Why I Am A Salafi

Aug 12, 2015
Cover of Michael Muhammad Knight's book 'Why I Am A Salafi'
Michael Muhammad Knight

Michael Muhammad Knight grew up in an Irish-Catholic-working-class family in upstate New York. And as a teenager, he found himself at a unique crossroads: he wanted to either continue writing letters to Charles Manson or devote his time to studying Islam.

He chose the latter, and that decision changed the course of his life. A year later, Knight had converted to Islam and spent two months studying the religion in Pakistan.

An image of Muslims feasting during Ramadan
Fiaz Fareed / Islamic Association of Raleigh

This week began Ramadan for Muslims across the world, but those in North Carolina were welcomed by a heat wave that went into triple-digit temperatures. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown for a month. That means no food or water, two things that people usually hold as sacred during the summer months.

But Aziza Shanab said no matter the temperature, Ramadan is a deeply spiritual time.

Eighth-grade students Yasmine Boufedji, Angelycia Bogart, Dunya Alkaissi, and Nassir Jordan.
Reema Khrais

As principal Mussarut Jabeen makes her way to the playground, two very young girls run to her, pleading for undivided attention. The first shows off a temporary henna tattoo.

“Oh look at your henna, it’s so pretty,” exclaims Jabeen, principal of Al-Iman, a private Islamic school in Raleigh.

The other girl has just fallen and scraped herself.

“Oh, my little,” Jabeen says. “How about we wash it?”

The film "Cairo in One Breath" takes a look at the Adhan Unification Project.

The adhan, or call to prayer, is a 1,400 year-old oral tradition in the process of change in Cairo, Egypt. In 2004, after generations of having muezzins—the man who calls Muslims to prayer from the minaret of a mosque—make the call, the Mubarak government decided to make a change. They began to replace Cairo's approximately 200,000 muezzins with a single radio broadcast.

Malcolm X waiting for a press conference to begin on March 26, 1964.
U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

The messages of civil rights leader Malcolm X still resonate 50 years after his assassination.

Conversations about Islam in America, police shootings and freedom of the press are as relevant in 2015 as they were on the day of his death: February 21, 1965.

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill start a two-day conference to examine the legacy of Malcolm X today.

Abraham is recognized as the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Wikimedia Commons/ Web Gallery of Art

Emotions are an important part of religious life for many people. Individuals often describe a feeling or sense of passion during a religious practice even if they cannot name the feeling.  

The academic study of religion and emotion is surging, but scholars are still struggling to find ways to measure and describe this phenomenon. Is emotion biological? Is it cultural? What can the study of emotion in religion tell us about religious intolerance or violence?

Duke University said earlier this week that it would allow a weekly Islamic call-to-prayer from the bell tower of Duke Chapel.

Christian preacher Franklin Graham condemned the decision and called on donors to cease their financial contributions to Duke.

Image of Daoud Haroon practicing a first instrument.
Daoud Haroon

Daoud Haroon has lived many lives in his 81 years. He grew up in the jazz clubs of Boston, shining shoes of many of the jazz greats as a young boy, and later playing alongside them as a percussionist and trombonist. He has worked in a wide range of trades from hat making to house painting. 


Musician Laila Nur developed her “revolutionary love” music style when she moved alone to Greensboro at 19. 

The Nasher Museum brings Doris Duke's Islamic art collection in Hawaii to North Carolina.
Doris Duke Foundation

Doris Duke, heiress to the American Tobacco Company fortune, built a sprawling estate in Hawaii in the 1930s. She named her secluded getaway Shangri La and she spent the rest of her life filling it with Islamic art. After her death, Shangri La was opened to the public.