Ramadan covers Northern Hemisphere’s longest days of 2016

In 2016, the Muslim holy month of Ranmadan covers the longest days of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

Why does that matter? It makes Ramadan challenging because observant Muslims will observe strict fasting from sunup to sundown. At this time of year in New York City, for example, that means 15 hours a day of fasting. In December, daylight lasts only about 9 hours and 15 minutes. So, if you have Muslim friends making a month of 15-hour fasts, you’ll understand what they are going through?

Here are some questions and answers excerpted from “100 Questions and Answers About Muslim Americans.” This part of the guide was written by Read the Spirit’s Stephanie Fenton.

100 Questions and Answers About Muslim Americans
100 Questions and Answers About Muslim Americans
Arguably the most widely recognized Islamic observance among non-Muslims, the month of Ramadan brings 30 days of daytime fasting and intense prayer. (In some years and in some regions, Ramadan lasts only 29 days, depending on the crescent moon sighting.) The sincerity with which Muslims undertake Ramadan is reflected in news headlines across the globe. Muslim athletes in the 2012 Olympic Games and players in the 2014 World Cup had to make decisions regarding key competitions and days without a single drop of water. Ramadan requires that every able Muslim refrain from food, drink, smoking, swearing and sexual relations during daylight hours to focus on God and the Quran. Strict fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. Continue reading “Ramadan covers Northern Hemisphere’s longest days of 2016”

Diversity Style Guide
Congratulations to Rachele Kanigel, associate professor of journalism at San Francisco State University, for the launch of a new diversity style guide for journalists.

The guide is filled with contemporary definitions and is well organized, listing terms alphabetically and by area. More than 700 terms are included. The guide revives one created at San Francisco State’s Center for the Integration and Improvement of Journalism in the 1990s. Its latest update had been in 2002. This update was needed.

The guide is intended for journalists but can be used by anyone, of course.

The Michigan State Journalism School is proud to have supported the project by allowing Kanigel to use content from our student-produced Bias Busters series (10 guides and counting) for about 100 items. The project draws in information from a dozen other guides, as well.

Guide to American Jews includes guide to Jewish holidays

The Bias Busters series grows to 10 guides with “100 Questions and Answers About American Jews.” this guide is the second in our stream of guides about religions, joining “100 Questions and Answers About Muslim Americans.”

The guide about American Jews is a good aide to the growing number of non-Jewish Americans who are celebrating elements of Passover and who want to know more about their Jewish neighbors.

The guide answers questions about identity, Judaism, Jewish culture, history, foods and contributions. This edition also features an extensive guide to Jewish holidays throughout the year.

About two dozen of the questions are answered for you on this site for free. You can get all 100 in the guide.

FBI adds hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus, Arab Americans

The FBI has announced that its mechanism for gathering reports on hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arab Americans is operational.

Quantifying is an important step on the road to understanding a problem and then solving it. The FBI announced in 2013 it would add these groups, responding to a request from Congress.

There is an irony in the change. Sikhs, Hindus and Arab Americans have been attacked by misinformed people who, acting on stereotypes, meant to attack Muslims, a group already on the FBI list. According to MSNBC, “The manual now also includes guidelines on distinguishing between anti-Arab, anti-Hindu, anti-Muslim, and anti-Sikh hate crimes.”

Jasjit Singh, executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, has proposed such a change since 2010. On the group’s website, he writes, “Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, South Asian, and Arab Americans have disproportionately faced senseless violence motivated by hate in recent years.”

Distinctions are addressed in Bias Busters guides “100 Questions and Answers About Muslim Americans,” “100 Questions and Answers About Indian Americans” and “100 Questions and Answers About Arab Americans.”

Islam catching Christianity as world’s largest religion

Muslims will nearly match Christians by 2050

The Pew Research Center’s Future of World Religions study projects this month that Islam is growing much faster than Christianity and that he two will have nearly equal numbers of followers by mid-century.

Why it is happening

Pew Research Center graphic
Pew Research Center graphic
Pew describes three trends that contribute to the change:
* Muslims have a higher fertility rate than other religions. The rate, 3.1 children per women, is ahead of second-place Christianity, at 2.7. The global average is 2.5 births.
* The Muslim population is, in average, younger than people in other religions, meaning more women will be in their child-bearing years between now and 2050.
* Christians lose more people who convert to other religions than any other faith. Muslims attract more.

In “100 Questions and Answers About Muslim Americans,” we looked at similar circumstances in the United States that make Islam a swiftly growing religion.

Reaching way into the future, Pew projects that Muslims could be more numerous than Christians in 2070. Pew points out that lots can change in long-term population projections, but the general trend is clear.

What it means

This is harder to pin down, though changes will come if Pew’s projections hold up.
* India will surpass Indonesia as the country with the most Muslims
* Hindus will fall to the third largest religion.
* The largest growth among Christians will happen in Africa
* Asia’s share of the global population will decline

Test your diversity IQ with Bias Busters quiz

PushpinMSU Today tells the Bias Busters story by inviting you to take a diversity quiz.

It’s an effective way to show what cultural competence project does.

We look for the simple, everyday questions people have when they just want to know about each other and then we find the answers. We hope the Bias Buster guides turn out to be just your first step.

Muslims guide will focus on cold end of thermometer

Chart courtesy the Pew Research Center
Chart courtesy the Pew Research Center
In the fall of 2014, a journalism class at Michigan State University will produce “100 Questions and Answers About Muslim Americans.” This is part of the school’s series of guides in cultural competence.

This will be the seventh guide in the series and the first to focus on one religion. We expect to do more interfaith guides like this in subsequent semesters.

We will come up with questions by asking a diverse group of Muslims what they wish other people knew about them and where they encounter knowledge gaps.

We intend to use journalism to fill some of those gaps to make it easy for people to get answers to their first, most basic questions. Then, we hope they will continue the dialogue by having more conversations on their own.

This temperature chart, from a June study by the Pew Research Center, shows that Americans on average are cooler toward Muslims than toward other groups. To us, this illustrates the need for some answers.

MSU Bias Busters crowdsource interfaith questions

Participants at the North American Interfaith Network conference in Detroit help out on the upcoming Bias Busters project in Muslim Americans.
Participants at the North American Interfaith Network conference in Detroit help out on the upcoming Bias Busters project in Muslim Americans.
Course graduates attended the North American Interfaith Network conference Tuesday in Detroit to seek help on the next Bias Busters guide. The graduates were Dmitri Barvinok, a Michigan State journalism alum, and Merinda Valley, now a journalism senior at MSU.

They explained how the classes produce the guides and asked participants for questions that should be included in this fall’s guide about Muslims. The group also suggested several topics for future guides as well experts that could be consulted on guides.

This is the first guide for which a group of subject-matter experts have been consulted in advance of the start of the course.

The Muslims guide, which will be out in December will be the first in the series to deal exclusively with religion.

North American Interfaith Network meets in Detroit

‎Myeengun Henry, manager of Aboriginal Services at Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Kitchener, Ontario, shows a wampum treaty belt that pledge non-interference among settlers and indigenous people.
‎Myeengun Henry, manager of Aboriginal Services at Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Kitchener, Ontario, shows a wampum treaty belt that pledge non-interference among settlers and indigenous people.

Hundreds of interfaith advocates from across the United States and Canada are meeting this week in Detroit for the annual conference of the North American Interfaith Network.

One of the few North American cities with an international connection, the conference was called Bridging Borders and Boundaries.

The Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit hoped to show off the Detroit area as one with a diverse and collaborative community.

Sunday’s keynote was the Rev. Daniel L. Buttry, a global peacemaker with roots in the Detroit area. The undercard was a concert by the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace, a Franciscan monk and a Jewish inspirational speaker.

Monday’s event was a panel of representatives of major faith groups at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. That is where Myeengun Henry (left) spoke.

Tuesday was at St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church and featured a panel of clerics from various faiths.

New from Pew: Hispanic Catholics are up—and down

The Pew Hispanic Trends project poses a riddle: If fewer Hispanics are Catholic, how come more Catholics be Hispanic?

Pew Hispanic Catholics dataThe answer is in data posted on its FactTank blog.

Pew research shoes that the percentage of Latinos in the United States who are Catholic is declining rapidly, from 67 percent in 2010 to 55 percent today. Still, the percentage of U.S. Catholics who are Hispanic is growing, according to research by Boston College and Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. That work says that the proportion of U.S. Catholics who are Hispanic grew from about a quarter in the 1980s to 40 percent today.

So what gives?

Pew says that the dynamic behind these seemingly contradictory changes is the sheer size of the Hispanic population, at more than 35 million adults.

Pew’s Hispanic Research Center was a primary source of information for the new “100 Questions and Answers About Hispanics and Latinos.” Its director, Mark Hugo Lopez, served as one of the expert allies who vetted the project.