Clarion Project’s National Correspondent Shireen Qudosi appeared on We’re Just Talking About It (WJTA), discussing the viability of Muslim reform in the U.S. WJTA is a freshly-launched podcast featuring an informal conversation about Islam and Muslim cultures. According to podcast host Jason Howk, it’s the conversation America should have started on September 12th, 2001. The show is produced and co-hosted by Hollie Fleck, an Emmy-award winning television news reporter.
In episode 10, Shireen shares an intimate conversation in understanding Islam’s origin story:
- “Muslim reform means different things to different people.” — Muslim reformers have their own definition, while Islamists are now also using the word reform; plus there’s the right-wing agenda for reform, which is to destroy Islam. Reform is much bigger than any one of these three groups. For Shireen, reform is “where philosophy and scholarship blend with love for an Intelligence greater than holy men and holy books.”
- We can summarize 21st century ‘Muslim reform’ in one sentence. — 21st Century reform is a question: “What is Islam?” Answering that question, Shireen says “Islam is both peace and war. Islam is choice.”
- In our generation, Muslim reform is just another wave in an ocean — Muslims are heirs to a legacy of scholarship and debate. Shireen argues a need to return to that heritage. However, she also warns how scholarship and debate contributed to the evolution of Islamism over time.
- What did Islam look like during the Dark Ages? — Host Jason shares how Islam played a role in holding onto knowledge until Europe moved out of the Dark Ages.
- What people miss when they look at Islam — Over the years there’s been a mosaic of thought and groups, which is something people miss when they view Islam as a monolith. Jason shares a simple analogy to help non-Muslims understand how followers of Islam embrace the same diversity as people of other faiths.
- “Food is a weapon of peace.” —Moving beyond education, Shireen and Jason discuss which models work best when trying to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Here’s Shireen defining reform:
The viability and future of Islam in America:
- How difficult is it to have a conversation about Islam in America? — Shireen offers two distractions that prevent Americans from having an authentic conversation about faith and identity among Muslims.
- “President Trump has forced open a conversation.” — Jason and Shireen share that despite how uncomfortable the U.S. landscape has been since the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, the landscape has shifted in favor of greater dialogue. Shireen adds that Trump’s presidency has forced what she calls “experiential change.”
Click here to listen to the full episode.