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You are currently browsing the Talking Cultural Diversity blog archives for May, 2010.

Activist Islam — Part II

By Wageh Saad - 05.31.2010

The horrific events of September 11 caused and outburst of anger in the American society and the west in general.  Reactions to these events were as diverse as the multitude of social and political doctrines that exist in the society.

The war on terror started with the invasion of two Muslim countries: Afghanistan and Iraq.  The goals of the war in Afghanistan were justified and the vast majority of Muslims conceded to the concept that Alqaeda deserved punishment.   However, the war caused suspicions in the hearts of the Muslim majority that there are some hidden if not obvious intentions that the West is after more than punishing a group of extremists.

The invasion of Iraq and the unfounded claims that it aimed at eliminating weapons of mass destruction, this invasion drew opposition and criticism in the US and  worldwide and furthered the rage in the hearts of an already angry mainstream Muslim populace. Read more »

Activist Islam — Part I

By Wageh Saad - 05.31.2010

One of the questions non-Muslims often ask that I address in the KMA Middle Eastern presentation is, what level of activism is inherent in the observance and practice of Islam.

As to what qualifies a person to be or become a Muslim,  it is sufficient for a person to declare his/her Islam (submission to the will of God and obedience to His law) and become Muslim just by pronouncing the statement that says: “I witness that there no god but one God and Muhammed is his slave and his messenger.”  This is the God of Adam and Abraham.

However, Muslims are also ranked in the eyes of God at different degree of faithfulness according to their level of activism.  Praying, fasting, pilgrimage, charity (Zakat), enjoining what is good and forbidding what is bad, and Jihad are the many forms of activism in Islam.  All of the above except for some forms of Jihad are peaceful activities that are welcome in the society – any society.

Relationships in the society and the world benefit from the Islamic views on coexistence, mutual respect among people of all races and nations, and the need to learn about each other and to treat each other with kindness.

As the Quran (Koran) itself says:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). Quran 49:13 (al-Hujrat, verse 13)

In Islam the concept of Jihad is more inclusive than the fighting aspect.  A Muslim will be doing Jihad if he/she teaches the message of the religion through informing others about the faith and the consequences of not adhering to its principles.  All of these consequences are left to the creator who has full knowledge of the actions, intentions, and any extenuating circumstances.

In Islam there is no mediator between the human being and God.  When questioned about his/her performance of prayer, fasting or other religious duties, a Muslim usually responds with a well known statement – Allahou A’alam – meaning God knows best.  This is to say that my performance is a private matter between me and my God.

Again, in some Muslim nations, the government enforces rules on the public that are within the religious requirements for example forbid the consumption of alcohol, expecting modest dress code etc..  This goes against the basic principle of “no coercion in the religion” which is a Muslim principle.  The justification is that of public safety and orderly society. Read more »

The ASTD Experience

By Jean Mavrelis - 05.20.2010

We launched our e-learning at ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) in Chicago this week.  I was surprised that almost all the representatives in the booths were still the usual suspects– white men and women with, but a sprinkling of people of color.

Our booth was the only one clearly staffed by a diverse group (U.S. white men and white women and an African American, East Asian (Chinese American), and First Nation (Menominee/Oneida) man), and many stopped to see what we, as that diverse group, had to offer.

We explained that we were the next phase of diversity. If phase one was awareness, which encouraged people to respect differences, in phase two, we, as social scientists, identified what the differences were that you should respect.  And we do it with e-learning training modules.

I was surprised by the number of people from outside the U.S.  We met folks from Jerusalem, Antwerp, Seoul, and Johannesburg, to name a few.

There were visitors from corporations, health care, community organizations, and universities. They were looking for partnerships to drive important social change in their industries and communities.

I must admit, it was heartening to talk with so many folks from all over the world who are anxious to be agents of change around diversity and inclusion, who were excited to bring ideas and solutions back to share with others in their offices.

In these tough economic times, it was nice to have a more affordable way to help them do that with new technology.

Any of you who attended, I’d love to hear your take on the expo.