Courses at Park Ave. Christian – Spring 2010


Four Mondays at 6:30 pm, beginning February 1

Tickets: $100 through

Even the most sophisticated New Yorkers know little about Islam. What limited knowledge we do have comes through the media, where facts are often incomplete. This introductory course will cover the principal beliefs of Islam, the differences between Sunnis and Shiites, the Muslim “Bible” the Qur’an, as well as the idea of jihad. Class readings will be provided. Ample time will be provided for class discussion and questions.


Four Wednesdays at 6:30 pm, beginning March 3

Tickets: $100 through

The Qur’an. Islam’s sacred scripture, is not like the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament. It is not organized by books or authors or prophets. Traditional Muslims believe that the Qur’an was dictated by God (Allah) to the Prophet Mohammed. The Qur’an makes reference, however, to many personalities and episodes found in Jewish and Christian literature. Hussein Rashid has chosen some of these biblical tales, and will show how they appear in the Qur’an, often changed in interesting ways.

Reprint: Orientalizing Ourselves

Patheos recently republished an article of mine from Religion Dispatches.

In the United States, a place I have argued is a new intellectual Mecca, rather than attacking a simplified version of Islam, an Islam-lite if you will, I find more and more American Muslims defining themselves by Orientalist constructions of what Islam means. I wish I could say that this is a type of double-consciousness, where we are aware of how others view us and we are struggling against it. It is, I fear, a radical internalization of an Islam-lite that debases our tradition and makes both Muslim and non-Muslims more ignorant and sheep-like.x

Speaking Event: International Conference on Islam and the Media

Will be in Boulder, CO, for the International Conference on Islam and the Media. I will be on a panel talking about The 99.

From the conference description:

If we believe the torrent of popular headlines on Islam today, it seems that only Muslim extremists are talking about their religion, pursuing a project that claims to defend it from “secularized” Western culture. From Bin Laden’s call to jihad to the angry reaction of Muslims to the Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, Muslims are portrayed in the media as irrational followers of a religion adamantly out of step with modernity. In the face of this, and perhaps in order to balance their coverage of Islam, Western journalists, pundits, and others have been asking “where are the moderate Muslims?” But few true moderates have emerged. Instead, some Western media have turned to another extreme: Muslim secularists or “Muslim non-believers”–voices which deserve media attention, but which arguably stand at the opposite fringe, rather than nearer the center of how Islam is lived and understood today.