Ramadan and Proud

MPV was unusually prolific this month, even by our standards — we unleashed two groundbreaking events, that ran concurrently.

The first event was a Symposium on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Cultural Rights, and Women, which we held on May 23, 2018 at the United Nations in Geneva, in partnership with Alliance of Inclusive Muslims (AIM), and the offices of the UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Cultural Rights. This was the largest and most ambitious event we’ve held at the UN this year, both in scope and content. The goal of this symposium was to ask critical questions as to what religious, cultural, or nationalist narratives inhibit women and girls from exercising their freedom of religion or belief, their rights to cultural life, and their right to free expression.
We were very fortunate to have an A-list panel, who were able to elucidate the synergies between religious and nationalistic entities as regards the symposium’s theme. Our panelists were: Ahmed Shaheed (UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief), Karima Bennoune, (UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights), Walid Doudech (Permanent Representative of Tunisia to the UN), Monique T.G. van Daalen (Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN), Carl Hallergard (Deputy Head of the E.U. Delegation to the UN),  Dr. Liviu Olteanu (IADRL-EU), Professor Amel Grami (Tunisia), Liliana Religa (Federation for Women and Family Planning - Poland), Fernanda San Martin, MP (Bolivia), Fawzia al Ashmawi (President of the European Forum for Muslim Woman), and myself.
It’s very rare for such a meeting of minds to gather to discuss these issues. I’m very grateful to our sponsors, the Missions of the Netherlands, EU, Canada, Sweden, and the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, for helping to make such an event possible. I look forward to updating you all with a full report on this symposium next month.
Believe it or not, our second event was even more groundbreaking than the first: a national series of workshops on Inclusive Islam entitled “Is LGBTQI Halal?” These workshops put renowned inclusive Imam, Ludovic Zahed, on tour in 4 cities — Dearborn, MI, Atlanta, GA, Washington D.C., and Chicago, IL. The 2.5-hour workshops, which took place between May 21-30, enjoyed an average attendance of about 45 people. A video version will also be made available next month.

I was very touched by the reactions of some of the workshops’ attendees — many admitted that they had never heard of LGBTQI’s compatibility with Islam. One person was even moved to tears upon hearing Quranic passages affirming of her identity as a trans. MPV owes Imam Ludovic a big thank you for sharing his time, experience, and for running a truly therapeutic and healing series of workshops.

Now, on to June with Pride parades, Eid festivities, Human Rights Council session in Geneva and much much more...

During this month of spiritual reflection, do consider giving zakat to MPV. We've made it easy to calculate how much to give! Click here and give. 

Ramadan Mubarak!

Onward and upward...

Ani Zonneveld
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The progressive Muslim voice for human rights and social justice. Thanks for your charitable donation!
Featured Book:
Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court 

In this book, legendary Basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar discusses the experiences and lessons that informed his conversion to Islam and moulded his identity, career, and activism. In showcasing these lessons, Abdul-Jabbar also gives a thoughtful and articulate account of the political and social tensions that inspired his decisions.   

Choose Muslims for Progressive Values as a beneficiary when you shop on smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price to MPV.

June 17: The documentary al imam, featuring the work and mission of MPV’s Ani Zonneveld, will be screened at the Dances With Films film festival. The screening will take place at 5 pm; click here for tickets!

Chapter Updates 


On May 19, MPV-LA hosted its first iftar potluck of Ramadan 2018. There were plenty of new faces, familiar faces and delicious foods! All of MPV-LA’s Iftar events will be on their meetup page and on partner, #RamadaninLA’s, website.

On May 27, MPV-LA co-hosted an interfaith potluck iftar with Muslim-Christian Interfaith Families (MCIF) and MCC United Church of Christ in the Valley. MPV members, Adnan and Shaan, recited the call to prayer and Rev. Pat said grace before everyone broke bread together! Participants also bonded by learning how to make “mocktails” (virgin cocktails) from Howie Cohen, co-director of #RamadaninLA and founder of 72 virgins. Thanks to everyone for the community effort!

On May 29, Ani Zonneveld brushed shoulders with legendary Muslim NBA basketball-player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, at the signing for his book, Becoming Kareem. Ani and Mr. Abdul-Jabbar found common ground on issues pertaining to women’s rights in Islam, and the lack thereof in Muslim communities.

Upcoming in LA! 

June 3: MPV’s Ani Zonneveld will join the Artes Vocales of Los Angeles in their concert entitled “Requiem Reflections.” The concert, to be held at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, will feature visual and verbal reflection framed alongside Mozart’s famous Requiem Mass in D minor. Ani Zonneveld will join the choir to sing her original song “Prayer of Light,” as well as to recite the adhan, or Muslim call to prayer. The concert begins at 3:30 pm — you’ll not want to miss it. For tickets visit the website.

June 8: MPV-LA will be hosting an iftar in Orange County at Robert’s home (address will be released to those who RSVP “yes” a few days before the event). This is an inclusive potluck iftar. Thank you Robert for offering your home!

June 10: Happy Pride! MPV-LA will have a float in the West Hollywood Pride Parade on Sunday, June 10! MPV will likely be the only Muslim organization participating in the parade — join this moment in history by offering to volunteer, provide supplies and/or contribute financially. If you are interested please contact Yasmin at yasmin@mpvusa.org.

MPV-New York

On May 25,  MPV-NY hosted an Interfaith Couples iftar to support couples who have partners from different religious backgrounds in New Jersey. The Iftar helped foster a judgement-free safe space for participants to discuss their struggles with Islam and Ramadan.

Upcoming in New York!

June 7: Break fast with an iftar dinner during the holy month of Ramadan, hosted at The Center in partnership with organizations serving the LGBTQ Muslim community. The evening is meant to create a safe space for all community members, while also celebrating unity within LGBTQ communities of faith. RSVP here. Stay tuned for further details on the event here.

June 8: MPV-NY will host a Community Potluck Iftar for members to share their meals with others and build camaraderie during this holy month.

June 12: In co-sponsorship with Coalition of Progressive Hindus and other fellow supporting organizations, MPV-NY invites you to come break fast on Tuesday evening at this ‘Sadhana Satsangh’ to build unity between Hindus and Muslims. There will also be an opportunity to pray for an end to all discrimination and Islamophobia.

June 24: Don’t miss the opportunity to join MPV-NY in its’ 2nd year of marching at the NYC Pride March.

To confirm attendance and support all MPV-NY events, please follow the MPV-NY Facebook event page. For any questions, please reach out via email to bhashmi21@gmail.com

On Friday, May 18, MPV-Boston hosted its first iftar at the Community Church in Boston. 13 people attended what turned out to be a warm gathering, full of food and ideas. MPV-Boston’s Aicha called the adhan and Kandeel led the mixed-gender prayers, Mecca-style. It was a very exciting event. The iftar will be featured in The Daily Times, which is a newspaper for the South Asian diasporic community.

If you are in Boston, please go to MPV-Boston's FB page to join!

MPV-Chicago will continue to hold Friday prayers throughout the month of June in the Loop area. Email chicago.mpv@gmail.com if you would like to be updated on the next scheduled prayer.

June 24: MPV-Chicago will attend Chicago’s annual Pride Parade. If you are interested in attending or would like more information about future MPV-Chicago planned events, please email chicago.mpv@gmail.com.

MPV-DC continued to hold its bi-weekly prayer/halaqa at the DC Public Libraries in May.

On May 12, MPV-DC members gathered at Raouche Cafe in Virginia for dinner.

On May 17, several members of MPV-DC attended iftar hosted by the Qatar America Institute in downtown DC.

On May 24, members of MPV-DC attended the interfaith iftar hosted by the Human Rights Campaign.

On May 25, MPV-DC held two back-to-back events at the Human Rights Campaign. The first was the Inclusive Islam workshop led by Imam and Dr. Ludovic Mohamed Zahed. The workshop was attended by 53 people from the DC area. The workshop was followed by MPV-DC’s annual iftar, which was a sold-out event attended by over 70 people.

Upcoming in DC!

June 15: MPV-DC will celebrate Eid by holding salat Al-Eid (Eid prayer) in the morning at Tenleytown Public Library. Later that afternoon, members of MPV-DC will attend a screening of al imam, the documentary about MPV’s president Ani Zonneveld’s work, followed by a Q&A at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland.

June 23: MPV-DC will hold its monthly film screening. The film to be shown is The Sultan and the Saint.

Throughout the month of June, MPV-DC will continue to hold bi-weekly prayers at various DC Public Libraries.

MPV-S.F./Bay Area

On May 18, MPV-S.F./Bay Area held an evening Friday Jum’a and iftar potluck at Martin De Porres House of Hospitality in San Francisco. 25 progressive sisters and brothers, as well as allies, were in attendance. MPV local board member Carman Nareau delivered a beautiful khutbah emphasizing the need for an inclusive Ummah especially during the holy month of Ramadan. Salat was lead by local board member Sabahat Ashraf with some sisters and brothers stating that this was the first time that they had ever prayed without division of gender. A broad assortment of delicious food and dessert was served. Many of those who came to the service expressed that they would like to have a regular monthly jum’a on Friday evenings in various locations around The Bay Area.

Upcoming in San Francisco and the Bay Area!

June 13: There will be a round-table discussion entitled “Struggling in good faith LGBTI inclusion in Religion.” The discussion is hosted by Rabbi Mychal Copland at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav located in S.F. This in-depth discussion and panel will explore current issues related to the intersection of LGBTQI people and religion.

June 17: MPV-S.F. chapter president, Naji Ali, will be speaking at First Mennonite Church of San Francisco about Islam 101. The pastor of the church is Sheri Hostetler, Naji’s former minister.
June 23: MPV-S.F./Bay Area will hold salat (prayer) at The Rainbow Chapel on Pride Saturday in Civic Center. Everyone is invited to attend. Details will be made available on our meetup page. For further events and news, check out our Facebook page.

MPV in the News

Challenging Opinions   | Ani Zonneveld on Challenging Opinions (Podcast)  | May 28, 2018
Quotidiano | Ani Zonneveld: "Io, imam donna contro l'Isis" (Italian) | May 14, 2018