Divorce parties among Bidan communities across north-west Africa stoke intrigue in Muslims from other parts of the world where divorce is shunned. These events, even at times arranged by a suitor interested in a divorced woman, celebrate a woman’s “return to marriageability.” Sometimes as lavish as weddings, this tradition understands divorce not as the end of the world but rather an opportunity for a fresh … Continue reading Until Death Do Us Part?
While traveling is not feasible during the coronavirus pandemic, a strong imagination can take us anywhere we want. The casbah (citadel) of Algiers offers a meaningful way to reflect on the Ramadan traditions of the pre-colonial Maghrib. Before the arrival of the French and even under their rule, women scrubbed the walls of their house and tied raffia— fiber from palm tree leaves— to the … Continue reading Ramadan Traditions in the Casbah of Algiers
This current pandemic and global crisis brought about by the novel Coronavirus strain has been a source of panic and worry for many, but it is also an opportunity for great reflection. There are important parallels between the necessary steps to combat the spread of COVID-19 and our Islamic tradition. God-willing, we can take advantage of social distancing to deeply appreciate our religion in ways … Continue reading The Coronavirus: A Muslim’s Perspective
“Islamic art” is broadly understood as all the arts that have been produced in the Muslim world. However, it does not simply denote the crafts of Muslim patrons. “Islamic art” is qualified as “Islamic” because its contents often refer explicitly or implicitly not just to scripture but religious values as a whole. Orientalist art historians in the 19th century began to treat “Islamic art” as … Continue reading Art as a Reflection of Civilization
We often limit “Muslim history” to the periods and regions in which caliphates and dynasties were established following the spread of Islam. While this history is important, the history of Muslims is not merely the Umayyads, the Ottoman Empire, or Andalusia. The history of Muslims transcends these borders and valuing its existing traditions in other parts of the world can break down the barrier that … Continue reading The Role of Indigenous Knowledge in American Islam
The film Papicha is based on a binary vision of the Civil War in Algeria, the Black Decade, which followed a military coup rejecting the 1991 Islamist electoral victory. The opening scene shows Nedjma, an aspiring fashion designer, and her friend Wassila getting ready inside a taxi for a night out at the club. They apply their makeup, put on their heels, and plug in … Continue reading Papicha: The Muslim Damsel in Distress