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In a famous 1863 speech, President Lincoln said, “We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace . . . and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”

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I am a woman, a westerner, and a convert to Islam.

But—as I’m often asked nowadays—to which version of Islam? This is an important question as news media floods our timelines with reports of Muslim women in the west joining the terrorist group known as ISIS. Indeed, ISIS has recruited thousands of Muslim men and women to allegedly fight for the “cause of Islam.” Last week in Bradford, UK, three British Muslim Women and their nine children fell victim to ISIS. In February, three teenage girls also left the comfort of their homes in Britain to join ISIS.

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There are no chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, no beautiful Islamic art adorning the walls, and no columns in my mosque. But its grandeur lies in its simplicity. It stands conspicuously at an intersection in a modest neighborhood. Baitur Rahman is the mosque I have frequented for the last nineteen years. It is the national headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and located in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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I was piqued by Zeba Khan’s recent piece, American Muslims Have a Race Problem, in which she argues that Muslims in America are mired in prejudice against each other.  She particularly wrote how African-Americans are treated as second-class citizens. As an African-American Muslim, I well understand the issue she has raised. I could write a book on the many forms of racism I’ve faced. I was born and went to college in Alabama and I lived in Johannesburg South Africa for 12 years. Fortunately, the Islam I have known as an African-American convert of 20 years bears no signs of the ills she describes.

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As people gathered to celebrate the Fourth of July this year, there was heightened security in prominent locations across the country to counter any terrorist attack. The FBI issued a bulletin last month that put the Fourth of July events as possible targets for ISIS terror activity.

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For a few days now, I keep seeing the same tweets in my timeline. “Thank you for backing my book #TalkToMe on Kickstarter”. #TalkToMe: The Five Conversations We Need to Have But Aren’t is Qasim Rashid’s latest book, which he describes as “a non-fiction memoir from inspiring thought leaders on how the power of dialogue can overcome racism, xenophobia, intolerance, and violence.” In only a week, Rashid has been backed for more than half of his goal on Kickstarter. With his new book, the author of The Wrong Kind of Muslim wants to tell stories of pluralism, stories that otherwise remain untold.

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