Islam, Not a Monolith

November 17, 2011

By Fahima Haque From The Washington Post Amir Muhammad always told his children, “don’t wake up to your sins.”He figured it was the best way to get them to pray in the morning and start each day with a clean slate. It was better than preaching the impossible: don’t sin at all. His way of practicing Islam was different than the way I was taught growing. Tucked away in Elmhurst, Queens, amongst the other immigrants, the ubiquitous Halal markets and the nosy Bangladeshi community, it was easy for my parents to maintain a staunch view of religion that involved keeping their kids in line. Muhammad founded the Islamic Heritage Museum in 1996, which began as a traveling museum. In April 2011, the museum found a permanent home in Anacostia in the space that was formerly the Clara Muhammad School. He is the curator of the space and takes a quiet pride that building has been Muslim-owned since 1973 and that the kelly green Clara Muhammad sign still hangs above the entrance on Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave in Southeast. As he gave me a tour of the six exhibits beginning with “ForgottenRoots,” a historical look at Islam’s beginnings to Muslims in the 21st century and their roles in military, politics and activism, Muhammad made it clear he doesn’t prescribe to that view of religion. He has a twinkle in his eye when talking about Allah. He has a charismatic and jovial air–unlike religious-minded men I knew growing up. But maybe that’s because of his unusual path to Islam. Click here to read the full article.


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