The personality of Bilal captures the American black experience, as I understand it, in a nutshell. His story is a narrative from slavery to freedom, from darkness to faith, from obscurity to historic centrality.
Liberation movements want a place at the table. The Islamic State, on the other hand, wants to destroy the table. The Islamic State isn't simply an insurgency. Though it certainly aspires to overthrow the current regimes in Damascus and Baghdad, it doesn't have any particular attachment to this territory. It maintains a warm spot for the holy sites in Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, it doesn't care about national boundaries.
On Friday, she joined her favorite author, Khaled Hosseini (of Kite Runner fame) at San Jose State University in Silicon Valley, for a hard hitting conversation about Islam, violence and her dream of one day becoming Prime Minister of Pakistan.
There is no magic formula to annihilate racism. Acknowledging we may have regurgitated hateful, flimsy terms that don't necessarily reflect what's in our true hearts is a start.
Muslims are not a majority, but we're definitely here. We're your average Americans, getting educated, working and contributing to society...or not. You probably go to work or school with a Muslim whether you realize it or not. We don't all wear our religion on our sleeves (or heads).
Remember, your religious beliefs are not you. They are simply part of the medium you were cultured in when you were raised.
This is a time to remember and reflect on our responsibilities to care for the Earth which, by God's grace, provides us with nourishment throughout our lives -- which is especially important to keep in mind while we spend a month abstaining daily from food and drink.
1,400 years ago, the Prophet Muhammad prophesized that a time would come when nothing would remain of Islam but its name, nothing of the Quran but its word, and that many "Mosques would be splendidly furnished but destitute of guidance" (Mishkatul Masabih).
They had no tangible means to move it so one came up with the idea of saying a prayer to God by a sincere deed that they had respectively carried out at some time prior for Him.
Muslim scholars, political leaders and civic society must emphasize the pluralistic message of the Quran and urgently address the pervasive exclusivist attitude among many Muslims.
As far as apps go -- it's less than an app. It's merely a thrown-together version of a feed aggregator with very limited content and no useful Google or social integration. I know from my own strategy work that with a little effort it's possible to build good looking and useful apps that are actually useful.
I truly believe that, infused with the inner strength and commitment to justice and peace that reaches its highest expression during Ramadan, a victory over an evil ideology is attainable. Now is the time for Jews, Christians and all people of conscience to forego fear, prejudice and Islamophobia.
In my opinion, the biggest problem confronting Muslims is their state of denial about the presence of extremists in their midst and their complete inability to self introspect.
Even after audible calls for a race war and an attempt at genocide, the FBI still refuses to call the terrorist what he is, and instead falls back on its favorite time-tested explanation: mental illness.
How much terrorism can the world take in 24 hours? June 26, 2015 will certainly go down in history as a day that pushed the limit. Perhaps one positive thought remains. It is said that the night is darkest just before the dawn -- I don't think our night can get any darker.