Chapter on Ihsan in Pillars Fund Khayal

I’m honored to have contributed a chapter on “Ihsan: Aesthetic Ethics,” in the digital book Khayal, sponsored by the Pillars Fund. From their description:

In January 2020, we assembled a group of brilliant Muslim poets, writers, activists, scholars, historians, and artists to develop a roadmap for telling authentic Muslim stories. And for more than three years, these MNC Fellows were vital thought partners, helping us build our Culture Change program from the ground up. 

To honor their contributions to Pillars, we’ve assembled “Khayál: A Multimedia Collection by Muslim Creatives,” a publication co-authored by the brilliant minds of the MNC Fellows.

Visit the link below to page through this digital, multimedia collection and learn about the creative inhale with Zaheer Ali, examine Malcolm X’s letters with Maytha Alhassen, dive into philosophy with Hussein Rashid, explore Su’ad Abdul Khabeer‘s memories of ’90s Brooklyn, go behind the scenes of Omar Offendum’s hip-hopera Little Syria, and experience Asad Ali Jafri’s comic from the future.

We hope this collection inspires you as much as it inspired us.

Cover by Alaa Musa

The full archive can be downloaded from here.

New Chapter: In Cyber Muslims

Cyber Muslims: Mapping Islamic Digital Media in the Internet Age

Through an array of detailed case studies, this book explores the vibrant digital expressions of diverse groups of Muslim cybernauts: religious clerics and Sufis, feminists and fashionistas, artists and activists, hajj pilgrims and social media influencers. These stories span a vast cultural and geographic landscape-from Indonesia, Iran, and the Arab Middle East to North America.

These granular case studies contextualize cyber Islam within broader social trends: racism and Islamophobia, gender dynamics, celebrity culture, identity politics, and the shifting terrain of contemporary religious piety and practice.

The book’s authors examine an expansive range of digital multimedia technologies as primary “texts.” These include websites, podcasts, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube channels, online magazines and discussion forums, and religious apps. The contributors also draw on a range of methodological and theoretical models from multiple academic disciplines, including communication and media studies, anthropology, history, global studies, religious studies, and Islamic studies.

12. Defining Islamic Art: Practices and Digital Reconfigurations, Hussein Rashid

Book cover for Cyber Muslims
Book cover for Cyber Muslims

New Chapter: In Are the Arts Essential?

Are the Arts Essential?

Across twenty-five highly engaging essays, these luminaries join together to address this question and to share their own ideas, experiences, and ambitions for the arts. Darren Walker discusses the ideals of justice and fairness advanced through the arts; Mary Schmidt Campbell shows us how artists and cultural institutions helped New York overcome the economic crisis of the 1970s, bringing new investment and creativity to the city; Deborah Willis traces histories of oppression and disenfranchisement documented by photographers; and Oskar Eustis offers a brief history lesson on how theaters have built communities since the Golden Age of Athens. Other topics include the vibrancy and diversity of Muslim culture in America during a time of rising Islamophobia; the strengthening of the common good through the art and cultural heritages of indigenous communities; digital data aggregation informing and influencing new art forms; and the jazz lyricisms of a theater piece inspired by a composer’s two-month coma.


New Book: Teaching Critical Religious Studies

Teaching Critical Religious Studies: Pedagogy and Critique in the Classroom

Are you teaching religious studies in the best way possible? Do you inadvertently offer simplistic understandings of religion to undergraduate students, only to then unpick them at advanced levels?

This book presents case studies of teaching methods that integrate student learning, classroom experiences, and disciplinary critiques. It shows how critiques of the scholarship of religious studies-including but not limited to the World Religions paradigm, Christian normativity, Orientalism, colonialism, race, gender, sexuality, and class-can be effectively integrated into all courses, especially at an introductory level.

Integrating advanced critiques from religious studies into actual pedagogical practices, this book offers ways for scholars to rethink their courses to be more reflective of the state of the field. This is essential reading for all scholars in religious studies.



“Are the Arts Essential?”: Finding and Fostering Community Through the Lens of Urdu – YouTube

"Are the Arts Essential?": Finding and Fostering Community Through the Lens of Urdu – YouTube.

Wajahat Ali, renowned writer and TED Talk speaker, sits down with Director of the Building Bridges Program Zeyba Rahman and scholar Hussein Rashid to discuss their essay, "An Urdu of the Twenty-First-Century United States." In this lively conversation, the coauthors reveal the impetus behind the piece, which was published in the New York University Press anthology titled “Are the Arts Essential?,” talk about Urdu as an allegory for cross-cultural connection and unity, and reveal why the arts are “a superpower” to be found in every profession, practice and personal pursuit.

More on the book Are the Arts Essential?

Interview on Ms. Marvel’s America

In their co-edited volume, Ms. Marvel’s America: No Normal (University Press of Mississippi, 2020), Jessica Baldanzi and Hussein Rashid focus on the superhero Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. The first Muslim superhero to headline her own series, the teenager Kamala Khan is also a second-generation Pakistani immigrant who lives in New Jersey. Her complex identities and storyline in the comic world of Marvel welcomes a multifaceted exploration, one that exists at the nexus of religion, gender, culture, race, and much more. By bringing together scholars from a range of disciplines including literature, cultural studies, religious studies, pedagogy, and communications, the edited volume engages in a fascinating conversation around the character of Ms. Marvel. The book contains accessibly written essays from and about diverse voices on an array of topics, such as fashion, immigration, history, race, and fandom. The volume also includes an exclusive interview with Ms. Marvel author and cocreator G. Willow Wilson by gender studies scholar Dr. Shabana Mir. This text is a fantastic classroom resource that can work in numerous courses on Islam, such as those that focus gender or American Islam to broad courses on religion, such as religion and popular culture. The text is also useful text for educators, such as those in primary and secondary school, who may want to incorporate Ms. Marvel in their own curriculum.



Muslims in the Movies — Kristian Petersen | Harvard University Press

Muslims in the Movies — Kristian Petersen | Harvard University Press.

Muslims in the Movies provides a series of essays that explore the portrayal and reception of Muslims in Euro-American film, transnational productions, and global national cinemas. The volume brings together a group of internationally recognized experts to introduce Muslims in the films of Europe, North America, Australia, Iran, Egypt, North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The interdisciplinary collection explores issues of identity, cultural production, and representation through the depiction of Muslims on screen and how audiences respond to these images. Together, the essays operate as an introduction to the subject of Muslims and film for new readers while also serving as new works of critical analysis for scholars of cinema.

Faith in Fantasy on Imaginary Worlds Podcast

I am a longtime fan of the Imaginary Worlds podcast, and was ecstatic was I was asked to participate in roundtable on the role of faith in imaginary worlds.

I was joined by friend of many years, the Velveteen Rabbi, Rachel Barenblat, who did a wonderful write-up of her experience here.

The episode description is:

Science fiction has not always been compatible with religion — in fact many futuristic settings imagine no religion at all. But sci-fi and fantasy have long fascinated people of different faiths because the genres wrestle with the big questions of life.

You can listen to episode embedded below, or on the podcast page here.