FOCUS on Afghanistan: Women

Since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s takeover of the country, many questions have arisen regarding women’s rights in the country. The Taliban announced that they would lead an inclusive government where women would work “shoulder to shoulder” with men, promising to govern differently than before, says Al Jazeera.

Read more

Historic Transgender Islamic School Opens in Pakistan

A young transgender woman opened the first transgender-only madrasa in Islamabad, Pakistan. A madrasa is an Islamic religious school where students can pray, learn the teachings of the Qur’an, and discuss other Islamic subjects. Rani Khan, the founder of the school, explained to Reuters that in a dream, her transgender friend who passed away was in a great state of agony, begging her to do something for the transgender community. The dream changed her life and inspired her to use her life savings towards creating this two-room school.

Read more

“Burqa Ban” in the Age of COVID-19

Switzerland joined several other European countries in banning burqas, niqabs, and other face coverings in public. This so-called “burqa ban” and those that came before it are highly controversial and inspired debate over religious freedoms and secularism, all of course, complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read more

Why Muslim Leaders’ Responses to Islamophobia in France are Nothing But Empty Words

Muslim leaders around the world have decried France’s response to multiple terrorist attacks last month. In the aftermath of the brutal beheading of schoolteacher Samuel Paty for showing offensive drawings of the Prophet Muhammad on October 16 and the Nice attacks on October 29, the French government unleashed a strict crackdown on many Muslim organizations within the country.

Read more

Radical Russia: Examining the Rise of Islamic Extremism in Eastern Europe and Beyond

Russia has the difficult tasks of attempting to retain sovereignty over people who do not view themselves as Russians, and reckoning with the cultural angst that has arisen from the economic failures and territorial disputes that resulted from the dissolution of the USSR.

Read more

Persian Posturing: Relating Religious History to Current Disputes in the Middle East

Military maneuvering and Iran are related topics. The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow waterway that connects 40 percent of oil tanker traffic through the Persian Gulf. Since 1980, Iran has threatened to mine the waterway, but the American Navy’s Fifth Fleet patrols the region from its base in Bahrain and vows to stop threats to maritime traffic.

Read more

Imagining Pan-Arabism Through the Lens of ‘Arab Idol’

Watching my Jordanian host family cheer on the win of a Christian Palestinian and empathize with the tears of a Yemeni, and seeing the televised audience of different identities and origins dancing together in Lebanon made me think that perhaps Pan-Arabism is real — even if it exists, for now, in the realm of “Arab Idol.”

Read more