Ummah Wake Up


"Ummah Wake Up" is a call to humanity.

Whether you are Muslim, or not, or without faith, it is an invitation to reexamine and challenge the traditions and doctrines that guide our lives and discover new and progressive ways to bring about a more pluralistic world.

Earlier in the month, as I was chugging through my day at a hundred miles an hour, multi-tasking more than the latest Android cell phone, I was jolted by a sudden thought: “I wonder if I will be invited to the White House iftar this year?” Within two days, an official landed in my inbox.
When the Muslim community in America reaches a point of finally talking about the issues of radicalism that face Muslim youth, that’s a sure sign that we’ve progressed. Surely, intolerance and hate are incompatible with Islam and need to be made obsolete. But in my opinion, the Muslim community is not always honest about how to address these issues best. In my view, much of the intolerance and hate we see coming from Muslims in the world today is the product of Salafism and its influence.
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 00:00

Care To Ijithad?

Over the years, as a singer/songwriter/activist, and as a progressive Muslim woman, I am often confronted about the ugly injustices perpetuated in the name of Islam. The questioning, challenge and the conflation of “what Muslims do is therefore Islam,” is totally understandable given Allah-hu-akhbar (God is great) is often a precursor to an awful deed. Fact is, that proclamation by a Muslim is no more weighted than your average Christian exclaiming, “Jesus Christ!”
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 00:00

Sunni Islam Should Just Get a Pope

I am born into the Sunni tradition, where we supposedly don’t allow for a religious hierarchical structure. But all the characteristics, rituals and laws of Sunni Islam point upwards, to an ambiguous testosterone dominated hierarchy. It’s time we call out the many Pope-wanna-bes.
As many of you may know, I run a progressive Muslim organization called Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV). The best perk of being in this position is how I am surrounded by like-minded progressives of all religious and non-religious stripes. On the dark side though, is the personal exposure to the radicals, both Muslims and non-Muslims. The similarities between Muslim extremists and their counterpart Islamophobes are uncanny. Both extremists use the Quran and hadith to promote their concept of Islam from an ideology of hate.
Monday, 17 December 2012 10:03

The Corruption of Islam

In many societies, a Muslim is like a bird whose feathers are covered in black oil — oil that cripples its ability to fly, suffocates it and makes death a welcome relief.
Monday, 10 December 2012 09:57

A Muslim Prayer Revolution

There is an Islamic revolution underway. Not the violent kind, but the quiet surge of inclusive prayer spaces where all of God’s children are treated as equals.
Islam’s holiest city of Mecca is going through another development phase — one a la Las Vegas. To make space, its historical sites are being destroyed. With the exception of a few outspoken critics, primarily the Saudi-based Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, the Muslim world has been largely silent. Saudi Arabia claims to be the custodian of Islam’s holy sites in Medina and Mecca. As such, it has given itself a cart blanche in how it administers and manages the sites and the pilgrimage process. The 57 member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is never consulted; and as Muslims, this is essentially our city. The OIC doesn’t dare speak out against Saudi Arabia’s destructive plans.
Monday, 22 October 2012 08:46

Say No to Christian Sharia Law

As a Muslim, I believe that God created us with the capacity to make decisions for ourselves. We are responsible for the decisions we make, but in order to be able to make healthy decisions, the full range of choices — and the freedom to choose — must be made available. The American Constitution protects women’s reproductive rights simply by offering us the freedom to make those choices.
Dear Museum of Tolerance, I am an American Muslim. Lately there has been a campaign of assaults — both verbally and physically — directed at Muslims. The far right fringes of Christian and Jewish faith communities carry out these attacks.
Tuesday, 18 September 2012 05:17

Muslims Must Confront Their Own Talibans

A few weeks ago I highlighted the similarities between the ideologies of Taliban and the Republican Party. Last week, I wrote about the radical theology that is being introduced in some Islamic schools and the accessibility of those books commercially in America. Extremist theology has filtered into mainstream Islam.
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 08:29

The Sad State of Islamic Schools

Like many faiths, American Muslim parents are keen on ensuring that their children get a good religious education. Some prefer the full time Monday through Friday religious schools whereas others prefer the Christian model “Sunday’ school,” which provides young ones with the basic religious foundation for a few hours on a Sunday. The problem for us Muslims parents is we are sometimes unaware of the type of religious education to which we are exposing our children. Religion is interpreted in a variety of different ways by different people and Islam is no different. And because Islam is not supposed to have an official theocratic leadership like the Vatican for example, some say there are as many ways of interpreting Islam, as there are Muslims. We are, according to the Quran, all vice-regents of God, here on earth.
Monday, 03 September 2012 12:33

End Blasphemy Laws Now!

This month, blasphemy in the Muslim world became relevant once again with the arrest of a young Christian Pakistani girl, named, Rimsha Masih. Reports suggest that Masih, an 11-year-old with Downs syndrome and from a poor neighborhood near the capital of Islamabad, was beaten by neighbors after she disposed of pages that contained verses of the Quran in the trash — an act that is illegal, and viewed as particularly egregious when carried out by religious minorities such as Christians.
Monday, 27 August 2012 10:45

The New GOP: Taliban in Ties

First let’s start with a definition: Afghanistan for years was ruled by a brutal bunch of thugs, who called themselves Muslim and conveniently justified their actions as Islamic. They rape, steal, murder in the name of religion and I as a Muslim have a major problem with that!
Monday, 30 July 2012 13:09

No Women. No Play

Friday marked the official start of the 2012 Summer Olympics where, for the first time in history, women from the Muslim nations of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei were allowed to compete. The decision was made despite internal opposition from religious authorities, and was the result of unwavering support and pressure from many human rights organizations—in particular, Muslim organizations calling out the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its hypocrisy.
Monday, 23 July 2012 07:46

Keeping It Real With al-Fatihah

As Muslims, al-Fatihah is the all-important verse in the Quran that sets the tone for how we are to live our lives — “Guide us to the path which is straight.” I interpret this for my own life quite simply — to live an honest life and to do so especially when it is the difficult choice to make.
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 07:17

It’s Time for an American Islam!

Throughout history, new cultures that adopted Islam did so while keeping traditional practices. Yes, some pre-Islamic traditions were hard to do away with. Remarketed under the Islam brand, traditions such as honor killing and female genital mutilation survived. For the most part, though, the positive values of Islam—doing good deeds, being merciful—did resonate, thus the spread of Islam.
Monday, 25 June 2012 00:00

Is Sharia Law Truly Islamic?

Sharia Law is used to justify the stoning of adulterers, to justify capital punishment for those who choose to leave Islam, and to justify the whipping and imprisonment of Muslims who choose to drink alcohol. According to mainstream Muslims, Sharia Law is God’s law. The Quran, however, states, “There is no compulsion in religion.” Therefore, spirituality cannot be enforced through governmental or religious institutions.
Monday, 18 June 2012 06:49

My Islam Is Democratic

The American Constitution mandates, “liberty and justice for all.” Fast forward to 1896. The U.S. Supreme Court rules that, “Racially separate facilities, if equal, do not violate the Constitution.” Segregation, the Court declares, is “not discrimination.”
This summer I will be conducting a nikah (Islamic marriage) of three Muslim women to three non-Muslim men. This is a threshold in life that should be nothing short of beautiful, blissful and spiritual. But for all of these women finding a qazi, an Islamic officiate who would marry them is virtually non-existing—In America there is a team of five men and women who offer such services. Sadly, for many Muslim women, the decision to marry a non-Muslim man causes internal family conflict, trauma, deep sadness, and even pariah status.
My name is Ani Zonneveld, I had a privileged upbringing, privileged in that I was raised in many countries and in the richness that it colored my life, my outlook on people, religions and cultures. Privileged too because my parents raised me to think that the sky was the limit and that only I can short-change my own aspirations.
Saturday, 02 June 2012 16:10

I’m Sexier Than Britney Spears

In my previous blog I wrote about how my path to activism was awakened through music. As a songwriter, music is my contribution to counter the extremist face of Islam that the American public was suddenly introduced to. The genre is pop, the lyrics reflect Islamic values of inclusivity, promote equality of race, gender, religions, and female empowerment. I came from behind the scene where I was much more comfortable being, to sing the songs myself.