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Update#2: MM’s 2008 Presidential Elections Post-Mortem: Yes We Can, Insha’Allah

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Updated#2 (Nadim’s input)- The following is the MM’s team thoughts and views on the Elections. After my intro, don’t miss the pieces by Yasir Qadhi, Yaser Birjas, Navaid Aziz, Abdul Nasir, others – Amad

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Comments CLOSED. Time to focus on what the Shayookh said, instead of arguing.

My fellow Muslims, especially my fellow American Muslims, Assalam Alaikum.

We are now passing from election hype to a surreal sense of what just happened in American history– a black man with none of the “required pedigree” taking over the leadership for the most powerful nation in the world. We all know that Obama really had no “business” running for the Presidency as a viable candidate, let alone winning it. But he did, and he nailed a slogan that will go down in history as one of the most genius political creations ever, “Yes, we can”.

What happened on November 4, 2008 will be discussed, argued, and deciphered for ages. The pundits and academics will make a living out of this election for decades to come. So, this “citizen-journalist” won’t bore you much more with more of the same. Rather, I want to take you through a quick journey of politics on MM:

Political discussions on MM have brought out the worst and best among us. We saw the entire spectrum of Muslims commenting on these grounds, from those who wanted Muslims in the West to live as if they were really not living here (i.e. completely divorcing themselves from society), to those who cannot have enough of the American dream, soaking it up as if they were given the keys to Jerusalem.

After we got past the voting-blocK, we heard from both sides of the McCain and Obama camps, truly an opportunity for Muslims to grow beyond sloganeering, and looking at the issues.

I know there are many of you who would prefer an apolitical Islam-only MM, and I respect your desire for that. At the same time, there are many others, including me, who have found this political awakening of sort quite rewarding; what we believe is our own little way of contributing to the Ummah in the West. So, I want to take this opportunity to apologize to the first group for the high-dose of politics over the last few weeks, and want to thank the second group for the encouragement and the support for MM-politics.

A few final thoughts before I leave you with the words of those whose opinions far outweigh mine, in both value and quality.

As I left for work in the morning, my feelings of happiness were all relative: relative to what could have been had it not been Obama. I know that the “Muslim” mistake with Bush in 2000 has been rubbed in at every opportunity. But as Muslims, we learn from our mistakes; we don’t stop trying. And perhaps this is a mistake again, wallahu ‘alam, but I would rather try and make a mistake, than not try at all.

And so, I leave you with two words regarding Obama: cautious optimism. Obama’s choice for Chief of Staff has served well to emphasize the need for caution, and for tempered expectations. Studies in human psychology have shown that a sense of loss is much harder to take than a sense of gain, e.g. losing money that you possessed feels much worse than not gaining the same amount that you were expecting to receive.

I urge you to not put political participation behind you, not to leave it for a short sprint every 4 years. If we continue to depend on political chicken-feed every presidential elections, then we will never get to a point where the politicians will actually start paying attention to us. I cannot but emphasize the importance of involvement in local politics, the city councils, the civic clubs, the school boards, and so on. This is where things happen, and where we can make a difference, and where we can go in with the motto:

“Yes, we can insha’Allah (God-willing)”

And then perhaps by the next election, we will also be able to say,

“Yes, we did mash’Allah (God willed it)”

May Allah forgive me for all my errors.

Your brother, Amad S.

Enough of me, time for the REAL deal…

Yasir Qadhi tells us not to be guilty of hope [Jump to his piece]:

How much more so, then, are we deserving of feeling hope and optimism, when a candidate who WILL directly affect our lives and the lives of millions of people across the world has been elected.

Navaid Aziz, watching from up above (Canada that is), is pleasantly surprised [Jump to his piece]:

Besides all of the hype involved, it was nice to see that American Muslims seem to have a genuine concern for their country and its well being

Yaser Birjas shares a short, but deep thought [Jump to his piece]:

Many people such as Martin Luther King died dreaming for something even less than that, and now here I am living to see some history in the making.

Abdul Nasir Jangda is relieved [Jump to his piece]:

NO MORE SARAH PALIN! Well at least not for a couple of years.

IbnAbeeOmar shares a more interesting story, his struggles between a mother’s order to vote, and a desire not to [Jump to his piece]:

She [mom] said go, the lines are short. I said ok, I’ll see, I have some work to do. A few minutes later she called again.

SaqibSaab, a true Chicagoan at heart, revels in Obama’s ascension, though he treads with caution [Jump to his piece]:

For one, they should’ve had the starting lineup intro for the Chicago Bulls play, with an all-star Chicago “starting lineup”. Oprah, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Kanye West, Michael Jordan, and finally, the man of the hour, Barack Obama.

Abu Bakr doesn’t buy the hype [Jump to his piece]:

I believe in the principle of voting in order to avert the greater of two evils, however I chose not to vote in this election.

Neither does Ahmad Al-Farsi [Jump to his piece]:

I was more afraid of, if I voted for him, thereby endorsing him, and he went off and killed many more Muslims in Afghanistan or Pakistan or elsewhere, that I would feel quite accountable for having voted for him. So, Alhamdulillah, I decided to protest the election by not voting.

Tariq Ahmed (AbuAbdullah-the Houstonian) takes a more philosophical approach [Jump to his piece]:

Take note of the moment in history. As Rome turned the tide against Persia, so America has reached a milestone in its continuing epilogue to the end of slavery in these lands.

Siraaj Muhammad mixes up the optimism and the caution perfectly [Jump to his piece]:

Obama’s victory over McCain last night was an emotional one on many levels. There is now hope at the end of the dark tunnel that was George Bush’s presidency these past eight years

Nadim reminds us to be realistic [Jump to his piece]:

Let’s be realistic, in politics, nothing is what it seems. America has a new leader, but can the winner change the rules of the game?

And finally, here’s a special short one-liner from the other Canadian, AnonyMouse (who also tells us that she checked the news on Obama after brushing her teeth and before breakfast, which is a big deal) :

My summary: Everyone is way too excited, and we’re all going to be disappointed no matter who’s elected… The End :D

signed Zainab bint Younus

Yes, “AnonyMouse” is anonymous no longer. Is this bigger news than Obama winning or what??

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YASIR QADHI

Indeed, all praise is due to Allah, and may peace and salutations be upon the prophets of Allah.

When the Muslims were in Makkah, there was a major war raging in a nearby land; a war that was, relative to its time, of cataclysmic proportion. It was being fought out between the only two super-powers of the era. And even though the Muslims themselves had nothing at stake in that war, even though any win or loss to either side would cause no immediate change in their lives, the Muslims were emotionally attached to one side against the other. Their spirits, their hopes, their optimism, all centered on the army of Heraclius, the emperor of Rome, as he fought against Khusrau Parvez, the King of Sassanid Persia. These early Muslims felt an affinity for the Christian Heraclius as he fought against the fire-worshiping Zoroastrians. So, when the news came that Heraclius had been defeated, the Muslims were in fact dejected, and the pagans of Makkah boasted to the Muslims that their ‘team’ had lost. It was at this occasion that Allah revealed the first few verses of Surah al-Rum, which gave them the optimistic prophecy that even though Heraclius had lost this battle, he would win a future one, in a few years. Many years later, the Prophet wrote a letter to Heraclius, and Heraclius heard the message of Islam. While respectful of it, he did not convert. Throughout this entire time, the Muslims were not reproached or reprimanded for their feelings of hope towards Heraclius and the Roman Empire.

How much more so, then, are we deserving of feeling hope and optimism, when a candidate who WILL directly affect our lives and the lives of millions of people across the world has been elected. For those who wish to make Muslims even feel guilty for this hope, I say that our religion is a religion of optimism and a religion of reality. We should feel optimistic, at all times, and take the best from every situation. And between the two candidates that were running for the highest office in the most powerful country in the world today, it was clear in the eyes of many, which of these two was more inclined to peace, and which was more inclined to war. It was clear who was able to inspire with hope and optimism, and who was more inclined to inspire through fear and hatred of ‘the other’. It was clear who had more intelligence and common sense, and who could not even think clearly enough to choose a qualified running mate.

Make no mistake about it, though. Barack Obama is no messiah, and, as an American political leader, he will inevitably do things that will enrage people around the world, and yes, sometimes even us. But looking at the alternative, in my opinion and the opinion of many in the know, the message was clear: he was the better candidate overall, at this time and place, for Muslims, for America, for the world. And if it so turns out that those who voted for Barack Obama were wrong, well, they can say, in full conscience and with no fear of reprimand, ‘O Allah, this is what was apparent to us when we chose, and only You knew the future and what it held.’

Indeed, we thank Allah who will judge us for the sincerity of our intentions rather than the unintended consequences of our actions.

It is indeed an historic moment for this country, when a black leader, with the middle name of Hussein, the son of an African visitor to this land, raised far away from the bastions of political power, can actually win the highest office. It is an historic moment, and I am proud to have witnessed it. But the election yesterday was not about supporting the persona of Barack Obama as much as it was about the scathing indictment of the previous administration. When people voted yesterday, they voted not for Barack, but against the current administration. Obama did not win because he was Obama, but rather because he was for change. And to me, that is huge reason to be optimistic about this country.

There is much good in America, and we need to channel that good and help it overcome the bad. Keep in mind that while Obama won a resounding victory in the electoral votes, he only had a slight lead in the popular vote (52% to Obama, 46 % to McCain). And while it is overly simplistic and wrong to claim that all those who voted for McCain were supportive of the current administration’s policies, it is not an exaggeration to state that a fairly large percentage of them would be averse to the positive vision of change that Obama claims to want. And that is a scary thought, one that sobers us up the reality, and shows us that there is a lot of work to do ahead.

As an American, I cannot help but feel a sense of joy, a sense of optimism for the future, and the work ahead for all of us. And as a Muslim, I sincerely pray that Allah wants good for this country, and that He places people in power that will bring about that good through them, and through all of us. The Obama campaign might have stopped now, but our campaign as Muslims, in spreading the truth and calling for justice, never stops as long as we remain in this world.

In this moment of elated happiness, when the nation itself seems swept away with the raw emotion of victory, let us remember that true victory is one’s spiritual victory in winning the pleasure of Allah. Let us keep in mind that leaders come and go, nations rise and fall, and one day, after having witnessed much happiness and sorrow, we too shall depart, leaving this world with only our deeds to show.

May Allah make us all beacons of light, calling people to the truth, and being a shining example for others to follow.

Yasir Qadhi
New Haven, CT
Nov 5th, 2008

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NAVAID AZIZ

One of the more appealing Muslim authored articles I stumbled upon during the whole election fiasco was the article written by Br. Zaid Shakir entitled: “Vote for me and I’ll set you free“. Not wanting to focus so much on the content of the article, it basically summarized all the things that the up and coming president would need to say, and more importantly do, to get the affairs of the country in order. What I would like to focus on is the title of the article itself, and how it relates the mindset of the average Muslim American voter.

Now, Br. Shakir may have not necessarily been thinking about the frame of mind of the average Muslim American voter when he wrote the article, but I believe the title is nonetheless very applicable. After having observed all the debates and discussion surrounding the two respective candidates one thing that definitely stuck out, like a sore thumb, was how Muslims actually believed that it was this up and coming president that would change their lives, and basically “set them free.” Now such sentiments are not only understandable, but perhaps also expected after GW Bush’s eight years in power that have left the country in shambles. Amongst all of those sentiments the greater picture faded away and perhaps was even lost. What is that greater picture? You need not look further than the American dollar bill: “In God we trust”. Yes, with a new president comes great hope and possibly great change, but at the end of the day nothing happens except by the will and power of the almighty. So why is it we witnessed debates about which candidate we should vote for, and heard khutbahs about why we need to be more politically aware, yet nowhere in those lengthy sermons and debates did anyone mention putting our trust in Allah and supplicating that He grant victory to the one that will be the most beneficial for Islam and the Muslims in America. The president is just a means. God is the one that controls your fate.

“Over all those endowed with knowledge is the All-Knowing” (12:76)

Not wanting to be a total cynic, I was pleasantly surprised at the interest that Muslim Americans showed during these elections. Besides all of the hype involved, it was nice to see that American Muslims seem to have a genuine concern for their country and its well being. It is such glimpses of hope that allow me to believe that American Muslims will one day unite under a centralized opinion and use that united voice to fight for justice, human rights, and a rectification of domestic and foreign policy. When one is living in a land of democracy, it is only foolish not to make the best of it when one can, while never forgetting that there is no replacement or second to the sharee’ah of Allah.

“And who is better in judgment than Allah for a people who have firm Faith.” (5:50)

May Allah rectify the affairs of Muslims in America and everywhere else, and return this Ummah to the honor and respect it once had.

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YASER BIRJAS

I truly felt more republican on some issues than democrat but couldn’t imagine McCain-Palin in the White House. The only thing that struck me while I was watching both McCain and Obama’s speeches, that I was watching a truly historical event. Many people such as Martin Luther King died dreaming for something even less than that, and now here I am living to see some history in the making.

How positive or negative the impact of this in the future was not really an issue to me at that moment. The issue was to believe that with hard and sensible work, with enduring prejudice and all kind of stereotypes things by the will of Allah can happen. Silence or negativity during those difficult moments of our time were definitely not an option.

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ABDUL NASIR JANGDA

This was a very interesting and important election for many reasons that have been elaborated upon. I found this election to be of special interest to me, primarily due to the thumping the republican party received both locally here in North Texas and of course nationally. We have been suffering locally, nationally, and even worldwide on the republican watch. So it was nice to see them deal with the consequences of their actions and policies.

NO MORE SARAH PALIN! Well at least not for a couple of years. She’s saying she wants to run for president. Looks like Tina Fey doesn’t have to worry about a job. :)

Another point that struck me was how far the African American community has been able to come in half a century, despite all the challenges and adversity they faced. It was fascinating to see how things have developed.

Lastly in deciding whether or not to participate in the voting process, we should remember to be respectful towards each other and treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Allah knows best.

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IBN ABEE OMAR

I have perhaps one of the most interesting journeys of the 2008 election (of the MM staff maybe anyways). I have struggled to some extent with where I stand on voting, ultimately deciding that I was not going to partake in the election. My only reason for participating would be with the premise of choosing which candidate would be better for the Muslim Ummah – if such a conclusion could be reached. While debating the issue of who was really the lesser evil, I could not decide. I feel Obama is better for America, but I don’t know that it translates into who is necessarily best for Muslims everywhere. And while I understand the arguments of those opposing voting on Islamic grounds, I also personally feel that those allowing it in our situation – using the tools available to you to better your situation until you have a better alternative – have the more compelling argument.

While trying to come to grips with who was better for the Muslims, my gut told me Obama was. I could not help shake my guilty conscience though, that still gnaws at me from 8 years ago. If you recall, back then the “Muslim thing to do” was to vote for Bush. I did my civic duty as a Muslim and made sure I voted for him. I have regretted it every day since.

I learned that while it’s important to be involved in society, I concluded that voting didn’t need to be one of the ways – legitimate an option for us it may be. I realized that I simply could not identify the lesser of two evils simply based on campaigning and empty stances on canned issues, especially when despite Obama’s anti-war stance he is still anti-Palestine. Therefore, I decided to abstain from voting in this election, as I did in the previous election.

Then, in the span of 30 minutes, everything got turned upside down. Parents have a tendency to do that. My mom, of all people, called me while I was working asking me if I had voted. I said no. She said go, the lines are short. I said ok, I’ll see, I have some work to do. A few minutes later she called again. I again made some excuse. Then she called a third time, and I said I would see about it after going to the Masjid – except this time she got frustrated and said to go ahead and go now and not to miss out.

I am now in what you might call a predicament, a conundrum of sorts. She’s not ordering me with something I consider to be blatantly haram, and having an argument with my parents about voting is not my idea of a nice evening at home. So I said khayr, I will obey my mother and go out and vote. Birr al-walidayn overrides an issue of ijtihad such as this in my mind (I have a tendency to create fatwa situations in real life that others would never even think of hypothetically).

The story doesn’t end there. I walk in and feel uncomfortable just being there. I made a quick du’a, something along the lines of being guided to whatever was going to be best for me in my affairs. I go to the table, whip out my registration card, and hand it to them. My registration card is from around 1999-2000 (wow I feel old). My name is not in their list. The address on my card was from when I lived at home and was going to college. No problem they said, they’d find where I could go vote and started checking my previous address. That didn’t help much because in the last 5 years I have moved probably 4 times, including a 2 year stint in another state. And that’s what got me. My registration expired while I was in the other state, and the post office is not allowed to forward mail for voter registration, so I never received my renewal notice. My ‘civic duty’ when I moved back to my present state would have been to re-register as a resident of the state and be eligible to vote. So I re-registered, but I was not allowed to vote today. So Alhamdulillah, I made my mom happy, and I feel at ease for not voting for someone that I might regret later.

As I write this, Obama looks like a run-away winner. I’m happy that he won as opposed to McCain, but what I have learned from 2000 is not to get too excited. Make dua’ for the Ummah, it’s much more important. I pray that Allah (swt) makes our affairs easy here, puts barakah in our dawah efforts, makes it easy for us to combat the negativity spread about us here, and saves the Muslims from the disasters we have seen abroad in the past 8 years.

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SAQIBSAAB

As a Chicagoan, it was something else to see Obama take the victory right in my own home city. I knew people who went to Grant Park for his victory speech and even saw some Muslims I knew on TV. This election and the events that led up to it were truly something else. On a humorous note, my wife and I jokingly kinda wished they would’ve increased the “Chicagoness” of the celebration. How so? For one, they should’ve had the starting lineup intro for the Chicago Bulls play, with an all-star Chicago “starting lineup”. Oprah, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Kanye West, Michael Jordan, and finally, the man of the hour, Barack Obama. The bench would consist of Common, Derick Rose, Roger Ebert, Mike Ditka, Al Bundy, Bill Murray, Lupe Fiasco, the Perfect Strangers, Steve Urkel, Christian Bale as Batman from The Dark Knight, okay now I’m just getting carried away.

As a recent college graduate looking for a job in a recession, I’m both relieved the republican party of McCain lost and the democratic Obama team took the stage. As Imam Suhaib said, Obama’s more about socializing the benefits for the masses, not privatizing them. I personally like Obama’s constant focus on the middle to lower class of America and not on supposed plumbers making $250,000+ a year.

As a Muslim, I have two feelings. Firstly, I’m relieved McCain and Sarah Palin weren’t elected. Besides the fact that Palin is a walking embodiment of epic fail, their campaign carried a lot of blatant much anti-Muslim baggage. I’m glad the likes of Gayle Quinnell, the McCain supporter that didn’t trust Obama because he was “an Arab,” won’t have any more say in things than they deserve.

The other feeling I have is of concern for all Muslims in their support for Barack Obama. Most Muslims I know voted and supported Obama, either on the basis of his superior domestic policies or the negative characteristics of McCain and his ilk. Obama’s the candidate who explicitly stated supporting the closing of Guantanamo Bay. That, amongst other reasons, is why we can consider him a lesser of two evils. However, I really advise us Muslims to take Obama’s victory with a grain of salt.

Obama has stated he wants to send forces into Pakistan, as well as increase focus in Afghanistan. This is very worrisome for me as a Muslim, because with the way US Foreign policy goes, invading primarily Muslim lands has been nothing short of disastrous.

So while we may get excited and get somewhat emotional of having the candidate we voted for win, I want to remind everyone that Barack Obama is not perfect. He is not a savior or Mehdi for us, and he is not our avenue for sole trust in all affairs. He’s a human being, and a politician at that. Therefore, he is going to make mistakes. Better to believe this now, and remember it when conflicts between the US’ interests come between ours, especially on a foreign level.

We ask Allah protect us and bring us justice.

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ABU BAKR IBN NASIR

I believe in the principle of voting in order to avert the greater of two evils, however I chose not to vote in this election. The following are my concerns about Obama:

  1. It seems he will be continuing the war in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
  2. He is pro-Israel.
  3. He is indicated his readiness to expand the Afghanistan war into Pakistan.
  4. On the domestic front, he approved the Patriot Act.

I would honestly like to believe that with a Democratic Congress and President, there will be an improvement on the civil rights front, but the Democratic Party has been complicit in the gross civil rights violations of the Bush Administration.

I hope I am wrong and that the two wars come to an end soon, but I think that the ongoing economic troubles in the US and the tenacity of the military insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq will have more to do with it than the election of Obama.

I think if the economic troubles continue to grow, the government will be under more and more pressure from the public to end the war. This would be a dilemma however for Muslims in America because the public will also be more receptive to anti-Muslim demagoguery of the sort that has already been seen in many European countries.

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AHMAD AL-FARSI

For a while before the election, I was seriously contemplating voting for Obama, simply because I was quite scared of what McCain would do to the Muslim world, were he to be elected. However, as days got closer to the election, I began to think to myself that, in spite of his rhetoric, Obama probably would not be that different from the status quo. Sure, he said he wants to end the war in Iraq (and I’m not sure if I even trusted him on this one), but he said that in conjunction with saying that he will re-double the military effort in Afghanistan, which implies North Pakistan as well. In addition, hearing Joe Biden’s excessive drooling over Israel, and Obama’s approval (and many times outright praise himself), made me think that basically, although we might see SOME slight improvements under Obama, things would basically stay the same.

At the end of the day, I was not really 100% convinced that Obama would be the lesser evil… maybe 50% sure, but not sure enough to give my endorsement… and I was more afraid of, if I voted for him, thereby endorsing him, and he went off and killed many more Muslims in Afghanistan or Pakistan or elsewhere, that I would feel quite accountable for having voted for him. So, Alhamdulillah, I decided to protest the election by not voting. To those who would criticize my action as “inaction,” I remind that in many countries, people purposely do not vote as a way of voicing their disapproval of the system, and as a way of showing that whoever is elected does not hold the support of the people. Sure, that lack of support did not occur from Americans this election cycle (as people came out in record numbers), but it occurs from the individual, Ahmad AlFarsi, who refused to show his support for either candidate. I think if Ron Paul, or someone who held his non-interventionist views on foreign policy, were running, I would have voted for that candidate.

Although I did not vote, as I did not wish to give my official endorsement, I was closely following the results of the election, still hoping that McCain would lose. I don’t have a TV, so I followed on CNN.com. I saw Pennsylvania go Obama, then Ohio, and saw that he had 207 votes without counting any of the west coast states, so at that point I knew he had it in the bag. When CNN officially announced that Obama won, despite my serious doubts about him, I couldn’t help but feel happy… if for no other reason, then simply because a presidency by a man named Barack Hussein Obama, who has three very foreign sounding, and two Arabic names, would mean that no matter how racist or prejudiced other Americans wanted to be, they would have to swallow the fact that their president has the middle name Hussein and has close family ties to Muslims, and that his name doesn’t sound white or European in the least bit. That in and of itself, is seen by me as form of progress in this country, and it’s a true, “in your face” to all the racist rednecks that still live here. Of course, I’m still hoping that the ultra-right wingers were correct, and that Obama has been a closet Muslim this whole time… who knows, Insha’Allah, on inauguration day, maybe he will pick up the mic, and begin his speech with “Inna al-hamdalillaah, nahmaduhu wa nasta’eenuhu wa nastaghfiruh…” :) too bad that’s not happening … unless we start giving him some serious dawah starting now… get his half-brother Malik Obama in on this, Insha’Allah :)

As a side note, I do have one criticism of Muslim groups that have been advocating Muslim voting. I believe that at times it is being done in such a way that an average Muslim who knows little about his religion will be misled into thinking that secular democracy is legitimate from an Islamic point of view. We should be able to advocate voting, while still mentioning the disclaimer that we do not believe that secular democracy is Islamically-legitimate form of government for Muslims; rather, we are only picking the lesser evil. wa Allahu a’lam.

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T. AHMED

Innalhamdolillah. There is no deity worthy of worship other than Allah. The Lord of Abraham and Isaac. The Lord of Moses and Jesus. The Lord of Muhammad and of every human being. May prayers and blessing be on all the Prophets of Allah.

Indeed Allah is the One Who Rewards, and He is the One Who Advances and the One Who Delays. And Allah does no injustice, ever, to anyone. Allah has taught us in the Qur’an that the wakeels of those who defy Him, the ones in whom the ingrates place their trust, are false idols. While Allah is the One on Whom believers rely. But more than that, Allah is our Mawla, the One Who Can Act on our behalf, while the disbelievers who call on other than Him, have no one to answer them. Yet Allah answers the prayers of anyone who calls on the Lord alone.

The Prophet salallahu alahi wasalam taught us that no one knows what future Allah has Decreed for him until he witnesses it, so a person must strive all the time for what is good and place his trust in Allah. That is tawakkul, that is reliance on Allah: striving combined with trust. Verily, the Prophet taught the truth, Alhamdulillah.

So there is no people on earth who should believe more than Muslims that righteous works will be rewarded. And there is no people on earth who should be more steadfast in good works than the Muslims. So how is it that we are a people who constantly say what cannot be done? We have become a people in need of a reminder.

Allah does not disdain to use even a mosquito as an example. And He has used mighty nations who were in Kufr as examples to all the Muslims, and I remind you now of the Surah revealed about the Romans. How Allah told of the loss that Byzantine Rome was suffering against the armies of the Persian Empire. The example is important for us for many reasons: the Muslims were disheartened at the plight of the Romans because the Muslims loved the Christians who also worshipped Allah. And the idolaters of Makkah who persecuted the Muslims were glad for the Persians who were also engaged in shirk, taking false deities besides Allah.

And in that surah, Allah uplifted the Muslims with the foretelling of a Roman victory in the years to come. That bears highlighting, too, Allah uplifted the Muslims with a Promise of victory for the Christian empire.

So, I pray that Allah will accept my joy for America on the occasion of the outcome of its Presidential Election.

In electing a black man, the son of a black Kenyan Muslim and a white Kansan Christian, America has done something good. Something on the scale of the defeat of Persia by Rome. And all Muslims should take note, and take heart.

Take note of the accomplishment. A man whom other black politicians had judged as brash for wanting to seek the office he has now won, did not constantly seek out reasons for failure. He sought out the means to succeed. Did he call out to Allah, perhaps by other names such as “God”? I do not know, and only Allah Knows. And I do not want any of the rights of Allah, among them Allah’s Sovereign Right as Lord of All Creation to dispense sustenance, victory, and acclaim to Whomever He Wills. Verily Allah Does as He Pleases, and for me is only to accept His Will with humility.

Take note of the moment in history. As Rome turned the tide against Persia, so America has reached a milestone in its continuing epilogue to the end of slavery in these lands. America was torn apart by a Civil War largely over chattel slavery, which in America had become the most vile incarnation of slavery in history. Before the Civil War, the Supreme Court of the United States in Dred Scott v. Sanford would declare that slaves were not people. And a president from Illinois would emancipate all the slaves. And one hundred years after that president was assassinated, an iconic black preacher would be assassinated for continuing to dream of racial equality in America. We are now some 400 years after the first Africans were brought to Colonial America, and a descendant of their free cousins in Kenya has been elected President of the United States because he and millions of Americans never gave up hope.

Take heart. For Allah has given us an example of His willingness to reward the persistence of hope, and our hope is in Allah. As Muslims, we must never forget the lessons of our Lord. And we must always strive to do what is good. Take heart from the victory of this nation over its own worst demons, and commit yourselves as I do myself to increasing justice for Muslims and all peoples in every corner of the world.

And always, always remember, with the Mercy of Allah, yes, we can.

__________________________________

SIRAAJ MUHAMMAD

When I began watching the primary debates what seems like ages ago, I made two picks, one for the Democrats and one for the Republicans – I believed this race would be between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the two most telegenic and oratorically formidable candidates in the race, not to mention strongly competent on the issues facing the nation.

What I did not anticipate were the obstacles both candidates would face about their backgrounds and positions, nor did I properly estimate John McCain’s resilience and wider appeal to moderates as I had thrown him in with the rest of the neo-cons due to his position on the Iraq War. Obama persevered and Romney fell, while McCain found new life away from what is often called “The Base”.

Obama’s victory over McCain last night was an emotional one on many levels. There is now hope at the end of the dark tunnel that was George Bush’s presidency these past eight years. A non-caucasion was finally president, and one could not help but feel emotional watching so many black americans in tears.

Listening to McCain’s concession speech, I thought to myself, had this man speaking now been the one running the race throughout, respectfully and dignified, rather than the gnashing at the teeth campaign reminiscient of George Bush’s Rove run campaigns, he most likely would have faired better and perhaps even won.

And Obama’s speech…that was one for the books (and youtube replays). It struck the right chord at a time when people are so desparately in need to believe that whatever challenges they face now, they have an opportunity to rise to the occasion and do and be better than they had been these past 40 odd years.

One final note of caution – though I’m sure you’ll have read many posts already on being wary of Obama, I would additionally add that Muslims now more than ever have to be vigilant of their interests domestically and globally. The Muslim community supported Bush precisely because it viewed Clinton and his actions in the way we are now viewing Bush (Iraq sanctions, Afghanistan sanctions, etc). The democrats are now the majority in the House, the Senate, and of course, they run the White House as well. My experience has been thus far that it is always good to have a balance between the two parties rather than an imbalance, otherwise, the government abuse runs rampant, and we do not want Muslims to be one of the casualties as a result of that.

__________________________________

NADIM

Obama has turned a page in the American history. He was able to get people united around a central simple idea: yes, we can change the world, if we want to. Above all the debates of ideas and political readiness, Obama has embodied the power of the will. However, let’s not fool ourselves by the euphory of the moment. The first Afro-American President in the history must also have taken some positions against his owns, change some of his ideals, work with the dark side to be where he is today. Let’s be realistic, in politics, nothing is what it seems. America has a new leader, but can the winner change the rules of the game? I doubt…

#Current Affairs

Muslims Leaders Who Are Also Foreign Agents

When American Muslim leaders are also foreign agents, you need to consider FARA, the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Ahmed Shaikh explores how this law may apply to American Muslim leaders who fall into “Team UAE” and “Team Turkey”

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Foreign Agents in the US have a meaningful effect on Americans in the United States.  Should Muslims in the United States adopt the foreign policy narrative of the United Arab Emirates?  Should we be against calling the mass killing of Armenians during World War I “genocide?” Can American Muslim leaders and nonprofits be the voice of governments, give them public relations advice and do their bidding?

These questions are largely irrelevant as the American Muslim community already has some activists and Islamic Scholars who are foreign agents.

I am not claiming being a foreign agent is inherently wrong, unethical or somehow prohibited in Islam. In many instances, being a foreign agent is fine, or at least you can find examples where the activity is harmless and maybe even beneficial. Non-Muslims serve as foreign agents, peddling influence and giving advice. Why can’t ordinary Muslims, even Muslim leaders, activists, and Islamic scholars do the same? What we need though is transparency about these relationships, similar to how we keep tabs on people who carry hazardous waste. It’s often a useful and beneficial service, but also, well, hazardous. 

As we have seen from recent cases Imaad Zuberi, Mike Flynn, and Paul Manafort , it is reasonable to expect more prosecutions of unregistered foreign agents in the coming months and years.

American Team Turkey vs. American Team UAE

My purpose here is not to re-litigate events during the first world war or the UAE’s murderous worldwide batil-slinging foreign policy. It is also not to offer a further critique of American Muslim leaders and scholars who blow smoke for one foreign interest or another. For that, you can read my recent article. Instead, it is to help American Muslims involved with foreign entities to be aware of the law so they can prepare accordingly. 

The “Team Turkey” vs. “Team UAE” saga playing out among the Muslim community’s leadership, including nonprofits and religious leaders, is dangerous, and there is potential legal jeopardy to members of both “teams.” The law in an individual case is often complex, and I am not claiming anyone referenced in this article is a criminal. However, anyone who thinks aspects of this article applies to them should seek legal counsel post haste.

Pariah status may rub off

In the eyes of the US government, the UAE may be up one day, and Turkey may be down. Pakistan is pretty much always “down” no matter who is in power in the United States, so Muslims working with that government and various political parties and institutions in that country should be especially sensitive about being a law enforcement target, even if they believe they are working for a worthy cause. Keep in mind how the Muslim community has been treated historically by the Justice Department. For this or any future US Administration, American Muslim leadership may be low hanging fruit for prosecutors. 

Right now, the UAE, in particular, aggressively buys loyalty, buys people in positions to peddle influence on its behalf. It uses straw donors and funnels its money around the United States through various entities to get what it wants. These tactics work for them now, but it may not work forever. Any Muslim majority country can get “pariah” status and the social and political environment in the United States may turn against that country and its agents.

If the political winds in the United States change against the UAE, their leadership will probably not be affected. Things may be different for their agents in the United States, however. The same may well be true for agents of Turkey. We can learn from their best known non-Muslim foreign agent, former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn

The United States has a long history, going back to its founding, of being suspicious of foreign influence in government and public opinion. Various clauses of the constitution and several laws exist to address this historic concern, though many are quite weak.  The one that Muslim leaders with ties to foreign governments should be most concerned with is the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) 

Anyone who closely followed the Mueller investigation into the 2016 Presidential election is likely somewhat familiar with FARA.  However, of more interest should be the prosecution and guilty plea last year of Dr. Nisar Ahmed Chaudhry, who was prosecuted for activities that are remarkably common for Muslim leaders, especially immigrants.

It’s not a crime to be an agent of a foreign government. The crime, as those paying close attention to current events, will understand,  is in not registering with the Justice Department. In short, it’s a federal crime for agents of foreign entities or people engaged in political or other activities in the statute, with some exceptions, to not register under this law. US Law defines the term ” foreign agent”- it is not necessarily pejorative. It does not mean being a spy.

Indeed, foreign influence-peddling is an entire industry. Often, people who engage in “influence peddling” are not especially sophisticated and may not be paid at all. They may simply be immigrant activists who love their homeland.

In the case of Chaudhry, he pleaded guilty to not registering an unincorporated group he created in his home, the “Pakistan American League,” and his work as a “foreign agent.” His crime? He spoke to officials in the Pakistani government, and worked in Pakistan’s interests in D.C. area government and “think tank” circles by organizing “roundtable discussions.” He was not paid for his work as an “agent” by Pakistan.  All of this is legal, except that he failed to register.

A Law About Transparency

Foreign Agents need to report on their activities or risk fine and imprisonment. Every six months, the US Attorney General issues a report on foreign agents who register under this law to Congress. You can find the most recent report here. These reports offer a helpful description of registered foreign agents operating in the United States, but anyone can take a deeper dive into the reporting if they want to. FARA is about transparency.

FARA does not prohibit speech or activities by anyone. The purpose is to inform the public and government about the source of information used to attempt to influence them. FARA is an old law that US Muslims need in our communities right about now. 

Enforcement of this law had been mostly dormant for years, and the Mueller investigation is said to have given it new life. Registrations under the law are up.

FARA is broader than you might think

FARA is not just for agents of foreign governments. Being an agent of a foundation, royal family, oligarch, or any other entity or person can trigger the same requirements and cause criminal liability for those who fail to register. Many registrations under FARA involve agents of entities and people that are not governments. 

As we have seen from Chaudhry’s case, Muslim leaders, activists, and scholars don’t need to be paid to be “foreign agents” under the law. Congress understood foreign agents could work for nonmonetary benefits. A foreign agent does not need to agree with everything the foreign principal does and says. A Muslim leader who gives certain kinds of advice to a foreign entity may need to register to avoid criminal liability. It does not matter if the foreign principal ignores the advice. FARA is not just a law about foreign lobbying, indeed lobbyists have a separate registration system and law.  Virtually any work to influence public opinion or give advice will fall under the law. There are many opportunities for Muslim leaders to get themselves into serious trouble

Religion or university affiliation may not save foreign agents 

There are exceptions to FARA reporting requirements. For example, diplomats, many journalists, and bona fide trade and commercial enterprises do not need to report.  Say Muhammad is the agent of a Turkish exporter of Turkish delight, selling delicious packaged desserts to grocery stores around the Midwest. Muhammad does not need to register under FARA. 

Similarly, those involved in bona fide religious, academic, or fine arts pursuits are exempt. So if Saad, a US Citizen, is hired by the Saudi government to teach Quran recitation to children of employees of the local Saudi consulate, Saad would not need to register. 

 If, however, the Turkish Delight company asked Muhammad to write op-eds and hold meetings to prevent tariffs on Turkey, well, that’s different. If Saad starts to give public relations advice to his Saudi employers, he should call a lawyer. It’s worth noting that FARA is not the only registration and disclosure statute. A lawyer with expertise in this area can help them sort it out. 

Learn from others

Carrying water for a foreign entity’s political agenda, a regular occurrence by some American Muslim leaders is not bona fide religious or academic activity. Such conduct falls squarely into a danger zone under the law. The US Justice Department has confirmed the religious and academic exception’s narrow scope. The Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation, for example, wanted an opinion they are exempt from registration.   They were working on developing a museum, which is an academic institution. However, the Justice Department advised the foundation must register under FARA. The reasons, among other non-nefarious sounding things, were exhibits on bilateral relations between South Korea and the United States.

In 2017, TV station RT America and news outlet, Sputnik, “both Russian-funded but with production companies in the US, registered as ‘foreign agents’ under pressure from the Justice Department.”

Muslim leaders with ties to foreign entities should also look to the example of the American section of the World Zionist Organization. The WZO has appropriately registered itself as a foreign agent. Its work seems reasonably standard for a Zionist organization, though. WZO “participated in workshops, seminars, and conferences and distributed materials to increase support for the foreign principal’s educational, cultural, and religious goals.” The foreign principal was the World Zionist Organization in Israel, not the government of Israel itself. Still, it needed to register. 

Even if someone falls into an exception to FARA, another related statute may well cause liability. So anyone who has to look around for exceptions should check with an attorney. 

Sunshine in the Muslim community

Much of the work against CVE involved learning what Muslim leaders working with governments were up to. Because of the federal “Freedom of Information Act” and state Public Records Acts, we have a better idea of what Muslim leaders have been collaborating with the war on terrorism against our community. The availability of public records has also kept some Muslims away from unsavory funding opportunities. There is always a risk they will be found out. Who needs that drama? As the late US Supreme Court Justice Luis Brandies famously said, “sunshine is the best disinfectant.” 

Some in the Countering Violent Extremism space have looked to foreign governments and organizations, particularly in the UAE. Working against the US Muslim community, which includes naming groups such as CAIR and MAS “terrorist organizations,” and investing in anti-Muslim surveillance is fundamental to UAE foreign policy. Foreign entities are not subject to the Federal Freedom of Information Act or state Public Records Acts.

Covertness can be beneficial when prosecuting the war on terrorism in our communities on behalf of a foreign master. However, security-state contractors working with foreign entities are engaged in an inherently political enterprise and should register. Unfortunately, nobody from the Muslim community in the CVE sector has. They should either start or quit foreign-sponsored CVE altogether. 

FARA is your friend

We have a strong need for transparency among Muslim leaders and organizations. Foreign interests have been looking to influence the US Muslim civil society for several years. It may well be that agents of foreign nation-states or entities in them have valuable things to say. The purpose of FARA is not to deny your ability to hear them and learn from them. However, knowing someone is a foreign agent will help us place the information provided by a Muslim leader, activist or scholar in a better context. 

Muslim leaders and organizations should strongly encourage each other to look at FARA when any foreign entity is involved. If for no other reason, to avoid potential criminal liability.

If you are a Muslim leader, activist or scholar working with a foreign principal, retain legal counsel. You need to know if registration is required. If it is necessary, and it often will be, provide a fulsome disclosure and keep updating it. You can be sure there will be at least a few Muslims reading it. 

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A Closer Look At The Congressional Hearing on Human Rights in South Asia

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Expectations on Capitol Hill were pretty low going into the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation’s historic hearing on “Human Rights in South Asia”. Previously, hearings on India have not been critical and the Kashmiri Muslim point of view has not been discussed.

Chairman of the sub-committee Brad Sherman (D-CA) wasted no time setting the stage for where he wanted to go with this hearing, stating, ”the entire world is focused today on what is happening in Kashmir.” He also pointed to the state of the 2 million-minority population in Assam. Missing from his opening statements were remarks on the state of the rest of the minorities in India, esp. Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and Muslims. Ranking member Ted Yoho (R-FL) was soft on the gross realities of the occupation, highlighting one case of a Kashmiri constituent, and referred to the abrogation of Article 370 as an internal matter of India. He also brought up the Indian talking point of economic progress in the region but this concept was thoroughly dismissed by later testimony and Q&A.

The State department veteran Alice Wells, Acting Secretary on South and Central Asian Affairs seemed woefully ill-prepared for the critical nature of the hearing. Both Wells and Assistant Secretary for Human Rights Destro could not or did not present solid facts and figures about detention and tried to explain away the oppression as “inconveniences”. They were unable to comment or provide clarity on the situation on the ground in Kashmir, with Destro saying, “we are in the same information blackout as you are.” Some of Sec. Wells’s comments were of direct Indian government persuasion.

Several of Justice For All’s talking points were raised during the hearing.

There was commentary on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar asked about the anti-Muslim program. She questioned the panel on the public statements by Indian officials that only Muslims have to prove their birth records. Rejecting the notion that a democratic ally cannot be policed, she said that the United States does that in many situations and “this should not be an exception.”The human rights abuse doesn’t cease to exist even if it is the law. Is it consistent with international human rights?” asked Chairman Sherman, along the same lines.

Destro observed that the appeals process “may disadvantage poor and illiterate populations who lack documentation”. “We are closely following this situation and urge the Government of India to take these issues into consideration,” he added.

”The human rights abuse doesn’t cease to exist even if it is the law. Is it consistent with international human rights?” asked Chairman ShermanClick To Tweet

Wells testified that “violence and discrimination against minorities in India, including cow vigilante attacks against members of the Dalit and Muslim communities, and the existence of anti-conversion laws in nine states” are not in keeping with India’s legal protections for minorities.

Congresswoman Alice Spanberger, (D-VA) a former CIA intelligence officer, asked whether India has shared examples of terror attacks and incidents that have been thwarted due to the communications blockade. When Wells stated that she could not comment, Spanberger asked for a classified hearing so that US officials could give their assessment on the validity of the national security argument of the Indian government. Chair Sherman associated himself with her questioning and vowed to take her suggestion seriously.

Chairman Brad Sherman, as well as several other Congresspeople both on and off the House Foreign Relations Committee, asked several pertinent and critical questions.

Questioning the Indian Government narrative Chairman Sherman asked if the United is “supposed to trust these government of India officials when the government of India doesn’t allow our diplomats to visit?” Representative Sheila Jackson asked if reputable Indian diplomats or journalists had ever been denied entry into any state in the United States?

Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) referred to a report about the detention of dozens of children in Kashmir and said detention without charges is unacceptable. She expressed her concerns about religious freedom in India and said that she proposes to bring a bipartisan resolution in Congress.

Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and David Cicilline of Rhode Island both had a heavy human rights approach to the questioning. Congresswoman Lee asked Assistant Secretary Destro if he would describe the situation as a “humanitarian crisis,” Mr Destro said, “Yes, it is.” She then went on to call the United States government to stop a potential genocide.

Washington has not changed its stance on the designation of the Line of Control. Chairman Sherman brought up the issue of disputed territory to the State Department.“We consider the Line of Control (LoC) a de facto line separating two parts of Kashmir,” answered Wells. “We recognize de facto administrations on both sides of LoC.”

The subcommittee focused on personal testimonies as well as human rights organization Amnesty’s testimony during the second half of the hearing.

Though no Kashmiri Muslims testified, the panel presented electrifying testimonies from Dr. Nitasha Kaul, a Kashmiri and Dr. Angana Chatterji, an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Bearing witness to the rising fascism and Hindu nationalism’s grip on India, both witnesses brought up beef lynchings, with Chatterji raising the concern of the genocidal inclinations of the Modi government. 

“Hindu majoritarianism – the cultural nationalism and political assertion of the Hindu majority – sanctifies India as intrinsically Hindu and marks the non-Hindu as its adversary. Race and nation are made synonymous, and Hindus –the formerly colonized, now governing, elite – are depicted as the national race,” said Dr. Chatterji.

Kashmiri witness Dr. Nitisha Kaul stated in her testimony that “human rights defenders, who were already under severe pressure, since August 5 are unable to function in Kashmir. For instance, every year on 30 August, the UN Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons led by Ms Parveena Ahangar, organises a vigil protest involving hundreds of elderly women and men whose sons had become victims of for instance, in the most recent parliamentary elections, the voters’ turnout was very low and in many booths, not a single vote was cast.”

Kaul emphasized the extension of the oppression, by highlighting that this year the peaceful gathering of elderly parents mourning and waiting for their disappeared sons was not allowed. She shared Ahanga’s quote: “This year we have been strangled, and there was no coming there was no coming together because, through its siege, India has denied us even the right to mourn.”

Ilhan Omar challenged Indian journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh’s take that the siege was in place to save Muslim women from “terrorists.” This is a trope that is often used to wage war and is especially used in the so-called “war on terror.” “It is a very colonial move on the part of the nation-states around it as if they are “liberating Kashmiri women,” said Dr. Kaul.

Chatterji bore witness to the woes of Kashmiri women who bear the brunt of the Indian occupational forces’ sexual brutality. “The woman’s body becomes the battlefield,” she said replying to a question by Congresswoman Houlahan from Pennsylvania. Dr. Kaul stated that the 1944 new Kashmir manifesto contained an entire section on gender rights. She spoke on the equity and equality in Kashmir: “They go to protests. Women become heads of households because of dead husbands.”

She also reminded the committee that BJP’s Amit Shah, also part of the government in 2002 and responsible for the program on Muslim community stated that Western human rights cannot be blindly applied here in India.

Representative Wild from Pennsylvania asked why the Indian government would not allow transparency. When human rights organizations and journalists can work in active war zones, she rejected the anti-terrorism narrative pushed by Ravi Batra, a last-minute BJP addition to the panel. “When there isn’t transparency something is being hidden and this is what really concerns me terribly,” said Wild.

A Sindhi-American witness spoke on minority rights in Pakistan, especially the forced conversion of Hindus. This is a concern that needs to be tackled by Muslims as there is no compulsion in Islam and is antithetical to the religion.

During the hearing, Amnesty International reported thousands in detention under the Public Safety Act while the State Department numbered it at hundreds. Dr. Asif Mahmoud, a key organizer, presented the health situation in Kashmir.

The overall situation of the Rohingya was covered and links were made to the start of the genocide in Burma and the parallels in India. The members of the House referred to it as genocide with the State Department still calling it ethnic cleansing.

Although the hearing focused on the current state of Jammu and Kashmir and not much was brought up about self-determination or the plebiscite, Kashmiri-Americans and their supporters left the hearing room satisfied that their voices were heard for the first time in the halls of the US Congress.

What was most concerning point of the entire hearing was that Kashmir was not brought up categorically as disputed territory and the issue was referred to as an integral matter of India. This needs deep, consistent and long-term work by advocates of Kashmir. With the continuous rise of RSS, Indian minority issues need a much sharper focus, and a regular pounding of the pavements of Congress to educate the Foreign Relations committees.

Some action items for American Muslims post-hearing.

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What We Should Know About The Slaying Of An Imam 10 Years Ago In Dearborn

Dawud Walid, Guest Contributor

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informant jibril imam Luqman
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Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

October 28, 2019 marks 10 years since the tragic homicide of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah who was shot 20 times in Dearborn, Michigan by a special FBI tactical squad. The homicide of Imam Abdullah was the culmination of the FBI spending over a million dollars in a so-called counterterrorism investigation which included rental of a commercial warehouse and freight trucks, the purchase of expensive electronic items and payment to at least 3 confidential informants. The raid on that fateful day in which Abdullah was killed and some of his congregants were arrested had nothing to do with terrorism-related charges, yet the imam and by extension the Detroit Muslim community was smeared in the process.

The FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) claimed that agents were compelled to kill Abdullah because he purportedly shot a law enforcement canine during the arrest raid. CAIR-Michigan filed a lawsuit against the FBI for wrongful death and fraud in this matter because there was no forensic evidence that corroborated that Abdullah had a firearm much less shot an FBI dog, which the bureau considered a law enforcement officer. There were no proofs provided that any gunpowder was on Abdullah’s hand or fingertips which would have existed if he had fired a gun, and none of his DNA nor fingerprints were found on the alleged gun. In fact, there was not even a picture of a gun at the scene nor did the Dearborn Police see any gun. The FBI blocked the Dearborn Police from entering the scene of the homicide for over an hour after the shooting which allowed the FBI special tactical team to leave with the purported firearm. In other words, the shooters of Abdullah, who headed back to DC without even being questioned by the Dearborn Police, are the only source that he had a gun. We believe that the FBI used what is known as a throwaway gun in a coverup when they killed the imam.

To add insult to injury that tragic day when Abdullah was shot 20 times including in the back and groin, law enforcement used their helicopter to fly the injured FBI dog, which was most likely shot by friendly fire, to a veterinarian hospital instead of using it to fly the imam to a close-by hospital. When the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan and the Acting US Attorney held a press conference about the incident, it was followed up later with special recognition for “Freddy” the FBI dog while the imam was painted as a type of extremist who wanted to establish sharia in the Westside of Detroit.

To add insult to injury that tragic day when Abdullah was shot 20 times including in the back and groin, law enforcement used their helicopter to fly the injured FBI dog, which was most likely shot by friendly fire, to a veterinarian hospital instead of using it to fly the imam to a close-by hospital.Click To Tweet

The lawsuit which we filed against the FBI was dismissed not because of the merits of our arguments but due to the federal government during the Obama administration suppressing information. The FBI would not release the names of their shooting squad which forced us to name them as John Does. The DOJ countered that we did not have standing on behalf of the family because we did not name actual persons. When we refiled using the names of the Special Agent in Charge and the head of the tactical team, neither who were actual shooters, the DOJ argued that the statute of limitations ran out in our complaint. We submitted an appeal to the US Supreme Court regarding the coordinated suppression of evidence; however, our appeal was denied. We still hold to this day that the FBI wrongfully killed the imam which was followed up by a systematic coverup.

Since the homicide of Abdullah, we now know that government surveillance against the Muslim community and the suspected terrorist watchlists grew tremendously during the Obama years in comparison to the Bush era. Also, the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) which further targeted the community began under the Obama administration. Government spying and the broad usage of confidential informants, some who act as agent provocateurs, in our community are still concerns of ours. Where Americans pray or who we associate with that may have unpopular political views should not be predicates for FBI surveillance. In many cases, this has led to young American Muslims being criminalized. For Imam Abdullah, it led to his demise.

During the 10th anniversary of this tragedy, I ask us all to recommit ourselves to standing for the civil liberties of all Americans to not be mass surveilled and for none of us to aid and abet any governmental programs that facilitate of the violation of our 1st Amendment rights falsely in the name of public safety and national security. Click To Tweet

As my mentor, the late Ron Scott with the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality said when he stood with us in this case, “We are not anti-police; we are anti-law enforcement misconduct.” It is not our position that law enforcement be completely abolished. We are, however, against the unethical usage of informants which is part and parcel of the prolific history of the FBI in targeting prominent Americans such as Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, whose religious and political views were viewed as threatening by the status quo. During the 10th anniversary of this tragedy, I ask us all to recommit ourselves to standing for the civil liberties of all Americans to not be mass surveilled and for none of us to aid and abet any governmental programs that facilitate of the violation of our 1st Amendment rights falsely in the name of public safety and national security. We never want to see another homicide such as what took place to Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah due to overzealous actions predicated upon misguided FBI policy.

Photo: Luqman Abdullah, second from left. FBI informant “Jibril,” third from left. Credit: Intercept

21 Shots and the Pursuit of Justice: An Imam (Luqman Ameen Abdullah) Dies in Michigan

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