Violent attacks carried out in the name of Islam, and the intense media attention they engender, continually reinforce the view that Islam is essentially violent, totalitarian, and unenlightened. Indeed, violent extremism in the name of Islam must be condemned and combatted. Yet the emphasis on violent extremism misses one basic point: Islam is a human institution. It has been constructed and lived by human beings who continue to have the power to shape it. By highlighting the complexity of Muslim thought and experience, we take away the ideological power that extremists seek.
The Muslim world’s rich heritage of art, literature, philosophy, music, and dance provides a powerful alternative to narrow, legalistic, and exclusionary understandings of Islam. The Islamic and Muslim Art Project would highlight the works of Muslim artists and art from Muslim contexts. This project focuses on both historical and contemporary materials and uses a broader understanding of Islam and Muslims, producing digital content educating audiences about particular works of art and artists, gallery exhibitions, and panel discussions, (potentially: an arts fellowship program). The goal is to reach a large, diverse audience and promote a broader and more capacious understanding of Muslim identities.
Bayt Al Hikma 2.0
Language is one of the many borders that prevent the free exchange of ideas, which ensures that some knowledge remains locked away from linguistically-isolated islands such as Arabic. The Translation Project aims to translate books and articles on science, critical thinking and human rights from English to Arabic and distribute and disseminate these works among the Arabic-speaking public. These works will be shared through the Ideas Beyond Borders Online Library, a repository of e-books and articles hosted online. They will also be shared through Arab social media pages that promote science and humanism. By downloading texts on science and human rights, individuals will have knowledge and opportunities for learning made accessible to them.
The goal of Bayt Al Hikma 2.0 is to promote the awareness and enthusiasm of science, and knowledge of human rights in the face of intolerance, xenophobia, and violent extremism. IBB believes that this will help to foster a climate that is inclusive, conducive to respectful dialogue, free inquiry and open discussion, and one that is against extremism.
The media often spotlights extreme Muslim groups, while moderate and liberal Muslims, who do not make headlines, are ignored. The progressive thinkers of the Middle East are largely unknown in the West.The goal of ASAP is to introduce Arab progressive voices to English-speaking audiences and help policymakers to see another alternative, other than extremists and authoritarians. Through ASAP, IBB intends to provide a platform for the myriad of progressive writers, thinkers, visual artists, musicians, and performers from the Arab World. ASAP translates their works and ideas into English and promotes the authors, writing, and ideas to journalists, policymakers, and the general public.
By translating their work and building a database of these compiled works, Ideas Beyond Borders will introduce Arab and Muslim progressive voices to English-speaking audiences, policymakers, and the media. This database will be used in conjunction with media and public relations resources to share and elevate the profiles of these moderates to challenge perceptions and provide a broader perspective of Muslim and/or Arab identities. This will promote awareness of the freedom fighters in the Arab world, which amplifies their voices and drums up support for their struggles against authoritarian and extremist institutions.