The Real Reason Trump Scares Me

Sep 08

Florida Times Union, September 8, 2016 Donald Trump’s speech in Arizona about his signature issue of immigration terrified me. Of particular concern was the perception that anyone who is not in Trump’s image, will be objects of his ire. In a Trump presidency, I have three strikes against me – immigrant, Muslim and brown-skinned. Trump’s slogan of making...

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American Islam Must be Rooted in American Pluralism

Jun 17

“The fact that it took place at a club frequented by the LGBT community I think is also relevant,” said President Obama after the unspeakable tragedy in Orlando, when a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The identity of the victim has been either dimly acknowledged or not acknowledged by two groups – Republican...

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London elects its first Muslim mayor to a sense of hope

May 26

London elects its first Muslim mayor to a sense of hope Florida Times Union, May 16, 2016 Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, being elected Mayor of London, topples a pervading narrative and in its wake leaves behind unparalleled opportunities. The son of Pakistani immigrants rising to run one of the leading cities in the globe is almost as remarkable as the more celebrated story...

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Trump Is the Face of Modern Fascism

Mar 19

I broke the law. While appearing on a local public radio show, I compared Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald J. Trump to Hitler and fascism. Thereby I violated Godwin’s Law (an internet adage), which states that thou shall not invoke Hitler or fascism in a civil conversation. I am loath to invoke such loaded terms. But Trump makes it both easy and...

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Desmond Tutu Award Acceptance Remarks

Feb 18

On Thursday, February 18, 2016 I was humbled and honored to receive the 2016 Desmond Tutu Peace and Reconciliation Award from my university. At the ceremony, I made brief remarks. Several people at the event urged me share my remarks. Here it is: Good afternoon. This is unbelievable. An immigrant from India receiving the Desmond Tutu Peace Award at an Martin Luther...

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Open Letter to Donald Trump

Dec 15

Co-authored by Mark Schlakman* Dear Mr. Trump, It certainly isn’t a revelation that America and its politics are sharply divided. Vilifying the “other” major political party is seemingly more palatable than advancing transformative ideas or reaching across partisan lines to achieve meaningful compromise. Smaller factions within both major parties,...

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Turkey and India Lurch Towards Illiberal Democracies

Nov 17

Published on Huffington Post, November 13, 2015. Turkey and India are both democracies and significant American allies. Both India and Turkey are secular countries ruled by strong-willed leaders rooted in religion-based politics, Islam for Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hinduism for India’s Narendra Modi. Both leaders have shown an uncanny ability to...

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Stepping out of My Bubble: An American Muslim’s Journey to Jerusalem

Sep 11

This summer I traveled to Israel and Palestine to be part of the Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI) organized by a Jerusalem and New York based Jewish educational organization, the Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI). MLI is a groundbreaking program that I felt was going to expand my critical understanding of the complex political, religious, and social factors, which...

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Pluralism in Islam — Between Scripture and Praxis

Aug 02

A version of this article first appeared in the July/August issue of Islamic Horizons. Egyptian writer Mona Eltahawy in a New York Times article recounted her 2005 encounter with Mohammed Akef, the then spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood. When she suggested to Akef that the verses in the Quran regarding women’s dress have several interpretations, Akef...

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We Shall Not Overcome, Unless We Stop Living in Denial

Jun 22

Huffington Post, June 22, 2015 Mourners gathering for a prayer vigil for the nine martyrs killed at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel Church sang “We Shall Overcome.” Watching the video, I felt being transported to the Morris Brown AME Church, where this vigil was being held. It was hard to hold back the tears. My heart believes that we shall indeed...

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Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam

Apr 28

A version of this article first appeared in the May/June issue of Islamic Horizons. The Fort Hood killings, the Times Square terror plot and the Boston marathon bombing were all ostensibly carried out in the name of Islam. All terrorists are not Muslims and nor are all Muslims terrorists. Yet, a disproportionate number of perpetrators of violent attacks claim doing...

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The Hubris of the Islamic Label

Mar 02

The Hubris of the Islamic Label

Posted on Huffington Post on Feb 25, 2015. Islamists, defined by AP as those who favor, “reordering government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam,” view their interpretation of Islam as Islamic, often to the exclusion of other point of views. In the West, an amalgam of ideologues, from the far-right conservatives to the libertarian...

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Je Suis Humain: A Plea to Embrace Our Humanity

Jan 17

For the first time since World War II, the Grand Synagogue in Paris did not host its normal Shabbat services on Friday, in the wake of terrorist attacks that started with Charlie Hebdo and ended in a bloody standoff at a Jewish kosher shop in Paris. This hostage taking at a Jewish business is one of many indicators suggesting a rise of anti-Semitism in Europe,...

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Je Suis Charlie: In Defense of Free Speech

Jan 09

Je Suis Charlie: In Defense of Free Speech

Posted on Huffington Post, January 9, 2015. I admire Charlie Hebdo for standing up against threats to free speech, but I am saddened to see them pay such a heavy price for their beliefs. Cartoons and satire, even the most provocative ones, remain vital for a healthy civil society. Only the deranged are threatened by them. Charlie Hebdo wanted to spread a little...

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Gratitude

Nov 26

Excerpted from speech delivered at the graduation ceremony for Jacksonville Joe Berg Seminars on November 25, 2014 In 1992 I arrived at the University of Texas at Arlington to start my doctoral studies in finance. I was married. Our initial days on campus was challenging. New environment, new program and of course Texas! A few months after we arrived, my professor,...

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