As Western Europe’s Muslim communities continue to grow, so does their influence on electoral politics. For many electoral districts, parties can only win if they secure a large majority of the Muslim vote. This presents unique political challenges across Europe, since Muslim views on religion, tradition and gender roles can differ dramatically from the majority electorate. (more…)
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Asian Indians are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States, and roughly half a million people of Indian ancestry live in California — more than any other state. Individuals from this group are strongly predisposed to obesity-related conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, due in large part to physical inactivity, diets low in fruit and vegetables, and insulin resistance.
Among other racial and ethnic groups, research has shown that religious practices and religiosity have been associated with obesity and greater body weight, but no one had studied this potential link among Indians. (more…)
For Devin Naar, the Sephardic Studies Initiative is not just a valuable historical archive; it has also been a personal journey revealing an untold family story from the years of the Third Reich.
Naar’s part of the story began about 10 years ago, when as an undergraduate at Washington University he grew interested in the history of Turkey and Greece, which for centuries until World War I was part of the Ottoman Empire. His family comes from Salonica, a port city in Northern Greece. (more…)
Recognizing Psychological Common Ground Could Ease Tensions Among Those with Different Religious Beliefs, says MU Psychologist
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Understanding how thoughts of mortality influence individuals’ beliefs sheds light on the commonalities among different groups’ motivations and could help ease tensions between opposing viewpoints, according to University of Missouri experiments that tested the relationship between awareness of death and belief in a higher power. The study found that thoughts of death increased atheists, Christians, Muslims and agnostics conviction in their own world views. For example, contrary to the wartime aphorism that there are no atheists in foxholes, thoughts of death did not cause atheists to express belief in a deity.
“Our study suggests that atheists’ and religious believers’ world views have the same practical goal,” said Kenneth Vail, lead author and doctoral student in psychological science in MU’s College of Arts and Science. “Both groups seek a coherent world view to manage the fear of death and link themselves to a greater and immortal entity, such as a supreme being, scientific progress or a nation. If people were more aware of this psychological similarity, perhaps there might be more understanding and less conflict among groups with different beliefs.” (more…)
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Despite differences in rituals and beliefs among the world’s major religions, spirituality often enhances health regardless of a person’s faith, according to University of Missouri researchers. The MU researchers believe that health care providers could take advantage of this correlation between health – particularly mental health – and spirituality by tailoring treatments and rehabilitation programs to accommodate an individual’s spiritual inclinations.
“In many ways, the results of our study support the idea that spirituality functions as a personality trait,” said Dan Cohen, assistant teaching professor of religious studies at MU and one of the co-authors of the study. “With increased spirituality people reduce their sense of self and feel a greater sense of oneness and connectedness with the rest of the universe. What was interesting was that frequency of participation in religious activities or the perceived degree of congregational support was not found to be significant in the relationships between personality, spirituality, religion and health.” (more…)
Fears of terrorism in Europe and the United States have deteriorated into an irrational suspicion of Muslims, which will continue until the West turns its critical eye inward, argues University of Chicago professor Martha Nussbaum in her new book, The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age.
While fear is an important natural emotion, its self-centered nature makes it susceptible to irrational distortions that are harmful to others, writes Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics in the Law School and Philosophy. (more…)
In the weeks following the U.S. military campaign that killed bin Laden, the head of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, American attitudes toward Muslim Americans took a significant negative shift, results showed. (more…)
*A University of Exeter academic, who is an expert on Islam, has contributed to the new television series ‘The Life of Muhammad’ currently being broadcast on BBC Two. The three-part documentary, presented by journalist Rageh Omaar, charts the story of the Prophet who, in little more than 20 years, changed the world forever.*
Professor Sajjad Rizvi, University of Exeter’s Associate Professor of Islamic Intellectual History at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, provided expert advice to the BBC team. He also appears in the series. (more…)