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20,000 Scholars Declare Terrorism as Un-Islamic [Darul-Uloom Deoband]

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terrorism.gifYet another proof that the vast majority of mainstream Muslims scholars are not ambivalent about the scourge of terrorism. They also make an important point of disconnecting terrorism from madrassas, because that is an unfair and often unproven stereotype:

Source: Dawn.com

LUCKNOW, Feb 25: Muslim scholars on Monday condemned terrorism as un-Islamic. They issued the edict at a leading madressah in northern India which some believe inspired the Taliban movement, a senior cleric said.

A declaration by scholars and clerics representing different sects of Islam also called on the government to ensure Muslims were not harassed in the name of terrorism, Maulana Shaukat told reporters.

Speaking from the 150-year-old Darul-Uloom Deoband in Saharanpur, 435km from the Uttar Pradesh capital, he said about 20,000 scholars and clerics took part.

The declaration said: “Islam is a religion of mercy for all humanity. Islam sternly condemns all kinds of oppression, violence and terrorism.

“It has regarded oppression, mischief, rioting and murder among severest sins and crimes. Islam prohibits killing of innocent people.”

The group called on the government to ensure “the Muslim community are not harassed and tortured in the name of terrorism”.

Adil Siddiqui, another spokesman for the Deoband school, noted that “whenever there is any incident of terrorism, every possible attempt is made to link it to Muslims, particularly who have studied in madressahs. This is totally wrong.”

The declaration comes after several incidents of global terrorism involving Indian Muslims. The most prominent is Kafeel Ahmed, an Indian aeronautical engineer, who died during a botched attempt to attack Glasgow airport in June last year.

His brother Sabeel, a doctor, is also being investigated by British police over his alleged involvement in the Glasgow attack. Charges against a third Indian, Mohammed Haneef, a doctor working at a hospital in Australia’s Gold Coast, collapsed.

Political analyst Rasheed Kidwai welcomed the declaration, saying: “In the Indian context, the declaration is significant as it reflects the growing anxiety among the clergy over the involvement of some Indians in alleged terror plots.”—AFP

Amad Shaikh is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Amad is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Irum Sarfaraz

    February 26, 2008 at 12:00 PM

    We need to send this to every major newspaper in the US.

  2. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    February 26, 2008 at 12:18 PM

    Irum, sorry to say but you sound very naive. 20,000 scholars condemn terrorism and on the same day ONE Palestinian gives the finger to an Israeli. Guess which will make the front page.

    Though I do think we should at least try.

  3. Avatar

    SaqibSaab

    February 26, 2008 at 12:52 PM

    I agree with both of you, and theManofFewWords, read what she said carefully, bro. :)

    We need to send this to every major newspaper in the US.

    We need to send this, meaning do our part, try, etc. As for what the media does or doesn’t do, different story. =/

  4. Avatar

    Br. Daoud

    February 26, 2008 at 12:53 PM

    >>The declaration said: “Islam is a religion of mercy for all humanity. Islam sternly condemns all kinds of oppression, violence and terrorism.<<

    As tempted as we may be to jump on the bandwagon and start parading this declaration, I think it serves us to look at it carefully. Islam condemns all kinds of violence? Surely violence against innocents is condemned. But how about violence against tryrants or violence against those who comit violence against you?

    Secondly, what is terrorism? I think any document that purports to denounce it should start by defining it.

  5. Avatar

    MR

    February 26, 2008 at 12:59 PM

    20,000 scholars condemn terrorism.

    20,000 Muslims die from terrorism.

  6. Avatar

    Manas Shaikh

    February 26, 2008 at 1:04 PM

    Br Daoud

    The points you make are valid.

    I agree that this is not without it’s faults. But it is a positive effort and I pray Allah accept their efforts.

    That said: nobody actually defines terrorism very well. Except that everybody agrees “terrorism” is bad. It’s actually titular argument. And works both ways. All violences that one perceives as bad are “terrorism.” Therefore, for Muslims, Serbs (don’t get me wrong- the govt; not the people) are the terrorists and for the Serbs, Kosovars are the terrorists.

    Violence is allowed as a last resort. Agreed- but it is not encouraged. I think that’s what they actually meant.

  7. Avatar

    Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    February 26, 2008 at 1:24 PM

    I got to say I share Br. Daoud’s sentiments.

    For good or ill, as far as I can tell, this is a ‘political’ statement more so than a very rigorous fatwa. Maybe we’re not getting the full story but by this I mean that although the statement says something true and admirable and it may be good as a press release, I don’t think there’s any question any Muslim has about the ruling of a particular activity which could be answered by this ‘fatwa.’

    I think an interesting study or analysis would be to compare the way that such issues are discussed by Deobandi scholars in India and Deobandi scholars in Pakistan, and just more generally the whole way in which Deoband has created its particular brand and style of “minority fiqh” for the Indian context.

  8. AnonyMouse

    AnonyMouse

    February 26, 2008 at 3:29 PM

    Hmmmmm… I’ve been hearing/ reading so much about scholars condemning terrorism and stuff, that now I just don’t care about it anymore.
    Call me cynical, but do we REALLY think the mass media cares about how many Muslims condemn terrorism? Oh sure, they SAY that they want to hear from us… but when we DO speak out on the subject, how much (positive) press do we actually get in comparison to all the other stuff that’s in the news about Muslims?
    It’s totally unproportional… bah. I’ve pretty much given up hoping that announcements such as this are going to have any impact at all anymore.

  9. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    February 26, 2008 at 5:30 PM

    You know … I would like to know what else they did. 20,000 scholars get together and denounce terrorism, but really they could have just phoned that in. What else did they do.

    You have 20k of these people, I am sure they ate a lot, they probably networked, some marriage deals got cooked up, They obviously prayed in congregation, some Quran recitation, probably a naat or two, a couple of long winded introductions then speeches. Contemplative beard stroking, a little beard envy here and there.

    Token local politician shows up, token national politician follows up. Ok We condemn terrorism, everybody signs, photo ops, congratulatory hand shakes and back slaps.

    time for desert, angry tussle between a gang of Hanafi students and that shafi’i who dares tell people about it. They all regret it because an older mullah gives them a lecture about how they should treat mubtadi’s with respect. Shafi’i leaves pissed off.

    Everybody get’s ready to leave when someone makes the adhan for maghrib. Pray and then depart.

    A day well spent … all that sound and fury for the press and none of the problems of the muslims solved. Yay!

  10. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    February 26, 2008 at 5:31 PM

    i’m sorry that yay at the end was too much … i dont know what I was thinking.

  11. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    February 26, 2008 at 5:33 PM

    saqibsaab, by the way, even if I agree with someone I like to make my tone combative, that’s just me, for better or worse.

  12. Avatar

    Amad

    February 26, 2008 at 6:06 PM

    your story has a fatal flaw (actually one of many)

    All deobandis are hanafis unless a lost-vahabi wanders in by accident.

    I am afraid of the day when you will go from being a man of few words to a man of a bit more words… I mean we’ll have to just give you the blog and let you comment away… you could almost argue with yourself until neither you nor you will be convinced. I’d love to see that internal shakedown. ;)

  13. Avatar

    Amad

    February 26, 2008 at 6:11 PM

    Btw, I added the story to Dailykos and had a comments blitz. I love the way people can get myopic:

    Some were too concerned about their homosexuality to worry about the rest of the humanity… “hey why weren’t we mentioned”.

    Others were worried that the Sheikhs didn’t specifically denounce all those bad Palestinian suicide bombers (note to myself: always include them next time). Of course, conveniently ignoring those who kill the Palestinian kids before they become bombers (its called preemptive justiifed Israeli targetted friendly removals).

    But other than that, most others were positive.

  14. Avatar

    Ahmad AlFarsi

    February 26, 2008 at 6:28 PM

    time for desert, angry tussle between a gang of Hanafi students and that shafi’i who dares tell people about it. They all regret it because an older mullah gives them a lecture about how they should treat mubtadi’s with respect. Shafi’i leaves pissed off.

    this cracked me up :)

  15. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    February 26, 2008 at 8:19 PM

    Amad, I can’t argue with myself … I’m always right. Talk about fatal flaws.

  16. Avatar

    Malik

    February 26, 2008 at 8:40 PM

    One thing you might consider in your “How to deal with the media” series, Amad. We non-muslims read on a regular basis these condemnations of specific attacks and terrorism in general, and the consensus I have found speaking to many folks is that it follows a certain formula which says to us that y’all aren’t “getting it”. Usually the formula consists of this: the letter spends one short paragraph denouncing terrorism and how it is “un-Islamic” then goes on to spend several more longer paragraphs warning about the dangers of “Islamphobia” and the (practically non-existent) harm to the Muslim community if the non-Muslims get the wrong idea.

    No where does it touch on the problems in the Qu’ran, the culture of Islam, etc which causes the violence and offering solutions.

    Just FYI, if you want good PR you gotta stop issuing highly-qualified and self-serving memos.

  17. Avatar

    Amad

    February 26, 2008 at 9:02 PM

    “practically non-existent”, huh? I guess you have been keeping up with all our posts and making sure to add your usual blurb, but somehow you missed this:

    Let’s destroy-a-mosque project

    Until you open your islamophobic eyes to see the obvious and undeniable signs, symptoms and actions of islamophobia, then I think we cannot have an intelligent conversation any further.

    As for your other comment, look up the sub-category Islamophobia here, or search on google, and you’ll find plenty of refutations of misinterpretations of Quran. But I don’t think you or your ilk care for that. Because even if offered, you won’t accept it. If you did, then you wouldn’t have a reason to hate. And bigots need reasons to hate. That is how they thrive and live their lives. It will be meaningless otherwise.

    So, apparently you are an ex-Muslim, Malik. What kind of Muslim were you, if you don’t mind me asking? Shia, Sunni, “Qadiyani-Muslim” (oxymoron) or other variety? And why do you reckon that many people who leave Islam suddenly become Islamophobes and spend all their lives spreading malicious lies about it? I mean what’s their obsession with it? It’s like they can’t get over it, so they keep trying to attack it in order to make themselves feel better about their decisions? But you don’t see that of former Christians do you? I mean, Musa, Ruth, Ahmad (all former Christians) don’t spend their lives hating on Christians, do they? Rather, they are productive and propagate what they have converted into. So, why don’t you and other ex-Muslims do something productive and propagate whatever you went into, if you really liked it so much to leave Allah’s religion?

    Just some thoughts.

  18. Avatar

    ruth nasrullah

    February 26, 2008 at 9:24 PM

    Just a point of accuracy – I’m not a former Christian. I was raised without religion and never practiced any religion except Islam (alhamdulillah). But the rest is true :)

  19. Avatar

    Ibrahim

    February 26, 2008 at 10:43 PM

    salamalikum

    All deobandis are hanafis unless a lost-vahabi wanders in by accident.

    Ahh! Not so! There have always been a few students from south India (Kerala), who are mostly Shafi’. And are not wahabi by any means.

    On a serious note, whatever comes out of Darul Uloom (in political terms) in this era should be judged carefully. Darul Uloom is increasingly under pressure by India govt. and other sources to “modernize”, which really means changing your thoughts. It’s in a unique and hence all alone situation: A major Islamic university in a non-Muslim country.

    Now, I wait for my Indian brothers to come and tell me that Muslims are not in any difficulty in India, and it’s Pakistan where Muslims really suffer!

  20. Avatar

    dario

    February 26, 2008 at 11:40 PM

    Wow, that’s a lot of scholars. I personally don’t really think that PR moves like this are that effective. I think a lot of people have already made up their mind about Islam and all that it entails so it doesn’t really matter what they hear. I’m not really a big fan of the religion but have no problem with its followers. My attitude towards all religions is generally a “to each his/her own” type of mentality.

    I think the best way to change people’s opinions, not about a religion but about a group of people (whether it be on a religious or ethnic basis), is to just get involved in the community on a local basis. Seeing members of other faiths working together and helping not just members of their own following but people they probably disagree with as well can do wonders to impact how you are viewed by others. Anyways, thats my own naive 2 cents

  21. Avatar

    amad

    February 27, 2008 at 12:01 AM

    actually dario, you are quite right. There is no better way to change opinions than by community involvement, interactions with your neighbors, class-mates, co-workers, etc. And I think Muslims are getting more involved by the day, and that is almost mandatory considering the well-funded and well-organized islamophobia campaign by the right-wingers and “the lobby”.

  22. Avatar

    Irum Sarfaraz

    February 27, 2008 at 1:51 PM

    Br Daud:
    ‘Surely violence against innocents is condemned. But how about violence against tryrants or violence against those who comit violence against you?’
    Wouldn’t this be more like self-defence? I personally believe there is a difference between ‘violence’ and ‘self-defence’ which would include defending your personal self, your identit, your religion, and your country.

    I may sound very naive to a lot of people but considering all my articles that get rejected by the papers in my area, I have come to the conclusion that we just need to keep bombarding them with even news such as this that might seem very trivial. The scholars who met at this conference may have played checkers in the end for all I care but the point is that 20k of them did get together and condemn violence such as suicide bombings, bombings of innocents, kidnapping non-muslims, etc. etc.

    Yes I agree the media will give front page to the Muslim who called the Jew a name but even if my story makes ten lines on the back page, I will consider it an accomplishment. The fact that it will make the back page or perhaps no mention at all shows how insignifent we and our stories are. So lets get together and make real noise, i.e start sending in more stories to more papers regularly, so that our stories may make front page too.

  23. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    February 27, 2008 at 5:24 PM

    Malik, stop being a goober …

    Problems in Quran and culture?

    Have you even read the Quran? (malik in mickey mouse voice “as a matter of fact I have!”)

    Honestly bro look at your own culture and tell me what about it causes so much violence, chaos, destruction, pollution and racism across the entire world.

    What an arrogant *** you are. Bomb the crap out of Muslims and then when a couple of them get ticked off you blame it on the culture.

    That’s like trying to lynch a black guy and when he fights back you say “see black people are violent. Let’s analyze black culture and see what goes on in their churches.”

    Palestinian watches his daughter get dismembered by an American made vulcan cannon mounted on an American made Apache copter piloted by an Israeli then the father snaps and shoots up some fundamentalist settlers who snipe at Palestinians for fun at night.

    Why did he do it? Cuz it says so in the Quran. Get a fricking brain!!!

    I wish Muslims actually WERE more violent, maybe then less people would mess with them and they wouldnt wind up with US backed dictators as leaders.

    Muslims are too damn pacifistic!!! Yeah I said it. Most just get upset complain and then go back to whatever they were doing. But 50 guys in pakistan light a car on fire and Muslims are all violent. ***!

    Check your damn culture. Who the hell do these people think they are? They watch the Fox propaganda channel’s 12 minute special on Islam and now they are experts stickin out their chests demanding Muslims reform. Reform your damn selves!!! Islam mistreats women … Ha … I cant go one day without hearing a woman being refered to as a bitch in the US! What’s the rape rate like in this country anyway? How many abortions happen in the US every year? Why do you destroy the Mexican economy then treat their refugees like criminals … I could go on and on and on and on …

    But I think it would be better if you just shut the hell up.

    That’s right goober SHUT THE HELL UP.

    MOFW, language please. If we let people rile us up, then they have got us where they wanted. We cannot be “more violent” because our religion doesn’t teach us to counter injustice with more injustice. -MM

  24. Avatar

    Amad

    February 27, 2008 at 6:47 PM

    There is an excellent report that was issued by the UN on the Israeli occupation that is obviously being silenced by the US media. It blames the occupation for the terrorism emanating from the area. The author presents reasons that are very measured and logical. The author is NEITHER Arab NOR Muslim.

    Of course, Israel and its powerful lobby, which I only call “the Lobby” will dismiss it as UN’s bias against Israel. That is what I find humorous: why would these people be favorably biased towards Muslims? I mean what could the Palestinians give this poor man (poor because of how he will be lambasted and defamed by the Lobby) or other Human rights activists?

    This report definitely deserves a post. If MOFW, you want to take the lead, and send me a measured write-up (no emotional outbursts :) ), maybe we can collaborate and put it up??

    Report: Israeli occupation causes terror

  25. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    February 27, 2008 at 6:52 PM

    I wasnt riled up … I was using strong language…

    Ill take the language suggestion under advisement though it was intended for dramatic effect …

    Violence does not equal injustice … according to US propaganda the Iraq WAR was the use of violence in the pursuit of democracy and justice … Terrorism is what is forbidden … what I am talking about is violence in defense of one’s land, people, family and one’s self. This is universally accepted amongst ALL peoples not just Muslims.

    Hell some people justify the war in Afghanistan because we supposedly went there to protect women’s rights. If they can get away with saying that then what’s the problem with what I said.

    PS those asterisks make it sound like I used a really bad curse word when I think the word i used was pretty tame …

  26. Avatar

    Ahmad

    February 27, 2008 at 9:28 PM

    Was it goober? Come one I really want to know….

  27. Avatar

    Amad

    February 27, 2008 at 9:37 PM

    the asterisks stuff wasn’t tame bro… anything pertaining to descriptive terms for human anatomy isn’t usually tame :)

    Let’s move on… Did you read the article I linked to??

  28. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    February 27, 2008 at 9:47 PM

    Asterisk word is a term of endearment in my city … maybe i should move.

    move on? Dont tell me what to do! :)

    Yes, I read it … noticeably absent was any comment from a Palestinian though they gave the Israeli ambassador a chance to rebut.

    You wanna me whip something up quick … sure … where do I send it?

  29. Avatar

    Amad

    February 27, 2008 at 9:49 PM

    info at // muslimmatters.org

  30. Avatar

    abu abdurrahman

    February 28, 2008 at 12:16 AM

    20k scholars from india….

    they had one in Pakistan a some 6-8 months ago. It was condemning suicide bombing. But I strongly suspect some political motives behind it. Maulana FazluRahman was heading it. and that was at the height of US’s decision to go after the terrorists.

    A way of saying “Look I’m not with terrorists so you(US) can pick me as your next heir.”

    Interestingly, his contemporary Qazi Hussain Ahmad(who also sticks to his ideals a bit more) wasn’t there.

    But all in all, political motives or not. I think these are good and should be done more frequently. Anyway, Maulana FazluRahman’s house was hit by a rocket a couple days after.

  31. Avatar

    A Teddy Bear Named Azrael

    February 28, 2008 at 2:27 AM

    Muslims condemn terrorism all the time. I hear about it after any attak. Always the same lines about killing innocents is a sin against Islam..but what do you consider innocents? Only other muslims or how about a christian aid worker or civilian building roads?
    Ok..so you condemn terrorism..it’s up there with rioting and “mischief” as the severist of sins..So, what is the muslim community actually DOING about it? These are ANIMALS (cowardly animals) out there committing crimes against humanity in the name of Islam and their “brothers” do nothing but have meetings and make statements condemning their actions. Why not take visible and swift action to COMBAT terrorism and restore the good name of Islam? I’m sure that funding would not be a problem..Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait… Who better to infiltrate these terror organizations than their “brothers.”
    Don’t worry, I actually understand why..I’ve seen it first hand many times..my first and most lasting impression, but by a longshot not the last example was during the first Gulf War..the liberation of Kuwait..Kuwaitis who were abroad during the invasion and came back as translators to support the US military as we prepared to take back their country from Saddam’s forces..A noble gesture, I thought, but one ANY man of honor would do if it were his own country. However, on the first day they showed up and were briefed on our mission and where they would actually be on the battlefield, I will never forget the reaction..”We did not know we would be near the front lines! I want to go to Riyadh!” I was infuriated! I did not care to have ANY of them stay with us! The type of man that won’t fight when their country is invaded and their own people are held hostage will not fight to protect the good name of their religion from those who twist and distort it to serve their own means.
    Even he terrorists/ insurgents are cowards. That is why they rely on roadside bombs and retarded suicide bombers to “deal blows to the enemy.” They would never have the resolve or the belief in what they are doing to stand and fight man-to-man for what they believe in. They are nothing but animals who do not care who they kill or can even logically think about why they are killing.
    Stop condemning and DO something about it! Stand up and fight back! Shut down these idiots who are the reason you are persecuted! Stop with all the “An-shah-Allah” and take matters into your own hands..Be the sword of Allah that these cowards claim to be in vain! They are the greatest haram by far in Islam well above any other! (or is stoning women who are raped more your style..yeah, they can’t really fight back..get out of the stone age..get civilized)

    This was not written in anger, just mostly disgust in general. I’m not a christian or a jew..I could care less about religion other than feel disgusted when idiots hide behind it. I also know that there were Kuwaitis that stood and fought and died for their country and I honor and respect them, but they were the exception and not the norm.

    If you really condemned these acts, then you would actively do whatever you could to stop it! If you don’t soon, the rest of the world will, but it will get harder and harder for good muslims.

  32. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    February 28, 2008 at 2:30 PM

    1. Saddam, US ally was given the go ahead to invade Kuwait THEN the US “liberated” it. Just for context.

    2. Who do you want to stop terrorism? Muslims? They do, in Egypt, Saudi, Jordan, in pre-Invasion Iraq, Morrocco, Pakstan, Iran, Syria. All these governments are fighting terrorism. The average Muslim has no power to investigate, pursue, arrest and prosecute Muslims.

    Muslims have very little power to do much considering their oppressive US backed governments. But when they do, like lawyers protesting and going toe-to-toe with riot police in order to preserve an independent judiciary in pakistan and struggle for “democracy” the US supports tyrant Muharraf and doesnt say a word of support for the democracy advocates.

    3. Kuwaitis dont represent all Muslims Contrast their cowardice with those fighting in Iraq, afghanistan, palestine, chechnya, and elsewhere. They are fighting numerically and materially superior forces and have not given up. Remember the darlings of the US the Afghan Mujahideen fighting the Russians? No courage there?

    4. calling resistance fighters cowardly for not fighting superior military forces is inaccurate. They are using guerilla tactics … like the American revolutionaries against the British …
    not cowardly, smart and effective when fighting a foreign army, not when killing innocent civilians.

    5. Also, those Muslims who are actuallly fighting are too busy fighting aggression against Muslims by imperial powers. Some of them may also have no choice but to ally with extremist terrorist groups so long as they are fighting against the same enemy as what is happened in Iraq with al-Qaeda and the resistance. However, al-Qaeda’s tactics led the Sunnis to reject them and fight against them … which may be what you are asking for … Muslims fighting terrorists.

    6. Furthermore, I would like to ask what YOU have done to stop your country from committing acts of terror? If you live in the US or Britain then you should have tried to stop the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the US backed occupation of Palestine and invasion of Somalia, the US backed Israeli bombing of Lebanon killing 2000 innocent civilians last summer. What did you do? It sounds like you were in the military … did you resign in disgust at the continued bombing and sanctions of Iraq that continued after the Gulf War which killed HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of CHILDREN???

    Did you? If you did then you may have some right to speak, if not then you are being a hypocrite. I hope it the former, but if its the latter, then see my final comment I wrote for MALIK above.

  33. Avatar

    Faiez

    February 29, 2008 at 1:25 AM

    I wish 20,000 scholars would get together to discuss and plan bigger things.

  34. Avatar

    Silverarrow

    December 6, 2008 at 9:05 PM

    ManofFewWords…

    Is it interesting how you switched the topic from apostacy to international foriegn policy?

    So can you answer what the Muslim community is doing to combat the killing of apostates? Why is the Muslim community silent on this issue?

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#Current Affairs

Sri Lankan Muslims To Fast In Solidarity With Fellow Christians

Raashid Riza

Published

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On Sunday morning Sri Lankan Christians went to their local churches for Easter services, as they have done for centuries. Easter is a special occasion for Christian families in ethnically diverse Sri Lanka. A time for families to gather to worship in their churches, and then to enjoy their festivities. Many went to their local church on Sunday morning to be followed by a traditional family breakfast at home or a local restaurant.

It would have been like any other Easter Sunday for prominent mother-daughter television duo, Shanthaa Mayadunne and Nisanga Mayadunne. Except that it wasn’t.

Nisanga Mayadunne posted a family photograph on Facebook at 8.47 AM with the title “Easter breakfast with family” and had tagged the location, the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Little would she have known that hitting ‘post’ would be among the last things she would do in this earthly abode. Minutes later a bomb exploded at the Shangri-La, killing her and her mother.

In more than a half a dozen coordinated bomb blasts on Sunday, 360 people have been confirmed dead, with the number expected to most likely rise. Among the dead are children who have lost parents and mothers & fathers whose families will never be together again.

Many could not get past the church service. A friend remembers the service is usually so long that the men sometimes go outside to get some fresh air, with women and children remaining inside – painting a vivid and harrowing picture of the children who may have been within the hall.

Perpetrators of these heinous crimes against their own faith, and against humanity have been identified as radicalised Muslim youth, claiming to be part of a hitherto little-known organisation. Community leaders claim with much pain of how authorities were alerted years ago to the criminal intent of these specific youth.

Mainstream Muslims have in fact been at the forefront not just locally, but also internationally in the fight against extremism within Muslim communities. This is why Sri Lankan Muslims are especially shaken by what has taken place when men who have stolen their identity commit acts of terror in their name. Sri Lankan Muslims and Catholics have not been in conflict in the past, adding to a palimpsest of reasons that make this attack all the more puzzling to experts. Many here are bewildered as to what strategic objective these terrorists sought to achieve.

Sri Lankan Muslims Take Lead

Sri Lankan Muslims, a numerical minority, though a well-integrated native community in Sri Lanka’s colourful social fabric, seek to take lead in helping to alleviate the suffering currently plaguing our nation.

Promoting love alone will not foster good sustainable communal relationships – unless it is accompanied by tangible systemic interventions that address communal trigger points that could contribute to ethnic or religious tensions. Terror in all its forms must be tackled in due measure by law enforcement authorities.

However, showing love, empathy and kindness is as good a starting point in a national crisis as any.

Sri Lankan Muslims have called to fast tomorrow (Thursday) in solidarity with their fellow Christian and non-Christian friends who have died or are undergoing unbearable pain, trauma, and suffering.  Terror at its heart seeks to divide, to create phases of grief that ferments to anger, and for this anger to unleash cycles of violence that usurps the lives of innocent men, women, and children. Instead of letting terror take its course, Sri Lankans are aspiring to come together, to not let terror have its way.

Together with my fellow Sri Lankan Muslims, I will be fasting tomorrow from dawn to dusk. I will be foregoing any food and drink during this period.

It occurs to many of us that it is unconscientious to have regular days on these painful days when we know of so many other Sri Lankans who have had their lives obliterated by the despicable atrocities committed by terrorists last Sunday. Fasting is a special act of worship done by Muslims, it is a time and state in which prayers are answered. It is a state in which it is incumbent upon us to be more charitable, with our time, warmth and whatever we could share.

I will be fasting and praying tomorrow, to ease the pain and suffering of those affected.

I will be praying for a peaceful Sri Lanka, where our children – all our children, of all faiths – can walk the streets without fear and have the freedom to worship in peace.

I will be fasting tomorrow for my Sri Lanka. I urge you to do the same.

Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. Surah Maidah

Raashid Riza is a Sri Lankan Muslim, the Politics & Society Editor of The Platform. He blogs here and tweets on @aufidius.

 

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White Activism Is Crucial In The Wake of Right-Wing Terrorism

Laura El Alam

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The vicious terrorist attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15 were a punch to the gut for peace-loving people all over the world.  Only the most heartless of individuals could feel nonchalant about 70 innocent children, women, and men being killed or maimed mercilessly as they prayed. However, even a brief glimpse at comments on social media confirms that among the outpouring of sadness and shock, there are, indeed, numerous sick individuals who glory in Brenton Tarrant’s deliberately evil actions. White supremacy, in all its horrific manifestations, is clearly alive and well.  

In an enlightening article in The Washington Post, R. Joseph Parrott explains,  “Recently, global white supremacy has been making a comeback, attracting adherents by stoking a new unease with changing demographics, using an expanded rhetoric of deluge and cultivating nostalgia for a time when various white governments ruled the world (and local cities). At the fringes, longing for lost white regimes forged a new global iconography of supremacy.”

“Modern white supremacy is an international threat that knows no borders, being exported and globalized like never before,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “The hatred that led to violence in Pittsburgh and Charlottesville is finding new adherents around the world. Indeed, it appears that this attack was not just focused on New Zealand; it was intended to have a global impact.” (link)

Many people want to sweep this terrifying reality under the rug, among them the U.S. President.  Asked by a reporter if he saw an increase globally in the threat of white nationalism, Trump replied, “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”

However, experts in his own country disagree.  A March 17 article in NBC News claims that, “The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned in a 2017 intelligence bulletin that white supremacist groups had carried out more attacks in the U.S. than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years. And officials believe they are likely to carry out more.”

Although they may be unaware of — or in denial about –the growing influence of white supremacist ideology, the vast majority of white people do not support violent acts of terrorism.  However, many of them are surprisingly, hurtfully silent when acts of terrorism are committed by non-Muslims, with Muslims as the victims.

When a shooter yells “Allahu akbar” before killing innocent people, public furor is obvious and palpable.  “Terror attacks by Muslims receive 375% more press attention,” states a headline in The Guardian, citing a study by the University of Alabama. The perpetrator is often portrayed as a “maniac” and a representative of an inherently violent faith. In the wake of an attack committed by a Muslim, everyone from politicians to religious leaders to news anchors calls on Muslim individuals and organizations to disavow terrorism.  However, when white men kill Muslims en masse, there is significantly less outrage.  People try to make sense of the shooters’ vile actions, looking into their past for trauma, mental illness, or addiction that will somehow explain why they did what they did.  Various news outlets humanized Brenton Tarrant with bold headlines that labeled him an “angelic boy who grew into an evil far-right mass killer,” an “ordinary white man,” “obsessed with video games,” and even “badly picked on as a child because he was chubby.”  Those descriptions, which evoke sympathy rather than revulsion, are reserved for white mass murderers.

The media’s spin on terrorist acts shapes public reaction.  Six days after the Christchurch attacks, millions were not currently taking to the streets to protest right-wing extremism.  World leaders are not linking arms in a dramatic march against white supremacist terrorism.  And no one is demanding that white men, in general, disavow terrorism.

But that would be unreasonable, right? To expect all white men to condemn the vile actions of an individual they don’t even know?  Unreasonable though it may be, such expectations are placed on Muslims all the time.

As a white woman, I am here to argue that white people — and most of all white-led institutions — are exactly the ones who need to speak up now, loudly and clearly condemning right-wing terrorism, disavowing white supremacy, and showing support of Muslims generally.  We need to do this even if we firmly believe we’re not part of the problem. We need to do this even if our first reaction is to feel defensive (“But I’m not a bigot!”), or if discussing race is uncomfortable to us. We need to do it even if we are Muslims who fully comprehend that our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,  “There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab. Neither is the white superior over the black, nor is the black superior over the white — except by piety.”

While we might not hold hatred in our hearts individually, we do hold the power, institutionally.  If we truly care about people of color, peace, and justice, we must put our fragile egos aside and avoid “not me-ism.”  The fact is, if we have white skin, we have grown up in a world that favors us in innumerable ways, both big and small. Those of us with privilege, position, and authority are the very ones who have the greatest responsibility to make major changes to society. Sadly, sometimes it takes a white person to make other white people listen and change.

White religious leaders, politicians, and other people with influence and power need to speak up and condemn the New Zealand attacks publically and unequivocally, even if we do not consider ourselves remotely affiliated with right-wing extremists or murderous bigots.  Living our comfortable lives, refusing to discuss or challenge institutionalized racism, xenophobia, and rampant Islamophobia, and accepting the status quo are all a tacit approval of the toxic reality that we live in.  

Institutional power is the backbone of racism.  Throughout history, governments and religious institutions have enforced racist legislation, segregation, xenophobic policies, and the notion that white people are inherently superior to people of color.  These institutions continue to be controlled by white people, and if white leaders and white individuals truly believe in justice for all, we must do much more than “be a nice person.” We must use our influence to change the system and to challenge injustice.  

White ministers need to decry racial violence and anti-immigrant sentiment from their pulpits, making it abundantly clear that their religion does not advocate racism, xenophobia, or Islamophobia. They must condemn Brenton Tarrant’s abhorrent actions in clear terms, in case any member of their flock sees him as some sort of hero.  Politicians and other leaders need to humanize and defend Muslims while expressing zero tolerance for extremists who threaten the lives or peace of their fellow citizens — all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs, immigration status, or ethnicity.  New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is an excellent role model for world leaders; she has handled her nation’s tragedy with beautiful compassion, wisdom, and crystal clear condemnation of the attacker and his motives.  Similarly, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demonstrated superb leadership and a humane, loving response to the victims in Christchurch (and Muslims in general) in his recent address to the House of Commons.  

Indeed, when they put their mind to it, people can make quite an impactful statement against extremist violence.  In January 2015 when Muslim gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, there was an immediate global reaction. The phrase “Je suis Charlie” trended on social media and in fact became one of the most popular hashtags in the history of Twitter.  Approximately 3.4 million people marched in anti-terrorism rallies throughout France, and 40 world leaders — most of whom were white — marched alongside a crowd of over 1 million in Paris.  

While several political and religious leaders have made public statements condemning the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, there is much less activism on the streets and even on social media following this particular atrocity.  Many Muslims who expected words of solidarity, unity, or comfort from non-Muslim family or friends were disappointed by the general lack of interest, even after a mosque was burned in California with a note left in homage to New Zealand.

In a public Facebook post, Shibli Zaman of Texas echoed many Muslims’ feelings when he wrote, “One of the most astonishing things to me that I did not expect — but, in hindsight, realize that I probably should have — is how few of my non-Muslim friends have reached out to me to express condolences and sorrow.” His post concluded, “But I have learned that practically none of my non-Muslim friends care.”

Ladan Rashidi of California posted, simply, “The Silence.  Your silence is deafening. And hurtful.” Although her words were brief and potentially enigmatic, her Muslim Facebook friends instantly understood what she was talking about and commiserated with her.   

Why do words and actions matter so much in the wake of a tragedy?  

Because they have the power to heal and to unite. Muslims feel shattered right now, and the lack of widespread compassion or global activism only heightens the feeling that we are unwanted and “other.”  If 50 innocent Muslims die from terrorism, and the incident does not spark universal outrage, but one Muslim pulls the trigger and the whole world erupts in indignation, then what is that saying about society’s perception of the value of Muslim lives?

To the compassionate non-Muslims who have delivered flowers, supportive messages, and condolences to the Muslim community in New Zealand and elsewhere, I thank you sincerely. You renew our hope in humanity.

To the white people who care enough to acknowledge their privilege and use it to the best of their ability to bring about justice and peace, I salute you.  Please persevere in your noble goals. Please continue to learn about institutionalized racism and attempt to make positive changes. Do not shy away from discussions about race and do not doubt or silence people of color when they explain their feelings.  Our discomfort, our defensiveness, and our professed “colorblindness” should not dominate the conversation every time we hear the word “racism.” We should listen more than speak and put our egos to the side. I am still learning to do this, and while it is not easy, it is crucial to true understanding and transformation.

To the rest of you who have remained silent, for whatever reason:  I ask you to look inside yourself and think about whether you are really satisfied with a system that values some human lives so highly over others.  If you are not a white supremacist, nor a bigot, nor a racist — if you truly oppose these ideologies — then you must do more than remain in your comfortable bubble.  Speak up. Spread love. Fix problems on whatever level you can, to the best of your ability. If you are in a leadership position, the weight on your shoulders is heavy; do not shirk your duty.  To be passive, selfish, apathetic, or lazy is to enable hatred to thrive, and then, whether you intended to or not, you are on the side of the extremists. Which side are you on? Decide and act.

“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case, he is justly accountable to them for their injury.”  — John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.  

For the past decade, writer Laura El Alam has been a regular contributor to SISTERS Magazine, Al Jumuah, and About Islam.  Her articles frequently tackle issues like Muslim American identity, women’s rights in Islam, support of converts/reverts, and racism.  A graduate of Grinnell College, she currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband and five children. Laura recently started a Facebook page, The Common Sense Convert, to support Muslim women, particularly those who are new to the deen.

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Spiritually Processing What Happened In New Zealand A Few Days Later

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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It feels like we’re living in the times that were described by the Prophet in a number of different narrations. The Prophet said, “A time will come upon people when a person practicing his religion with patience will be like one holding on to a burning ember.”

 عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِمَالِكٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ يَأْتِي عَلَى النَّاسِ زَمَانٌ الصَّابِرُ فِيهِمْ عَلَىدِينِهِ كَالْقَابِضِ عَلَى الْجَمْر

Just like holding on to a burning ember is very difficult, it causes physical pain, holding on to our religion will also be very difficult. It will lead to hardships and difficulties. It seems as if every other week we’re dealing with some type of tragedy, some type of crisis. And each one seems to be bigger and worse than the last. As Anas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) told those who were complaining about the trials and difficulties they were facing at the hands of Hajjāj ibn Yusuf, “There is no year, except that the one that is after it will be more evil than it, until you meet your Lord. I heard this from your Prophet .”

 “‏ مَا مِنْ عَامٍ إِلاَّالَّذِي بَعْدَهُ شَرٌّ مِنْهُ حَتَّى تَلْقَوْا رَبَّكُمْ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ سَمِعْتُ هَذَا مِنْ نَبِيِّكُمْ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏.

Similarly, the Prophet told us that we will face trial after trial, difficulty after difficulty. The Prophet said that near the end of times the Ummah will be faced with trials and difficulties that it will dislike. Then he said, “There will be tremendous trials one after the other, each making the previous one dwindle into insignificance. When they would be afflicted with a trial, the believer would say: This is going to bring about my destruction. When at (the trial) is over, they would be afflicted with another trial, and the believer would say: This surely is going to be my end.”

· وَتَجِيءُ فِتْنَةٌ فَيُرَقِّقُ بَعْضُهَا بَعْضًا وَتَجِيءُالْفِتْنَةُ فَيَقُولُ الْمُؤْمِنُ هَذِهِ مُهْلِكَتِي ‏.‏ ثُمَّ تَنْكَشِفُوَتَجِيءُ الْفِتْنَةُ فَيَقُولُ الْمُؤْمِنُ هَذِهِ هَذِهِ ‏.‏

This week, the Muslim ummah was faced with another devastating trial. Two separate mosques were attacked by a right-wing extremist in New Zealand during Friday prayer. According to the latest report approximately 49 god-conscious, mosque-going Muslims were massacred in cold bold. This is an absolute act of senseless violence. They were killed in the masjid simply because they believed in the kalima la ilaha illa Allah… There’s absolutely no mistake that this was a cowardly act of terrorism. May Allah grant all the deceased the highest ranks in Jannah and may He give patience and strength to their families.

This is a result of years of unchecked and unfiltered hate speech, xenophobia, Islamophobia, prejudice, and racism that has been propagated through the mainstream media. All of us know that the mainstream media, whether its CNN, BCC, or Fox News, portrays Islam and Muslims in the most negative light possible. There’s a whole well-funded industry of Islamophobia and propaganda dedicated to tarnishing the image of Islam and Muslims in the average person’s mind. They’ve created an environment where the word Islam has negative associations. To an extent that when someone hears the word Islam, they automatically think of violence, terror, bombings and the enemy.

Although the perpetrator himself carried out the massacre in cold blood, I can’t help but place blame on all those who demonize Islam and Muslims. Part of the blame rests with those politicians who use fear-mongering, hate and prejudice to paint Muslims as the “other” just to win votes. They say outlandish things like Muslims are colonizing and invading our countries. That they want to take over and impose Sharia Law. They introduce anti-Sharia bills to create more fear. Part of the blame goes to these obnoxious, loud-mouthed, bigoted pundits, like Bill Maher and his likes, who constantly spew inflammatory rhetoric from their influential platforms. Part of the blame goes to people like Lauren Southern, Tommy Robinson, Richard Spencer, Pamela Geller, and Frank Gaffney who are openly prejudiced towards Islam and try to create a sense of hate and fear in their viewer’s hearts. They openly speak of something they call “the Muslim problem”. Part of the blame goes to all these other bigots who use their influence to preach against Islam. There are so much bigotry and fear-mongering that at times it seems overwhelming. There’s so much bias, hate, and prejudice that sometimes we feel stuck. And it’s this rhetoric, this hate, this prejudice and bigotry that has created an environment that would allow for something like this to happen. Senseless acts of violence like this don’t happen in a vacuum. There are circumstances that are created that allow them to take place.

This tragic incident really hit home for a lot of us. Part of the reason is that Muslims living as minorities can actually relate to it. It feels real. It is real. The individuals killed in the masjid could’ve been any one of us. It could’ve been any one of our family members and that’s a scary thought. Whenever we see Muslims in pain, struggling, dealing with death and loss we’re supposed to feel that pain as well. As the Prophet said, “The believers are like a single body. If the eye hurts the entire body feels the pain. If the head hurts the entire body feels that pain.” All of us are feeling that pain. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of pain the parents and the families are feeling right now.

How do we channel this pain?

How do we deal with it? What are we supposed to do? One thing that we can definitely take solace in is the fact that the Prophet , the last and final messenger, our role model also felt that pain. He experiences similar trials and hardships. There was a very powerful anti-Islam, anti-Muslim sentiment among the people of Makkah. The Prophet himself was attacked both verbally and physically. He dealt with the pain of rejection, prejudice, bigotry, and hatred. He had to deal with the pain of seeing some of his closest companions tortured, beaten, persecuted, and even killed. Yasir, his wife Sumayyah and their son ‘Ammar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) faced painful persecution at the hands of Quraish. Yasir raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) died as a result of his persecution and his wife was killed by Abu Jahl just because they were Muslim. They were made to feel this pain, to go through these trials, difficulties and struggle to make them stronger. To develop their faith, personality, and character. This pain didn’t cause them to give in to fear; it didn’t make them scared. Rather, it made them stronger.

In multiple places throughout the Quran Allah teaches the Prophet how to deal with this pain. How to derive strength from these trials and hardships. When the people of Quraish rejected him when they called him a liar, a magician, a sorcerer and a madman Allah told him, “So be patient, [O Muhammad]. Indeed, the promise of Allah is Truth. And ask forgiveness for your sin and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord in the evening and the morning.” Allah told him to seek strength through patience and prayer.

To focus on his relationship with Allah . Allah told him something similar in Surah Taha, “So be patient over what they say and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting; and during periods of the night[exalt Him] and at the ends of the day, that you may be satisfied.”

These are the same words of advice that Allah gives to us as believers, “O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” The true strength of believers has never been through financial or physical means. Their true power has always come through their spiritual strength. These incidents are meant to push us closer to Allah , to unite us, to strengthen our faith, and make us more dedicated to our religion.

These are wake up calls. Allah is literally shaking us and telling us to come back to him. It’s time to come back. That’s the only true way of changing our situation.

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