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Nine Muslims, in their own words, reveal a creative convergence of Islamic spirituality and American identity that is unfolding, largely unnoticed, in the United States.A lawyer turned playwright, a teacher who's a lesbian, a retired federal prosecutor — all giving shape to the nature and meaning of Muslim identity, and sharing how tricky it can be to unravel Islamic religious tradition from the many cultural traditions.The voices in this episode are only a sample of the many thoughtful reflections we received in response to our exploration of the many, varying expressions of Muslim identity.

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Of course, it exhibits in practicing of the five pillars of Islam, namely, the profession of faith itself, the five daily prayers, charitable giving, Ramadan fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca.

I am truly concerned about the contemporary dominance of narrow andexclusive interpretation of Islamic text and traditions over more universal and expansive understanding of the beauty of its message.

Furthermore, the rise of consumer culture in the Muslim world that inhibits contemplation, is likely to further expand this gap by making religious thinking the sole property of the mullahs who tend to favor the more restrictive meaning of Islam. I prefer to live in a secular society where everyone is equal, have same rights and obligations.

I grew up in a catholic european country and became interested in Islam through marriage.

To me Islam is an extension of christian belief, sort of like an "upgrade". Jesus (peace be upon him) being actually God, in the sense of the creator of the universe, fall into place.

To me Islam is a protection, it tells me what to strive for and what to avoid.

For example, not to overeat, have clean food, not carry a balance on credit cards.

The movements of prayer are a daily exercise and one feels connected to the greater universe out there.

Unfortunately, for many muslims it is a tradition they are born into and they do not grasp the deeper meaning of the religion. My advice to people coming into Islam always is:"Focus on the basics, the Quran and Sunnah, do not look around you what other people are doing."What I find beautiful about Islam is many things: a direct contact between a believer and the One God unencumbered by clergy; the Quran's intense and repetitive emphasis on social justice and strong rights of family and kinship; simplicity and lack of formality of its prescribed ways of worship; the obligation of paying charity (zakat) based on not on your income but your accumulated wealth--which in turn encourages circulation of wealth; beauty of its prophetic traditions that serve as guiding lights in everyday life; its demonstrable commitment to racial equality that goes back a millennium and and half; its utter prohibition of excessive consumption and wasteful ways of living; and the depth of meaning, and the linguistic and literary treasures contained in the Quran.

I find my faith guiding my actions in almost every sphere of my life.

Whether its in being a responsible parent and spouse, or trying to do justice to my work obligations, or being a part of community.

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