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Summary of MFI Activities in 2006

Prior years activity: 1996-2000 | 2001 | 2002-3 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009

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December 2006

November 2006

  • Dr. Ahmad presented a paper on "Text, Context and Human Agency in Interpreting Jihad: Struggles of Political Domination, Faith, and Identity" to the American Muslim Social Scientists conference in Hartford.
  • Sarah Swick presented a paper on "Identity Construction of Euro-American Converts to Islam" to the American Muslim Social Scientists conference in Hartford.
  • Dr. Ahmad was interviewed by Lewisnews on Islam and the current situation in the Middle East.
  • Historian, political scientist, and journalist Carsten Wieland gave a presentation in the Minaret of Freedom Institute brown bag luncheon series on: "Syria: Part of the Problem or Part of a Solution in the Middle East?"
  • Dr. Ahmad represented the Minaret of Freedom Institute at a Milton Viorst's presentation on Islam at the Cosmos Club, countering an audience member's assertion that women in the Muslim world are seen as breeding machines by pointing out that a number of Muslim countries have had female heads of state while America will see its first female speaker of the house in January and is still waiting for its first female President.
  • We posted 3 original analysis pieces on our blog, "Pakistani Rape Laws: An Unholy Hybrid," "International Conference on Progressive Muslims," and "Would Extremists Accept a �Hudna?" along with numerous links to other news and analysis.

October 2006

  • Dr. Ahmad gave a presentation on "The Significance of Ramadan and Special Needs of Muslim Students in the Public Schools" at the Muslim Community Center's annual presentation to Montgomery County Public School personnel.
  • We organized an iftar co-sponsored with the Institute for Humane Studies for IHS alumni to meet with Muslim community members, students, and others interested in the advancement of liberty. The program included a lecture on Islam, Liberty, and the Rule of Law. A video of the lecture is available online.
  • Dr. Ahmad led the Children of Abraham and Aristotle discussion group on Chapter 1 of Ibn Rushd's Decisive Treatise Determining the Connection Between The Law and Wisdom.
  • The Minaret of Freedom Institute had a table at an Institute for Humane Studies networking brunch to network with IHS alumnae.
  • We joined representatives of other Muslim organizations to hear and assess Turkish Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's address at Georgetown University.
  • We published an original blog on "How many Deaths Has the Invasion Caused?"

September 2006

  • We co-sponsored an iftar with the Institute for Humane Studies for IHS alumni to meet with Muslim community members and others interested in the advancement of liberty at George Mason University. The program included a lecture on Islam and free markets.
  • We were interviewed by CKUT in Montreal on the significance of  Ramadan.
  • We presented a paper in Istanbul on Alternatives to Violence in Muslim History.
  • We a gave well-received presentation to the Washington Summit on Climate Stabilization organized by the DC-based Climate Institute on how Islam supports environmental preservation through non-coercive means. 
  • We were interviewed by CKUT in Montreal on the Pope's controversial quote on Islam.
  • At a conference at the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress titled �Islamic Cultures and Creative Encounters,� we questioned several of the panelists about their work, including pointing out Islam�s contributions to the development of the social sciences.
  • We participated in a meeting of about thirty academics with former Iranian President Mohammad Khatemi.
  • We participated in  the �9-11 Plus 5 Summit,� a weekend long event intended to promote dialog among American and Muslim youth.
  • .We have instituted an online discussion group for the formation of an international association of Muslim social scientists.
  • We facilitated the most recent "Children of Abraham and Aristotle" discussion group on Ibn Rushd's Decisive Treatise Determining the Connection Between The Law and Wisdom.
  • We published an original blog on "Blinkered Politics: The U.S. Attitude to Arabs and Muslims."

August 2006

July 2006

June 2006

May 2006

  • We have inaugurated our weblog at
  • We have inaugurated our Associate's group discussion list. To become an associate, just send your donation of at least $25 along with your request to become an associate to Minaret of Freedom Institute, 4323 Rosedale Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814 or click here to donate on line. (Make sure that you mention "associates program" in the remark line.)
  • MFI President Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad gave a talk on "Creating a Productive Discourse on Democracy in the Muslim World" at the annual conference of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy.
  • Program Assistant Sarah Swick gave a talk on "Responding to the Challenge:  Moroccan Women and Democracy" at the annual conference of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy.
  • Dr. Ahmad conducted a discussion of Averroes writings on ethics at a meeting of "Abraham and Aristotle: All Their Children.
  • Dr. Ahmad advised the Dept. of Defense's Middle East Orientation Course on their Iraqi interfaith initiative.

April 2006

  • MFI President Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad gave a talk on the revised and expanded 2nd edition of his book Signs in the Heavens: A Muslim Astronomer's Perspective on Religion and Science before the Islamic Society of Southern Prince Georges County. Copies may be purchased for $19 postpaid or get a signed copy of the proof edition for a donation of  $60. (To get the proof edition, just make a donation and type "proof edition" in the remarks line or else mail in your donation to the address on the right with a request for the proof edition.)
  • MFI Board member Sharmin Ahmad attended the Canadian inaugural of her book The Rainbow in a Heart in Ottawa and met Senator Jaffer and members of Voice of Women for Peace to network on liberty, human rights and peace education.
  • Dr. Ahmad was MC for Arab Heritage month at Montgomery County Executive Office Building.
  • Dr. Ahmad made a presentation on Islamic philosophy at a meeting of the "Abraham and Aristotle: All Their Children" discussion group.
  • Program Assistant Sarah Swick represented the Minaret of Freedom Institute at the Third Annual International Women�s Conference on �Women�s Struggle for Emancipation� at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Sarah presented a paper titled �Reforming Muslim Women�s Rights Through International Human Rights Law and Islamic Law.�   This paper, which has been accepted for publication in a book on Muslim women, analyzes the possibility of using Islamic Law, aided by International Human Rights Law, to create reforms for women living in the Muslim World, specifically highlighting the recent family code reforms in Morocco as evidence of this possibility.  Sharmin at Barnes and Noble
  • Sharmin Ahmad gave presentations on  "Islam, Feminism, and  Imperialism" based on her interview in the book Voices of American Muslims at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in the Montrose Crossing shopping center (12089 Rockville Pike) in Rockville, MD and at the White Oak Library in Silver Spring, MD.
  • Dr. Ahmad participated in the Heritage Resource Bank meeting and ATLAS Economic Research Foundation Liberty Forum in Colorado Springs.

March 2006

  •  Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad andcsw50 workshop director Sharmin Ahmad spoke at the MFI's workshop on "Gender Equity and Gender Equality: Lessons from Muslim Experience" at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. The room was packed (capacity 60)  and the evaluations overwhelmingly positive.
  • Several MFI board members and advisers (including Dr. Ahmad, Aly Abuzakouk, and Prof. Sulayman Nyang)  participated in an Institute for Defense Analysis program on American Muslims in Public Diplomacy.
  • Sharmin Ahmad, was interviewed on the television program Bangla Bhalobashi on the Bangladesh war of independence in 1971 and her late father, first Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmad's role in leading his nation. This interview, in three sequels, was aired on northern Virginia channel 56 (Montgomery County cable channel 98).
  • Program Assistant Sarah Swick attended a gathering of Muslim women educators from Azerbaijan at the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.  The group of women, which included teachers of ethics and history, are visiting the United States in order to learn more about religious education in America.  The women discussed their visit to Gaithersburg High School where they gave a presentation on Islam in Azerbaijan to a World Religions class.  The women seemed most interested in the relationship between American Jews and Muslims, specifically in light of the Middle East conflicts and in the treatment of Muslims post 9/11.
  • Dr. Ahmad was interviewed by  Javier M�ndez of El Mercurio (Chile) on American immigration reform.
  • Dr. Ahmad wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post on the death penalty threatened against the  Afghani convert to Islam. Declined by the Post it is available here.
  • Sharmin Ahmad was interviewed on "Women, Economics and Freedom" on the Peace Hour" radio talk show aired from New York and also appeared on the live radio talk show "Hello Washington" hosted by Voice of America on International Womens' Day (March 8), answering caller's questions on various issues related to women. She also shared information about Minaret's recent workshop at the Conference on the status of Women at the United Nations.
  • Dr. Ahmad was interviewed by Radio Free Europe's Alex Serotin on the significance of the American vacation of the Abu Ghuraib prison.
  • Dr. Ahmad gave a presentation on Islam to teachers in the Montgomery County School system.
  • Radio Free Europe quoted Dr. Ahmad on the confusion between apostasy and treason.

February 2006

  • Minaret of Freedom Institute president Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad and director Sharmin Ahmad hosted a reception at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. About 50 people participated in the event, most staying for the entire two hours in a wide-open discussion of the relationship of the mission of the Minaret of Freedom Institute to women's issues. The participants were extremely diverse and comments were very positive. Especially encouraging was the comment that the MFI reception was a safe space, a fact reflected in the openness of the remarks by the Muslim women present.
  • The Minaret of Freedom Institute and our allies in the Coalition for the Free Exercise of Religion scored an important victory in the Supreme Court's unanimous opinion (written by Chief Justice Roberts) in the Uniao do Vegetal case. The Court rejected the government's "uniform application of laws" theory as inconsistent with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)'s statutory requirement that the Government demonstrate a burden to the person in furtherance of a compelling government interest by the least restrictive means possible.
  • MFI Program Assistant Sarah Swick attended a meeting with delegation of young European Muslim leaders at the Interfaith Conference Metropolitan Washington (IFC). The theme of the meeting was the importance of interfaith dialogue; the current political issues facing Muslims in Europe were also discussed, including the recent cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). All agreed that freedom of expression protects such cartoons, yet respect for other�s beliefs should also be valued.  The discussion then moved to political representation of MuslimsHajj Mauri Saalakhan in Europe. 
  • Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan (author of The State of the Union 2003: Don't Say You Didn't Know and Target Sudan: What's Really Behind the Crisis in Darfur") made a presentation entitled "The Propaganda Challenges Confronting Muslims in North America" on his newest book Islam & Terrorism: Myth vs. Reality (Awakening Publications) at the MFI brown bag luncheon series.
  • Attending the unveiling of American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP)'s unveiling of its report "A Vision for the State of Palestine," MFI President Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad urged the group to make it clear that its call for a "demilitarized" Palestine was not a call to deny the people of Palestine their right to keep and bear arms. He also urged that in the context of the "two-state solution" the ATFP's vision will only be credible if it is paired with a similar vision of an Israel without apartheid.
  • Dr. Ahmad was interviewed by El Mercurio newspaper (Chile) on HAMAS's electoral victory and its consequences.

January 2006

  • Dr. Ahmad was interviewed by Alex Serotin of Radio Free Europe on the tragic death of over three hundred pilgrims in Mecca. Responding to Mr. Serotin's query as to whether the State Dept. should advise American Muslims against going on the pilgrimage for safety reasons, Dr. Ahmad responded that 300 death out of over 2 million people made a trip to Mecca less dangerous than a trip to Iraq, and the State Dept. was not advising against travel there.
  • Dr. Ahmad represented the Minaret of Freedom Institute at a press conference on Darfur at the National Press Club. He noted that there is a serious humanitarian crisis that needs to be resolved. Branding the violence as genocide serves political ends that obscures the reality that atrocities are being committed, that they are committed by both sides, that the Sudanese government must bear responsibility for arming some of the parties to the atrocities but that it does not "control" Darfur, nor much far beyond a modest radius around Khartoum. The peace treaty between the north and south of Sudan demonstrates that it is possible to peacefully end such violence. The international Muslim community, including American Muslims must be mobilized to assist in the peacemaking since they have credibility: both sides of the Darfur fighting are Muslims. Dr. Ahmad cautioned that the terms "Arab" and "black" are misleading as applied to Darfur as both sides speak Arabic and both have black skin. The term "Arab" there means those who live a nomadic (actually semi-nomadic) lifestyle rather than designating a linguistic or ethnic group.
  • Dr. Ahmad gave a presentation on "Bridging the Divide? The Role of the American Muslim Community in U.S. Relations with the Wider Islamic World" at a Brookings Institution program in Washington DC. At the same program, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch called for more democracy in the Muslims world with the observation that the United States did not wish to see anyone silenced by imprisonment or exile. Dr. Ahmad welcomed the remark and asked if the State Dept. could encourage the Justice Dept. to abide by that principle and release Dr. Sami Al-Arian, who, although a jury recently acquitted of the charges of violence (while deadlocking on less serious charges), is still imprisoned and threatened with deportation. Mr. Welch responded that the prosecution of American citizens was outside the State Department's area of responsibility. In fact, Dr. Al-Arian never was granted citizenship despite having applied for it over a decade ago.
  • Dr. Ahmad presented an introduction to Islam at the Marine War College.
  • Dr. Ahmad was interviewed on "The Scholar's Chair" program (carried on Bridges TV) about "Intelligent Design" (in three parts: 1, 2, 3)
  • The Minaret of Freedom Institute has sent a statement on the continued detention of Sami Al-Arian to Attorney General Alberto Gonzalas.


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