I'm pleased to announce I'm an advisor on a new project on American Muslim Stories.
This distinct collection brings together scholars from a range of disciplines including literature, cultural studies, religious studies, pedagogy, and communications to engage with a single character, exploring Khan’s significance for a broad readership.
Building a positive sense of identity is critical to children’s healthy development and, ultimately, to their futures. Seeing characteristics like their race, gender, and religion in a positive light gives kids a pathway to success in school and in life—and research shows that valuing their own identities helps children grow into more confident and accepting adolescents and adults.
Irfan Ahmad’s text, Religion as Critique, is an ambitious work that seeks to open a new approach to the understanding of Muslims: an anthropology of philosophy. As a result, his book covers a vast amount of material. The text reads like two separate endeavors—a historical, methodological study, and the author’s original work. Since the author recognizes this structure and guides the reader to be aware of it, the book does hold together fairly well. At the same time, as a reviewer, it makes more sense to treat the two parts as divisible, since they each serve different functions.
NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, NYC Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, NYC Council Members I. Daneek Miller and Helen Rosenthal toured the America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan earlier this week with the museum’s executive director Andy Ackerman, the museum’s honorary board chair Laurie M. Tisch, museum board member Judith Hannan, the exhibit’s academic advisor Hussein Rashid and others. America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far is a groundbreaking new interactive exhibit for children and families that explores the diversity of Muslim cultures in New York City, the U.S. and abroad. The exhibit showcases the cultural expressions of various Muslim communities around the world through age-appropriate experiences with art, architecture, travel, trade, design and more.
Here is a Newsday article on the exhibit America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far, at The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, for which I was the lead academic advisor. It’s a good chance to shout out my friends from high school.
“Our goal is to have children deal with differences in a healthy, positive way and encourage them to be inquisitive while exploring the world instead of running away from its differences,” Rashid said, an experience not so different from his years growing up in Elmont.
I am proud to announce the opening of the exhibit America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. I served as the lead academic advisor the exhibit, and it is stunning. Below is a link to my Flickr album of the space, which I will continue update as the exhibit goes on for the year.
My first piece for the Foreign Policy Association blog.
The recent attack against Ismaili Muslims in Karachi, Pakistan, will be read by most as part of a simple narrative of an ongoing Sunni-Shi’ah conflict. Unfortunately, as consistent fear-mongering has demonstrated with Sharia, bandying about non-English words conveys a facade of knowledge without any guarantee of any actual understanding. As is the case with most political violence, here is more to this attack than a simple retelling of a religious clash. There is a deeper history that is masked by using inappropriate vocabulary, and misusing it is allowing the most extreme voices to set the agenda.
In the contemporary context, Dr. Rashid spoke as well about the role of pop culture and media, including television sit-coms, music, and comedy (examples included the “Axis of Evil Comedy Tour” and the hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco among others), and the ways in which these have historically functioned as a normalizing force for marginalized communities in the U.S. Participants in the webinar opened discussion about the notion of “Muslim culture” in this context, reflecting on the relationship between unity and diversity within a community that contains a multiplicity of backgrounds and cultural contexts within the U.S. Rashid noted that the most significant forms of normalizing visibility often come with characters who present markers such as self-identified Muslim identity but are not defined by them.
See a recording of this session here