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portraits of ordinary muslims
A glimpse of how diverse Muslims from around the world find their faith intertwining with their lives, identities and politics.


In a country threatened by severe social and economic pressures, the radical forces of fundamentalist Islam have risen over recent decades. Egypt is one of the first places where Islam was used to legitimize a violent response to Western influence. But scholars of Islam like Sheik Muawith Mabrook Abbas steadfastly counsel Muslims to abide by the tenets and practices of their faith, even though he is concerned Islamic scholars like himself have lost the influence they once had.


Attorney Muzzammil Sani Hanga defends the harsh penal code of Islamic (Sharia) law, recently reimposed in Nigeria's northern states. Sharia's punishments include amputations, floggings and executions. He explains why tens of thousands of Nigerians support its reimplementation.

United States

With its increasing population of Muslims -- both immigrants and converts -- might America be an example of how Islam can be lived alongside other religions and people? Here are two different Muslim-Americans' stories: a young New York City professional woman who, after Sept. 11, acted to confront anti-Muslim prejudice, and an African-American convert to Islam who tries to resolve tensions within the Muslim community, as well as between Muslims and non-Muslims.


The country's Islamic Party is growing in popularity and some are even calling for Malaysia to become an Islamic state. But against this tide, women's rights activists are challenging traditional interpretations of Islamic text which discriminate against women. Here are the stories of two of these women.


In secular Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim nation, the government has banned the wearing of the hijab, the head scarf, in public. What do university women say about this restriction on how they may practice their religion, and why does the government fear the hijab?


Madhi Hadavi Tehrani is one of Iran's 300 ayatollahs--or scholars of Islamic philosophy and law. This glimpse of his daily life represents, in some ways, the paradox of an Iran turning toward modernity and change, while still locked in strict traditional Islam. The country is torn between a reformist president who believes Islam allows for greater social and political freedoms, and hard-line ruling clerics who oppose any change in their Islamic state.

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