We’re varying the nature of our weekly roundup a bit this week with a themed collection of reads on Muslim and Jewish issues, including interfaith subjects that touch both communities. We hope you enjoy, and as always, we love hearing about what you’re reading, so please do join the conversation in comments.
‘“God accepts more prayers on Fridays”: Marking God’s Time in Our Muslim and Orthodox Jewish Families‘ (Saadia Faruqi and Shoshana Kordova for Catapult)
This interesting interfaith piece explores parenting within two very different religious traditions, and the commonalities we share as humans.
Celebrating the specialness of Friday hasn’t always been easy for me. Pakistan suffered through periods of military rule, much of which was highlighted by what we call an Islamization of the nation. This included, among many things, a national holiday on Friday, when businesses and schools would be closed. I remember my father, a banker, grumbling that Friday wasn’t a holiday for the rest of the world, that his bank lost money by not being able to communicate with its counterparts in other countries for an entire day each week. I remember the same conversations taking place on television among financial and economic experts, who believed our nation was being harmed by the Friday holiday. But I was very young at that time, so my memory is only a snippet here and a conversation there.
‘The Writer Behind a Muslim Marvel Superhero on Her Faith in Comics‘ (Jia Tolentino for The New Yorker)
G. Willow Wilson is a very interesting woman at the middle of a very complicated controversy over diversity in comics, and this is a deft profile.
In 2009, Wilson moved back to the U.S. with her husband. She struggled to readjust—she had never lived as a Muslim in her own country. Her memoir was published the following year and then, in 2012, came her novel “Alif the Unseen,” a techno-fantasy about an Arab-Indian hacker. In a twenty-month stretch, she went on two book tours and gave birth to two daughters. Then she got a call from Stephen Wacker, a longtime Marvel editor, and Sana Amanat, at the time an assistant editor. Wacker and Amanat had decided that the new Ms. Marvel series should star a Muslim teen-ager, and that Wilson should write it. Amanat, a Pakistani-American Muslim, would be the series editor. (Amanat also edits the “Hawkeye” and “Captain Marvel” reboots, and has since become a director of content and character development at Marvel, known for her striking and unorthodox instincts.)
‘The Meaning of Allahu Akbar‘ (Mehreen Kasana for Hazlitt)
This is a splendid meditation on faith, origins, and a two word phrase that strikes terror into the hearts of Islamophobes the world over.
But takbir is introduced to us before we can even attach meaning to spoken word. When we are born, the azaan—call to prayer—is performed to us at a pitch softer than cotton. The day I was born, I had already been introduced to this expression that would later on become my refuge in times of despair, my cry in times of joy and yes, my roar in moments of indignation. My father softly recited “Allahu Akbar” in my ear when I came into this world.
‘Trump, Trolls, and Rediscovering My Jewish Identity‘ (Eve Peyser for Vice)
A rise of anti-Semitism in America has presented challenges to the safety, identity, and culture of American Jews, some of whom are finding the need to reclaim their faith in the face of hatred.
It seems clear Trump’s equivocations are egging on anti-Semites. A study conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in October found a significant increase in the number of anti-Semitic tweets from January to July 2016, as coverage of the 2016 election ramped up. The hateful accounts, the ADL reported, “are disproportionately likely to self-identify as Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, or part of the ‘alt-right,’ a loosely connected group of extremists, some of whom are white supremacists.”
‘Ritual Slaughter Bans Don’t Help Animals — They Target Jews and Muslims‘ (Melissa Hoffman for Forward)
Islamophobia and anti-Semitism find multiple sneaky and insidious ways to express themselves. One example is the trend of proposing ‘ritual slaughter bans,’ ostensibly in the interests of animal welfare, but actually for entirely more sinister purposes.
After all, issuing restrictions on minority religious practice is almost certainly unrelated to welfare concerns. Federman demonstrates, astutely, how ritual slaughter bans are not propped up by an especially humane surrounding culture. It is unjust and inconsistent to single out ritual slaughter in the face of far more egregious practices in Belgium, such as those on food production factory farms, mink fur farms, and in sport hunting. And, for societies aspiring to support the most humane forms of slaughter, foremost research already confirms that ritual slaughter can be humane when performed correctly. Dr. Temple Grandin, a world-renowned animal welfare expert who both has studied and written extensively about stun and non-stun slaughter, has repeatedly asserted this.
If you enjoy our work, please consider supporting us with a one time or recurring donation. We believe in paying writers, and we rely on our readers to help us continue serving up interesting, dynamic, and engaging commentary every weekday. To make sure you don’t miss any of that commentary, you can subscribe to our newsletter below — and if you’re interested in writing for us, check out our contributor guidelines.
Photo credit: Adopt A Negotiator/Creative Commons