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Volume 53, Number 1 January/February 2002

In This Issue

January/February 2002
Berlin to Makkah: Muhammad Asad's Journey into Islam
Written by Ismail Ibrahim Nawwab
Photographed by Muhammad Asad

When Leopold Weiss left Austria at age 22 to visit an uncle in Jerusalem, he was spiritually adrift, disillusioned by Europe's materialism. He found the Muslim world an unexpected tonic: Its complexities, temperament and sense of spiritual security intrigued him. He stayed on, traveling, reading and conversing widely, and became a celebrated foreign correspondent. Then, one day in the Berlin subway, Islam embraced him. He became a Muslim and took the name Muhammad Asad. Over the decades that followed, he became the most articulate and passionate of scholar-converts, devoted to the regeneration of his adopted faith and its reconciliation with the modern world. At 80, he completed his English-language version of the Qur'an, with commentary, which has become a classic; his landmark autobiography, reissued this year to mark the 10th anniversary of his death, recounts his spiritual travels. No other westerner has recorded a journey into Islam with so much insight and love.

Fasting Days, Festive Nights: Ramadan in Cairo
Written by Sarah Gauch
Photographed by Lorraine Chittock

Of all the cities in the Arab world, Ramadan transforms Cairo most dramatically with light and color, as glittery streamers connect houses and colored-glass lanterns hang in doorways, shops and alleys. It is a month of prayer, abstinence, charity, changed routines and stay-up-late nights with family and friends—and it's everyone's favorite time of the year.

Islam: An Introduction

What is Islam? Who was the Prophet Muhammad? What do Muslims believe, and how do they practice their faith? What is the Qur’an, …the Ka’bah, …jihad ? What are the cultural milestones of Islamic history? Who were some notable Muslims? Where I can find out more?

Taking The Mystery Out of the Middle East
Written by Ellen Mansoor Collier
Photographed by Janice Rubin

Since the mid-1970's, Audrey Shabbas has led more than 1000 cultural-understanding workshops for teachers across the United States, and her resource books and lesson plans help them improve study units on the Islamic world. Her formula is simple: A few thousand good teachers + good information and materials = lots of smarter kids—and maybe a better-informed, more tolerant country.