A Diverse University Classroom Teaching Model: Breaking Stereotyping to Build Understanding and Appreciation of Muslims in America". This presentation illustrated an innovative university classroom teaching model developed at Indiana University in a Social Work Diversity course. …