America’s True Heroes

America’s true heroes: society’s transformers
Dina Malki
An intellectualist but also an activist for civic and Muslim Women’s issues

There is no doubt America is searching for heroes. However, looking for fictional superheroes with supernatural powers won’t solve the challenges that our society faces in reality. Real Americans who, on a daily basis, help promote social justice and human dignity, through peace, understanding, and selflessness ought to be recognized.
Take for example the men and women who participated on May 11 in a cross-cultural training panel discussion at the Women’s Center in Fort Worth. Meet Diane Mayfield; she is a life coach, group facilitator, and professional speaker who worked on a special project initiated by United Way of Tarrant County, a non-profit organization that seeks to improve lives throughout diversity while supporting an inclusive environment. Mayfield was in charge to put together a panel discussion for CEOs and representatives of 12 non-profit organizations who work with diverse clients, including Arabs and Muslims. Thus, “Islamic Culture Panel” was presented last Thursday to an audience of 75 men and women representing the following: Catholic Charities, ACH for Families and Children, the Parenting Center, Alliance for Children, Safe Havens, Women’s Center, CASA, Fort Worth ISD, Santa Fe, CPS, Cook’s Children Care Team, and Tarrant County Juvenile Services.
The panelists included Dr. Hind Jarrah, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation; Mona Abdullah, Program Director of Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation; Haidar Alzuheiri, Case Manager, ORP, CMS at Mosaic Family Services, Inc.; and yours truly, Dina Malki, Dallas Islam Examiner and Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation member. The topics discussed in the panel varied from cultural aspects that reflected diversity within the American Muslim community, to theological questions about Islam, all in relationship with child abuse and family values and practices.
One of the issues addressed was the gap dividing religion and culture. Panelists were asked about how domestic violence was perceived in the Muslim culture. The question in itself assumes that there is one monolithic Muslim culture, and that perhaps this culture reflects the teachings of Islam. Panelists distinguished right away religion from culture, the former being the Divine message carrying the teachings and the legal tradition, and the latter being the social practices of Muslims in different places and times. Culture, then, is constantly changing and it reflects the traditional and social norms of the time.
Islam has from the beginning paid attention to local traditions and kept a keen eye on the diversity of the cultures where it has spread. One of the famous legal scholars and jurists of Sunni Islam, al-Shafi`i, used to issue legal rulings in Iraq. However, when he moved to Egypt, he changed many of his rulings to better suit the Egyptian culture and society. Clearly, Islamic pluralism is a tradition that is often overlooked by Muslim and non-Muslims alike.
Thus, the issue of domestic violence and child abuse needs to be addressed from an angle that bears in mind that Islamic teachings are something, and different cultural practices of Muslims are something else. The Qur’an calls for human equality and justice for all, regardless of religion, gender, race, or social status. It emphasizes on the role of the human agency on earth, which results in a human responsibility to all creation, not only towards humans. It commands men and women to treat their parents respectfully and with compassion, especially during their old age; it calls for gentleness with wives and children; and it requires social justice within the smallest circles like the family, and into the larger community.
Compared to the global ethics (or lack of) and social practices of the seventh century when the message was revealed, Islam is considered progressive in changing a lot of social and ethical vice, including the murder of female infants, the murder of children out of fear of poverty, and women’s oppression. For example, pre-Islamic norms excluded women from inheritance, but Islam came to establish ground rules for women’s financial rights that go beyond inheritance, extending into the realm of women’s financial independence.
In practice, each Muslim community across the world has a different reading and interpretation of Quranic teachings. Some are extremely radical, others are conservatives, and many are liberal. Hence, a Muslim in Indonesia has a culture that is distinct from a Muslim in Turkey. Within the same country, Muslims have different cultures and understandings of religion as well. This is what Haidar Alzuheiri remarked during the Islamic culture panel discussion, when he described Iraqis as being diverse within their communities. Factors that influence culture include the level of education, exposure to Western traditions, economic status, etc..
In a nut shell, Islam condemns family violence, child abuse, women oppression, and honor killings. What some Muslims might do while hiding under the cloak of religion does not represent the faith or the majority of Muslims. The Islamic culture panel clarified the confusing disparities between religion and culture, and hopefully it opened the door to a community dialog, social cooperation, and interfaith communications. They did that by opening up their hearts and minds, reaching out to their fellow citizens, and asserting their civic roles as community members who are concerned about the national American thread. Those committed to such causes are the true American heroes.

America’s true heroes: society’s transformers
Dina Malki
An intellectualist but also an activist for civic and Muslim Women’s issues

There is no doubt America is searching for heroes. However, looking for fictional superheroes with supernatural powers won’t solve the challenges that our society faces in reality. Real Americans who, on a daily basis, help promote social justice and human dignity, through peace, understanding, and selflessness ought to be recognized.
Take for example the men and women who participated on May 11 in a cross-cultural training panel discussion at the Women’s Center in Fort Worth. Meet Diane Mayfield; she is a life coach, group facilitator, and professional speaker who worked on a special project initiated by United Way of Tarrant County, a non-profit organization that seeks to improve lives throughout diversity while supporting an inclusive environment. Mayfield was in charge to put together a panel discussion for CEOs and representatives of 12 non-profit organizations who work with diverse clients, including Arabs and Muslims. Thus, “Islamic Culture Panel” was presented last Thursday to an audience of 75 men and women representing the following: Catholic Charities, ACH for Families and Children, the Parenting Center, Alliance for Children, Safe Havens, Women’s Center, CASA, Fort Worth ISD, Santa Fe, CPS, Cook’s Children Care Team, and Tarrant County Juvenile Services.
The panelists included Dr. Hind Jarrah, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation; Mona Abdullah, Program Director of Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation; Haidar Alzuheiri, Case Manager, ORP, CMS at Mosaic Family Services, Inc.; and yours truly, Dina Malki, Dallas Islam Examiner and Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation member. The topics discussed in the panel varied from cultural aspects that reflected diversity within the American Muslim community, to theological questions about Islam, all in relationship with child abuse and family values and practices.
One of the issues addressed was the gap dividing religion and culture. Panelists were asked about how domestic violence was perceived in the Muslim culture. The question in itself assumes that there is one monolithic Muslim culture, and that perhaps this culture reflects the teachings of Islam. Panelists distinguished right away religion from culture, the former being the Divine message carrying the teachings and the legal tradition, and the latter being the social practices of Muslims in different places and times. Culture, then, is constantly changing and it reflects the traditional and social norms of the time.
Islam has from the beginning paid attention to local traditions and kept a keen eye on the diversity of the cultures where it has spread. One of the famous legal scholars and jurists of Sunni Islam, al-Shafi`i, used to issue legal rulings in Iraq. However, when he moved to Egypt, he changed many of his rulings to better suit the Egyptian culture and society. Clearly, Islamic pluralism is a tradition that is often overlooked by Muslim and non-Muslims alike.
Thus, the issue of domestic violence and child abuse needs to be addressed from an angle that bears in mind that Islamic teachings are something, and different cultural practices of Muslims are something else. The Qur’an calls for human equality and justice for all, regardless of religion, gender, race, or social status. It emphasizes on the role of the human agency on earth, which results in a human responsibility to all creation, not only towards humans. It commands men and women to treat their parents respectfully and with compassion, especially during their old age; it calls for gentleness with wives and children; and it requires social justice within the smallest circles like the family, and into the larger community.
Compared to the global ethics (or lack of) and social practices of the seventh century when the message was revealed, Islam is considered progressive in changing a lot of social and ethical vice, including the murder of female infants, the murder of children out of fear of poverty, and women’s oppression. For example, pre-Islamic norms excluded women from inheritance, but Islam came to establish ground rules for women’s financial rights that go beyond inheritance, extending into the realm of women’s financial independence.
In practice, each Muslim community across the world has a different reading and interpretation of Quranic teachings. Some are extremely radical, others are conservatives, and many are liberal. Hence, a Muslim in Indonesia has a culture that is distinct from a Muslim in Turkey. Within the same country, Muslims have different cultures and understandings of religion as well. This is what Haidar Alzuheiri remarked during the Islamic culture panel discussion, when he described Iraqis as being diverse within their communities. Factors that influence culture include the level of education, exposure to Western traditions, economic status, etc..
In a nut shell, Islam condemns family violence, child abuse, women oppression, and honor killings. What some Muslims might do while hiding under the cloak of religion does not represent the faith or the majority of Muslims. The Islamic culture panel clarified the confusing disparities between religion and culture, and hopefully it opened the door to a community dialog, social cooperation, and interfaith communications. They did that by opening up their hearts and minds, reaching out to their fellow citizens, and asserting their civic roles as community members who are concerned about the national American thread. Those committed to such causes are the true American heroes.

America’s true heroes: society’s transformers
Dina Malki
An intellectualist but also an activist for civic and Muslim Women’s issues

There is no doubt America is searching for heroes. However, looking for fictional superheroes with supernatural powers won’t solve the challenges that our society faces in reality. Real Americans who, on a daily basis, help promote social justice and human dignity, through peace, understanding, and selflessness ought to be recognized.
Take for example the men and women who participated on May 11 in a cross-cultural training panel discussion at the Women’s Center in Fort Worth. Meet Diane Mayfield; she is a life coach, group facilitator, and professional speaker who worked on a special project initiated by United Way of Tarrant County, a non-profit organization that seeks to improve lives throughout diversity while supporting an inclusive environment. Mayfield was in charge to put together a panel discussion for CEOs and representatives of 12 non-profit organizations who work with diverse clients, including Arabs and Muslims. Thus, “Islamic Culture Panel” was presented last Thursday to an audience of 75 men and women representing the following: Catholic Charities, ACH for Families and Children, the Parenting Center, Alliance for Children, Safe Havens, Women’s Center, CASA, Fort Worth ISD, Santa Fe, CPS, Cook’s Children Care Team, and Tarrant County Juvenile Services.
The panelists included Dr. Hind Jarrah, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation; Mona Abdullah, Program Director of Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation; Haidar Alzuheiri, Case Manager, ORP, CMS at Mosaic Family Services, Inc.; and yours truly, Dina Malki, Dallas Islam Examiner and Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation member. The topics discussed in the panel varied from cultural aspects that reflected diversity within the American Muslim community, to theological questions about Islam, all in relationship with child abuse and family values and practices.
One of the issues addressed was the gap dividing religion and culture. Panelists were asked about how domestic violence was perceived in the Muslim culture. The question in itself assumes that there is one monolithic Muslim culture, and that perhaps this culture reflects the teachings of Islam. Panelists distinguished right away religion from culture, the former being the Divine message carrying the teachings and the legal tradition, and the latter being the social practices of Muslims in different places and times. Culture, then, is constantly changing and it reflects the traditional and social norms of the time.
Islam has from the beginning paid attention to local traditions and kept a keen eye on the diversity of the cultures where it has spread. One of the famous legal scholars and jurists of Sunni Islam, al-Shafi`i, used to issue legal rulings in Iraq. However, when he moved to Egypt, he changed many of his rulings to better suit the Egyptian culture and society. Clearly, Islamic pluralism is a tradition that is often overlooked by Muslim and non-Muslims alike.
Thus, the issue of domestic violence and child abuse needs to be addressed from an angle that bears in mind that Islamic teachings are something, and different cultural practices of Muslims are something else. The Qur’an calls for human equality and justice for all, regardless of religion, gender, race, or social status. It emphasizes on the role of the human agency on earth, which results in a human responsibility to all creation, not only towards humans. It commands men and women to treat their parents respectfully and with compassion, especially during their old age; it calls for gentleness with wives and children; and it requires social justice within the smallest circles like the family, and into the larger community.
Compared to the global ethics (or lack of) and social practices of the seventh century when the message was revealed, Islam is considered progressive in changing a lot of social and ethical vice, including the murder of female infants, the murder of children out of fear of poverty, and women’s oppression. For example, pre-Islamic norms excluded women from inheritance, but Islam came to establish ground rules for women’s financial rights that go beyond inheritance, extending into the realm of women’s financial independence.
In practice, each Muslim community across the world has a different reading and interpretation of Quranic teachings. Some are extremely radical, others are conservatives, and many are liberal. Hence, a Muslim in Indonesia has a culture that is distinct from a Muslim in Turkey. Within the same country, Muslims have different cultures and understandings of religion as well. This is what Haidar Alzuheiri remarked during the Islamic culture panel discussion, when he described Iraqis as being diverse within their communities. Factors that influence culture include the level of education, exposure to Western traditions, economic status, etc..
In a nut shell, Islam condemns family violence, child abuse, women oppression, and honor killings. What some Muslims might do while hiding under the cloak of religion does not represent the faith or the majority of Muslims. The Islamic culture panel clarified the confusing disparities between religion and culture, and hopefully it opened the door to a community dialog, social cooperation, and interfaith communications. They did that by opening up their hearts and minds, reaching out to their fellow citizens, and asserting their civic roles as community members who are concerned about the national American thread. Those committed to such causes are the true American heroes.

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