June 28th, 2014
05:57 PM ET
How Muslims flipped the script in Hollywood
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor
Los Angeles (CNN) – For years, Ahmed Ahmed’s acting resume read like a rap sheet.
His first film role was Terrorist No. 4 in “Executive Decision.”
His first sitcom part: Hakeem, a terrorist, on “Roseanne.”
“I realized there was a big market out there for playing bad Arabs,” the actor said with a sarcastic laugh.
Born in Egypt and raised in Riverside, California, Ahmed - a friendly, round-faced guy - carries no trace of an accent and doesn’t look particularly sinister.
But he said he was rarely considered for parts playing doctors, lawyers ... or anything, really, but menacing Muslims during the early days of his career.
Meanwhile, a pilgrimage to Mecca, the spiritual home of Islam, pricked his conscience. He felt responsible, in some small way, for the violent images of Islam broadcast across American screens.
“I realized I was becoming a slave to the industry,” Ahmed said.
The role in which the actor was regularly cast, an Islamic extremist, has become almost as familiar a Hollywood cliché as the noble savage or gold-hearted hooker.
In films and television shows from “24” to “Syriana,” Muslims are the olive-skinned evildoers who cloak their violent schemes in religious rhetoric while cursing their American adversaries.
Ahmed wanted no part of that anymore. He quit Hollywood and went back to waiting tables, where he compensated for the bad food with a bonhomie that would blossom into a standup comedy act.
June 28th, 2014
08:12 AM ET
The Belief Blog guide to Ramadan
(CNN) - For 1.6 billion people, the holiest month of the year began this past Saturday.
The exact starting date sometimes depends on the locale, but most Muslims across the globe will be fasting, praying and abstaining from sex and smoking during daylight hours. Many call it a time of spiritual purity and rededication to God.
Here's everything you need to know about the observance.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the name of the ninth month in the Hijri, or Islamic calendar. The word derives from the Arabic ramida or ar-ramad meaning a fierce, burning heat.
October 16th, 2013
11:38 AM ET
In Syria, Muslims struggle to celebrate holy day
By Saad Abedine. Hala Gorani and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
(CNN) - Muslims throughout the world have been marking Eid al-Adha, but in war-torn Syria there is nothing to celebrate. Most people are struggling to meet the most basic of needs: food, water, and shelter.
Their plight has been highlighted by Arabic media reports which cite a fatwa, or religious ruling, by a local imam which allowed people who are desperately hungry to eat dogs and cats.
Eating dog, cat or donkey is forbidden under Islamic dietary laws.
The imam in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in the capital, Damascus, reportedly said at a mosque Friday that dog, cat and donkey meat could be eaten "after reaching a desperate need and the stores of food were inadequate to feed the population under the siege."
Yarmouk has been besieged for months by Syrian government forces seeking to flush out rebel fighters.
During the Eid al-Adha holiday, considered one of Islam's most revered observances, many Muslims around the world sacrifice a sheep and share the meat with the poor. It corresponds with the height of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that annually draws 2 million Muslims.
Outside Syrian, Muslims held more plentiful Eid al-Adha celebrations.
MORE ON CNN: Photos: Muslims celebrate Eid al-AdhaFULL STORY
August 9th, 2013
02:00 PM ET
'No Muslim parking' signs spark outrage
From CNN affiliate KPRC
Houston - New signs posted outside a mosque in Spring Branch, Texas, have sparked outrage from Muslims nationwide.
In black letters, the signs reads, "No Muslim parking in the Westview Shopping Center. Your car will be towed."
The posters lined the street near the El Farouq Mosque, where Muslims heading to worship services said they were were offended.
"I feel sorry for the person who wrote it," Ahmed Hassan told CNN affiliate KPRC. "This is what comes to mind because obviously he has a lot of hate."
August 4th, 2013
09:49 AM ET
For some Muslims, Ramadan fasting poses risks
By Slma Shelbayah, CNN
(CNN) This Ramadan, Amina Jabbar faced a difficult decision.
The University of Toronto medical student’s rotation at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre began around July 9, the start of the Muslim holy month.
That meant working unpredictable shifts for as long as 26 hours while fasting from eating and drinking during the day.
The fast-paced hospital environment was already challenging Jabbar’s ability to keep up with colleagues and patients. As a new physician, she felt more “error prone” and said fasting would increase her anxiety on the job.
July 11th, 2013
05:27 PM ET
Muslims' mixed views on TSA Ramadan advisory
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - The Transportation Security Agency has issued an advisory about the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, telling its workforce and passengers that they may observe Muslims fasting, carrying prayer beads and whispering prayers on planes and in airports.
Ramadan begins this week, though the exact date varies depending on locale. It is the holiest month of the year for the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, during which many fast during daylight hours and dedicate more time than usual to praying and reading the Quran.
"Whenever the TSA is trying to create an environment of understanding, we welcome that," said Haris Tarin, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council's Washington office. "At the same time, it highlights certain actions that can make the American Muslim population seem almost alien."
June 5th, 2013
03:44 PM ET
A plea from an exhausted Muslim woman
Opinion by Melody Moezzi, Special to CNN
(CNN) - I wasn’t surprised by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's recent statement about a “problem within Islam.”
It's not as though I've never heard anything like it before. I hear it all the time.
Still, his words - in response to a recent attack in London that left a British soldier dead - made me wonder: How might the public have reacted in a different context, had Blair replaced the word “Islam” with “Christianity” or “Judaism”?
I’m guessing not well.
But Muslims are used to having their faith openly denigrated by public officials.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.